Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

In Struggle!

The CAPT conference on the Third World

To maintain a class viewpoint on all questions

First Published: In Struggle! No. 93, July 21, 1977 and no 94, August 4, 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.

On July 9 more than 400 people participated in a Conference in Montreal organized by the Third World Anti-imperialist Committee (CAPT) [1] on the Third World as the main force in the world antl-imperialist struggle. While we must deplore the secondary role played by anti-imperialist groups [2], which had supported the holding of this conference, we feel the day had the merit of familiarizing people with CAPT and its analysis of the world situation at the same time as allowing for the public presentation of the positions of the two Canadian Marxist-Leninist organizations can the international question before their members and sympathizers as well as before numerous anti-imperialists.

The Conference was divided into two workshops which were held one after the other followed by a plenary session where the groups present, presented a synthesis of their views. The day ended with a supper and a cultural evening.

The same old methods of obscuring the real debate

During the first workshop, on the topic of the strategic significance of the three world analysis, the representatives of the League went to a great deal of trouble to try and prove that IN STRUGGLE! is against the three world analysis. This tactic is not new. In fact, in the last little while the League has used all possible methods to try to prove that IN STRUGGLE! is in the process of falling into the swamp of revisionism. And to prove this outrageous assertion which has no basis whatsoever, the League needs to pull out its heavy artillery: snatches of phrases taken out of their context, gross deformations of our line, and lies, pure and simple lies. [3]

What arguments does it use? IN STRUGGLE! refuses to recognize that the superpowers are the source of war and that social-imperialism is the most dangerous of the two! IN STRUGGLE! falls into conciliation with social-imperialism by supporting a meeting where the revisionist mayor Zayad spoke [4]. IN STRUGGLE! liquidates the united front and the tasks of Marxist-Leninists within it. In its pamphlet For the unity of the Canadian proletariat, IN STRUGGLE! makes no mention whatsoever of the three world theory, except when it puts quotation marks around it, proof that it is against this theory. IN STRUGGLE! says that all imperialist countries are “hegemonic”, when in fact only the two superpowers can make claims to hegemony. IN STRUGGLE! talks about “the superpowers and their allies”, which means that it doesn’t see the contradictions between the superpowers and the second world countries.

IN STRUGGLE! says that the task of Marxist-Leninists is the revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie; which means that IN STRUGGLE! denies that Marxist-Leninists have as a duty to reinforce the united front against the superpowers. IN STRUGGLE! is continually changing positions on the composition of the world united front, etc. etc. The list of quotations taken out of context, of gross deformations of our line is long indeed...

The real debate: applying the class point of view in the international situation

As far as IN STRUGGLE! is concerned, what is really involved in this debate is not whether one group or the other rejects or accepts the three world theory. All the groups present at the Conference agreed on the importance of this analysis in the international situation. No, the problem, the heart of the debate, is the following: how can we apply this theory to the concrete conditions around us? In a dialectic way, and from a class viewpoint, from the viewpoint of the proletariat and its allies? Or in a mechanistic way, by liquidating the class character of contradictions on the international level? That is what is at the heart of the debate; that is why IN STRUGGLE! tried to concentrate the bulk of its critic of the League on these questions throughout the day. For whether it be a matter of the application of the Three world theory, or the question of war and peace, or the unity of Third World countries, or the struggle against the superpowers, etc., the League constantly evacuates the class viewpoint.

As our representative pointed out, how many times have ’we have seen the League praise the positive actions of our bourgeoisie for its opposition to the superpowers, thus masking its class character, its profoundly reactionary nature.

As well, as one of the Conference’s participants remarked, these positions are not just mere accidental errors in the political line of the League. They are there in black and white, inscribed in its Statement of Political Agreement the basis of its political fine, and they were reaffirmed at the Conference.

By opposing hegemonism, by uniting together, and by joining with the Third World, the second world countries are contributing, again to varying degrees, to the isolation of the two Superpowers, and thus to their ultimate defeat and to the overthrow of the world imperialist system. [5]

Yes, indeed, according to the League, it’s ’Long live the Common Market’, that reactionary union of European imperialist countries! Long live the “unity” between imperialist countries like Canada an countries of the Third World! Yes, comrades of the League, aren’t you quite clearly saying that the Canadian bourgeoisie is contributing to the overthrow of worldwide imperialism! Yes, yes, you say, the bourgeoisie “vacillates”. And so its up to Marxist-Leninists to struggle so that “the second world unites with the Third World against the superpowers.”

