Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Western Voice Collective

Liquidate Economism – Not the Struggle Against It

First Published: Western Voice, November 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: 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.

[MIA Note: This article is a rejoinder to “The CCL (ML) Response to the Political Documents of Western Voice.]

The League has concluded paternalistically that “the Western Voice Collective has made considerable progress”. It was positive, they say, to undertake the struggle against economism.[1] But, according to them, we stopped short from criticizing the Voice’s “completely bankrupt political line”, a line which was “totally anti-Marxist”.

It is “not enough”, they continue, for us to struggle to identify, criticize and reject economism. In fact, now that the “honest” members of our collective “have begun to realize their errors” we immediately should disband and not publish anything more.

Only a “communist group with a correct Marxist-Leninist line” can “complete” the struggle against opportunism. We mustn’t even begin to try. It would only be a “half-way measure”.

The diagnosis is completed with the prescription that the “honest” members[2]: join the struggle to build an authentic communist party in Canada, study Marxism-Leninism, apply it concretely, and undertake communist agitation and propaganda. The CCL (ML) presents this as a separate alternative to the project we announced in our last issue.

In short we are told: you should have extended your criticism but you didn’t and as you plan to continue your criticism you should stop.

The League fails to put forward any practical proposals that deal with how to liquidate the influence of the Voice’s line among its readership, how to carry out the ideological struggle to demarcate Marxism-Leninism from opportunism in the workers movement. It treats the question of demarcating the boundaries of the Marxist-Leninist movement, of genuine Marxism-Leninism from revisionism, as something to be decided by pronouncement. But this is a question that can be settled only by a properly organized struggle that is carried to the proletariat.

The League’s call for the abandonment of our struggle against economism expresses a small-group conception of the tasks of Marxist-Leninists. For instead of approaching the Voice’s project – to liquidate the influence of our economist and revisionist line on the readership – as a task facing the Marxist-Leninist movement as a whole, the League offers free advice on how we should consolidate ourselves organizationally and politically and develop a practice as a local Marxist-Leninist group. So instead of welcoming contributions to the repudiation struggle by other advanced Marxist-Leninist groups, like IN STRUGGLE!, they raise sectarian objections.

On these grounds, failing to unite with other Marxist-Leninists to fight economism is an error which is ’left’ in form but right in essence. For the struggle against economism is the key link in the struggle against the Voice’s opportunist line.

We also find that in its criticism of us the League has distorted and ignored essential elements of our proposal.

A. Our political resolution and the CCL [ML] distortion

The CCL(ML) never summarized for the benefit of its readers the political resolution of the Western Voice Collective (WVC), a resolution we printed at the beginning of our last issue.

Readers of The Forge, the organ of the League, were not even told where they could obtain a copy of the Western Voice should they have wished to read it themselves. This is an attitude of: we have decided they are wrong so why should you want to investigate for yourself!

What did the League hide from its readers by not summarizing the Voice political resolution? The political resolution charts a new task for the Voice based on a clear demarcation from our past practice.

In the past ideological and political debate, to the extent it occurred, was internal to the Voice and held behind closed doors. The political resolution rejects this practice. Henceforth debate is conducted in the open so that advanced workers and communists can participate.

In the past debate was local. The political resolution rejects this. Henceforth debate is to serve the central task of the national Marxist-Leninist movement: creation of the conditions for a single, country-wide, authentic communist party.

In the past we sought the lowest common denominator agreement with the Voice. The political resolution rejects this. Instead of concensus we aim to intensify public debate in order to clearly identify the various forms of bourgeois ideology, to distinguish the Marxist-Leninist movement as a whole from this ideology. Our political resolution explicitly rejects some “intermediate” resting point between economism and Marxism-Leninism.

We have no intention of re-consolidating and preserving the Voice collective. That is why, in our last issue, we printed 3 previously internal documents on the question of our economism without, as a collective, endorsing or rejecting any of them.

