First Published: The Forge, Vol. 1, No. 6, March 11, 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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International Women’s Day witnessed the organization, on March 6th, of two celebrations on a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist basis: That of the coalition organized by En Lutte, GRP, and CRICS and that of the CCL (ML). The success obtained by these two celebrations is very encouraging: it marks the growing influence of Marxist-Leninists among the masses. It also shows the importance of such independent action. In order to assure an ever stronger penetration of Marxist-Leninist ideology among the masses.
As the readers of the Forge are aware a polemic was started on this occasion between the League and En Lutte. This polemic between Marxist-Leninists is a good thing because it permits us to uncover the errors, clarify positions and thus, to break with opportunism. This can only be positive for the whole of the Marxist-Leninist movement and for the organizations, in particular.
The polemic of En Lutte against the League is contained in a supplement in its March 4th issue. It appears, however, that the comrades of En Lutte have not clearly understood the criticisms which we addressed to them: In effect, they do not answer our criticisms in the 4 pages that they devoted to refute them. We will therefore take up the criticisms (in part at least) and, at the some time, make the necessary clarifications.
To make the terms of the debate clear, we must begin by establishing the chronology of facts in question.
January 1976: En Lutte addresses a letter to the CCL(ML) inviting it to participate in the formation of a “Marxist-Leninist coalition” with the aim of intervening in the March 8th celebration organized by the union centrals (note, this letter does not refer to an autonomous celebration by the coalition. The comrades from En Lutte inform us that they do not want to debate the question of who is or is not Marxist-Leninist among the groups they propose to unite for the coalition, This letter contains no proposal for the political platform of the coalition, nor any mention of the existence of such a platform.
February 6th: The League answers En Luttes letter (see The Forge No .5). The League indicates its refusal to participate in the “Marxist-Leninist coalition” because it considers that certain groups do not belong to the Marxist-Leninist movement, while it is presently studying other group. Finally it says that it is ready to participate in a united front on the occasion of March 8th, as long as it is organized around a “correct and clear political platform.”
In addition, the League criticizes En Lutte for giving priority to “common action” in the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists and not to the struggle over ideological and political line.
Then, we criticize the error of En Lutte which consists of objectively downgrading (even if it is not their intention) their position on the woman question by the fact that they do not propose a communist platform.
Finally, we criticize En Lutte because they invoke the present weakness of the Marxist-Leninist movement to justify their refusal to organize an autonomous communist intervention for the occasion of International Women’s Day. And then we propose that En Lutte participate in the day organized by the League if they agree with the platform on which it is based.
February 19: Intervention of the Marxist-Leninist coalition at the meeting of the union centrals. It should be noted that this intervention makes no mention of social-imperialism, the increasing factors of war, of revisionism, of the necessity of women joining the ranks of the world united front against the two superpowers, of which people and countries of the third world constitute the principal force.
February 21: Letter addressed to the ADDS by En Lutte, inviting it to organize a celebration separate from that of the centrals. The political platform of the coalition has not yet been put forward publicly. This letter contains the accusation that the League refused to participate with the coalition simply because there was no agreement on the principal contradiction.
February 26: Criticism of the position of En Lutte appears in THE FORGE.
March 4: Criticism of the position of the League appears in En Lutte, where for the first time, En Lutte makes public the platform of the coalition for the organization of International Women’s Day.
But the League has insisted since the beginning on organizing an autonomous celebration on a revolutionnary basis. This is because the woman question has strategic implications concerning political line.
This question is not on the same level as the death of Chou En-lai, the 25th Anniversary of the Chinese Revolution, or the participation under a common banner at a particular demonstration. In other words it is not a special event. The question of who are friends and the enemies of women is a crucial one for the future of the Canadian revolution. For these reasons, such a celebration must be organized on the basis of a clear revolutionary platform.
This is not to say that Marxist-Leninist groups or progressive groups and individuals who do not share the political line of the League are excluded from participating in the activities of such a celebration. The only condition for their participation is to accept the platform put forward at this occasion. In reality, diverse community and cultural groups participated in the March 8th celebration organized by the League.
