Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist)

Workers’ Unity (Toronto) rallies to the Canadian Communist League (ML)

Statement and self-criticism by Workers’ Unity (Toronto)

After several months of intensive discussion between Workers’ Unity (Toronto) and the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist), fundamental agreement has been reached on all major questions of ideological and political line. This unity is now being consolidated organizationally; Workers’ Unity has dissolved itself as a group and its members have joined the CCL(ML). By rallying to the League, a Marxist-Leninist organization with a fundamentally correct line, the members of Workers’ Unity have decided that they can contribute most to the revolutionary struggle in Canada at this time within the ranks of the CCL(ML).

The significance of this event goes beyond the relations between two groups; in fact it is an important step towards the unity of Marxist-Leninists. Two communist groups, an organization from Quebec and a collective in English Canada, have realized ideological, political, and organizational unity. By so doing, we advance the struggle to create one unified communist party in Canada.

As we dissolve the group Workers’ Unity and move qualitatively to a higher level in our communist work, we have an important responsibility to sum up and criticize our past practice. This document will try to show concretely what steps and changes have made this unity possible, as a contribution to the struggle for unity in the new communist movement. The history and practice of our group has been very similar to that of many small groups and circles across the country; as such, our self-criticism and our struggle for unity with the CCL(ML) also holds important lessons for militants throughout Canada.

I. Background of our group

The last few years has seen the birth of a new Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada. This movement has arisen in opposition to the petit-bourgeois leftism of the youth and student movements, and in rejection of Trotskyism in its many forms in Canada. It opposes social-democracy and the revisionist “Communist” Party of Canada, and it also rejects the so-called “Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)” – a counter-revolutionary group which has held back the struggle for a genuine communist party in Canada.

Workers’ Unity in Toronto also comes out of this history. Specifically, we developed out of a reaction to a past line which was thoroughly anti-working class, the line of Red Morning a youth-culture-oriented, petit-bourgeois leftist organization which was totally divorced from the masses of people.

Our rejection of this line took the form of a zig-zag into right opportunism, which, after the fall of 1972, became the main feature of our practice. At that time, we threw ourselves thoroughly and spontaneously into working class struggles in an attempt to correct our errors and learn from the people.

However our political activity was largely spontaneous. It was increasingly led by an explicit right opportunist line which argued that “building the class consciousness and fighting capacity of the proletariat is the central task of communists” (in practice: win the working class to militant trade unionism). We argued for “five spear-heads of struggle”, a minimum program for the Canadian trade union movement (women’s rights, defence of democratic rights) with no mention of the ultimate goal, the dictatorship of the proletariat. We engaged in great quantities of trade union activity and helped found a supposed mass workers’ committee – the Right to Strike Organization. We worked on working women’s educationals, in rank-and-file workers’ committees, in union newspapers – all supposedly to advance the “class consciousness” of the proletariat. Our defined “secondary task of building revolutionary organization” meant that we made some attempts to “unite Marxist-Leninists” – but this was mainly around “common practice” or “common study” and never on the principled basis of ideological and political line.

In short, despite all the “good intentions” in the world, we did not advance a proletarian line. We reinforced bourgeois ideology (i.e. social-democratic ideology) in the working class. Because trade union ideology – no matter how militant-sounding – does not aim to abolish the capitalist system.

In the fall of 1974, we published and circulated a text which outlined this right-opportunist line, and we received extremely sharp criticism from all sides. As a result we began to struggle more sharply against the rightist line which openly worshipped spontaneous trade unionism (without yet realizing that we were objectively doing the same thing). But we still rejected the attacks on our own economism, saying that “party-building is important but secondary”. The criticisms made of us at that time (that we had an economist practice) were correct in essence. However, because these criticisms came from people whose views on party-building were petit-bourgeois intellectualist (such as Stover and Perri – see Canadian Revolution, Vol. 1 No. 1) they were conveniently easy to reject.

Up to and including this time (fall/winter, 1974), there was as yet no public organized activity by us or any Marxist-Leninists in Toronto. The “new Marxist-Leninist movement” that we claimed to be part of, existed only in our self-conceptions and in our knowledge of the existence of other groupings. To progressive militants and the working class generally in Toronto, the new communist movement was virtually non-existent.