The unity we have is the agreement to carry out the task we set ourselves in the political resolution. Our task is to eliminate the influence of the economist and revisionist line of the Voice, to explain to the advanced workers and progressives among our readership what distinguishes Marxism-Leninism and the entire genuine Marxist-Leninist movement from the opportunist conceptions we promoted before.

The Voice collective is composed of Marxist-Leninists who have unity on this. Our political resolution, again demarcating from our past practice, states that we take Marxism-Leninism as our guiding line. It also states that we seek to involve the most advanced elements of the national Marxist-Leninist movement so they can give leadership in carrying out the task.

Once this task is done the political resolution explicitly stated we would dissolve as a collective and as a paper.

All these points were made well before the League took any interest in diagnosing our struggles and prescribing our medicine: “take an active part” in the Marxist-Leninist movement, etc.

Indeed, the League is well aware that the Voice is not and has not been a centre of political work for any of its members for over a year. All the members of the Voice collective have been active participants in one or another of several collectives and study groups which are part of the Marxist-Leninist movement. These groups are not reshufflings of the Voice collective, but completely independent from it.

As any kind of ’substitute’ for taking an active part in the Marxist-Leninist movement, the Voice already has been liquidated. What remains – we say it again – is a collective committed to carrying out our political resolution, by doing all we can to liquidate the influence the Voice’s line had on its readership. This requires explaining what distinguishes Marxism-Leninism and our movement from the ideas we promoted before.

Ignoring most of this in their criticism, in defiance of what was printed black on white, the League tries to characterize the Voice as a collective that has decided to struggle to internal unity, publish a formal self-criticism in the name of the group and then continue as the same collective with a changed political practice.[3]

The League distorts our task in a second-way. Throughout their criticism they attempt to present the Voice collective, not just as a consolidated Marxist-Leninist group, but as a consolidated group secretly aligned with IN STRUGGLE!

IN STRUGGLE! along with the League are the two most developed groups in the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. They hold opposing views on how, concretely, to unite the entire Marxist-Leninist movement which, besides themselves, consists of a large number of smaller and less developed groups and individuals. The Voice has no collective position and we have no intention of developing a collective position on this struggle.

Did our last issue not contain a prominent full-page ad encouraging our readers to subscribe to all the Canadian communist press then being published: The Forge (organ of the League), IN STRUGGLE! (organ of IN STRUGGLE!) and Canadian Revolution?!

What we do recognize is that this debate on unity within the movement cannot be separated from the question of how to distinguish the movement as a whole from the various forms of bourgeois ideology. However, for the Voice struggle, the latter demarcation is the main aspect.

What we propose, therefore, is that advocates of both lines in the debate on unity apply themselves to making a theoretically sharp and concrete analysis of the various forms economism and revisionism take, principally in the workers’ movement, and connect this criticism to the specific political lines carried in the past by groups like the Voice.

B. Why use the Western Voice newspaper as the vehicle and the WVC as the editorial committee to carry out our task?

A concrete examination of the situation locally and nationally provides the answers to these questions. As the concrete situation changes, but only in accord with concrete changes, will we reconsider these decisions.

Why the Voice as the forum? It is a fact that at present there are ideological and political divisions within the movement. This always will exist to one degree or another since two-line struggle is a reflection of classes and class struggle, under socialism as well as capitalism, and no Marxist-Leninist group or proletarian party can be ’immunized’ against this reality. But there also are serious organizational divisions in the movement.

There is no recognized centre among the various groups that do exist, although there is wide acceptance that there are two poles (the League and IN STRUGGLE!) as well as unequal development in the movement as a whole.

Thus, in practice, to seek to use a national organ of the movement would mean to use the organ of one of the two lines.

Clearly, we reject this alternative for carrying out our stated objective: to distinguish Marxism-Leninism and the genuine Marxist-Leninist movement as a whole from opportunism, principally within the workers movement.