The League is glad to see that En Lutte has finally published a platform for the March 8th celebration whose content is Marxist-Leninist. It is a good thing that the comrades from En Lutte and the coalition, after their setback with the unions, and following the criticism of the League, decided to celebrate March 8th independently, and on a Marxist-Leninist basis. This is what we advocated in our first reply to En Lutte. However this platform still contain certain important weaknesses. No mention is made of the growing factors of war, nor of the principal role played by the third world in the struggle against colonialism, imperialism, and particularly the world-wide united front against the begemonism of the two superpowers, the United States and the USSR. We must also note that the comrades of the coalition forgot (in the same fashion as the League on the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat as En Lutte correctly informs us) to define the creation of the Marxist-Leninist party as the central task at the present time.
But, this platform contains another important weakness. It was, in effect, made public only two days before the date of the celebration and wasn’t used as a basis for the interventions of the coalition before this date. En Lutte attacks the League for having mentioned that the platform of the coalition was minimal.
But we ask En Lutte: If your platform existed before march 4th, why did you wait until March 4th before making it public so that the League and the masses could be aware of it? The only thing announced publicly before March 4th was the intervention made by the coalition at the meeting of the centrals February 19, where let us note, the Marxist-Leninist platform wasn’t clearly expressed before the masses. For example. in the intervention of the coalition, no mention was made of social-imperialism, even if one of the points of the March 4th platform, stated explicitly that “Women must engage in the struggle of the people against imperialism and social-imperialism.” En Lutte invokes the fact that it was pressed for time: “...is it necessary to recall that there were 32 groups at the assembly and that if each one had taken 10 or I5 minutes to present its point of view, then the meeting would have lasted many nights...” (En Lutte Supplement p. 2). Is this a valid justification?
En Lutte didn’t lead the struggle against the enemies of the people: The coalition had as its first objective to participate in the International Women’s Day organized by the centrals. En Lutte’s January 22 letter to the League didn’t mention the possibility of organizing a celebration on a clear Marxist-Leninist basis. On the contrary, in the letter, there is a warning of the danger of organizing a celebration “cut off from the masses”. It was only February 21, after the centrals rejected their participation. that the coalition changed its position and decided to organize a celebration on their own.
It is also very clear that the League was not opposed to intervening in the activities organized by the centrals. On the contrary, as we mentioned in our letter of February 6, the League attributes much importance to the struggle against the control of the bourgeoisie over the unions. We are engaged in this struggle in the factories, as well as at the other levels (see, for example, the resume of our intervention at the last congress of the QFL. The Forge, Vol. I. no 2).
The comrades of En Lutte accuse the League of idealism in “the struggle for the trimph of proletarian ideology among the masses,” because we refuse to participate in the organization of International Women’s Day with trotskyists and revisionists of the “C” PC, and because we criticize them for not having firmly led the struggle against bourgeois ideology in the working class movement and against the agents of the bourgeoisie who widely propagate this ideology.
Let us be very clear. The CCL (ML) will not collaborate with any action organized by the revisionists of the “C” PC or the trotskyists. These are enemies of the working class and the socialist revolution. If counter-revolutionaries succeed in mobilizing authentic mass organizations down the wrong road, it is not for us to follow them on the pretext that they regroup the masses. It is our duty to denounce the counter-revolutionaries and the reformist union bosses. We should invite all honest groups to participate with us in celebrating International Women’s Day organized on the basis of an authentic Marxist-Leninist platform.
The comrades of En Lutte and the coalition went to the meeting of the centrals, but they did not lead an open and consistent struggle against the class enemy. Rather, they asked it they could intervene in the evening event with all the other groups including the counter-revolutionaries. They didn’t attempt to denounce and isolate the latter and to win over the honest elements to the organization of a Women’s Day on a revolutionary basis. Right from the moment that the comrades in the coalitiOn made their speech, they accepted that any other position could also be put forward in the organization of the day.
“We would like to point out that our participation is not dependent on every group accepting all the points in our platform. However, it is important that this viewpoint be expressed during the celebration”. (Coalition intervention – 19th of February).
In its March 4th supplement, En Lutte said that members of the coalition went to the union centrals’ meeting to “struggle to put forward the proletarian viewpoint and to expose the union bosses, the revisionists. the trotskyists and other reformists. En Lutte goes on: “We weren’t clear enough? We didn’t struggle hard enough? This is quite possible, we’ll try to be clearer next time and we’ll try to put forward a more rigorous attack.”
