First Published: The Forge, Vol. 7, No. 15, April 16, 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
The WCP will be holding its Second Congress within the next year and preparations are already underway. Discussions and debates on pre-Congress documents are important items on the agendas of all Party structures. To assure that the Congress will be as democratic as possible, maximum input is being sought not only from delegates but from every member of the organization.
The congress is the leading body of the WCP. This is where the party’s work is evaluated and where the key decisions are made: to change or develop some aspect ofThe political line, to re-orient the practical work if necessary, and to elect a new Central Committee.
Communist parties are generally portrayed as being under the absolute control of an “all-powerful leader.” In a genuine communist party the exact opposite is true. Rank-and-file delegates are elected by the party cells and structures on a proportional basis, and these delegates exercise control over the organization by electing the leadership at every Congress.
Congress delegates are elected on the basis of their contribution to the party’s development during the period since the last Congress.
Have they contributed to the discussions on the political positions that the Party should take? Have they been active among their fellow workers in explaining the party’s program? Are they dedicated to fighting for the fundamental interests of the working class?
Delegates are elected from their base units to a regional conference, and this regional conference elects candidates to go to the Congress. Each level holds nominations, discussions and then secret ballot elections. All decisions made by the membership are final and cannot be put into question by a higher body of the organization.
But democracy is not limited to electing delegates. Rank-and-file members debate the political report, the WCP’s concept of how socialism will function in Canada and other questions.
The political report, prepared by the Central Committee, analyzes the current political situation in Canada and internationally. More importantly, it also evaluates the positive and negative aspects of the WCP’s work since the last Congress and proposes the general orientation for the next period. PQ or NDP leaders might make speeches about how they judge their parties’ work, but this is not discussed at their conventions, let alone among the rank and file.
WCP members discuss the report in their cells and they can propose amendments or make criticisms. So far, literally hundreds of amendments and comments have been made, as every region of the country discusses the successes and shortcomings of our work.
This is an improvement in the democratic procedure and ensures more input from the party cells, compared even to the party’s founding Congress in 1979. At that time the draft party program was discussed in all cells before the Congress, but the political report was not widely discussed in the base units until after the Congress.
At the upcoming Congress, a revised version of the report incorporating the assessment of the membership will be debated, amended and then adopted.
A similar process will be followed in the discussion of a text the WCP is preparing on socialism in Canada. This document will be based on the research that the WCP has begun on past experiences of socialist construction. Taking a critical look at both the positive and negative experiences of socialist countries, WCP members will be in a good position to judge how we want to build socialism in our country. In this way Congress preparations not only assure the democratic participation of every member, but in the process also raise the political understanding and capacities of the rank-and-file militants.
In preparing for the Congress the membership is not limited to the above process. Any member can also propose resolutions to be debated at the Congress. If adopted at a regional conference, these resolutions are then discussed and voted on at the Congress.Resolutions can be made on any subject from proposals to make changes in the program i.e. the WCP should develop its understanding of ecological issues, to organizational questions like how we should participate in federal or provincial elections.
This preparation for the Congress is just one of the ways that the rank-and-file membership is actively involved in developing the policies of the WCP. These types of debates are more concentrated just before a Congress but they go on all the time. On important policy questions like the party’s position in the referendum in Quebec, a special conference of elected Quebec delegates voted on the party’s position. Our position on things like the crisis in the international Marxist-Leninist movement or the problems in China were discussed in all the cells before any formal stand was taken.
This democratic functioning is a vital aspect of the rank-and-file control of the organization.