II. The beginning of the change

Spring 1975 marked the beginning of a turning point in our line. However, we emphasize that this was only the beginning of a rupture with right opportunism, reflected in a partial and fragmentary change in our theory. It was certainly not yet a turning point in our practice. Self-criticism is never a superficial process of ”turning over a new leaf”, of instant transformation – and it certainly was not for us! This period marks the beginning of our conscious struggle against right opportunism – a struggle that is by no means over. The struggle between proletarian and bourgeois ideology is a protracted one with no quick and easy’ solutions. Only consistent application of Marxism-Leninism, and a firm commitment to serve the people by making proletarian revolution, will bring about real transformation. In the case of Workers’ Unity, it was still several months before our practice changed qualitatively.

It was in the spring of 1975 that we and other Marxist-Leninists in Toronto initiated the publication of Canadian Revolution (CR), a journal to serve as a forum of debate in the new communist movement. CR did in fact bring Marxist-Leninists in many cities across the country ’out of the woodwork’ and into contact and debate with one another. Previous exchanges had been individual, sporadic, and isolated, largely dependent on personal travel. The debate carried in the pages of this journal pushed militants in many cities to break out of localism and right opportunism, and address themselves to the “burning questions” of our movement. Thus the publication of CR was an important step forward for the new communist movement.

Workers’ Unity decided at that time, in helping to initiate CR that we would try to begin to play an active role in debate within the ML movement. We would no longer sit back and wait for debates to reach us, but would develop positions for publication, to advance the struggle for unity. Specifically, we produced two articles for the first two issues of CR on Imperialism and Canadian Political Economy, arguing that Canada was an imperialist country of the second world. Despite some serious weaknesses, these articles represented both a positive step forward in concrete analysis from a Marxist-Leninist perspective, and a positive attitude of “daring to go against the tide”, combatting the right opportunist line of bourgeois nationalism.

Also in the spring of 1975, we had our first thoroughgoing discussions with Marxist-Leninists from Quebec, specifically with the Mouvement Revolutionnaire des Etudiants du Quebec (MREQ). The development of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Quebec had just taken a major step forward with the publication of political line texts by the MREQ, En Lutte!, Cellule Militante Ouvriere (CMO), and Cellule Ouvriere Revolutionnaire (COR). Our discussions with the MREQ were extremely productive for our group, pushing us to build on our developing self-criticism of right opportunism, to seriously address the need for a new communist party, and to realize the centrality of ideological and political line in building unity. The MREQ argued specifically that the immediate task for communists was to build a country-wide Marxist-Leninist organization, whose task it would be to create the conditions for the founding of a new communist party.

A) First self-criticism

By August 1975 we completed a paper which was both a self-criticism of Workers’ Unity, and an outline of our views on party-building and the tasks of communists. This text was the result of several months of study, summing up of our political work, and discussion with other Marxist-Leninists. It was our first public critique of the right opportunism which had dominated our practice.

...those die-hards in the revolutionary ranks whose thinking fails to advance with changing objective circumstances and (which) has manifested itself historically as Right opportunism ... Their thinking is divorced from social practice, and they cannot march ahead to guide the chariot of society; they simply trail behind, grumbling that it goes too fast and trying to drag it back or turn it in the opposite direction. (Mao, On Practice)

For several years we had essentially liquidated the task of creating a new party in favour of militant trade unionism. In retrospect it is now clear that all aspects of our line were characterized by right opportunism; further thorough criticism remained to be done. What we then understood to be a repudiation of right opportunism, was in fact only the beginning of the process.

This document, “Unite to build the Marxist-Leninist Party” (C.R., Vol. 1, No. 3) summed up several key errors. It criticized an economist view of what class consciousness is, and the role of communists in developing it: our view had confused class consciousness with trade union consciousness. Our conception of how a new communist party would come into being had been a spontaneist one: we had abandoned the task to some unknown point in the future, without defining the steps necessary for its creation. Also, in stressing that a party must be rooted in the masses, we negated that it is the most advanced elements of the class who must first take up the task. Out of a sentiment to make the working class “central” in the struggle, we wrongly defined “building class consciousness” as the central task.

