Published: in On Unity of Marxist-Leninists,1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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This issue of PCDN contains an article written by a member of the Central Committee of the Quebec Student Movement. The article criticises a document written by a student organisation in Montreal called Mouvement Revolutionnaire des Etudiants du Quebec (MREQ). The article generally criticises MREQ from the standpoint of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. The central theme in the MREQ document is that of building the Party of the proletariat. Our comrade criticise MREQ for taking erroneous position on this question. Our comrade writes: “The Marxist-Leninists who are interested in uniting first unite in one Party on the basis of agreeing to use Marxism-Leninism to solve the concrete problems of revolution...”. This has become a crucial point of struggle amongst the groups who claim themselves to be Marxist-Leninists. Whether a Marxist-Leninist is satisfied with remaining one group and cultivating his faction or the Marxist-Leninists are building the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party of the Canadian proletariat differentiates the sham Marxist-Leninists and the genuine ones. We take the side of building the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party of the Canadian proletariat and we consider CPC(M-L) to be such a Party and that all Marxist-Leninists should unite within that Party. Others, however, like MREQ, do not consider CPC(M-L) to be the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party of the proletariat and they are planning to build one suited to their own line and style of work. We consider that MREQ’s activity on this point is disruptive and that it causes confusion in the revolutionary movement. All the same, we are not complaining about it. What we are saying is that all Marxist-Leninists should examine MREQ’s social practice, learn from their negative example and unite to build one revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party of the Canadian proletariat – CPC(M-L). To aid the struggle of learning from MREQ’s negative example, we are producing various articles about them.
MREQ was organised in 1971 by various individuals who used to circle around CPC(M-L) – more particularly, around its student wing, Mouvement Etudiant Quebecois (MEQ). They split from the Party, in the sense that they no longer supported it, and proceeded to establish their own small group. The main activity of MREQ since its formation has been a hysterical campaign against CPC(M-L). Over the past three years, MREQ failed to find anything wrong with CPC(M-L)’s political line, but they objected to CPC(M-L)’s “sectarian” and “dogmatic” style. Last fall, they found a loop-hole to wriggle into, and attacked CPC(M-L) for pursuing a “wrong line” on the question of the United Aircraft Workers’ struggle and gave us a lecture on what the issue of nationalisation means to Marxist-Leninists. They dumped CPC(M-L) into the same heap as the social-democrats. Around the same time, they were circulating their document on Party building and dumped us in the same pile as a neo-trotskyist organisation called Canadian Party of Labour (CPL). All this activity exposes MREQ’s inability to uphold Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought as revolutionary theory and apply it to the concrete conditions of Canada and then make a case against CPC(M-L). They are incapable of doing this.
For our part, on the other hand, we have been somewhat charitable towards this organisation. We have always upheld the correct position of getting together to sort out our differences and fighting together against the common enemy in order to develop unity in struggle. MREQ has always responded to us with abuse and slander.
As of this issue of PCDN, we will produce our view of MREQ on two crucial points – the concrete conditions of Canada and the application of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to these concrete conditions. We believe that MREQ is not upholding Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and that MREQ is not dealing with the concrete conditions of Canada. As a result, they dish out all sorts of clueless theories and propagate them in the revolutionary movement. We will print three articles on MREQ which will put forward our views on them.
