Révolution: possible à l’époque, nécessaire maintenant. Bâtissons le parti!

Il y a 100 ans aujourd’hui que la classe ouvrière a réussi à prendre le pouvoir pour la première fois. En 1917, les Bolchéviks ont renversé le Tsar russe et ont établi une société socialiste qui a secoué les fondements du monde capitaliste et inspiré de multiples mouvements et révolutions successives partout dans le monde lors des 100 dernières années. Sur la marée rouge créée par cet événement ont vogué une centaine de navires.

La politique est une question de pouvoir, à savoir qui le possède et à quelle fin. L’histoire de toute société existante est l’histoire de la lutte des classes, avec des classes dirigeantes (esclavagistes et propriétaires, capitalistes et seigneurs de guerre), chacune exploitant et opprimant la majorité des gens avec leurs méthodes propres. La Révolution d’octobre a marqué un changement décisif où la grande majorité, le prolétariat et les autres classes laborieuses ont pris le dessus et ont bâti une société basée sur leurs besoins.

Partout dans le monde, les travailleur.euses et paysan.nes révolutionnaires se sont ralliées derrière drapeau rouge brandi en Russie et ont fondé des partis communistes d’une contrée à l’autre. Ce sont ces pays qui ont mené la lutte contre le fascisme, qui ont développé la stratégie et les tactiques de la guerre populaire et qui ont ébranlé les forces coloniales.  Il est clair que les masses ouvrières et opprimées du monde entier ont une dette envers les héros de la révolution d’octobre.

Il y a plusieurs leçons à retenir de la Révolution d’octobre, de ses succès et de ses erreurs. La Révolution d’octobre a démontré qu’il est possible non seulement de faire la révolution, mais que la classe ouvrière est capable de bâtir une société basée sur ses intérêts. En remportant la guerre civile et en repoussant l’invasion des forces impérialistes venues appuyer les forces réactionnaires, ils ont aussi démontré l’importance de l’aspect militaire de la lutte révolutionnaire afin de défendre la révolution. Les Bolchéviks ont aussi démontré la nécessité d’organiser la section avancée de la classe ouvrière dans un parti d’avant-garde : un outil indispensable dans la lutte contre le capitalisme et l’État capitaliste.

Les années après la Révolution d’octobre ont démontré que, loin de conclure la lutte des classes, la victoire du socialisme marque son intensification. C’est cette incapacité à saisir cette situation et d’arriver aux conclusions qui s’imposent – que les masses doivent être engagées dans une révolution ininterrompue englobant toutes les sphères de la vie – qui mènera éventuellement à l’échec du mouvement révolutionnaire.

Toutes ces leçons ont été payées par la sueur et le sang des masses de l’URSS et ce sont des leçons que le Parti Communiste Révolutionnaire applique dans notre lutte pour le communisme et la fin du Canada. Tout comme les Bolchéviks ont appris des succès et erreurs de leurs prédécesseurs, les ouvriers révolutionnaires de la Commune de Paris, nous devons aussi adopter une perspective scientifique vis-à-vis l’expérience de la Révolution d’octobre et des décennies qui ont suivi. Il n’est pas suffisant de proclamer la mémoire des expériences révolutionnaires du passé : le but est de suivre la voie ainsi tracée en faisant la révolution ici et maintenant.

Nous terminons en paraphrasant les remarques de Lénine lors du 40e anniversaire de la Commune de Paris :

Le souvenir des combattants de la Commune n’est pas seulement vénéré par les travailleurs et les travailleuses russes, il l’est par le prolétariat du monde entier. Car la Révolution d’octobre lutta non point pour quelque objectif local ou étroitement national, mais pour l’affranchissement de toute l’humanité laborieuse, de tous les humiliés, de tous les offensés.  Le tableau de sa vie et de sa mort, l’image du gouvernement ouvrier qui a saisi et maintenu le pouvoir, le spectacle de la lutte héroïque du prolétariat et de ses souffrances après la défaite, tout cela a enflammé l’esprit de millions d’ouvriers, fait renaître leurs espoirs et gagné leur sympathie au socialisme. C’est pourquoi l’œuvre de la Révolution d’octobre n’est pas morte ; elle vit jusqu’à présent en chacun de nous.

La cause de la Révolution d’octobre est celle de la révolution sociale, celle de l’émancipation politique et économique totale des travailleurs et des travailleuses, celle du prolétariat mondial. En ce sens, la Révolution d’octobre est immortelle.

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Revolution: possible then, necessary now. Build the Party!

100 years ago today, the working class successfully seized and held state power for the first time. In 1917 the Bolsheviks overthrew the Russian Tzar and established a socialist society that shook the capitalist world order to its foundation, and which has inspired multiple movements and successive revolutions from all corners of the globe over the past 100 years. Upon the red tides unleashed by this event hundreds of revolutionary ships were launched.

Politics is a question of power: who wields it and toward what end. The history of all hitherto existing societies had been the history of class struggles, of various ruling classes (slave-owners and landlords, of capitalists and petty warlords) each exploiting and oppressing the vast majority of the people in their own unique ways. The October Revolution marked a decisive shift in human history. The great majority, the proletariat and other working classes for the first time gained the upper hand and built a society in their own interests.

Across the world, revolutionary workers and peasants rallied to the red flag raised by the workers in Russia, and these workers formed Communist parties in nearly every country on the planet. It was these parties that went on to build and lead the workers’ movement, lead the fight against fascism, develop the strategy of people’s war, and liberated countless oppressed nations from the yoke of colonialism. Workers and oppressed people the world over owe a debt of gratitude to the heroes of the October Revolution.

There are many lessons to learn from the Revolution, both its successes and failures. The October Revolution proved not only that revolution was possible, but also that it was possible for the working class to build a society in its own interest. By winning a civil war and fending off an invasion by the imperialists, who were supporting the reactionary forces trying to roll back the revolution, they also proved that revolutionaries need to build military power in order to carry out and defend the revolution. The Bolsheviks also demonstrated the necessity of organizing the advanced section of the working class into a vanguard party: an indispensable tool in the struggle against capitalism and the capitalist state.

The years that followed the October revolution showed that, far from ending the class struggle, the victory of socialism marks the intensification of class struggle. Failure to understand this lesson and to follow through with its implications – that the masses must be engaged in an uninterrupted revolution encompassing every sphere of life – has since doomed revolutionary movements to failure.

All these lessons were paid in sweat and blood by the masses of the USSR, and they are lessons the Revolutionary Communist Party applies in our fight for communism and the end of Canada. Just as the Bolsheviks learned from both the successes and the failures of their forebears, the revolutionary workers of the Paris Commune, we too adopt a scientific perspective toward the experience of the October revolution and the decades that followed. It is not enough to simply proclaim the memory of previous revolutionary attempts: rather the point is to supersede them by building revolution here and now.

We will end by paraphrasing Lenin’s remarks on the 40th anniversary of the Paris Commune:

The memory of the fighters of the October Revolution is honoured not only by the workers of Russia but by the workers of the whole world. For the fighters of the October Revolution fought, not for some local or narrow national aim, but for the emancipation of all toiling humanity, of all the downtrodden and oppressed. The epic of its life and death, the sight of a working class which seized state power and held it, the spectacle of the heroic struggle of the working class and the torments it underwent after its defeat – all this raised the spirit of millions of workers, aroused their hopes and enlisted their sympathy for the cause of socialism. That is why the cause of the October Revolution is not dead. It lives to the present day in every one of us.

The cause of the October Revolution is the cause of the social revolution, the cause of the complete political and economic emancipation of the toilers. It is the cause of the end of capitalism, imperialism, and settler-colonialism. It is the cause of the workers and oppressed nations of the whole world. And in this sense the October Revolution is immortal.

Smash Illusions: Power and the Struggle Against Fascism

This document is being published in advance of the first conference of Against Fascism sections. It presents the perspectives of the Revolutionary Communist Party towards how to build the anti-fascist movement in Canada.

 

Now is a Time of Monsters

Capitalism is in decay. It’s decaying right before our eyes. Any semblance of a post-war “labour peace” –once a reality for white workers, never for colonized workers – is increasingly stripped away as capitalism seeks to re-entrench itself after the 2008 economic crisis. American capitalism is in particular crisis: facing defeat in its last two wars, crushing debt, and new challenges from rising Chinese, Russian, and increasingly independent European imperialisms, the American ruling class finds itself at an impasse. If the 2016 American election showed us anything, it showed us that the American capitalist class is facing a crisis of governance as it struggles to maintain its leading role in the world: the only representatives it could put forward to manage the “executive committee of the whole bourgeoisie” –one a vicious war-hawk, the other a fascist –were two of the most unpopular politicians in American history. The result of this situation is instability everywhere: as imperialism increasingly pits different imperialist countries against each-other raising the spectre of another world war, at home the contradictions of capitalism bust into the fore resulting in increased repression from the capitalist state. And in turn, fascism –long since defeated, living only in the cracks and fringes of society – has emerged as a mainstream political force. White supremacy is openly parading itself in a way that would have been unthinkable even 10 years ago.

In Canada the situation is more muted, but ultimately the same. The Canadian ruling class took advantage of the 2008 economic crisis, and bolstered the position of Canadian imperialism internationally. Yet it was only able to do this due to attacks on workers and colonized in Canada: the social-safety net disappears, contradictions between the state and indigenous nations increase, and in turn, the Canadian state has increased its repressive response to any challenges to the power of the capitalist class. We think here, for instance, of the historically unprecedented response to the G20 counter-mobilizations in Toronto, and the increasing surveillance, disruption, and open use of force against indigenous resistance. The Canadian ruling class, however, does not face the same crisis of governance that the American ruling class faces: with the 2015 electoral victory of the Liberals under Trudeau, the “natural governing Party” has returned to power. The pompous celebrations of a triumphalist capitalist class became only too apparent during the Canada 150 celebrations this year, where the Canadian capitalists attempted to paper over the contradictions of Canadian society in the interests of “the nation.” And in this context, where the working class is under attack, where there is increasing instability, and yet where the Canadian capitalist class feels confident, the objective conditions in Canada are less conducive to the rise of a domestic fascist movement. We are lucky in that the far-right forces which organize in Canada –Quebec excluded- are, for the most part, farcical copies of their American versions.

There is great chaos under heaven. The situation is excellent.

In the face of these horrifying conditions, the people have not been silent. Thousands are being drawn towards revolutionary politics for the first time: the capitalist class’s concern about “radicalization” is a testament to this fact. An entire generation is being steeled in the struggle against fascism. Despite declarations of the “end of history” and the “end of ideology”, nothing could be further from the truth. The people know that we have reached a “breaking point,” that society is set up for the benefit of the rich, that the police are our enemies, that fascism is on the rise, and that things cannot continue like they used to. Millions of workers and oppressed people across Canada, during breakroom conversations with fellow workers, during heated discussions with friends and family, state some variation of the need for change. First quiet and tepid, it becomes louder, angrier. First scattered, it becomes more articulate. First directionless, it quickly becomes directed at the principle enemy: the capitalist class and their state. Who would have thought, even six months ago, that the public conversation would have been the extent to which it is acceptable for the extreme left –now enough of a force that capitalist media was forced to identify them as communists and anarchists – to use violence against fascists? At one time the revolutionary movement wondered what type of practical activity it needed to engage in; now the problem is that we do not have enough cadre to intervene in every contradiction which is busted open. While we are far from a revolutionary situation, revolution is again on the agenda. It is the end of the end of history.

It is in this context – increased instability, decreasing living conditions, rising fascism, rising appeal of revolutionary politics – that the practical question of anti-fascism has been brought to the fore. The entire left, both revolutionary and reformist, scrambles to figure out how to respond to the rise of the far right. For us, the answer is simple: while the fight against fascism is an important new avenue of struggle, it is not fundamentally different from other aspects of our work. At its base, the question of anti-fascism is a question of power: the power to smash fascism, the power to survive its counter-attacks, and ultimately the power to transform the struggle against fascism into the life-and-death struggle against the capitalist class and their state. The question of power in anti-fascism is really the question of the revolutionary power of the working class.

The Question of Power

“Everything is illusory except power.” Lenin wrote these words in the context of the 1905 revolution in Russia, where the question of power –who has it, how to wield it – was an immediate life-or-death question. While we are not currently in a revolutionary situation, the question of power is no less important for revolutionaries now. Power, fundamentally, means the ability to control the actions of others and direct the course of events, of society, of history. Power is primarily wielded by classes: currently the capitalist class has nearly all of the power, and so it can produce and reproduce society according to its own desires, with the goal of continuing and increasing exploitation. But this doesn’t have to be the case: the working class is also capable of wielding power, of changing the course of events, of smashing capitalism, of building communism.

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” The basis of power is force. While the capitalist class has built up elaborate structures to maintain its rule –from schools, to the media, to religion – every institution of the capitalist class is backed up by its repressive apparatuses: the army, the police, alongside less formal organizations such as armed far-right groups. Capitalist rule is fundamentally a question of force. Using force, the capitalist class can literally decide who lives and dies: any opposition to capitalist rule which extends beyond the bounds of the “loyal opposition” (the NDP, other moderate leftists) will be met with repression and attempts at smashing it by the capitalists and their lackeys. There are countless examples of this in the long and tumultuous history of the class struggle in Canada. The power of the capitalist class is upheld because the capitalist class currently has a monopoly on the use of force: class power is a material question.

