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Statement of political agreement for the creation of the CANADIAN COMMUNIST LEAGUE (MARXIST-LENINIST)

VI. Our Central Task: Create the Party

The Canadian working class today is deprived of its most essential fighting organization – a genuine communist party does not exist in Canada.

Among the many well-known historical reasons for this, one of particular note is the “Communist” Party of Canada’s abandonment of Marxist-Leninist principles and its degeneration into a revisionist traitor of the working class and agent of Soviet Social-imperialism. This means that today Marxism-Leninism in our country exists outside of the proletariat; it is not fused with the workers’ movement.

Under such conditions, the emancipation of the working class must proceed first and foremost by the organization of its most conscious, devoted and active elements into a communist party, in other words, “to win over the vanguard of the proletariat to communism ’ The creation of this party is thus the central task of Canadian Marxist-Leninists at the present. Only the party can fully achieve the fusion of scientific socialism with the workers’ movement. Only the party will be able to make the large working masses aware of the historical mission of their class and lead them in the struggle for power.

In the absence of a strong Marxist-Leninist movement, we have also witnessed the appearance of a counter-revolutionary organization which calls itself the “Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).” Aside from rather grotesquely caricaturing Marxism-Leninism, this group for some years has devoted itself to sabotaging the work of several revolutionary and progressive organizations. Its political line has always reflected its willingness to tie the proletariat to the bourgeoisie’s coattails (for example, by denying for a long time the proletarian character of the revolution). Marxists-Leninists must fight the “CPC(ML)” until we wipe it out.

There are, as well, other counter-revolutionary groups in Canada, such as the trotskyite sects or the “Canadian Party of Labor”, which attempt to fool the young communist movement and the working class. We have to fight, without respite, these counterrevolutionaries who, hiding behind the signboard of communism, are enemies of Marxism-Leninism and the proletarian revolution.

Within the workers’ movement, there are also opportunist groups whose fundamentally incorrect political line excludes them from the Canadian communist movement. To unite with such groups would be to abandon Marxist-Leninist principles and political line. We have to demarcate ourselves from right opportunism and fight its influence among the working masses.

The young Canadian communist movement is still divided; different positions on a great many questions of political line – including the most fundamental ones – are being put forward. But the contradictions among genuine Marxist-Leninists are not antagonistic by nature. They should be resolved through ideological struggle following the method of “unity-criticism-unity”, an ideological struggle which seeks the greatest possible unity around a correct line.

1. The Conditions for Creating the Party

It is out of the question today to pass immediately to the creation of a real Marxist-Leninist party, that is, a party with an elaborated revolutionary programme, solidly linked with the popular masses. The CCL(ML) must lead a great struggle to fulfill the conditions necessary to create the party; all our efforts must be devoted to this end.

The first of these conditions is the development of a correct political line. As Stalin noted, “in order that it may be the advanced detachment, the Party must be armed with revolutionary theory, with a knowledge of the laws of the movement, with a knowledge of the laws of the revolution.” (Foundations of Leninism). We have to deepen our analysis of the social classes in Canadian society, starting with the proletariat and the Canadian bourgeoisie, and determine the role and place of the many classes, strata and social groups in the Canadian revolution. On this basis, we have to formulate a political program, including the strategic and essential tactical elements, to lead the proletarian revolution in Canada.

But having the correct line is not enough – it has to be applied and affirmed against all those who oppose it. Before creating the party we have to exhibit an unshakeable firmness to defend Marxism-Leninism. We have to demarcate ourselves, in other words, from all the opportunist currents and tendencies in the workers’ movement – particularly from revisionism, the most dangerous tendency within the international workers’ movement today.

