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Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist)

For the unity of Marxist-Leninists

Chapter III. Proposals of the CCL(ML) for the intensification of the struggle for unity

So far we have outlined the general position of the League concerning the struggle to unify Canadian Marxist-Leninists, and have criticized some erroneous views on this question, specifically those of In Struggle!.

We have also seen that to overcome the divisions within the communist movement we have to undertake seriously the ideological struggle. The differences that presently exist will not disappear by themselves. Try as we might we cannot simply turn our backs and have them vanish. For instance there are two positions within our movement on the definition of the principal contradiction in Canada; that it opposes the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, or the bourgeoisie and US imperialism against the proletariat. There are not 100 ways to resolve this difference. Either one or the other of these positions is correct, and the other erroneous, in which case the comrades with the wrong views must rectify them to correspond to objective reality, or possibility neither is exact, and with further struggle the correct line will emerge. In any case, for the revolutionary struggle to advance we must resolve this question. And this is but one of several key problems which face us today.

The ideological struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement is not some abstract, sterile and purposeless intellectual debate. It’s an urgent fight to determine the correct path for the advancement of the Canadian revolutionary struggle. Should we ignore this task, or should we fail to conduct it correctly the results could be very serious.

Lenin explained:

... only shortsighted people can consider factional disputes and a strict differentiation between shades of opinion inopportune or superfluous. The fate of Russian Social Democracy for very many years to come may depend on the strengthening of one or the other ’shade’. (What Is To Be Done?)

Our differences have to be resolved if we wish to advance towards the party. To approach the struggle for unity simply crying ”unity-unity-unity”, as In Struggle! is presently doing, for example, without proposing how to intensify the ideological struggle in order to resolve our differences is useless.

There is objective truth. There is a correct analysis of the situation-on our country. There is a correct application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions of Canada. The problem is to determine this line and unite around it.

We have already explained that each group of communists has the duty to study Marxism-Leninism and formulate positions on the main questions of ideological and political line that face our movement. On this basis they can proceed to undertake some revolutionary practice and clearly demarcate themselves on the one hand from the opportunists and counter-revolutionaries, and on the other from differing points of view within the communist movement. They should carry out the ideological struggle to assure the triumph of the correct line and use the method of unity-criticism-unity to solve their contradictions with other Marxist-Leninists one by one until basic political and ideological unity has been achieved. (See Chapter I, Section VII for the questions on which the League believes Marxist-Leninists must unite.)

These tasks, this general line, must be applied by all the genuine communists in Canada if we really desire to overcome our divergences and arrive at unity.

In a recent issue of The Forge, the League published a call to the Marxist-Leninist movement to intensify the ideological struggle.

– “through our respective organs to openly and publicly engage in a polemic on all the essential aspects of political line...”;
– “to publicly debate our differences at conferences in the important centres of the country so that the whole movement and the advanced elements can have a clear idea of them”;
– “to engage in private discussions, if necessary, to clarify these important questions”.

Depending on the concrete conditions, of course, different groups of Marxist-Leninists must use different methods to accomplish this.

Earlier we noted the uneven development and continuing danger of right opportunism within the communist movement across our country. That it is split into many groups in different areas, at different stages of political development. Naturally any proposition to advance the struggle for unity must take this situation into account. While assuring that there be equality and mutual respect among the different groups of communists, no matter what their size, we must recognize that there are some groups which are significantly more developed than others.

No one would deny that In Struggle! and the CCL(ML) are the most developed and influential groups in the country. This is not so much because of their size, but due to the fact that both put forward relatively precise political lines, publish bi-monthly newspapers with readers across the country and have initiated revolutionary practice in several cities. Also, a certain polarization of the other communists in the movement has clearly taken place over sympathies with one or the other of these two organizations. All the communist groups in the country have an important role to play in the fight for the party, but the role of these two groups cannot be denied.

