First Published: The Forge, Vol. 1, No. 17, Sept 9, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Fulfilling its mandate established at the creation of the League in October 1975, the Provisional Central Committee of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) convoked the First Congress of the organization at the end of May 1976. The Congress is the highest decision-making body of the League.
The First Congress consolidated the CCL (ML) both politically and organizationally. Delegates to the Congress included the members of the Provisional Central Committee and members elected democratically by each cell unit.
The Congress was held in a spirit of revolutionary enthusiasm. The debates, the resolutions and the decisions democratically arrived at, marked an important turning point in the League’s development and in its struggle to realize the central task of Canadian Marxist-Leninists – the creation of a genuine communist party of the working class.
The agenda for the Congress’ activities included: 1) the ratification of the political line of the League as contained in its Statement of Political Unity. 2) the presentation, debate, admendments, discussion and adoption of the Political and Organizational Reports presented by the Provisional Central Committee, as well as of certain other resolutions. 3) the adoption of the self-criticism of the Provisional Central Committee and the democratic election of a new Central Committee to direct the League until the next Congress.
Among the significant political developments of the Congress we mention the following:
1) In our position on the international situation two points are to be particularly noted: a) the development of the League’s position on the inevitability of a world war between the superpowers and the relationship between the factors of war and revolution; b) a clarification of our analysis of the struggle of the third world peoples and countries, main force in the fight against colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism, and on how to best support their struggles.
2) In our position on the internal situation in Canada, we note the clarifications’ in the theoretical basis necessary for a future class analysis of Canadian society; the adoption of the right to work as a major demand in a programme of democratic rights; and a more developed analysis of the crisis, the labour movement and the reactionary parties, especially the revisionist “Communist” Party of Canada.
On the question of the three conditions necessary for the creation of the party in Canada, the Congress adopted the resolution that for the work of the League, priority must be given to the rallying of the most advanced elements of the working class. At the same time, the League must accentuate the struggle for the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, to develop political line and pursue the fight against right opportunism.
In analyzing the practice of the League over the seven-month period from its creation to its First Congress, the Congress stressed that:
A) The political line of the League was an essentially correct basis for the development of a revolutionary strategy for the proletarian revolution in Canada but that future developments of the line were required on many questions. The League had made important strides forward in combatting right opportunism and had played a leading role in the break-up of the organized opportunist movement in Quebec.
B) In terms of the struggle for unity the League had begun open polemics with the Marxist-Leninist formation In Struggle around some of the most important political questions. The Congress emphasized the need to pursue and deepen the struggle for unity with In Struggle and other Canadian Marxist-Leninists. This unity can only be based on a correct ideological and political line. The League must use open polemics and debates and other necessary means.
The Congress also accepted the decision of Workers’ Unity, a Toronto Marxist-Leninist group, to rally to the League and stressed the importance for the League to have rallied a Marxist-Leninist group from English Canada.
C) In terms of the League’s practical work, the Congress noted that the League had developed widespread communist agitation and propaganda in both languages by means of its newspaper, The Forge, and its study groups and readers’ circles, as well as by assemblies, meetings and leaflets. The League also began to rally advanced elements of the working class and began to participate actively in some struggles of the workers” movement, notably that of the Common Front workers in Quebec.
The League had launched its first political campaign against the wage freeze. Organizationally, a significant break with localism was a new district in Ontario, and thus to begin work in both national territories of Canada. Also mentioned was the rapid development of communist work in the province of Quebec, outside of Montreal.
Among mass activities, the League’s contingent in the May Day demonstration was noted for the participation of trade unions behind our banner.
But if the Congress brought out the essentially positive nature of the League’s first half-year of existence, it also analyzed in some detail the insufficiencies in the League’s political line and the weaknesses and errors committed in its practice.
