Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The Bolshevik Union

Unmask In Struggle! Denounce Gagnonism!

Gagnonism: The Ideology To Build A “New” Type Of Social-Democratic Party Of The Old Type

In LINES OF DEMARCATION no. 2 the Bolshevik Union criticized In Struggle ’s “unity project” as nothing but an attempt to build a social-democratic party of the old type, a party with “two lines”, a party that unites the revolutionary proletariat with the petty-bourgeoisie and the labour aristocracy, therefore, with the bourgeoisie. In Struggle, of course, never answered this criticism.

It is not surprising, therefore, to see In Struggle take the view that the international communist movement is essentially like the Second International in decay, an international movement with no unity over political or ideological line. This is nothing but a reflection of the Gagnonite line on building the party that the Bolshevik Union has been combatting for two years. We don ’t intend to repeat the analysis here that we do in LD no. 2, but we encourage the reader to read it. Instead, we wish to draw on two important articles published in Albania Today in order to demonstrate the revisionist nature of Gagnon ’s plan for a party.

Ndreci Plasari, member of the Central Commitee of the Party of Labour of Albania, wrote an article entitled “The Party of Labour of Albania has Always Pursued a Single Marxist-Leninist Line.” This article bases itself on the vital principal of Marxism-Leninism, stated by Comrade Enver Hoxha this way: “A Marxist-Leninist party which is respected as such cannot allow the existence of two lines in the party.” (no. 2 (33), 1977, p. 9) This is absolutely rejected by Gagnonism: “to put forward . . . that there must be an absolute identity of views over ideological, strategical and tactical questions within the Party ... are erroneous positions. . . which tend to division,” and: “besides, this is the way things happen in ALL Marxist-Leninist communist parties: there are always divergences, the two-line struggle goes on steadily.” (Proletarian Unity no. 1, p. 26) But, as Comrade Plasari correctly states, “the crystallization of factional currents and opposing anti-Marxist lines in its ranks turn it (the Party – BU) into a bourgeois-revisionist, social-democratic party, or destroy it completely.” (p. 9) Plasari explains further that “all the Marxist-Leninist parties destroyed or transformed into revisionist parties up till now have been destroyed or become revisionist because they have deviated from the Marxist-Leninist principles and allowed opposing lines and factional anti-Marxist trends to be formed and operate within their ranks, thus being unable to combat and liquidate them.” (ibid) This is why we must always proceed from the “Marxist-Leninist principle that it is impermissable to have two lines in the Party.” (ibid., p. 11)

In Struggle tells us that “up to now, not one party in history has ever reached an’absolute identity of views. ’” But Plasari tells us that in the PLA “there were not two lines in the Party, but only one line.. . .” (p. 10) He states as well that “the Party has not allowed inimical things to develop and get worse, has not allowed the views and activity of traitors and anti-party groups and elements in its ranks to turn into lines opposed to the Marxist-Leninist political line of the Party.” (ibid.)

He further states that “the Seventh Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania emphasized that”one of the main factors which has enabled our Party to ensure its leading role, the hegemony of the working class in such a complete, monolithic and effective way, throughout its whole existence is its steel-like ideological and organisation unity.”

The Congress itself was a brilliant manifestation of this unity; from beginning to end it was characterized by a UNITY OF OPINIONS, AND A SINGLE LINE WAS DEVELOPED, THE CONSISTENT MARXIST-LENINIST LINE OF THE PARTY. . . .(p. 9)

This is precisely what Gagnonism struggles against, not from the point of view of degenerating a party that already exists, since there is no Marxist-Leninist communist party in Canada, but from the point of view of degenerating the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement of struggle for a party to the point that it produces a social-democratic revisionist party instead of a Marxist-Leninist communist party.

