At the present time, it is largely accepted, among Marxist-Leninists across Canada, that the organizational and political unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement constitutes a necessary step on the road towards the proletarian party, the party of the socialist revolution. This is an important victory over the localism and sectarianism that characterized the movement in general not long ago.
The “Party spirit”, i.e. in the present conditions, the consciousness that the movement as a whole is more important than each group or organization taken one by one, is beginning to win over “small group mentality”. The small group mentality leads one to consider the movement only from one’s own group, one’s own organization, which in the end leads one to take one’s own group for the whole movement, to take the part for the whole.
Canadian Marxist-Leninists must learn from the past. The history of our movement since the break with modern revisionism, is still recent. Nevertheless, it possesses a certain number of lessons that are important to be kept in mind in order to avoid the same errors. The history of the worldwide Marxist-Leninist movement is not yet fifteen years old, but it, too, has some lessons which we should consider.
In Canada, as in many countries of the world such as France, the USA, Belgium, Italy, etc., the unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement is not yet accomplished. During the last ten years, many committees, circles, groups, organizations and even parties have appeared in these countries, all claiming to be Marxist-Leninist. It was probably unavoidable that the struggle against modern revisionism thus began in a disordered, anarchistic way. The breakup of the international communist movement left many members of the communist parties that had fallen into revisionism, in a situation of doubt and hesitation. And it forced the new generations of militants, the new progressive forces, to renew their links with the teachings of the international working class movement, to assimilate Marxism-Leninism from its foundations, while unmasking the revisionist mistakes. It has not always been an easy task.
The Chinese Communist Party and the Labour Party of Albania played a determining role in this return to true Marxism-Leninism; in breaking off with the distorted “Marxism-Leninism” of the revisionists. They remain the principal guides of the young international Marxist-Leninist movement.
Now, one of the clearest teachings of the history of the working class movement for nearly a century, is precisely the necessity of the proletarian party. This party leads the socialist revolution, as much during the phase of overthrowing bourgeois power as in the phase of building socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is obvious that the creation of the party demands the unity of all the communists (Marxist-Leninists) in a given country. Several communist parties cannot exist in one country!
This is a major and current problem, not only in Canada, but also in many countries. In order to resolve it, we must, as Lenin said, develop a true “party spirit”. We must break with “small group mentality”, with sectarianism. Sectarianism which on the question of unity is expressed as dogmatism. This dogmatism is unavoidable in a young and inexperienced Marxist-Leninist movement that has had little time as yet to put its principles into practice and to learn the way to apply them correctly, i.e. to learn to use them to transform reality in a revolutionary way.
How can we hope to change reality if we don’t understand it or if we understand it only partially? To achieve the political and organizational unity of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement is to transform its disunited and dispersed forces, sometimes turned inward and struggling one against the other on points that divide them, into an unified, organized force that is ten times stronger, and which can concentrate on the struggle against the reactionary forces. How could we hope to achieve such a transformation of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement if we don’t understand correctly its component forces, the points of agreement and the contradictions that give it its specific reality in our country?
The Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist), referred to hereafter as the League, doesn’t seem to understand things this way. The League not only fails to recognize the reality of the Marxist-Leninist movement; in practice, it denies its existence. The League puts itself forward in the struggle for unity, encased in its principles that it spouts with authority to all and sundry. The League nevertheless runs the risk of being alone to acknowledge this authority. It is not by launching summons or ultimatums, by looking down on the populace from its “correct line” and its “complete self-criticism”, that the League will help in the unification of all the Canadian Marxist-Leninists, even if it claims to be applying the principle of “unity-criticism-unity”.
To apply the principle of “unity-criticism-unity” in the struggle for unity first demands the acknowledgement of the existence of the Marxist-Leninist movement. This movement is composed of the various groups, organizations, circles and cells embarked in one way or another on the road of the proletarian revolution in Canada and in the application of the strategy that consequently follows. To acknowledge the existence of the Marxist-Leninist movement doesn’t consist only in stating it exists, but principally in acknowledging this fact in practice.
Now, since its creation in the all 1975 and even more so in the last few months, the League has shown a disconcerting sectarianism that leads it to deny in practice the existence of the Marxist-Leninist movement. It obviously considers that the movement was born with the creation of the League, that it boils down to the League... besides of course a few right opportunist groups, such as IN STRUGGLE! which would seem in its eyes to be the toughest and the most burdensome!
