Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The whole is equal to the sum of the parts

B. “Against Opportunism in the Journal”

The following document was put forward by the Bolshevik Tendency shortly after its formation. The individual members that formed the Bolshevik Tendency had been putting forward similar positions on the question of the Journal since September. The first section is a preface to three motions we tried to have passed, and a general summary of the longer paper that follows the motions. The “Step-by-Step Unity” proposal, by the TCG, to which references are made, is reprinted in full in the appendix. Notes in brackets in “Against Opportunism” have been added for this publication.

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Prefaratory Remarks to our Motions and Summary of Our Position

Our recently constituted tendency feels that two motions should be added to the agenda of the CR general meeting of Dec. 9. We preface these motions with an explanation and include a longer position paper outlining our position on the journal in full.

a) There is an opportunist trend in the Journal which is pushing it in the direction of unprincipled unity.

b) This trend is secondary at the moment but may consolidate itself in the future. At the moment the actual contents of the Journal are for the most part objectively consistent with the role we see the Journal fulfilling. But at some point, if the opportunist trend becomes principal internally this is bound to affect the contents of the Journal and divert it from its purpose of promoting open ideological debate. This would necessitate our leaving the Journal. This point would be reached (1) when the collective begins to exercise an unprincipled censorship over articles put forward for publication; (2) when a minority voice is not allowed a platform in the Journal, i.e., when a “democratic” centralism unattached to a political line or to a general agreement by all parties takes precedence over either consensus or public recognition that there are differences; and (3) when our tendency as a part of what we see as objectively being a coalition is no longer represented on the editorial board (by whatever system of delegation).

c) One form that this opportunist trend takes is the move to negate the “representative” character of the editorial board by having it elected at large. As well, this matter must be clarified before we undertake the discussion on implementing our decisions. We feel that because this matter has not been clarified certain decisions have already been incorrectly “implemented” e.g. the last editorial. [The editorial of CR 1:4 had already been written and approved by the collective (excepting the Bolshevik Tendency) at this point.] For this reason we believe that the motions we are presenting should be discussed before decisions are reached on these two questions.

d) We characterize the position put forward by the TCG on the the nature of the collective and building step-by-step unity as an attempt to substitute building unity around a common practice, or task, for building unity around political line.

e) We feel that WU has been inconsistent on this subject. Although in many instances WU has a written position that seems to disassociate itself from building unity around our practice with a view to becoming an organization, and has on occasion reaffirmed the coalition nature of the Journal, it voted for measures that define us more and more as an organization.

f) Our position is that the Journal began as a coalition and objectively remains a coalition. Furthermore no decision has been taken by the collective to change the situation (except at the most superficial level, the matter of calling ourselves a “group” or “grouping”). Insofar as we are, or are to become, more than a coalition this would have to take place around a specific reexamination of the role of the Journal. If we decide now, or in the future, that the Journal is more than a coalition (in substance, not just in the name we choose) and that the role of the Journal has changed it is absolutely necessary that we acknowledge the change in print. This is our responsibility to the movement.

FIRST MOTION: That the groups, tendencies and individuals in CR disassociate themselves from the practice of “building unity around a common practice or task”, in general, and affirm that unity is built around political line as it relates to broad revolutionary strategy, not as it relates to any one task. And, in particular, that the groups etc. in the Journal disassociate themselves from the practice of building unity around the common task of producing the Journal. SECOND MOTION: That the next editorial give a detailed account of the composition of the Journal (naming the groups, etc.), its history and current status. THIRD MOTION: That the differences of opinion amongst ourselves about what the Journal is and what it is to become be debated openly in the pages of the Journal.

Against Opportunism in the Journal

We do not see the original “basis of unity” of the Journal, either the actual words contained in the inside cover or the coming together of the groups, tendencies and individuals in the Journal, as opportunist. (Two members of our tendency would like to self-criticize since they agreed to refer to the Journal’s written statement as a “basis of unity”. They now feel it should have been a “basis of agreement”. Also, from this point on “groups, tendencies and individuals” is abbreviated to “groups, etc.” But this is only given the understanding that the written statement was an ideological starting point we all agree with, a basis of agreement rather than a basis of political unity or the manifesto of an organization. Likewise the coming together of the various groups, etc. must be seen as a kind of alliance rather than political unity.