The capitalist class is not the only class capable of wielding force. The working class can also wield force in order to build its power, building capacity to overthrow the power of the capitalist class. The working class has three main ways, all necessary, of gaining the ability to wield force and therefore conquer power: organization, mass support, and fighting capacity. While this may seem like a truism, much of the so-called left, those who function as agents of the capitalist class within the revolutionary movement, have forgotten this simple fact. On the one hand there are those who fetishize spontanaeity –either those who believe in the transformative power of “mass” movements of bureaucrats, or those who don’t think any organization at all is necessary – and on the other hand are those who are afraid to use force, violence, to achieve ends, both pacifists and right-opportunists of various stripes.

The working class has three principle weapons in its war against the capitalist class: the party, the united front, and the people’s army. The party is a highly organized, disciplined, and centralized organization which is able to politically direct the entire struggle against the capitalist class. It is only in the party that the various struggles which emerge organically out of the contradictions of society come together, and the political lessons of this convergence are then synthesized and used to direct further work.  The party serves as the vanguard of the entire struggle against capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. The Revolutionary Communist Party is such a party. The united front gathers together all those struggling for the overthrow of capitalism –communists or not- and brings them together in an organized and systematic way. It is here that the masses are able to plug into the life-and-death struggle against capitalism and the capitalist state, extending organization to every sphere and sector of society. And finally, the people’s army is the highest expression of the working class’s ability to wield force. Through revolutionary violence, it materially attacks and tears down capitalist society bit by bit, before finally going onto the offensive and violently smashing the capitalist class once and for all. If it is true that political power grows from the barrel of a gun, and it is true that everything except power is an illusion, then it is doubly true that “Without a people’s army, the people have nothing.”

Traitors Among the People

The primary enemy in the struggle to overthrow capitalism is the capitalist class, and the repressive apparatuses –the police and army – which maintain capitalist rule. However, another enemy in the struggle to overthrow capitalism are the agents of the capitalist class, conscious or not, who infiltrate the revolutionary movement in order to demobilize and defang the working class. Here we must draw a line of demarcation: between revolutionaries and those unable or unwilling to rise to the task of revolution, between revolutionaries and those who do everything they can to force the working class into a position of defeat. There are different types of agents of the capitalist class within the left: each is worth critiquing in turn.

First, there are those who argue against the necessity of organization. There are movementists: those who believe in the spontaneous transformative power of mass movements. Movementists, often bureaucrats, professors, NGO staff, and other “middle class” elements, argue against the necessity of a strong, centralized, disciplined vanguard Party, peddling tripe about the dangers of “authoritarianism” or expressing a fear of centralization. First, one wonders how these movementists think that, concretely, a revolution is possible without strong centralized leadership: more often than not they retreat into the realm of abstract theory, leaving aside the concrete necessity for leadership and organization. Second, one notes that fear of centralization is more-often-than-not a petty-bourgeois or “middle class” opposition to authority: what the movementists fear is not authority in general, but rather being subjected to authority that is not their own. Individualism and self-interest prevails.

Second, there are those spontaneists –usually though not exclusively anarchists of the worst type– who disagree with the necessity of any organization at all. These nihilists fetishize spontaneity to the point of even attempting to dress-up their own organized activity in a cloak of mystery! They constantly attack organizations in the abstract and concrete, refuse to work with what they term “authoritarians,” and reject any attempts at coordination or centralization. In practice, they demobilize struggles, and in more intense situations, endanger everyone present through their inane strategies of dis-organizing. These spontaneists are unable to conceptualize the practical necessity of organization in transforming an entire society: as a result, they often retreat into building micro-communities (cliques) and nihilism, abandoning any attempt to change the existing social order or build mass support. And again, these spontaneists, generally from well-off backgrounds, seem to fear, above all else, not authority per-se but other people’s authority over themselves.

Both of these tendencies have the effect of robbing the people of one of their primary weapons in the fight against the capitalist class: the Party. But the latter also robs the people of its second weapon: the united front. By undermining the necessity of organization, the spontaneists essentially surrender the entire people to the ruling class, refusing to organize them so they can overthrow the capitalist class and rule themselves.

Third, there are moderates who back down from the use of violence. Or, it is perhaps more correct to say, they attack the use of violence by anyone but the state: this is unsurprisingly more common than principled pacifism. We have unfortunately seen this tendency express itself especially strongly in the struggle against fascism. Moderates and liberals will argue that fascism must be debated, or, even worse, will purposely use institutional resources –thanking the capitalist class every step of the way, surely – in order to organize alternative anti-fascist events which refuse to confront fascists directly, thus leading well-meaning anti-fascists astray. While the moderates and pacifists pontificate about the ethics of attacking fascism directly, fascists harass, stalk, terrorize, and murder anti-fascists and oppressed peoples. Moderates wonder if it is correct to punch a Nazi: fascists openly organize to commit genocide. Despite what these moderates argue, love does not trump hate: force, violence, power is what defeats fascism. Everything is illusory except power. These enemies of the people actively try and attempt to defang the working class by ignoring this fact, making it impossible to contest the power of the capitalist class.

Finally, we have those self-described radicals who, abstractly, understand the necessity of violence at some point, but at every opportunity attack those forces who engage in righteous violence against the enemies of the people. Most commonly revisionist “communists” (in Canada the Communist Party of Canada and the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), alongside the many flavours of Trotskyist), these cowards will throw the empty critique of “ultra-leftism” at any individual or organization who endeavours to concretely take up the challenge of overthrowing the capitalist class and the capitalist state. On a functional level, these cowards are no different than moderate pacifists: they also have the effect of defanging the working class. However, on another level, they are even worse: by wrapping their treachery in a red flag, they serve to confuse not just the masses as a whole, but the most politically advanced section of the masses.

Each of these errors represents the influence of the capitalist class –conscious or not- within the left. Each error must be resolutely struggled against if we are ever to overthrow the capitalist class. What unites these errors is that in each case, those that uphold these mistaken conceptions are either unable or unwilling to contend with the question of power.

Power Matters

If we are to seriously criticize these various agents of the bourgeoisie within the left, then we need to offer both a better way of understanding the world, but also a better guide to action.

First: concretely grasping with the question of power requires us to locate it. A post-modern approach to power sees power lying everywhere, in every micro-interaction. While it is useful to look at how power dynamics between oppressed and oppressor groups operate as a means of fighting for liberation, such a diffuse conception of power is ultimately disarming. Post-modernist conceptions of power are disarming because they lose focus of the two main repositories of power that the capitalist class relies on: capital, and the capitalist state.

“Capital is money. Capital is commodities.” But capital is also a social relation, a social relation of power and authority. Under capitalism, where the working class is forced to subject itself to capital’s authority in order to survive, capital should primarily be understood as an immaterial quality which allows certain people (those with capital) to tell other people (those without capital) what to do. Demystified, capital is really no different than the divine right of kings: it is an arbitrary way to denote those who have power and those who do not.

The state is more obviously the locus of power, insofar as it is where the repressive apparatuses of the capitalist class are located. The state has, in the abstract, a monopoly on socially sanctioned violence, which it executes through the police and military. Any force which attempts to step outside the realm of bourgeois legality quickly feels the material reality of class power, as the repressive apparatuses of the capitalist state rush into action. But the state is not invincible: it is not all powerful or all-knowing. It has limits to its capacity to act. It is a material force.

Knowing that capital and the capitalist state are the two main sources of the capitalist class’s power, how does this concretely inform our tasks? We put forward the revolutionary notion that all of our activity, all of our demands, all of our slogans, should have the goal of increasing the power of the working class, and not increasing the power of the capitalist class. This means that in our activity, we need to rely on our own capacities, and not the capacities of the capitalist class or capitalist state.

Concretely: think of rallies or gatherings which, when the police arrive, almost inevitably turn violent. Think of the well-meaning radical who, in a moment of heightened tension, screams at the police: “Do your job! What side are you on! Who are you here to protect?!” The answers to these questions should be clear if we analyze the police in a scientific way: the job of the police in Canada is to protect the rich and enforce colonialism, they are on the side of the exploiters, and they exist to protect property. Conversely, their job is neither to protect the masses, nor are they on the side of the masses. But these conclusions are lost in the moment if we forget that power is our goal. In the absence of the proper political orientation, the well-meaning radical lapses back into instinctual behaviour of seeing the capitalist state as the only source of legitimate power, and so implores the state to use that power. At best this behaviour confuses the masses: at worse it actually empowers the bourgeois state.

Some leftists attempt to confuse this issue by arguing that forcing the repressive apparatuses of the capitalist state to act is an example of working-class power. For instance, it is common to hear self-styled revolutionaries call for the police to actually enforce hate-speech laws. This position however ignores that the structural power of the police, their role in the production and reproduction of capitalist society, precludes them from being anything but an armed wing of the capitalist state. Consider here hate-speech laws in the United States: despite (or because!) being a society built on a foundation of white supremacy, and despite a white majority population, hate speech laws are used overwhelmingly against people of colour. Or, consider, well-meaning anti-fascists tracking down the places of work of fascists and, appealing to the authority of their bosses (the authority of capital!), having the fascists fired. Are we so naïve to think that, as the class struggle intensifies, we too will not be fired for political reasons? Are political firings an option we want to make socially acceptable to the capitalist class? Any tool given to the capitalist class or the capitalist state will, inevitably, be turned against the people.

And all of this assumes that the capitalist class actually has an interest in attacking fascism! Not only have the repressive apparatuses of the capitalist state become inundated with the far-right (as the FBI has alarmingly noted in the US; think of the correlation between the Proud Boys and the Canadian Forces in Canada), but the capitalist class keeps fascism around as a last-resort to use against the revolutionary movement. The capitalist class and the capitalist state will not smash fascism because they need fascism.

There is a third element we should consider: NGOs. Despite the name, NGOs are almost entirely state-funded, with additional funding coming from charities or private corporations. NGOs often take on providing social services to marginalized people. Many well-meaning leftists, even potential revolutionaries, go to work for NGOs as a means of improving the living conditions of marginalized people. But NGOs serve a diabolical purpose in advanced capitalist societies: insofar as NGOs rely on the capitalist class for funding, they function as a means of channelling the just struggles of marginalized peoples into respectable channels which do not challenge the fundamentals of capitalist rule. Instead, if an NGO steps too far outside what is considered politically respectable, its funding will be pulled. There are thus structural limitations on the capacities for NGOs to actually advance the conditions of the people they claim to represent. Revolutionaries need to build mass organizations which rely on the people for their material support, instead of relying on the philanthropy of a brutal and blood-thirsty capitalist class.

What all of this means is that we can only count on ourselves, on our own forces, to build the capacity of the working class in its struggle for power. It means that we need to seek independence from the bourgeois state in our work. And this extends as well to the struggle against fascism: we can only rely on ourselves to defeat fascism. And so the question becomes: how do we build our capacities? How do we build the power, in concrete terms, of the revolutionary working-class movement?

What Needs to be Done: Build Organization, Increase Fighting Capacity

In the face of resurgent fascism, there are a number of practical tasks facing the revolutionary movement. Chiefly, we need to: build organization, and increase our fighting capacity.

There is truth that for the working class, there is strength in numbers. But for this to translate concretely into power, it needs to be directed. And for it to be directed, it needs to be organized. Thousands of workers need to come together at all levels –mass organizations, the Party – and commit themselves to the discipline required to overthrow capitalism. In this, the Party is indispensable: it is only here that the various struggles come together in order to form a cohesive plan for all of society. But the Party alone is not sufficient: organization must extend throughout all of society, to all levels, and in all sectors. Thus, a main task in building our capacity for power is to increase organization: build the Party, build the mass organizations.

However, organization on its own is not sufficient. Without fighting capacity –the ability to translate organization into force- there is no power. We speak here of the practical skills necessary to be able to fight: fitness, training, and a willingness to use revolutionary violence. As of now the right has a monopoly on the culture of violence, and it is this fact more than anything else which has weakened the left. The left needs also to increase its practical ability to fight. Concretely, what this means now is training revolutionaries to engage in small-scale street fights, usually with the police or the far-right, relying primarily on martial arts. While this is a far-cry from people’s war and revolution, it is unthinkable that we can advance in that direction, or even achieve something as modest as challenging the growing far right, without first laying the ground work of building a literal fighting movement. This is what it means to take self-defence seriously.

Organization and fighting capacity are key to building the power of the working class. Without these, we will always be at the mercy of the capitalists and their state.

Practical Tasks in the Struggle Against Fascism

It is in the struggle against fascism that the question of power has, today, taken on its most concrete expression. As such, the Revolutionary Communist Party advances the following theses, arising from the analysis of power and the current situation, to guide the burgeoning anti-fascist movement in Canada.