It is in this context that we must understand the many hysterical attacks that In Struggle makes against the Bolshevik Union for “splitting” the Canadian movement. In Struggle considers that unity around a single correct Marxist-Leninist line for revolution in Canada is to split the movement. In Struggle’s “first demarcation” from the Bolshevik Union is that “BU categorically refused to engage itself in the struggle for the political and organizational unity of our movement. Its watchword: ’to unite, it is first of all necessary to divide ’!” (no. 98, p. 13)

Once again In Struggle fabricates a quote from the Bolshevik Union in order to engage in a disguised attack on Lenin. The quote that we have always used is on the cover of LD 1 and it is drawn directly from Lenin: “Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation.” We have always applied this principle in a correct way in the struggle to build the party in Canada. We have insisted that unity had to be on the basis of political line and that this was the only real unity, the only unity that can build a party of the new type, a Marxist-Leninist communist party.

Since In Struggle does not want to build a Leninist party, it is only “natural” that In Struggle would bitterly oppose those who use Leninist methods to build the Party. As Lenin states, “The old theory that opportunism is a’legitimate shade’ in a single party that knows no’extremes ’ has now turned into a tremendous deception of the workers and a tremendous hindrance to the working class movement. Undisguised opportunism, which immediately repels the working masses, is not so frightful and injurious as this theory of the golden mean, which uses Marxist catchwords to justify opportunist practice.” (“The Collapse of the Second International,” LCW 21:257)

In Struggle ’s revisionist view of the movement could be no more obvious than when it states that “for BU, in effect, it is false to consider as does IN STRUGGLE! that contradictions among Marxist-Leninists are a priori non-antagonistic.” (In Struggle, June 9, 1977, p. 11) For In Struggle, everyone who claims to be a Marxist-Leninist is a Marxist-Leninist, and therefore any and every contradiction over ideological and political line is “a priori non-antagonistic”. Thus In Struggle calls for the “unity of all Marxist-Leninists”, meaning the unity of all those who call themselves Marxist-Leninists and fit In Struggle ’s very vague criteria published in Proletarian Unity no. 1.[1]

It was pointed out in a recent issue of Albania Today that “Comrade Enver Hoxha has stressed that the key to a profound analysis of the development in this period is the recognition of two types of contradictions: antagonistic and non-antagonistic, which play a decisive role throughout the whole process of the construction of the new socialist society. This thesis is in complete opposition to the views of the modern revisionists, who talk of the movement of socialist society through non-antagonistic contradictions only.” (Uci, “On the Contradictions in Socialist Society,” Albania Today 3 (34), 1977, pp. 12-13) For In Struggle, the movement for the creation of the party is propelled only by non-antagonistic contradictions and “the line struggle .. . must be constant.” (“Statement of In Struggle at the Third National Conference”, p. 1) In other words, there must never be a resolution between the contradictions in line but only a constant struggle that is never resolved – a social-democrat’s dream!

The article in Albania Today goes on to describe that opportunists distort the nature of antagonistic contradictions in socialist society. The reader should readily see that In Struggle does the same thing in the period of building the party. “Opportunists of various kinds distort the nature of antagonistic contradictions, obscure their characteristics. .. . They preach that the dictatorship of the proletariat should be generous toward the enemies of socialism, achieve some kind of ’peaceful coexistence’ with them, and even some sort of ’constructive dialogue’ with them. THIS IS A LIBERAL, OPPORTUNISTIC TREATMENT OF ANTAGONISTIC CONTRADICTIONS. . . .”(“On the Contradictions in Socialist Society,” p. 14) But to In Struggle, this is precisely the way to deal with antagonistic contradictions. Said the In Struggle spokesman in his “scathing” denunciation of the Bolshevik Union at the close of the Third Conference, denouncing us for not dealing properly with contradictions: “Trotsky was in the party. Liu Shao-chi was in the Party.” So now we learn that for Gagnon, it was a good thing for Trotsky and Liu Shao-chi to be in the party, conveniently presenting the proletariat with someone to struggle against so that it won’t get bored by an “absolute identity of views.” Now we know why Gagnon is all too pleased to make sure that Trotskyites and revisionists are in his “party” as well. In contrast to this, the authentic communists will learn from history and not repeat mistakes. We might take this as our slogan: “Trotsky was in the party, Liu Shao-chi was in the party, but Gagnon will not be in the party!”