What do we mean by agreement and alliance as opposed to unity? Political unity among M-Ls takes place around the elaboration of a political line. Until such time as a group of M-Ls are agreed to undergo such a process they are only agreed or allied, not united. For example, most M-Ls are agreed (not united) that we must engage in full ideological struggle at this point in time as a precondition for unity. Some of the difference between the two concepts can be seen if we ask how we would go about building a “higher alliance” or a “step-by-step alliance”. M-Ls can only work together in two ways – uniting around political line or uniting (allying) temporarily around something. The latter is an alliance and should never be taken to replace the former. Unfortunately there is a semantic confusion here since often we say unite when we really mean “ally.” The point is that there is a qualitative difference between real ideological and organizational unity that must be built amongst M-Ls, and other forms of unity, alliance or agreement that they may have while working together. [Recently “tactical unity” has been used to describe this.]

Originally the Journal was understood to be a coalition aimed at achieving the “practical aspect” of a task and not aimed at achieving some progressively higher unity around that task. Building higher political unity is one that can only be accomplished in the context of formal relations between groups, etc. within the movement in Toronto, not around the tasks of the Journal. But more and more there is confusion between the more sophisticated agreement desirable on the part of the groups, etc. in the Journal on the one hand, and the need to build unity among M-Ls in the movement, on the other. We are allied to carry out a task. EN LUTTE! describes this task as the need to “ . . . develop the practical aspect of organizing a large, permanent and open debate.” (our emphasis)

We (and EN LUTTE!) see this task as necessary precisely as a precondition for principled unity building. But, starting from an agreement to organize the practical aspect of the debate, some people have fallen into the trap of attempting to create political unity not out of the process of ideological debate in the movement, but around the task of organizing the ideological debate in the movement.

This is nothing other than building unity around “common practice” or around a task rather than around a two-line struggle.

This practice has often been criticized in our movement. What does Workers’ Unity have to say about unity and common practice?

But never does CPC(M-L) build unity around an actual political line, that is, an analysis and strategy developed on the basis of Marxism-Leninism applied to concrete conditions. Although the particular form has been different, similar mistakes have been made by Marxist-Leninists (including ourselves) in attempts to unite in recent years. These attempts – which have all failed – have focused on building unity on the basis of “common practice” or “common study”, neither of which had clear politics in command, We are familiar with the pitfalls and inevitable failure of this approach from firsthand experience. The question of political line continually crops up; it is unavoidable – and so it should be.. . . More potential unity has been destroyed than has ever been realized by using this method (our emphasis. P. 45-46, CR 1:3)

We agree, political line continually crops up and in the degree that we mistake our common practice (the Journal) for “unity” we will find ourselves suppressing the question of political line, i.e., two-line struggle. What is “wrong” here? is it having a “common practice” that is wrong or is it mistaking it for unity or building unity? We do not feel that at this point in time it is incorrect for us to have the “common practice” of organizing the ideological debate in English Canada. We all understand that the M-L forces are extremely isolated and immature. We are allied to push this situation forward by facilitating ideological struggle. But the situation is objectively closer to sharing an office (and encouraging others to share it) than being “united” as revolutionaries. So much remains to be done to accomplish this.

To continue. The recently formed CCL(M-L) observes (p. 39, The Struggle for the Creation of the CCL(M-L):

Further, our three groups have held a basically correct attitude on the question of unity, insisting on unity around political line. We refused unity on an opportunist basis and combatted the theory of “common practice”.

EN LUTTE! referring to CPC(M-L) says:

Its position on the unity of M-Ls corresponds up to a certain point to that of groups like Mobilisation/Librairie Progressiste and their friends for whom the unity of the M-Ls should be attained through “common practice” without taking into account the political line which underlies this “common practice” Now Mao Tse-tung has however very clearly stated “the political line decides everything”. If the expression “common practice” is more modest and less high-sounding than that of “united front” applied to just about anything, in practice, the two expressions among to the same conception of political unity, a unity of Marxist-Leninists which would make abstraction from the principles of Marxism-Leninism and of their application, in particular regarding the path of revolution, i.e. regarding the strategic path which alone determines the elaboration of corresponding tactics for the present period, (p. 8 of their supplement against neo-revisionism)

We might add: if we mistake the “strategic path” that TCG proposes for the Journal for the strategic path of revolution (and it is in this context that unity is built) we would be making “abstraction from the principles of Marxism-Leninism and of their application, in particular regarding the path of revolution.”

