First Published: In Struggle! No. 82, March 3, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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“IN STRUGGLE! is trying to turn the debate’ away from a rigourous definition of the contradictions in Canadian Society (in particular the debate over the principal contradiction) into a debate dealing with the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary ’camp’.” (The Forge vol. 2 no. 2 p. 14)
It would have been difficult for us to better sum up the dogmatism of the positions the Canadian Communist League(Marxist-Leninist), the CCL(M-L), has been defending for more than a year now on the question of the path of the revolution in Canada. And in the same vein, the League certainly did a “magnificient” job in its criticisms of our proposals for the debate at the second conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists.
Okay, comrade workers, listen to this! What’s important is not knowing who are or who can be our allies; what’s important is a “rigourous definition of the contradictions in Canadian Society”. That is the basis not only of the League’s criticisms of the contents of the second conference but also, and above all, the basis of everything that it has written or published on the path of the Canadian revolution up until this point. One of the League’s errors has been precisely that of keeping this debate crucial to the future of the revolution on an extremely formalistic level, a level which separates it from the class struggle in Canada.
Marxism-Leninism, however, is most certainly not a series of formulae, even “rigorous” formulae. And this, especially when the formulae, whose role should be to condense a system of analysis of reality, become a substitute for a class analysis. As much as the League is fond of citing Mao to emphasize the importance of the principal contradiction in the Marxist laws of dialectical materialism, it has nevertheless forgotten the essential element, that is, the necessity of grasping a Marxist-Leninist viewpoint and Marxist-Leninist methodology. Moreover, one need only glance at the writings of Mao to see that the heart, the centre, of the debate, was not around neat formulae. Rather, it was around a class analysis, an analysis of the attitudes of different classes towards the revolution, in order to understand against whom we must fight and with whom we must fight; to understand with whom we can make alliances, in what circumstances and on what tactical basis.
For the League, however, the main point seems to lie in lining up a series of contradictions as if it was all a question of a grocery list. Thus we can better understand today, how, in spite of its “clarity” in the formulation of its list of contradictions, the League came to advocate nothing less than that we unite with our principal enemy, the Canadian bourgeoisie, against our secondary enemies, the two superpowers. The thing the League forgets in doing this, is a class viewpoint, that fact that each of these various contradictions, especially the principal contradiction, has particular effects on the various classes in our society. And the objective of a Marxist-Leninist analysis is precisely to determine the position of these classes and factions of classes as far as the proletarian revolution is concerned; to determine these things in terms of the interests of the proletariat and the masses, to light the way in their struggles and to lead them to victory. We invite the reader to read and study the article in the third issue of PROLETARIAN UNITY.
We invite you to judge on the,basis of the facts which of these two methods serves the Interests of the proletariat and the masses and which one only contributes to disorienting them when they are faced with bourgeois propaganda.
For more than a year, the League has been brandishing its famous crystal-clear formulation of the principal contradiction all over the place. But during the same period, during the whole first year of publication of The Forge it never got around to writing more than one article to denounce Canadian imperialism although it wrote many articles on the “positive”aspects (those are its words) of Canadian imperialism in the Third World) And during this very same period, it found a way to support the armament of the Canadian bourgeoisie, the principal enemy of the revolution in our country. And, again, during the same period, it became as odious as criticizing IN STRUGGLE!because we denounced Canadian Imperialism!
As for us, in spite of our erroneous formulation of the principal contradiction, we always denounced Canadian imperialism and its armament; as well as the oppression and exploitation that it imposes on other peoples around the world and on the masses at home, and its alliance with American imperialism, which is the principal aspect of its imperialist politics.
These are the facts on which everyone can base their judgement – through reading our newspaper and journal, as well as The Forge, the central organ of the CCL(M-L). However, it remains true that all conscious workers and all Marxist-Leninists are entitled to ask what end the League could server by waging the debate in the way it does.
Our answer is clear: the comrades from the League like things to be clear! Here, as elsewhere, the League’s dogmatism serves to camouflage its right opportunism. It is its dogmatic and sectarian position on union and community organizations that camouflages the lowering of the level of its propaganda and agitation, and the subordination of the central question of the Party. In the same way, its dogmatic and sectarian conception of the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists serves to hide its fear of a frank and open line struggle, and again, in the same way its dogmatism on the question of the path of the revolution serves to camouflage the right opportunist essence of its errors, its numerous articulations of support for the imperialist Canadian bourgeoisie and its hesitation to denounce it.
