First Published: In Struggle, No. 107, February 2, 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The January 22 meeting in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, was the last of a series of regional conferences on the international situation. More than 300 people in Halifax,, Quebec City, Rouyn-Noranda and Vancouver participated in the debates which focused, as one could expect, on the “three worlds theory”. One of the important lessons to be drawn from this serjes of conferences is the importance of having thus carried the debate within the masses. It contrasts with the sectarian and contemptuous attitude of the Canadian Communist League (M-L}I which didn’t have the courage (or the capacity?) to come and publicly defend its line. At the conferences to which it sent “observers”, they remained silent or avoided debate. It would seem that the League thinks that the masses are not intelligent enough to understand what is at stake in the debate and should leave it to the leadership of the groups or to the great parties like those of socialist Albania and China to decide. It would seem that for the League, the massses are not interested in discussing the current situation in the world, even though it is they who are in danger of serving as cannon fodder in a third world slaughter. Apparently, all that the masses have to do is blindly adopt the line of a “father party”... This is exactly the attitude proposed by the small sect “Bolshevik” Union, whose only purpose in coming to the conference in Quebec City was to label as enemies all those who were not then and there in agreement with the position of another “father parly” and to accuse IN STRUGGLE! of “centrism” because it invites the masses to take position by participating in the ideological struggle and because it dares to publicly defend its positions without sectarianism and in all independence.
Despite the attempts of the League and BU to sabotage the conferences, there were some groups and individuals who dared to submit their point of view to the criticism of the masses and to raise relevant questions.
Such was the case in Halifax, when a participant suggested that the position of the Canadian bourgeoisie in favour of the economic zone of 200 nautical miles was a “positive gesture” which would weaken the two super powers. This question was very pertinent, for such actions on the part of the bourgoisie mislead many. The comrades from IN STRUGGLE! then explained that such a measure on the part of the Canadian bourgeoisie implies that the Canadian State defend this zone and help the monopolies in the fishing industry to exploit it. It is therefore obvious who benefits from this decision: the Canadian bourgeoisie is reinforced; and, since the Canadian bourgeoisie is a faithful ally of American. imperialism, the camp led by one of the two superpowers is also in practice strengthened by this measure.
In Rouyn-Noranda, a participant asked if the “three worlds theory”, was not in fact a tactic to postpone the outbreak of the third world war, thus allowing the reinforcement of the camp of the revolution in the meanwhile. Several people first recalled that the proponents of the “three worlds theory” present it as a “strategic concept” and not simply as a tactic. But what is more important than these terms is the fact that the speakers showed that this theory in no way helps postpone war or reinforce the camp of the revolution. On the contrary, by supporting the armament of the countries of the “second world”, this theory encourages the war preparations of the Western imperialist bourgeoisie against the other imperialist bloc, led by Russian social-imperialism. Furthermore, aren’t these arms in the hands of the bourgeoisie the best way of crushing proletarian revolution? So how can the camp of revolution be reinforced with such theory?
Such debates permitted the identification of the underlying question of who are our friends and who are our enemies in the achievement of the socialist revolution. The debates also showed that the analysis of the international situation is not just a simple intellectual exercice reserved for the “experts”; on the contrary, it directly influences the path of the revolution in our country. For our attitude towards the Canadian bourgeoisie is very different, depending on whether we see it as essentially a “second world” bourgeoisie capable of alliances with the “third world”, or as an utterly and completely reactionary imperialist bourgeoisie. The opportunist positions of the CCL(M-L), like its support for Canadian armament or for the “positive gestures” of Canadian imperialists, fully prove this, as does its increasingly clear intention of reducing its action to the struggle against this or that capitalist or this or that bourgeois party, such as the PQ, rather than waging it mainly against the entire bourgeoisie and its State apparatus. Our attitude towards the threat of war is also very different, depending on whether we consider it necessary to “defend national independence” first and foremost, as do the proponents of the “three worlds theory”, or whether on the contrary we consider that we must be prepared to transform imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war and see to it that the proletariat in power ensures the firm defence of national independence in each country.
Realizing the dead end to which the “three worlds theory” leads, a worker participating in one or the conference cried out, “Revolution and imperialism are irreconcilable!”