Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Charles Gagnon

For the Proletarian Party

Preface to Third Edition

The question of the revolutionary party of the working class is today more immediate than it has been since the total downfall of the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) during the 1950’s. It is the new Marxist-Leninist movement, born during the late 60’s and early 70’s which resolutely reintroduced this question in the Canadian working class movement.

For the past twenty-odd years the Canadian working class movement, including its Quebec section, was, so to speak, left to its own devices. More precisely, it remained almost completely under the ideological domination of the bourgeoisie. This domination takes its most harmful form in the reformism of the trade union organizations and of bourgeois parties like the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Parti Quebecois (PQ). At the same time, the CPC has turned into a mere bureau of Soviet revisionism; its influence among the labouring masses and the people in general has, in any case, been practically reduced to zero.

As a result of this situation, the labouring masses find themselves without proletarian, i.e., fundamentally revolutionary, leadership. This situation is all the more serious given, on the one hand, that the bourgeoisie is seeking through every possible means, to increase the exploitation of the workers and the oppression of the people in order to resolve in its favour the current crisis of imperialism, while, on the other hand, workers’ and popular struggles have clearly been radicalized during the past several years. It follows that, lacking a consistent revolutionary leadership, the workers’ movement remains powerless to transform even its roughest and most combative struggles into genuine attacks against the political power of the bourgeoisie – even though this power is becoming objectively more and more vulnerable.

* * *

The only true solution to the imperialist crisis is socialist revolution. It is erroneous to argue, as do the opportunists, social democrats of the NDP, “left-wing” nationalists of the PQ or revisionists of the CPC, that there is an intermediate road between capitalism and socialism. Nor is there a stage of history preliminary to the socialist revolution in an advanced capitalist country such as Canada, which has even reached the imperialist stage. This is contrary to the line of the so-called Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) – CPC(ML) – which advances a so-called strategy of the “united front of the Canadian people, including sections of the bourgeoisie”, to first wage the struggle against American imperialist domination of Canada as a preliminary to the proletarian revolution.

As the Chinese Communist Party said in 1963, when the struggle between Soviet neo-revisionism and authentic Marxist-Leninism was on the verge of an open break,

“In the imperialist and the capitalist countries, the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat are essential for the thorough resolution of the contradictions of capitalist society.”[1]

Now, the history of the international workers’ movement has shown many times that the socialist revolution cannot succeed without a revolutionary workers’ party, a Marxist-Leninist party, whose mission is to lead the labouring masses in the struggle for socialism, in other words for the overthrow of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

“Communists,” continued the comrades of the Chinese CP in 1963, “must at all times draw a clear line of demarcation between themselves and social democratic parties on the basic question of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat and liquidate the ideological influence of social democracy in the international working class movement and among the working people. ”[2]

This is the central question, which permits us to demarcate authentic Marxist-Leninists from all shades of opportunists social democrats, Trotskyists, revisionists and neo-revisionists – who, clinging to the workers’ movement, only reduce its revolutionary momentum by trying to send the movement down a side track.

* * *

The Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement is very young, composed of numerous groups and circles containing a diversity of tendencies. It is at times difficult to single out the precise revolutionary road because of the presence of numerous and diverse deviations. The lengthy absence of any organized revolutionary force within the Canadian workers’ movement has a lot to do with this problem.

In tackling the principal deviations present in the Chinese CP at the time, Mao Tsetung wrote in 1957 what follows, which does not lack some bearing on the prevailing situation in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, particularly in Quebec.

“For a long time now people have been levelling a lot of criticism at dogmatism. That is as it should be. But they often neglect to criticize revisionism. Both dogmatism and revisionism run counter to Marxism. Marxism must certainly advance; it cannot stand still. It would become lifeless if it remained stagnant and stereotyped. However, the basic principles of Marxism must never be violated, or otherwise mistakes will be made. It is dogmatism to approach Marxism from a metaphysical point of view and to regard it as something rigid. It is revisionism to negate the basic principles of Marxism and to negate its universal truth.”[3]

To wage the struggle against opportunism, against the erroneous line within the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada and Quebec at this time, is precisely to seek to identify and denounce the manifestations of revisionism and dogmatism which are current within the movement. Unless these are eliminated, they lead inevitably to opportunism, the pure and simple abandonment in practice of the principles of Marxism-Leninism, resulting in the abandonment of the objective of socialist revolution, in other words the overthrow of bourgeois power and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

