First Published: In Struggle! No. 90, June 9, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The Forge’s editorial of February 17th 19 announced another victory against opportunism: the Communist Circle (ML) had dissolved itself and was undertaking its self-criticism under the leadership of the League. The “family of five” was finially liquidated. However, we, ex-militants of the Communist Circle, do not consider the dissolution of the Circle, as it was carried out, to be a break with opportunism. It is for this reason that we were opposed to the process of dissolution and that we consider it important to make our point of view public.
Before going into the heart of the matter, we will present the events which led up to the dissolution.
On December 23, 1976 the leadership of the Communist Circle received a document in which the League put forward, almost solely on the basis of a criticism of the political line contained in documents 1, 2 & 3 of the Circle, that the Communist Circle was a 100% opportunist group which had no other choice but to dissolve and undertake its self-criticism.
The leadership of the Communist Circle mentions in passing to the rank and file members that it has received a document from the League, but they neither distribute it nor make its content known. On January 5, in one of its meetings, the leadership of the Communist Circle comes to the conclusion that the criticisms of the League are correct, and five days later, it holds another meeting where it decides that the group is in fact 100 opportunist and has no other choice but to dissolve and undertake its self-criticism under the leadership of the League.
All this while, still none of the members had been informed of anything whatsoever. On January 14, the League meets with the leadership of the Communist Circle. The latter, still not having consulted its members, immediately places itself under the leadership of the League and hands over all the internal documents to them, as well as the membership list. The League criticizes the leadership of the CC(ML) for not yet having distributed its document to the members. The following day the rank and file members receive the League’s document of criticism and are informed that there will be a meeting of the base units to debate the document followed by a general assembly in two weeks to dissolve the Circle. However, the assembly was postponed one week for technical reasons allowing for another meeting of the base units. At the general assembly, the leadership of the Circle admitted that it had acted “a bit hastily”. Thus, as you can see, the contempt for the masses within the Circle was certainly not the least of the deviations present at the time of the dissolution.
How was it possible for almost all the Communist Circle to ’buy’, within a few days, the process of dissolution and all it implied? The reasoning is quite simple; you just have to accept it. Here it is. The Communist Circle is a 100% opportunist group. Consequently, there is only one way out – to dissolve itself and to undertake self-criticism under the leadership of an ML group. However, the Circle, on account of its opportunist nature, cannot claim to have the ability to debate the various lines in the ML movement and, even less, to take a stand on the correctness of these lines! All the Circle can do is to acknowledge its opportunism and recognize the group which has waged the most unwavering struggle against its opportunism. Which group would that be? Why, the League has not given up repeating from the very start that the Communist Circle is opportunist! However, this very simple and accommodating reasoning, does raise a certain number of questions.
If the League really believes that “the political and ideological line is determinant”, it must also recognize that a self-criticism under its leadership is guided by its political line. And therefore, such a process requires at least a tacit acceptance of the League’s political line on the part of those undergoing the self-criticism. Thus although the League denies that the Circle had the capacity to take a stance on the correctness of its political line, that is, in fact, what it requested that we do. As for the leadership of the Circle, it was not held back in its rush to dissolve the group by such a matter of principle. The first time we asked them whether or not the process which they proposed was based on an acceptance of the correctness of the political line of the League, they did not know, and finally after debate, they decided that it did. The following week, however, after having consulted the League, they maintained that they had been mistaken, and that in fact it did not. And so, the Circle undertook its self-criticism under the leadership of the League without having debated the political line of the latter at any time, let alone having recognized its correctness. And this, in spite of the fact that even prior to the dissolution process itself, there had been hardly any debate on the lines of the various ML groups.
The only document of the ML movement which had been studied and debated collectively by the members of the Circle was Proletarian Unity No 1. Moreover during the Circle’s existence, the League’s line had been the most criticized, on subjective grounds, by the leadership of the Circle Nevertheless, two weeks after the dissolution of the Communist Circle(ML), ex-militants of this group were distributing the newspaper The Forge, and organizing political interventions in their workplace under the leadership of the League in short, they were rallying people to a political line, that of the League, without having themselves recognized the correctness of that line. We believe that the process of dissolution and self-criticism undertaken by the Circle is a process of rallying, disguised as a so-called struggle against opportunism; an opportmist process of rallying which forgets, somewhere up in the attic, the political and ideological line.
The description of the dissolution would be incomplete if we did not mention the economism which blossomed throughout. Despite our desire to develop communist work in the masses, and certain attempts to do so, the Circle’s practice was still heavily tainted with economism. Despite the Circle’s anti-implantation line, implantation remained, in fact, the Circle’s main means of intervention in the mases. This contradiction was the source of many problems for militants in their respective workplaces. The League, by offering to take over all local practices as soon as the Circle dissolved, offered an attractive solution. Several rank and file members saw in the League’s proposal an end to their particular problems in their respective workplaces. Neither the leadership of the Circle, nor the League, pointed out that it was erroneous to use that argument (i.e. local interests) as an argument in favour of dissolving a group without any debate and of rallying another not on the basis of its political line. Shortly after the dissolution of the group, as was to be expected, militant trade-unionism, a long-time characteristic of the NPE, reappeared in the disguise of “class struggle unionism” in several of the workplaces where militants of the ex-Circle were present. The implantationist line also reappeared under the mask of the struggle against intellectualism. In response to the League’s criticism of intellectualism, many militants of the Circle,then unemployed, found a factory job in the week preceding the dissolution.