First Published: Western Voice, n.d. [March 1976]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Be it resolved that we, the Western Voice collective,
1) Adopt Marxism-Leninism as the ideological basis of unity of the collective. Marxism-Leninism is the ideology of the working class, the science of proletarian revolution, whose aim is the proletarian dictatorship (socialism) and then classless society (communism). We are committed to conscientiously seeking to grasp the fundamentals of this science, and to apply the class stand, methods and viewpoint of the proletariat (which it represents) to our work as members of the Western Voice collective, which is to fully and publicly repudiate our previous Economist and revisionist political line.
2) Agree that the central immediate task of Marxist-Leninists in Canada is to create the conditions for the foundations of the proletarian party, the Marxist-Leninist communist party. This task is made up of two close interwoven elements:
(a) to unite Marxist-Leninists into a national organization based on political line and thereby a clear demarcation from all forms of opportunism, old and new. (e.g. Economism, social-democracy, anarcho-syndicalism, modern revisionism, Trotskyism, neo-revisionism of the CPC-ML, etc.)
(b to win the advanced section of the working class to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism.
These two aspects must be seen as parts of one task, which is to rally the most advanced elements of the working class (plus elements of other classes which have adopted the proletarian world-view) into a communist leading force, a Communist Party. The general task of Communists is to “fuse socialism with the working class movement”. The immediate task of Marxist-Leninists is to advance the struggle for ideological and political unity, which is the main front at present of building the Party, which is the means of accomplishing our general task.
Stalin defines the two aspects of the general task of fusing socialism with the working class movement in the following terms:
a) to win the vanguard of the proletariat to the side of communism (i.e. build up cadres, create a Communist Party, work out the programme, the principles of tactics). Propaganda as the chief form of activity. b) to win the broad masses of the workers and of the toilers generally to the side of the vanguard (to bring the masses up to the fighting positions). Chief form of activity – practical action by the masses as a prelude to decisive battles. (Stalin, “Political Strategy and Tactics of the Russian Communists [Synopsis of a Pamphlet]”, Works, Vol. 5, p. 82-83).
These two tasks or objectives correspond as the dominant tasks of the first two steps of building the Communist Party, which Stalin outlines:
Three periods in the development of the Communist Party of Russia:
a) the period of the formation of the vanguard [i.e. the party] of the proletariat, the period of mustering the Party’s cadres (in this period the Party was weak, it had a programme and general principles of tactics, but as a party of mass action it was weak);
b) the period of the revolutionary mass struggle under the leadership of the communist party. In this period the Party was transformed from an organization of mass agitation into an organization for mass action; the period of preparation was superceded by the period of revolutionary action;
c) the period after taking power, after the Communist Party had become the government party. (Stalin, ibid. p. 88-89)
We accept the validity of these tasks for our situation, as outlined by Stalin. We agree that we are in the first phase, the period of the winning to communism of the vanguard of the proletariat, the period of uniting the cadres of the Party.
3) Agree that the Western Voice cannot be a Marxist-Leninist mass newspaper nor in any way a Marxist-Leninist ideological centre.
When a Marxist-Leninist organization arises based on a correct political line, it will need an organ of propaganda and agitation. For the Western Voice to pretend to be such an organ would be an attempt to skip several important steps of party-building. A general adherence to Marxism-Leninism does not automatically provide us with a concrete Marxist-Leninist analysis, a Marxist-Leninist political line. Our Marxist-Leninist ideological basis of unity enables us to struggle over its implications for the Western Voice newspaper, and should not be seen in any way as the resolution of a two-line struggle. The existence of a Marxist-Leninist movement was the cause of the questioning of the old Economist line of the Voice. It would be a continuation of our old errors to attempt to exist parallel to the Marxist-Leninist movement, rather than subordinated to it, trying to serve its aims within our limitations.
