First Published: In Struggle! No. 90, June 9, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
Bolshevik Union (BU) is a group from Toronto, formed by several members within the collective which published the journal Canadian Revolution. This collective was comprised of other groups such as the Toronto Communist Group (now rallied to IN STRUGGLE!. BU, which as its name indicates, considers itself a worthy successor of the Bolshevik Party led by Lenin and Stalin, has given itself the noble mission as the standard bearer of Lenin’s writings in Canada. But in fact this great defender of Lenin that Bolshevik Union is supposed to be, in reality is nothing more than a petty-bourgeois group whose doctriniarism – to use one of Lenin’s expressions which BU has obviously forgotten to read – serves to cover throughly false positions leading in theory and practice, to scission.
IN STRUGGLE! has already previously systematically criticized Bolshevik Union’s positions (1), and their logic, which if maintained leads directly to counter-revolution.
However, it is essential to deepen this criticism and to present it extensively among the masses in order to arm the workers for the struggle to unmask the bourgeois line wrapped in the red flag which, above and beyond BU, emerges within even the strongest Marxist-Leninist parties.
in our movement those who “call themselves” Marxist-Leninist, those who are truly striving to become authentic Marxist-Leninists (...) will understand that IN STRUGGLE! is not just doing the wrong things, it is the wrong thing. IN STRUGGLE! is just not failing to develop a correct strategy for revolution. IN STRUGGLE! is not just seeking unity incorrectly in the Marxist-Leninist movement. IN STRUGGLE! is sacrificing the Marxist-Leninist movement to its hegemony-seeking and is therefore trying to destroy the Marxist-Leninist movement. (Lines of Demarcation no. 2 p. 70)
This is how Bolshevik Union, presenting its unity-plan of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, starts first of all by in reality excluding IN STRUGGLE! and the League from the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. A slip of the tongue, perhaps? Let’s take a closer look:
BU does not want to unite the Marxist-Leninist movement, it wants to divide it. This is true, we don’t want to unite the movement of those who “call themselves” Marxist-Leninists, we want to unite all authentic Marxist-Leninists in the Party. That means dividing the movement so that the opportunists are on one side and the authentic Marxist -Leninists on the other, in the Party.(leaflet distributed by BU during the 2nd Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists)
This is how BU rejects offhand the Marxist-Leninist principle of Unity-Criticism-Unity which consists of starting from the present unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement to arrive, on the basis of a criticism of the deviations which divide our movement, at a higher unity based on the victory of correct views over false ones influenced by bourgeois ideology. For BU, in effect, it is false to consider as does IN STRUGGLE! that contradictions among Marxist-Leninists are a priori non-antagonistic, that is that they can be resolved on the basis of an open and frank polemic, relying on Marxism-Leninism. BU quotes Lenin’s famous principle “before and in order to unite we must first draw lines of demarcation”. i.e., demarcate fundamental differences from secondary ones, demarcate correct ideas from false ones. Yes, BU loves to quote Lenin but to better deform him and to prove “in order to unite... we must divide”!
But what does BU propose? To wage a principled struggle, to rally all “honest” Marxist-Leninists to its political line in order to reconstruct the Marxist-Leninist movement supposedly destroyed by the League and IN STRUGGLE!? No! BU, consistent with its scisionist line, puts forward a “unity”-plan which aims at shattering the Marxist-Leninist movement into numerous circles and factions who agree on but one thing “go against the tide”. In reality this means to combat the Marxist-Leninist movement on the pretext of wanting to struggle against opportunism:
we will recruit people to Lines of Demarcation on the basis, not of the specific political positions of the Bolshevik Union, but on the basis of the ideological struggle... (idem p. 62).
The holy alliance of those who are “against” without having a political line themselves, that is, claiming not to have one. All the while distributing Lines of Demarcation whether or not we agree with its content, and by forming study groups with the aim of “demarcating”, each doing as he pleases anyway... This is the package, a real sabotage-plan, that BU proposes to us.
We understand that people who affiliate to LD may have fundamental differences with the political lines we have put forward in that journal (ex. over the principal contradiction, over the Native national question, over the international situation), and the only requirement of political agreement with the line expressed in LD is that concerning the danger of right-opportunism. The Bolshevik Union will function as the editorial board of Lines of Demarcation and will maintain complete control over the contents of LD. Affiliates of LD will have no authority over LD itself, but only “ideological influence” in the form of letters and advice. Conversely the Bolshevik Union will have no authority over, or responsibility for those affiliated to LD, aside from ideological influence.(idem p. 63)
As an integral part of this distribution network, affiliates of LD must participate in the setting up of circles for (a) the study of LD and other publications of the movement, always from the point of view of demarcating against anti-Marxism (primarily in the form of right-opportunism within the movement) and from the point of view of the struggle to build the party (b) the study of Marxism-Leninism in general, in order to form and deepen the theoretical base for “a” (c) propaganda and agitational activities where possible (idem p. 62, our emphasis)
The abandoning of agitation-propaganda as the central activity of Marxist-Leninists in order to build the party, a book-study of Marxism-Leninism in general and not applied to Canadian reality, demarcation principally within the movement and not mainly with respect to bourgeois ideologies – social-democratic, revisionist and Trotskyist – and finally circles not to study the most correct line but rather anything at all; that, concentrated in one paragraph, is the worst sectarian, dogmatic and economist credo, the worst opportunist credo that we have seen for a long time!
BU’s plan is thoroughly anti-Leninist and anti-party. It’s a Trotskyist plan in inspiration. which can only lead to the destruction of the Marxist-Leninist movement, to its atomization into numerous circles. For that is the real project of BU; consolidate a small-group mentality and petty-bourgeois individualism, undermine communist principles of organization, especially democratic centralism (submission of the minority to the majority, unity of action around a single line widely debated and adopted democratically...) which, so it seems, doesn’t apply to the present stage. Stating that “our movement must go through the phase of circles” (idem p. 69) BU openly incites Marxist-Leninist sympathizers and militants to refuse to act within the framework of democratic centralism. BU’s action is profoundly scissionist; it aims at undermining proletarian unity and organization; it aims at replacing the struggle to unite all Marxist-Leninists around a correct and single line by the anarchy of factions and small petty-bourgeois circles who parade their slogans of “fight against hegemony”, and “go against the tide”. In this way they only seek to cover their bourgeois line and to cultivate division in order to put themselves into the limelight... while the proletariat, deprived of revolutionary leadership, is massacred by the bourgeoisie!
We will return in future articles to other aspects of BU’s line, and we will show how their positions systematically deform Lenin’s thought, and replace it with petty-bourgeois radicalism. At a period when the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement is still deeply marked by right-opportunism and economism, at a time when the movement’s rapid rise attracts large strata of the petty-bourgeoisie highly affected by the crisis, the proletarian composition of the movement is still low. It is essential therefore to deepen this criticism, in the masses, of petty-bourgeois radicalism in Marxist-Leninist clothing, and to arm the masses so that they unmask this radicalism the moment it appears. This is the condition for our victory, this is the only path enabling the triumph of the proletarian line.