First Published: In Struggle! No. 153, April 10, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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“The important thing is not what a party writes. The important thing is its fundamental line – to see whether or not it follows completely the Marxist-Leninist line”.
It was Hardial Bains, the “Chairman” of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), CPC(M-L), who spoke in this way to about a dozen foreign-parties that had come to attend the Revolutionary Rally held in Montreal last March 31. It is easy to understand why the CPC(M-L) is not very enthusiastic about the idea that someone might pay attention to the lies found in its publications. Its writings are hopelessly riddled with revisionism. So, Bains invented this excellent manoeuvre to distract us: we must pay attention to a group’s adherence to the “Marxist-Leninist” line. For Bains, this has meant the non-stop repetition of the analysis of the Party of Labour of Albania. Before that, he conscientiously ’followed” the line of the Communist Party of China in the very same manner for six years. This is apparently the guarantee of the purity of Marxism-Leninism and the basis on which communists must unite.
Still according to Bains, the unrelentless repetition of other parties’ analyses is the way of demarcating true Marxist-Leninists from false ones. More specifically, the Marxist-Leninist line today would seem to involve a generalized attack against Mao Zedong. Needless to say that this tricky little sidestep has helped Bains’ party camouflage its revisionist program.
The fact that the CPC(M-L) attempts to have us believe that the moon is made of green cheese is of no great interest, and certainly would not warrant giving it much attention. However, the importance and the seriousness of the situation becomes evident when you find out that most of the parties which attended the rally share the same point of view. This is often how unity is seen within the ranks of the international communist movement at the present time. And so it is important that we stop to think about this.
Of all the speeches delivered from the podium at the rally, we can only draw one conclusion: while many of these parties proclaim high and loud their desire to break with all forms of revisionism, they have in fact demonstrated that they agreed on (almost) only one thing to say “things” just like the PLA!
In spite of the fact that they reject the very concept of the “father party”, some parties in fact tend to consider the PLA as such, with a line that is both binding on other parties and the ultimate criterion of demarcation between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism. Fawning and flattering the PLA is slowly but surely taking the place of building true unity, of open and frank polemics.
The struggle against revisionism is thus summed up as the rejection of “Mao Zedong Thought” and a few other questions of “principles” which we merely have to state and restate. It then becomes the easiest thing in the world for the CPC(M-L), expert in about-faces, to adorn itself with this new mantle without changing a thing in its old revisionist line. And this is precisely what it is up to. As a matter of fact, this manoeuvre is within reach of all the opportunist groups that want to try it.
Bains couldn’t have come closer to the mark. The key question is indeed the question of the line around which unity must be created. But it must allow us to demarcate firmly from all forms of revisionism. And this was proven – in a negative way by the rally itself. The unity of Marxist-Leninist forces is an urgent necessity to assure the development of the revolutionary struggle in all countries. But the rally was nothing but a sick parody of this. Hiding behind the mutual congratulations and appearances of unity, there was nothing but confusion.
What kind of unity is it when membership in the international communist movement is determined by chance, depending on which party “recognizes” which other party, and all this on rather hazy bases? The whole thing leads to a situation which would be somewhat ridiculous if such important issues were not at stake. For example, the United States was represented at the rally by a party which the PLA – also present doesn’t recognize, since it prefers another American party, which wasn’t present. If that’s the name of the game, then the composition of the international communist movement will be determined depending on who sends out the invitations. Obviously, this kind of situation is only profitable for the opportunists who can slink around getting themselves accepted.
As long as Marxist-Leninist and opportunist forces remain lumped together in a confused manner within the international communist movement, as long as lines of demarcation remain imprecise, the task of genuine communists will be one of drawing clear and thorough lines of demarcation. And as we have already pointed out, this will not come about by flattering the most experienced parties, nor by making Mao Zedong the scapegoat for all current deviations. The question is more complex than that. It requires evaluating all the positive and negative experiences that the international communist movement has accumulated in its long history. If we dodge our responsibilities in this matter we will be making a mistake which will have serious implications. We must bring to light all the revisionist conceptions which have marked the movement. Too often, they have led great communist parties to throw themselves into the arms of the imperialists. How can we possibly hope to move forward if we don’t draw lessons from our own past?
We must openly and frankly criticize erroneous conceptions,whatever their source. This is the only way for us to build the political unity of the international communist movement, a unity cemented by a communist program.