Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Charles Gagnon

For the Proletarian Party

Chapter 1: Putting an end to ideological confusion

Given that the creation of the workers’ party is presently the principal contradiction within the Quebec workers’ movement, certainly the first obstacle to overcome in its path is the ideological confusion introduced into the workers’ organisations by the opportunists and reformists of all ilks. Thus, if no militant worker can be found who would put his trust in the Liberal Party of Quebec, there are still quite a number who pin all their hopes on the P.Q. or on a party eventually arising from the trade union movement and sponsored by its leaders.

One would have to be blind not to see the existence of this confusion. One would have to be devoid of political sense and wrapped up totally with the “spontaneity of the masses” to think that such confusion (which doesn’t occur by accident), is going to go away by itself, without a systematic, persevering and fierce struggle to make its opposite win out. That is, the constant clarification of the particular interests of the working class and the interests of working people in general which is the essential condition for the creation and development of the party.

How do we get out of this contradiction? Not, how do the 15, 20 or 30 vanguard workers’ associations which presently exist get out of it, but how does the entire proletariat, especially the militant sections of the workers’ movement, do so? Such is the question faced today by militants and groups which recognise the creation of the proletarian party as the first objective in the workers’ movement, which recognise thereby that the primary political tasks at the present time are those which lead to the development of the conditions necessary to the creation of the proletarian party.

Overcoming spontaneism and voluntarism

Without doubt it’s not self-evident that ideological struggle is the priority today. On one hand, we ought to say that ideological struggle is an essential aspect of development of the workers’ movement at all stages, and as the case arises, an essential aspect of the struggles of the workers’ party, even after the overthrow of bourgeois power. This is confirmed by the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the slogans coming out of the last Party of Labour of Albania congress.

On the other hand, at the stage of the creation of the party, one could believe that organisational tasks are far and away the most important, if not the only ones. Although such a position is not entirely wrong, it misses the following points: firstly, one always organises for a purpose, in pursuit of an objective: thus any organisation is conditional on knowledge of the objective for organisational work is never an end in itself; secondly, ideological struggle presupposes organisational work, the organisation of study and research and of the dissemination of the results and the organisation of propaganda or the propagation of political line.

Making organisational the particular nature of the political tasks which ought to characterise any stage of the development of the workers’ movement or of the creation of the party leaves one in the realm of abstraction. The particular struggles in this process certainly require organisational work. But the nature of the struggle determines the nature of this work, and not the other way around.

We are thus left with the problem of determining, on the basis of the struggles being waged in the workers’ movement, what sorts of intervention are the most likely to advance the movement and, more specifically at our present stage, to lead the working class vanguards already in existence to turn the corner toward creating the party. It would be rather naive to think that the present concrete conditions in Quebec lend themselves to the rapid development of the proletarian party. It’s more a question of preparing the conditions for its creation than of creating the immediate basis for its existence.

For some, the priority today is implantation. First of all, this notion of implantation is ambiguous to say the least. Do they mean by “implantation” that militants integrate themselves with a group of working people and develop the fullest possible analysis of the contradictions, so that the workers take on ever more political positions with an understanding of the reasons. If so, then they are talking about an essential aspect of the ideological struggle, work which clarifies the workers’ class interests. This form of “implantation” should be fostered as much as possible. If, on the other hand, what is meant is that practice – as old as politics itself – of a relatively small number of individuals taking over a certain number of key positions within an organisation, to exercise control over it, one ought to more accurately speak of infiltration.

We presently find within the vanguard groups, militants who act (without really realizing it, it seems) as if the revolution – while not necessarily a coup d’etat – could come about from a conspiracy hatched by a small number of individuals well-stocked with what they call “political sense”. Whether they realise it or not, these militants fall into “leftism” and opportunism at the same time. “Leftism” through their haste in wanting to run ahead of the workers’ movement; opportunism because their project aims concretely at giving them a pivotal position inside the workers’ organisations, a position which they will try to use when they think the time is right.

The question is therefore posed, in whose interests they will do so. And this question can’t be avoided by talking about good intentions. If supposed vanguard elements decide to act in isolation, like conspirators, they are taking up the path which many unionists have followed up until now. We see where they ended up: politically impotent, assuaging their consciences on the backs of the unionised workers from whom they make a good living ... in the name of the exploited people.

No revolutionary movement without revolutionary consciousness

Understood in the broad sense, working class organisation can only appear within the working class and other strata of working people. Working people get organised when they form unions, committees, associations – in short, instruments of struggle adapted to the objectives they pursue.

Thus, working class organisation mustn’t be confused with the workers’ movement or the workers’ party. The workers’ movement is those conflicts and struggles which oppose the working class to the bourgeois classes, as well as the progressive ideological currents which both feed and derive from these struggles. As for the proletarian party, it is the ideological and political leadership organisation of the workers’ movement, as we saw above.

It is true that historically the organisations arising directly out of the working class have been defence organisations reformist rather than revolutionary, most of the time very economist, i.e. devoid of any long-term political perspective The contradiction revealed by such an historical constant is not the inability of the working class to organise itself, but rather the inability to do so on the political basis of class interests, interests which demand the destruction of capitalism and the transition to socialism under the absolute leadership of the working class itself.

We thus find the practical basis and explanation of the role of ideological struggle, which at times is determinant The various committees, organisations and popular associations which have arisen every month, even every week, for some years in Quebec, indicate the desire of the working people to get organised in defence of their interests, even if these organisations were formed by militants from outside through implantation. These militants would have been clearly rejected if their intervention did not meet a desire or the part of the workers themselves to get organised.

Not only have Quebec workers built innumerable organisations over the past few years, but they have even mon clearly demonstrated on several occasions their desire for unity. All the “Common Fronts”, coming from the unions 01 elsewhere, on economic and political issues, which have arisen in recent years in Quebec, demonstrate in their own way that there exists in the working class and among working people in general a section of militants who set working class solidarity and a certain organisational unity on the route to the transformation of their condition.

The principal aspect of the contradiction whereby the working class finds itself without its political organisation of struggle, without its class party, is not in the total absence of people’s organisations nor even in the lack of desire to unite to fight more effectively. The principal aspect of the contradiction is to be found in the absence of a proletarian political line, a revolutionary, class line, capable of providing the existing organisations and isolated militants the tools of analysis and understanding necessary to counter the reactionary ideological currents and to infuse their practice and activity with an ever more clearly revolutionary content.

We thus come back to the question of the ideological confusion which presently reigns within the working class and in the vanguard groups. The working class today is being tossed about between the lies, false science and systematic propaganda of the ruling classes, which an working to create the greatest possible divisions among the workers, on the one hand, and the proposals of the nationalist and social-democratic currents, which are often very similar, claiming to offer solutions to the workers problems, on the other. Consequently, the workers remain isolated, not only in the organisational but also on the ideological plane.

This organisational and ideological isolation of the workers means division amongst the working class, within the proletariat. This division is such that the simple proliferation of scattered workers’ groups couldn’t really overcome it. The real unity of the proletariat ad oppressed people can only come from a clear, illuminating consciousness of the long – and often even short-term community of interests of all classes and social strata which make up the oppressed people.