Finally, Dave Paterson, a member of the TCG, criticized the practice of building “unity” around “tasks”. In his article, “A Reply to CPC(M-L)’s Call for Unity,” Paterson said:

(CPC(M-L) said,) “There can be no political line other than the decisive task facing the revolutionary organization. The revolutionary organization can only be built around this decisive task.”... What CPC(M-L) actually proposed was a completely opportunist basis for uniting on pragmatic agreement around a specific task for a brief period of time without having to resolve any major questions of principle. CPC(M-L) actually proposed to divide Marxist-Leninists by refusing principled struggle and denouncing those who wished to engage in it... Unity is always subordinate to the struggle for the development and the implementation of a correct political line and must never interfere with or retard that struggle. (“A Reply to CPC(M-L)’s Call for Unity,” CR 1:2, pp. 5-6)

And so we can see that Workers’ Unity, EN LUTTE!, CCL (ML), and a member of the TCG have all stood in the historical record AGAINST THE PRINCIPLE OF BUILDING UNITY AROUND A COMMON TASK.

But now we find some people in the Journal supporting the principle of building unity around a common task. In particular, the TCG has put forward: “The Journal collective was... not seen as a complete union of Marxist-Leninists, but as a practical working forum for the accomplishment of various specific tasks, chief among them the publication of the Journal.” Yet what do they want this “practical working forum for the accomplishment of various specific tasks” to work for? “Building unity step-by-step.”

How did this situation come about? To begin with everyone understood we were not a centre capable of providing political leadership in the movement precisely because we were not united. But then it was realized that we were objectively providing leadership and that many isolated groups and individuals were orienting to CR as if it were a centre. It was correctly understood by all that it would be irresponsible to leave this de facto leadership unrecognized or implicit. At this point however there was a divergence over how to handle the situation. The individuals in our group wanted to make it explicit by recognizing the real source of politics in the working collective, i.e., the independent political practice and theoretical development of distinct tendencies in the Journal. The other trend is, we feel, to fake leadership.

Some members presently see the Journal as a “whole greater than the sum of its parts” [a sentiment expressed at a collective meeting on these subjects, expressed by a member of TCG and affirmed by a member of Workers’ Unity. Perhaps this is a creative new “fourth law of dialectics” ], and feel that although we collectively do not have, and have not agreed to work on, a political line (absolutely no one has suggested that we embark on a full scale internal struggle over political line), nevertheless (it seems) we must provide leadership as we were united. Presumably we are more “united” than “not united”, “a whole greater than the sum of its parts” rather than “a bunch of parts” (a coalition) working together around something that is a precondition for becoming united, i.e., becoming a “whole greater than the sum of its parts.”

We feel that a quote from Lenin used by Stalin in the Foundations of Leninism (p. 108) will help us to understand this situation:

Formerly our party was not a formally organized whole, but only the sum of separate groups, and therefore no other relations except those of ideological influence were possible between these groups. Now we have become an organized Party, and this implies the establishment of authority, the transformation of the power of ideas into the power of authority, the subordination of lower party bodies to higher party bodies.

While it is true that Lenin is here talking about the party we feel that the spirit of it applies exactly to our situation. (Lenin contrasts a “not formally organized whole” with an “organized party”. We are contrasting an “alliance” or “coalition” with an “organization”.) Two members of our tendency in their position paper entitled “What the Journal Should Become” note: “Yet in the Journal there has been a slow and subtle trend towards a level of organizational unity that is higher than the level of political unity among us.”

To pick up on Lenin’s phrasing we are, at the moment, “not a formally organized whole” but “only a sum of separate groups... ” and we have “... no other relations except those of ideological influence...”

But some have explicitly stated that we are now greater than “... only a sum of separate groups...” and that we should decide things on the basis of being an organization. They feel that it is time to operate things in terms of full democratic centralism with “the subordination of lower bodies (a minority in the Journal in this situation) to higher bodies.” But when did this transformation in the collective take place which implies the “transformation of the power of ideas into the power of authority”? When did the Journal change?