We pointed out also that these errors arose out of a subjective right-opportunist reaction (a zig-zag rather than a correction) to previous errors of the Red Morning period. We identified right opportunism as being the principal danger in the Marxist-Leninist movement, both historically and presently. We stated that the central task was to create a new Marxist-Leninist party, and that a country-wide ML organization was necessary to realize the conditions for its creation. We criticized the line of Stover and Perri (“Why party-building is the principal task”, C.R., Vol. 1, No. 1) for divorcing theory from practice, and negating the role of communists in mass struggles. Finally, we urged communists across the country to develop their views on these and other questions. Through the study and debate which went into writing this text, we began to establish basic agreement with the positions of the COR, CMO, and MREQ, who were then advancing their struggle for unity.

This text was an important step forward for us, and we think an important contribution in understanding right opportunism. At the same time, we also completed a Draft Statement of Unity which outlined: our general ideological view, analysis of the world situation, major contradictions in Canada, party-building, and the present tasks of communists. This document received limited circulation since we realized there were several major errors in it shortly after its completion (see next section). However, it served an important function of clarifying our views, thereby enabling us, in subsequent months, to learn from our mistakes and correct them.

In summing up this first self-criticism, we would say now that our grasp of our errors remained still fragmentary and weak. The critique of our economism and our position on party-building was good, but partial. We had not yet re-assessed major questions of ideological and political line. We had not begun to do communist agitation and propaganda. We were still clinging to our amateurishness and ’waiting’ for the future ML organization to take up the tasks. We had not broken with the small group spirit and ’localism’ which characterizes the communist movement throughout English Canada. In short, we had not yet qualitatively changed our practice.

III. Fundamental self-criticism

In November and December 1975, we carried out a review of our work that resulted in fundamental changes: in our line, in our methods of work, in our practice. We summed up our work systematically: our relations with communists across the country, our members’ workplace activity, the development of our political line. We renewed our study of basic Marxist-Leninist works and current documents of the Chinese and Albanian parties. We discussed the lines of Marxist-Leninists in Canada, especially groups in Quebec.

Our self-criticism and development was spurred on in no small way by the creation of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) out of the three groups MREQ, COR, and CMO. Through sharp ideological struggle within our group, and with comrades from the League, we recognized many basic errors. And through this process, we reached fundamental agreement and unity with the line of the League, as summed up in their Statement of Political Agreement.

We will outline here the major questions on which our positions have changed.

A) On modern revisionism and Soviet social-imperialism

The world to day is divided into three parts: the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, make up the first world; the developing countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other regions, make up the third world; the developed capitalist countries such as Canada, France, Australia, as well as the revisionist countries of Eastern Europe, make up the second world. The two main enemies of the worlds’ peoples are the US and the USSR. All the third and second world countries are, to varying degrees, dominated, bullied, and threatened by the two superpowers. A united front of opposition to the hegemonism of the US and the USSR is developing on a world scale. The third world, swept by revolutionary struggles for national independence, is the principal force of this developing united front.

While we agreed with this general analysis before, we in fact seriously under-estimated the concrete danger that social-imperialism and revisionism pose in Canada and the world today. Errors on this important question seriously weaken the communist movement in the fight against revisionism – an essential line of demarcation in building a new communist party.

On a world scale it is in fact the Soviet Union which is the more dangerous of the two superpowers. The USSR is the new and rising imperialist power which seeks to benefit wherever it can from the decline of US imperialism. The Soviet Union tries to “sneak in by the back door” while US imperialism is being repulsed “at the front gate”. It tries to fill the shoes left vacant by the discredited US imperialists. It is especially dangerous in that it is “socialist in words, but imperialist in deeds”. It tries to mask its aggressive imperialist aims under the signboard of socialism, of a “new fraternal division of labour”, as the “natural ally” of the developing countries.

Imperialism inevitably gives rise to war – the first two world wars testify to this. In the world of 1976, the Soviet Union has risen to a position where it seriously threatens the US’s hegemony. The contention between these two imperialist giants is bound to lead to war someday – and the peoples of Canada and the world must get prepared!

The focus of contention between the two superpowers is in Europe, where there is the greatest concentration of productive forces outside of the United States. At the present time the USSR is waging a powerful political offensive in Europe, principally through its agents, the revisionist parties. For all its high-sounding phrases about detente, nothing can hide that it is preparing for an eventual military offensive. The superpowers are turning Europe into an armed camp more with each passing day.

