First Published: The Forge, Vol. 2, No. 8, April 14, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In Struggle has finally held their famous second “unity” conference to debate the path of the revolution in Canada. The conference took two days. After the opening speeches of the participants there were workshops around various themes.
The CCL(ML) did not attend this conference and we called on Marxist-Leninists to boycott it. We could not participate in a conference which claimed to favour the struggle for communist unity but to which all sorts of opportunist groups had been invited. We could not participate in a conference which was obviously being organized to diffuse the struggle over the main questions of line rather than to intensify the struggle.
Like the first one, this conference was just a big show – but this time with a lot fewer groups participating, and a much smaller audience. Last time there was no time for debate at all. This time there was lots of time for discussion but In Struggle had arranged everything to avoid struggle over the real questions of strategic line for revolution in our country.
For instance, In Struggle was all too happy to have groups like the Red Star Collective from Vancouver and Workers’ Unity (Edmonton) at the conference, groups which defend the position that Canada is not an imperialist country and that the principal contradiction is between the Canadian bourgeoisie and American imperialism, and the Canadian proletariat. This allows In Struggle to pose as the great defender of the correct position that Canada is an imperialist country and the principal contradiction is between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
By focusing the struggle on the blatantly anti-Marxist position of these groups, In Struggle hopes to cover up the fact that for three years they put forward a wrong analysis of the principal contradiction and avoided any thorough self-criticism. Conciliating with these same anti-Marxist positions, In Struggle refused to recognize the Canadian bourgeoisie as the principal enemy and spread confusion about the roles of the two superpowers in Canada. Even today In Struggle, despite the superficial change in their formulation of the principal contradiction, continues to conciliate with the economist analysis of class contradictions in Canada, maintaining that the proletariat faces “two main enemies” in Canada (see Unite Proletarienne Vol. 1 No. 3, p. 36), and negated the danger of social-imperialism, putting it on a par with other imperialist powers like Belgium or Holland.
In Struggle tries to portray the line struggle as being between those who maintain that Canada is an imperialist country and those who deny it. In fact the main struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement is between those like In Struggle who compromise and conciliate with the openly anti-Marxist position and who negate the struggle against both superpowers, and those who have made a basically correct appraisal of the contradictions in our country (principally the League).
In Struggle has always been afraid of open debate with the League precisely because we have always maintained a correct line on the principal contradiction, vigorously attacking In Struggle’s opportunist views.
So In Struggle is using the debate with the Red Star Collective and Edmonton Workers’ Unity simply to avoid undertaking the ideological struggle with the League. They are once again pulling the Marxist-Leninist movement backwards by avoiding confrontation on the real questions and focusing on the most backward elements in the movement.
There were other groups at this “unity” conference. Some, like the May First Collective (Vancouver), admitted that they didn’t even have a clear line on the questions under discussion. But In Struggle found them to be a valuable asset – after all they could add their own share of confusion, and besides it was another signature on the list of sponsoring groups.
But in any case, as we have said, how can you have a conference on the struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity when many groups at the conference are not even communist groups? Bolshevik Union, for example, a completely bankrupt sect was as pleased as punch that In Struggle had once again given them the stage.
This is not surprising considering IS’s conciliation with opportunism has gone so far as to allow the Trotskyists to distribute literature and speak at several meetings in Rouyn and Vancouver, and even to accuse the League of sectarianism recently because we refused to allow Trotskyist counter-revolutionaries to distribute their trash to our contingent at the Millworkers’ demonstration in Montreal (see IS editorial, March 31).
While on the whole at the conference In Struggle just repeated the positions that they have put forward before on the various questions under discussion, there were a few new things. In their communique issued for the conference. In Struggle’s Central Committee has outdone itself in producing an opportunist, hysterical attack on the work of the CCL(ML). This document, which displays practically no attachment to the principles of Marxism-Leninism, shows that In Struggle is clearly becoming obsessed with the successes the League’s line has achieved in practice, and is frantically attempting to justify its own bankrupt line.
In Struggle also made some interesting changes in its line. As always, without self-criticism.