  1. The anti-fascist movement must be organized. It cannot simply rely on incidental affinity groups, arising spontaneously to challenge fascism. The anti-fascist movement needs a concrete leadership, concrete organizational structure, and democratic decision making processes. It needs to be able to allow people to plug-in even if they cannot devote as much time as an “organizer/activist.” Fascists are getting organized: our response to fascism should be more organized and more disciplined.
  2. The struggle against fascism requires a mass orientation. That is to say, relying on small groups of anti-fascist fighters will not suffice to defeat fascism. We need to draw the masses into the struggle against fascism. We do this through concrete outreach on the community level: door-knocking, serve the people programs, educationals, and more. We do not do this through exclusively relying on existing organizations, NGOs, or labour bureaucrats. A mass orientation means more than just a long list of endorsements: it means concretely moving the masses into action. And it must be done without sacrificing the revolutionary politics of the anti-fascist movement.
  3. For anti-fascism to have teeth, it must be able to fight. The anti-fascist movement must organize disciplined groups of anti-fascist fighters who are able to use political violence against rising fascist groups. Fascists are training to fight: it would be suicidal for us to pretend we could struggle against fascism without equal training. And, in turn, the fighting capacity of the anti-fascist movement must build off of and rely on its mass orientation: both elements need to support one another, rather than existing in antagonism. We will go as far as to say that any anti-fascist organization that does not concretely build its capacity to fight is actually a danger to the movement as a whole.
  4. The anti-fascist movement must serve the people. Through mass connections and fighting capacity, it needs to be seen by the masses as their protectors and champions. As fascism becomes more consolidated, it will inevitably go on the offensive against anything progressive, democratic, or revolutionary. At a basic level, the anti-fascist movement can use its fighting capacity to run security for these organizations, building power in a way that does not rely on the capitalist state.
  5. Anti-fascism cannot be a movement in isolation. At its most basic level, it needs to be connected with the struggle to overthrow capitalism. For us this means it should be connected with the Revolutionary Communist Party, and, eventually, as one sectoral organization in the united front. But this connection must not be bureaucratic: it must be a relationship of political leadership of the Party and its perspectives over an autonomous and internally democratic movement against fascism. Concretely, this means that Party members must fight for the perspectives outlined in this document and convince the broader anti-fascist movement of their validity. Barring this connection, anti-fascism will eventually lapse, and will provide breathing room for fascism to grow again: we have seen this with the rise and fall of ARA in the 1990s.
  6. It is not enough to simply react to fascism as it arises. The anti-fascist movement must be reactive, but must also be proactive. Through service to the people, as well as penetrating the cultural sphere, anti-fascism needs to be able to sustain itself outside of simple opposition to fascism. We cannot allow ourselves to become demobilized through victory.

 

The RCP’s contribution to the struggle against fascism can be summarized as: organization, mass focus, militancy.

The RCP’s weapons for the overthrow of capitalism: party, united front, people’s army.

The two are inseparable.

Rechercher la vérité des faits: une réponse aux soi-disant ‘continuateur.e.s’

Réponse du PCR-RCP au texte « Nous sommes les Continuateur.e.s»

Le texte qui suit est une réponse au texte « Nous sommes les continuateur.e.s », produit par la clique des vieilles idées et diffusée à travers les chaînes médiatiques volées du PCR-RCP. Avant de rentrer dans les arguments, nous tenons à noter le fait que les soi-disant « continuanteur.e.s » ont désigné l’entièreté de l’organisation à laquelle illes appartenaient comme étant un « cancer » et nous considèrent donc à travers une contradiction antagoniste. Cette façon de faire nous ramène au type de sectarisme hérité du Nouveau Mouvement Communiste, qui ne devrait plus avoir de place dans notre mouvement. De notre point de vue, leur départ reste une décevant et nous espérons leur retour, mais nous ne les voyons pas comme un problème qui doit être effacé comme s’il s’agissait de fascistes. Pour mettre les choses au clair, nous ne répondons à leur texte virulent que parce qu’illes se sont permis de faire plusieurs énoncés qui sont soit faux ou des demi-vérités. Pour le reste, nous ne tenons pas à nous embourber dans une vieille pratique sectaire de salissage qui ne fait que distraire du travail d’organisation.

Le curieux titre, « Nous sommes les continuateur.e.s », vise clairement à associer la clique fractionnaire avec le Parti Communiste du Pérou (PCP) au moment du lancement de la Guerre Populaire. Le titre est une référence au « Nous sommes les initiateur.trice.s » du PCP. Illes auraient eu plus raison, en fait, s’illes avaient utilisé le titre original : certain.e.s membres de la clique des vieilles idées faisaient en effet partie du « leadership historique » du PCR-RCP qui a été derrière le lancement du parti et ont donc été essentiel.le.s à lancer le maoïsme au Canada. Nous n’avons aucun problème à reconnaître ce fait, et contrairement à leur fabrication de complots d’un « cancer d’Ottawa », nous ne projetons pas de péché originel dans notre passé. Certain.e.s membres des « continuateur.e.s » de Montréal ont posé les fondements de l’émergence du maoïsme contemporain au Canada; leurs contributions ne peuvent pas être niées. Et après leur expulsion, quand plusieurs opportunistes sont sortis de leurs tanières pour nous dire que « leadership historique » avait toujours eu tort, nous n’avons pas accepté ces critiques. Nous reconnaissons la contribution de ces ex-camarades mais, parce que nous comprenons l’aspect dynamique de l’histoire, nous comprenons aussi qu’il est possible que des camarades perdent leur chemin.

La logique de « Nous sommes les continuateur.e.s » est basée sur l’idée que puisque le PCR-RCP a été lancé à Montréal, c’est là que doivent être basé le leadership idéologique et pratique sur le parti. Nous tenons cela pour un problème, parce que, au-delà du lancement, en-dedans des cinq premières années de son existence le PCR-RCP s’est étendu hors des limites de Montréal et a intégré des militant.es d’Ottawa et de Toronto. Dans les trois congrès qui ont suivi cette expansion, dont le dernier a réuni des représentant.e.s des côtes Est et Ouest, ça n’a plus aucun sens de définir le PCR-RCP comme représentant seulement Montréal. De plus, les individus qui ont précipité la crise qui a mené les « continuateur.e.s » à rompre avec le reste de l’organisation (i.e. les individus qui ont mené l’agression physique à la librairie) étaient des recrues relativement récentes au parti qui ne sont pas du tout des « continuateur.e.s » mais qui représentent en fait une réelle rupture avec le parti tel qu’il était. Le fait que des éléments du « leadership historique » se sont portés à la défense de recrues qui ont tout juste été introduites au maoïsme, qui proviennent elles aussi du milieu étudiant universitaire (quoique qu’illes prétendent l’inverse), revient à un régionalisme étrange. Un petit groupe d’ex-cadres dans la cellule expulsée de Montréal sont peut-être les « initiateur.trice.s » mais leur base actuelle, surtout ceux/celles qui ont créé le problème au départ sont de très jeunes recrues ayant beaucoup moins d’expérience que les camarades que les « continuateur.e.s » appellent soudainement un cancer.

Mis-à-part nos conceptions différentes de la ligne de masse, il y a malheureusement une autre base à ce conflit qui est le fait que le « groupe dirigeant historique » ne monopolise plus le leadership. Cet état de fait est le résultat d’un processus que tout communiste devrait célébrer : le mouvement est devenu pan-canadien, des individus et des organisations se sont intégrées au mouvement de côte à côte, et donc lors du dernier congrès un Comité Central représentant la croissance nationale du PCR-RCP a été élu. Le « groupe dirigeant historique » qui sont de fait les « initiateur.trice.s » n’avait pas envisagé ce que cela voudrait dire de s’étendre à travers le Canada; illes ont présumé qu’illes garderaient le contrôle et que les autres régions, qui ne les connaissaient pas, continueraient à élire leur leadership. Le texte au grand complet des « continuateur.e.s » n’est rien d’autre qu’une plainte de la part du « leadership historique » concernant la croissance organisationnelle actuelle : le leadership historique, la clique des vieilles idées, ne veut plus faire la révolution à travers le Canada si ça veut dire qu’elle perd le contrôle sur le leadership du parti. Elle préférerait demeurer au niveau régional, au point de justifier les gestes de goon de leurs recrues Montréal en autant qu’elles restent fidèles au leadership historique.

Regardons un peu leurs arguments en lien avec leur expulsion du PCR-RCP à la lumière du jour : ce ne sont que des plaintes du « groupe dirigeant historique » qui n’est plus en charge parce que l’organisation s’est étendu au-delà de leur région; c’est une tentative de réassumer leur leadership, basé sur le souhait d’exister au-delà de la centralisation et de la critique et l’auto-critique.

Il y a cependant des difficultés à répondre à « Nous sommes les continuateur.e.s ». Premièrement, pour un texte aussi long, la clique des vieilles idées dit très peu de choses : le document fait plus dans le style que le contenu. Deuxièmement, le texte est plein de délusions conspiratoires paranoïaques qui, parce qu’elles n’ont pas de contenu ou de liens avec la réalité, sont difficiles à réfuter. Cela s’étend aussi à un autre texte, « Pour dissiper le brouillard », qui va encore plus loin en faisant passer le CC pour des comploteurs mesquins, et en se basant sur un nœud d’énoncés non élaborés et délusoires pour soutenir cette fantaisie. Troisièmement, on trouve tellement de mensonges à travers le texte qu’il serait impossible de tous les réfuter. Nous demandons aux camarades à être sceptique envers l’ensemble du texte; l’absence de réfutation ici à des points spécifiques du texte n’implique pas notre accord. Au lieu, le PCR-RCP s’attache ici à : répondre à certains des mensonges les plus éhontés, à réviser les supposées réfutations de la clique des vieilles idées quand aux critiques que nous avions adressées lors de l’annonce de leur expulsion; et enfin, à traiter de certaines des divergences politiques fondamentales qu’il y a derrière ce conflit.

Mensonges, maudits mensonges et « continuateur.e.s »

Premièrement, « Nous sommes les continuateur.e.s » part dans une tentative ridicule et franchement étrange de présenter le conflit actuel comme étant un conflit entre le PCR-RCP légitime, et un groupe d’ex-supporteur.trice.s du Social Revolution Party (Parti de la Révolution Sociale, SRP). La clique des vieilles idées accuse les partisan.e.s du SRP de s’être noyauté au PCR-RCP, d’être resté à l’état dormant pendant des années tout en maintenant une structure de leadership parallèle et une perspective politique secrètes, pour enfin émerger à la surface au dernier congrès et prendre le contrôle du leadership du parti. Bien que ce soit déjà tout simplement ridicule en surface, nous tenons à déballer ces énoncés un peu plus.

Pour l’histoire, le Social Revolution ‘’Party’’ (SRP) était une organisation ambitieuse mais mal-nommée, qui a été lancée en 2009. Elle avait une présence limitée à Ottawa et à London et Ontario. Après être entré en contact avec le PCR-RCP au G20 à Toronto en 2010, le SRP a entamé un processus de fusion avec le PCR-RCP, qui a culminé avec la création d’une cellule du PCR-RCP à Ottawa au début 2011. À l’époque, le PCR-RCP a publié une déclaration d’unité faisant l’éloge des membres du SRP pour leur « engagement révolutionnaire » et leur « riche expérience d’organisation, en particulier au sein de la classe ouvrière ». La déclaration faisait également l’éloge du concept de « mouvement d’action populaire » (MAP) pour avoir « apporté une contribution positive au débat sur la nécessité de lutter dès maintenant pour créer l’ossature d’un nouveau pouvoir populaire ». (www.pcr-rcp.ca/fr/1499) Suite au ralliement, le SRP a abandonné l’ensemble de ses anciennes positions – y compris les MAP – et a adopté sans question la ligne du PCR-RCP, fait pour lequel les ex-membres du SRP ont reçu des éloges lors du deuxième congrès du PCR-RCP. Les ex-membres du SRP – qui ne sont plus que trois dans tout le PCR-RCP – n’ont maintenu aucun type d’organisation parallèle : en fait, la seule continuation d’avec la ligne du SRP a été celle d’un document, intitulé « Une position communiste sur la démocratie bourgeoise et le système parlementaire », qui a été mise sous la forme d’une brochure par la cellule du PCR-RCP de Montréal et distribuée à la Maison Norman Bethune!

Avec cela en tête, il est tout simplement absurde de penser que le conflit actuel au sein du PCR-RCP a quelque chose à voir avec la fusion de 2010. Si c’était le cas, nous devons alors demander: 1) Pourquoi a-t-il été permis au SRP d’être intégré au PCR-RCP si son orientation politique était si « cancéreuse »? Cela ne représenterait-il pas une marque de pur opportunisme de la part du leadership traditionnel du PCR-RCP? 2) Comment se fait-il que la majorité de l’expansion du parti après 2010 partage les conceptions mises de l’avant par les ex-membres du SRP? 3) Comment est-ce que cette compréhension explique le fait que les sections de Toronto et de la ville de Québec, qui n’ont tout deux rien à voir avec le SRP et qui précèdent toutes deux le ralliement du SRP au PCR-RCP, continuent elles aussi de reconnaître le leadership légitime du PCR-RCP? Bref, la clique des vieilles idées ne peut pas répondre à ces questions, parce que ses prétentions ne sont rien d’autre que des délusions paranoïaques.

Deuxièmement, nous tenons à réitérer qu’il n’existe pas de soi-disant « District du Québec ». Il n’y a jamais de formation reconnue ainsi au sein du PCR-RCP : en fait, la création de l’entité dénommée « District du Québec » a été reconnue comme le début d’une formation fractionnelle, organisée autour de la « clique des vieilles idées ». Le « district du Québec » ne représente pas le PCR-RCP dans la province du Québec : il ne réfère qu’à un petit nombre de militant.es à Montréal et à Valleyfield. Rappelons également que la section du parti à Québec et les comités d’organisation à Montréal et à Hull reconnaissent toutes le leadership légitime du PCR-RCP. La prétention comme quoi des cellules auraient été ignorées dû à un supposé désintérêt envers la croissance du parti au Québec est au mieux spécieuse; pourquoi alors l’existence de ces cellules n’avait-elle pas été révélée au Comité Central avant l’expulsion des cellules de Montréal et Valleyfield? Nous réfutons également l’énoncé selon lequel la cellule de Montréal constituerait 50% des membres du PCR-RCP : quoique cela ait pu être vrai en 2014, ce ne serait vrai aujourd’hui qu’à condition d’exclure toute la croissance du parti qui a eu lieu après 2014. Nous maintenons que les sections expulsées constituaient environ 15% des membres du parti : un nombre significatif, mais avec beaucoup moins de poids que ce que les saboteurs laissent entendre. (Nous sommes dans l’incapacité de fournir une mesure exacte parce que la clique des vieilles idées refusait constamment de rapportait des chiffres concrets, donnant toujours des estimations vagues ne reflétant aucune croissance, et des promesses qu’une vague de recrutement majeur attendait au coin de la rue.) En fait, l’adoption du nom « district du Québec » n’est rien d’autre qu’une tentative cynique de faire d’un groupe isolé de saboteurs paraître moins isolé pour celles/ceux qui sont moins au courant, tout agitant cyniquement les tensions nationales au sein du PCR-RCP.