We do not believe that a correct application of “unity-criticism-unity” can lead to such sectarianism. We even believe that the League’s attitude in the last few months is contrary to a correct application of this principle formulated by Mao. We will not hesitate in stating that the methods of the League towards the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement as a whole and particularly towards IN STRUGGLE! constitute an important obstacle to the political and organizational unification of the movement. The development of unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists is currently tightly bound to the struggle against sectarianism. The League today constitutes the principal agent of this sectarian trend within the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement.
To wage a resolute and victorious struggle against the sectarianism present in the movement, including its manifestations in the actions of our own group, will not lead in itself to the unification of Marxist-Leninists. To think in this fashion would be idealist, for important contradictions exist in the movement and they have to be resolved in order to achieve unification. However, we’ll be able to resolve these contradictions only if the whole movement makes it its duty to “discover the truth in the facts” on all the important questions instead of engaging itself in sectarian competition that consists in claiming pompously that our line is the “correct line”, that we are “the first” to do this or that and to demand that others do their self-criticism because we made a “complete self-criticism”. We can’t call this waging the struggle for unification in the spirit of unity. Rather it should be called proving that we are right in a super sectarian spirit.
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How can Canadian Marxist-Leninists unite? As all the communists of the world have done until today, from the Russian social democrats in 1900 to the Canadian Marxist-Leninists, passing by the Chinese and Albanian communists. By a program that will contain a correct application of Marxism-Leninism in the struggle for the proletarian revolution in Canada. A program that constitutes a solid base for the elaboration of a true party program by the unified organization of the Canadian Marxist-Leninists.
It is useful to remember that the organizational unity that we are trying to reach is not the unity of the party.
It is in view of creating a single party that will unite all Canadian communists (Marxist-Leninists), that we have to maintain and achieve the objective of the creation of a pre-party organization. This organization will play the specific historic role of setting up, on a Canada-wide scale, the necessary conditions for the creation of the party, i.e., the proletarian vanguard communist organization.
To achieve this, we must break with the “sectarian logic” that is now installing itself in the heart of the Marxist-Leninist movement, and that has prevailed up until now in many countries.
The Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement must, in this regard, learn from the great revolutionary parties of history, the Party of the October Revolution in Russia, the Chinese Communist Party, the Labour Party of Albania... All these parties experienced, in their early years, a more or less long period when important divergences on basic questions for the future of the revolution existed in their midst. If the communists of these countries had applied “sectarian logic” they would have destroyed their parties many times... if they had ever managed in actually setting them up!
And do not claim that this is an opportunist point of view that denies the struggle over line. The life of any communist party is made up of this struggle between different stands, between correct and erroneous positions. The existence of divergences among the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement cannot constitute in itself a sufficient reason to oppose unity, more than the existence of divergences inside the party necessarily leads to its breaking up.
We must work in clarifying the divergences that divide the movement, the divergences that are the life of any Marxist-Leninist party and organization. The struggle for unity is tightly bound to the struggle over line, the struggle for a correct application of Marxism-Leninism in the Canadian proletarian revolution. Knowing how to learn from these valiant Communist Parties that led the revolution in their respective countries, means today for Canadian communists to work to make the “party spirit” triumph over “small group mentality”, to make the interests of the revolution triumph over those of one group or another, of one organization or another.
To apply the principle “unity-criticism-unity” today in Canada, only means to start from the present unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement to reach greater unity, superior in quality, the unity of the unified organization of all Canadian Marxist-Leninists. We will never be able to achieve this if, each time that a group or an organization reaches a certain level of political development, it barricades itself behind its “correct line” and considers the unity of the movement as a matter of the rallying to it of all the other Marxist-Leninists who, of course, don’t have the “correct line”. Such an attitude inevitably leads to sectarianism and division. Recent experiences, both in Canada and elsewhere, prove this.
In the following pages, we will try to demonstrate the following: the struggle for the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists must today pass through a resolute struggle against sectarianism, for the triumph of the “party spirit” over “small group mentality”. All groups and organizations have to wage this struggle within the entire movement; all Marxist-Leninists have to wage it in their own group or organization until it is defeated. For it is only when all the groups and organizations or the great majority among them rally to the same tactic on unification of Marxist-Leninists that this tactic will be successful. It is only when sectarianism is eliminated that unity will be possible.