The second condition for creating the party is the achievement of the greatest possible ideological and organizational unity of Marxist-Leninists in Canada. For we are trying to build a single Marxist-Leninist party. We should bear in mind what Lenin said at the origins of the Bolshevik Party: “To establish and consolidate the Party is to establish and consolidate the unity of all Russian Social-Democrats.” (Draft Declaration of Iskra and Zarya)[1]

This unity must neither be superficial, nor hastily concluded. It will come out of an ideological struggle conducted on the basis of principles and the method of unity-criticism unity. It has to be grounded on a clearly formulated political line. The CCL(ML) is committed to this struggle for unity.

The third major condition to fulfill before we can create the party is the rooting of our organization in the heart of the proletariat – in other words, the recruitment of a certain number of conscious workers and the formation of factory cells in the principal industrial centres of the country. Only the widespread agitation and propaganda of communist ideas in the working class will make this possible.

The CCL(ML) is the instrument necessary to fulfull these essential conditions for the creation of a real communist party in Canada. Its capacity to give a single direction to the work of communists throughout the country and to systematize the lessons of this work is quite indispensable. Without such an organization, Canadian communists could not carry out their political tasks.

What more specifically are these tasks, oriented towards fulfilling the conditions for creating the party?

2. Our Tasks in the First Stage of Party-building

To correctly define our tasks, we have to start from the point of view that the party, like every other thing or phenomenon in the world, is born and develops by passing through several stages. We can identify which stage we are in and what tasks belong to this stage.

The history of the international communist movement is rich with lessons on the construction of the communist party. Lenin and Stalin, in particular, offer valuable insights on this question.

Stalin, for example, defined three major stages or periods in the Bolshevik Party which can be generalized to apply to party-building everywhere. First, the period of the formation of the party; second, the period when the party affirms itself as a mass party leading revolutionary actions; and third, the period when the party leads the proletariat to conquer state power and becomes the essential instrument of its dictatorship. (See The Party Before and After Taking Power, Vol. 5)

In Canada right now we are in the first stage of party-building; the party is not yet even formed. This is “the period of the formation of the vanguard (that is, the Party) of the proletariat, the period of the mustering of the party cadre (in this period the party is weak; it has a program and general principles of tactic, but as a party of mass actions, it is weak.)” In this period, Marxist-Leninists must “win over the vanguard of the proletariat to communism (that is, to build up cadre create the communist party, work out a programme, the principle of tactics). Propaganda as the chief form activity.” (Stalin, Political Strategy and Tactics of Russian Social Democrats, Vol. 5)[2]

In Canada today, our principal goal throughout the first stage of party building must be to win over the most advanced elements of the working class to communism. This must also be the principal goal of our organization, since its entire existence falls within the early phase of the first stage.

It is our communist agitation and propaganda which will enable us to achieve this goal. Our principal task, then, in order to rally the most advanced Canadian workers is to conduct communist agitation and propaganda on the widest possible scale.

But only the party will have the capabilities – the political line, the experience, the link with the masses – to achieve the goal of the first stage. Only the party will be able to carry out principal tasks of agitation and propaganda, as well as the other tasks, necessary for reaching our goal in this stage. That is why building the party must be the central task of our organization, of all Canadian Marxist-Leninists. The CCL(ML)’s ability to accomplish this central task will give great impetus to the realization of our other tasks, and of our principal goal during this period.

This outline of our goal and tasks at this time should not be looked at narrowly and mechanically. For example, our organization will conduct political work amongst not only the most advanced workers but also the broad masses of working people in order to win them to the revolutionary cause, even though this is essentially the principal goal in the second stage of party building.

To continue the definition of our tasks, let us distinguish between the theoretical and practical ones.

A) Our theoretical tasks

Because ideological and political line determines everything, the execution of our theoretical tasks takes on a decisive importance. For the success of our work depends above all on the correctness of our analyses.

Clearly our assimilation of Marxism-Leninism and our ability to apply it creatively in order to analyze the conditions and the road of the Canadian revolution are still fairly limited. That’s why we have to place a great importance on the study of Marxism-Leninism to deepen our analyses of the classes and contradictions in Canadian society and, on that basis, to define in a program the essential elements of a strategic and tactical line for the Canadian proletarian revolution.

