Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Towards the unity of the Canadian Marxist-Leninists

Fight the Sectarianism of the CCL (ML)

Chapter 3: A very strange conception of the struggle for unity

The League’s position on unity is easy to sum up; it is based on the two following fundamental theses. The first thesis is: the League exists and has the correct line. Second thesis: if other existing groups want to be involved in building the Party, they must do a ”complete self-criticism”, and break with their former opportunism in practice... by rallying the League. Well, we must admit, at least they make things clear. The path for building the Party in already charted: it is a simply a question of all Marxists-Leninists rallying the League... and all that’s left for Marxist-Leninists to do is to let themselves be convinced of the correctness of the line of the League.

All indications are that the League will spare no effort in the task of convincing everyone of the ”correctness” of their line; and of the duty which consequently befalls all other groups to rally unconditionally to the League. Armed with the “correct line” and the “correct path” forward for unity, the League has undertaken the ever-so-difficult task, a task of decisive historical importance, of guiding other groups that are still lost in the “swamp of opportunism” and incapable of seeing the light... of the correctness of its line.

So far, it has put its greatest efforts into Mobilisation, a Montreal group, and more recently, into the Western Voice Collective (of Vancouver). Social workers would say that the League has opted for the “casework” technique: it analyzes each group, one at a time, in order to diagnose the disease and prescribe the right remedy.

The League’s study of the Mobilisation case is relatively advanced. Thus we find that in the June 3 issue of The Forge the League was able to present quite a complete report of the steps it has taken, the results obtained to date and the treatment still needed if Mobilisation wants to rid itself once and for all of its congenital opportunism. That is how the League, at the request of “several people”, comes to present Mobilisation’s situation. The complete text of the convalescence report on Mobilisation is found in The Forge Vol. 1, No. 12, June 3, 1976, p. 11. Here we summarize the main points of the article.

Up until this point, the League’s efforts had certainly been successful. In fact, hardly a month after the publication in The Forge of the article “Mobilisation must choose: climb out of the swamp of opportunism or drown”[1], Mobilisation published a pamphlet of about a hundred pages, called Liquidate spontaneousness, opportunism and economism: the self-criticism of Mobilisation. [2]

In this most interesting and well-documented text, Mobilisation goes back to the fundamental principles that must guide Canadian Marxist-Leninists today, applies them to the concrete conditions of our country, and on this basis, criticizes its previous positions and practice. The least we can say is that what was the half-drowned corpse of Mobilisation on March 11 exhibited rare energy four weeks later on April 15: it seems the treatment administered by the League in this case had a near-miraculous result.

It’s easily understood why The Forge was happy to show its delight: and it did so in an article on Mobilisation in its May 6th issue.[3] But in the eyes of the League, this was still only half a victory. Afraid, no doubt, that Mobilisation might suffer a relapse, the League was back on the job June 3, this time to indicate quite clearly how Mobilisation should make the decisive break with its past opportunism. First, Mobilisation had to liquidate itself. Why? Because

“until they have completely dissolved the organizational basis for their past opportunism they (the comrades from Mobilisation) cannot be considered part of the Marxist-Leninist movement. Why? Because political line cannot be divorced from the organizational form it takes.”

Second, the members of Mobilisation must rally the League. Why? Because of the two choices they have, of either founding a new organization – a “third force”, as the League calls it – or rallying the League, the “only correct choice” is to rally the League. This, because on one hand, says the League, Mobilisation’s self-criticism reveals “basic agreement with the League’s political line – for example on the principal contradiction”; and because, on the other hand, creating another organization whose line would be different on secondary questions only would be a “mark of right opportunism”, “a historical precedent”, and “an anti-party move”.

The League concludes in the following unambiguous terms:

“The comrades of Mobilisation have begun the process of rectification of their past political line and practice by publishing a deep self-criticism based on Marxist-Leninist principles. This is a very positive step. If they continue down the same road and rally to the League, this would be a step forward for the building of a single communist party for the working class in Canada.”[4] The comrades from Mobilisation should take note: they can leave their opportunism completely and definitely behind; all they have to do is follow the precise, clear and simple instructions of the League... which has the “correct line”.