Does all this mean that the debate around the principal contradiction is futile and without importance? Certainly not! It all means that this debate, like any other, has no other function than to shed light on and orient the class struggle of the proletariat and its allies against the Canadian bourgeoisie and all reactionaries.
And in this area, we, too, have made an important error. Our previous formulation of the principal contradiction, which put the two most important enemies of the Canadian revolution into one aspect of the principal contradiction, prevented us from adopting a clear and appropriate position as far as the struggle to safeguard the national independence of our country is concerned. In practice, we completely subordinated this struggle, thus depriving the proletariat of an important path for rallying to it numerous oppressed strata of the Canadian people.
As we go into it at length in the third issue of PROLETARIAN UNITY, this error and its consequences, must be situated historically. In fact, it is not enough to acknowledge errors, it is also necessary to find their origins and fight them at their source in order to pull out all traces of their roots. And in this regard, it is important to be profoundly distrustful of self-criticisms in the style of petit-bourgeois radicalism and subjectivism which are content to repeat the catechism that one had “the wrong line” in the same way that some repeat they have the right line! Any self-criticism on a question like the charting of the path of the revolution in this country must be situated historically, and based on an objective Marxist-Leninist analysis of reality. It is in this way that a self-criticism takes on all its educative meaning and does not become an act of contrition like the Church used to put us through in the old days ...or, more recently, like we’ve witnessed from the repentant sinners of Mobilisation, the Cercle Communiste (the Communist Circle), and the rest of the “family of five opportunists”!
In 1974, at the time of our first congress, the nationalist tendency in Quebec was still very important among progressive groups and within the Marxist-Leninist movement itself. We can even correctly say that this was one of the major questions around which the struggle between the bourgeois line and the proletarian line was being waged within the young Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. Thus, despite the errors contained in our formulation of the principal contradiction in Canada, the general line adopted by our first congress constituted a considerable step forward for the Marxist-Leninist movement of the time. We mean this in the sense that we, along with other groups, including the Mouvement Révolutionnaire des Etudiants du Quebec (MREQ), definitively broke with the bourgeois nationalism which confined the struggle for socialism to Quebec alone.
Moreover, in the concrete conditions of the class struggle in our country, marked strongly as it is by American imperialism, our error on the formulation of the principal contradiction never prevented us from criticizing bourgeois nationalist conceptions, or the various postures of conciliation with the bourgeoisie. For example, we identified the neo-revisionist character of the C“C”P (M-L), which, in practice, puts forward, a national liberation struggle in Canada against American imperialism. And it is precisely these errors that historically have constituted the principal danger for the Canadian Marxist Leninist movement since the creation of the Communist Party itself in 1922.
In this sense, the rectifications made at our second congress must be seen as another victory of the proletarian line within our ranks. They must be seen as the continuation of the movement undertaken by our group since its beginnings to definitively break with bourgeois nationalism. This was possible because we were able to base ourselves on the fundamental correctness of our line since the start of our group. It is thus with great enthusiasm that we continue to spread our line among the masses, and that we will defend it, particularly on the occasion of the second conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists.
We would like to remind the CCL(M-L) of the invitation we sent to it to participate in this conference. This invitation takes on special meaning in the light of the major rectifications in the positions of the League on the Canadian army, as announced in Vol. 2 no. 2 of The Forge, as well as those rectifications passed off quietly at its recent conference to support anti-imperialist struggles. Comrades of the League, you have been posing very severe criticism of us for quite a while; you have now rectified the positions that were the underpinnings of your criticisms. The least we can expect from Marxist-Leninist comrades is that they come forward and defend their positions face to face. That is why you have to participate in the up-coming conference of Marxist-Leninists.
For the victory of proletarian ideology!
For the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists!
Forward to the Second Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists!
 Our former formulation put the Canadian proletariat in contradiction with the Canadian bourgeoisie and American Imperialism. Our recent congress eliminated this reference to American imperialism in the wording of the principal contradiction. See IN STRUGGLE! no 77 pp 4-7 and PROLETARIAN UNITY, no 3.
 See IN STRUGGLE! no 79 p. 4
 See IN STRUGGLE! no 80 p. 10
 See IN STRUGGLE! no 81 p. 9
 See IN STRUGGLE! no 79 p. 5.