Why the Voice collective as the editorial committee? The decision to use the Voice collective instead of a national or local coalition of Marxist-Leninist groups is, at present, a matter of the preferable alternative. Both national and local tactical unity to carry out this task are possible, with sharp struggle.[4] But it is not necessary.

The political resolution provides the framework and the mechanisms for all groups in the movement to contribute to the pages of the Voice. And it does so without removing the political responsibility from the shoulders of the Voice, for we are the people who were responsible for advancing the bourgeois line which is being repudiated.

Nonetheless, it is crucial to the success of the endeavor that all of the groups in the movement, especially those in the BC region, participate, make their written contribution to the repudiation of economism and revisionism. For most of the members of the BC Marxist-Leninist groups participated either in the Voice itself or in the various movements and activities that the Voice reflected and rationalized with its bourgeois line.

Furthermore, the public demarcation against economism and revisionism in our region has not been carried out by any of the Marxist-Leninist groups, even to the degree that was achieved by the majority of Quebec groups in the CSLO Struggle in 1975.[5]

Does the League put forward any other practical proposal to replace the Voice newspaper to carry out our task? No. The League simply tells us our proposals “won’t work”.

We are reminded of the criticism of the Canadian Revolution collective made by the Guelph Workers Committee (see Canadian Revolution, Vol. 1, No. 3, Oct.-Nov. 1975). It was full of phrases that, taken separately and without concern with their correspondence to concrete conditions, could have any genuine Marxist-Leninists nodding their heads in agreement.

But its practical implication would have been to liquidate the unity, and the accomplishments based on that unity, that had been achieved by the Marxist-Leninist movement through the existence of Canadian Revolution. And the grounds for this liquidation? That it would be better if we could just skip the step represented by Canadian Revolution and act as if we already were at a more advanced stage of creating the party!

Which brings us to an examination of the specific errors the League makes in its criticism of the Voice.

C. In its hurry to ’play doctor’ and provide a ’prescription’ to cure the ills of the Western Voice, the CCL [ML] makes serious errors of sectarianism, small groupism, economism.

The League objects “printing a newspaper on the tasks of Marxist-Leninists which has no political line seems to us to be an absurd economist error”.

This objection is misguided because it refuses to accept what is explicitly spelled out in our political resolution; namely, that the Voice repudiation struggle is being conducted on the basis of a clear guiding line – Marxism-Leninism. Not a political program but a guiding line; not by a group trying to consolidate itself as a part of the Marxist-Leninist movement, but as a collective seeking to engage the most advanced elements of the movement in leading the struggle.

“But look at what the WV proposes to print!”, the League exclaims. The exclamation mark shows what it is that truly disturbs them: our decision to print several documents by IN STRUGGLE! on the tasks of Marxist-Leninists in Canada.

The reason for publishing these documents is stated clearly in our political resolution. IN STRUGGLE! has led in the fight against economism. In developing the definition of the tasks of demarcating against economism and revisionism.

In its own criticism of us the League begins by stating that in Canada ”economism is presently the main ...manifestation of this error” (the error being right opportunism). The League adds, and we agree, that economism is not the “sole” expression of this error. But there is wide agreement that it is the main manifestation. The League, however, doesn’t deal with how to repudiate economism. Saying that it is “not enough” to do this, they argue we should recognize that the main danger is right opportunism. In this way the League counterposes the two, the main danger (right opportunism) against the main deviation in the Marxist-Leninist movement (economism), as if it were a matter of choosing to repudiate one or the other.

Our position is that economism is the key link that holds together all the other expressions of opportunism in the Voice’s past work. That is why we make central the repudiation of economism.

If the League think bourgeois nationalism, social democracy, modern revisionism or whatever is the key link, they should say so and justify that approach with a concrete analysis.

If the League wishes to present us such documents, ones that deepen the ideological struggle to demarcate the movement from economism and revisionism, we certainly will print them. We do not reject material from any group that serves this objective.