The Position of the Toronto Communist Group

Last September the TCG put forward a proposal for “building unity step-by-step”. In this document they say: ’The Journal is neither a coalition nor an organization, nor has it been either of these in the past”, and refer, as if it were ridiculous, to “one person” (who, in a previous discussion) “... even suggested that the Journal has always been a coalition and that some others are trying to sneak in a change by the back door.”

However, at least two members of the TCG had themselves previously understood the Journal to be a coalition. These two had, in their account of discussions with groups in B.C., reported: “In all meetings we made the following points about CR:... CR should reflect all the differences of opinion in the M-L movement. The collective itself is a coalition with its own divisions; it does not have a unified program.” Flip, flop.

On top of this, one other member of this group, at the meeting previous to the presentation of their position, had indicated that he had a very similar conception of the Journal. This person indicated that he thought it was a “working collective” which should remain a reflection of all the trends in the movement. This conception of CR as a “working collective” only makes sense if the Journal is seen as having been primarily a coalition and not, as they say in their document, a combination of coalition and organization with neither aspect predominating. On top of this, he has insisted on several occasions that the names of Journal participants be printed at the front of the Journal because “we are not an organization”. Flip, flop.

What is the substance of their step-by-step unity proposal? TCG sees us as becoming an organization and a vehicle for the propagation of a political line. They make it clear that they see us as having some of the characteristics of a coalition and some of an organization, and that it is the latter we must consolidate. But do they propose a program of full scale ideological struggle to accomplish this? No. Most of their concrete proposals for building unity step-by-step are clearly within the realm of building unity around the demands of our “common practice”. And where is the political line we are to propagate supposed to come from? TCG has given us a “set of decisive tasks” that are, or are supposed to produce, the political line.

They say, “Building (formal) unity in the Journal must be done as required by political demands upon us...” By political demands are they referring to the central demand that is presently upon all M-Ls in Canada: the demand to engage in across the board political debate in order to demarcate and unite? No. They are referring to the “political” demands on us, not firstly as M-Ls within the movement, but primarily as producers of the Journal. It is ironic that the group which has participated least in the ideological struggles going on in the pages of the journal is the group which is most keen to “direct” that ideological debate.

Let’s consider one of the “political demands” put upon us. The very first step they list in the transformation of the Journal into an organization is according to them: “...drawing lines of demarcation around the M-L movement...” and “... clear criteria as to what debate is legitimate within the M-L movement....”

We find this extremely arrogant. How do we ascertain where the demarcations within and without the movement lie and where do “clear criteria” come from? Can they come from outside of the actual debates? Is the Journal to be some sort of super-objective entity which, while not an independent factor in the debates itself (since it is not unified), can pass judgment on debates? Do we have a situation where the Bolshevik Tendency, TCG and Workers’ Unity put forward general and different political positions in the pages of the Journal, but suddenly act as one organization in the Journal internally and in the editorial of the Journal?

We as the Journal collective have not been historically endowed by the masses in Canada, or even by the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada, with the title of judging accurately what is and what is not Marxism-Leninism. The test of what is or what is not Marxism-Leninism is practice and practice alone.

By the test of practice, nobody in the Journal has yet proven their ability to rally the masses in Canada to Marxism-Leninism. In particular, two of the groups in the Journal (the TCG and Workers’ Unity) have proven by their past theory and practice that they have been unable to arrive at the correct political line, that they have been unable to provide correct leadership to the revolution in Canada, and that their own political judgment as to what is Marxism-Leninism is inadequate on its own but has required leadership from other centres.

Workers’ Unity, to its credit, has submitted a written self-criticism to the movement about its past erroneous lines and practice. While we have serious criticisms of their self-criticism (these will be brought out in a response to their article), at least they have publicly admitted their change in line and allowed it to be judged by the movement at large.

In contrast, the TCG has only recently compiled a statement of what their political line is and why they are together, despite a long history of mutual association; they have yet to submit a written self-criticism of their previous erroneous lines (with the exception of one paper written by two members) on economism; they have yet to submit a written self-criticism of their “line-fetishist”: political line, despite requests to do so, and in fact never even wrote down a statement of that line; and, although one member of the TCG was asked more than three months ago to submit his self-criticism of his (Weatherman) line, such self-criticism has not been forthcoming. Thus, despite the fact that their political lines have meandered all over the political universe, there are several members of the TCG from whom we have yet to see one word of written self-criticism.

