First Published: In Struggle No. 80, February 3, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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In the recent January 20 issue of the newspaper The Forge (vol. 2, p. 14) the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) took another step in putting into practice its line of division in the young Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. In an article entitled “Another opportunist unity project Boycott IN STRUGGLE! s ’unity’ conference!” the League continues its falsification of IN STRUGGLE’S positions, especially on that question which is so vital to the working class, the unity of (Marxist-Leninist) communists. Even more, the League has thrown itself into a systematic campaign to undermine the debate between different Marxist-Leninist groups. The League prefers to spout its “correct line”, outside of all criticism and while sticking its fingers in its ears, instead of submitting its points of view to confrontation and thereby proving the justice of its line during debates which gather together all Canadian Marxist-Leninists. In the last issue of IN STRUGGLE! we criticized the League’s demagogic and subjective methods which are transforming honest and frank political debate into the lowest kind of political infighting. We called on the comrades of the League to wage the polemic by searching for the truth in the facts. The League has yet to answer this repeated appeal and today has undertaken divisiveness by calling for a campaign to boycott the second conference of Marxist-Leninists. This action is serious, very serious, and could, if not rectified, deal a heavy blow, to the struggle of the Canadian proletariat.
We asserted in our pamphlet Fight the sectarianism of the CCL(M-L) that at this moment “the development of unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists is tightly bound to the struggle against sectarianism. The League today constitutes the principal agent of this sectarian trend within the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement.” (p. 7) The truth of this assertion, already several months old, is today becoming forcefully clear.
It is a laborious task to analyse a document paragraph by paragraph. However, the League’s article contains so many shocking remarks that we must do this in order to show how the League, so pure in its fidelity to Marxist-Leninist principles, forgets one of the most elementary: seeking the truth in the facts.
First assertion of the League: “IN STRUGGLE! has invited many opportunist groups to this conference (including groups like Bolshevik Union, the now defunct Mobilisation, CC(ML)), thus spreading confusion over the composition or the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada. Without a clear and scientific definition of who is and who is not communist it is impossible to advance the struggle for unity”.
The League enjoys talking about “many opportunist groups”, but who exactly are they? The League’s pamphlet For the Unity of Marxist-Leninists, names two groups outside of IN STRUGGLE! (which,’ itself, according to The Forge, is in the process of slipping into revisionism) that the League considers Marxist-Leninist. And the others? We are still waiting for the League’s verdict. Who are these opportunist groups? The League names three of them in its article (a fourth, the former APLQ, had already been named) But except for Mobilisation, which the League convinced through repeated insistence that it wasn’t communist, never has the CCL(M-L) taken the trouble to explain why, on the basis of a scientific analysis, Bolshevik Union and the Cercle Communiste (M-L) are not Marxist-Leninist. The League clearly holds the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement in such contempt that it doesn’t even bother to explain to it the reasons behind its decrees.
And there is still more. In the paragraph already quoted, the League leaves the impression that IN STRUGGLE! does not establish criteria to fix the perimeters of the Marxist-Leninist movement. But it just so happens that the reality of the situation is in contradiction with the wishes of the League. In the first issue of PROLETARIAN UNITY (P. 16 and 17) we clearly establish the criteria that we feel fix the current boundaries of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. Further on, we say as well that it is in the line struggle for the creation of the Marxist-Leninist organization of struggle for the party that opportunism in the movement will be exposed. In addition, and here is where the League starts to be downright dishonest, in the letter of invitation to the second conference (see PU no. 2) there was an annex listing all the groups invited (see the box on this page). In it we said that our knowledge and our investigation did not allow us to form a clear opinion on a certain number of groups. Nevertheless, we know that these groups are not developing counter-revolutionary activities and the conference is not only a place for debate but also a place for investigation that will allow us to unmask opportunism. This is a correct method that is open to the masses. But the League prefers trials held behind closed doors where the accused is not present.