When the Western Voice has fulfilled its role of exposing and repudiating the Economist and revisionist political line which held back the socialist movement, it should cease to exist. Its continued existence could not be as anything but an “intermediate” organization. This has been its character through its entire life – political but not political, responsible neither to the masses nor their most advanced elements.
Our resolution to cease attempting to produce a newspaper when that newspaper cannot possibly aid in accomplishing the tasks of Marxist-Leninists, is a reflection of a desire to accomplish the tasks of the Marxist-Leninist movement, of a “Party spirit” as opposed to a “small group spirit”. We are in full agreement with the following sentiments expressed by En Lutte! in “The tasks of the Marxist-Leninist movement: how to build the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party”:
The ’circle spirit’ is an infantile and retrograde attitude belonging to small groups or isolated collectives which cling tenaciously to remaining isolated, surrounded with THEIR “masses” and with THEIR “workers”. For these Marxist-Leninists every step forward in the Marxist-Leninist movement toward a higher unity is seen as a crisis. They feel threatened because they resist the evolution of the Marxist-Leninist movement toward the party; because they are afraid to lose their “hegemony”, because they prefer the narrow structures of the friendly circle to the greater and more difficult demands of the larger organization and to open and often bitter struggle of political confrontation. (Canadian Revolution #3 p. 19)
Our method of struggle is to take the standpoint of serving the accomplishment of the tasks of the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. We will seek to raise the debate to the level of the most advanced theory and direct our struggle at the most advanced elements.
If the subjective conditions in the Marxist-Leninist movement were different, we would simply disband the Voice collective and carry out a thorough criticism and repudiation of our previous line through the organs of that movement, united around a coherent Marxist-Leninist political line. But those political conditions and those organs do not yet exist. The journal Canadian Revolution is providing a forum for public debate between organized Marxist-Leninist groupings on a national level. We see any debate engaging people in BC in a repudiation of their past lines and practice as strictly subordinate to and part of that national debate. Two line struggle has advanced considerably in the last few years in Quebec where Marxist-Leninist forces have progressed to the level of publicly taking the ideological struggle for the party to the vanguard of the proletariat. But it is a simple fact that the Marxist-Leninist political formations in B.C. are at such a primitive level that they have not yet embarked on the crucial first step of publicly demarcating Marxism-Leninism from the opportunist lines and practice of the loosely defined political ’movement’ which many of the active participants in these groups have come directly out of in the recent past. It is this ’movement’ that the Voice consciously sought to reflect and rationalize with its economist and opportunist political line.
Therefore we must act in order to ensure that a public struggle is actually carried out, so that we and the people associated with or influenced directly by the Voice don’t just flip into a ’new practice’ without any real transformation or understanding of what distinguishes the Marxist-Leninist path from the opportunist paths.
We will carry out what is obviously a difficult task, one which must have very precise objectives and limits in time, the task of conducting a struggle against our previous line without the guidance of a principal political trend or ideological centre.
We see our initiative as a temporary and necessary example which will help to bring part of this crucial debate into the public arena. We are mindful of the real danger of falling into the trap of acting as a phoney kind of organizational-ideological centre, an intermediate organization half-way between the Marxist-Leninist movement and the spontaneous workers movement in a new guise. We will not establish permanent structures or organs separate from and parallel to those which the Marxist-Leninist movement has developed and is developing. We will not act as the organ of an amalgam of Marxist-Leninist study groups and collectives united by a ’common practice’ in relation to the newspaper. To repeat, it is our specific task to promote the repudiation of an opportunist line that has been dominant, not to be the agents, passive or active, of the development of a Marxist-Leninist political line either as a collective or as a newspaper.
