Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Documents of the National Conference on the Unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists

Montreal, October 9, 1976

The closing speech of IN STRUGGLE!

Comrades and friends, in spite of the problems and in spite of the mistakes encountered during the day and in the preparation for this conference, we believe this day has been a success. Some have called it a show![1]

But I believe we should organize more shows like this within the Marxist-Leninist movement to develop the debate on unity. Some have said we should wage the line debate on essential questions within the Marxist-Leninist movement. But isn’t this conference a place for line struggle? Isn’t the question of the struggle for unity a fundamental question of political line? And those over there who whistle, is this the way to wage the line struggle on essential questions?[2]

We believe this day was a success in spite of its limits, in spite of the cancellation of the work-shops, which we deplore[3]. But we must draw attention to the presence here of many Canadian Marxist-Leninist groups from all regions of the country and the fact that some have publicly exposed their points of view for the first time. We must also note the presence of workers, progressive individuals and sympathizers of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. And we must also note that this conference and the others that will be organized on a national and regional basis are occasions for the line struggle against localism and sectarianism. To understand the historical importance of this conference, we must look back at what the movement was two years ago. Most of the participants here today are Quebecois. Two years ago what knowledge of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement did we have? Did we know its positions and did we wage a struggle around them? This is the key to understanding the importance of this conference in spite of its shortcomings. Also, two years ago, a large number of groups were only study groups, cells and collectives who did not consider the struggle for the Party as their central task. As we have seen today, the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement now unanimously agrees on this question. As well, all of the movement wants to wage the struggle against economism although all the answers are not clear and although we still have much to learn in terms of our understanding, our divergences and our application of the principles. Mao said the Chinese Communist Party really understood its tasks and the strategy of the Chinese revolution only after a 20 or 30 years struggle. I believe more humility is required within the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement if we do not want to lose the confidence of progressive individuals and sympathizers of the Marxist-Leninist movement.

This conference does not put an end to the debate on the plan and method of reaching unity among Marxist-Leninists, which is a central point of political line. The debate and the polemic must go on and we must bring them to the masses by showing the link between the working class struggle and the struggle for the Party. We must involve the conscious workers in the debate by seeking their criticisms and points of view. Our task is not only to bring the “correct line” to the masses, but we must also learn from the masses, and listen to the masses.

I repeat that IN STRUGGLE! opens the pages of its newspaper and its theoretical journal PROLETARIAN UNITY to all Marxist-Leninist groups and individuals who want to speak on the struggle for unity. We open them not only to those who agree with us but also to those who disagree. For this is what the struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement really means!

Comrades, we must develop and intensify the struggle on the other fundamental questions of line. On that, we all agree. It was said in our journal and newspaper and repeated today in our speech. We believe that the method of national conferences must be repeated. And by making an evaluation of this conference we will present propositions so that these national conferences be organized by all Marxist-Leninist groups. Not only by one or two...[4] but by all communist groups. For we must fully organize the struggle to draw lines of demarcation on all questions if we want the whole of the movement to adopt a position on the question of a program and the creation of the Marxist-Leninist organization of struggle for the Party.

This is our vision of the central task and it is in this way that we will strike a serious blow to opportunism. Comrades, the lessons from this conference, in the context of the growing struggle for unity, in the context of the increasing penetration of communist ideas among the masses, is that we must redouble our efforts in the struggle for unity, that we must redouble our vigilance against sectarianism and that we must subordinate the interests of each group to the interests of the whole of the movement, to the interests of the Canadian proletariat and people and to the interests of the revolution.

Comrades, the Marxist-Leninist movement is young and its successes must not blind us. We must not forget the struggle against opportunism is far from being won and that serious differences still exist within the Marxist-Leninist movement. We must not forget either that the Marxist-Leninist movement as a whole is still weakly linked to the masses, that serious inequalities of development exist within its ranks and that these inequalities correspond to national divisions. We must be careful concerning national divisions which the bourgeoisie has historically always used to try to divide as much the communist movement as the Canadian people itself.

