Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist)

A Great Ally of Reformists and the Best Defender of Economism

First Published: The Forge, Vol. 2, No. 6, March 17, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Reformism is bourgeois trickery used to keep the working class under wage slavery. Reformists maintain that we can arrive at a certain “socialism” by winning reforms one after the other. What they don’t say is that whatever the bourgeoisie has to give up with one hand after a hard struggle, it will just take back with the other.

All mass groups in Quebec were dominated by reformist leadership in the past, and most of them still are today. This ideology was transmitted by Christian workers’ movements, by community organizers, and by a whole series of opportunist groups like the RCT, Mobilisation, etc.

Reformism is bourgeois ideology. Communists make no compromises with bourgeois ideology; they must fight it relentlessly.

Who has ever seen IS get up to denounce and lead the struggle against reformist ideas in SOS Daycare[1], in ADDS[2] and in the food co-ops?[3] Not an article, a leaflet or even an oral statement has come from IS members or sympathizers to attack even the shadow of a reformist idea within these movements.

On the contrary, what IS does is compromise and make alliances with the most hardened reformists.

In ADDS IS is going along hand in hand with the reformist leadership who are sabotaging the welfare rights struggle and are spreading anti-communism. IS supported the anti-communist motion to expel the St. Henri local from the movement and joined attacks on the League for its “dogmatic” style.

AT SOS Daycare, IS worked and is still working hand in hand with the rotten reformists and the notorious anti-communists of the St. Michel Daycare Centre. IS made an alliance with the reformists from St. Michel to sabotage the voting in of an orientation proposed for the movement. It called for participants at the Congress to abstain from voting. And once the platform proposed by the League was adopted none of the members of the three daycare centres where IS members and sympathizers are concentrated became members of SOS.

To hide its opportunism, IS turns against the League and accuses it of “splitting up the working class’s defence organizations under the pretext of getting rid of reformists”. What IS is trying to save are the reformists and not the mass groups. The League leads a fight to the finish against reformism because reformism is what keeps the working class indefinitely under the yoke of capitalism. IS cries “leftist” and denounces the league’s “fight to the finish” in its leaflets, in its newspaper articles and in oral statements. And on the other hand it flatters reformists. Comrades from IS, you’re sinking rapidly into conciliation with bourgeois ideology and making the masses kneel to it.

It’s the same story with regard to all those who hold reformist ideas. IS accuses us of leading a fight to the death against all who hold reformist ideas without distinction. This is absolutely false. Once again IS is camouflaging its frenzied opportunism of hiding its own conciliation with inveterate reformists they like to pass off as honest men.

The League is leading a struggle against reformism and whether its spokesmen are honest or rotten, the objective result is the same. In our education work the League shows objectively how reformism leads the working class into the arms of the bourgeoisie, upholds capitalism, and sabotages the fight for socialism. The attitude to take toward individuals varies; we have to rally individuals who are mistaken to our position and denounce those who are outrightly dishonest. The League has always made this distinction: in ADDS it was the direction we denounced, in SOS it was the representatives from the St. Michel daycare centre.

IS should especially not try to make out that the reformists of St. Michel, ex-members of Mobilisation and declared anti-communists who have refused the self-criticism made by this opportunist group, are honest and innocent people.

The League will continue to lead an inflexible struggle a-gainst reformism by doing wide education work among the masses so that they themselves will reject this bourgeois ideology and get rid of the agents who bow to the bourgeoisie.


IS criticizes the League for supposedly trying to take over the leadership of mass movements at any price. In fact what they want to say is that they are opposed to communists playing a leading role among the masses. This is spontaneity.

According to the IS comrades communists cannot direct struggles at the present time because the masses are not communists and they don’t understand the necessity for the dictatorship of the proletariat. IS is about to elevate its spontaneity into a theory: “struggles are necessarily reformist during the first stage of party building” and “no idealism comrades, the Canadian masses are not communists – on the contrary they are dominated by bourgeois ideology”, so. let’s sit back and wait for the second stage!

The meaning of communist leadership is completely different. It is recognized by the masses on the basis of positions which communists put forward and the actions they carry out. Thus even during the first stage of the creation of the party, communists can be leaders of the masses because the masses recognize them as the best defenders of their interests.

The example of the Union of Struggle of St-Petersburg or the Social-Democrat Committees in Russia in 1902 and 1903 which often organized and led political mass-strikes, are proof that in the first stage, communists must strive to direct struggles and that they can, both locally and regionally, assume leadership.

For communists there are only the objective limits of the absence of a party and its weakness at its birth which prevent them from being able to completely assume their role. To refuse to take the leadership of local or regional struggles to the full extent that our strength permits is right-opportunism since it condemns communists to tailing behind the masses.

