First Published: in Struggle! No. 113, April 24, 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Last February, the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) held its Second Congress. The League presents itself as “the only organization which is totally devoted to the struggle to create a true communist party of the Canadian working class”, and if we are to believe the League, its Second Congress “opened a new and decisive stage... the final drive towards the creation of the Marxist-Leninist party.” (The Forge, vol 3, no 5).
Let’s take a closer look based on the results of this Congress, as reported in its newspaper The Forge to see just what “drive” we’re talking about.
The League’s Second Congress reaffirmed its total support for the “three worlds theory”, according to which the “first world” is formed of the two superpowers, the USA and the USSR; the “second world” of the capitalist and imperialist countries of Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia; and the “third world” of the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This theory, which is supposed to be the “Strategic line of the international proletariat”, proposes “the build up of the widest united front of all peoples and countries of the world against the two superpowers” (The Forge, vol 3, no 5).
Already in 1975, in its Statement of Political Agreement, the League had affirmed the necessity of struggling so that “Canada, as a second world country, joins the..world united front against the two superpowers, particulary, to block their war preparations” (page 23).
In 1976, the League even went so far as to support the reinforcement of the Canadian army, seeing in it a “positive aspect” of “defence of national independence” (The Forge, vol 1, no 12). And still today, the League proposes “in our own country... to prepare the Canadian people for the danger of war and fight against the two superpowers’ war preparations.” (The Forge vol 3, no 6).
So for the League, only the superpowers are preparing for war, and all the other imperialist bourgeoisies of the other countries are susceptible to being rallied to the camp of the revolution to contribute “to varying degrees, to the isolation of the two superpowers, and thus to their ultimate defeat and to the overthrow of the world imperialist system” (Statement of Political Agreement, p. 22).
And now the League reaffirms this, at the very time that Canada is spending billions of dollars to reinforce the aggressive NATO military bloc, at the very time that the Federal Republic of Germany and France, two countries of the “second world”, are begging Carter to deploy neutron bombs in Europe. How does the League analyze that reality? It has the nerve to write “the second world continued to oppose the superpowers but this resistance was not as strong as in the preceding period. This was the case for Canada which capitulated to the demands of US imperialism more often.” (The Forge, vol 3, no 6).
And there we have the essence of the line. For the League, the Canadian bourgeoisie isn’t a rapacious imperialist allied to the USA and participating in NATO, where it pursues its own interests. No, the bourgeoisie is full of fine fellows whose only fault is to capitulate too often! An analysis of the Canadian bourgeoisie’s acts like that, which denies its imperialist character, is nothing but the same fundemental position advanced by by groups like the Red Star Collective of Vancouver, or the “left-wing” social-democrats of the Socialist Organizing Committee in Vancouver and the Saskatchewan Waffle, all of which defend the thesis of “independence and socialism”. And that is nothing else but a social-chauvinist position which spares its own bourgeoisie by not denouncing its imperialist plans, and its own war preparations.
Oh sure, to save face, the League takes the time to say that if is “by smashing Canadian imperialism with socialist revolution that we can contribute the most.” (The Forge, vol 3, non 6). But those are nothing but empty words, since in the meantime, the socialist revolution has become “a long-term perspective”. And in fact, in its political report to its second Congress, the League writes: “There is no contradiction between the immediate struggle against the two superpowers, and the long-term struggle to eliminate imperialism and all reaction.” (The Forge, vol 3, no 8). And there you have it! In the short run, We struggle against the superpowers, because the revolution is a “long term” struggle, probably for after the fourth world war...
“Canada is one of the hardest hit of the advanced countries by the current crisis.” And why is this so according to the League? it’s simple:
1. “due in part to the weakness of the Canadian economy...”
2. “another reason... is the domination of American imperialism.” (The Forge, vol 3, no 7).
Search as hard as you like in the analysis produced by the League in its political report to its second congress for any reference to the fact that Canada is an imperialist country. At no time does the League menition that the Canadian bourgeoisie is engaged in the international competition between imperialist powers and so, it is using its State to consolidate its position more then ever. Nowhere does the League mention that that is above all why the bourgeoisie has launched a fierce political attack against the working class; that that is why it is trying to take away from Canadian workers their means of struggle by attacking the most elementary democratic rights, like the right to negotiate and to go out on strike. Nowhere does it explain that all this is designed to make the workers bear the burden of the crisis so that the bourgeoisie can be in a competative position internationally.
All the League does is to once again sympathize with Canadian bourgeoisie for its “weakness” and to present it as being mainly a dominated bourgeoisie. And what’s that if not a nationalist position? Isn’t it fundamentally what is advanced by the “Communist” Party of Canada (“Marxist-Leninist”), that counter-revolutionary group which claims to be the party of the Canadian proletariat and which considers Canada as an American colony?
What the League “forgets” here, is that the Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie and its State are reactionary right down the line. And that is why it doesn’t call on the working class to answer back to the State’s systematic political attack. That is also why it ranks repression as just one of the economic effects of the crisis, somewhere between unemployment and bad working conditions (The Forge, vol 3, no 7).That is why, having tabled the socialist revolution as a “long term perspective”, it can’t offer a political orientation to the current struggles of the working class which will begin weakening the bourgeoisie right away and hasten the day of its overthrow. Instead, at its second congress, the League rehashes “the coordination and unification of struggles”, economic struggles of course, even though the bourgeoisie is getting ready to hog-tie the working-class movement with a whole series of political measures which demand an answer on the political front.
As you can see, the League gave birth to a nationalist line at its second congress. And this nationalism goes well with economism, that is, lowering the proletariat’s level of consciousness to the level of economic questions. This nationalism is also to be found in its position on the Quebec national question, when the League comes to IN STRUGGLE!’s meetings to announce that the whole Quebec nation is a reserve for the revolution. Which means that the Desmarais. Bombardiers, Simards, Péladeau’s etc., all big Quebec bourgeois, are a part of the camp of the revolution!
Nationalism and collaboration with the Canadian bourgeoisie as a whole to “struggle against the two superpowers”; refusal to carry the struggle of the working class onto political grounds and to oppose the Canadian State which is repressing all the democratic rights of the labouring masses; there you have two facets of the same line which can be summed up by one slogan: independence (right away) and socialism (we’ll see...). The socialist revolution is clearly not a task on the Leaguers agenda: at most its smooth talk to cover up its opportunist fine and turn the working class away from its real interests.