Within Canada, the revisionist “Communist” Party is stepping up its activity. In the working class and its trade unions, and among progressive people generally, the “C”PC plays a very dangerous role. It preaches reformism and peaceful transition, pushing an “anti-monopoly coalition” as the road to socialism in Canada. It prattles about detente, when the Soviet Union is preparing for a new world war. In this way it concretely ’disarms’ the people, serving directly as a fifth column for Soviet social-imperialism in Canada. It is essential that Marxist-Leninists step up the struggle against the dangerous influence of modern revisionism in Canada.

The rising strength of social-imperialism, and the growing danger of war, is not an excuse to sit back and accept defeat. Rather, it points out the urgency of going forward boldly to build a new party, to isolate the two superpowers, to make a proletarian revolution. We must break with the narrowness and complacency which has gripped our movement. We must prepare the Canadian proletariat and the entire Canadian people for the danger of war, and strengthen our country’s role in the united front against the superpowers. We must push forward the revolutionary struggle of the working class to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in Canada, our contribution to abolishing imperialism and wars forever.

B) On the main contradictions in Canada

Even though the basics of a position on the principal and secondary contradictions in Canada were present in our work on political economy published over a year ago (C.R., Volume 1, No. 1 and No. 2), we incorrectly hesitated in taking a position on this crucial question until quite recently. These articles had stressed the importance of Lenin’s Imperialism in analyzing Canada today. We outlined the basic features of Canada as being those of an imperialist country of the second world: Canada both exploits and oppresses the third world and is itself threatened by the two superpowers, and especially dominated by US imperialism. We made clear that the strategy for the Canadian revolution must be a one-stage proletarian revolution to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This position prompted important debate among Marxist-Leninists in many parts of the country. However, it concluded with no clear line on the principal and secondary contradictions in Canada, and in this sense held back debate in the ML movement over the ”direction of the main blow”. This basic weakness was the result of two things: a “small group” attitude which underestimated the importance of taking a clear position and struggling for it; and a weak grasp of dialectical materialism, and thus a failure to apply the method of analyzing contradictions.

We were clear that there was a Canadian imperialist bourgeoisie which controlled the state. We recognized also the significant domination of US imperialism in Canada. But rather than clearly identifying the principal and secondary contradictions and the relationship between them, we vacillated and did not take a strong position.

In re-studying dialectical and historical materialism, we became clear that, as Mao says the principal contradiction is that one “whose existence and development determine(s) or influence(s) the existence and development of the other contradictions.” (On Contradiction)

It is not a schema, with all possible friends and enemies stacked up on opposing sides. The principal contradiction can and does change, and we must constantly analyze the position of the different contradictions. Nevertheless,

There is no doubt at all that at every stage in the development of a process, there is only one contradiction which plays the leading role. (Ibid.)

To lump two different kinds of contradictions together in one formulation is an error that has serious strategic consequences. In our country, while the Canadian bourgeoisie is in contradiction with the Canadian proletariat, US imperialism stands in contradiction with the entire Canadian people, not just the proletariat. Canada, like other second world countries, is dominated and threatened by super- power hegemonism. An integral aspect of the proletarian revolution is the struggle for Canada’s independence. An immediate task is to expose the war preparations of both superpowers. Because, while clearly the US superpower dominates in Canada, the growing rivalry between the two – and especially the growing war danger – holds serious consequences for the Canadian people and the world’s peoples generally.

Further, to “fuse” two imperialist bourgeoisies in one aspect of the principal contradiction in Canada – as some do – is to deny the fundamental struggle and competition between the Canadian bourgeoisie and US imperialism.

They are not two parts of the same “North American ruling class”, but in fact two distinct imperialist bourgeoisies with their own separate interests. The Canadian bourgeoisie is unquestionably the weaker of the two on a world scale, but it is nevertheless an imperialist bourgeoisie in its own right. It is the principal enemy of the Canadian proletariat.

It is evident therefore that the principal contradiction in Canada is that between the Canadian bourgeoisie and the Canadian proletariat.

The most important secondary contradiction, the one that is most likely to bring about a change in the principal contradiction, is that between the two superpowers – particularly US imperialism – and the Canadian people. This formulation, rather than negating the struggle for Canada’s independence, in fact gives a correct orientation to this struggle. It asserts the centrality of the struggle for proletarian revolution; it calls for a united front against the superpowers on a world scale; and it emphasizes that the Canadian people, under the leadership of the proletariat, must defend the independence of our country.