We also have to demarcate ourselves, on the ideological and political level, from all the opportunist currents and tendencies in both the workers’ and the communist movement. Modern revisionism and right opportunism in all their forms in particular have to be combatted. Only in this way, moreover, will we be able to achieve the ideological unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists.

B) Practical Tasks

If the theoretical tasks are decisive at the present time, it is practice, nonetheless, which in the final analysis will confirm the correctness of our positions and determine the development of our political line. To succeed in our principal goal, in this first stage communist agitation and propaganda must be our principal task, our principal activity.

Our role is to propagate the revolutionary ideas of Marxism-Leninism by all possible means in the working class, for this is how class consciousness is developed, how the most advanced elements are won over to proletarian ideology, to communism. There are no other ways; there can be no waiting around “until the workers are ready for our propaganda”. On the contrary, it is we communists who must be ready to bring our propaganda to the workers.

Our principal task thus consists of politically educating above all the most advanced workers, and also the large masses, and, more generally the popular masses. This education takes two inseparable and equally important forms: agitation and propaganda. As Lenin put it: “Inseparably connected with propaganda is agitation among the workers. (Tasks of Russian Social-Democrats, Vol. 2) It is wrong to thing we can do only one or the other, or that propaganda is aimed only at the advanced while agitation is for the masses, etc... Agitation and propaganda – as we shall we below – are both necessary to educate the workers.

To fulfill our agitational and propaganda work we have to be organized. We have to organize ourselves to undertake the fusion of scientific socialism with the workers’ movement, and our success in this in turn, will be reflected in our organizational development.

Thus our primary organizational task is to establish the essential structures of the CCL(ML) according to the principle of democratic centralism. This means building the communist organization from the top down, from the leadership to the base, allowing for both the greatest possible centralisation of leadership and for the leading center’s knowledge and control of the movement as a whole as well as the decentralization of responsibilities.[3]

Concentrating and not dispersing our forces, the CCL(ML) has to expand across the country, first and foremost in all the major industrial centres. The CCL(ML) will seek to unite all the Marxist-Leninists in the country, once they are convinced of the correctness of its line – always within the perspective of assuring the unity, thus the reinforcement, of the revolutionary movement of the working class.

Our organization must develop primarily in the working class, in the large factories where the workers are concentrated. The factories will become the fortresses of the League and later of the Marxist-Leninist communist party. To this end, we must send Marxist-Leninist militants into the plants to do communist agitation-propaganda and organizational work; the virtual absence of communist workers in Canada makes such measures necessary.

The creation and development of powerful factory cells is thus our organizational priority. As a secondary task, it will be necessary in some circumstances to create mass organizations as well in order to further spread communist ideas among the working masses (for example, newspaper committees in the plants, study circles.) Such work will in turn reinforce our communist cells. The formation of these mass organizations, of course, is subordinated to the building of cells; only under the direction of the cells can our work in mass organizations play its proper role.

Finally, the CCL(ML) will also undertake a certain amount of work among other classes and strata of the people.

In carrying out our work of agitation-propaganda and organization, we have to initiate and lead the struggles of the working class. True the struggles led by our organization at this stage will be necessarily limited. But as the Communist International pointed out:

Communist Parties can develop only in struggle. Even the smallest of parties must not limit themselves to simple propaganda and agitation. In all the mass organizations, they must be the vanguard which shows the backward masses how to wage the battle and which... shows them the betrayal of all the non-communists... (Theses on tactics, Third Congress of the Third International, our translation)

In taking part in the immediate struggles, in the fight for reforms, we subordinate them, as a part of the whole, to the revolutionary struggle for socialism. Our intervention in economic struggles must contribute to their inseparable fusion with political struggles into a single battle. In taking part in the political struggle for reforms, we seek to clarify the goals of these struggles and to lead them openly against the bourgeoisie and its state. Initiating and leading directly political struggles against the enemies of the proletarian revolution is what is most important for us. To correctly lead mass struggles and win over the best elements, we must always apply the fundamental method of communist leadership: the mass line, “from the masses to the masses.”