The League asserts that “this conference is but part of IN STRUGGLE!’s opportunist plan to establish “the” organization of Canadian communists. They propose to hold several of these debates and then the founding conference of their new organization” (our emphasis). It is significant to see bow the League, totally imbued with its own small-group mentality and its sectarianism, is incapable of conceiving that the unification of Marxist-Leninists could come about other than through the dissolution of other groups that, upon the completion of a complete self-criticism, would rally to the League. As well, it is now clear that the League in fact considers itself to be “the Canadian Marxist-Leninist organization”. “It is well known that IN STRUGGLE! has launched an appeal for the creation of another Marxist-Leninist organisation in Canada”.
(For the Unity of Marxist-Leninists, 1. 102, our emphasis) But contrary to what the League claims, IN STRUGGLE! has not called for the creation of its organization, but has called for the movement as a whole to undertake the struggle for unity in order to unite in a single organization of struggle for the Party at the end of a systematic and organized process of demarcation. But of course, the League considers itself to be that organization and even though it was created without the knowledge of the movement, it cannot conceive of unity outside of itself, outside of other groups rallying to the League. It is by projecting its own sectarian line onto other groups that the League ends up by distorting IN STRUGGLE!’s positions. The public conferences that IN STRUGGLE is proposing are organized occasions, which added to published polemics, will allow for a demarcation within the movement that will clearly establish the points of agreement and disagreement and will promote the struggle against opportunism within its ranks.
The founding congress of the organization – and not the conferences – will only be called on the basis of a proposed programme which will have been widely debated throughout the movement. Once again we refer the League to the first issue of PROLETARIAN UNITY (p. 28 and on).
Thirdly, according to the League “the manner IN STRUGGLE! has chosen to organize this event will serve to confuse and diffuse the debate, rather than concentrating the struggle around the two main lines that exist on the major questions”. Here the League reduces the two-line struggle, the bourgeois line and the proletarian line, to a struggle between two groups. For the League, other groups have nothing to say and only add confusion. The contempt that the League has for the movement is only equalled by its pretentionness about itself. And contrary to what it says, the first conference on unity held in Montreal last Fall allowed for the polarization of the movement on several questions. In fact, this conference, which in its sectarianism the League called a “show”, was an event of greatest importance for the entire Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. It allowed a great number of groups to get out of their geographic and political isolation and participate fully in debates around line. Breaking the historical divisions between the two nations that make up Canada for the first time since the “C”PC’s treason, all Marxist-Leninist groups from one end of the country to the other were able to fully participate in the struggle for the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, in the struggle to build the revolutionary party of the Canadian proletariat. But this whole experience is taken very lightly by the League, which prefers to pull us backwards, to the era of small circles, because they that have become big groups think they can dictate the “right line” to the movement.
Moreover, the organizational plans for the Second Conference on the path of the Canadian Revolution (PU no. 2) are aimed at correcting the organizational errors that led to limiting the debate at the first conference. But instead of starting with this plan as a basis, and criticizing the parts it thinks should be criticized, the League has thrown the whole plan over like some old manure and has thrown itself into a boycott campaign. But in fact, the hysterical behavior of the League fools no one. The League is afraid to submit its positions to direct confrontation, not only before Marxist-Leninists from across the country, but also before all the conscious workers and progressive elements that are going to participate in this public conference. The League is afraid to account to the masses and to undertake the line struggle.
Yet the League has the boldness to assert that it is becoming more and more evident that IN STRUGGLE! adheres to “the revisionist thesis” on the question of unity because, it seems, we are doing away with the line struggle in the movement! But who is conjuring away the divergencies in the movement? Is it by organizing the line struggle, the demarcation, in regional and national conferences that IN STRUGGLE! is conjuring away the line struggle? Is it by opening the pages of our newspaper and our journal to the positions of other groups? Is it by publishing our positions and by criticizing the points of view that we consider erroneous? Is it by listening to what the masses have to say? No, it is certainly not like that that IN STRUGGLE! is doing away with line struggle.