In the case of the Western Voice, the League’s treatment of the sickness of opportunism is much less advanced. Nevertheless, the facts show that the Voice should follow a path comparable to the one proposed for Mobilisation. What is still unknown, however, is whether the Voice will react positively to the first “potion” recently dosed out by the League, namely, the article entitled “Half-way measures don’t work”, which appeared in The Forge June 17, 1976.[5]

Essentially, the League sees the Western Voice’s decision to do a criticism of its former economism as a good thing. However, they see it as far from satisfactory, because economism is but one aspect of right opportunism and the Western Voice must break with “all aspects of an incorrect line”, that is to say an opportunist line. This group has had “a completely bankrupt political line”, according to the League, which continues by saying that “the entire line on the WV was totally anti-Marxist, right opportunist and economist”, and concludes with the statement that “the group existed to propagate an erroneous line.”

Faced with such an overwhelming diagnosis, it is not surprising that a radical solution must be applied forthwith: the Western Voice must dissolve itself.

But the case of the Western Voice poses a special problem, which the League, conscious of its obligations, examines carefully. Having decided to dissolve itself, the Western Voice nevertheless announced its intention of publishing certain documents from other groups with the aim of leading the struggle against economism. The League disagrees totally with this idea, because as it puts it, “it will in fact directly contradict their (the Western Voice’s) expressed desire.”

But what in fact is the real contradiction here? The Western Voice, the League points out, stated that ”it is our specific task to promote the repudiation of an opportunist line that has been dominant, not to be the agents, passive or active, of the development of a Marxist-Leninist political line.” But the League then repudiates this further on, in saying that:

“The struggle to correct the errors of the WV can only be developed by proposing concrete solutions... It is only by developing a correct political line and by applying it in practice that the bankrupt line of the WV can be decisively repudiated.” But after having pointed out the contradiction inherent for the Western Voice in wanting to repudiate economism and opportunism without putting forward a Marxist-Leninist line – something we agree wholeheartedly with: it is impossible to reject economism and opportunism with basing this rejection on Marxism-Leninism – the League lists the texts the Western Voice intends to publish – and say something we have trouble understanding:

“If the WVC carries out their plan of reprinting these texts it will in fact directly contradict their expressed desire... ’not to be the agents passive or active, of the development of a Marxist-Leninist political line.’”[6]

But precisely because the League just said that it is impossible to fight opportunism except by developing and applying a Marxist-Leninist line, we are asking why the Western Voice shouldn’t publish the texts it mentions. But we aren’t pulling our hair out wondering. The detours and acrobatics of the League will delude only those who want to be deluded, those who have already “let themselves be convinced” that the League has “the correct line.”

For everything becomes clear when you realize that the Western Voice intends to publish several texts from IN STRUGGLE! and few, if any, from the League. And if the League can be opposed to the Western Voice publishing texts from IN STRUGGLE! while at the same time asserting that economism and opportunism must be fought on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, it is because the League does not consider the texts from IN STRUGGLE! to be Marxist-Leninist.

Thus, we can understand the following passage, taken from the same article:

“It is impossible for the WV to carry to the end the repudiation of their incorrect line since this criticism can only be completed by a communist group with a correct Marxist-Leninist line.”[7] And as we have already seen in the article devoted to Mobilisation, the group “with the correct Marxist-Leninist line” can only, of course, refer to... the League.

Briefly, the position of the League both on the Western Voice in Vancouver and Mobilisation in Montreal is this: to date these groups have been dominated by opportunism and, consequently, a totally erroneous political line; thus, try as they might to do a self-criticism and assert their desire to base themselves solidly on Marxist-Leninist principles, they cannot do it alone. They must not only dissolve themselves as a group, but they must also continue their self-criticism under the direction of a group “with the correct line”, that is, under the League. Otherwise, they will remain outside of the Marxist-Leninist movement.

We can hardly believe our eyes but those are indeed the words of the League which, by all reports, has undertaken to lead “aspiring Marxist-Leninist” groups into the light of Marxism-Leninism and the “correct line” that it alone – we wonder by what miracle – has managed to acquire. Because if the League managed to arrive at the “correct line” without the guidance of another group, why can’t other groups in the Marxist-Leninist movement do the same thing? Is it possible that the founders of the League were all somehow blessed with the correct line?