Troisièmement, nous rejetons l’affirmation qu’une « clique opportuniste » a pris le leadership du PCR-RCP. Nous tenons à rappeler que le Comité Central actuel a été élu au congrès de 2016 du PCR-RCP. Un membre du Comité Central a été expulsé pour son implication dans l’altercation du 4 mars à la Maison Norman Bethune, et un deuxième a démissionné. Le Comité Central restant est reconnu comme étant le leadership légitime par 85% des membres du parti : toutes les sections et comités d’organisation à l’exception de la clique des vieilles idées à Montréal et Valleyfield. Il est absurde de suggérer que cette supposée « clique opportuniste » a été capable de se bâtir une base, sans rencontrer d’obstacle, au sein du Mouvement Étudiant Révolutionnaire : des membres actuels de la clique des vieilles idées étaient également actifs dans le MER, ont participé à plusieurs congrès du MER, et ont seulement commencé à refuser de lutter politiquement pour leur perspective au sein du MER au cours de la dernière année. Les accusations sur les origines de classe de la soi-disant « clique opportuniste » sont absurdes et risibles : cette idée que le parti est démographiquement prolétarien à Montréal – la seule région où nous avons eu des professionnel.le.s  dans le parti! – et démographiquement petit-bourgeois ailleurs, est une prétention si creuse qu’elle ne mérite pas d’être traitée en profondeur.

Quatrièmement, sur le congrès de 2016: la clique des vieilles idées prétend que c’est à travers son activité dans le MER que la « clique opportuniste » a pu amassé des partisan.e.s au congrès. C’est catégoriquement faux. À travers leur activité dans le MER, plusieurs révolutionnaires ont été attiré.e.s vers le PCR-RCP. Plusieurs ont formé des comités d’organisation là où le PCR-RCP était absent, et d’autres ont rejoint des sections existantes du PCR-RCP là où il y en avait. Ça a été le cas y compris pour le parti à Montréal. Avant le congrès de 2016, le Comité Central précédent avait pris la décision de transformer tous les comités d’organisation en sections, afin de permettre la plus grande participation possible aux travaux du congrès. Les membres de la clique des vieilles idées ont endossé cette idée à l’époque. En fin de compte, la seule opposition qu’il y a eu au congrès sur le statut d’un délégué, ou sur la distribution des votes : le membre dont la présence était remise en question était de Montréal ! Voilà encore un autre mensonge dans la longue série de déformations de la « clique des vieilles idées ».

Cinquièmement, la clique des vieilles idées déforme la question de la relance du Partisan. Le Comité Central n’a jamais remis en questions la nécessité de prendre part à la propagande classique. Cependant, il était clair que la relance du Partisan sur une base provinciale au Québec représentait une tentative d’utiliser les ressources du parti pour préparer le terrain à la scission. L’histoire nous a donné raison sur ce point. Ce que le Comité Central a fait a été de réitérer les conclusions du congrès de 2014 qui constataient que la version format papier du journal Partisan était coûteuse en ressources et peu efficace; dans une proposition rédigée par le groupe dirigeant historique, y compris des membres de la clique des vieilles idées, nous avons été d’accord en 2014 pour re-situer le Partisan au niveau de la ville, alors qu’un Partisan centralisé paraîtrait sur le site web. Nous avons donc cru nécessaire de faire en sorte que le travail du soi-disant district du Québec aille vers cette conception du Partisan, plutôt que de répéter la pratique erronée que nous avons depuis abandonné.

Sixièmement, avec tout cela en tête, nous trouvons particulièrement étrange le fait qu’illes critiquent la récente tournée dans l’Ouest canadien – qui avait été approuvée par le Comité Central alors que les membres de la clique des vieilles idées y siégeaient encore, sans aucune objection de leur part – pour le motif qu’ « aucune diffusion parmi les masses ne fut planifiée ». Dans les faits,  un travail de propagande significatif a été entrepris dans chacune des villes que nous avons visité, accompli principalement par nos camarades dans ces endroits : la « poignée de contacts faits sur internet » dont se moque la clique des vieilles idées. Résultat, nous avons pu présenté la ligne du PCR-RCP à quelques centaines de personnes avec lesquelles nous n’avions jamais été en contact auparavant, ce qui a mené à la consolidation de contacts à Calgary, Edmonton et Regina, à la création d’un comité d’organisation à Winnipeg, et au renforcement du travail en cours à Saskatoon. Si la clique des vieilles idées pense que notre temps aurait mieux servi à diffuser au hasard quelques centaines de dépliants, grand bien leur fasse, mais avec une telle perspective ce n’est pas étonnant qu’illes n’aient jamais été capables s’étendre significativement au-delà des villes fondatrices. Ce qui est également ironique, c’est le fait que nous avons emprunté la même méthode que la clique des vieilles idées quand le parti a tenté sa première expansion en Ontario : à Toronto et à Ottawa, illes ont contacté des groupes d’activistes existants pour jeter les bases de l’expansion.

Enfin, la clique des vieilles idées fait valoir que le PCR-RCP rejette dorénavant la Guerre Populaire Prolongée (GPP) comme stratégie révolutionnaire, et qu’il rejette la nécessité d’un « parti », le rôle central du « prolétariat et des concepts tels que le « mode de production ». Illes sont incapables de donner quelle que ce soit de ces affirmations parce qu’elles sont tout simplement absurdes. Au cas où il y aurait confusion, le PCR-RCP continue de reconnaître la nécessité du parti pour mener la révolution, la centralité de la classe ouvrière dans la lutte révolutionnaire, et la stratégie de la Guerre Populaire Prolongée. La preuve la plus simple en est que nous continue de mettre de l’avant le programme du PCR-RCP : il figure sur notre site web provisoire. Ce ne sont là rien d’autre que des accusations sans fondement d’un groupe de saboteurs s’accrochant à n’importe quoi.

Malheureusement, nous n’avons pas l’espace pour traiter tous les mensonges figurant dans « Nous sommes les continuateur.e.s ». Nous espérons que nous avons pu bien illustré ici certains des exemples les plus éhontés, ce qui devrait permettre de prendre avec un grain de sel les autres affirmations de la « clique des vieilles idées ».

Des soit-disantes réfutations

La clique des vieilles idées aborde directement sept infractions spécifiques, lesquelles nous avions étayées dans notre notice d’expulsion. Comme nous le démontrerons, ironiquement, dans leur tentative de réfuter chacune des infractions énumérées, illes admettent leur culpabilité à chacune d’elles.

Premièrement, sur la question du refus de lancement de la campagne de rectification mandatée par le Comité central, la clique des vieilles idées admet ouvertement avoir failli à cette tâche. Alors qu’illes affirment que cette campagne devait tuer le débat, rien ne pourrait être plus loin de la vérité : la lutte de ligne dans le PCR-RCP, telle que mandatée par le Congrès de 2016, est toujours en cours. Le but de la campagne de rectification était clairement expliqué dans la motion adoptée par le Comité central : c’était dans l’optique de corriger le travail stagnant dans Montréal, ainsi que d’éviter les faux-pas à Montréal (particulièrement autour des questions d’hyper-sectarisme et de transphobie) de saboter le reste de notre travail au Canada.

Deuxièmement, la clique des vieilles idées embrouille délibérément la question de l’usage de la violence pour résoudre des désaccords politiques. Dans la déclaration d’expulsion, le Comité central du PCR-RCP liste deux incidents : l’« éjection » (c.-à-d. de frapper et retirer avec force) de supporters du Parti de la Maison Norman Bethune le 4 mars et l’intimidation de travailleurs du Café Aquin en avril. Nous avions dès lors explicitement déclaré que de telles actions n’étaient en rien « une méthode maoïste de résolutions des contradictions au sein des masses ». Le PCR-RCP ne rejette pas en aucune instance la nécessité de la violence politique contre la bourgeoisie comme partie intégrante du processus révolutionnaire : il est absurde que la clique des vieilles idées cherche à propager de telles rumeurs sur cette question très spécifique. En retour, en dépit du fait qu’elle déclame dans sa déclaration que « la seule violence dont fait usage le Parti est dirigée contre la bourgeoisie et les ennemis de la révolution », la clique des vieilles idées admet du même souffle que l’on ait usé de force pour éjecter les supporters du Parti – deux d’entre eux étant en bons termes avec le Parti et étant reconnus du Comité central, malgré toute insinuation du contraire de la clique des vieilles idées – avant de procéder à se vanter qu’on aurait dû attaquer les camarades plus sévèrement (« infliger des coups portant réellement atteinte à leur intégrité physique »)! La clique des vieilles idées ne peut même pas garder sa propre version en règle ! De plus, nous croyons que l’usage légitime de la violence par un Parti prolétarien devrait être organisé, discipliné et redevable au leadership du Parti. Ce qui s’est passé à la Maison Norman Bethune et au Café Aquin ne représente en rien de telles dispositions, mais plutôt l’explosion impulsive d’un certain nombre de membres qui ne semblent pas pouvoir contrôler leurs ardeurs. Au lieu de jouer un rôle positif, ce comportement de tête brûlée nous a coûté une victoire de propagande et a aliéné un certain nombre de potentiels contacts politiques, minant ainsi les efforts du Parti. Si le contenu de cet incident n’était pas condamnable, alors la forme devrait certainement l’être. Le fait que la clique des vieilles idées ne le reconnaisse aucunement affiche de manière éloquente comment leur perspective s’est éloigné de la réalité.

Troisièmement, la clique des vieilles idées rejette l’idée qu’elle dédaignait lutter politiquement. Bien qu’illes aient produit plusieurs documents avant le dernier congrès, ces documents avaient pour intention de fermer le débat sur des questions pertinentes. Lorsque le Congrès a opté d’ouvrir ces questions au débat interne, ce qui incluait des positions mises de l’avant par la clique des vieilles idées, la clique des vieilles idées a voté contre la possibilité de traiter de ces débats à l’interne. En dépit de leur rejet du dédain à lutter politiquement, la clique de vieilles idées prouve le contraire a dépeignant les discussions sur certaines sections du Programme comme étant un jeu aux dés pipés. La clique de vieilles idées justifie leur dédain à lutter en déclarant que « [l]’opportunisme veut bien discuter de tout, tant que ce sont ses propositions qui sont mises en débat et tant qu’il a la garantie qu’elles seront adoptées ». Nous relevons l’ironie des faits.

Nous voudrions aussi réfuter ici l’idée que seule la clique des vieilles idées ait préparé des documents pour le dernier Congrès. Le précédent Comité central avait divisé le travail de produire les documents parmi ses membres : les membres de ce qui deviendra la clique des vieilles idées étaient responsables de produire les mises à jour politiques et organisationnelles, alors que d’autres étaient responsables de produire des mises à jour au Programme. Malgré les affirmations de la clique des vieilles idées, ces mises à jour n’avaient pas comme intention de rejeter les positions fondamentales du PCR-RCP. Plutôt, elles avaient l’intention d’améliorer et de moderniser les sections portant sur la question nationale et le genre, en plus de l’ajout d’une section sur l’environnement. La nécessité de ces mises à jour du Programme avait été démontrée par plus d’une décennie d’activité dans ces secteurs : ayant réussi à rallier à la fois des personnes de genres opprimés et des autochtones au Parti, les éléments avancés de ces groupes nous avaient fait part à maintes reprises de leurs critiques sur la manière dont notre Programme traitait mal de ces contradictions. Nous croyons que c’est le summum du dogmatisme et de l’arrogance que de penser que le Programme, tel qu’élaboré en 2006, sera éternellement infaillible. Telle est l’insécurité de la clique des vieilles idées.

Quatrièmement, sur la question des allégations d’abus sexuels : le Comité central avait reçu d’un ancien supporter du Parti une très longue critique à laquelle il est fait allusion dans « Nous sommes les Continuarteur.e.s ». Cette critique contenait une très sérieuse allégation d’abus sexuels, qui de fait n’était pas directement faite par la survivante, à l’encontre d’un membre du leadership du PCR-RCP. Étant donné la sévérité des accusations, nous avions entrepris d’investiguer ses propos au mieux de nos capacités. Ces allégations n’avaient pas été, contrairement à l’affirmation de la clique des vieilles idées, « circul[ées] à l’interne, dans toutes les cellules à l’exception de celles du Québec ». La longue critique a plutôt été envoyée à Ottawa par son auteur pour la production d’une traduction en pleine connaissance du Comité central incluant ceux de la clique des vieilles idées. Le Comité central n’a pas fait circuler ce document à aucune autre section. Avant le Congrès de 2016, le précédent Comité central, incluant des membres de la clique des vieilles idées, avait opté pour ne pas rendre public ces allégations dû à notre incapacité de les vérifier rapidement. Le Comité central avait tenté de rejoindre la survivante, sans réponses. À notre rencontre du Comité central le 5 mars 2017, nous avons été informés pour la première fois de l’existence d’une lettre, supposément rédigée par la survivante elle-même, niant les allégations et demandant à ne pas être recontactée. Malgré d’avoir demandé à maintes reprises d’avoir une copie de cette lettre, nous ne l’avons toujours pas reçue. En fait, les citations contenues dans « Nous sommes les Continuateur.e.s » constituent les premières bribes du contenu de cette soit-disante lettre que qui que ce soit sur le CC ait pu voir. Le refus de partager cette lettre, que la clique des vieilles idées aurait pu remettre sur une période de deux mois entre le 5 mars et son expulsion en mai, n’est rien de moins que l’obstruction d’une investigation ouverte sur des accusations très sévères que nous avons reçues.

