Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The whole is equal to the sum of the parts

C. Development and Conclusion of the Struggle in the Journal

Although “Against Opportunism in the Journal” summarized aspects of things we had been struggling over for a period of time in the Journal, it was specifically prepared to be struggled over before a decision was reached on the question of electing an editorial board. This decision was to be voted on at a meeting on December 9.

Subsequent to, and in spite of, the presentation of our “Against Opportunism in the Journal”, Workers’ Unity came out in favour of elections at large. Previously they had upheld the representative character of the editorial board. The reason they gave for the change was that the groups and tendencies in English Canada were “in a state of flux”. Workers’ Unity recommended, however, that everyone should vote in such a way that the editorial board turn out to be representative! An interesting situation: elections at large for the purpose of negating the coalition nature of the Journal in order to “build unity” (we would say bureaucracy), but individuals run for the position of the editorial board on the election “platform” (relating only to the tasks of the Journal) of specific groups and are put forward by their specific groups (!) and then a recommendation by Workers’ Unity to vote in such a way that the editorial board would turn out to be “representative” anyway! Bureaucracy upon bureaucracy. It seems that the path from being a mere coalition to becoming an organization lies in the institutionalization of factions!

We presented our position with the hope of having certain matters confronted and fully struggled over before the vote on the nature of the editorial board, i.e., the question of elections at large. Although we had circulated it three days before the meeting, very few people had apparently read it: a major charge of opportunism! Our recommendation that discussion of it and the motions we presented along with it should precede the editorial board decision was rejected. Thus after a period of meaningless discussion, in which each political group had already decided on an autonomous basis what its position was on this subject and mutual persuasion was out of the question (a plain reflection of the objective coalition nature of the Journal), a vote was taken on the editorial board with all but our tendency voting for elections at large.

Struggle over our paper was postponed until January 24 and allocated 30 minutes on the agenda. The actual elections to the editorial board were to follow this. Before January 24 “platforms” for the elections were circulated by TCG, Workers’ Unity and one individual. The Bolshevik Tendency circulated a platform as well, reiterating our position on the historical function of the Journal. All election platforms are reproduced in the appendix.

TCG’s platform strangely made no reference to their previous position on the Journal (“Step-by-step Unity”) except to say that it had been “outstripped by the political developments”. (Subsequently, after we left the Journal, they informed us that it had been “withdrawn in September”. This is an outright lie.) The question of its political content, the question of whether it was a sabotage of the purpose and the nature of the Journal, the question of self-criticism, the question of whether its politics continued to be held to by not only themselves but now by others, all were shrouded in silence. They were only kidding with “Step-by-step Unity”. The question of what impact their flip-flop might have on the rest of their practice within the Journal – e.g., their position on at-large elections – was also not addressed.

The TCG platform, in other respects, stressed the role of the Journal as an independent Journal reflecting the two-line struggle to build the party, and called for a debate of the role of the Journal to take place in the Journal.

One of the platforms (put forward by one of the two individuals) contained the following affirmation of unity around a task: “Within the CR collective, initial unity is minimal, on the political tasks of the Journal; but it is still a unity of Marxist-Leninists and must be built on this basis.” He also indicated that he would not vote for the Bolshevik Tendency because of its “obstructionism”. He never advanced that criticism to us for response and did not clarify what he meant by this.

The platform put forward by Workers’ Unity stated that they agreed with the platform of this one individual (and consequently with building unity around a common practice) and would also refrain from voting for the Bolshevik Tendency. At this point we decided that we would probably have to leave the Journal because (a) we considered this to be the consolidation of the opportunist trend, and (b) because the results of an election would have excluded us from the editorial board, taking away our political influence in the Journal and effectively negating the objective representativeness of the board. This condition was put forward in “Against Opportunism in the Journal”.

During the first part of the meeting on the 24th allocated to the “struggle” over our charge of opportunism, the first two motions we put forward were defeated, with all but the Bolshevik Tendency voting against them. Again reflective of the coalition nature of the Journal, each political group already had a position on how to vote on these motions. As for the charges of opportunism, the TCG indicated that it was not prepared to struggle – a month and a half after criticisms directed specifically against them, and despite the fact that struggle over the paper was deliberately postponed so that they would have a chance to respond to criticisms made of them. No doubt they wanted to get the elections over with before being self-critical of their rationale for elections.

