First Published: In Struggle No. 81, February 17, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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A step forward in the unification of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement.
The struggle for the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists has seen important developments in the last little while. Today the rallying of four Marxist-Leninist groups, from four of the country’s important centres, to IN STRUGGLE! ranks among the successes achieved in this struggle. The four groups are: the Vancouver Communist Group (VCG), the Regina Communist Group (RCG), the Groupe pour la révolution prolétarienne (GRP) from Montreal, and the Halifax Communist Group (HCG).
In this first article we would like to go through some of the principal lessons that were learned, and conclusions that can be drawn, from the struggle that led to these four groups, rallying. In particular, among these conclusions is the failure and defeat of small-group mentality and sectarianism, deviations which have different manifestations in small groups and in big groups but which nevertheless always end up by having the same effect of not allowing for a clear and firm struggle against opportunism. In a future issue of the newspaper and the journal we will go further into the contents of the debates between IN STRUGGLE! and each of these groups. 
IN STRUGGLE’S tactical objective on the question of unity is to unite Canadian Marxist-Leninists into a single organization around a revolutionary programme to be determined at the end of a systematic process of demarcation on positions. But as we said at the conference last October 9th , the struggle to create a single organization of Marxist-Leninists does not at all exclude the eventuality that groups who hold the same positions on fundamental political questions unite organizationally. In fact, the rallying of the Vancouver Communist Group, the Regina Communist Group, the Groupe pour la révolution prolétarienne and the Halifax Communist Group to the Marxist-Leninist group IN STRUGGLE! is an integral part of the polemic to clear the way for a leading centre in the struggle for the political and organizational unification of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement as a whole. As the Regina Communist Group puts it in its request to rally to IN STRUGGLE!... “We have come to the conclusion that IN STRUGGLEl’s analysis of our current situation, its application of Marxism-Leninism to our concrete conditions, and its proposals regarding the tasks to be fulfilled so that a new communist (M-L) Party may be formed are essentially correct. We have been taking ideological leadership from IN STRUGGLE! and believe IN STRUGGLE! is providing important leadership to the Canadian Marxist Leninist movement in the two-line struggle around party building” (...)
“In order for us to continue more effectively the ideological struggle in the Marxist-Leninist movement, and in order for us to take up the work of merging Marxism-Leninism with the workers’ movement in our area, it is absolutely necessary for us to be formally linked to IN STRUGGLE!...”
Opportunism, in particular right opportunism, within the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, has certainly not been crushed once and for all. The four groups rallying to us today are not doing so in a spontaneous way. On the contrary, as the Regina Communist Group puts it, rallying is going to allow for a sharpening of the ideological struggle and of the struggle against the opportunist tendency within the movement.
As the Halifax Communist Group so rightly says: “What has been most clearly revealed through the practice of our group is that the principal contradiction blocking our group for maximizing its contribution to the struggle for the proletarian revolution is the contradiction between our ideological line and our organizational line. Our line sets out the tasks of Marxist-Leninists in relation to the workers movement, it points out the deviations which must be struggled against, it encompasses a tactical plan for unity. On the other hand, we exist in a group which can only engage in a limited way in the tasks of Marxist-Leninists” (...) “The major task of the HCG was to determine the leading centre of our movement, and to reach fundamental unity with it. Now that this task has been achieved the HCG has ’outlived’ its time. It is through the dissolution of the HCG and the rallying of its militants to IN STRUGGLE! that we will best be able to serve the interests of the proletariat, that we will be able to struggle at the highest level presently possible for our common goals, on the basis of a common line under the leadership and discipline of your group. With the establishment of a principled unity through the ideological struggle between our two groups, the condition has been realized for us to resolve the principal contradiction of the HCG.”
The Vancouver Communist Group poses it in these terms: “As a local group, the problems VCG faced reflect the general problems encountered by primitive communist formations throughout the country. We lacked the internal resources and the external links with the class that were necessary to most effectively carry out the two aspects of the central task – winning advanced workers to the science of Marxism-Leninism and uniting Marxist-Leninists.”