For as you yourselves have stated: “it is in the interests of the whole people, except for a handful of agents and traitors, to fight against the two superpowers...” [6] There now, could any position be more reactionary than that?

According to the League, IN STRUGGLE! knows nothing about nothing

According to what the League spokespersons stated at the Conference, IN STRUGGLE! still doesn’t understand anything about the place of second world countries in the international balance of power. According to these comrades, there are objective contradictions between the second world countries and the superpowers which could work in favour of the struggle against the superpowers. But IN STRUGGLE!, blinded by its revisionism, is incapable of seeing this. But comrades from the League, if there exist “objective contradictions” why support them, why bring them out in a positive way? There are “objective contradictions” between the superpowers, but does that mean supporting one superpower against the other?

That is why the IN STRUGGLE! representatives who spoke in the workshop dwelt on and repeated the point that the Canadian proletariat must take advantage of the contradictions between the superpowers and the second world countries but that the struggle against the superpowers was inseparable from the struggle to finish off our own bourgeoisie, an imperialist bourgeoisie allied to one of the two superpowers. And on this same point, the comrades from the League “forget” a little too easily that the united front to be built is not aimed only against the superpowers but also against imperialism and by virtue of this fact against the imperialist Canadian bourgeoisie.

Canada: a country involved in preparing for war

The world war in preparation was one of the questions at the heart of the debates in the workshop. The comrades from the League repeated with insistence what was in the presentation document for the workshop, [7] that the two superpowers are the source of war! Yes, we have known since Lenin that the worldwide imperialist system is the cause, the source of war. And since the Chinese comrades produced their analysis of the world situation that the two superpowers are the principal instigators of world war (and when one says something is principal it means that there are secondary factors) and that the Soviet superpower is the most dangerous. But now, since the “illuminating” analyses of the League we have learnt that the two superpowers are the source of war. Eliminate the superpowers and we’ll eliminate war, isn’t that what you’re telling us, comrades from the League? The worldwide imperialist system can stay in place, it doesn’t matter very much! But tell us how you will make imperialist wars disappear without attacking their cause, the world imperialist system?

Are the above just errors in formulation, or simply quotations taken out of context? No, when these things are linked to the soft place that the League reserves for our imperialist bourgeoisie in the world chessboard, it becomes clear that the League’s position on this question is quite coherent. Under the cover of “Death to the superpowers!” there is a position of conciliation with imperialism, particularly with the imperialist Canadian bourgeoisie. For isn’t this bourgeoisie to be part of the united front against the superpowers, all except “a handful of agents and traitors”? Worse still, Canadian Marxist-Leninists must struggle so that our bourgeoisie is in fact part of the united front. This, indeed, is what the League says on page 23 of its Statement of Political Agreement: ”We must fight to make the Canadian people aware of the danger of war, to prepare them for this eventuality. We have to fight for Canada, as a second world country, to join the world united front against the two superpowers...” And to do this, the League is ready to make all necessary compromises with the principles, like for example, stating that the Canadian bourgeoisie is not an integral and active part of the third imperialist world war which is being prepared.

According to IN STRUGGLE!, as our spokes person pointed out, what is essential to the question of war is maintaining a class viewpoint, the viewpoint of the interests of the world proletariat. What type of war is being prepared if it is not an imperialist war? What attitude has our bourgeoisie taken concerning the imperialist war that is in preparation, if it is not to be part and parcel of the war preparations? This is the point of view of the Canadian proletariat on the question of war! And it is from this viewpoint that springs all the importance of the struggle against the war preparations of the superpowers, of waging the struggle against our own bourgeoisie and against its own war preparation in alliance with American imperialism and against its attempts to increase its domination on the Third World, relations that have nothing in common with a so-called desire for “unity”

As we can see, choosing to debate on secondary questions [8] rather than demonstrating IN STRUGGLE!’s “revisionism”, once again, all that the comrades from the League have succeeded in proving at this conference, is their social-chauvinism in international matters. This is where their mechanical application of the analyses of the Chinese comrades to our reality leads to. But is it necessary to remind them, who they so like to teach us lessons, that the Chinese comrades waged a ferocious struggle against the modern revisionists who tried to impose the fine of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on the whole international communist movement.