The Congress resolved to analyze and correct the following insufficiencies in the political line of the CCL(ML): aspects of the international situation, with particular reference to the war danger, the united front and the struggle to safeguard Canada’s independence; the woman question; the Quebec national question; the Amerindian and Inuit questions; the immigrant question; as well as certain key elements in the tactical line.
Among the weaknesses noted by the Congress was the small number of industrial workers who had been rallied to the League and our still weak degree of participation in workers’ struggles.
This problem was traced to certain objective factors but principally to the subjective factors: the League’s youth, its seven months of existence and its inexperience, and especially to certain right opportunist practices inside the League which showed the need to further continue and deepen the struggle against them.
Modern revisionism, a right opportunist deviation, is the main enemy of Marxism-Leninism on a world scale. This lethal trend helps to spawn the growth of right opportunism which is the main danger in both the workers’ movement and inside the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada. The reasons behind the right opportunist errors in our practice can be explained by these latter factors, along with the following: 1) the remnants of the economist errors of the founding groups (which were the subject of self-criticism in our text, The Struggle for the Creation of the CCL (ML); 2) our localism and inexperienced cadre; 3) the still majoritarily petty-bourgeois class origins of our members.
The Congress noted that while there was no consolidated right opportunist line present in the League and while our practice had been in general positive, it was necessary to wage a determined and continuing struggle against right opportunism within our ranks, both in its vulgar economist manifestations and in its more subtle forms, where it is masked by an intellectualist work style.
To break with primitive forms of work and organization, the Congress called for a firmer application of democratic centralism inside the organization and for the training of a strong batallion of revolutionary cadres, in priority of working class-origins, and also of women and from the oppressed nation.
The Congress recognized the need for cadre to be developed not only by internal study, but especially in the heat of class struggle by participating directly and taking the lead in the political and economic struggles of the proletariat.
To sum up, the First Congress of the League was one of political and organizational consolidation. With it, the League ended the first period of its existence – the period which marked its creation – the affirmation of its political line and its first presence among the masses. In the second period, which began after the Congress, the League must undertake even more intensely this struggle to fulfill the conditions for the creation of the party.
In order to accomplish this task, the Congress resolved that the League move boldly forward in the struggle to fulfill the conditions to create the party:
1) by continuing to develop our political line and on this basis to demarcate ourselves clearly from revisionism and opportunists of all sorts;
2) by intensifying the struggle to unite Marxist-Leninists on the basis of ideological and political line and struggling against right opportunism and economism which are still present inside the Marxist-Leninist movement;
3) by taking up in a more resolute fashion the task of rallying the creasing the expansion of the League, establishing factory cells in the major industrial centres of the country. In order to do this we have to continue to put forward communist agitation and propaganda as our main activity particularly in the campaign against the crisis and anti-worker laws and to participate with even more energy in immediate struggles in order to link them to the fight for socialism, and to continue the struggle against the bourgeois line in our unions.
The Congress showed the League’s will to base itself on Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tsetung Thought, to struggle particularly against right opportunism including modern revisionism, to analyze, criticize and rectify our errors, and to proletarianize our organization and its practice.
In this sense it marked a resolute step forward in the League’s struggle to realize along with all genuine Marxist-Leninists our central task of creating a communist party in Canada.
The Congress reaffirmed that, in order to put an end to capitalist exploitation and build socialism in Canada, the working class must lead the armed struggle for the overthrow of our principal enemy, the Canadian bourgeoisie and its state, and to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat. It must also lead the struggle of the Canadian people against the two superpowers, especially American imperialism, to defend our independence as an integral part of the proletarian revolution in our country.
One of the final acts of the Congress was the approval of messages to be sent to the Communist Party of China and to the Party of Labour of Albania.
The Congress concluded on a high note of unity and proletarian internationalism with the singing of the Internationale.
Build the Canadian Communist League) Marxist-Leninist)!
Long live the unity of Marxist-Leninists!
Forward to the creation of Marxist-Leninist communist party in Canada!
Long live the dictatorship of the proletariat!