We feel that the Voice is uniquely capable at the present time of reaching a large number of honest elements with basic socialist convictions, advanced elements who have already reached the stage of political (class) consciousness, most of whom are completely unaware of the publications and activities of the emerging Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. We are convinced that a proper two-line struggle to expose the opportunist line we helped perpetuate in the last four years will aid in rallying many of these advanced elements to the Marxist-Leninist movement and to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism based on these considerations, we intend to restrict publication of articles in our pages to three types that are consistent with our specific objectives:
a) we will publish the full texts of positions advanced in the course of the debate. We will not reduce the level of the content of that debate by producing so-called popularizations that simply restrict the public character of the struggle. We will not attempt to struggle to unity in the collective and then publish summations of the lowest common denominator understanding after the debate. Our guiding principle is to carry the struggle to the most advanced elements; that is where unity will be built, not within the arbitrary confines of our existing collective. The only changes to the texts made for publication will be those dictated by security considerations, i.e. unnecessary references to individuals, etc. To make the documents more accessible we will not translate scientific language into ’journalese’; rather we will add glossaries of Marxist-Leninist scientific terms, full footnoting of references, selected lists of readings from the Marxist-Leninist classics and explanatory introductions.
b) we hope to publish a few documents that serve the objective of clearly defining the political tasks facing the Canadian Marxist-Leninist movement. We will not try to duplicate the function of Canadian Revolution and the organs of the existing Marxist-Leninist formations like En Lutte by presenting the current debates over line being conducted by the Marxist-Leninist movement which have as their objective the development of unity around a Marxist-Leninist ideological and political line for building the party. Specifically, we hope to print Charles Gagnon’s “For the Proletarian Party”, En Lutte!’s “Let Us Create The Marxist-Leninist Organization of Struggle for the Party”, ”Against Economism” and the articles on party-building in the recent Canadian Revolution, and David Paterson’s article on CPC-ML.
c) we will print contributions to the criticism and repudiation of the Voice’s previous line by people outside of the collective if it serves to advance that struggle. We will not print articles that take up the lines that were dominant in the political ’movement’ that the Voice ’served’ unless we are convinced that the groups putting them forward have made serious efforts to propagate these positions independently of the Voice through the structures of the Marxist-Leninist movement. We wish to enable those positions to reach a broader public readership but we will not be used as a cheap source of publicity by dilletantes who are not seriously struggling to build the Marxist-Leninist movement politically and organizationally.
In developing the struggle against our former political line, we must proceed according to a clear plan. (We must consciously repudiate spontaneism in terms of the ideological struggle, and organize our efforts to achieve definite aims.)
We propose that the process of repudiations begin with an examination of (DOCUMENT TWO), following the main political points and themes as the subject of discussion and debate. In this way we can remedy its shortcomings without missing the essential lines of its critique. At the same time it should be published in the Western Voice (and distributed in the meantime to the ML study groups).
The next practical step would be to call on collective members to put forward a concrete political analysis of the history of the newspaper based on Document two. Our group is prepared to produce one such analysis. This step would allow us to develop a general line on the paper’s history, which would be the basis of a deepening and refining of the basic anti-Economist repudiation. We would publish this deepening analysis as it develops clear terms.
We stand opposed to proposals for the process of repudiation, stated or implied, which would keep it as an internal phenomenon. We should not base ourselves on the lowest common denominator in the collective. It is not the task of the collective to raise individual understandings of Marxism-Leninism as such, much less to develop a M-L political line. These are tasks of the ML movement. We should follow the lead of the most advanced forces of the ML movement to chart our course. We stand opposed to any sort of “summation” of the WV history which would be an “intermediate” summation like we put forward in the old WV in relation to practical working class struggles. An open struggle taking direction from the leadership of the M-L movement is the only way to move forward the tasks of the M-L movement within the WV situation.
We should print articles from the M-L movement which deepen the critique and repudiation of Economism. We should encourage participation in the process of clarifying and repudiating our old line by all elements of the movement which we reflected.
The collective would make the political decisions as to what is or is not a positive contribution. We are not the most advanced elements of the movement. This process we are undertaking will succeed or fail to the extent that the movement involves itself.