The third major contradiction in Canada is the Quebec national question. Historically, the Quebec people have been oppressed as a nation. This oppression is principally the work of the Canadian bourgeoisie. Quebec has the inalienable right to self-determination, up to and including secession. However, this does not mean that communists should argue for secession. Rather, we must argue that the only solution for the workers of Quebec and English Canada, the only means by which national oppression can be eliminated, is to make a proletarian revolution.

Until recently, our group incorrectly hesitated in asserting this, treating it as a question for Quebec comrades to settle. It is true that communists in English-Canada have a specific task of struggling against big nation chauvinism and upholding Quebec’s right to self-determination. And communists in Quebec must specifically struggle against narrow nationalism. Nevertheless, proletarian revolution is unquestionably the only road for the working class of both nations. National oppression of Quebec can not be abolished without socialist revolution. All communists in Canada have the responsibility to put this forward clearly.

We have also come to recognize the seriousness of the question of national minorities and immigrant peoples in Canada, especially through criticism and discussion with black Marxist-Leninists in Toronto.

This question is one which the Marxist-Leninist movement can not postpone: it has important implications not only for the struggle for democratic rights, but also as a question of multi-national class unity and the need to build a unified communist party in Canada.

As yet we have also not addressed the question of native peoples in Canada. Do native peoples constitute a nation(s) or national minority(s)? What implications does this have for the revolutionary movement? These questions require serious study and investigation by the Marxist-Leninist movement.

C) On the woman question

In the past we have always postponed this question into the indefinite future and negated its importance. At best, we had a token position which stated that the liberation of women was integrally bound up with socialist revolution. However, we did not deepen our understanding of this crucial question, much less carry out communist agitation and propaganda around it. We did not treat the woman question as essential to the victory of the proletarian revolution. Not only can women not be liberated except through socialist revolution, but also, the revolution can not succeed without the full participation of women. To put off communist work on this question is in fact to reinforce male supremacist ideology – bourgeois ideology – in the workers’ movement.

The celebration of International Women’s Day which Workers’ Unity organized in March of this year, was a first step towards overcoming our errors and weaknesses on the woman question. In this meeting, we did put forward a communist position – even though not very developed. We addressed the effects of the economic crisis on women, the specific oppression of national minority women, the origin of women’s oppression, and the position of women in the first, second and third world today, and specifically in socialist China. We argued that working women must struggle against the bourgeois ideologies which offer them no solution – social-democracy, revisionism, and bourgeois feminism – and unite with men to forge their own new Marxist-Leninist party.

While this represented an important advance in our line and practice on the woman question, the fact remains that we – and the Marxist-Leninist movement generally – are still very weak on this question. How do we win the most advanced women workers to the struggle to build a new party? What are the democratic demands of women which must be fought for as part of the revolutionary struggle? How do we develop women cadre within the ranks of the communist organization? These remain burning questions. To ignore them is to ensure the isolation of women from the building of a new communist party.

D) On party-building and the tasks of communists

Our most basic error on this question – reflected in theory and practice – was that we did not distinguish the stages in the construction of a communist party. As Stalin correctly points out in The Party before and after taking power (Vol. 5, Works), the advanced workers must be won to communism before the party can be one of “mass action”, a party that can lead the revolutionary struggle of the entire working class. At this first stage of party-building, our principal objective must be to rally the most class-conscious workers to communism. This will be done principally through agitation and propaganda on a communist basis, the most important single means being a national communist newspaper.

A country-wide Marxist-Leninist organization is essential to carry this out. This organization with its newspaper, united on a correct ideological and political line, must work to realize the pre-conditions for the creation of a new party: the elaboration of a correct political line (strategy and program); the unity of the broadest possible Marxist-Leninist forces in English Canada and Quebec and the struggle against opportunism; and the winning of a certain number of the most advanced workers to communism – the creation of factory and workplace cells in the major industrial centres across the country.

At present, the fusion of Marxism-Leninism with the working class is just beginning in Canada. The historic betrayal of the revisionist “Communist” Party, and the past errors of the ML movement, mean that the most advanced workers remain isolated from the communist groups. The ML organization must therefore send some of its militants into factories and other workplaces, in order to facilitate its work of agitation and propaganda. This conception of “implantation”, however, is quite different from the erroneous view that we held previously (including in the C.R. article/self-criticism). It is not principally to “proletarianize” the organization and its militants, nor to attempt to yet lead the struggles of the working class as a whole, that communist militants are “implanted” at this time. It is to facilitate the communist agitation and propaganda in the heart of the working class, to win the advanced workers to communism.