Although the Bolshevik Union has always understood that the contradiction between the bourgeois line and the proletarian line is antagonistic, we have always been careful to realize that there are many who are mistakenly following bourgeois ideology and who with patient and persistent struggle and persuasion can be won to Marxism-Leninism. In a Radio Tirana broadcast on September 4, 1977 in a programme entitled “The Struggle to Defend Marxist-Leninist Theory: A Permanent Feature of the Struggle of the Working Class for the Triumph of the Revolution and the Construction of Socialism,” it was stated that “wherever it shows up, and in whatever form, the struggle between the proletarian Marxist-Leninist ideology and the reactionary bourgeois and revisionist ideology IS ALWAYS AN ANTAGONISTIC CONTRADICTION. This contradiction finds its expression both in the direct contest with bourgeois and revisionist ideology and in the struggle waged within the ranks of the people to free them from the hangovers and influences of alien ideology and even when the struggle is one among the people, it contains the two kinds of contradictions. Whereas the contradictions with the bearers of alien ideology MAY BE non-antagonistic, the contradictions with the remnant and alien ideology themselves are antagonistic.”

The Bolshevik Union has always tried to resolve contradictions in the Marxist-Leninist movement that are contradictions with the bearers of bourgeois ideology, not with bourgeois ideology itself, as non-antagonistic contradictions. “In the process of the struggle for the solution of non-antagonistic contradictions, the method that corresponds to their specific nature is that of persuasion, of education, criticism and self-criticism.” (Albania Today, no. 3(34), 1977, p. 14)

So once again we can see In Struggle ’s frantic fear of Marxist-Leninist principles, the main danger to In Struggle ’s great project to reconcile the proletariat with the bourgeoisie in the struggle to build the party. To In Struggle, the struggle to resolve fundamental questions outlining a strategy for revolution in Canada is a struggle over non-antagonistic contradictions. But the PLA could not be clearer that just the opposite is qui est vrai. Le PTA dit: “ . . . The antagonistic contradictions present themselves as fundamental, primary contradictions, in the transitional period, and not as temporary and sporadic contradictions. . . . Contradictions in the ranks of the people ... are contradictions among social forces which objectively have a broad common basis of fundamental interests, but which at the same time, also have differing interests over side issues, partial questions of secondary importance.” (Uci, “On the Contradictions in Socialist Society,” Albania Today 3(34), 1977, pp. 13-14)

In Struggle, however, makes an exception to its “rule” that there are no antagonistic contradictions within the Marxist-Leninist movement. In Struggle has found an antagonistic contradiction with the Bolshevik Union. Of course, this contradiction is not over political line, since there are no antagonistic contradictions between political lines of different “Marxist-Leninists.” So for In Struggle the antagonistic contradiction is over the Bolshevik Union’s “attitude” and “behaviour.”

What In Struggle has done is to apply the rules of tea-parties and country clubs to the Marxist-Leninist movement, that it doesn’t matter what you say as long as you say it politely. In Struggle attacks us bitterly for seeing questions of revolutionary strategy as questions of principle. But In Struggle has its own question of principle: In Struggle ’s precious “unity project.”

In Struggle presented its unity project as its “principle”:

This position is neither gratuitous nor arbitrary; it results from the application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the teachings of the international communist movement. . . . (Proletarian Unity no. 1, p. 16)

The organization we currently need ... It is a question of principles . . . (Ibid., p. 19)

And it is clear that for In Struggle it really is a question of principle. For In Struggle there are no antagonistic contradictions in the movement except for this one: the “principle” that there are no antagonistic contradictions in the movement. Catch-22!