For example, the communique states that there are three conditions which must be realized to found the party in Canada: “1) the Marxist-Leninist program, 2) the unity of communists, 3) the rallying to communism of the vanguard of the working class.”
What a switch! To date In Struggle has talked only of unity and rallying workers as the two conditions to found the party. This serious error in their line was criticized in our pamphlet For the Unity of Marxist-Leninists. And now suddenly we have three conditions to found the party.
Moreover In Struggle states: “Precisely because right opportunism is a danger threatening at the very heart of the Marxist-Leninist movement, and also because we see various manifestations of leftism sprouting up in reaction to right opportunism, the question of program has clearly become the key link to seize if we are to advance the construction of the party.”
But what ever happened to unity? Just a few months ago In Struggle was raving that unity is the magic solution to everything. Now it’s the program.
Let’s be frank. For In Struggle, what’s principal is simply what will help them consolidate their group and attack the League.
A few months ago it was unity. The League demolished their position on the struggle for unity, clearly unmasking their right opportunist line. So now they’ve picked the program as the key link.
The League’s work in the working class has developed and IS can’t explain their own increased isolation, so suddenly the program becomes the key link. IS can flip-flop all they want but none of this will advance the struggle for the party.
So, despite the fact that there were lots of arguments at this conference, lots of “struggle”, in reality there was no real progress made towards realizing the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists. Only the hiding of the real issues and the generation of confusion.
In Struggle couldn’t resist trying to blame the League for the problems they are having with their conference schemes.
The biggest farce of the whole meeting was In Struggle’s resolution condemning the League, the Regina Marxist-Leninist Collective, and the ex-Vancouver Socialist Group for having boycotted their conference.
What theatrics. Just before In Struggle’s concluding speech the resolution was presented by several groups and adopted by vote.
So here we have all the participants of this event, many of whom agree on practically nothing else, agreeing to unite in an attack on the League’s resolute stand against opportunism.
It has been clear now for some time that In Struggle is not in the least interested in uniting with the League. They know very well that we cannot and will not participate in their opportunist conference schemes.
In fact the sole reason that In Struggle has organized these conferences is to get some other groups around it so that it can create its famous “organisation of struggle for the party,” rather than struggle for unity with the League.
In the “Central Committee’s Communique” at the Conference, IS makes another quick change on the question of the struggle to create the party. After months of proclaiming the need for a single Marxist-Leninist organization, IS tells us now that it is not possible to create it; “the creation in the near future of a unified organization of all Canadian Marxist-Leninists... appears highly unlikely.” (our translation)
This is yet another unexplained IS about-face with no self-criticism. IS has now abandoned the much publicized raison d’etre for its series of conferences, its general “plan” for creating the organization. Of course IS will continue to hold their conferences. As for the purpose of these meetings, that seems to have been lost in the shuffle. The truth, of course, is simply that they never were conferences “for the unity of Marxist-Leninists in Canada”. All along they were really just IS conferences to push its opportunist line.
Comrades of In Struggle, the choice is clear. Stop twisting and turning and face the facts. The creation of the party will not be accomplished through conferences with opportunists or by preferring debates with groups who are not yet convinced that Canada is an imperialist country. We must organize the struggle between the two lines in the Marxist-Leninist movement. In Struggle must abandon these tactics and engage in honest debate with the League around the real questions. The League has clearly stated its position on the unity of Marxist-Leninists.
We have proposed discussions and debates, public and private. We are prepared to debate line with Marxist-Leninists. We will not engage in opportunist projects leading nowhere. There can be no unity of all Marxist-Leninists until the CCL(ML) and IS have resolved the contradictions between them one way or another. IS must stop tinkering with wild schemes and engage in struggle with the League if it desires unity of Marxist-Leninists.
As for the League, we will not follow IS down the steep path of opportunism. We refuse to join in the head-spinning antics of IS’s “unity” schemes. As IS themselves put it in their communique, anyone can see that the League’s line is clear; and we will continue to stand by it.
 The Vancouver Socialist Group recently dissolved itself.