Such a group has no right even to suggest its own ability to “draw lines of demarcation around the Marxist-Leninist movement”, or to outline “clear criteria as to what debate is legitimate within the Marxist-Leninist movement.”

Furthermore, let us examine what happened the last time two members of the TCG took it upon themselves to “draw lines of demarcation around the Marxist-Leninist movement.”

These two members came out guns ablazing, declaring that the position on the Native question was outside of the bounds of Marxism-Leninism. Within their confident declarations that “this is Marxism-Leninism” were some statements which were practically verbatim statements of the CPSU’s position on China’s line on national liberation struggles of the Third World.

And so we see in practice that the TCG is not so smart as it thinks it is.

Furthermore, the TCG says, “The Journal, however, must be prepared to intervene in struggles and provide leadership in them. We cannot be passive in the struggles, but must take initiatives in moving them forward. A good example of this is the decision to promote the line that building the communist party is the central task.”

Who is this “we” who must take “leadership”? Does this include groups who objectively tailed the movement on this question? In particular, does this include the group which has not yet self-criticized for its previous political lines which have now been shown to be bankrupt? TCG is proposing that those groups who were backward followers now declare themselves to be the leaders on this question. Naked self-promotion.

Furthermore, the TCG says, “As part of a process of building and consolidating our political unity, it will be necessary to come to a common outlook on our histories which will involve self-criticism of errors made in the past. This, however, is a lengthy process which will take place over an extended period of time.” Quite lengthy and extended indeed. For some members of the TCG, it has been five years or more.

We arrive at a ridiculous situation where “we” are not a factor in debate because we are not unified in our politics. But in order to pass judgment on debate we must become unified. But we only “unite” on passing judgment on debate, not on the contents of the debate.

Concretely where does this kind of “unity building” and position taking lead us. Although there has been no agreement to engage in “step-by-step building of unity” we have already had a taste of it. We direct ourselves to the latest editorial and the discussions behind it.

EN LUTTE! has indicated that we must aim at an “open and wide debate” on all facets of our activity as M-Ls, Now, has an open and wide debate taken place in the movement or in the pages of CR on this question generally (relations between M-Ls, the role of unity/criticism/unity [this debate is beginning. When we wrote this the debate was localized in Quebec and far from developed, i.e., far from “open and wide”.] ,nature of polemics, etc.? No.

Has an “open” debate (“open”: in the movement as opposed to couched in secrecy in documents in the Journal collective) taken place on the question that sparked the controversy among us? [This refers to the Native article] No.

Has there been any indication that it was imperative for CR to “provide leadership” on this question at this time? No. (This wasn’t even really discussed)

Some might say that we are not necessarily closing debate on this question, but will the Journal not inevitably tend in this direction as the next logical step? Yes.

And what assurance do we have that the closing of the debate may not be as pre-emptory as the taking of the position? None.

Very interesting. Presently the Journal has a position on how polemics should be handled, arising out of a debate around the Native article. But “we” are not one step closer to political unity on the Native question and no one in the movement knows anything about the course of the debate on how to handle polemics. No political unity has been built here. This is what happens when politics are not in command, when politics are buried in the exigencies of “carrying out the task”.

To be fair to the TCG we must admit that they do at one point try to relate the political demands put on us as the Journal to the political demands put on M-Ls in the movement In their document they consider that it is important for “the Journal” to provide leadership around the central task of building the party, (i.e., to take the position that it is the central task.) Taking a position on this question is seen as an example of building step-by-step unity. Previously they have indicated that it is very important not to tail the movement. Taking such “unity building” positions are a way to avoid this. But what is the real state of affairs?

Did the understanding that building the party was the central task at this time reflect a growing unity within the collective? Was there an aspect of struggle to it, an aspect of arriving at a position through ideological struggle which would be a real “building of unity”? Rather, for various and unexamined reasons we all agree on this subject. And we agree not because of anything that has taken place within the Journal but because of ideological debate that has taken place externally, in the movement and in the pages of CR.

And what exactly is operative here? Are we not precisely in this matter reflecting a consensus within the movement (what TCG would call tailing) rather than providing leadership? Ironically the example they give of “building” unity is really one of reflecting what has already happened in the movement and as far as we are concerned that is as it should be. To cite this example as one of “providing leadership” shows a readiness to fake leadership.

