Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist)

In Struggle slipping ever faster into right opportunism

First Published: The Forge, Vol. 2, No. 11, May 26, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Since its second congress in November 1976, the group In Struggle Is dangerously picking up speed in its slide towards right opportunism. We know already how In Struggle makes a habit of conciliating shamelessly with opportunists of all kinds and even with counter-revolutionaries like “Bolshevik Union”, all in the name of “unity”. We also know how In Struggle defends an opportunist line through and through in its work in unions and mass organizations, even terming the slogan “class against class” as “reformist”.

Today, In Struggle proposes purely economist proletarian united fronts and phantom fightback committees against the wage freeze, and revises the most elementary Marxist-Leninist principles of organizing by its rejection of factory cells.

In Struggle’s opportunist united fronts and phantom fightback committees

For a while now In Struggle has been dashing into a series of proletarian united fronts built on a completely opportunist basis. These united fronts have included reformists, revisionists, Trotskyists, and other counter-revolutionaries. Its right opportunism is revealed by the way it does not demarcate itself in any way from this riff-raff and has sacrificed its independent work: it does not breathe a word about socialism. In short, 1S does not understand the significance of the united front for communists.

In all their work communists fight to unite all who can be united against the enemies of the working class. Therefore, in the workers’ movement (and especially in the unions) the communists must build a wide united front against the bourgeoisie and all its agents sabotaging the struggle. So it is essential that this united front clearly1’ demarcate itself from reformism, and it is obvious that it must never include sworn enemies of the working class like revisionists and Trotskyists!


The best example of In Struggle’s opportunist notion of the united front and its concrete effects is found in their April 14, 1977 paper. In Struggle calls for the creation of “fightback committees against Bill C-73.”

People have been asking themselves: what are these committees? Who will set them up? What are they for?

The In Struggle article answers all these questions clearly. These committees are a product of In Struggle’s imagination; no one will set them up; they have no purpose. It’s not surprising that they don’t exist.

In Struggle defines these committees by their negation. They begin by saying what they aren’t. They aren’t set up by communists, nor are they led by them. They are not like the Comites de Solidarite aux luttes ouvrieres[1], they are open to all, including revisionists and trotskyists. They aren’t necessarily linked to unions either, nor are they parallel organizations. They don’t have any basis of unity other than the fight against Bill C-73 and the other crisis measures. In the final analysis, there’s nothing more left. This is what In Struggle’s project is all about; it is totally inapplicable.

The worst of it is that In Struggle’s way-off notion drives their members either into total passivity or into spreading confusion and division, and sabotaging the concrete fights which are growing against the crisis.

Thus In Struggle wanted to liquidate the Ad-Hoc Committee against the Immigration Bill C-24 in Montreal in order to build-up its non-existant committees “against Bill C-73... and all the other effects of the crisis”.

This nebulous “committee” project has also led IS to liquidate in practice the fight to force the unions themselves to combat the wage freeze. Instead of working to transform our unions into organizations of class struggle, IS prefers to propose the creation of vague committees to lead fights not taken up by the unions.


This analvsis of IS, which identifies the fight for the retraction of Bill C-73 as principal, is brand new. Completely cut off from reality, it reaches us at a moment when Bill C-73 is no longer the main means of attacking the working class; rather, the bourgeoisie is increasing all forms of attack on the working class; factory closings, massive layoffs, unemployment up over 8%, plus repressive laws like C-27 to cut unemployment benefits, and C-24 to kick immigrants out into the cold. What’s more, the bourgeoisie is now getting us ready for tripartism as a replacement for Bill C-73, and has thrown itself into an anti-communist campaign.

But the working class is resisting these attacks. It is leading many fightbacks against the effects of the crisis. At the present time the task of the advanced elements of the proletariat is to struggle for the coordination of their different struggles into a powerful class movement against the global strategy of the bourgeoisie. The wage freeze is only one aspect of the bourgeoisie’s strategy; it is no longer its “principal weapon”.

Once again In Struggle is trailing far behind reality. This same group accused the League of leftism and economism when it was the time to launch the struggle against the wage freeze and when we called for a general strike a year and a half ago.

Today, at a time when we should be widening our struggle to fight all the new forms that the bourgeoisie’s attack is taking, In Struggle arrives like a veritable Don Quixote to organize a struggle against Bill C-73.