To sum up. The CCL(ML) will take on very important theoretical and practical tasks. If we carry them out well, we will be able to forge indestructable links with the working masses and move on eventually to the creation of the Marxist-Leninist communist party. That’s why it is vital we understand well the nature of these tasks.

It is our practice – principally the quality of our agitation and propaganda work – which will show our ability to create the party.

If it is good and correctly led, we will win over the most advanced elements of the proletariat to communism. Here is where the decisive role of theory comes into play – if one does not know how to develop a correct line, one risks leading the workers’ movement down a dead-end. If on the other hand, one develops the correct line, repeated success will result.

Given the importance of the clearest theoretical definition of our tasks, let us go into more detail about our principal task.

3. Communist Propaganda and Agitations

Propaganda aims to make known the scientific doctrine of Marxism-Leninism, the present economic and political regime and its historical development, the classes and their relations, and the historical mission of the working class.

Agitation is the communist intervention which denounces and exposes all manifestations of political and economic oppression, linking them with the struggle for socialism. It consists above all in the organization of campaigns of vivid political exposures. It also deals with all the manifestations of the workers’ resistance to capitalist exploitation. Communist agitation seeks to develop the political consciousness of workers, using even the most immediate economic and political needs as a starting point.

What distinguishes agitation from propaganda is not so much the nature of the subjects they treat, but the way they are treated. In its form, propaganda consists of explaining many ideas to one or a few people, while agitation spreads one or a few ideas to many people. Either one can lead to “concrete acts”; that is not what essentially distinguishes them.

Propaganda takes diverse forms. One of the most important for the formation of communist workers is the Marxist-Leninist study circle. But brochures, books, or newspaper articles are also indispensable means of propaganda. This does not mean, though that propaganda is aimed solely at advanced workers, intellectuals and communists themselves. On the contrary, it should speak to the large masses in simple and easily accessible terms. Lenin, talking about the paper Iskra and the journal Zarya insisted that:

On the contrary, it is necessary to combine all the concrete facts and manifestations of the working class movement with the indicated questions – (the theory of socialism, science, politics, questions of Party organization) the light of theory must be cast upon every separate fact: propaganda on questions of politics and Party organization must be carried out among the broad masses of the working class; and these questions must be dealt with in the work of agitation. (Draft Declaration of Iskra and Zarya. Vol. 4)

The agitation of communists, for its part, takes two forms: “The two kinds of agitation are inseparably connected in the activities of the Social-Democrats as the two sides of the same medal. Both economic and political agitation are equally necessary to develop the class – consciousness of the proletariat.” (Lenin, Tasks of Russian Social-Democrats, Vol. 2). But these two types of agitation are not of equal importance. Political agitation must always predominate.

Economic agitation treats “economic exposures of the factories” pushing the working class to demand the abolition of the most crying abuses in the factories and supporting their strike demands. While it remains an important lever in the economic struggle, in the essential struggle of self-defense waged by the working class throughout the period of capitalism, this agitation cannot be the principal subject of communist agitation. To do likewise would reduce communist politics to trade unionism, sinking into economism.

Political agitation is more important than economic agitation because its content (political revelations from a communist viewpoint on the actions of all classes and social groups) is the most educational for workers. “Only these exposures”, Lenin said, “can form the political consciousness and incite the revolutionary activity of the masses.” (What is to be Done?)

We reject the economist view that political agitation generally must follow economic agitation. This view is based on the false idea that the workers’ class consciousness develops by passing through the stage of trade-union consciousness; it reflects the greatest contempt for the workers. This view ends up restricting the struggle of the working class to the economic battlefront; to oppose it we put forward the view that tries to make all struggles part of the revolutionary fight for socialism.