Most members of the collective did not have copies of the paper with them at this meeting and only one or two people made comments on the paper itself, primarily with reference to the summary at the end. If we didn’t know better, the idea might enter our heads that they hadn’t read the paper. The gist of the responses was that the Bolshevik Tendency was being obstructionist for even having written the thing.

Before the next part of the meeting (the actual elections) there was a break during which the Bolshevik Tendency prepared the following statement.

Statement of the Bolshevik Tendency on Leaving the Journal

We believe that the opportunist trend that we have been struggling against on the Journal has been consolidated. A majority of the people have interpreted the elections as building unity around our common practice. Also, the collective has voted against a motion aimed at disassociating ourselves from building unity around our common practice.

Previously this was not clear. Previously there was room for believing that the editorial board would continue to be seen by a majority against the TCG as in some sense a representative structure and that the results of the election which we consider a bureaucratic farce would be a reaffirmation of the representativeness of the editorial board.

Since then an individual in his election platform has come out blatantly in favour of building unity around our common practice and indicated that he would not be voting on the basis of representativeness. Workers’ Unity has endorsed his platform and indicated, too, that it will not be voting for Bolshevik Tendency representation on the editorial board. As well, TCG, who originally put forward the elections in the context of consolidating ourselves as an organization, has not self-criticized for those politics and we have no reason to believe that they have changed.

Under the circumstances, given the recent positions of that individual and Workers’ Unity, we see the elections as the consolidation of unity around a common practice and the consolidation of the trend to develop an opportunist level of organizational unity higher than our level of political unity. We are therefore not going to participate in the elections.

Furthermore, the Bolshevik Tendency is withdrawing all participation from the Journal conditional on the TCG making its position clear as respects our criticisms of them.

The opportunist trend on the Journal has consolidated itself. We consider that the platforms of (the individual) and Workers ’ Unity to be their responses to our criticisms of opportunism.

The TCG has not yet responded to our criticisms. Although we are not optimistic, we are leaving the historical possibility open that the TCG will self-criticize and that it will ally with us in struggling against the opportunist trend which they initiated. Should this happen, we will reverse our position vis-a-vis the Journal. The TCG openly endorsed the practice of building unity around common practice in their “step-by-step unity” proposal Although their election platform did not reflect those politics, they are still accountable for what they said in that proposal. Should they not extensively self-criticize for it, then the opportunist trend will have been consolidated to the point where the split in the Journal will be permanent.

The only way that we will immediately continue to participate in the Journal is if the elections are immediately tabled pending a full-fledged ideological struggle, particularly as respects the TCG response to our criticisms.

Although opportunism has consolidated itself on an organizational level, all the work of the Journal is not necessarily opportunist particularly as regards content. As long as it continues to function as a forum for debate we will consider it principled to submit articles to it and to encourage others to do so. In particular, we plan to submit our response to WU’s position on party-building, in which the Stover-Perri article was criticized and which explicitly encouraged responses to it in the pages of the Journal.

We suspect that in time the organizational opportunism will reflect itself in the content of the Journal itself For now, however, we simply say that anyone who stays in the Journal collective is implicitly endorsing opportunism and submitting to its discipline (through the process of majority vote). This we cannot do.

In this statement, read to the collective upon reconvening, we outlined two conditions, one immediate and one long-term, which would allow us to reactivate our membership in the Journal.

The question of tabling the elections was voted on immediately. TCG, along with the other members of the Journal (except the Bolshevik Tendency), voted to continue with the election. Since TCG had instigated the elections and had presented the proposal in their “step-by-step unity” proposal as a part of a process of “building unity” and consolidating ourselves as an organization, we can only assume that they still hold to their position, even though they ran in the elections on the basis of a different platform. The elections were and are totally meaningless outside of the context in which they were presented by the TCG. While they may have some doubts about their previous position now, their practice of upholding the elections reveals their solidarity with it.

The Bolshevik Tendency then left the meeting. The elections proceeded, with five candidates running for five positions. Two candidates were put forward by and represented Workers’ Unity; two candidates were put forward by and represented the TCG; and one candidate ran as an independent. The actual results of the entire struggle over elections were a structure reflecting the objective coalition nature of the Journal, except that the left minority in the two-line struggle was isolated. This was the purpose of elections, and that purpose was realized.