What do you have in a political situation with a “whole greater than the sum of its parts”, but not united at a high level around specific and explicit politics? What do you have when a group takes it upon itself the task of “leading and not tailing” but does not propose to do this on the basis of a clear and developed political unity? What do you call it when a collective with separate political tendencies in it seeks to build unity around a common task? We call it opportunism.

Workers’ Unity’s Position

While it is clear that TCG is talking about full organizational unity to be built essentially around our “common practice”, WU position is more ambiguous. They, too, talk of “building unity” on the one hand, but disassociate themselves from the idea that the role of the Journal is to become an organization. Again, it is not clear to us whether they interpret “building unity” as more than “expanding agreement” i.e. whether they see the “unity” to be built as identical with the unity that must be built in the movement in order to build the party. There is a tendency to imagine that because we agree on something we necessarily have the same politics. We feel that we are really united as M-Ls when we have a common analysis not merely when, for various and unexamined reasons, we happen to agree.

Where does WU stand on the question of whether we are or have ever been a coalition?

In a document presented around the same time as the TCG positions they say: “... as a coalition of groups and individuals we are united on a basis sufficient to carry out the historical function of the Journal....” (our emphasis) But (picking up on the last part of the quoted sentence) in the next sentence “... we have the responsibility as M-Ls to be constantly developing and strengthening our unity in relationship to the tasks of the journal in the development of the movement.” Now, did we, or did we not start with a level of agreement that was “sufficient” and does WU agree with us that further agreement, while desirable, is not “building unity among M-L’s” but merely facilitating the role of the Journal as a forum for debate so that we may proceed to build real unity among M-Ls? Or does WU agree with the TCG that this building of unity is the same thing as building political unity in the movement and that it reflects a qualitatively higher political level of development internal to the Journal?

Three members of our new tendency put forward a motion at the last meeting. It read: “That we recognize that the leadership provided by the Journal is in fact leadership provided by the groups, etc. within the Journal who are informed by an autonomous political practice and not leadership provided by a politically united organization.” WU voted against this motion which was defeated. In part they “agreed with the sentiment” of the motion but felt that what they agreed with in it was already covered by an earlier decision to acknowledge in the “basis of unity” that CR was in part composed of independent groups, etc. [A decision was made, at the same time, to not name the groups. The Bolshevik Tendency had proposed that we should] For the rest, they echoed the statement of the member of the TCG that the Journal was a “whole greater than the sum of its parts”. We see this tendency to view the Journal as a “whole” as a tendency to put it forward as an organization and wonder why WU falls into this even though in contrast to the TCG it has specifically stated that it does not see us as being or becoming an organization.

Another inconsistency is that in their September document they say, “It is our position that for the duration of the Journal it remain a representative structure based on democratic principles and that any responsible bodies that are established (i.e. Editorial Board) reflect different trends and groupings within the Journal.” But at a recent meeting where the establishment of what was obviously a responsible body (a group of people (2) to deal with new members) was discussed we had the following situation: One member of our tendency put forward that it should be representative. The response of one member of WU was to suggest that this was an attempt to set a bad precedent!! Who was setting precedents and how short is WU’s memory?

Just what position does WU have on this subject? Has it changed essentially and if so, why?

The Bolshevik Tendency’s Position

1. The members of our tendency consider the Journal collective to be objectively a coalition.

2. As for the contents of the Journal, and whether we should take political positions, we believe that this should be done basically on the basis of consensus and agreement. If there are serious differences of opinion, the minority view should be allowed to express itself within the pages of the Journal. Two members of our tendency in their position paper of 26 October write: “Majority vote is lovely. But, given the historical function of the Journal, the vote should not reflect people’s opinions on a given line. It should reflect the fact that there is a debate going on in Canada as a whole. If there is a two-line struggle on a subject in Canada, then historically the Journal has no right to allow the majority to decide the “correct” line at this stage. We should vote only on whether an issue is sufficiently represented within our movement to warrant being aired by us at this time.”

3. We agree fully with EN LUTTE! (and with WU?) that CR is essentially a forum for debate and that this, not its transformation into a vehicle for the propagation of a political line, is its historical function.