Fourteen years later, while the CP never imposed neither its line nor its programme on anybody, there are still Marxist-Leninists, including the League, who are dead set on copying the political line of the CPC, thus ridiculing this precious lesson which comes from the Chinese communists themselves, because they want each organization or party in any given country, to develop its programme in a completely independent manner, If the League disagrees with such a point of view, is it able to explain how the proletarian revolution in Canada can “hurt” the world-wide revolution?

* * *

Ed. note) Below we are publishing the second part of our analysis of the CAPT (Comité anti-imperialiste des peuples du Tiers-monde/Third World Anti-imperialist Committee). In an upcoming issue we will deal with other central questions which were brought up during the debate.

“The Third World as the main force in the world united front” was the theme of the second workshop of the conference on the Third World organized by the CAPT in Montreal on July 9.

In the last issue we discussed how during the first workshop the League tried, without success, to show that IN STRUGGLE! was against the three worlds theory. In the afternoon workshop, the League tried to prove that IN STRUGGLE! following in the steps of trotskyists and revisionists, is against the unity of the Third World.

The arguments invoked to try and prove this were of the same order as those used earlier in the day at the first workshop. They were typical of the League’s polemic with IN STRUGGLE! in that lies and demagogy took the place of solid arguments. Some examples of this? In its pamphlet For the unity of the Canadian proletariat! IN STRUGGLE! only brings out the negative aspects of Third World countries; proof that IN STRUGGLE! is against the unity of the Third World. IN STRUGGLE! hesitates in talking about the unity of Third World countries as something positive; so it’s up to the same tricks as the trotskyists and the revisionists! In the same pamphlet, IN STRUGGLE! speaks of the Third World between quotation marks; don’t the quotation marks mean that IN STRUGGLE! holds this fundamental concept of Marxism-Leninism in contempt? With its theories about “conditional” support to some, and “unconditional” support to others, isn’t IN STRUGGLE! casting doubt on the struggles of the peoples of the Third World? conciliates with social-imperialism because it refuses to see that it is the Third World countries’ most dangerous enemy. IN STRUGGLE! has never said that the three world theory comes from Mao Tse-Tung; more proof that IN STRUGGLE! rejects this important theory... and it goes on and on...

Behind the League’s demagogy, lies the fundamental debate

In answer to these attacks, IN STRUGGLE! representative pointed out that those who read our publications with the minimum of honesty have seen that IN STRUGGLE! has always defended the unity of the peoples and countries of the Third World. IN STRUGGLE! has always defended this unity against the manoeuvrings of the imperialist countries, particularly against the superpowers, but also against secondary imperialist countries like Canada.

To end up by saying the contrary, you’d have to cut hairs pretty fine, you’d have to get into a fit over quotation marks, and pull parts of sentences out of their context; in short, you’d have to lie. And this is how the League has gone about justifying its criticisms which have no bases whatsoever.

In this workshop, once again, IN STRUGGLE! tried to for the debate around what the real central questions are: Once we have agreed that the peoples and countries that make up the Third World are the main force in the world united front, does that therefore mean that we should give up all class viewpoint on this question? This is the question that was really at the heart of the afternoon’s debate, and this was the question that IN STRUGGLE! tried to bring out in each one of its interventions.

What, in fact, does the League criticize IN STRUGGLE! for on this question? Basically, for showing that the Third World countries are not a homogeneous bloc without contradictions, for showing that class contradictions exist in the Third World and that as Marxist-Leninist we cannot simply ignore them. We cannot act as if these contradictions do not exist.

The Third World is not a homogeneous bloc

As the comrades from CAPT in replying to questions from the audience pointed out, the countries of the Third World are divided into several categories. There are, of course, countries where the dictatorship of the proletariat exists, countries like China which are engaged in the struggle to build socialism under the leadership of a communist party. There are also countries where “new democracy” exists, countries like Cambodia where a Marxist-Leninist party is leading the struggle for the national democratic revolution based on the worker-peasant alliance. “New democracy” is a transitional stage bridging feudalism, which dominated these countries before the revolutionary masses took power, and socialism.