The error of not distinguishing stages of party-building had extremely serious consequences in the practice of Workers’ Unity. We continued the syndrome of “trying to do dozens of tasks at the same time and none of them well”. We negated the centrality of party-building, and continued a fundamentally right-opportunist practice. We did no communist agitation and propaganda in the working class. We had an attitude of “waiting for the ML organization”, abandoning our initiative.

We continued to neglect our principal task in the trade unions – the largest mass organizations of the working class – that of agitation and propaganda to win the advanced workers to communism. Communists must always link the immediate struggle to the long term goal of socialism. We must unceasingly expose the bourgeois line in all its forms. We must strengthen proletarian unity, opposing divisions along lines of sex, race, union affiliation, nationality, organized and unorganized, employed and unemployed. We must build the greatest possible unity among the workers of the two nations against the attacks of the bourgeoisie and the state.

The trade unions must be transformed into instruments of struggle for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. Consequently, communists must fight for class-struggle unionism, for a line which openly opposes the bourgeoisie and all reformist solutions.

We must fight to make the unions revolutionary unions, under the leadership of a genuine Marxist-Leninist party.

E) Summation

These, then, are the major changes in line that we have made in the last six months. Our initial self-criticism had addressed few of these points. Consequently, we continued to carry right opportunist positions on many crucial questions.

Through the study and application of Marxism-Leninism, through a willingness to self-criticize and transform, and through struggle with other Marxist-Leninists – especially comrades from the League – we made a fundamental break with right opportunism, in theory and in practice. This meant that our political work could then go forward based on a correct Marxist-Leninist line. As the late Premier Chou En-lai said,

The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line determines everything. If one’s line is incorrect, one’s downfall is inevitable ... If one’s line is correct, even if one has not a single soldier at first, there will be soldiers and even if there is no political power, political power will be gained. (Report to the Tenth Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party)

IV. Fundamental change in practice: the break with “small-group-mentality”

In November and December 1975, when we undertook this thoroughgoing criticism, we also recognized the “small-group-mentality” which had characterized our group. Even though, several months earlier, we had defined certain tasks for communists – and we had begun to carry some of them out – we had a “wait-and-see” attitude that postponed many tasks till the indefinite future. This attitude, widespread among Marxist-Leninists in English Canada, is one of the most dangerous manifestations of right opportunism which still grips the new communist movement. It is especially pernicious right now because its adherents claim to have made a fundamental break with right opportunism and economism, and yet, in practice, there is no qualitative change. Groups across the country continue to study and debate within the confines of their own study circles; they carry out no communist agitation and propaganda in the working class; in short, they make no concrete advances towards the creation of a new communist party. They continue to wait for some “bigger”, “more developed” group; they take a passive approach, and abandon their own initiative as communists.

In recognizing the danger that this passivity poses, we determined to break decisively with the attitude that says ”we are too small a group to do anything”. Even though our forces were small and weak, we asserted that we could make a contribution to the creation of a new communist party, and that we would learn from the acid test of practice where we were right or wrong. We would not postpone practice for fear of errors, and especially, we would no longer postpone communist agitation and propaganda in the working class. To do so would be to cling to our own amateurishness – right opportunism of the worst sort! Unquestionably a Marxist-Leninist organization was essential to take up the struggle for the party (and we had every intention of uniting with such an organization); nevertheless, we realized that communist work in Toronto had to be taken up by communists in Toronto – starting then!

And so we set ourselves definite tasks: to begin communist agitation and propaganda in the working class; to consolidate and extend the ideological struggle we had already begun with other Marxist-Leninists; to systematically correct and deepen our political line. We also began to correct our methods of work and division of labour internally, initiating regular criticism and self-criticism. We began to apply principles of democratic centralism so that we could carry out our work in a scientific manner.

From the period of November/December on, even though serious errors and weaknesses still remain, qualitative changes have taken place in the practice of our group. In the first few months of 1976, we moved forward on many fronts. We organized a public meeting for International Women’s Day, a successful meeting attracting 70 people – including some working people – the first such Marxist-Leninist meeting in English Canada in some time; we leafletted at several workplaces in order to draw people to the meeting.