Cinquièmement, malgré les propos impliquant que les accusations de transphobie sont mal placées, la clique des vieilles idées n’affirme jamais son engagement à lutter contre toute forme de discrimination comme la transphobie. Plutôt, la clique des vieilles idées suggère que toute déclaration faite au soutien de la libération trans affiche une condescendance « contre les femmes prolétaires du PCR au Québec » (n’étant clairement pas des femmes trans). La déclaration fait tout pour se distancer de ce qu’on y caractérise comme étant du « féminisme radical queer » avant de spécifier que, bien que la déclaration critique des conceptions non-marxistes (que l’on clarifie plus tard comme incluant le concept d’ « identité de genre »), ce sont les concepts qui sont ciblés et non les personnes trans comme telles. La clique des vieilles idées veut que nos camarades transgenres sachent que la transphobie ne leur est en rien dirigée personnellement. Le Comité central rejette avec force les propos trompeurs voilant leur intolérance and confirme sans réserve son engagement dans la libération trans. Il se doit pour tout groupe soit-disant révolutionnaire d’épouser une telle position.

Sixièmement, alors la clique des vieilles idées relève que « c’est probablement l’accusation de vol qui est la plus insultante », elle admet et justifie qu’elle ait saisi la majorité des ressources du Parti. La clique des vieilles idées justifie cela en argumentant qu’elle «[n’a] rien volé du tout; [elle a] tout simplement repris le contrôle de [ses] ressources ». Nous aimerions ici adresser certains points. En premier lieu, nous aimerions réitérer que dans un Parti opérant sous la ligne du centralisme démocratique, elles n’ont jamais été « les ressources du Québec » (et certainement pas celles de la clique des vieilles idées qui ne représente pas tous les membres du Québec) : toutes les cotisations amassées étaient des ressources collectives à l’entièreté du Parti. En second lieu, il était convenu pour un temps que moins d’argent en proportion serait perçu dans le reste du Canada. Ce n’était pas seulement parce que les seuls professionnels du Parti étaient au Québec (ce qui jette le doute sur la composition supposément plus prolétarienne du Parti au Québec), mais aussi parce que le membership à l’extérieur du Québec était considérablement plus jeune que dans la province tout en étant, jusqu’à récemment, numériquement inférieur. Les Comités centraux précédents comprenaient que nous devions constamment nous battre contre les faibles taux de collectes de cotisations car il en faudrait un certain temps avec de pouvoir accoter les contributions des camarades du Québec. Pour cela, nous en sommes reconnaissant-e-s. Qui plus est, l’une des raisons de la sur-contribution des camarades du Québec était le changement de la politique de partage des fonds – où 1/3 devait dès lors se rendre aux cellules –, ce qui ne fut jamais transmis aux cellules du Québec en raison du manquement continu des membres de la clique des vieilles idées de partager les décisions du Comité central.

Enfin, il est bon de voir que la clique des vieilles idées avoue volontiers qu’elle a rejeté le centralisme démocratique en ne respectant pas les décisions du Comité central légitimement élu. Alors qu’elle tente de justifier pourquoi elle a fait ainsi, nous relevons que la supposition sous-jacente est, qu’en dépit des processus démocratiques du Parti, la clique des vieilles idées pense que c’est en fait le leadership historique du Parti qui est/devrait être en charge. Le Comité central est d’avis que le centralisme démocratique est crucial et doit être défendu, pas seulement quand son opinion est majoritaire dans le Parti.

Alors que la clique des vieilles idées tente de réfuter les sept raisons spécifiques pour son expulsion, ironiquement elle réaffirme chaque accusation. Soyons clairs : les cellules de Montréal et Valleyfield n’ont pas été expulsées en raison de leur ligne politique (excepté la transphobie), mais pour leurs violations flagrantes des règles internes. En effet, la ligne de lutte, que la clique des vieilles idées blâme comme étant la source de leur expulsion, est toujours en cours : n’importe quel ancien membre de ces cellules qui reconnaît comme la vaste majorité du Parti la légitimité du leadership est bienvenu de rejoindre nos rangs et de participer à cette lutte de ligne.

Questions politiques

Étant donné la densité de la désinformation contenue dans « Nous sommes les Continuateur.e.s », il est difficile d’avoir une discussion de fond sur les différences politiques entre la clique des vieilles idées et le PCR-RCP. Plusieurs accusations jetées par la clique des vieilles idées – par exemple, que le PCR-RCP rejette le marxisme pour le post-modernisme et la sociale-démocratie – sont si ridicules et infondées qu’il ne nous ait laissé avec peu d’autres options que de simplement les nier en bloc et de passer à autre chose. Cependant, en dépit les nombreuses ridicules accusations quasi-politiques (que le PCR-RCP rejette la forme Parti, la centralité du rôle du prolétariat, la Guerre populaire prolongée comme stratégie révolutionnaire, etc.), nous maintenons toujours que le problème politique de la clique des vieilles idées est le rejet de la ligne de masse, et par extension, le MLM.

La clique des vieilles idées defend que le PCR-RCP rejette ce qu’elle réfère comme étant des « actions révolutionnaires » desquelles il existe quatre formes : la propagande classique, la propagande armée, l’action révolutionnaire parmi les masses et la Guerre populaire prolongée. Bien que le Comité central croit que c’est un peu une exagération d’argumenter que «[l]a conceptualisation des quatre formes objectives de l’action révolutionnaire est la plus grande contribution du PCR au mouvement communiste», nous ne rejetons pas la conception ici mise de l’avant. Cependant, comme d’autres documents internes l’ont noté l’« action révolutionnaire parmi les masses (ARM)» est un terme ambigu qui a besoin d’être précisé plus amplement. Pour la clique des vieilles idées, les ARM n’impliquent que de se pointer dans les rallyes, de crier les bons slogans et de combattre la police. Alors que nous ne disputons la nécessité de ces formes d’ARM – en dépit des affirmations du contraire, la clique de vieilles idées aurait bien de la difficulté à trouver des déclarations officielles décriant leur « aventurisme » –nous avançons que d’autres formes d’actions révolutionnaires parmi les masses sont nécessaires. Ce sont ces autres formes qui sont énumérées dans le document « La ligne de masse et les méthodes communistes de travail » que la clique des vieilles idées passe un temps considérable à critiquer.

Fondamentalement, la clique des vieilles idées fait l’erreur infantile de confondre les luttes concrètes avec le légalisme. Ceci fait partie de l’anti-économisme irrationnel de certains membres du leadership historique, incluant certains membres de la clique des vieilles idées, dans la suite des événements jusqu’au Congrès de 2014. Nous rejetons que ce serait le cas : l’organisation illégale d’un syndicat peut en être un exemple. De plus, nous rejetons que tout travail concret qu’un organisateur communiste peut faire doit nécessairement être illégal. Alors que la clique des vieilles idées se bidonne devant les organisateurs et organisatrices s’engageant dans le travail quotidien que nécessite la mise en marche d’un mouvement révolutionnaire, nous aimerions noter la nécessité de ce travail moins excitant mais tout aussi important. Nous aimerions relever l’ironie du fait que plusieurs de la clique des vieilles idées s’évertuent eux-mêmes à faire de telles tâches : distribution de journaux, impression et assemblage de pamphlets, tenue de kiosques, opération de librairies, etc. En gardant cela en tête, nous réaffirmons que l’évitement de l’économisme est primairement une question subjective, c’est-à-dire qu’il en dépend du niveau politique soutenu : plusieurs types de travail concret peuvent être subsumés au mouvement révolutionnaire s’illes sont ouvertement et consciemment fait dans l’optique de bâtir vers la Guerre populaire prolongée.

Une autre mécompréhension de la ligne de masse peut être perçue par le rejet de la clique des vieilles idées des organisations de masse et des organisations intermédiaires en faveur de ce qu’illes nomment les « petits mouvements ». En premier lieu, nous pouvons observer la preuve de l’utilité d’une telle stratégie :  en utilisant cette approche à l’organisation des masses, le Parti avait stagné (il en résulta le Congrès de 2014) et nous n’avions eu aucun rôle proéminent dans les mouvements populaires significatifs du début des années 2010. En second lieu, la clique des vieilles idées confond le leadership bureaucratique avec le leadership politique : fondamentalement, elle ne croit pas que le Parti ne soit capable d’orienter politiquement les masses – indirectement, à travers l’influence d’idées justes et de pratiques justes et subséquemment par la tenue de position de leadership dans les organisations de masse. Plutôt, la clique des vieilles idées est tellement insécure par rapport à ses propres orientations politiques, le résultat de stagnation et d’isolation, qu’elle pense que la seule façon d’influencer les masses est à travers des détachements directement subordonnés au Parti qui n’ont qu’un rôle propagandiste, répondant aux luttes au fur et à mesure qu’elles surviennent. La clique des vieilles idées prétend par la suite que le PCR-RCP pense qu’il doit se fondre dans les organisations de masses en dépit du fait que « La ligne de masse et les méthodes communistes de travail » (disponible en anglais ici) argumente le contraire. Ironiquement en se concentrant à répondre uniquement à la spontanéité des mouvements, la clique des vieilles idées abandonne la nécessité de préparer la GPP : exactement ce dont elle accuse le PCR-RCP.

Nous devrions ici étudier la pratique concrète de la clique des vieilles idées. Pratiquement chaque tentative de lancer un « petit mouvement » a failli. En effet, le Mouvement étudiant révolutionnaire (MER) fut lancé plusieurs fois avant d’être transformé en une organisation de masse vigoureuse. Le Mouvement révolutionnaire ouvrier (MRO) a stagné et s’est dissout en 2012 avant d’être relancé l’année passée. Le Front féministe prolétarien (FFPR) se maintient à un faible taux d’activité et stagne en comparaison de son travail précédent. Le Front rouge des jeunes (FRJ) en est à sa deuxième incarnation, la première étant dissoute il y a de cela presque dix ans. Nous sommes également heureux d’attirer l’attention sur les manifestations du Premier mai sur laquelle la clique de vieilles idées ne cesse de mettre de l’emphase : en dépit de mois de propagande la clique des vieilles idées n’a mobilisé que 30 personnes dans leur contingent. Comparativement au reste du Canada, ce nombre est assez petit : pour ne prendre que Toronto, le PCR-RCP y a été la figure de proue d’un rallye (qui en dépit d’affirmations du contraire, était combattif et militant) de centaines de personnes. La clique des vieilles idées refuse de tirer des analyses des conditions concrètes : comparons ici deux initiatives majeures de propagande du PCR-RCP et de la clique des vieilles idées, FuckThe150th/FuckLe150e et le « Mois du socialisme » en commémoration de la Révolution d’Octobre, respectivement. La première campagne était un succès massif et a appliqué les idées communistes au contexte canadien ; alors que la deuxième ressemble plus à ce que ferait une société historique. Ainsi, pour la clique des vieilles idées, de faire la distinction entre « soyons partout » et notre supposé « travail concentré » est une fausse dichotomie. Si seulement illes visaient partout ! Plutôt, illes répètent les mêmes erreurs – largement en raison de leur incapacité à s’autocritiquer – et ne couvrent ainsi que très peu de territoire.

En ce qui concerne la question de la ligne de masse et de la Guerre populaire prolongée (GPP) la clique des vieilles idées nous présente un épouvantail plutôt qu’une critique consistante. Illes prennent ombrage avec un passage the « La ligne de masse et les méthodes communistes de travail » qui argumente que la défense armée des organisations de masse constitue les premiers balbutiements de la défense stratégique. La clique des vieilles idées suggère que cela veut dire que le PCR-RCP a abandonné la nécessité d’organiser la lutte révolutionnaire et que cela représente une approche spontanéiste en ce qui concerne la Révolution. Illes tendent trop loin dans leur argument. L’objectif de « La ligne de masse et les méthodes communistes de travail » n’a jamais été d’établir comment lancer la GPP, mais plutôt de présenter brièvement une conception de la ligne de masse basée sur l’expérience du communisme ainsi que de notre propre expérience de travail de masse, et de conceptualiser cette notion dans le cadre de la GPP. Par conséquent, le document stipule que la défense armée des organisations de masse pourrait constituer les premiers balbutiements de la défense stratégique : il n’est pas dit qu’elle devrait, et que ce devra nécessairement être le cas. En nous brandissant cet épouvantail comme critique, la clique des vieilles idées omet délibérément d’autres documents internes – tels que « Le rôle des syndicats dans le processus révolutionnaire » – qui, tout en utilisant la notion de ligne de masse étayée dans « La ligne de masse et les méthodes communistes de travail », fait entre autres l’argument de la nécessité d’actions offensives. Une telle lecture sélective ne démontre que de la mauvaise foi et une volonté désespérée de se justifier.