There are also countries where the national bourgeoisie is in power, as in Tanzania and Algeria. These are independent capitalist countries where the bourgeoisie constantly vacillates between its tendency to depend on imperialist “aid” and its national aspirations which put it in contradiction with the world imperialist system, and in particular, with the two super-powers. In these countries, the bourgeoisie can play the role of supporting national liberation movements. For example, Algeria actively supports the PLO and Tanzania supports the liberation movements in Zimbabwe, Azania and Namibia. But this type of bourgeoisie can never fully achieve the national democratic revolution. In these countries, the Marxist-Leninist movements have the tasks of completing the national democratic revolution and leading the passage of the country to socialism.

And finally, there are Third World countries directed by puppet regimes, compradore regimes, totally in the service of imperialism. These regimes have a social bases within the country which is composed of the most reactionary classes. Such is the regimes of the Shah of Iran, General Pinochet in Chile, Duvalier in Haiti, Geisel in Brazil, Suharto in Indonesia, etc...

So if Third World countries are analyzed from a class viewpoint, from the viewpoint of the revolutionary proletariat. there are clearly profound differences between the regimes which govern them. And what the League criticizes us for is doing this dialectical materialist analysis of Third World countries.

For the League, distinguishing between the different Third World countries amounts to dividing and thus weakening, in the same style as the revisionists and the Trotskyists. It is indeed true that these groups label Third World countries as progressive or reactionary depending on whether they agree or not to kowtow to social-imperialism. But this should never be a reason to hide the class nature of the regimes in power in these countries.

On the contrary, explaining the true class nature of these regimes from a proletarian point of view, and not solely from the point of view of the struggle against the superpowers is a way of making people understand why the unity of the countries of the Third World, a unity which has, indeed, developed and grown stronger in the last few years, a unity which must be supported in all possible ways, remains a unity full of contradictions, a unity whose weaknesses are fed by the two superpowers and world imperialism whenever they get the chance. The unity of Third World countries that are in fact opposed to colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism should never let us close our eyes to bloody fascists like Pinochet in Chile, the Shah of Iran, Suharto in Indonesia, Duvalier in Haiti, Marcos in the Philippines, etc.

Conditional support for the countries of the Third World, unconditional support for the peoples of the Third World

This is why IN STRUGGLE! representatives put forward extending conditional support to countries of the Third World. What does extending conditional support mean? Does it sow confusion as the League comrades would have us believe?

No, on the contrary, it enables fundamental distinctions to be made and thus avoids confusion. Our support to countries of the Third World is conditional because these countries, except for socialist countries and countries of “new democracy”, do not, as peoples do aspire to revolution. but rather, to independence, which is quite different. It is because of this, and only because of this, that these countries are part of the world united front. As the people are not in power in the majority of these countries, the struggle that they are waging for their national independence is, often as not, inconsistent, and hesitant. It is in this sense that IN STRUGGLE! gives its support to the struggles of the countries of the Third World when they act, as they often do in such a way as to contribute to the weakening of the world imperialist system and in particular the two superpowers. And we extend this support while never forgetting, as the comrade from the International Association of Filipinos pointed out, that it is always the revolutionary peoples of the Third World which force the bourgeoisies and even the most reactionary regimes to loosen the hold of the superpowers on their countries.

And when the regimes in power in the Third World practise repression on the peoples of their countries who are struggling against imperialism and all forms of reaction, our duty as Marxist-Leninists is to denounce these anti-people regimes unhesitatingly and unrelentingly. This is what IN STRUGGLE! has always done and will continue to do. The fact that the Shah of Iran is in OPEC and because of this opposes the superpowers must never prevent us from denouncing his fascist dictatorship against the Iranian people and his bloody oppression of the people of Oman.