We distributed a communist union election leaflet at the place of work of one militant, greatly increasingly the level of debate over the two-line struggle in the trade unions and the role of communists in that struggle.

We have stepped up our contact and struggle with other Marxist-Leninists locally, regionally, and nationally.

We have begun organizing study circles on a Marxist-Leninist basis, including among workers. We organized, with the co-operation of other Marxist-Leninists in Toronto, a successful May Day dinner and celebration, a “militant inspection of our forces”, which attracted over 100 people from several different workplaces and of many nationalities. We have struggled to reach fundamental ideological and political unity with the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist); we have participated in several public assemblies of the League; we have begun to use The Forge as a political tool in our work, distributing it among contacts and at the place of work, and contributing some articles to the paper.

V. Unity with the Canadian Communist League (ML)

The members of Workers’ Unity have begun to make a genuine contribution to the creation of a new party, through communist work in Toronto in recent months.

However, it is not a small local group such as ours that can create the conditions for a new communist party. To take up that struggle, it is essential to build a country-wide ML organization, united around a single correct line and applying the principles of democratic centralism. Only a Marxist-Leninist organization can conduct the agitation and propaganda to win the most advanced workers across the country to communism, to create the solid organizational base – the factory cells – on which the new party must be built. A communist newspaper must be the tool of a ML organization, so that it can consolidate the advanced workers ideologically, politically, and then unite them organizationally. The struggle to unite the broadest possible ML forces across the country and the struggle against opportunism must be led by an organization with a correct line. This organization is also necessary to deepen the political line, to develop the strategy and program – another condition for the creation of the new party.

It is because we recognize the urgency of building a country-wide Marxist-Leninist organization, and because we have fundamental agreement with the CCL(ML), that we are liquidating Workers’ Unity to join the ranks of the League. We have arrived at this unity after several months of intensive study and ideological struggle with the League. We have also seriously investigated the political practice of the CCL(ML), for this is an essential aspect of a group’s line. So when we say that we have fundamental agreement with the League, we mean by that their ideological and political line, and their practice in carrying out that line.

The League’s newspaper, The Forge, has undergone rapid improvement issue by issue, and is becoming a lively tool for agitation and propaganda in the working class. The successful public meetings organized by the League show that communist agitation and propaganda can have an effect in the working class. We are confident that the position of the CCL(ML) on the struggle for unity among Marxist-Leninists, their stress on the centrality of ideological and political line, will be proven correct in the course of practice. The willingness of the CCL(ML) comrades (and of the founding groups) to carry out self-criticism themselves, to learn from practice and accept the criticism of the masses, is an essential and an admirable quality of a communist organization.

The creation of the CCL(ML) in October 1975 provided an important impetus for our group to come to terms with our mistakes and make basic changes. To follow through on these changes, we must move to a qualitatively higher level – ideologically, politically, organizationally. Therefore, we see it as a qualitative and positive step forward to liquidate our group and rally to the CCL(ML). To dissolve our primitive organization is not regrettable and negative; rather it is a positive assertion that we must move forward decisively at this time.

We join the CCL(ML) confident that it will make an important contribution to the proletarian revolution. We bring to the League a contingent of committed communist militants, who can make important contributions to the struggle. We bring a contingent of militants who, despite serious errors, have shown a willingness to conduct thorough self-criticism, to learn from other comrades in the Canadian and the international communist movement. Our militants have shown a long-standing revolutionary commitment through many twists and turns of the struggle. We have ”dared to go against the tide” when convinced of the correctness of our positions; we have been willing to have our theory bear the ever-crucial test of practice.

We have recognized the country-wide scope of the struggle and have developed contact and struggle with comrades across English Canada and Quebec. Through significant years of experience in mass movements, and most recently several years experience in the working class movement, our militants have developed a positive style of work with the masses. And we have begun to take the initiative and carry out communist agitation and propaganda among working people in Toronto.

Most importantly, we bring to the Canadian Communist League (ML) a contingent of revolutionary militants committed to applying Marxism-Leninism in the concrete conditions of our struggle, dedicated to struggling for the emancipation of the working class and all oppressed people.


