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

Montreal, October 9, 1976

Opening Speech of In Struggle!

Comrades and friends,

Despite the intensification of the attacks of the bourgeoisie, despite the introduction of the rotten Trudeau measures, the Canadian working class and the Canadian people have not been crushed. On the contrary, the Canadian masses have redoubled their determination in the struggle. Morris and co., bourgeois agents within the workers’ movement have not succeeded in reducing the struggle of the working class to discussions with the bourgeoisie in the halls of Parliament.

It’s a fact: where there is oppression, there’s resistance! And this resistance is increasingly unified, for the conscious elements of the Canadian people realise that without the unity of the proletariat and the unity of the people around the proletariat, victory against the bourgeoisie is impossible.

So it is not astonishing that advanced workers increasingly intervene on the question of the unity of Marxist-Leninists; they see and understand that the weakness and division in the Marxist-Leninist movement are a major obstacle to the unity of the working class and of the people around the working class. To lead the ripost to the attacks of the bourgeoisie, to confront the constant betrayal of the “union bosses”, to counteract the undermining action of the social-democrats, the trotskysts, the revisionists and the sabotage pursued by the counter-revolutionaries of the CPC(ML), the conscious workers want the unity unity of Marxist-Leninists, they want this determining condition if the creation of a veritable proletarian Party is to be achieved.

And it is undeniable that, especially in the past two years, the Marxist-Leninist movement has taken large steps forward in this direction. The struggle against right opportunism, against economism, has considerably developed; the recognition that the struggle for the creation of the Party is the central task of Marxist-Leninists at the present stage has been accepted by the whole movement; the line struggle, waged for a long time in an isolated fashion in English Canada and in Quebec has developed on a country-wide scale, especially since the publication of Canadian Revolution and the distribution of The Forge and IN STRUGGLE! in English-Canada and presently with the journal Proletarian Unity; more and more conscious workers are grouping together to study the present positions in the line struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement, and afterwards, rallying one or another of these groups, the Marxist-Leninist movement is increasingly successful in realizing unity of action during important moments of class struggle in our country.

And we consider this to the positive, even if unity of action is secondary in the general process of the struggle for unity. Because it permits a unified intervention in the working class, a unified intervention against the enemies of the proletariat, at important moments in the class struggle, without denying the real differences which exist within the Marxist-Leninist movement. On the contrary, it is in the unity of action starting from the actual level of unity that Marxist-Leninists and conscious workers will better understand these differences.

Thus, the Marxist-Leninist movement exists, it is progressing in a positive way and we can say that it has begun to develop a certain unity on the fundamental questions of ideological and political line. Moreover, it is this unity which permits the demarcation of the Marxist-Leninist movement from the reformists, revisionists and trotskysts of all sorts. In the journal Proletarian Unity, we have established this line which defines the contours of the Marxist-Leninist movement today.

But, despite this growing unity, the Marxist-Leninist movement remains devided on several fundamental questions which we have identified elsewhere. These important differences indicate that the struggle against right opportunism, principal deviation within the Marxist-Leninist movement, must be identified further.

This struggle can not develop correctly and lead to the resolution of the contradictions within the Marxist-Leninist movement, unless We can defeat sectarianism. We must acquire a party mentality, adopt the Marxist-Leninist point of view to seek the truth in the facts and not to seek to protect our groups’interests above all.

The sectarianism within the Marxist-Leninist movement today takes different forms: localism, refusal to participate in the line struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement, tendency to consider auto-consolidation more important than the struggle for the unification of the Marxist-Leninist movement. Another form of sectarianism is to place the differences within the Marxist-Leninist movement on the same level as the contradictions which oppose the Marxist-Leninist movement to the trotskyst and revisionist counter-revolutionaries.

But, presently, as we have demonstrated on several occasions, it is the CCL(ML) which is the principal agent of sectarianism within the movement. By its self proclamation as the leading center in the struggle for the Party and its repeated affirmations that it has the correct line, the League arrives at denying, in practice, the reality of the Marxist-Leninist movement and to deny Lenin’s teaching: “to create and to strengthen the Party, is to create and strengthen the union of all Marxist-Leninists”.

On the subject of the League’s attitude, it is necessary to speak of the 3-point proposition, advanced in the August 26 issue of The Forge, following its criticism of an internal document of IN STRUGGLE! The League proposes to IN STRUGGLE! and to other, groups in the movement to engage a polemic on the fundamental questions, public debates in conferences across the country and private meetings, if necessary.

We could think that this constitutes a step forward and that the League has understood that it must liquidate its sectarism if it wishes to play a positive role in the struggle for unity.

However, there is a “small” problem: what the League puts forward is simply the modalities of the struggle for unity. We are obviously in general agreement with the modalities, as the League could have verified in the month of June by reading our internal document, which it criticized as expressing opportunist positions!

Not knowing the League’s analysis of the movement, without a clear exposition of its line on the question of unity, it is difficult, to say the least, to take position on the modalities it proposes. Does the League’s proposal signify that it renounces its self-proclamation? That it begins its struggle against its sectarianism?

Impossible to really know!

Further, the League criticizes our group for having taken the initiative to organize this conference on unity, as if the important question was not rather to know if all the groups present can fully expose their positions on the question of unity and to demarcate themselves from other positions. As for having organized the conference on unity the same day as the celebration of our 3rd anniversary, we don’t feel guilty. The struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists has been at the heart of our groups’ activity since its birth.