Nous avons précédemment argumenté que l’abandon de la ligne de masse par la clique des vieilles idées constitue un abandon du MLM. « Nous sommes les Continuateur.e.s » cimente plus amplement cet abandon. En effet, de telles positions sont rendues explicites quand la clique des vieilles idées nie que le maoïsme est le dépassement des communismes précédents. Le maoïsme comme marxisme à un niveau tiers et supérieur demande une certaine rupture avec le marxisme-léninisme. La clique des vieilles idées démontre candidement que ses perspectives ne sont pas maoïstes, mais en fait des perspectives vieilles et usées du mouvement ML des années 1970 et 1980. Le restant du mouvement révolutionnaire a déjà dépassé ces moments.

En conclusion, nous aimerions rappeler à la clique des vieilles idées que la continuité – d’être un «continuateur» – n’est qu’une facette à la dialectique entre continuité et rupture. Bien que la clique des vieilles idées peut se vanter d’être les continuateur.e.s des tactiques échouées qui mènent à la stagnation du Parti (et pour ces raisons, nous sommes ravis de leur laissé le titre de « continuateur.e.s » !), le Comité central voudrait volontiers faire la remarque que la grande majorité du Parti a plutôt opté de briser avec cette approche manquée. Le PCR-RCP, le PCR-RCP légitime, entretient les deux côtés de cette dialectique : nous défendons la continuation d’une tradition révolutionnaire authentique au Canada tout en faisant rupture avec les pratiques échouées et les notions de la clique des vieilles idées. Alors que le mouvement révolutionnaire continue à grandir au Canada, les tactiques échouées des « continuateur.e.s » les mèneront inévitablement aux poubelles de l’histoire, où tous les saboteurs se ramassent.

– Le Comité central du PCR-RCP

Seek Truth from Facts: A Reply to the so-called ‘Continuators’

This document is in response to “We Are the Continuators!”, produced by the old ideas clique, and disseminated through the stolen media outlets of the PCR-RCP. Before getting into the arguments we want to note that the so-called “continuators” have classified the entirety of the organization to which they belonged as a “cancer” and thus conceive of us according to an antagonistic contradiction. The fact that they would do this speaks to the kind of sectarianism inherited from the New Communist Movement that should have no place in our movement. For our part we are disappointed in their departure, hope that they will return, but do not see them as a problem that should be stamped out as if they are the same as fascists. To be clear, we are only answering their vitriolic document because they are promulgating various claims that are either untrue or half-true. Otherwise we do not want to descend into that age-old sectarian practice of mud-slinging that detracts from organizing.

Clearly the awkward title of “We are the Continuators” is meant to associate the splitting clique with the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) at the initiation of the People’s War. The title is a play on the PCP’s “We are the Initiators”. If they had used the original title, however, they would have been more accurate: members of the old ideas clique in Montreal were in fact the “historical leadership” of the PCR-RCP that were behind its founding and thus significant in initiating Maoism in Canada. We have no problem recognizing this fact and, unlike them who have invented a conspiracy of an “Ottawa cancer”, do not project an original sin unto the past. Some of the members of the Montreal “continuators” were foundational to contemporary Maoism’s emergence in Canada; their contributions cannot be denied. And after they were expelled, when multiple opportunists crawled out of the woodwork to tell us this “historical leadership” was always wrong we did not accept these critiques. We recognize the contribution of these former comrades but, because we understand the dynamic aspect of history, also understand that comrades can lose their way.

But the logic of “We are the Continuators” is based on the claim that Montreal initiated the PCR-RCP and so it must retain ideological and practical leadership over the Party. We believe that this is a problem because, regardless of the initiation, within the first five years of our party’s existence the PCR-RCP grew beyond Montreal’s boundaries to incorporate militants in Ottawa and Toronto. In the three congresses since this growth, the last of which represented party representation from the west to east coasts, it makes no sense to define the PCR-RCP as representative of only Montreal. Moreover, the individuals who precipitated the crisis that caused the “continuators” to break from the rest of the organization (i.e. the individuals who led the physical assault at the bookstore) were relatively new recruits to the Party who are not at all “continuators” but in fact represented a real break from the Party as it was.  The fact that some elements of the “historical leadership” have gone to bat for recruits who are much newer to Maoism, who have also come from the academic student milieu (though they pretend otherwise), speaks to a strange regionalism. A small collection of former cadre in the expelled Montreal cell might be the “initiators” but their current mass base, particularly those who caused this problem to begin with, are extremely young recruits who have far less experience than the comrades the “continuators” have suddenly classified as cancerous.

Aside from different conceptions of the mass line, the sad basis of this conflict is that the “historical leading group” no longer monopolized the leadership. This fact is the result of a process that any communist should celebrate: the movement became Canada-wide, individuals and organizations were incorporated into the movement from coast to coast, and so at the last Congress a Central Committee that represented the national growth of the PCR-RCP was elected. The “historical leading group” who were in fact the initiators were not prepared for what it would mean to grow across Canada; they assumed that they would remain in control and that other regions, who did not know them, would continue to elect their leadership. This entire “continuators” document can thus be classified as a complaint made by the “historical leadership” regarding actual organizational growth: the historical leadership, the old ideas clique, actually does not want to make revolution across Canada if this means it cannot retain control over Party leadership. It would prefer to remain regional, even justifying the goonish actions of its Montreal recruits as long as these recruits stay true to the historical leadership.

Let’s look at their arguments regarding their expulsion from the PCR-RCP and judge them in this light: these are the complaints of the “historical leading group” that is no longer in charge because the organization has grown beyond their region; it is an attempt to reassert leadership, it is based on the desire to exist above centralization and criticism/self-criticism.

Responding to “We Are the Continuators” does, however, carry with it some difficulties. First, for such a long document, the old ideas clique actually say very little in it: the document is more style than substance. Second, the document contains paranoid conspiratorial delusions which, because they lack any substance or basis in reality, are difficult to concretely disprove. This also extends to another document produced by the old ideas clique, “Dispelling the Myths”, which goes even further in characterizing the CC as scheming conspirators, relying on a web of unsubstantiated and, frankly, delusional claims to support this fantasy. Third, there are so many lies contained in their document that it is impossible to refute them all. We ask that comrades view the entire document with skepticism; our lack of refutation on specific points does not imply agreement. Instead, in response, the PCR-RCP will: address a few of the most egregious lies, examine the old ideas clique’s supposed refutations of the specific criticisms we raised in the announcement of their expulsion, and finally touch on some of the fundamental political differences underlying this conflict.

Lies, Damned Lies, and “Continuations”

First, “We Are the Continuators” begins with a ridiculous and frankly bizarre attempt to frame the current conflict as a conflict between the legitimate PCR-RCP, and a group of former supporters of the Social Revolution Party (SRP). The old ideas clique alleges that SRP supporters wormed their way into the PCR-RCP, laid dormant for years while secretly maintaining a parallel leadership structure and political perspective, only to finally come out into the open during the last Congress and seize control of the Party’s leadership. While on the surface this is patently ridiculous, we would like to unpack the specific claims a bit further.

By way of background, the Social Revolution “Party” (SRP) was an ambitious if poorly named organization which launched in 2009. It had a limited presence in both Ottawa and London Ontario. After coming into contact with the PCR-RCP at the G20 in Toronto in 2010, the SRP began a process of merging with the PCR-RCP which ultimately culminated in the creation of a PCR-RCP cell in Ottawa in early 2011. At the time, the PCR-RCP published a unity statement praising the members of the SRP for their “revolutionary commitment” and “rich experience in organizing, especially among the working class.” In turn, the statement also praised the “Popular Action Movement” (PAM) conception for making “a positive contribution to the debate on the need to fight right now to create the backbone of a new popular power.” (www.pcr-rcp.ca/en/archives/738) Following the merger, the SRP abandoned its former positions in full –including PAM – and adopted without question the line of the PCR-RCP, a fact which the former SRP members were praised for at the PCR-RCP’s second Congress. The former members of the SRP –who now number only three in the entire PCR-RCP- did not maintain any sort of parallel organization: in fact, the only continuation of the line of the SRP was in the form of a document, “A Communist Position on Bourgeois Democracy and the Parliamentary System”, which was turned into a pamphlet by the Montreal cell of the PCR-RCP and distributed at Maison Norman Bethune!

With this in mind, it is simply absurd to say that the current conflict within the PCR-RCP has anything at all to do with the merger of the SRP in 2010. If that was the case, we have to ask: 1) Why was the SRP allowed to merge into the PCR-RCP if its political orientation was so “cancerous”? Would this not have represented sheer opportunism from the traditional leadership of the PCR-RCP? 2) Why is it that the majority of the Party’s expansion after 2010 shares the conceptions advanced by the former SRP members? 3) How does this understanding explain that both the Toronto and Quebec City branches, neither of which had anything at all to do with the SRP and who both predate the merger of the SRP with the PCR-RCP, also continue to recognize the legitimate leadership of the PCR-RCP? In short, the old ideas clique cannot answer these questions, because their assertions are nothing but absurd paranoid delusions.

Second, we want to reiterate that there is no such thing as the “Quebec District.” This was never a recognized formation within the PCR-RCP: indeed, the creation of an entity called the “Quebec District” was recognized to be the beginning of a factional formation, organized around the “old ideas clique.” The “Quebec District” does not represent the PCR-RCP in the Province of Quebec: it refers to only a small number of activists in Montreal and Valleyfield. We wish to point out that the Party branch in Quebec City and the organizing committees in Montreal and Hull all recognize the legitimate leadership of the PCR-RCP. The assertion that there are cells which we have left out by virtue of being unconcerned with the development of the Party in Quebec is specious at best; why were these cells never revealed to the Central Committee before the cells in Montreal and Valleyfield were expelled? We also refute the assertion that the Montreal cell constituted 50% of the PCR-RCP’s membership: while this may have been true in 2014, it is only true if all of the Party’s growth since 2014 is rejected. We maintain that the expelled sections constituted roughly 15% of the Party’s membership: a significant amount, but far less than the weight these wreckers assert they have. (We are unable to give an exact measure because the old ideas clique consistently refused to report concrete membership numbers, instead giving vague estimates which reflected no growth and promises that a major wave of recruitment was always right around the corner.) Instead, the adoption of the label “Quebec District” is nothing but a cynical attempt to make an isolated group of wreckers seem less isolated for those who do not know better, while also cynically inflaming national tensions within the PCR-RCP.

Third, we reject that there is such a thing as an “opportunist clique” which has seized leadership of the PCR-RCP. We want to remind readers that the current Central Committee was elected at the 2016 Congress of the PCR-RCP. One Central Committee member was expelled for involvement in the March 4 altercation at the Maison Norman Bethune, and a second resigned. The remaining Central Committee is recognized as the legitimate leadership by 85% of the Party’s membership: all of the branches and organizing committees with the exception of the old ideas clique in Montreal and Valleyfield. It is absurd to suggest that this supposed “opportunist clique” was able to build a base, unhindered, within the Revolutionary Student Movement: current members of the old ideas clique were also active in the RSM, attended several Congresses of the RSM, and only in the last year refused to struggle politically within the mass organization for their own perspective. The accusations about the class origins of the so-called “opportunist clique” are absurd and laughable: the notion that the Party is demographically proletarian in Montreal –the only region where we had professionals in the membership of the Party!- and demographically petty-bourgeois elsewhere is such an inane statement that it does not deserve to be dealt with in-depth.

Fourth, on the 2016 Congress: the old ideas clique assert that through its activity in the RSM, the “opportunist clique” was able to stack the Congress with its supporters. This is patently false. Through activity in the RSM, many revolutionaries were attracted to the PCR-RCP. Many formed organizing committees in places where the PCR-RCP had no presence, and joined branches where the PCR-RCP did have a presence. This was also true of the Party in Montreal. Before the 2016 Congress, the previous Central Committee made the decision to transform all of the organizing committees into branches, so as to allow the greatest possible participation in the Congress proceedings. Members of the old ideas clique embraced this idea at the time. As a result, there was only one challenge at the Congress to the status of a delegate, or the apportionment of votes: the member whose presence was challenged was from Montreal! This is just another lie in a long series of distortions by the “old ideas clique.”

Fifth, the old ideas clique distort the issue around their relaunching of Partisan. The Central Committee never took issue with the necessity of engaging in classic propaganda. However, it was clear that the relaunch of Partisan on a provincial basis in Quebec was an attempt to use Party resources to produce infrastructure preparing for a split. History has proven us correct here. Instead, the Central Committee reiterated the conclusions of our 2014 Congress which noted that the broadsheet newspaper format of Partisan was resource intensive and ineffective: in a proposal drafted by the historic leading group, including members of the old ideas clique, we agreed in 2014 instead to localize Partisan at the city-level, while centralizing Partisan on the Party website. We therefore felt it necessary that the efforts of the so-called Quebec District be towards this conception of Partisan, rather than repeating a mistaken practice which we had since abandoned.