However: IN STRUGGLE! extends unconditional support to the peoples of the Third World. This we have said time and time again, and we reiterated it at the conference. But why speak of unconditional support only for the peoples of the Third World? Because as our Chinese comrades have taught, only peoples want revolution, revolution which is the ultimate objective of Marxist-Leninists the world over. Refusing to do a dialectical analysis of the situation and preferring instead to mechanically apply the three world theory led the comrades of the League to remain silent for months on end about the fascist repression which victimizes the Iranian people; and worse still, to refuse to support a meeting of solidarity with the resistance of this courageous people on the pretext that the Shah of Iran, that torturer, was opposed to the superpowers! Who, indeed, is sabotaging the unity of the Third World, comrades of the League? Who indeed is spreading confusion?[9]

Always keep in mind the class viewpoint on international questions

In the plenary session following the afternoon workshop, the CAPT, the League and IN STRUGGLE’ each emphasized the points in the debate that they considered essential.

The comrade from the CAPT pointed out in particular that the two superpowers are the worst exploiters of the peoples of the world. and that the USSR is the more dangerous one. He also stressed that the contradictions between the countries of the second world and the superpowers can serve the anti-imperialist struggle inasmuch as they help weaken imperialism. He added unconditional support must be given to national liberation struggles and to peoples’ struggles against fascist Third World regimes. and finished by saying that one of the most important tasks of anti-imperialists in Canada is precisely the reinforcing of their ties with the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement.

As for the comrade from the League, he simply reiterated general principles with which all Marxist-Leninists agree. All agree that we must use the contradictions between second world countries and the superpowers, that the struggle for the united front is not in contradiction with the revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie: that we must support the revolutionary struggles of those fighting against Canadian imperialism and that the Third World countries are the main force in the worldwide united front...

But that, as our representative then noted, is not the key problem, the problem is whether or not the application of these principles to the reality in which we live should lead us to evacuating the class character of contradictions on the international level. Should affirming that the Third World is the main force in the worldwide united front mean that we forget the class struggle going on in these same countries? Should affirming that inter-imperialist contradictions between second world countries and the superpowers help weaken the worldwide imperialist system mean that we invite the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie, mortal enemy of Third World peoples, to take part in the united front? Should affirming that social-imperialism is the more dangerous superpower mean that we forget that the other superpower. American imperialism, is still a blood thirsty enemy of the peoples of the world? Should affirming that the superpowers are preparing for a world war mean that we ignore the imperialist nature of the upcoming war and the active participation of our bourgeoisie in this war? Should affirming that the struggle for the united front is not in contradiction with the revolutionary struggle against the bourgeoisie mean that we forget the necessity of linking them closely together, that our internationalist tasks are only meaningful if they further our revolutionary tasks against the Canadian hourgeoisie? This is what was fundamentally at stake in the debate at the CAPT’s conference. These are questions of the utmost importance for the development of the revolution in Canada as in all other capitalist countries. These are questions that all Marxist-Leninists must seriously consider, and that have nothing to do with the oratorical outbursts, puns and battles of quotation marks that the comrades from the League seem to prefer most of all.

As our representative pointed out, these debates are only useful if they help us advance towards the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists around a communist programme, if they further the struggle for the building of the Canadian proletarian Party.

In this perspective, our representative invited all those attending the CAPT’s meeting to come and defend their point of view at the Third Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, to he held September 9, 10 and 11. This conference will be a good occasion to examine more thoroughly the fundamental questions that have been identified more clearly than ever by the CAPT’s conference.



[1] CAPT: Comité anti-impérialiste des peuples du Tiers-monde, Anti-imperialist Committee of the Third World Peoples.

[2] Association of Iranian Students (Montreal section), International Association of Filipino Patroits, Indian People’s Association in North America, En Avant!, Movement of African Students in Montreal (MEAM), Haitian Organization of Patriotic Action (ORHAP).

[3] See Proletarian Unity no 5 on the lies of the League.

[4] We will return to this criticism in detail in our next issue.

[5] Statement of political agreement for the creation of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) p. 23

[6] Idem p. 54.

[7] Speeches by the CCL (ML) at the Conference on the Third World as the main force in the world-wide anti-imperialist struggle, p. 6

[8] For example, the question of inverted commas on the “third world”...We would like to call upon the League to carefully read Peking Review no. 27, July 1977, p. 26, 3rd column where the expression “third world” also had inverted commas.

[9] We will publish the third parto of this analysis specifically the “Zayed Affair” in our next issue.