By revisionism we mean, of course, the old revisionism of the social democrats who claim to achieve socialism without applying the principles of Marxism-Leninism, which, according to them, are outdated! Without going as far in words, the pro-Soviet revisionists, including the CPC, have become, in practice, agents of the old form of revisionism: they have for all practical purposes definitively broken with Marxism-Leninism. Locally, besides the CPC, we must locate in this camp the Grouping of Workers’ Committees (RCT), an outgrowth of the “Workplace Sector” of the former Political Action Committee (CAP) of the St. Jacques district. (Included here would be the circles and groupings which gravitate around the RCT.) Their references to Marxism-Leninism are but occasional and superficial; their practice is essentially reformist.

But the revisionist camp is larger than that. It also includes those whom it would be proper to describe as neo-revisionists. In words, they hold high the flag of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tsetung thought, but in practice they throw it to the ground. They operate just like the Lin Piao clique in China who, during the 1960’s, brandished the thought of Mao Tsetung in order to better attack and combat it. In our country, this tendency is principally represented by the CPC(ml) which is Marxist-Leninist in name alone. Advancing a so-called “united front of the Canadian people, including sections of the bourgeoisie, against American imperialist domination of Canada,” the CPC(ml) effectively masks the imperialist nature of the Canadian bourgeoisie and rejects in practice the central strategic objective of the revolution in Canada, which is precisely the overthrow of this bourgeoisie.

The struggle against neo-revisionism is all the more important in that it presents itself in a Marxist-Leninist guise and can thus cause considerable harm to a young and inexperienced Marxist-Leninist movement like our own; all the more important in that the anti-imperialism of the CPC(ml) , exclusively directed against the USA, for all practical purposes converges with, and stamps with an alleged reference to Marxism-Leninism, the petty-bourgeois anti-imperialism of the NDP, the PQ, the trade union centrals and ultimately of the CPC, a petty-bourgeois anti-imperialism which reduces the struggle against imperialism to a struggle against the “exaggerated power” of the monopolies; all the more important in that it represents an active current in the Marxist-Leninist movement of all the imperialist countries in the world, where it finds fertile ground to develop among the labour aristocracy and certain layers of the petty-bourgeoisie.

In our country at least, neo-revisionism is a product of the petty-bourgeoisie; the CPC(ml), among others, began as a strictly student organization, the Internationalists, and to a very great extent remains one today. This is, no doubt why its “theoreticians” went so far as to say that their “Party” was the party of the proletariat because it is composed of communists – and everyone knows, because the CPC(ml) said so, that communists are proletarians regardless of their class origin or their place in the relations of production.

* * *

The virulent dogmatism which marked its origins has led the CPC(ml) to its present condition, an organization bureaucratically dominated, not to say crushed, by a thoroughly revisionist and radically opportunist leadership. However, it would be dangerous to neglect the fact that this group does not have the monopoly on dogmatism within the Marxist-Leninist movement. On the contrary. In fact, just about all the groups, particularly the student groups, are marked with this fault to a greater or lesser degree. Moreover, when it began, IN STRUGGLE! itself gave in to this deviation, which is typical of young and inexperienced groups.

Dogmatism is evidenced in those groups which refuse in practice to examine the application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism to the struggle of the Canadian proletariat outside the framework of an abstract and mechanical transposition of what they read in the fundamental work of Marxism-Leninism or in Peking Review; those groups which conceive of unity of Marxist-Leninists as solely the result of a “common reading”, repeated indefinitely, of the same Marxist-Leninist writings, instead of seeing it in a correct application, resulting from a struggle against deviations, of the same principles to the conditions which prevail in our country at this time; these groups for whom idealism (metaphysical and “mechanical”) prevails over dialectical materialism, when, for example, they suggest that the non-proletarian masses will broadly and spontaneously mobilize themselves, not on the basis of their own interests, but on the basis of the interests of the working class.

Dogmatism leads to opportunism, as the history of the CPC(ml), among others, shows. The comrades of the Marxist-Leninist movement still dominated by dogmatism today, unless they resolutely break from this form of petty-bourgeois radicalism, will find themselves, like the dogmatists of yesterday, following the tails of the workers’ movement as rearguard reinforcements, devoted and generous as they might be, to the economist struggles led by the reformist trade union bosses.

