Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Towards the unity of the Canadian Marxist-Leninists

Fight the Sectarianism of the CCL (ML)

Chapter 1: Sectarianism is retarding the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists

The Canadian Marxist-Leninists’ struggle for unity is a struggle to solve the contradictions still dividing our country’s Marxist-Leninist movement today. The movement is still composed of a number of organizations and groups, cells and circles, trying, at different stages of advancement, to elaborate and apply the right path towards proletarian revolution in our country. Those various groups are not only disunited but also have differences on some questions which are determinant for the future of the proletarian revolution in Canada. The aim of the struggle for unity is the transformation of the disunited movement into a united organisation based on a Marxist-Leninist program and applying the principles of democratic centralism. It is the only way to prepare the conditions necessary for the creation of a proletarian party which will gather together all Canadian communists (Marxist-Leninist).

All Canadian Marxist-Leninists recognize the necessity of the Party, a single party which will lead the struggles of the proletariat and the people to the victory of the socialist revolution in- our country. This recognition must be more than good intentions or words. It must guide the action of all Canadian (Marxist-Leninist) communists.

It so happens that today, some Marxist-Leninists speak loudly about unity but adopt positions that are indeed spreading division. Even if they assert that they are rigorously applying the principles; and even if they pretend they have the right line on all matters these Marxist-Leninists are not advancing the unity of the movement. They represent a backward factor in the struggle for the single Party of the Canadian proletariat. We judge communists on their acts and the results rather than only on their declarations.

Sectarianism is already part of the history of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, i.e. the movement of communists which, in the sixties, broke with the modern revisionism of the USSR. Sectarianism is also part of the history of almost all western countries were many organisations and sometimes even more than one Marxist-Leninist party coexist, to the great pleasure of the bourgeoisie and the revisionists, and to the great misfortune of the revolutionary proletariat.

Some will say that if the movement is not united in Canada as in many other countries, it is not due to sectarianism but to the differences on fundamental matters whose resolution is a necessary step towards unity. They are right in saying this, but only partially right. Because if some methods to carry out the struggle are effective in solving contradictions among Marxist-Leninists, other methods can only widen the differences and lead to a deeper disunion. We must identify these erroneous methods as sectarianism and denounce them because they represent a backward factor in the unity of Marxist-Leninists and the implementation of the proletarian ideology among the masses.

In general, those who are sectarian are self-promoting, pretentious, and show contempt for everything outside of themselves, their group, and their line. Because sectarianism, closely related to dogmatism, comes from perceiving the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the teachings of the workers’ movement as dogmas and believing that one need only repeat them unceasingly instead of using them to get a better grasp of reality and hence be able to change it. Those who are sectarian, like those who are dogmatists, do not have a dialectical materialist analysis of reality. They are lead by their subjectivism, by a unilateral vision of things, which in their case, means they neglect to analyse and understand reality, alleging the political line is determinant in all and that we only need to accumulate a lot of principles taken from Marxist writings to be able to elaborate the “correct line” and to transform reality in a revolutionary way. Such an attitude reveals a dogmatic conception of the political line, whose development, moreover, it holds back, as well as almost inevitably leading to sectarianism, i.e. to rejecting almost all who do not share exactly the same viewpoint, on all questions, as these holders of the “correct line.”[1]

Today, in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement a strong sectarian tendency has grown up which if it develops, could bridle unity and could delay the creation of the Marxist-Leninist Party in Canada.

That is why we consider it necessary to wage the struggle against this erroneous tendency which could have disastrous effects on the actions of the movement as a whole. This struggle is all the more necessary since for the last few months the manifestations of sectarianism have multiplied in the movement, and that comes for the most part from one organization, the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist). And the League is not just any group; it occupies an important place in the movement, a position due no doubt to its numerical strength, and more importantly to the scope of its activity and its means of propaganda.

The creation of the League last autumn caused a certain stir in the movement. After the first shock passed, after the first reading of the documents that marked this event, that is: State of Political Agreement for the Creation of the CCL(ML) and The Struggle for the creation of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) many Canadian communists asked themselves if this was not the organization of struggle for the Party whose creation we had been working towards for awhile now. Others, less enthusiastic, did not hesitate to make known their disapproval of this creation which they felt was clearly premature.

In this pamphlet we are not going to analyse the line and practices of the League on all matters. The struggle to demarcate within the Marxist-Leninist movement cannot be carried out in one day. We will take the opportunity in the coming months to indicate our disagreement with the League on certain major points in their line; we will take the opportunity, in other words, to participate in the vigorous and enriching debate which has been developing in the movement as a whole for the last year now, especially since the starting in Toronto of the journal Canadian Revolution, in May 1975.

Moreover, it is exactly because these essential debates on the unity of Marxist-Leninists are developing and are bringing about a greater unity, that we feel it necessary to criticize, right away, the sectarianism of the League, a sectarianism which has reached such a level that it poses a real threat to the continuation and to the quality of these debates among all Marxist-Leninists. It seems to us important, that before the League retrenches behind its “correct line”, before its self-importance and its pretention have made a part of the movement totally disinterested in its points of view, it seems to us important to remind the League that the movement is not made up solely of itself and those who recognize its “correct line” and have done their complete self-criticism with the aim of rallying to the League and thus penetrating the “inner sanctum” of the Marxist-Leninist movement as conceived by the League.

This present contribution on the question of the sectarianism of the League is all the more explicable because over the last weeks and months, our group has become a special target of this organization, which has resorted to using half-truths and even falsehoods to give more weight to the criticisms it feels just in addressing to us. The criticisms that the League has addressed to us over the past months are not necessarily all without foundation. It will be for the movement as a whole to judge. And so that it can judge correctly, it is important that they understand the methods employed by the League on this matter, and the facts that the League deformed should be set straight and placed in their proper context. The polemic between Marxist-Leninists must be firmly linked to the greatest possible fidelity to the facts, to the greatest possible intellectual rigour.

Speaking of the struggle for unity, the League itself recently wrote: “We will carry out this struggle openly and frankly, basing ourselves on facts. As long as we stick to the facts and base ourselves firmly on the principles of Marxism-Leninism, we will be able to eliminate the sectarianism or slanders that can come up during this struggle.”[2]

The intentions manifested by the League are excellent, as are the principles on which it claims to base itself. Its actions, however, on the question of unity of Marxist-Leninists, do not always conform to its intentions and do not always represent a correct application of the principles it so fervently refers to, to the concret conditions of our country.

In Reform our study, Chairman Mao indicated that “In the work of any department, it is necessary to know the situation first and only then can the work be well handled.”[3] We will show in the following pages that if the action of the League gives proof of sectarianism, it is because it has not sufficiently concerned itself with grasping an understanding of “concrete conditions” of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement and of its history, which it often sees through its own subjective and unilateral perceptions, guided as it is by its desire to promote its own importance, to advance its “correct line”, and to be the “first” in everything.


[1] Regarding Sectarianism and its links with subjectivism in the study of political problems, one must read from Mao Tse Tung: Rectify the party’s style of work, Selected Works of Mao Tse Tung. Volume III page 35 to 51 in particular the part that starts by “Let me now speak about the question of sectarianism...”

[2] Against Right Opportunism in the Analysis of the Principal Criticism of In Struggle’s Position, May 1976, p. 4

[3] Selected Works, Peking Foreign Language Press p. 24.