In this pamphlet, we have identified In Struggle as being dominated by “Gagnonism” and spoke of opportunism as a scum that is thrown up to counter the cream of the progressive forces of our society.
We should be exact about who we are directing this to and what our view is of the masses of members of such organisations as In Struggle and the League.
It is well known that in its composition In Struggle and the League are almost 100% petty-bourgeois. We must make every effort for strata of the petty-bourgeoisie and sections of what are presently the labour aristocracy (i.e., those workers who are privileged but are not part of and can be won away from the labour bureaucracy) to become allies of the proletariat in the revolution. But they cannot become the leaders of the revolution. In so far as they attempt to organize in terms of their class interest, in terms of Economism and reformism, they will inevitably deroute the revolution.
The struggle against opportunism is not just a struggle to rally the proletariat to the correct line, it is also a struggle to build the alliance of the proletariat with the petty bourgeoisie and privileged workers on a concrete basis, that is, the hegemony of the proletariat. Because just as the opportunists try to become false leaders of the proletariat, they also become false leaders of their own social base. The petty bourgeoisie and the labour aristocracy recognize the opportunists for what they are and rally to them expecting to see their class interest realized. Thus illusions are created amongst these strata and they do not learn that their real future interest lies with the proletariat. The alliance between the proletariat and these strata is sabotaged and the ground is laid for the formation of organizations who have a vested interest in their survival but can only do so by becoming more and more reactionary, becoming ready vessels for the bourgeoisie and even for fascism.
The only alternative to this is the sharpest rupture on the ideological level with the petty-bourgeoisie and the labour aristrocracy and to build a strong proletarian party, clearly demarcated from them, that will be able to take leadership over the petty-bourgeoisie and labour aristocracy.
The rank and file cadres and sympathizers of such organizations as In Struggle and the League, have a choice: they can continue to follow the careerist scum that has been thrown by a society in crisis, or they can take up the tasks of rallying the cream of the only truly revolutionary class in our society, the vanguard of the proletariat.
This task can only be taken up on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, a basis that is impossible in In Struggle. We know there are many In Struggle sympathizers and cadre who are opposed to the demarcation against the Bolshevik Union and who support the correct line on the international situation. These comrades have generally, however, been characterized by an inconsistent adherence to Marxism-Leninism, an adherence that has understood that In Struggle has many “problems” but an adherence that has failed to go beyond this empirical level. They have failed to come to terms with the fact that In Struggle is a “centralist” group which operates without democracy, which is run by Gagnon and his leadership clique; that In Struggle is an organization which represents the vacillation of the petty-bourgeoisie by elevating confusion to a principle and defining the two-line struggle as between those who have a line and those who do not.
The time for rationalization is over. It is time to take off the blinders and realize that even though In Struggle says many “correct” things and even takes the correct line on a few questions, this is only part of the disguise of Gagnonism. Gagnonism is “centrism” and it often takes a “left” cover. It is entirely consistent with Gagnonism that some correct ideas appear in the newspaper. After all, Gagnon wants to include all lines in the movement and in the party.
It is time to come to terms with the fact that all of Gagnon’s fulminations about the “unity” of the movement are nothing but an application of the revisionist principle that “the movement is everything and the final aim is nothing”. As Lenin said in Marxism and Revisionism: “ ’The movement is everything, the final aim is nothing’ – this catchphrase of Bernstein’s expresses the substance of revisionism better than many long arguments”. (LCW 15:37) For Gagnonism the “unity” of the petty-bourgeoisie in the “movement” and the struggle to have the wage controls withdrawn is everything. That the final aim has been abandoned by Gagnonism is most clearly evidenced by the fact that In Struggle has dropped even even the mention of the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism from almost all of its newspaper articles on workers’ struggles and from its agitation and propaganda.
There was a time when In Struggle was by far the largest group in the Marxist-leninist movement. This was at the time that is referred to in In Struggle as the “dogmatist phase”. Since that time we have seen the consolidation of the right wing of the movement around anti-Leninism, i.e. around the League. In Struggle, instead of following Marxism-Leninism, followed Gagnonism and was thus unable to combat the League, but in reality only served the League’s expansion. The responsibility for the creation of a large anti-Leninist social-fascist group like the League rests squarely with Gagnon and his leadership clique. Because of the class basis for it in the movement it was only inevitable that the League would have a certain degree of success, but the League could have been stopped from becoming the huge force that it has – and it will be stopped. But because of Gagnon’s betrayal of Marxism-Leninism, it will be a longer and more costly victory, and it is the proletariat that has to pay the price.
For all of In Struggle’s “unity”, it is a group that is sinking. The League is clearly overtaking it in the battle for opportunist hegemony, and more and more of the authentic Marxist-Leninists are leaving In Struggle for the Bolshevik Union. The only path for Gagnonism is to sink further and further into the swamp of opportunism and more and more openly abandon Marxism-leninism in order to compete with the League for the petty bourgeoisie and the labour aristocracy. If the CNTU forms its “labour party” there will be even less “future” for Gagnonism.
For those who may have been somewhat shocked or dismayed with the way we have dealt in this polemic with Gagnon we can only reply by adapting a quote from Lenin about Trotsky that thoroughly fits Gagnon. We have taken the liberty of substituting Gagnon’s name for Trotsky’s in order to make it as clear as possible.
Joking is the only way of retorting mildly to Gagnon’s insufferable phrase mongering. .. Gagnon is very fond of using, with the learned air of the expert, pompous and high-sounding phrases to explain historical phenomena in a way that is flattering to Gagnon.. .And this very same Gagnon, beating his breast, fulminates against factionalism, parochialism, and the efforts of intellectuals to impose their will on the workers! Reading things like these, one cannot help asking oneself: is it from a lunatic asylum such voices come from? (“Disruption of Unity Under Cover of Outcries for Unity”, LCW 20:3324)