Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Bolshevik Union

Unmask In Struggle! Denounce Gagnonism!

Where To Go?

The workers are tired of splits. The workers want unity. The workers are disgusted at the fact that the split sometimes even takes the form of brawling...

Such and similar statements can sometimes be heard from workers.

The workers do need unity. And the important thing to remember is that nobody but themselves will “give” them unity, that nobody can help them achieve unity. Unity cannot be “promised” – that would be vain boasting, self-deception; unity cannot be “created” out of “agreements” between intellectualist groups. To think so is a profoundly sad, naive, and ignorant delusion.

Unity must be won and only the workers, the class-conscious workers themselves can win it – by stubborn and persistent effort.

Is this Canada in 1977? No – Russia in 1914. Even if it was written in very different circumstances this passage of Lenin’s has a very familiar ring for us. (“Unity,” LCW 20:319)

In Struggle has just split the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement by “excluding” the Bolshevik Union.

Immediately afterwards the League declared that In Struggle is no longer Marxist-Leninist. Consequently these three groups, the only ones at the present time that have a base in both English Canada and Quebec, are no longer part of this wonderful movement that In Struggle wanted to “unify”. How should conscious workers deal with this? What should the worker who is, or wants to become, a communist do?

We have some answers to this question, but let us note right away that it demands of the conscious worker what Lenin called a “stubborn and persistent effort”.

Marxism-Leninism is the revolutionary science of the proletariat. In order to learn a science it is necessary to study with spirit. And revolutionary workers are the ones who must separate the Marxist positions from the anti-Marxist positions.

Such workers do not blindly follow just any group that calls out “come with us”. They endeavour to understand what is needed to make the socialist revolution in Canada. Such conscious workers will have no difficulty seeing which group is on their side, once they understand how the revolution will be made.

And such workers will not shy away from confronting the political differences between the groups. Because they understand that they must know the political line of each group in order to become themselves authentic communist leaders, they will condemn the demagogues who want to stifle public debate.

For a long time In Struggle has been trying to frighten us with the possibility that we will see the rise of many parties of the working class. We see them trembling with fear before the “negative effect on the people” of ”the creation of one, two or three Marxist-Leninist communist parties in our country...” (In Struggle, no 66, p. 10) In reality this has been the reflection of their petty-bourgeois fear that they would not be in the future party. We cannot prevent the Bainsites from giving themselves the name “Communist” Party of Canada (“Marxist-Leninist”). Tomorrow morning, the League is quite capable of claiming that it is the party. And In Struggle can follow through the following week. Marxist-Leninists do not panic over so little. These petty-bourgeois groups will say what they want, but it is the Canadian proletariat that will decide which is the single authentic Marxist-Leninist party in our country.

For a long time, In Struggle has been trying to create the illusion that there is a profound unity in “its” Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. Out of fear of not being in the single party, they encourage workers to demand the organizational fusion of all these groups. But the unity of the Canadian proletariat will not be forged by “agreements” between petty-bourgeois groups. On the contrary, the proletariat must examine the differences between these groups, in order to determine its path.

We welcome the “carrying of strife into the ranks of the workers”, for they and they alone will distinguish between “strife ’ and differences on principles; they will sort out these differences for themselves, form their own opinion and decide not “with whom to go, but where to go”, i.e., their own definite and clear line, drawn up and tested by themselves. (“Bourgeois Intelligentsia’s Methods of Struggle”, LCW 20:473)

In Canada, as in all other countries, the advanced workers are the first to sort things out. They will ask themselves if it isn’t ridiculous to claim – as do the League, In Struggle and the Trotskyite groups – that only the Canadian bourgeoisie holds state power in our country. We are convinced that after studying the question they will conclude that American imperialism also participates directly in political power in Canada. They will have no trouble understanding that a proletarian revolution is impossible under the leadership of groups that have such confused ideas on this question.

This question, and several others, are discussed in this pamphlet. They have been summarized above all from the point of view of exposing the ridiculous and pitiful attacks made by In Struggle when they split the Marxist-Leninist movement by “excluding” us. Although always ready to brand us as splitters, it is curious that it is really In Struggle that is the splitter. We are not afraid to have our differences see the light of day.