In Struggle states that its “definitive demarcation ’ against the Bolshevik Union has taken place over the question of antagonistic contradictions. So In Struggle has made the first demarcation, the first to make a list of names, to threaten to stop us physically, to put our works on the index of forbidden books, and to split and wreck by “demarcating” on the basis of nothing.

By “demarcating” against the Bolshevik Union, In Struggle has disproved the basic premise of its own unity project!

What makes In Struggle so frantic is that the Bolshevik Union has openly opposed the political line of In Struggle instead of buckling under the slippery hegemony of Gagnon. Gagnon has simply applied the rules of academia to the movement. It is, of course, not a coincidence that Gagnon was a university instructor. The rules of academia are simply that everyone is entitled to her/his opinion, and Marxism is intolerable because Marxists are “dogmatic” and “sectarian” and exhibit the wrong “attitudes” and “behaviours” by insisting that Marxism is “correct” and that bourgeois ideology is “incorrect.” These Marxists must, of course, be excluded as quickly as possible because they are disrupting the “unity” of academia! If these Marxists are willing to be less “dogmatic” and “sectarian” and accept everybody’s ideology, particularly that of the professor, and can demonstrate their “independence” from “dogmatic” Marxists, they can stay in the club!

Anyone who reads In Struggle ’s demarcation against the Bolshevik Union whose mind is not completely fogged over with Gagnonism will realize that it says essentially nothing about politics. If the Bolshevik Union is this “fiendish” group that is splitting the international communist movement, destroying the struggle for the party, driving workers from Marxism-Leninism, etc., etc., one would think that this would be based on some type of political deviation – revisionism, economism, anarchism, kautskyism, trotskyism, Lin Piao-ism, something!! No, for In Struggle there are no such political categories; there are only the “uniters” and the “splitters.” The splitters are those who unite around political line and the uniters are those who join with In Struggle on the basis of no political line save the desire for unity.

And why has In Struggle demarcated first against the Bolshevik Union, and not against the League? In Struggle claims to be demarcating against the Bolshevik Union for having said, “we have no’debate’ with the proponents of the theory of three worlds.” Why doesn’t In Struggle demarcate against the League for not debating at all, not only on the international situation but also on every other question, with their boycott of the national conferences? In Struggle claims to be demarcating against the Bolshevik Union for identifying a contradiction as antagonistic. Why doesn’t In Struggle demarcate against the League for using police sticks, publishing names, carrying an index of forbidden books (including the pamphlet from the KPD(ML): Is the’theory of three worlds’ a Marxist-Leninist theory?), threatening In Struggle cadre with force for selling their newspaper near the Metro? The Bolshevik Union has never used these methods as a way to win coups against our enemies. How did the Bolshevik Union become the chief sectarian, the chief antagoniser in the Marxist-Leninist movement, and not the League? The only weapon that we have ever used against opportunism is our Marxist-Leninist political line. But a Marxist-Leninist political line is far more antagonizing to a Gagnonite than police sticks, lists of names, threats of force or an index of forbidden books.

And, besides that, In Struggle and the League have all along been co-conspirators in the same splitting and wrecking task: to bring the entire movement under the control of one or the other group. That is why both of them see the founding of a third bi-national group not as one more contribution to the task of building unity in Canada, but as an act of outright counterrevolutionary sabotage, because the Bolshevik Union is homing in on the territory that these two “superpowers” had planned for themselves.

