Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

by John Burnley

Six of One, Half a Dozen of Some Other

First Published: Alive Magazine No. 57, October 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Six Years of CPC (M-L) by Hardial Bains
Published by: Norman Bethune Institute of Ideological Studies, Incorporated
32 pages / 50 cents

This booklet is a reproduction of a speech given by the author in Montreal on March 31, 1976, “summing up” the six years since the founding of CPC(M-L). During that six year period the author has been chairman of that same organization. Clearly the most significant thing about this booklet is the portion of the six year history which is not recounted: October-December, 1970.

This is perhaps understandable if one realizes that the author was out of the country at that time, having left a few days before the War Measures Act was declared in Canada. The internal organizations: events during his absence (declarations that the organization had no line to deal with fascism, attempted organizational liquidation, etc. all “led” by CPC(M-L)’S most frequent “scapegoat”); his statements in public since then that he was arrested at that time in Moscow while on his way to a conference (and his subsequent “deportation” from Moscow to England) have perhaps contributed to the lack of coverage of this period in this “historical survey”.

In the booklet the author says: “Only CPC(M-L) has been organised at the call of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and grounded in the history and tradition of the communist and workers movement in this country.” The author presumes that readers will make assumption that his organization founded at the call of someone other than Liu Shao-chi or Lin Piao feverishly trying to either survive the explosive activities of 1966-67 – to consolidate a position nationally and internationally for future attacks on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung Thought.

The author opens this speech saying, “The Party was founded after a three month discussion on a document circulated to all comrades who came forward to join the Canadian Communist Movement {Marxist-Leninist).” The brief life of the CCM(M-L) – end of December, 1969 to end of March, 1970 – is particularly interesting now, in Canada, in light of the existence of another organization which is calling itself Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist). This CCL(M-L) is at least similar to CCM(M-L) in that it is a proposed organizational prelude to formation of a Marxist-Leninist Party. However, CCL(M-L) has already existed as an organization four times longer than CCM(M-L).

CCL(M-L), or course, opposes and is opposed by CPC(M-L). CPC(-M-L) claims that CCL(W-L) comes out of a split in the CPC(M-L) back in that late 1970/early 1971 period mentioned above, CCL(M-L) joins with a number of other organizations in Canada, in saying that CPC(M-L) “rushed” the formation of the Parry back in 1970 for hegemonistic reasons and, in fact, is not a Marxist-Leninist organization.

Addressing CCL(M-L) and others, in this booklet, the author says: “Over the past year, particularly, opportunists from Canada have beer, running around seeking sponsorship and legitimacy abroad.” And, at another point, he says; “It is no accident that opportunists have to seek sponsors abroad as, on the basis of their own work, they will have a difficult time here. Opportunism has always been imported into Canada. ”

The point being addressed here, and at other times in 1976 in the newspaper of which the author is editor (PCDN), is the apparent “flaunting” by CCL(M-L) and a U.S. organization, of the number of times that they are mentioned and quoted in the official press from the People’s Republic of China. The author is correct that simple mention in the Chinese press does not establish any sort of revolutionary legitimacy. Canadian diplomats and government officials are mentioned in the press of New China on occasion, and not even those worthies would lay claim to being the leaders of Marxism-Leninism in Canada. (The author is attempting to dispel rumours that the lack of so much as one single mention of CPC(M-L) in the Chinese press during this six year period indicates illegitimacy.)

Here it might be illuminating to mention that CPC(M-L) is certainly not the only organization calling itself Marxist-Leninist in the western world which has been “ignored”. Not mentioned either have been CPC(M-L)’S organisational twins in England, Ireland and the USA (CPE/M-L, CPI/M-L, and, COUSML, respectively). This has particularly raised problems for the hegemonists during the publication in the press of New China of memorial notices from Marxist-Leninist parties and revolutionary organisations all over the world, on the death of both Chou En-Iai and Mao Tse-tung. With as many as half a dozen different organisations from one country having their memorial notices published in certain instances, the four organizations connected to Bains are feeling the pinch.

CCL(M-L) and the organization called En Lutte!, from Canada, have been so “legitimized” in 1976, as well as several British and U.S. organizations. So indication that the lack of mention in the Chinese press implies “illegitimacy” is clearly an implication that any organization with which the author is connected is automatically “suspect”. (This is the same kind of thinking which would conclude that NEW LITERATURE & IDEOLOGY is suspect because following its breaking off with Alive magazine two periodicals from the People’s Republic of China initiated exchange subscriptions with Alive. No, these things, in themselves do not prove anything one way or the other, conclusively. They are only additional evidence, so to speak.)

It is these two facts (1. the claim to being Canada’s answer to China’s Cultural Revolution, and 2. the public, at least, silence from China on the existence of the CPC(M-L) while mentioning other Canadian organizations which identify themselves as Marxist-Leninist) that give rise to the question: which political line in the Cultural Revolution was responded to by the author of this booklet?