1. MREQ on Party Building – A General Comment by a member of the Central Committee of the Quebec Student Movement.
2. MREQ’s Analysis of the Central Contradiction in Canada – by a member of the Worker’s College Committee of CPC(M-L)
3. MREQ’s Attitude Towards Nationalisation – by a member of the Worker’s College Committee of CPC(M-L).
We call on all our comrades and friends to read these articles seriously and oppose the erroneous analysis of MREQ on the three questions mentioned above. Our Party holds that all revolutionaries and Marxist-Leninists should unite in one party, as the first principle. They sould unite on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and in the course of fighting the main enemy. Even though MREQ considers us as the enemy, we do not consider MREQ as the enemy on any level. The Political Report of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), adopted in April, 1970, points out:
This is a contradiction amongst the people. The main material basis for this contradiction lies in the influence of the petit bourgeoisie, both urban and rural, in the anti-imperialist revolution, into which they bring their ideology. This ideology tends to be subjective, and leads to rightist errors in the anti-imperialist revolution. Bourgeois humanism and philistinism, anarchism, opportunism, dogmatism, revisionism, neo-revisionism, trotskyism and neo-trotskyism are all the ideologies of the bourgeoisie vying for influence in the working class and competing for leadership of the anti-imperialist revolution. Every class participates in the anti-imperialist revolution for its own ends, and even if the petit bourgeoisie are a dying, intermediate and transitory class, and are forced to choose between joining the working class and the bourgeoisie, they still, as an intermeidate class, have designs for their own revolution, in order to serve their interests. While the objective oppression of the petit bourgeoisie pushes them over to the working class and the anti-imperialist revolution, subjectively they still remain loyal to the bourgeoisie ideologically, and serve the bourgeois interest in the working class. This contradiction, in the main, must be handled on the non-antagonistic level. The Party of proletariat must never permit the substitution of political struggle for ideological struggle, and thus make serious rightist and leftist errors on this issue. Ideological struggle must be waged on a separate front, and all erroneous bourgeois theories must be attacked while at the same time, the basis of unity must be opposition to U.S. imperialist domination of Canada and nothing else. Not to wage ideological struggles amongst the masses for the sake of “unity” is to make a rightist error, while the substitution of political struggle for ideological struggle is to make an ultra-left error. The contradiction with historical traitors and renegades like trotskyists and revisionists and all their friends is an antagonistic one, and no mistake should be made as to their interests. These pro-imperialist elements will never join the anti-imperialist revolution, and if they do, it will be for the sake of betraying it. They must not be allowed in the ranks of the people. They will be exposed in the process of struggle and the broad masses must be mobilised against them. At the same time, all efforts must be made to keep such contradictions on a principled level and work hard to expose all wrecking elements. Petit bourgeois of rural and urban origin, irrespective of the fact that they bring with them various shades of bourgeois ideology, will join the anti-imperialist struggle, and must be rallied around the proletariat. In short, the correct handling of the contradictions among the people is a very important task and must not be ignored. In the main it can be carried out by following the guidelines:
1. Keep the Party of the proletariat completely independent of all other trends,
2. Do constant and detailed ideological work amongst the masses,
3. Let the broad masses of the workers and others learn from their own experience of the treacheries of the revisionists, neo-revisionists, trotskyists, neo-trotskyists, anarchists, social democrats, etc. in the course of their own practical political struggles, and
4. Fully integrate with the political, social and other problems of the working class, and resolutely lead them by following the guidelines “From the masses, to the masses” (Mass Line,Vol. 1, No. 18, April 5, 1970)
Our attitude on the questions relating to the contradictions in the revolutionary movement still remains the same. We call upon all genuine Marxist-Leninists to support this correct stand of the Party’s on the questions relating to contradictions in the revolutionary movement and support our Party’s work in the revolutionary mass movement. We hold that absolute clarity on ideological and political lines and absolute agreement on all questions relating to revolution is mere humbug and is based on an idealist conception of history. We are dialectical and historical materialists. For us, theory comes out of practice and, in turn, serves practice. What we advocate is that instead of “waging ideological struggle” and splitting, we should clarify some basic theoretical questions which are decisive to the building of the Party and the leading of the revolutionary mass movement. Atthe same time, we should unite against the main enemy and forge unity in struggle. It is altogether wrong to elevate the question of “ideological struggle” to the level of principle and use it to cause splits in the struggle against the main enemy. MREQ is doing this at the present time. Those who support the MREQ position are objectively supporting the splittism of MREQ.
Finally, our comrades and friends must be very clear that it is our experience that those who are advocating the line of “ideological struggle” are, in fact, those who are fighting for “freedom of criticism” without coming under any revolutionary discipline. They are not taking the standpoint of Marxism-Leninism which is the standpoint of calling for unity as first principle and criticism-self-criticism to consolidate it. We advocate criticism and self-criticism for the purposes of consolidating and building unity and not for the purposes of liquidating and ending it. The line of “ideological struggle” is the line of disunity and must be opposed.
(This article first appeared in People’s Canada Daily News, Vol. 5 No. 6, januray 7, 1975. The text is reproduced in full, however the articles referred to are not contained in this publication.)