Published: in On Unity of Marxist-Leninists,1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The student movement is part of the people’s movement and its rise and development necessarily assists the general revolutionary movement in the society. For this reason, it is extremely important to take a correct attitude towards the student movement, its scope and its organisation.
The 1960’s saw the tremendous development of the student movement as well as of the youth movement. Even though, in the course of the growth and development of the student and youth movement, all sorts of negative lines came forward to strangle it, the basic direction and orientation of the student and youth movement was correct, as history has shown that a significant number of students and youth took up the task of building Marxist-Leninist organisations and leading the working class struggles. The revolutionary experience of the 1960’s of the student and youth movement was a rich experience which merits serious attention.
There are certain organisations and individuals who call themselves Marxist-Leninists but are opposed to historically examining tne student and youth movement and drawing proper conclusions. We do not quibble with these organisations and individuals whether they are Marxist-Leninists or not. What we do question is their erroneous lines on the question of student organisations, the scope and orientation of the students and the relationship of the student struggles to the society at large. These are the crucial questions on which we must take a clear stand and criticise and repudiate the erroneous lines of these organisations and individuals.
The main organisations who call themselves Marxist-Leninist and are delving in the student movement are En Lutte and MREQ. Along with other organisations, it is our belief that these organisations are promoting an anarcho-syndicalist line for the student movement and we believe that if this line is not firmly opposed it will do a great deal of damage to the student movement.
Some comrades and friends have questioned the correctness and necessity of launching an open polemic against En Lutte and MREQ and other organisations. We would like to convey to our comrades and friends that we are against launching a public polemic as it gladdens the hearts of the main enemy (and revisionists and trotskyists) to see the Marxist-Leninists fighting amongst themselves. We do not like this situation at all. We would prefer to sort out these contradictions on a fraternal and non-antagonistic basis and away from our enemies. But the other organisations have continuously, directly or indirectly, through printed words or orally, taken this debate to the public and we must answer them right in public. Those who agree that this sort of polemic is not good in public should themselves stop denouncing us in public and come forward to sort out these problems in the correct Marxist-Leninist and revolutionary style. On our part, we have never launched public attacks ourselves against anyone except on one occasion for which we offered self-criticism. On the other hand, other organisations have continuously launched attacks against us and they must be held responsible for any harm which may come out of these polemics. Let us give you some examples as to who is responsible for these attacks: 1) It was Jack Scott, then Chairman of the now defunct Progressive Workers Movement who launched public attacks and a slander campaign against the Internationalists and Hardial Bains in Novemeber 1969. 2) It was individuals connected with MREQ and later on MREQ itself which launched public attacks against us in 1971-72 and have persisted in doing this to date. 3) We ourselves publicly criticised Charles Gagnon’s pamphlet but criticised ourselves for erroneous style even though we still maintain that our line is correct and 4) Now En Lutte has launched a public attack on us in their issue of December 12. We would like to stress here that it is altogether wrong to suggest that CPC(M-L) attacks all those who disagree with them and calls them names.We have merely answered attacks on ourselves and defended ourselves against all sorts of revisionist and opportunist slanders but we do not believe that 1) just because there are disagreements, we have joined opposing camps and 2) that once disagreements arise, these are permanent and eternal. We believe that disagreements can be straightened out and clarified if the Marxist-Leninists persist in pointing out one another’s errors by joining one Party and waging a vigorous struggle there: Building one’s own fiefdom and paying attention to only the narrow interests of one’s own organisation is extremely detrimental to the growth and development of the revolutionary movement. At the same time, we do not advocate unity at all costs, that is unity with revisionists and opportunists of various hues.
(This article first appeared in People’s Canada Daily News, Vol. 3. No. 81, December 16, 1974.)