This booklet is one of the few occasions that the author does not trace the history of CPC(M-L) all the way back to 1963. In 1963 a discussion group called the Internationalists was founded at the University of British Columbia, by the author and others. That coincided with the founding, also at U.B.C., of a literary movement called the TISH MOVEMENT. One of the TISH founders is the CPC(M-L) member, supporter, or sympathizer who writes in NEW LITERATURE & IDEOLOGY on the question of Alive. Both the Internationalists and the TISH MOVEMENT operated at U.B.C. and in Vancouver proper, in their original form, until 1965. At about that time members involved with either or both organizations got together to run a counter-cultural coffee shop in Vancouver, called The Advanced Mattress.

In 1965 the author of this booklet went to teach in Ireland for a couple of years. In his absence the Internationalists in Vancouver “degenerated”; while at the same time most of the TISH MOVEMENT leaders moved to eastern Canada. A “healthy” Internationalist organization apparently came up in Ireland during the author’s time there, in 1967, in England, the author organized and held a major conference called the Necessity for Change Conference. In the usual historical recounts, this conference is crucial to grasping the rise of CPC(M-L).

That Conference, which was originally intended by the author to give rise to a Communist Youth International (he has said, in 1975, that he was advised by Communist Parties already existing that this was not such a good idea), actually gave rise to the formation of the Internationalists as a Marxist-Leninist youth and student movement. Representatives attending that Conference have since been advertised in the author’s newspaper, as surfacing in various Third World revolutionary organizations.

In 1968, back in Canada, the author moved the original Internationalists from Vancouver to Montreal, where it was “reconstituted as a Marxist-Leninist youth and students organization”. It was this so-identified Marxist-Leninist organization which gave rise in the following year to CCM(M-L), which gave rise to CPC(M-L). And, at the time that the Internationalists “moved up” to become CCM(M-L), a new organization was formed to “replace” the Internationalists [the CANADIAN STUDENT MOVEMENT).

Clearly the best way to grasp all of this would be to draw a chart like those found in high school history books. Perhaps some will do so – all the information above has been published by the organizations concerned.

So, if the author actually wishes to deal with the plethora of organizations which have come up in 1975 and 1976, identifying themselves as Marxist-Leninist and unanimously declaring that CPC(M-L) is not Marxist-Leninist, then he should always recount the whole history, particularly when stating that his organization came into existence at the call of the 1966-67 Cultural Revolution in China. Also, if CCL(M-L) and others wish to dispute this claim then, at least, they have to deal with the events of 1967-69 in England and Canada.

The fact that CPC(M-L) actually came from activities in England in, 1967 (along with its three sister organizations in England, Ireland and the U.S.) makes it somewhat puzzling why the author said: “Opportunism has always been, imported into Canada.” But, it probably explains why, on this occasion, the author makes no mention of the 1967-69 developments.

Of course, this reviewer disagrees with the statement: “Opportunism has always been, imported into Canada.” There can be no doubt that opportunistic, reactionary politics: the politics of disruption and counterrevolution, have been both home-grown and imported. It is the other side of this coin which is the most dangerous. If opportunism has always been imported (parachuted is another common political term in Canada} then what of its opposite: Marxism-Leninism? Has that been imported also?

It is basic Marxist-Leninist thinking that revolution cannot be exported, imported, parachuted or anything else like that. Revolution and revolutionary politics grow out of the life and experience of each country and people, based on the shared and developed knowledge gathered by other revolutions and applied to the conditions of the specific country.

That opportunism has always been imported is the flip-side of the same coin as the Brezhnevian doctrine of Soviet social-imperialism.

The key to grasping this author’s level of adherence to real Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought can be found in this booklet – this speech. The author claims to be both a scientist in the traditional sense (a micro-biologist) and an Internationalist practitioner or the science of Marxism-Leninism. In either case he is caught way off base on both counts in the telling of a little joke against opportunists.

In Six Years of CPC(M-L) the author addresses a group which issued as a slogan: “To overcome the Capitalist Crisis. Assimilate Marxism-Leninism!” He says; “You opportunists are peddling such absurdity that by ’assimulating’ Marxism-Leninism you ’become’ Marxist-Leninist. I may ask: what do you become when you assimilate Coke? A Coke! Here is something for you to ’assimilate’!” Mao Tsetung has many times urged us to assimilate Marxism for to assimilate is to investigate thoroughly, chew thoroughly, digest, submit the ideas to a most thorough, conscious breaking-down, process. In short, to make it a part of oneself.

The author, perhaps, assumed that the “opportunists” were calling for a process of osmosis rather than a process of assimilation. The difference, even for a first year biology student, is clear. If the process is one of trying to grasp Marxism-Leninism by osmosis then it is bad, but if by assimilation then it is exactly as called for by the greatest Marxist-Leninist teacher of our era.

For a micro-biologist to mix up the process of osmosis and the process of assimilation is bad enough, but for the chairman of an organization calling itself Marxist-Leninist to utter so much as one word against assimilating Marxism-Leninism is absurd. That the author is both a micro-biologist and such a chairman clearly proves that he is not at the steering mechanism of a “roller coaster of revolution.” but rather is the operator of a merry-go-round of opportunism – which, if not always imported, has been imported in this case, at least, from England circa 1967.