Comrade Jack Scott a few moments ago recalled certain lessons to be drawn from the history of the Marxist-Leninist movement, from the Canadian communist movement. We must learn from this struggle because sometimes we happen to know the history of the Russian Bolshevik Party better than the history of our own country. We appreciate the contribution of Comrade Jack Scott to this conference and we wish to self-criticize certain statements in the article on unity in the journal PROLETARIAN UNITY. We said that Jack Scott had resigned, when in reality he was expelled. We criticize ourselves for the fact we made certain statements on the Progressive Workers Movement which weren’t explained nor placed in their historical context. Certain statements are ambiguous and can lead one to think we consider the PWM and comrade Jack Scott as not having been part of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. We will come back to this question. At present, we are working on a project of analysing the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement which should be published in coming months.

But the proof that we consider comrade Jack Scott as a Marxist-Leninist, is the fact that we invited him to speak during this conference on the unity of Marxist-Leninists. This is the proof that we consider that comrade Jack Scott made an important positive contribution to the development of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. Besides, we consider it important for the former PWM members to draw the lessons and errors from their group’s history in order that our young movement can learn from them.

Comrades, the workers present here today, must not stop being vigilant, as the comrade from the Common Front[5] said. In the struggle for unity, you have an important responsibility. You have to explain the importance of the struggle for unity of Marxist-Leninists to those you work with, live with and struggle with. With the Marxist-Leninist movement, you have the task of showing the masses the link between the unity of the Marxist-Leninist movement and the unity of the proletariat and of the people, of showing that the struggle for unity in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement is not a family quarrel but an important step for the struggle of the working class.

Comrade working men and women, you have the task of criticising the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement, to make it aware whenever sectarianism springs up, whenever Party spirit is replaced by small group mentality, whenever the interest of the masses are considered as secondary. And you can do this by studying the positions of the groups, by participating in their assemblies, by expressing yourselves in conferences such as today’s and by linking yourselves organizationally with the Marxist-Leninist movement.

Comrades, we must stop fighting for unity without a plan and without objectives. We must avoid struggling for unity by putting forward solutions which do not correspond to concrete reality and by refusing to learn from the masses’ criticism. Comrades, we must fight opportunism in the ranks of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. We must organize the demarcation and struggle for the unification of Marxist-Leninists by practising Marxism and not revisionism, by working towards unity and not division by being frank and just, and by avoiding plots and intrigue. Comrades, let us put into practice these lessons of our great leader Mao.

Long live the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement!
Struggle for the unification of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement!
Create the Canadian Marxist-Leninist organization of struggle for the Party!


[1] IN STRUGGLE!’s spokesperson is referring to the declaration of a spokesperson of the League who stated, during the debate following the speeches, that the conference had not helped the debate to advance, that it was not by organizing “shows” like this that one would favor the unity of Marxist-Leninists, and that we should wage a line struggle on essential questions of political line.

[2] At this moment, some comrades of the League began to whistle, concretely showing their sectarian attitude in the struggle for unity.

[3] At first the conference was to be held in two parts. First, in the morning, the different Marxist-Leninist groups were to be invited to express themselves during a period of not more than 10 minutes in order to permit the organization of workshops in the afternoon. But the conference started late and above all the groups’ speeches went on for far more than 10 minutes each; thus the speeches had to continue into the afternoon and occupied the time set aside for workshops. But, as a spokesperson of IN STRUGGLE! explained, it was understandable that the speeches exceed 10 minutes considering that the positions of the different groups, in particular those from English Canada, were little know or unknown. As it was the first conference of the kind, difficulties sprung up that we couldn’t predict.

[4] We think that IN STRUGGLE!’s initiative of calling for a first conference of the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists by itself was correct. This was, besides, recognized by the majority of the groups that expressed themselves during the conference. It is precisely on the basis of the success of this first conference that it is possible to think of conferences thereafter organized by the whole or the greatest possible number of Marxist-Leninist groups across Canada. We therefore consider the League’s proposition that these conferences be organized by the League and IN STRUGGLE! only, denies in fact the principal lesson of the conference which is the striking confirmation of the existence of a Marxist-Leninist movement, the perimeters of which largely exceed the country’s two principal groups. To overcome “big group chauvinism” is also to fight against sectarianism!

[5] The Common Front of public and para-public sectors in Quebec grouping, the 3 big union federations; CEQ, QFL.CNTU.