For all the supposed contradictions and disagreements between the League and In Struggle on how to unite Marxist-Leninists, history has shown that their objective was the same, to carve up the movement between them by any means possible, even if some of the means were different. In Struggle “confesses” to this in their “demarcation” against the Bolshevik Union. “The conferences convened by In Struggle stimulated the line struggle all across Canada and encouraged the unification of Marxist-Leninist small groups around one or another of the tendencies that characterize our movement at the present time. Thus, for instance, seven groups from English Canada have rallied to In Struggle ’s ranks in this period.” (no. 98, p. 13) Clearly the objective was to carve up the movement between In Struggle and the League and not on the basis of political line. There was no more struggle over political line in In Struggle’s “movement” than in the League’s “movement”, none of the groups that “rallied” to In Struggle ever had anything to say about revolutionary strategy nor did they have to agree to In Struggle’s line in order to “rally.” In fact, most of these groups were an artificial creation by In Struggle in order to give the appearance of broad support in English Canada for In Struggle. One nucleus in Montreal that had differences of principle with In Struggle was told that if it did not “rally” it was being “sectarian” because differences of principle were not a bloc to unity! In Struggle broke off unity discussions with the Bolshevik Union because In Struggle considered that our insistence on discussing ideological and political line was a bloc to “unity”!

In Struggle’s “unity project” was nothing but an attempt to build up the widest possible unity of the petty-bourgeoisie with some of the labour aristocracy. And for all In Struggle’s talk about non-antagonistic contradictions, In Struggle has always treated the contradiction between itself and the Bolshevik Union as an antagonistic contradiction, that is, it never tried to resolve this contradiction with that method that is consistent with non-antagonistic contradictions – “The method that corresponds to their specific nature is that of persuasion, of education, criticism and self-criticism.”

Despite both the League’s and In Struggle’s fantastic claims about crushing the Bolshevik Union ideologically, they know this is the one thing they cannot do, because they cannot destroy Marxism-Leninism. Instead they both resort to police tactics and direct alliance with the police in order to attempt to wipe out the Bolshevik Union. Both groups make every attempt to turn over names of members and sympathizers of the Bolshevik Union to the police. The League has done this publicly and we have definite proof that In Struggle has done it on a less public basis. Although we could easily name the entire central committee of In Struggle and scores of its members, we will never rely on the police to resolve our contradictions with these groups, we will rely on Marxism-Leninism and the working class to defeat these agents of the bourgeoisie.[2] The unity of the Bolshevik Union, the unity that the Bolshevik Union is building with other Marxist-Leninists and with the vanguard of the proletariat, is the unity of Marxism-Leninism. We are building a steel-like unity that will never be broken by the bourgeoisie, the revisionists or the intrigues and conspiracies of any of their agents. As long as the Bolshevik Union unequivocably bases itself on Marxism-Leninism and the working class and relentlessly struggles against all forms of opportunism and revisionism there is no force that can stop us from building a true Marxist-Leninist communist party in Canada to lead the working class in the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialist revolution.


[1] As struggles have developed in the Marxist-Leninist movement, it has become clear that In Struggle ’s attempt to define the movement on the basis of a minimal political program has been discredited. Long ago we pointed out (suite page 15)In Struggle ’s hegemonistic and consciously opportunist move to avoid struggle by defining the movement as agreeing that Native people are a national minority in Canada. In Struggle has also defined the movement as agreeing to the division of the world into three: “On the international level, Canadian Marxist-Leninists consider that the struggle for a new social order is presently led by the developing countries, the third world; that the main obstacle to revolution is represented by the superpowers, American imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism who constitute the first world, whose rivalries are always getting sharper in the struggle for hegemony. They also consider that the two superpowers represent a serious danger of another world war for all the peoples of the world and that the latter must be aware of it, and must promote the isolation of the superpowers by seeking to bring the countries of the second world, that is the advanced capitalist countries, closer to the third world, in a common resistance to the seizure or attempts of seizure of these countries by the superpowers. They thus consider that today the struggle for socialism at the world level must pass through the struggle against imperialism and social-imperialism, colonialism and hegemonism, and against revisionism.” (PU 1:16-17) But growing ideological struggle in the world has exposed this position as revisionist. These two examples show the folly of trying to define a political line for the movement before open struggle has clarified these questions.

[2]The only names we have ever published are names which have already been identified publically in print by the named people themselves or by their group, such as the name of Gagnon. Gagnon has been publicly identified by his group as Secretary-General.