One would hope so, comrades, because in the coalition’s presentation, there is no mention of the revisionism of the “C” PC, traitor to the Canadian working class and agent of social-imperialism; nor were the trotskyists or the reformists presently at the head of the unions denounced. The coalition did not struggle to get its positions accepted as the basis of unity for the day. What then happened to the struggle against reactionary ideas and those people that put them forward? What happened to Marxist-Leninist principles?
Even after being gagged by the sell-out artists who organized this meeting, En Lutte refused to denounce the reactionaries. In the coalition letter io the ADDS, the union organizers’ refusal is termed merely “regretable”. Isn’t this just sowing confusion on the nature of these agents of the bourgeoisie.
The CCL(ML) believes that one doesn’t make strategic, tactical or any other type of unity With the revisionists and the trotskyists or collaborate in organizing any action with them. In all cases, we should struggle against the hold of bourgeois ideology on the workers’ movement and those that put it forward. We should create the conditions that will enable communist ideas to be expressed and to be triumphant in the unions. Communists must maintain their independence both inside and outside of the unions so as to rally the most advanced workers. We must struggle to transform the unions into instruments of class struggle. We must never, on the pretext that we’re still weak, rely on the agents of the bourgeoisie who control the unions to reach the masses and in doing so relax our struggle against them.
According to En Lutte “The League’s position leads to the negation of the existence of a Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement.” This is false. We recognize the existence of this movement and we’re struggling to reinforce it. But we insist on the clarity of the political principles which determine who is and who is not in the Marxist-Leninist movement. It is only thus that we can avoid including all sorts of “fellow travellers” and dangerous opportunists whose activity can only weaken and hold back the struggle for the creation of a single communist party of the Canadian proletariat.
But to recognize the existence of a Marxist-Leninist movement means first of all to recognize the necessity of engaging in the political and ideological struggle to unify it, in fact to create the party. In the struggle for unity, it is struggle around political line which is principal; common actions are definitely secondary. This position was shared, until recently. by the En Lutte comrades who wrote on June 8th, 1975:
Those who put “united action” to the forefront, the common practice of M-L groups, as a method of unification, perpetuate the illusion that the organization or the Party can be the result of a kind of mixture of groups and political points of view.
To build the organization from the top implies a merciless struggle against the autonomism of “cells” and against localism; that implies as well the annihilation of the point of view that it’s not only necessary to consecrate me “autonomy” of the current “cells”, but more than that to elevate that autonomism to a “system”) of organization, as for example Mobilisation – Librairie Progressiste would want. (En Lutte, P. 5).
If En Lutte has changed its position, as its recent declarations would lead us to think, it Should publicly explain the reasons behind this decision.
The comrades from En Lutte do not give a satisfactory reply to the question of who is or who is not Marxist-Leninist. This question cannot be settled merely by including in the M-L movement all those who claim to be Marxist-Leninist.Why? Because Marxist-Leninists are those who not only accept the principles but apply them and struggle against falsifications and opportunism. It is thus not a question of building superficial unity of those who claim to he Marxist-Leninists.
This, one might add, will end up consolidating opportunist groups, like, for example, Mobilisation-Librairie Progressiste (See our critique in this issue). In this way, the formation of Marxist-Leninist coalitions can only sow confusion among the masses as to who is Marxist-Leninist.
The repeated formation of these coalitions is certainly not the road towards the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists. The road towards unity is the struggle over questions of ideological and political line because the degree of demarcation achieved up until now is very weak. Obviously, this does not exclude on occasional unity of action Marxist-Leninist groups, nor unity of action with groups that are not Marxist-Leninist only condition being that they accept the political basis of unity.
As we said in our February 26th editorial (to which En Lutte does not refer) the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists necessitates a firm political and ideological struggle on the fundamental questions of the Canadian revolution.
The analysis of the principal contradiction, the struggle of the Canadian people in the world united front against the hegemonism of the superpowers, the Quebec national question, strategy and tactics in the struggle to build a Marxist-Leninist communist party. and the tasks in the union movement.
These are the questions around which Marxist-Leninists should wage vigorous debates.
This is an urgent task in the struggle for the creation of a Marxist-Leninist party to Canada, at a time when the crisis of imperialism is deepening and the danger of a new world war is becoming ever more menacing.