We also are open to criticism on the content and usefulness – to the task at hand – of any material we print or have announced our intention to print.

But for the League to criticize us for publishing material against economism because it comes from a particular group with whom they have disagreements simply is sectarian.

Secondly, the League warns us not to give ourselves “a red coat of paint” and then continue to exist’. This is followed by advice to the ”honest elements” of the Voice to do just that! Dissolve your repudiation struggle, reconstitute yourselves as a Marxist-Leninist group, develop your own political programme on all questions and presumably put out a new paper (or leaflets or whatever) which thus has been given “a red coat of paint”.

At the very least this promotes localism, which is a serious enough problem in BC already. The League proposal makes principal the formation of a new, small group which could distinguish itself programmatically from other groups; the carrying out of a public repudiation struggle to serve the central task of the whole movement, secondary.

Thirdly, the League comments: “While the documents in the WV attach much attention to exposing the economist nature of the past issues of the newspaper, WV does not attempt to criticize their completely bankrupt political line.”

The League persists in referring to the document by five members of the collective published in the last issue as the Voice collective’s self-criticism. It is not.

It is fair to say, however, that most of the collective agrees with the general thrust of the argument and many of the particular points made in it. We already have made our points on the League distortion on this matter.

What is important here is that the League is less than honest in claiming that the document of the five does not take up question of ’political line’, question the League would like to place in a separate box labelled ’revisionist errors’.

Indeed, the points made in The Forge article which are valid about the Voice’s past political line are no more than rephrasings of criticisms contained in the document of the five. They are evidently not based on a direct examination of past issue of the Voice.

But the League makes a much more serious error than this. To say that the Voice criticizes economism but not its “political line” is tantamount to denying economism is a political line.

An analysis of the Voice’s previous line will demonstrate that the ’revisionist’ political stands were developed on the basis of and as an inevitable consequence of the Voice’s economist political line.

First the points on which we assume the League is in agreement. The Voice upheld the theory of stages and promoted the development of intermediate organizations and implantation. Denying that the central task was party building, the Voice rationalized its practice as serving the central task of constructing a united front first, a party second.[6]

Using the pretext of the ’absence of significant number of communist workers’ and the failure of petit-bourgeois Marxist-Leninist elements to develop a practice beyond study, the Voice justified a line of ’raising the level of mass struggle first’. This was supposed to create a nucleus of advanced workers (often confused with militant trade unionists who were ’political’) through promoting “objectively progressive struggles”, ones that were not under the control of revisionist (NDP, CP) or supposedly ’left’ opportunist elements CPCML, Trotskyists.

This idea of “objectively progressive struggles”, dealt with at some length in the document by the five, eliminates the necessity of developing revolutionary theory, of conducting the ideological struggle to demarcate Marxism-Leninism from bourgeois theories. Seeing the necessity only for narrow agitation, this idea liquidates the necessity of propagating Marxism-Leninism in the workers’ movement.

This is the classic economist line agitation and ’objectively progressive’ struggles for workers; propaganda and ideological debate for intellectuals.

The CCL(ML) call for an end to our public struggle to concretely indentify, criticize and defeat this line in the very movements that the Voice influenced for four years is a call to repeat our fundamental economist error. By insisting that no struggle against economism can be undertaken until after a group has consolidated programmatic lines on various questions, the League renders it impossible to carry out such a struggle against economism at all. The CCL(ML) call for the immediate liquidation of the Voice collective is a call to liquidate the public ideological struggle, a call to keep propaganda and ideological debate to the intellectuals.

To demonstrate how the Voice’s revisionist errors were a direct outgrowth of its economist political line, let’s look at the Voice approach to the international and trade union questions.

* * *

On the Voice international line: a perusal of the dozens of articles written by Voice members on international issues over the four years of publication will confirm that the Voice generally took China’s foreign policy line.