In contrast to these two groups, most other communist formations in Canada do not as yet have very developed political lines. Their study and practice has not yet advanced sufficiently to allow them to seriously and honestly make up their minds on certain key points of line.

To advance the struggle for unity we must take account of this reality. The full participation of all Marxist-Leninists in this struggle will not necessarily be achieved by proposing exactly the same methods of carrying on the debates to each group irrespective of the situation in which they find themselves. Rather we must suggest forms of struggle that correspond to the development of each group. Under the pretext of assuring equality within the communist movement, we cannot hide the real inequalities that exist and that are holding back the development of our whole movement. We must find methods of struggle that allow all groups to participate, participate in a manner that corresponds to their capacities and possibilities.

Here we should take account of this situation and apply our general proposition to intensify the ideological struggle to the various groupings of Marxist-Leninists that presently exist in Canada.

First, to Marxist-Leninist study groups:

Marxist-Leninist study groups exist in different parts of the country, but this form is particularly prevalent in the West.

A Marxist-Leninist study group cannot itself directly participate in the struggle for unity. It is not as such united firmly around a political line, its members are not bound by a common communist discipline, nor is such a group involved in leading communist work among the proletariat. It is in fact a group of individual communists and communist sympathisers who are studying together to facilitate their assimilation of Marxism-Leninism.

A communist study group can of course publish certain material and contribute to general debates within the movement, but in the final analysis there are only two alternatives which face such a group: Either it can, after serious study, and assuring basic agreement on questions of line, place itself under the leadership of a communist group or organization. Or it can consolidate itself politically, and organizationally, and form a new Marxist-Leninist group or collective. Which is the correct course for any particular study group can only be determined by examining the concrete situation.

Such a decision is naturally based on political line. If a study group has after study found clear-cut agreement with a communist group or organization, then it must not insist on founding its own little group.

If there is basic agreement on line how could the formation of another group advance the revolutionary struggle? After all the aim is to break with primitivism and small-group spirit, not to perpetuate it. In certain circumstances, if there are political or organizational difficulties to achieving unity immediately, then a study group may have no choice but to form a new group. In that case from then on it will pursue the struggle for unity as would any other communist group or collective.

The clarification of their views on different questions of political line is a task that must be taken up by the members of Marxist-Leninist study groups. Study groups can help to clarify the views of their members for a period of time, but they cannot go on existing forever. The time comes when their members must join a communist group or organization with a clear line, practice and discipline. If not they run the risk of spending years in idle intellectual debate. Communists in independent communist study groups must intensify their efforts so that we can rapidly leave behind this primitive form of organization.

The CCL(ML) is prepared to meet and discuss with study groups, to debate different aspects of our political line, and to discuss the course of action that any particular group should take. Second, to Marxist-Leninist groups and collectives: To intensify the struggle for unity there are two main tasks that must be assumed by communist collectives and groups: to clarify their positions and propagate them, and to develop the struggle both locally and across the country.

1. Most communist groups across the country have as yet but a minimal basis of unity. It is important that these groups intensify their study of theory, of the concrete conditions of Canada and of the situation in the Marxist-Leninist movement in order to develop their political lines. These positions developed, the groups have a responsibility to propagate them and carry out the ideological struggle. The example of a group like Workers’ Unity should serve as encouragement. You don’t have to be a huge organization with full-time researchers to develop a line or play a role in the communist movement.

2. Communist groups must pursue the struggle for unity both locally and with groups across the country. On the one hand they must strive for unity with other communists from their own region or city. After all it is probably with these militants that they share the most common experience and have the possibility for the most regular contact.

On the other hand communist groups must immediately take up the ideological struggle across the country. To refuse to undertake this struggle, to refuse to meet with the League, for example, on the pretext of first “settling things locally” is erroneous. It represents a localist point of view. Political line must be put in command. Today there are communist formations whose work extends across the country, and the different collectives and groups must address this fact. We must not turn inwards, but must actively undertake to build a solid Marxist-Leninist organization from coast to coast.