Conscious workers will sort things out on the basis of a close study of the principal positions of each group.

In our different publications they will find a detailed explanation of the scientific basis of each of our positions. Here we are offering material that will be useful in understanding the real nature of the group In Struggle. The advanced workers will lead the masses in deciding these things and it is the masses who will make history.

It is said that history is fond of irony, of playing tricks with people, and mystifying them. In history this constantly happens to individuals, groups and trends that do not realise what they really stand for, i.e., fail to understand which class they really (and not in their imagination) gravitate towards. (“Bourgeois Intelligentsia’s Methods of Struggle”, LCW 20:456)

The cadres and sympathizers of In Struggle are quite capable of imagining that they serve the interests of the working class. But a scientific examination forces us to conclude that in the positions put forward by this group it is really the petty-bourgeoisie – and thus also the bourgeoisie – that wins out. We are not casting doubt on the individual sincerity of any cadre or sympathizer of In Struggle. Instead, we want to give them every possible chance to understand the monstrous error which is called “In Struggle”.

It is high time that the pernicious ideology that dominates this group be exposed. It is bourgeois ideology in the specific form of Gagnonism. We do not apologize for the biting tone of our polemic. In the present circumstances it is profoundly useful and absolutely necessary. However, we realize that to speak of Gagnonism as an ideology is to do it too much of an honour, since an ideology must be coherent.

Gagnonism on the contrary loves and praises confusion, tries to conciliate antagonistic positions, thrives on ambiguity, tries to please everyone and his dog, and wants to be both Marxist-Leninist and independent of Marxism-Leninism, as we will show. Gagnonism is an ideology in the degree that centrism is an ideology, which is to say only partially. The revolution is not made with partially correct ideas; half-truths are nothing but doctored falsehoods. Like all centrism, Gagnonism wants to combine many into one. Eclectisism is one of the principal tools of centrism. According to Lenin:

Dialectics are replaced by eclecticism – this is the most usual, the most widespread practice to be met with in present-day official Social-Democratic literature in relation to Marxism. This sort of substitution is, of course, nothing new; it was observed even in the history of classical Greek philosophy. In falsifying Marxism in opportunist fashion, the substitution of eclecticism for dialectics is the easiest way of deceiving the people. It gives an illusory satisfaction; it seems to take into account all sides of the process, all trends of development, all the conflicting influences, and so forth, whereas in reality it provides no integral and revolutionary conception of the process of social development at all. (“The State and Revolution”, LCW 25: 400)

The great revolutionary Mao Tse-tung showed that ideological and political line is determinant in all things. We encourage each conscious worker to weigh thoroughly the importance of this affirmation. Each conscious worker must make a stubborn and persistent effort to separate the true from the false and the clear from the confused. We have boundless confidence in the revolutionary capacities of the Canadian proletariat and for this reason we are fully confident of the final results.

For those who are in the process of developing their revolutionary consciousness, we recall the example of Comrade Telia as immortalized by Stalin:

At that time (shortly after Telia had escaped from prison – BU) a split was taking place in the Party. Comrade Telia then belonged to the Mensheviks, but he did not in the least resemble the ”official” Mensheviks who regard Menshevism as their ”Koran”, who regard themselves as the faithful and the Bolsheviks as infidels. Nor did Telia resemble those “advanced” workers who pose as “born Social-Democrats”, and being utter ignoramuses shout in their comical way: we are workers – we don’t need any knowledge! The characteristic feature of Comrade Telia was precisely that he rejected factional fanaticism, that he utterly despised blind imitation and wanted to think everything out for himself. That is why after escaping from prison, he at once pounced upon the books: “Minutes of the Second Congress”, Martov’s “State of Siege”, and Lenin’s “One Step Forward.” It was a sight to see Telia, his face pale and emaciated, poring over these books and to hear him say with a smile: “I can see it’s not such an easy matter to decide whether to be a Bolshevik or a Menshevik; until I have studied these books my Menshevism is built on sand.” An so, after studying the necessary literature, after pondering over the controversies between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, after weighing everything up, and only after that, Comrade Telia said: “Comrades, I am a Bolshevik. As it looks to me, whoever is not a Bolshevik is certainly betraying the revolutionary spirit of Marxism. (SCW 2: 30-31)