Sixth, with this in mind, we find it particularly odd that they critique the recent tour in Western Canada –which was approved of by the Central Committee while members of the old ideas clique still sat on it, with no objections on their part – for not organizing “leafletting among the masses.” In fact, there was substantial propaganda work done in each of the locations we visited, which was primarily organized by comrades in these locations: the “handful of contacts made on the internet” that the old ideas clique disparages. As a result, we were able to present the line of the PCR-RCP to a few hundred people who had never come into contact with us before, which resulted in the consolidation of contacts in Calgary, Edmonton, and Regina, the creation of an organizing committee in Winnipeg, and the strengthening of our existing work in Saskatoon. If the old ideas clique think that our time would have been better served by randomly distributing a few hundred pamphlets they’re welcome to that, but this perspective it is unsurprising that they were never able to expand substantively outside of the founding cities. What is truly ironic is that we followed the precise methods employed by the old ideas clique when they first attempted to expand into Ontario: in Toronto and Ottawa they contacted existing groups of activists as the basis for expansion.

Finally, the old ideas clique asserts that the PCR-RCP now rejects Protracted Peoples War (PPW) as revolutionary strategy, and rejects the necessity of a “party”, of the central role of the “proletariat”, and concepts such as “mode of production.” Here they are unable to substantiate any of their ridiculous claims because they are nothing short of absurd. In case anyone is confused, the PCR-RCP continues to uphold the necessity of the Party for leading revolution, the centrality of the working class in the revolutionary struggle, and the strategy of Protracted Peoples War. The basic proof of this is that we continue to uphold the PCR-RCP Programme: it can be found on our provisional website. These are nothing but baseless accusations from a group of wreckers grasping at straws.

Unfortunately, we do not have the space to address all of the lies in “We Are the Continuators”. We hope here we have exposed a few of the most egregious examples, which should give the reader pause in accepting the truth of the rest of the assertions of the “old ideas clique.”

On Supposed Refutations

The old ideas clique directly addresses seven specific infractions which we laid out in the notice of their expulsion. As we will show, ironically, in their attempts to refute these infractions, they actually admit to each of the infractions that we brought up in the statement of expulsion.

First, on the issue of not launching the rectification campaign mandated by the Central Committee, the old ideas clique admits openly that they failed to do this.  While they assert that the rectification campaign was intended to stifle debate, nothing could be further from the truth: the line struggle within the PCR-RCP, mandated by the 2016 Congress, is ongoing. The point of the rectification campaign was clearly stated in the motion adopted by the Central Committee: it was to correct the stagnating work in Montreal, and also avoid the missteps in Montreal (particularly around hyper-sectarianism and transphobia) from sabotaging our work in the rest of Canada.

Second, the old ideas clique deliberately muddies the issue of using violence to solve political disagreements. In the expulsion statement, the Central Committee of the PCR-RCP listed two incidents: the “ejection” (that is, punching and forcible removal) of Party supporters from Maison Norman Bethune on March 4, and the intimidation of Café workers in Montreal in April. We explicitly stated that such actions were “not a Maoist way of solving contradictions among the people.” At no point does the PCR-RCP reject the necessity of political violence towards the bourgeoisie as part of the revolutionary process: it is absurd that the old ideas clique would seek to obfuscate this very specific critique. Instead, despite alleging that “the only violence used by the Party is against the bourgeoisie and the enemies of the revolution” the old ideas clique then goes on to admit that they did in fact use force to eject Party supporters –two of which were supporters in good standing, as recognized by the Central Committee, despite the “old ideas clique’s” assertions to the contrary – before bragging that they should have attacked the comrades more severely (dealt “actual blows to their physical integrity”)! The old ideas clique can’t even keep its own story straight! Moreover, we believe that legitimate political violence by a proletarian party should be organized, disciplined, and accountable to the political leadership. What happened at the Maison Norman Bethune and the Café were nothing of the sort, but instead was an impulsive outburst by a number of members who could not control their tempers. Indeed, this hot-headed indiscipline cost the Party a propaganda victory and alienated a number of potential contacts, concretely undermining the Party’s work. If the content of this incident were not condemnable on its own, the form would be, and the fact that the Old Ideas Clique does not recognize this speaks to how far their perspective has departed from reality.

Third, the old ideas clique reject that they were unwilling to struggle politically. While they did produce many documents before the last Congress, these documents were intended to shut-down discussions on pertinent issues. Indeed, when the Congress opted to open these issues for discussion within the Party, including the positions the old ideas clique had prepared, the old ideas clique voted against even opening these issues to discussion. And indeed, despite rejecting their unwillingness to struggle, the old ideas clique proves the opposite by characterizing discussions on specific parts of the Programme as being a game with already loaded dice. The old ideas clique justifies their unwillingness to struggle by saying that “Opportunism is open to discuss anything, so long as its own propositions are the subject, and so long as they are guaranteed adoption.” We note the irony.

We would also like here to refute the idea that the only documents prepared for the last Congress were produced by the old ideas clique. The previous Central Committee divided the labour of producing Congress documents between its members: members of what became the old ideas clique were responsible for producing political and organizational updates, whereas others were responsible for producing updates to the Programme. Despite the assertions of the old ideas clique, these updates were not intended to reject the fundamental positions of the PCR-RCP. Instead, they were intended to improve and modernize sections on the national question and gender, as well as add a section about the environment. The necessity of these updates to the Programme had been demonstrated through nearly a decade of activity amongst these sectors: while we were successful in rallying both indigenous peoples and gender-oppressed people to the Party, the advanced elements of these groups consistently critiqued our Programme for inadequately dealing with these contradictions. We feel it is the height of dogmatic arrogance to think that the Programme as it was constructed in 2006 is eternally infallible. Such is the insecurity of the old ideas clique.

Fourth, on the sexual assault allegation: the Central Committee received a long criticism from a former supporter of the Party, which is alluded to in “We Are the Continuators.” This criticism contained within it a serious allegation, not made on behalf of the survivor, of sexual assault supposedly carried out by a leading member of the PCR-RCP. Given the severity of the allegations, we undertook to investigate this issue to the best of our ability. These allegations were not, contrary to the assertion of the old ideas clique, “circulated… internally in all cells except those of Quebec”, but rather the long criticism in question was sent to a few comrades in Ottawa for translation by its author, with the full knowledge of the Central Committee, including those from the old ideas clique. The Central Committee did not circulate this document to any other sections. Before the 2016 Congress the previous Central Committee, including members of the old ideas clique, opted to not make public the allegations due to our inability to verify them. The Central Committee reached out to the alleged survivor, and did not receive any response. At the Central Committee meeting on March 5, 2017, we were told for the first time of the existence of a letter, from the alleged survivor, denying the allegations and asking that she not be contacted. We have repeatedly asked for a copy of this letter, and have to date not yet received it. In fact, the quotes contained in “We Are the Continuators” are the first time the contents of this letter have been seen by anyone on the current Central Committee. The refusal to turn-over the letter, which the old ideas clique had nearly two months to do between March 5 and their expulsion in May, is nothing short of obstruction of the investigation into the very serious allegations we received.

Fifth, despite implying that the accusations of transphobia are misplaced, the old ideas clique never affirms its commitment to struggle against forms of bigotry like transphobia. Instead, the old ideas clique suggests that any statements in support of trans-liberation constituted condescension “towards the proletarian women of the RCP” (clearly not trans women). The statement goes out of its way to distance itself from what it characterizes as “queer and radical feminism”, before specifying that while it criticizes non-Marxist conceptions (which it later clarifies as including the concept of “gender identity”), this was a criticism of these concepts and not of transgender people themselves. The old ideas clique wants our trans-comrades to know that transphobia is nothing personal. The Central Committee emphatically rejects the weasel-worded defence of bigotry and unreservedly confirms our commitment to trans-liberation. Such a position is a basic litmus test for revolutionaries.

Sixth, while the old ideas clique notes that “the most insulting accusation is probably that of theft”, it then proceeds to admit and justify that it did in fact illegitimately seize the majority of the Party’s resources. The old ideas clique justifies this by arguing that the majority of the dues were paid by comrades in Quebec, and thus they “did not steal anything; [they] simply took back control over [their] resources.” We would like to take issue with a number of things here. First, we would like to repeat that as a Party operating along democratic-centralist lines, these were never “Quebec’s resources” (and certainly not the resources of the old ideas clique who do not represent all of the Party’s members in Quebec): all of the dues collected were the collective resources of the entire Party. Second, it was always accepted that for the time being, there would be less money collected in the rest of Canada. This was not only because the only professionals in the Party were in Quebec (which really casts doubt on the supposed more-proletarian composition of the Party in Quebec), but because the membership outside of Quebec was considerably younger than in the province while also, until recently, being numerically fewer. Past Central Committees understood that while we needed to constantly struggle against low rates of dues collection, it would likely be some time before the rest of Canada was able to match the contributions of the comrades from Quebec. For this we were grateful. Furthermore, one of the reasons for the over-contribution of comrades from Quebec was a change in dues structure –from remitting all dues to the centre to keeping 1/3 of the dues locally – which was never told to the Quebec cells because members of the old ideas clique consistently failed to decentralize decisions of the Central Committee.

Finally, it is nice to see that the old ideas clique accepts that they did in fact reject democratic centralism by not abiding by the decisions of the legitimately elected Central Committee. While they attempt to justify why this is the case, we note that the underlying assumption is that, despite the democratic processes of the Party, for the old ideas clique it is actually the Party’s historical leadership which is/should be in charge. The Central Committee is of the opinion that democratic centralism matters, and is worth upholding, not only when one’s opinion is the majority position within the Party.

While the old ideas clique attempts to refute the seven specific reasons for its expulsion, ironically it ends up affirming each allegation. And let it be clear: the Montreal and Valleyfield cells were not expelled for reasons of political line (transphobia excepted), but for blatant violations of the Party’s internal rules and regulations. Indeed, the line struggle, which they allege their expulsion was intended to end, is still on-going: any former member of these cells who, alongside the vast majority of the Party, recognizes the legitimate leadership is welcome to rejoin and participate in that line struggle.

Political Questions

Given the density of misinformation contained in “We Are the Continuators” it is difficult to have a substantive discussion on the political differences between the old ideas clique and the PCR-RCP. Many of the specific criticisms brought up by the old ideas clique –for instance, that the PCR-RCP rejects Marxism for post-modernism and social democracy- are so ridiculous and unsubstantiated that we are left with little recourse other than to just say “no” and move on. However, despite the numerous ridiculous quasi-political accusations (that the PCR-RCP rejects the Party, the central role of the proletariat, Protracted Peoples War as revolutionary strategy, etc.) we still contend that the central political issue is the “old ideas clique’s” rejection of the mass line, and by extension, MLM.

The old ideas clique asserts that the PCR-RCP rejects what it refers to as “revolutionary action” of which there are four objective forms: classical propaganda, armed propaganda, revolutionary action among the masses, and Protracted People’s War. While the Central Committee thinks that it is a stretch to argue that the characterization of all activity as being composed of these four forms is the “greatest contribution of the RCP to the communist movement” we do not reject the conception outlined here. However, as other internal documents have noted, “revolutionary action among the masses” is an ambiguous term which needs to be made more precise. For the old ideas clique revolutionary action among the masses is simply showing up to rallies, shouting correct slogans, and fighting with the police. While we do not dispute the necessity of these forms of revolutionary action among the masses –despite accusations they would be hard pressed to find a single official statement decrying “adventurism” – we argue that other forms of revolutionary action among the masses are needed. It was these other forms that were outlined in the document “The Mass Line and Communist Methods of Mass Work”, which the old ideas clique spends a considerable amount of time critiquing.

Fundamentally, the old ideas clique makes an infantile mistake in conflating concrete struggles with legalism. This is part of the irrational anti-economism identified by some members of the historic leading group, including members of the old ideas clique in the lead-up to the 2014 Congress. We reject that this is the case: an illegal union drive is such an example. Furthermore, we reject that all of the concrete work that communist organizers undertake must necessarily be illegal. While the old ideas clique pokes fun at communist organizers engaging in the day-to-day necessities of keeping the revolutionary movement functioning, we note the necessity of this less exciting but equally important work. And we also note the irony that many of the old ideas clique also engage in this type of activity: from the distribution of newspapers, to the printing and assembling of pamphlets, tabling, operating book stores, etc. With this in mind, we reaffirm that the avoidance of economism is primarily a subjective matter, that is to say a matter on the level of politics: many concrete types of work can be subsumed into the revolutionary movement if it is done openly and consciously as a step towards Protracted People’s War.

A further misunderstanding of the mass line can be seen in the “old ideas clique’s” rejection of mass and intermediate organizations in favour of what they term “small movements.” First, we can look at the proof of the utility of such a strategy: when pursuing this type of organizational approach to the organization of the masses, the Party stagnated (hence our 2014 Congress) and we had no active role in any of the major surges of mass activity in the early 2010s. Second, here the old ideas clique confuses bureaucratic and political leadership: fundamentally it does not believe that the Party is actually capable of politically leading the masses –indirectly, through the influence of correct ideas and practice, and subsequently holding leadership positions among mass organizations. Instead, the old ideas clique is so insecure in its political orientations, a result of its stagnation and isolation, that it thinks the only way it can influence the masses is through detachments directly subordinated to the Party, whose only role is a propagandistic one, responding to struggles as they spontaneously arise. The old ideas clique then turns around and says that the PCR-RCP thinks that the Party should be led by the mass organizations, despite the fact that “The Mass Line and Communist Methods of Mass Work” argues the exact opposite. Ironically by focusing only on responding to the spontaneous movement of the masses, the old ideas clique abandons the necessity of preparing for Protracted People’s War: the very thing they accuse the PCR-RCP of.