There is one further question that confuses many militants. Is it necessary for a communist group to have developed positions on all the major points of political line before undertaking the struggle for unity?

It is certainly not necessary. For it is precisely the ideological struggle that can provide an excellent situation for a group to clarify and develop its line. And where the struggle is fiercest there will the line be the most solid. For example when Workers’ Unity began discussions with the League, there were many questions, notably the principal contradiction, on which WU remained unclear. The process of struggle greatly aided WU in its study and the formulation of its own positions. It was not a case of the League brainwashing WU, or bullying them to adopt our positions, but that the ideological struggle facilitated the development of a correct line.

This point is important to grasp. The League would never suggest that each group simply crawl off into a corner to develop “their line”. No, the struggle for unity must be initiated immediately.

To favor the fight for unity, communist groups and collectives can use different methods. Besides written polemics, bilateral discussions can be very useful. After a certain basic unity exists between two groups such discussions are necessary to deepen the struggle for unity.

The League is always ready to meet and debate other communists.

In some cases it might even be fruitful to organize regional conferences among communists to discuss and debate key questions of line. Such conferences could greatly help to extend the ideological struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement.

Third, to the communist group In Struggle!:

It is well known that In Struggle! has launched an appeal for the creation of another Marxist-Leninist organization in Canada. There is every indication that in the coming months In Struggle! will move to unite other forces around their group to realize this objective.

We must struggle for communists to be united in the same organization. When there already exists one Marxist-Leninist organization in a country, the decision to create a new one is thus a serious one which can only be made on the basis of deep differences in line which cannot be resolved in the short term. The different groups involved in creating this new organization must therefore seriously weigh the implications of their action. Such an organization would have to be created on the basis of a clear political line after a process of demarcation and ideological struggle around the basic questions for the revolution in Canada. It could only come about if the ideological struggle had shown up the existence of profound divergences with the line of the CCL(ML), which implies that first of all a serious struggle for unity with the CCL(ML) had been undertaken.

Already in this brochure we have documented In Struggle’s practice in the battle for unity. They have never put politics in command. They have never seriously undertaken the ideological struggle with the CCL(ML).

It is for this reason that we call upon In Struggle! to answer our various criticisms and to clarify where they stand on the major issues of political line.

Concretely, in order to favor the development of the ideological struggle in the next months we submit to In Struggle! the following three-point proposal:

1) That In Struggle! and the CCL(ML) initiate a series of public meetings, to be held in the principal centres across the country. These public debates would allow the clarification of the lines, of points of agreement and disagreement, of our two organizations.

Such debate would be of great benefit to communist militants active in regions where the League and In Struggle! are not yet present, to those who have thus not been directly exposed to our respective practice.

Debates of this type could rapidly put an end to the confusion which still exists regarding In Struggle! and the CCL(ML) and could intensify the ideological struggle, focusing it on certain key points of political line.

To be discussed at these meetings we would suggest:

– the present international situation
– the principal contradiction in Canada
– the struggle to unite Marxist-Leninists
– the tasks in the struggle to build the party. The precise format could be worked out later.

2) That our two formations continue to develop the polemic that has begun in our newspapers and publications. So far these exchanges have permitted the clarification of a number of issues and they must continue. Nevertheless, in the next period we must devote attention to assuring that we concentrate on the key questions of ideological and political line and are not diverted to secondary issues.

3) That in the near future we hold private discussions between In Struggle! and the CCL(ML) to help clarify certain points of agreement and disagreement and about the ideological struggle for unity. So far, since the creation of the League, there have been no private meetings between our two formations. Now, with the development, struggle and clarification of line that has occurred over the past year, we believe that private discussions could be beneficial. Public resumes of such discussions would keep the whole movement informed as to their progress.

We urge the comrades of In Struggle! to seriously consider these propositions. Developing such a program to intensify the ideological struggle can only advance the cause of communist unity in Canada.