This is not surprising for anyone who takes the trouble to examine, in an historical context, who the Voice collective members were and where they were coming from. It is well-known (to at least some members of the League) that the core of the Voice staff was composed of people who had been activists in one or another of the ’maoist’ oriented sections of the New Left and student movements.

After the main base of the student movement was smashed (at Simon Fraser University) various new left attempts to develop a working class base failed. The Voice became the rallying point for those in the ’youth’ movement who were not disillusioned with political activity altogether or absorbed by the anarchists, NDP, Trotskyists, CP, or CPC(ML).

What also marked the Voice grouping was their decision to fight revisionism with economism and ’anti-imperialism’, rather than with Marxism-Leninism. This continued the bourgeois line of the new left in a workerist form.

Because they ignore this history, the League errs in its analysis of what was at the root of the Voice’s erroneous international line.

The League is wrong in claiming that the Voice “did not denounce the two superpowers and their struggle for world-wide hegemony” or explain “the need to build a world wide united front against the two giants”. It is false to say that the Voice “neglected the struggle against the “C”P and other revisionist parties around the world’’.

The Voice repeatedly attacked both the CP and the Soviet Union. What is true is that the Voice upheld the economist line that it could expose the Soviet superpower and the modern revisionist CP by demonstrating that their practice was “objectively reactionary” (because they sabotaged the struggles of third world nations for liberation, countries for independence, and sabotaged the struggles of the working class for immediate demands) without explaining the ideological and material (capitalist) basis of revisionism and soviet imperialism, without explaining the fundamental interests of the working class.

On the Voice trade union line: The Voice perhaps was best known for championing the cause of the independent Canadian trade union movement. This was not because of bourgeois nationalism. This line never was prominent in the Voice collective and it is false to imply, as the League does, that the Voice “wrote off the Canadian bourgeoisie as ’an agent of U.S. imperialism’ and neglected its imperialist nature.”[7]

A small minority of people in the Voice may have held this line. Most people did not have a clear line other than: Canada was a developed capitalist country in which the struggle was for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Given the evident fact of U.S. domination in Canada, the fight against this also was a part of the struggle for proletarian dictatorship.

The root of the Voice errors on the trade union question was in the fundamental approach of fighting revisionism with militant economism.

The argument ran: a successful struggle to replace American unions with independent (not autonomous) Canadian unions would be “objectively” progressive and anti-revisionist because it necessarily would direct its fire against the labour aristocracy. This would pit workers against the NDP and the CP who had a vested interest in defending the existing American unions in which they exercized direct organizational and political hegemony.

If the League wishes to verify that this was indeed the conscious objective in writing trade union articles, they should contrast the Voice on the subject of Canadian unions with articles in New Canada (organ of the Canadian Liberation Movement), or early CPC(ML) material, or some of the Prairie groups who based themselves on a variant of either the NDP/Waffle or the Progressive Worker line.[8]

Our purpose is not to belittle the number of revisionist errors in the Voice political line. Nor is it to understate the consequences of the economist approach to political questions, whose actual impact is to reinforce revisionism.

We agree completely with Lenin that to the extent you do not explicitly counterpose proletarian ideology, Marxism-Leninism, you necessarily are advancing bourgeois ideology and strengthening its hold on the working class. There is no intermediate ideology.

But the Voice’s fundamental error was to believe there could be an “intermediate ideology”, that one could fight revisionism with what we now see is economism, rather than Marxism-Leninism.

Therefore the key link to the repudiation of our erroneous political line is repudiation of our economist political line.

D. CCL[ML] prescriptions amount to abandoning dialectical materialism

Theory is “not enough” (they tell us), there must be practice. A guiding line is “not enough” (they tell us), there must be a political program. Fighting economism as the key link in opposing opportunism is “not enough” (they tell us), there must be a rejection of right opportunism.