No. We must take our investigation further. It is not enough to ask ourselves how the League could have possibly arrived at the correct line all alone while it would be impossible for any other group to do the same thing. It is also necessary to ask whether the League really considers that a Marxist-Leninist movement exists in Canada... aside from the League. It has said on various occasions that it considers IN STRUGGLE! to be a Marxist-Leninist group, but from now on we’d be right in asking what such an assertion really means, when for example, the League tells Mobilisation it has two choices: either to create a new organization or to rally the League; when, for example, it severely scolds Western Voice for daring to want to reprint some documents from IN STRUGGLE!, a gesture which the League says, “would not aid the development of its members nor the ML movement as a whole.”

In any case, it seems reasonable to us to examine the words of the League in the light of their practice to understand the real meaning of the above-mentioned assertion. According to the extracts printed in The Forge of the statement made at its April 10 meeting in Montreal, the League feels, that aside from the revisionist Communist Party of Canada (CPC) and the so-called Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) (CPC-ML), “there are several other groups which call themselves communist whose activity in fact harms the working class and the communist movement. That is why we, the real Marxist-Leninists (our emphasis. IS) have the duty to denounce these traitors who grossly distort Marxism-Leninism.”

Having sorted out the real Marxist-Leninists from the phoney ones the League advocates that a “thorough debate” on “important questions” take place, and that

“through criticism/self-criticism of the respective positions, unity will emerge around the correct political line” (our emphasis. IS).

Now note carefully the following, keeping in mind the League’s criticism of Mobilisation and the Western Voice:

“It’s in this spirit that the CCL(ML) has taken up the criticism of other Marxist-Leninist groups in the pages of its newspaper, The Forge. Not because we thought that these groups were worthless, but rather because we wanted to initiate the type of debate that would bring us to a solid and real political unity.” ”In fact (continues the League in a mounting crescendo), we say to these groups, Comrades,’ if you are really interested in struggling for unity, sit down with us and let us discuss seriously our political positions, it’s the only way forward.” (our emphasis. IS).

Here is a line on the question of unity, whose contours are more and more clear; a line on unity which is part of the “correct line” of the League which in its enthusiasm has not hesitated to throw out the claim that, faced with “powerful enemies seeking to destroy it”, the organization, or rather, “the party” (the difference between the two is often a fine one in the propaganda of “the Canadian organization”) “will survive on the condition that there is absolute unity in its ranks on ideological principles and the strategy and tactics of revolutionary struggle in Canada.” (our emphasis. IS).[8]

Well, we must at least concede the fact that the League has achieved a historical world premiere – in having undertaken the building of a party with an “absolute unity in its ranks on ideological principles, and strategy and tactics.” For indeed, nobody else has ever achieved that; Lenin and Mao, who both said that contradiction is universal, would never have suspected it. But we must never underestimate the League.

The League’s ambitions are as exaggerated as its opinion of itself and its “correct line”. And this leads it to take a bulldozer approach to the struggle for unity, in the belief that it is authorized to sweep aside everything in its path in the name of the pure intentions which supposedly motivate it. However, as we will see in the following pages, the “pure” intentions of the League combine strangely with words and deeds whose purity is highly questionable.


[1] The Forge No. 6, March 11, 1976, p. 14-15.

[2] This is our translation of the title. The original French title is Liquidons le spontaneisme. l’opportunisme et l’economisme. – The pamphlet is not available in English.

[3] The Forge No. 10, May 6, 1976, p. 14-15.

[4] All quotes about Mobilisation are from The Forge No. 12 June 3 1976

[5] No. 13, p. 7.

[6] The Forge, No. 13, June 17, 1976, p. 7. The precise quotes on the Western Voice come from the same article. The document of Western Voice, that appeared in the Documents of the Ideological Struggle within the Western Voice Collective, in March 1976 page 2 reads as follows “It is our specific task to promote the repudiation of an opportunist line that has been dominant, not to be agents, passive or active, of the development of a Marxist-Leninist political line either as a collective or as a newspaper.”

[7] The Forge No. 13, June 17, 1976, p. 7.

[8] “Excerpts from the League’s speech on the Unity of Marxist-Leninists”, The Forge No. 9, April 22, 1976, p. 3