Of course, the League, for its part, is not doing away with the line struggle. It publishes a pamphlet of 120 pages (For the unity of Marxist-Leninists) where it devotes only a few sentences to criticzing our positions as stated in the first issue of the journal PROLETARIAN UNITY, which was published more than two months before the League’s pamphlet and which contains a detailed account of our line on unity. We make a declaration about the congress we held, and instead of commenting on the positions put forward, or waiting for the publication of more developed positions, the League cries revisionism because we didn’t publish a self-criticism in the same issue of the newspaper. We publish an in-depth article on international questions (see PROLETARIAN UNITY, no. 2) and all the League can criticize to prove our revisionism is a photo cut line (the text below a picture). And the crowning touch, is that in the same issue of The Forge, the League lightly passes off an important rectification of its line on the role of the bourgeois army. And it was precisely and in-depth criticism of the social-chauvinist tendency on the international situation, of which the League’s error on the Canadian army was an obvious manifestation, that our article on the international situation dealt with. That is how the League is claiming to wage the line struggle! It feigns not seeing the basic criticisms that we are making and instead denounces us as revisionists because of a cut-line! Once again, the sectarianism and “left phrase-mongering” of the League hide, or try to hide, its right opportunism, it refuses to engage in a genuine Marxist-Leninist polemic at the same time as it claims, of course, that it is IN STRUGGLE! that is refusing to wage ideological struggle. This pathetic joke is too serious to laugh at.
We could go on at length in showing how, sentence after sentence, the League’s article is a tissue of falsifications. But among all its assertions there is one that says much on the divisiveness of this group. The League, in speaking of the first conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, says that: “After the conference many participants, including militants from English Canada and members and suppoiters of IN STRUGGLE! began to ask themselves serious questions about the sincerity of IN STRUGGLE!’s desire to develop the struggle over the main questions of political and ideological line. They too began to take up the fight against IN STRUGGLE!’s opportunist concept of the struggle for unity”.
In very clear language this is an appeal to division and not to unity, it is an appeal to plotting and intrigues. Once more, the League uses, insinuations and not facs to support its assertions. Many participants? Who are they? Why doesn’t the League identify them? Why don’t these numerous participants write to IN STRUGGLE!, or if they are afraid their letters will not be printed, why don’t they write to The Forge? Moreover, for the information of the comrades of the League, take note that IN STRUGGLE’S Second Congress; held after the first conference, upheld IN STRUGGLE’S line on the unity question in a vote that was unanimous minus one vote. Those are the facts!
Continuing its denunciation of IN STRUGGLE!’s so-called opportunism, the League says: “Despite all their talk of unity, IN STRUGGLE! wishes to keep everything firmly in their control”. We have already explained (see PU no. 2) why under the current conditions it is impossible to set up a common organizing committee of all groups for this conference. In fact, disagreements on the composition of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement would show up in disagreements over the composition of the organizing committee with the objective consequence of cancelling the conference itself. It is therefore clear that for all M-L groups in the country the obstacle to the organization of the conference is precisely the sectarian and divisive positions of the League, which from the word go exclude all debate with Marxist-Leninist groups other than those between The League and IN STRUGGLE!
In addition, we said clearly in our letter of invitation that we are planning to develop the widest possible consultation and collaboration with all groups. As well, we affirm clearly that we are not planning to play any preponderant role in the functioning of the conference.
The League insists that “even in the presentation of the subjects to be discussed IN STRUGGLE! ’s right opportunism on questions of line is revealed”. Why? Because we didn’t mention the Quebec national question. But in our letter we stated quite clearly that the questions to keep in mind are those where there is a divergency of opinion; this, so that the debate will be concentrated around the principal points of the line struggle. And the attitude on the question of Quebec seems to be the object of general agreement in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. In any case, if the League has disagreements, it has all the chance it needs to propose this question as a point of debate. But instead, it prefers to decree that IN STRUGGLE! is opportunist and to call for a boycott of the conference.
