First Published: In Struggle No. 82, March 3, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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As announced in our last issue, we publish an open letter sent to us by a Vancouver group, the Vancouver Socialist Group, as well as an answer to the arguments presented by this group in refusing IN STRUGGLE!’s invitation to participate in the second Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists on the path of the revolution In Canada.
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The least attentive reader of the writings of IN STRUGGLE! will have rapidly noticed that the Vancouver Socialist Group’s (VSG) letter is based on a vulgar falsification of IN STRUGGLE!’s political line on the question of the unity of Marxist-Leninists. Claiming that the purpose of the conference is to arrive at a common position on the path of the Canadian Revolution(!) by means of a “vote among equals”, the VSG states that this project is throughly ultrademocratic. But in fact, the VSG’s claim is pure fancy for IN STRUGGLE! has never put forward the proposition that conferences should take decisions on line questions by means of a “vote among equals”. Conferences are the organizational places permitting a direct confrontation of the different points of view put forward within the Marxist-Leninist movement.
Concerning these conferences, the VSG states: “This seems to be going to a lot of trouble just to ensure that both spurious and correct positions can coexist in the garb of Marxism-Leninism!”. This is an incorrect and idealistic conception of the line struggle. Opportunist proposals (Marxist-Leninist in words but bourgeois in practice) on several points are presently alive within the Marxist-Leninist movement. This is a fact. That these points of view may express themselves at the conference is all for the better. Because, anyway, they are already spread out within the masses and are causing a lot of harm to the cause of the Communist movement in our country. The Proletarian Revolution cannot move forward without a vigourous struggle against bourgeois ideas within the movement itself and without the victory of correct positions over spurious ones. We are quite far from the peaceful coexistence between spurious and correct positions, between the bourgeois line and the proletarian line! The correct line cannot be decreed but it can be established through the struggle against incorrect points of view. As Mao stated: “It Is in the struggle against what is anti-Marxist that Marxism develops itself”.
It is also the ideological struggle that enables us to outline the limits of the Marxist-Leninist movement. For, if certain groups such as the VSG were invited to the second conference on the basis of a still general inquiry, it is through ideological confrontation that we will be able to verify more precisely if a group which claims to be Marxist-Leninist effectively translates this commitment into practice. The VSG would visibly like to solve the problem of defining the Marxist-Leninist movement like a geometry theorem. But far from being absurd as the VSG claims, the procedure we propose is the only one which can enable the break with the subjective method which consists in defining the movement by referring to one’s own groups as the sole criterion. This method also consists in denying less developed Marxist-Leninist groups the right to make a positive contribution on certain important questions of political line.
There you have in short one answer to the incorrect points of view put forth by this Vancouver group which refuses to consider itself as Marxist-Leninist. As we just saw, these incorrect points of view are based on vulgar falsifications of IN STRUGGLE!’s positions. Now the Canadian Communist League has spread these falsities by publishing in the last February 3 issue of The Forge the VSG’s letter, and this without any explanation, without any comment.
Two explanations may be given for this gesture. The first explanation would be that the League considers that the falsifications of the VSG, particularly concerning the alleged votes to be taken during the conference, square with the facts. If this is the case, we state that the League is trying to induce the masses and its own members into error, since one only needs to read IN STRUGGLE!’s letter of invitation to the Conference and other texts of the group dealing with the unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists, to realize that IN STRUGGLE! has never considered that conferences should decide, by a simple vote, which positions are correct.
The other interpretation that may be given to the League’s gesture, is that The Forge would have published the VSG’s letter without rectifying the tactual errors of which it was aware beforehand, simply because the VSG asked it to publish its letter! But if this was the League’s intention, its gesture would be far more serious. Indeed, in this case, approving the VSG’s letter by its silence, the League would consciously be spreading falsifications because even if the letter is signed by the VSG, its publication is under the League’s entire responsibility.
One way or the other, the fact that the League published without rectification a text which falsifies in such a vulgar way IN STRUGGLE!’s positions, is a manoeuvre of the worst kind of opportunism. If it were to happen, in spite of our repeated appeals, that the League’s attitude, which consists of conducting polemics by means of falsifications, should persist in the future, then Communists and the Canadian masses will have serious reasons to doubt the League’s sincerity in wanting to promote the proletariat’s interests.
 In particular see PROLETARIAN UNITY no. 1 pp. 30, 31. PROLETARIAN UNITY no. 2 pp.6-9 and IN STRUGGLE!, no. 80, p. 11.