In the world of 1976, the major contradictions are intensifying with each passing day. The factors for both war and revolution are on the rise.

In Canada, as the class contradictions quickly sharpen, the conditions for communist work are extremely favourable. The treachery of the bourgeois parties, the union misleaders, and the revisionists is being exposed in the course of the fightback against the economic crisis. Larger sections of working people are open to questioning the very basis of the capitalist system.

The Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada is yet in its infancy. We are emerging out of a period dominated by right opportunism, into a period of struggling to create a new communist party.

Our central task is to create one single unified communist party, a party united on the fundamental interests of the proletariat. This is the perspective we must have in the struggle against opportunism. This is the objective of the struggle for unity.

In the Marxist-Leninist movement to day, localism is being broken through. Ideological struggle is being waged on a country-wide basis. Self-criticism is beginning in many groups and circles across the country. And most important, communist agitation and propaganda in the working class in being undertaken.

Significant advances have been made in our movement in the past year. But the urgent task which confronts Marxist-Leninists now is to build a country-wide Marxist-Leninist organization which can create the conditions for founding a new communist party. All Marxist-Leninists in Canada must orient their work to this immediate task.

We in Workers’ Unity have rallied to the Canadian Communist League (ML) based on firm conviction that this is the correct way to build a country-wide ML organization. Further, we are convinced of its correctness not just for our group in Toronto, but also for other Marxist-Leninists in Canada at this time.

The League was created in Quebec in October 1975 as the result of struggle over many months between several Marxist-Leninist groups. Given the higher development of the class struggle and the Marxist-Leninist movement in Quebec, it was both logical and correct that a new Canadian communist organization was founded in Quebec. The League was founded on the basis of a correct ideological and political line. It has a responsibility to apply that line and attempt to win advanced workers and militants across the country to support it – to build the CCL(ML) into a country-wide organization. The League has not declared itself to be the centre of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Canada. On the contrary, it is clear that it is only in the course of practice – through the work of communist agitation and propaganda, the development of political line, the struggle against opportunism, the struggle for unity – that a leading centre will emerge.

The responsibility for carrying forward the struggle for unity rests not only with the more developed organizations in Quebec. The urgency of our tasks demands that Marxist-Leninists across the country take the initiative. Small groups should develop their political lines, and engage in struggle on that basis. Initiative must be taken to develop communist agitation and propaganda in the working class. Theory must be tested in practice: this will in turn enrich the line. Self-criticism of pas^ practice should be thorough and systematic.

Our immediate objective is to build a country-wide organization, without which our work will necessarily be limited. However, this can not be seen as an excuse to sit back and wait for ’someone else’ to do our communist work for us. The endless “postponing communist agitation and propaganda” and “worshipping our own primitiveness” must be eliminated. To break with small group mentality does not mean to abandon the initiative and wait for the “leading centre” to give direction. To do so is to perpetuate right opportunism in a subtler and more dangerous form.

The economism, localism, bourgeois nationalism and spontaneism which has dominated our movement – all manifestations of right opportunism – must be broken with. We must undertake communist agitation and propaganda on the basis of a correct political line. This demands that all Marxist-Leninists address themselves to developing their positions – the content and direction of communist work. To win the advanced workers to communism we must put forward more than general theoretical principles; we must apply Marxism-Leninism in the concrete situation. It is not enough to congratulate ourselves for having broken with right opportunism – by denouncing economism and declaring that party-building is the central task. Right opportunism has taken – and continues to take – many different forms in the political line and work of many militants.

Erroneous views on the principal contradiction in Canada, the world situation today, party-building, the woman question, and so on, must all be defeated. There are no excuses for small groups not addressing these questions. They are neither “unimportant” nor “too hard” for small groups to solve – they are essential to doing communist work! The fact is that Marxist-Leninists groups in Canada today are seriously divided on many of these questions.

The next period must be one in which we consolidate genuine Marxist-Leninist unity and rally the advanced workers to communism. Our objective of creating a genuine party of the proletariat will only be reached if we defeat opportunism within our ranks and unite on the firmest and most principled basis.

We urge all communist militants across Canada to seriously consider this document: the self-criticism, the political line, and the conclusions we have reached. We urge you to seriously investigate the line and the work of the League. We urge other communist militants to rally to the League, to struggle for a new proletarian party within its ranks.