We also reject another economist position on communist agitation which argues that political agitation on the economic terrain (in other words, starting from economic questions such as problems in the plant to draw political conclusions) is the most widely applicable or best way to train the working class in political struggle and develop its class consciousness. Such a stand amounts to bowing completely before the spontaneity of the workers’ movement, to limiting its consciousness to the narrow framework of the factory.

In What is to be Done?, Lenin denounced this conception in these words: “Those who concentrate the attention, observation and consciousness of the working class exclusively or even mainly upon itself are not Social democrats”. Lenin meant that the development of the workers’ political consciousness demands an understanding of the relations between all classes, nations and other social groups. And such knowledge is not above all theoretical; rather it is founded in the experience of all aspects of political and social life which must be vividly exposed by communist agitation.

Political agitation then, is the superior form of communist agitation, which ties the opposition to all manifestations of oppression to the struggle for socialism.

Lenin underlined its importance for the revolutionary movement in Russia in 1900:

The type of agitation which has hitherto prevailed almost without exception – agitation by means of locally published leaflets – is not adequate; it is narrow, it deals only with local and mainly economic questions. We must try to create a higher form of agitation by means of the newspaper, which must contain a regular record of workers’ grievances, workers’ strikes, and other forms of proletarian struggle, as well as all the manifestations of political tyranny in the whole of Russia; which must draw definite conclusions from each of these manifestations in accordance with the ultimate aim of socialism and the political tasks of the Russian proletariat. (Draft Declaration of Iskra and Zarya, Vol. 4).

Lenin’s remarks apply very well to our present situation in Canada. They show the necessity to set up a national communist newspaper – the main instrument of communists in their agitation and propaganda work.

There are many ways to do agitation and propaganda. Speeches, study circles, brochures, tracts, demonstrations, etc, come to mind. But undoubtedly the principal means is a national communist newspaper. In this paper, communist propaganda will have an important place; political agitation will be dominant.

The paper is, at the beginning, the only collective method of agitation and propaganda which involves all of the members of a communist organization and touches the large working and popular masses. As a collective agitator the newspaper is the means to carry out campaigns of political exposure on all important questions which concern the whole working class. A vivid political agitation will replace the primitive local work and give local work a national character. As a collective propagandist and agitator, the newspaper will spread, elaborate and concretize the political line and analyses of the communist organization.

As a collective organizer, the newspaper will help to establish a network of distributors and correspondents, to develop links between the organization and the masses. And finally, in this way and through open polemics, it will further the unification of Marxist-Leninists across Canada.

The regular distribution of the paper throughout the country is necessary for developing the political consciousness of the most advanced elements of the proletariat. It is above all to this audience which the newspaper addresses itself. It nevertheless is widely distributed, among the masses – mainly among the working masses and secondarily among the popular masses. We must guard against the economist error which consists in lowering the content of the paper under the pretext of making it more “accessible” to the backward elements of the working class. The newspaper at all times must show itself to be a firm defender of Marxism-Leninism. Only in this way can it fulfill its role as a collective propagandist, agitator and organizer.[4]


[1] The term “Social-Democrat” in Lenin’s time meant communist. After the betrayal of the Second International, it became associated with the bourgeois social reformers who call themselves “socialists”, such as today’s NDP. We have kept the original term in all quotes from the period.

[2] In place of the word “propaganda”, the French version of this article by Stalin has the term “education”. We feel it is correct to give the wider interpretation of the term – that is, propaganda and agitation as the key forms of political education – and not the narrow interpretation of the English word (propaganda as opposed to agitation).

[3] We reject the opportunist conceptions promoted by groups like Librairie Progressiste about the party being built “from the bottom up”, that in this way the party can be developed in the masses.

[4] In this sense, the newspaper serves as the scaffolding to build the party. It is important, though, not to confuse, as some do, the newspaper (the scaffolding) with the party (the house to be built). As Lenin noted in Where to Begin, the success of the paper depends on the “most active support” of the local party committees.