First Published: In Struggle No. 105, January 4, 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
The capitalist crisis here in Canada is worsening. The repression of the bourgeoisie and its State of dictatorship is coming down harder and harder on the broad Canadian masses. Why? Because the capitalist ruling class is anxious to step up its exploitation of the proletariat in order to safeguard its reactionary interests.
In answer to such a situation there have been a whole host of solutions dangled before the eyes of the Canadian working class, just as there are numerous parties that claim to represent the best interests of that class. Names like the NDP, the PQ. the Communist Party of Canada, the CPC(M-L) spring quickly to mind, as do the lesser-known Canadian Party of Labour, and the Quebec Workers’ Party – and that’s without going into the list of all the different plans to create new parties. On that score, one need only think of the calls launched by the Socialist Organizing Committee (SOC) mainly active in Western Canada, the Waffle (the “left” wing of the NDP in Saskatchewan), the nationalist “left” In Quebec, the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) also calls Canadian workers to create a new party. And in addition, there is IN STRUGGLE! which has been working towards the creation of a proletarian party since it was founded.
How Is the working class going to be able to recognize the real party? How can it choose? How can it be sure which of the many solutions put before it is the right one in fighting the misery it suffers under capitalism? In short, what party does the proletariat need to ensure victory over the bourgeoisie?
In the upcoming days, in preparation for the debates at the Fourth Conference, IN STRUGGLE! will publish a short pamphlet on the current tasks of Canadian Marxist-Leninists. By and large, our positions on this question are already known. The proletarian party does not exist yet. The central task of Marxist-Leninists and vanguard workers here In Canada must be to actively work at creating this party.
The creation of an authentic (Marxist-Leninist) proletarian party demands the unity of all true Marxist-Leninists and the formation of a solid core of vanguard workers on the basis of a program that clearly states the viewpoint of the revolutionary proletariat on all aspects of the class struggle.
This means that working to fulfill these tasks basic to creating an authentic party capable of guiding the struggle of the proletariat to seize political power is not an academic question of little importance. On the contrary, this question has to be resolved now so that the energies of everyone who genuinely wants to defend the interests of the proletariat can be channelled into the right path.
This is what will be debated at the Fourth Conference.
This is the approximate agenda for the Fourth Conference:
1. Opening plenary Saturday morning with solidarity messages and speeches on the tasks of Marxist-Leninists in the struggle to build the party. The audience will be invited to ask questions and offer their own initial comments.
2. Six workshops on three different themes will follow Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning:
– What sort of program does the proletariat need to guide its struggle against the bourgeoisie?
– How ought Canadian Marxist-Leninists work to unite their forces?
– How will vanguard workers be rallied to communism?
3. The closing plenary will synthesize what was said in the workshops and then focus the discussion on some of the major questions. During this part of the plenary, the participants will be invited to take the floor and express their opinion. The session will end with a closing speech given by a representative of IN STRUGGLE!
The discussion in the workshops will be a forum for participants to bring up questions they have on the tasks necessary to create the party as well as the importance of these tasks in relation to all the tasks that the class struggle commands. The workshops should also be a forum to sharpen the demarcation with bourgeois and reformist viewpoints as well as opportunist viewpoints within the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement itself.
Today, the proletariat is solicited by all sorts of programs. The ones paraded by the PQ and the NDP are stuffed with every imaginable sort of election promise. The Trotskyists propose their eternal transitional program on the pretext that the workers are not yet ready to struggle for the proletarian revolution. The revisionists are out selling a program for “peaceful transition to socialism”. And as for the opportunists of the League, they are trying to catch the eye of the workers with “class struggle platforms” for everything under the sun.
All this makes for a number of questions. What is a real communist program and how is it different from the bourgeois parties’ programs of electoral promises? Does the program list demands acceptable to the bourgeoisie or does it aim at overthrowing the bourgeoisie? Does a program contain demands that are unfulfillable under capitalism or does a program pinpoint immediate demands which would strengthen the struggle of the working class to overthrow the bourgeoisie? Why is the struggle for the program, for its dissemination, for its widest possible defence so key today in the struggle to create the proletarian party?
Despite important progress, the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists faces great obstacles, in particular the small-group mentality of some groups like the Red Star Collective and the sectarianism of the League. Over the past year, hasn’t the League gone about systematically excluding all other groups from the movement while rallying some groups to itself with a great deal of fanfare and totally superficial “complete self-criticisms”?
This, too, makes for a number of questions. Why are Marxist-Leninists still divided? How much progress has been made in the struggle to unite? What are the biggest obstacles to unity? How can we overcome these obstacles, bearing in mind the lessons of the history of the struggle to reconstruct the proletarian party In Canada? Why should the communist program be the basis of unity for Marxist-Leninists?
Even though Marxist-Leninist ideology is penetrating broader and broader sectors of the Canadian working-class and popular movements, the working class and other strata of the people are still dominated by all sorts of bourgeois ideas: reformism, revisionism, bourgeois nationalism, etc. To loosen and eliminate the hold of all these currents of thought foreign to the interests of the working class, Marxist-Leninists must work at rallying the most conscious and devoted elements of the proletariat to communism through communist agitation and propaganda. Yet, some groups, like the League, are busy infiltrating mass organizations, using whatever means are necessary to take over the leadership of their struggles and calling on vanguard workers to rally to their numerous “class struggle platforms” rather than working to rally these workers on the basis of the communist program.
What ideologies currently dominate the working-class movement? How are they obstacles to rallying the proletariat to communism? How and why should the communist program be defended in the working class? What is the role of communists in the current struggles of the working class? In the union movement? In mass organizations in general? Is rallying workers to communism a question of getting them to wage militant economic struggles, while adhering to a “class struggle platform”; or seeing to it that workers understand the communist program in order to use it as a guide in their struggle against the bourgeoisie? Why must the proletarian party be the vanguard detachment of the working class? In what way does that make it different from all the existing bourgeois and self-proclaimed pseudo-revolutionary parties?
A lot of people today are talking about creating a party which represents the interests of the proletariat. This is no accident. It stems from the fact that the bourgeoisie and the traditional parties are less and less capable of governing, less capable of fooling the working class and other oppressed people. But while the proletariat’s resistance to the current economic and political crisis is weakening the bourgeoisie, the latter can count on those less traditional parties, the ones that appear to be rooted in the masses and even revolutionary, but that in reality are bourgeois parties just the same and are only out to do one thing: lead the working class down a blind alley.
For the proletariat, it is crucial to sweep away all these parties and to fight the tendencies of those who seek to create new ones without having fulfilled the basic tasks that will ensure that we are not creating more bogus parties. The debates at the Fourth Conference are aimed precisely at making headway in sorting these things out. They are aimed at identifying the road to take now to ensure that the creation of the party really moves the struggle of the proletariat forward in the conquest of political power, the destruction of the bourgeois State and the setting up of the State of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The participation of everyone in this Conference is essential!
Forward to the Fourth Conference on the tasks of Canadian Marxist-Leninists in the creation of the proletarian Party!