A group of Marxist-Leninists that was opportunist and is not consolidated as a Marxist-Leninist group cannot complete the repudiation of opportunism. Therefore the Voice should not begin it (they tell us).

The demarcation of Marxism-Leninism and the whole of the genuine Marxist-Leninist movement amidst the working class is ”not enough”. There must be demarcations of programmatic positions within the Marxist-Leninist movement (they tell us).

This double-talk flies in the face of dialectics. Instead of recognizing the unity of opposites, the resolution of contradictions through struggle, the identification of what aspect of a contradiction is principal, the recognition of uneven development, the League puts forward an analysis and proposed line of action which consistently combines two into one.

This leads to belittling the contradictions like economism, to bypass ideological struggle that will allow us to draw clear lines in order to unite. All this is in the name of a ’quicker’ and formalistic path to higher unity.

* * *

The League’s approach also runs counter to materialism.

The League writes: “Just as it is impossible to win workers to communism in the abstract but only to a definite organization and political line, so too is it impossible to combat economism in general without countering it with a correct Marxist-Leninist position. It is only by developing a correct political line and by applying it in practice that the bankrupt line of the Voice can be decisively repudiated.”

Upholding the need for a revolutionary practice based on a “definite organization and political line” as an exclusive alternative to carrying out a public repudiation is to deny that the ideological struggle to demarcate Marxism-Leninism in the workers’ movement is practice, revolutionary practice.

Yes, comrades, “ideological and political line decides everything”, but how do you propose to decide on the correct ideological and political line?

The answer the League puts forward is to go away and study Marxism-Leninism closeted with other Marxist-Leninists, arrive at correct political positions, and then have a practice of demarcation in the workers’ movement.

Is this not the method of the comic strip character Clark Kent who enters a hidden telephone booth dressed like an ordinary newspaper reporter, does a private costume change and comes out as Superman, prepared to do magical feats?

The League prescription for the Voice fails to address how to organize the struggle to develop a correct political line. They, simply declare that it is necessary to have it before you can do anything.

What happened to the materialist (and dialectical) principle that what is Marxist is developed in the struggle against what is anti-Marxist? What happened to the principle that Marxist theory is derived from practice and serves practice? That the process of developing a political line involves a continuous struggle to test and refine lines?

What happened to the commitment of the League to give advanced workers a central role in the struggle to demarcate the proletarian line from the bourgeois line in the workers’ movement?

Who is it that really is proposing to “win workers to communism in the abstract” and “combat economism in general” rather than developing a struggle to clarify a concrete analysis of the economist and revisionist lines of groups like the Voice, in order to decisively repudiate it? Is it the Voice who is abstract and general – or is it the League?

* * *

Certainly the full defeat of bourgeois lines that dominated the Marxist-Leninist and workers’ movements will come only through protracted ideological struggle and the development of a comprehensive proletarian line and a Bolshevik vanguard organization practicing that line in class struggle. The Voice collective has taken up this task, carrying the repudiation struggle to our working class and progressive readership, under the direction of the Marxist-Leninist movement.

Yes, what we are doing is only the first step. But, the longest march begins with a single step.

Some would like to skip lightly over the step of the repudiation struggle. They would like to get onto the ’real business’ of political line and ’class struggle’. But like countless others before them they will find that skips lead to slips, to falling back into opportunism.

The ideological struggle we are engaged in is class struggle. To not engage fully in this form of class struggle is to hold back the development of other forms of class struggle.

* * *

Comrades of the League, you are one of the two most developed groups in the Marxist-Leninist movement, one pole of the national two-line struggle. You have the responsibility to lead.

But leadership within the Marxist-Leninist movement cannot be done on the basis of: “We are right... you are wrong... come under our guidance and you can move forward.”

Get off your high-horse. Open your eyes to the concrete reality of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. Put aside your dogmatism and sectarianism. These can only divide and hold back our great struggle.

Comrades of the League, put your line into practice in the ideological struggle to repudiate economism and revisionism. Send us your contribution.