And it is precisely at the tail of the masses that IS sees communists. IS affirms with all seriousness,“but that does not prevent the masses, supported by communists, from starting to struggle to further democratize their organizations right away.” (IS, no 79, Jan. ’77). And this goes even further when in ADDS they see the communists as “circumstantial allies” of welfare recipients. Pretty soon IS will be saying that communists are backward elements.

But really comrades, you are advocating that the activities of communists must be limited to helping mass struggles for immediate demands. You are denying the tasks of raising the consciousness of the working class. You are preaching economism.

Marxist-Leninists link themselves with the masses as communists. They don’t hide their positions out of fear of cutting themselves off from the masses but rather carry out their educational work in order to lead them to proletarian positions. It is because communists will in each struggle defend just positions on all questions that the masses will see that Marxism-Leninism is a guide. It is thus that communists will link them selves with the masses, at the forefront of the class struggle.


IS makes shameless use of a just principle: that only the Marxist-Leninist communist party will be able to really direct the struggles led by the working class and the proletarian masses towards the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. IS uses this principle to justify that at present when we do not have a party, we cannot carry out communist work in mass groups and cannot struggle against the domination of reformism in these movements.

IS also attacks the League when the latter calls on mass groups to take a class struggle orientation and demarcate themselves from the bourgeois line. By these attacks, IS plays an active role in sinking these mass groups deeper into reformism.

But what then is the strategic objective which communist must set their sights on in mass organizations? It is to make them into revolutionary mass organizations; in the long run all mass organizations recognize the necessity for socialism and fight in the revolution. When we say that it is the masses who make the revolution under the direction of the Party, they will do it grouped in their organizations. In order that communists will be able to directly guide the masses toward socialist revolution during the second stage, they must right now rally the most advanced elements to communism, all the while working to raise the consciousness of the masses. This rallying cannot take place without the struggle within the masses between the bourgeois line and the proletarian line.

For this reason the League considers that we were correct to fight to have the platforms we put forward, to ADDS, SOS Garderies, and the food co-operatives adopted. These propositions constituted a clear demarcation with the reformism prevaling in mass organizations.

When a mass group like SOS Garderies takes the position that socialism is the only system that assures women the road to their emancipation, IS hurries to designate it as an “intermediate group”. According to IS, SOS would be a group trying to substitute itself for the leadership of the party, the sole party, in the struggle for socialism.” (IS, no 79)

Would IS be against the fact that the masses are starting to be conscious of the necessity of socialism without necessarily becoming communists?

Comrades of IS, don’t try to camouflage your contempt for the masses by accusing us of wanting to organize only advanced elements in mass groups. Be careful, because if you keep on repeating that “the masses are not communist” to justify your economism you may wake up one fine morning to find that the masses are more advanced than you.

Yes, everyone in the mass groups and not only the advanced elements can well understand that the rights they claim will not fully be guaranteed under capitalism, that only socialism can assure them. This is a part of the education that must be done by the group among its members and a platform serves as a basis for this work. This in no way changes the basis for belonging to the group which is to be ready to fight to defend the immediate interests of the members.

To fight against reformism in mass groups means not only to stop creating illusions about capitalism but also to break with reformist tactics in our struggles; to stop giving first place to negotiations over mass action, build class unity at the base and in action to set up a united front in struggle class against class, etc.

By widespread communist a gitation-propaganda work we want to rally the most advanced elements and our long-term aim is to transform mass organizations into revolutionary organizations. We do not believe we can reach this strategic objective “in one day”, whatever IS says, but we are starting at once to lead ideological and political struggle among the masses.

IS thinks it is getting away from economism by refusing to do communist work in mass organizations; and this is a group that for two years has wanted to be recognized as the vanguard group in the battle against economism. But in fact its practice is nothing but the most vulgar economism, capitulation before bourgeois ideology and rejection of class struggle.

IS is playing a dangerous game, tailing behind the reformist and the spontaneous movement of the masses. This can only lead them to seriously jeopardize the work of rallying advanced elements and finally to sabotage the road of revolution in our country.

By going on in this way, attacking real communist work as “leftists”, IS will not be able to keep their fraud going for long. It will be Marxist-Leninist in words only.


[1] SOS Garderies: A mass group fighting for a universal network of daycare centres. At their last congress in October 1976, SOS Garderies adopted the platform proposed by the CCL(ML).

[2] ADDS: a mass group for the defense of the rights of welfare recipients. In the spring of 1976 the completely reformist leadership of this movement expelled the St. Henri local in an anti-communist move directed at “the League’s presence there.

[3] Food co-operatives: mass organizations functioning on a co-operative basis. At their congress in October last year they adopted the text proposed by the CCL(ML) as a basis for the debate this year on their orientation.