Thus, after stringing together its series of subjective arguments that totally ignore the facts, the League, as has become its custom, gives itself a good conscience by quoting a great communist leader. This time it’s Enver Hoxha, who, in fact, understood how to unify Albanian Marxist-Leninists by vigorously fighting the sectarian tendencies that for many years prevented the unity of Albanian communists!
The call for unity is not a simple one that can be used for tactical ends. It is a very serious and fundamental problem of principle...
Comrades of the League, it is not enought to simply quote Enver Hoxha and the other great revolutionary leaders. What really counts is putting their teachings into practice, linking Marxist-Leninist principles to the concrete conditions of our country. What is important is adopting a Marxist-Leninist viewpoint, position and methodology.
Last July, we said in Fight the sectarianism of the CCL (M-L):
It would be tragic for the future of the socialist revolution in our country if the League were to continue along the path of “sectarian logic” on which it is currently embarked in regards to the unity of communists. For if the creation of the Party is the act of only a fraction of the movement, it will inevitably retard the unity of all communists and the rallying of the proletariat to communism. (p. 58)
This “sectarian logic” has today taken new steps towards its own fulfillment. The League’s boycott campaign against the holding of conferences of the Marxist-Leninist movement and its desire to exclude the group IN STRUGGLE! from the Marxist-Leninist movement by condemning it to the “revisionist swamp” (p. 15) on the basis of a totally subjective analysis made through quotes taken out of context and falsifications of reality, contains within it the strong risk that the League will proclaim itself to be the Party without having undertaken to complete the struggle to unify all Marxist-Leninists.
Comrade workers, comrade Marxist-Leninists from across the country, we should do everything we can to see that the second conference of Marxist-Leninists is a historical milestone that will allow us, through a frank and honest polemic based on the method unity-criticism-unity, to make correct ideas triumph over incorrect ideas in our own ranks, to make the proletarian line triumph over the bourgeois line. Thus we must prepare resolutely for this conference by studying the positions of different groups, and by formulating our own positions in order to seek the truth in the facts and apply Marxism-Leninism to the reality of our country in a dynamic way.
For its part, IN STRUGGLE! plans to publish the third issue of PROLETARIAN UNITY sometime in February, and in it we will present our point of view on the theme of the next conference. The journal will also contain a complete evaluation of the first conference on the unity of Marxist-Leninists. In addition, the complete texts of the interventions of the participants in this first conference will be published shortly in the form of a pamphlet. Finally, we would like to remind everyone that the pages of our newspaper are open to individuals and groups who want to express their point of view on the path of the Canadian revolution and on the unity of Marxist-Leninists.
We call on the CCL(M-L) to seriously reconsider the actions that it has taken. The League is one of the most important communist groups in the country right now. Be-cause of this it carries a great deal of responsibility, particularly as far as the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement and the working masses of the country are concerned. And it has not only refused to participate in the second conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, but it has also undertaken a boycott campaign aimed at preventing the conference from, being held. This gesture of sabotage is extremely grave for it seriously compromises the development of the struggle for the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists. Comrades of the League, you must break with this divisive line which plays into the hands of the bourgeoisie. Your desperate efforts to impose yourselves as the leading centre and to sabotage the movement to unify Canadian Marxist-Leninists within a single organization of struggle for the party reveal a bourgeois small-groupism that places its own interests, its own group, above the interests of the proletariat.
Comrade workers, comrade Marxist-Leninist, resolutely undertake the preparation of this second conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists. If we base ourselves on our common desire for unity, if we firmly grasp how to wage the straggle against erroneous conceptions within the movement, we will be able to ensure that our unity of steel around a proletarian line will reach the greatest heights.
COMRADES, INTENSIFY THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SECTARIANISM!
STRUGGLE FOR THE UNITY OF ALL CANADIAN MARXIST-LENINISTS!
EDITOR’S NOTE: The second conference on the path of the Canadian revolution will be held in Montreal over the weekend of April 8. We finally decided to hold the conference in Montreal because at this point that is where we can organise the broadest participation of workers, militants and friends of the Marxist-Leninist movement.