4. Ideological struggle. It is ironic that our position might give the appearance of not wanting to see any development take place in the Journal, that we may seem to be saying that the groups in the Journal have nothing to discuss and that we are guilty of “small group mentality” in wanting to emphasize the existence of small groups, etc. as the determinant factor in the Journal.

This is not the case. On the contrary, we see the trend to fake struggle as an impediment to struggle. We see that certain people are calling for development and presumably sharp struggle in the context of that development. But not struggle parallel to the struggle that goes on in the pages of the journal. Rather, a special kind of struggle determined not in a broad political framework but in a narrower framework of the tasks of the journal. This is not the kind of struggle that we feel should be going on amongst the groups, etc. in the Journal. Nor is it the kind of struggle that will closely relate to, and help maintain, the ideological struggle going on in the pages of the Journal. We cannot have “ideological struggle” around our “common practice”. It can only be ideological two-line struggle between avowed centres (i.e., groups, tendencies and even individuals who attempt to provide leadership and encourage people to orient towards them) in the context of formal relations in the movement, with all political differences up front, not buried because certain aspects are not necessary to limited “unity” necessary to our common practice, or because a specific two-line struggle does not correspond to a set of pre-determined “steps”. We feel that others are displaying small-group mentality by encouraging structures which have the effect of suppressing full debate so that each group, etc. can quietly concentrate on the development of their own complete “line” and not have to worry about being confronted when they cross paths in the Journal collective.

5. Unity. There can be no building of unity in the Journal which is not congruous with building of unity in the movement. Until we agree that we want to be members of a “CR organization” and agree that it is this organization into which our groups, etc. are planning to dissolve, we are dealing with alliance (a coalition) not “unity”. In this context of co-operation rather than union we feel that full democratic centralism does not apply and that in fact a platform for minority view must exist. Otherwise we are in danger of suppressing ideological struggle in a context where our basic reason for coming together is to encourage ideological struggle.

6. It must be understood that we are not opposed to enlarging the scope of our agreement for the purpose of better facilitating the Journal as a forum for debate. We just want it to be understood, clearly, that this is not the same thing as building direct political unity among M-Ls and we want the movement to know just who it is that is agreeing about what.

For example, we are not completely opposed to the WU proposal put forward in their latest position paper (the proposal makes a specific statement of the minimum basis for the founding of an M-L organization). If accepted this would not be, however, leadership provided by the Journal. It would in reality be the expression of leadership provided by WU in the Journal and in the movement both. If it is accepted with modifications then it is the combined (not united) leadership of different elements in the Journal, and this combined leadership contrary to the stated opinion of some is not “a whole greater than the sum of its parts”, but exactly the same as its parts. This is the kind of thing we are getting at when we talk about recognizing the source of leadership in the collective and understand that leadership is not originating in developments internal to the collective.

7. Individuals in the collective. One of the arguments put forward to justify a non-representative structure in the Journal is the presence of so many individuals. Some anticipate this as the trend of the future. We disagree. At the moment with the resignation of one individual pending and the constitution of our tendency there are only two individuals in the collective. On the other hand, there are three groups. We feel that this is the reality of our situation as a coalition and that the question of individual membership should not be allowed to obscure this.

Furthermore, we feel that at a time when the main task is to build larger organizations, individual M-Ls are an anachronism. All individuals should be finding out who they agree with politically and uniting with them, or, in so far as they have major political differences with all the “centres” or “mini-centres”, they should be clarifying their politics and constituting themselves as tendencies. This is the process that must be encouraged to help push us forward in English Canada. We feel that we should encourage individuals to join the collective precisely so they can participate more fully in the process. But we should definitely not define the structure of the Journal around them.

A Summary of the Opportunist Trend

a) Starting from an agreement to organize the practical aspect of the debate there is a move to create political unity around the task of organizing the debate.

b) A tendency to seek organizational unity beyond our level of political unity.

c) A tendency to see amalgamation (as opposed to union) of different politics as a “whole greater than the sum of its parts”.

d) A tendency to encourage unity while discouraging the ideological debate necessary to real unity.

e) A growing indifference to what is happening in the movement and to our responsibilities to the movement. (We never discuss what is happening in the movement, just how we are going to guide what is happening in the movement.)