One of the important steps forward brought about by the struggle for unity between IN STRUGGLE! and the four groups mentioned above is the break with small-groupism at a time when the reflex action which consists of wanting to protect the autonomy of one’s own little circle at any cost, and wanting to turn inwards and be satisfied with an amateurish level of organization still marks a lot of groups. This attitude is typical of economism and right opportunism, deviations which certain groups have demarcated from ideologically without having in practice broken with the localism which such deviations engender.
In analyzing its own history, the Vancouver Communist Group recounts: “VCG and other groups found it necessary to go through a long period of internally developing positions which could be put forth for struggle. The gestation period for the development of these positions was often long and frustrating.” In such a context it is clear that the line struggle cannot be waged in a rigorous way, and that the public debate over positions on different subjects can only advance in a sporadic way. At the same time, other groups are not always in a position to take a stand on the viewpoints being put forward.
Continuing its self-criticism, the VCG affirms: “Our errors can be traced back primarily to the failure to distinguish between what was principal and what was secondary in our work and a separation of theory and practice. The right aspects of small group mentality dominated our group.” (...)
“We took a “wait and see” attitude towards the national party-building struggle, by, on the one hand, studying key Marxist-Leninist classics and, on the other, studying party-building positions. But we left our participation in the development of any line until we had a ’better grasp’ of the theoretical principles advanced. The dialectical method would have been to direct our study to guide our actions in the practical undertaking of that task. This stagist approach led us to separate the tasks of uniting Marxist-Leninists from that of winning advanced workers to communism. Rather than recognize the need to integrate work on both fronts, from the outset we decided that since we had no line to guide our work we could not undertake a communist practice to any degree, in the class. Instead we turned inward, isolating ourselves and seeing our development as a separate matter from that of developing Marxist-Leninist unity and class struggle. We were thus dominated by small group mentality that prevented our moving forward to take up the tasks of that period.”
It was by waging the ideological struggle in a systematic way that we were able to liquidate small-groupism. And it is in this same way that we established complete political unity on principal questions, unity that we sealed with organizational unity that, far from putting an end to the ideological struggle, is going to allow for it to continue – at a higher level – through the clear and firm application of democratic centralism.
The struggle for unity between our groups was not only successful because of the victory over small-group mentality but also because we were able to avoid the harmful influence of its twin brother, big group chauvisnism.
Says le Groupe pour la révolution prolétarienne in its application to rally to IN STRUGGLE!: “By starting with a real desire for unity, it is possible to distinguish primary differences from secondary differences and it is also possible to overcome primary differences. It was this point of view which prevailed in our debates, and was concretized by looking for the truth in the facts, by waging the line struggle not through incessant repetition of M-L principles but in seeking to apply them to the history of our country, to the path of the revolution in our country. This is how we understood posing the question of the unity of M-Ls in terms of our revolutionary objectives and the tasks they impose, In terms of responsibilities to the proletariat and the people. In proceeding in such a way, it is possible to resolve problems and to accept to solve those which are not resolved within the context of the same organization. In our debates we learned how to act with firmness – that is, the capacity to criticize that which is wrong and bourgeois; and with modesty, the capacity to criticize our errors as we become conscious of them”... “Contrary to the League. IS recognizes the contributions of less developed M-L groups in the line struggle within the M-L movement at the same time as recognizing the unequal development, it does not seek to sweep up or silence these less developed groups.”
The establishment of IN STRUGGLE! from Halifax to Vancouver is a step forward not only for the unity of Marxist-Leninists but above all for the unity of the working class, and the penetration of Marxist-Leninist ideas within the Canadian masses of both nations and in the the principal regions of the country. For the first time since the Communist Party of Canada degenerated into revisionism, the Marxist-Leninist movement, and with it the entire working class, has succeeded in breaking through national and regional divisions that hold back our revolutionary fight against the bourgeoisie.
For the unification of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement! Long live the proletarian revolution!
 A document detailing the debates around the Vancouver Communist Group’* rallying to IN STRUGGLE! is already available. Contact IS in Vancouver.
 See the IN STRUGGLEi pamphlet Documents from the National Conference on the Unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists; Montreal, October 9, 1976. Available shortly.