[1] In fact the struggle against economism began within the Voice collective more than a year before the League was even formed. The fact that it took until January 1976 to come out into the open and is still going on is an indication of how deep rooted this (economist) deviation was and is – and how important it is to organize a public struggle against it.

[2] The League repeatedly refers to “the honest members” of the Voice collective. This implies that there are some members who are not “honest”. We object to this ”splittist” mentality. We would draw to the League’s attention that the vote for the political resolution after a long struggle was unanimous. Further, all members of the Voice collective belong to groups which are part of the Marxist-Leninist movement.

[3] It is incorrect for the League to have compared us to Mobilization, a Montreal group who published a magazine by the same name. Their method, at least as we understand it from the characterizations offered by the League, is not ours. We have not investigated Mobilization, so we are not in a position to comment on the appropriateness of its method for its concrete situation.

[4] Tactical unity was not possible, however, when our political resolution first was adopted in January 1976. The erroneous method of trying to build unity through a common practice had yet to be sufficeintly exposed and rejected, in Vancouver at least. Particularly since the experience of some Marxist-Leninist groups in forming a united intervention on October 14th, there is a heightened capability to distinguish between tactical unity with which to struggle against bourgeois ideology in the workers’ movement and the methods and structure the movement itself must build to resolve our differences. That is why we conclude that, with sharp struggle, tactical unity to carry out the task set by the Voice is possible now.

[5] The CSLO (Committee to Support Workers Struggles) was formed to mobilize communist and progressive forces in support of the militant Firestone workers strike in Joliette, Quebec. Later it became a permanent ’workers’ support’ organization, involving most of the Quebec Marxist-Leninist groups. It disbanded itself in September 1975 after it was demonstrated that the work of the CSLO actively reinforced economism in the workers’ and Marxist-Leninist movements.

The best material to come out of the two-line struggle which ended in the defeat of the economist line of the organization is Against Economism. It will be republished in the next issue of the Voice and is available now, in booklet form in English and French, from IN STRUGGLE!

[6] We’re not saying here that the Voice members were conscious Marxist-Leninists who had a wrong line on the central task. We recognize that we did not base ourselves on the science of Marxism-Leninism. But if we simply had based ourselves on Marxism-Leninism and not taken up the central task of party building, we wouldn’t have avoided economism either.

[7] There was an ongoing debate within the Voice collective about whether the basis of unity for membership in the collective should be brought in line with our self-conception – a group of (pro) communist ’anti-imperialist, anti-revisionist’ activists – or not. This was seen as the struggle for a ”minimum programme” with the question of the maximum programme specifying the fundamental objectives of the proletarian struggle neatly set aside (so we would be ’open to advanced workers’, etc.). But of course we were unable to find any ’intermediate’ basis that was ’anti-revisionist’ without being Marxist-Leninist. We were therefore unable to take any explicit line on whether or not Canada is an imperialist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and so wrote almost nothing about it. Instead, our ’anti-imperialist’ writing was confined to a continuation of the ”Third worldism” line of the new left. The ’united front’ was to be constructed only around the principal contradiction in the world plus the ’contradictions among the people’, like racism and sexism (this had been the most evident line of demarcation between the ’maoist’ sections of the new left and the various revisionist groupings in the late sixties). We could not and generally did not deal with questions that raised the issue of the principal contradiction in Canada although we did uphold the right of self-determination of Quebec and the national rights of Native and Inuit peoples.

Again, revisionist errors were a direct consequence of the Voice’s economist search for an intermediate ideology. It isn’t enough for the League to point to the fact that the Voice did not have a correct line on the principal contradiction and that if it had applied one it wouldn’t have made such revisionist errors. What’s important is to explain why the Voice never developed such a correct line, what was at the root of those errors.

[8] The Progressive Worker line is expressed in the last, special issue of Progressive Worker, titled Independence and Socialism.