IN STRUGGLE! has decided to republish For the Proletarian Party, whose central theses are as correct today as in 1972, i.e., no revolution without a revolutionary party; no revolutionary party without a revolutionary line. Taking up the fundamental principle of Marxism-Leninism concerning the necessity of the revolutionary proletarian party, For the Proletarian Party issued the call for “ideological struggle” as an application of the statement of Mao Tsetung that:

“Marxism will develop in the struggle against whatever u anti-Marxist. This is development through the struggle of opposites, development conforming to dialectics.”[4]

Moreover, this is the same principle which Lenin applied to the tasks of communists in the advanced capitalist countries, formulated as follows in 1920:

“As long as the question was [and in so far as it still is] one of winning over the vanguard of the proletariat to communism, so long, and to that extent, propaganda was in the forefront.”[5]

No one will disagree, except perhaps the luminaries of the CPC(ml) , who claim that their group constitutes the proletarian vanguard – and we have already seen what sort of “proletariat” they mean! No serious person within the Marxist-Leninist movement will disagree that rallying the advanced workers to communism is the central task of the hour and that it will remain so for quite some time.

Despite this theoretical acknowledgement, deviations exist within the movement which constitute the practical negation of an authentic recognition of the determining character of Lenin’s affirmation of the central role of propaganda as long as the vanguard of the proletariat is not won over to communism.

We have thus quite recently seen members of groups claiming to adhere to Marxism-Leninism, even claiming to be the only truly Marxist-Leninist groups, vigorously opposing any Marxist-Leninist propaganda at mass activities, particularly during International Womens’ Day on March 8 (1975). On May 1, a member of one of these ultra-Marxist-Leninist groups went so far as to physically attack an IN STRUGGLE! propagandist in order to prevent her from giving newspapers to the demonstrators! Even the most reactionary trade union leaders have not yet dared to do this...

It is most certainly in the same perspective that we must consider the resurgence of one of the most monstrous ineptitudes produced by the “Workplace Sector” at the time of the publication of For the Proletarian Party in 1972, namely what these people call the contradiction between propaganda, on the one hand, and organization, on the other. To claim to be Marxist-Leninist and to ignore the numerous and diverse forms of organization which must be developed, including amongst the advanced workers, to assure the propagation of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tsetung thought, is to demonstrate a total incomprehension of what communist propaganda is all about; it is at best, we might assume, to conceive it as parachuting, from a high flying airplane no doubt, leaflets or newspapers onto the rooftops of working class neighbourhoods!

One might have thought, with the developments which occurred in the Marxist-Leninist movement during the past three years, that no one would dare any more to reaffirm such a viewpoint. But no. In its latest issue, the magazine Solidaire, an English Montreal-based periodical which is, moreover, closely linked to the group Mobilisation/Librairie Progressiste, says that what distinguishes IN STRUGGLE! from the other groups (these other groups being, according to Solidaire, the RCT on the one hand, and, on the other, the various “groupings” which detached themselves since the collapse of CAP St. Jacques, of which a good number today gravitate in the orbit of Mobilisation/Librairie Progressiste), is the disproportionate importance which it accords to widespread propaganda to the detriment of organizational work in the factories.[6]

The “Workplace Sector” is thus not dead, even if it has broken up as a group and its “heir”, the RCT, has become totally engulfed in revisionism. It is not dead in the sense that the deviations which first appeared within it at the beginning of the 70’s are still to be found in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, particularly in Quebec. Thus, just when we might have thought that the “tactic” (or should we call it “strategy”, considering the way this slogan is presented at times) of “implantation” had been definitively weeded out of the Marxist-Leninist movement, we find that a new generation of “implantationist students” has appeared in recent months. Claiming to base themselves on the teachings of Marxism-Leninism, all they do is harp on the leftist “theses” of the French “Maoist” movement of the 1960’s. Didn’t some of them go so far as to write that they supported the “implantationist thesis ”....even if they didn’t really know why!

“Implantation”, in the sense of the establishment, as they say in France, of communist intellectuals in factories, is not, never was, and never will be, the central task of communists. We repeat again, it is the rallying of the advanced elements of the proletariat to communism (or, in other words, the joining together of the workers’ movement and Marxism-Leninism), as an essential condition to building an authentic proletarian party. This rallying will take place first and foremost through propaganda, through the diffusion of Marxism-Leninism, hence through the constant struggle against whatever is anti-Marxist. That is what is principal.