Moreover, we do not exclude the possibility that the next conferences be organized conjointly by all the Marxist-Leninist groups. The evaluation of the present conference will permit the formulation of a proposal of this type.

As for the League’s proposal in 3 points, repeated again in the September 23 issue of The Forge, we reiterate our desire that the comrades of the League clearly expose their position on the question of unity their point of view on the position that we advance in our journal Proletarian Unity.

On the subject of unity, as on all other questions, it is not sufficient to fix an objective. It is necessary to establish a plan and a method to guide our action, and this plan must be based on the concrete analysis of the situation in the light of Marxist-Leninist principles.

Comrades, it is this plan and this method which IN STRUGGLE! has submitted to the Marxist-Leninist movement and in the masses in the first issue of its journal and which we remind you of today.

Comrades, the question is crucial, for if Marxist-Leninists can agree to a plan and a method to arrive at the unification of Marxist-Leninists, it will strike a serious blow at sectarianism. This blow at sectarianism will signify that the Marxist-Leninist movement can correctly work at the clarification and resolution of differences by showing, in practise, that the interests of the groups are subordinates to the interests of the whole Marxist-Leninist movement. It is our historical responsibility to the Canadian revolution to wage the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists right to the end.

Our plan is simple: we consider that the organization of struggle for the Party does not yet exist and that in the present conditions we must struggle for its creation, by taking into account the state of development of the movement, its historic characteristics and the situation in the workers’ movement. Once created, this organization will have as a task to realize the conditions for the creation of the Party.

The organization which we wish to create must be united by a political program and statutes which bind all its members. The question to be posed is, how, starting from the present level of unity, to arrive to a greater unity, within one organization.

Because we think that the “correct line” cannot be decreed and the same for the creation of organization of the Party, we say that it is necessary to organize the ideological struggle on fundamental questions of the program on the level of the Marxist-Leninist movement. And the struggle against opportunism within the Marxist-Leninist movement can not be dissociated from the struggle against the false Marxist-Leninists and the counter-revolutionaries such as the revisionist CPC, the CPC (ML) and the trotskysts.

At the end of this process to determine the contours of the Marxist-Leninist movement and the demarcation even within the movement, the groups who have been verified as belonging to the movement in the course of the line struggle joined together at the Congress, will have to democratically adopt the program and the statutes of the organization of struggle for the Party.

Our position is thus opposed to the one which states simply “Let us engage in a line struggle, the correct line will triumph and afterwards all the Marxist-Leninists will have simply to rally this line”, Now? When? We don’t know! Who is going to decide who has the correct line? We don’t know that either! This position ends up denying the role of the whole Marxist-Leninist movement in the struggle for unity, denying the possibility that the Marxist-Leninist movement can take a position on a program during a unification Congress. This position risks to lead us to several organizations and several parties, each one with its correct line.

On the contrary, the position which we advance allows the line struggle to continue within one organization which will have attained a superior level of unity and which will function according to democratic centralism. This unified organization will permit the greatest penetration of Marxism-Leninism among the masses.

Our plan does not exclude the possibility that during the struggle, before the convocation of the Congress, our group seeks to unite that which can be united.

It would be incorrect to develop a tailist attitude and say that we can only unite at the time of the Congress, even if there is agreement on the fundamental political questions, even if unification would advance us toward the creation of the organization and the realization of the tasks of Canadian Marxist-Leninists. On the contrary, this tailist attitude would only serve to reinforce localism and small group mentality.

IN STRUGGLE! will undertake its responsibility to accomplish the plan that it puts forward. We will clearly expose our positions and develop the polemic on the fundamental questions of the program, which will permit us to gather the criticisms of the Marxist-Leninist movement and the masses.

Moreover, our group opens the pages of its newspaper and its journal to the groups, cells, and individuals who wish to explain their positions participate in the public polemic.

Further, our group foresees the organization of a series: of three national conferences, followed or proceeded by regional conferences, on the fundamental questions of the program: First, on the path of the Canadian Revolution, then on the international situation and the international tasks of Marxist-Leninists and finally on the struggle for the creation of the Party and the tasks of Marxist-Leninists. Before each of these national conferences, held in different Canadian cities, our group will publicly expose its position on the question on the agenda of the conference to give the opportunity to study, to criticize it, to all Marxist-Leninists and to the masses. All effort will be made to assure a large participation of Marxist-Leninists and of conscious elements of the proletariat and of the people at these conferences. And as we have already said, it would be a positive thing if these conferences could be organized conjointly by all the Marxist-Leninist groups; the evaluation of today’s conference will permit the formulation of this type of proposal.

Comrades, we have clearly exposed our analysis of the Marxist-Leninist movement the plan which we put forward to realize the unification of the Marxist-Leninist movement within the organization of struggle for the Party. These are the positions which we wish to confront with the other positions present within the Marxist-Leninist movement today and for which we wish to gather your criticisms.

Comrades, we can no longer content ourselves with only affirming that we are for unity, that unity would be a good thing. We must intensify the struggle within the Marxist-Leninist movement to arrive at a common line on the unification of Marxist-Leninists.

Comrades, the objective of the creation of the organization of struggle for the Party is not a long term objective. It is our immediate and central objective. We must all resolutely take our responsibility towards the proletariat and the people for the Canadian revolution to “create and strengthen” the union of all Canadian Marxist-Leninists within the organization of struggle for the Party.

Long live the teachings of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse Tung thought!
In struggle for the unity of the Canadian proletariat and people!
In struggle for the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists!
Create the Canadian M.-L. organization of struggle for the Party!