In Struggle again has demonstrated its inability to analyse concrete reality, its isolation from the masses, and its totally spontaneous conception of class struggle.

In Struggle and factory cells: opportunism on organization

In 1924 the Communist International stated that factory cells must constitute the principal basis of communist parties. This affirmation was the result of a long, hard struggle to break with the organizational forms typical of social-democracy. It assured that the party would develop and maintain its roots in the heart of the proletariat, the only truly revolutionary class, right to the end.

To adopt the factory cell as the principal basis of communist organization guarantees the social quality of party forces and assures its proletarian character. This form also enables the party to actually struggle for control of factories – something essential for the communist party, the instrument for the taking of power by the proletariat and for exercising its dictatorship. “Each factory will be a fortress of the communist party, this is Lenin’s directive” (Resolution of the Fifth Congress on the reorganization of the party on the basis of factory cells).

To adopt the factory cell as the principal basis is a communist principal of organization. Communists have the task of organizing themselves on the basis of this principle.

The “Communist” Party of Canada resisted this reorganization for a long time on the pretext that it did not lend itself to the concrete conditions in Canada. Its incapacity, in spite of clear and repeated directives from the Communist International, to consolidate organization on the factory-cell base was a clear manifestation of the right-opportunism which corroded the Party from within and led to its eventual degeneration into a revisionist party.

And now, more than 50 years later, we find Marxist-Leninists who maintain that factory cells don’t take into account “contradictions that exist within the Canadian working class movement which is not ready to adhere to communism tomorrow” (In Struggle, March 31, 1977, p. 12). 50 years later IS is reviving revisionist, anti-Leninist, exceptionalist, and economist arguments to reject Leninist principles of organization of the proletarian party.

What kind of party does IS want to create?

In their March 31, 1977 paper, IS rejects factory cells and substitutes as a basis for Marxist-Leninist organization “workers’ circles, readers’ circles”, “caucuses within unions and mass organizations” and “committees that grow up around particular struggles and unite all those who, in the circumstances, accept a communist leadership”.

This is a total revision of Communist principles of organization. All the forms of organization of which IS speaks here must always be under the direction nf the factory cell or of the Party committee that leads the work in the place concerned. They are not in themselves the basis of a Marxist-Leninist organization.

IS’s opportunist conceptions are consecrated in their Statutes of the Marxist-Leninist group In Struggle, published recently in French. In the chapter on “The basis of In Struggle’s organization”, IS shifts position and announces that the cell can be set up either on a geographical basis or on a workplace basis. But once again, IS refuses to place the main accent on the factory cell by giving it equal importance with neighbourhood cells. “Organize in whichever way you please, friends, in neighbourhood cells or in factory cells, take your pick” – is what IS is telling us between the lines of its Statutes.

The question is however, an important one. Why must we heve factory cells right now?

First of all because a factory cell is in the best position to direct the work in a given workplace. It’s because the League has built itself up determinedly on factory cells that it is in a position today to lead struggles in several workplaces – something IS is obviously incapable of doing – and thus integrate workers into its ranks. In practice, factory cells enable communists of the League to play their role as communist leaders in the working class.

But as far as IS is concerned, that’s just a lot of hot air. IS implies that the activity of the League’s factory cells “is limited to trade union struggle”.

The comrades from In Struggle would be better to look at their own work before coming down on the work of others. How do they explain that wherever the League is to be found it develops an intensive work of agitation and propaganda with The Forge, with leaflets, pamphlets, etc. Why do they think that an increasingly large number of men and women workers participate at the communist meetings organized by the League? It is precisely because of widespread agitation and propaganda work, done in function of the specific conditions in each workplace by its cells, that the League succeeds in its work.

Factory cells are the basis of the organization; they enable the working class to play its leading and hegemonic role. Organizing on the basis of factory cells ensures that the work will be aimed mainly towards the working class. In this way the organization will be assured of a proletarian character and develops into the vanguard of the proletariat.

In Struggle’s conception of the organization tends toward revisionism. It denies the leading role of the working class, and shows contempt for the proletariat. The IS comrades would surely gain from a more serious study of Marxist-Leninist principals in the matter of organization.


[1] Le Comite de Solidarite aux Luttes Ouvrieres (CSLO), Committee for Solidarity with Workers' Struggles, was a Quebec organization characterized by economism and right-opportunism