This does not exclude that, to effect this rallying, it might eventually be necessary to have recourse to the “establishment” of communist militants, intellectuals or workers, in particular factories; it is even probable that such situations will come up. But that is secondary; it will always remain a particular method for achieving the determinant political objective of rallying advanced workers to communism. Militants thus “established” in factories must function under the rigorous discipline of an authentic communist organization and accomplish the tasks of communists, otherwise reformism and economism will quickly lead them totally astray from their real objective.

Now, we might wonder how it is at the present time, that the majority of “implantees”, doubtless totally agreeing with the point that propaganda contradicts organization, totally reject communist propaganda in the factories where they find themselves, saying that this attitude is dictated by the necessity to foil repression or to avoid “frightening” workers with newspapers which are “too advanced”! How numerous and varied are the pathways of opportunism!

The “new generation of implantationists” has claimed that its viewpoint should be clearly distinguished from that of the RCT, because, contrary to the latter, the groups to which they belong have a Marxist-Leninist line. Come on now! As if a call to action was not, should not be the expression of political line, its concrete application in particular conditions.

“Implantation”, presented as the tactic, at the present stage, for the construction of the party, and even, by some, as a “universal principle” of Marxism-Leninism, is effectively the expression of a political line. It is the line of those who, incapable of linking themselves politically to the masses and more particularly to the advanced strata of the proletariat to a great extent because of their dogmatism and leftism, hence because of an erroneous application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism, drift gradually but inevitably into opportunism. Wishing to “create” a workers’ vanguard composed of petty-bourgeois, these militants do not guide the workers to communism. On the one hand, they work in practice to substitute themselves for the advanced and militant elements of the proletariat; on the other hand, they themselves abandon Marxism-Leninism to dedicate themselves principally then entirely to economic struggles, on the pretext that, proving themselves in the realm of militancy, they will bring the workers along in their wake. They might, in effect, manage to do this, but then they will never bring them to anything other than more radical and militant economic struggles. This is not, this will never be, the objective of a communist organization.

* * *

To republish For the Proletarian Party at this time is thus a totally justifiable undertaking, despite the numerous gaps and weaknesses which it contains. This booklet was produced in a period when the Marxist-Leninist movement had hardly begun to form itself, in a period when those who were in the movement still had but a summary acquaintance with the teachings of Marxism-Leninism.

It will be noted that in many place the language of For the Proletarian Party is extremely ambiguous. It will be noted, at another level, that important errors of analysis or even of principle have slipped into it; this is the case with the erroneous equation which is made between the proletarian revolution and the “national liberation struggle” in Quebec; this is the case with the leftism that results from the analysis of the trade unions...

The reader who wishes to find out the current positions of IN STRUGGLE! on these questions should refer to the newspaper of our group and, more importantly, to Create the Marxist-Leninist Organization of Struggle for the Party which contains the major rectifications which IN STRUGGLE has made in its line during the past two and a half years.

* * *

Nevertheless, what is no less important, is that with this republication, IN STRUGGLE! seeks to renew clearly with the essential practice of taking up the struggle against what is anti-Marxist, a practice without which, as Mao Tsetung says, Marxism cannot develop, without which, furthermore, the unity of Marxist-Leninists around a correct line in Quebec and Canada could not be realized, without which, finally, the linking of Marxism-Leninism and the workers’ movement could not be made on a solid, unshakeable basis.

Montreal, May 12, 1975


[1] A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement, the Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Reply to the Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of March 20, 1963. Peking: Foreign Languages Press (1963) p. 18.

[2] ibid., p. 19-20.

[3] “Speech at the Chinese Communist Party’s National Conference on Propaganda Work”, in Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung. Peking: Foreign Languages Press (1971) p. 496.

[4] ibid., p. 494.

[5] “’Left-Wing’ Communism – an Infantile Disorder”, in Collected Works. Moscow: Progress Publishers (1966) p. 93-4.

[6] The original text reads as follows: “What differentiates En Lutte! from the various groups described previously, is its overwhelming stress on wide-scale propaganda and agitation, to the virtual exclusion of organising in workplaces.” Solidaire, No. 7. (April 1975) p. 31.