We should here look at the concrete practice of the old ideas clique. Nearly every attempt at launching a “small movement” has failed. Indeed, the RSM was launched several times before it was transformed into a mass organization with staying power. The Revolutionary Workers’ Movement stagnated and fell apart in 2012, only to be relaunched in the past year. The Proletarian Feminist Front remains at a low level of activity, having stagnated from its past work. The Red Youth Front is the second incarnation of this formation, the first having become defunct nearly a decade ago. We too are happy to examine the May Day demonstrations which the old ideas clique highlights: despite months of propaganda work, the old ideas clique only mobilized some 30 people in their contingent. Compared to the rest of Canada, this number is quite small: in Toronto alone, the PCR-RCP was the lynchpin in a mass rally of hundreds that, despite assertions to the contrary, was combative and militant. The old ideas clique refuses to draw concrete analyses from concrete conditions: here compare the two major propaganda initiatives of the PCR-RCP and the old ideas clique, the Fuck the 150th campaign and the “Month of Socialism” in commemoration of the October Revolution, respectively. The former was massively successful and applied revolutionary communist politics to the Canadian context; the former has more akin with the actions of a historical society. Thus for the old ideas clique to draw a distinction between their “be everywhere” approach and our supposed “concentrated” approach is to draw a false dichotomy. If only they were going everywhere! Instead, they repeat the same mistakes –largely due to their inability to engage in substantive self-criticism – and thus cover very little territory at all.

On the question of the mass line and Protracted People’s War, the old ideas clique straw-persons the argument they attempt to critique. They take umbrage with a passage in “The Mass Line and Communist Methods of Mass Work” which argues that armed defence of mass organizations can constitute the opening stages of the strategic defensive. The old ideas clique suggests that this means that the PCR-RCP has abandoned the necessity of preparing for revolutionary struggle, that it represents a spontaneist approach to the question of revolution. They over-reach in their argument. The purpose of “The Mass Line and Communist Methods of Mass Work” was never to lay out a proposal for how to launch Protracted People’s War, but rather to summarize a conception of the mass line based on the experience of the international communist movement and our own mass work, and then to conceptualize that understanding within the framework of Protracted People’s War. Thus, the document stipulates that armed defence of mass organizations can constitute the opening stages of the strategic defensive: not that it must, that it will, that it is necessarily so. In making this straw-personed critique, the old ideas clique conveniently leaves out other internal documents –such as “The Role of Unions in the Revolutionary Process”- which, using the understanding of the mass line advanced in “The Mass Line and Communist Methods of Mass Work” makes the argument for the necessity of offensive actions as well. Such a selective reading shows nothing but bad-faith, and a real grasping at straws.

We have argued elsewhere that the abandonment of the mass line by the old ideas clique constitutes a departure from MLM. “We Are the Continuators” further cements that departure. Indeed, such a departure is made explicit when the old ideas clique denies that Maoism constitutes a moment of rupture from the communisms that came before it. Maoism as a third-and-higher stage of Marxism requires recognition that it is a moment of rupture from Marxism-Leninism. The old ideas clique shows candidly that their perspectives are in fact not Maoist, but rather tired hold-overs from the Marxist-Leninist movement of the 1970s and 1980s. The rest of the revolutionary movement has moved on.

In closing, we’d like to remind the old ideas clique that continuity – being a “continuator” – is only part of the dialectic between continuity and rupture. While the old ideas clique can boast about being the continuators of the failed tactics which led to the stagnation of the Party (and in this we’re quite happy to let them bear the title “continuators”!), the Central Committee gladly points out that the vast majority of the Party opted to instead rupture with the failed approach. The PCR-RCP, the legitimate PCR-RCP, contains both sides of this dialectic: we uphold the continuation of the genuine revolutionary tradition in Canada, while rupturing with the mistaken practices and ideas of the old ideas clique. As the revolutionary movement continues to expand across Canada, the failed tactics of the “continuators” will inevitably see them relegated to the dustbin of history, where all wreckers belong.

-Central Committee, PCR-RCP

The Mass Line and Communist Methods of Mass Work

Introduction

This article is an attempt to synthesize, on an abstract and universal level, nearly eight years of experience engaging in various types of mass work. As we enter into a new phase of our work –one marked by rapid expansion of the party organization, and the further development of our mass and intermediate organizations – the question of the mass-line and communist methods of mass work carries even greater importance. Without correctly conceptualizing our tasks, and engaging the masses in a correct manner, we will not be able to build revolution in Canada. There is no way around this.

What then is mass work? Mass work is, as the name implies, any sort of political work that engages the masses. It can mean work through the party, either as party campaigns, contingents in demonstrations, publishing analyses, debating, and so on. It can mean the creation of mass and intermediate organizations around specific issues or demographics. It can mean the involvement of party supporters in campaigns or organizations initiated outside the party. In short, any political activity that interacts with the masses can be considered mass work. There are, however, some types of mass work that work better in certain situations: this article will attempt to address this.

Some comrades create an artificial distinction between “party building” work and “mass work”. This incorrect approach tends to take two forms. The first is to de-emphasize party building, and only emphasize work among the masses. These comrades tend to view Maoism or revolutionary communism as an hindrance when engaging with the masses, and hide their politics, exposing themselves politically to only a chosen few. This tendency expresses itself in an anti-party manner. The second, which we have been guilty of at times, is to de-emphasize the importance of work among the masses, and instead emphasize only the importance of so-called party work, chiefly classical forms of propaganda. This type of practice becomes effectively sloganeering. Sloganeering is an idealist approach to organizing; there is no engagement with the material world, the needs of the masses. While it is correct to say that ideas themselves can become material forces, organization is key to the qualitative transformation between ideas and matter: the mass-line is the means by which organization happens. By focusing exclusively on propaganda work, we isolate ourselves and do not give the masses a reason to involve themselves in the revolutionary movement. In effect, without the masses we become nothing more than a sect or a cult. This article attempts to bridge this false dichotomy, showing the importance of each approach when taken together.

Closely related to the above issue is a second one, namely: does the party form mass organizations, or do mass organizations form the party? Again, this is something of a false dichotomy, but not to the same extent as the question above. Unless we adopt a spontaneist view of revolution, it seems obvious that the party initiates mass organizations. A robust network of revolutionary mass organizations can only emerge under the leadership of a party with a correct political line and practice; to expect the party to emerge spontaneously out of a conglomeration of mass organizations is to put the task of party-building off into the indefinite future. This being said, the party is itself built and strengthened through interaction with the mass organizations under its leadership: in this sense, once the party is formed, there is a dialectical interplay between the party and mass organizations, each building the other. However, for this process to be set in motion, a party is necessary. This article will unravel this issue in greater depth, and explore what we conceive to be the proper relationship between party and mass organization.

The article will proceed as follows: after exploring the reason to engage in mass work, a basic conception of the mass-line will be presented. The article will then proceed away from the abstract and toward a more concrete discussion of organization, reform and revolution, communist conduct, communist leadership, and finally, the connection between the mass-line and the revolutionary strategy of protracted people’s war. The goal of this article is both to present our conception of the mass-line publicly, but also to aid the perspectives and efforts of organizers in the struggle for total human liberation, for communism.

Why Do We Engage in Mass Work?

Mass work primarily has five functions. First, mass work is the means by which the masses can be organized for revolution. In this sense mass work––the organization of the masses––is key to advancing the revolutionary movement. We should see in our mass work, and in our mass organizations, the embryo of the institutions of socialism. As such, mass work creates the subjective conditions for revolution in Canada, and is an integral part of the strategy of protracted people’s war [PPW]. Simply put, if the masses are not organized there can be no revolution.

Second, mass work grounds us ideologically and practically in the masses, allowing us to evaluate our own political line against the political line(s) of the advanced sections of the masses. Our line should resonate with the masses if applied properly; if it doesn’t, the balance of forces notwithstanding, then either our line or our methods are incorrect. Mass work, combined with a healthy attitude toward criticism and self-criticism, allows us to evaluate our political line and methods of work.

Third, at the risk of sounding callous, mass organizations and mass work serve as great recruiting pools for the party. Where better to meet, build, and test potential communists than in the midst of the class struggle itself? The party should endeavour to attract to itself the most advanced sections of the masses; those with the leadership and political attitudes necessary to advance the class struggle in Canada. Mass work gives us the ability to find these people, and give them a reason to care about what we do and the political line we put forward.

Fourth, mass work allows us to directly ameliorate the conditions of the masses. This will be dealt with in detail later when reformism is discussed. But principally, by taking on specific demands or campaigns and by winning victories, we can directly improve the conditions of the masses. In turn, this gives the masses a material reason to take us seriously (not in the sense of being taken seriously in the context of bourgeois ideological hegemony, but in the sense of giving the masses a real material reason to consider our political line). While our ability to improve the conditions of the masses is limited by the increasing crises that capitalism will be experiencing as it enters its death-throes, as well as waning Canadian imperialism in light of renewed inter-imperialist conflict, there still may be specific struggles in which we can intervene and win.

Fifth, mass work allows us to create a sense of “community” in the work that we do. Capitalism is alienating and atomizing; increasingly, and especially as a result of secularization, the working class finds itself without any organization or community (church groups, neighbourhood associations, sporting clubs, political parties, unions, etc.). Indeed, bourgeois commentators have noted the “crisis of Canadian politics,” namely declining rates of membership in bourgeois political parties. The result of this atomization is observable even within the left: loneliness, burn-out, expressions of mental-illness, lack of feeling supported, and lack of feelings of solidarity between people in the revolutionary left. Certain types of mass work, by focusing on building community, can alleviate some of the effects of atomization. While this may seem to be the most intangible reason to engage in mass work, the creation of community is absolutely necessary for the success and vibrancy of the revolutionary movement.

These are the five “whys”, so to speak, for engaging in mass work. They are: 1) to organize the masses for revolution; 2) to keep us grounded in the masses; 3) recruitment; 4) amelioration of the conditions of the masses; and 5) to create a sense of community within the revolutionary movement.

What is the Mass-Line?

The mass-line is the basic method of communist organizing; it has been used, consciously or unconsciously, by all successful communist movements. Maoism, basing itself on the experience of the socialist experiments of the 20th century, represents the first codification of the mass-line. Mao was able to draw out the mass-line as a universal organizing method from the particulars of its implementation.

The mass-line consists of two basic principles. The first principle is “From the masses, to the masses.” As revolutionary communists, we adhere to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as our ideological orientation, which is to say we have a certain idea about how the world is run and a certain idea of how the world should be run. The masses do not, largely, share these ideas; they have a myriad of weird, wonderful, and contradictory ideas, some of which are good and useful, and some of which are not. However, this isn’t to say that the masses do not know what they want. In fact, any ten minute conversation with a worker will tell you that they not only have a series of very real and legitimate grievances, but also have a decent idea as to how the world could be better organized. How do we bridge the gap between our Maoist understanding of the world and the masses’ eclectic and often incorrect understanding of the world? How do we bridge the gap between our proposed solutions––socialism and communism––and the very real grievances of the masses?

The mass-line stipulates that we need to “meet the masses where they are at.” It is the job of communists to go to the masses and listen to their issues. We then take their grievances, concentrate them, and synthesize them with our revolutionary ideology to form a concrete and coherent program or campaign, while maintaining and preserving the original good ideas of the masses. This concentrated synthesis is then taken back to the masses and the process is repeated in a constant reiterative process between the party and the masses. Through this process we raise the political level of the masses, while keeping ourselves grounded in them.

It is worth briefly discussing political consciousness. Some comrades understand political consciousness as existing on a continuum with reactionary ideas on one end, and revolutionary ideas on the other end. Thus, they understand the development of revolutionary political consciousness to simply be an accumulation of other correct ideas, step-by-step, oft-times within the framework of bourgeois politics or liberalism. It becomes very easy to justify economism with this understanding: the masses simply have to agree with higher wages, anti-imperialism, and so on and they will suddenly become revolutionaries. What these comrades do not understand is that revolutionary consciousness grows out of a rupture with bourgeois politics: it does not exist on a continuum with reactionary ideas, but itself constitutes an entirely new continuum of political consciousness and activity. As such, bourgeois ideas must be consciously broken with, not simply accumulated. To tie this into reforms, it is not enough to get the masses involved in fighting for a number of reforms: there must be also be an ideological rupture from bourgeois ideology on the part of the masses. Only then is revolutionary consciousness achieved.

The second principle of the mass-line is “unite the advanced, bring up the intermediate, and win over the backwards.” In order to effectively do this, we have to look more concretely at the ideas of the masses. Broadly speaking, we can say that the ideas of the masses fall into three categories: 1) the advanced, those closest to MLM, or those with generally revolutionary, progressive, and democratic ideas who are also willing to be active around them; 2) the intermediate, or those that have some advanced and some backwards ideas; and 3) the backwards, those that generally have reactionary, regressive, or undemocratic ideas. When organizing the masses, the mass-line approach is to unite the advanced, bring up the intermediate, and to win over the backwards where possible, or to isolate the backwards where winning the backwards over is not possible.

When engaging in any sort of mass-line practice, one must be flexible. This is to say, that while it is helpful in any given situation to categorize the ideas of the masses according to the categories of advanced, intermediate, and backwards, these categories are in reality fluid. As a struggle progresses, the ideas that constitute any of these categories can change: what constitutes the advanced today may constitute the backwards tomorrow. Likewise, people are processes, and over time any person can improve or worsen their own ideas. Any organizer should be able to flexibly adapt their own practice to changing circumstances; the mass-line is not a dogma, it is intended to help and not hinder mass work. It is only through a creative application of the mass-line that mass work can move forward.

The mass-line, when put into practice, is a continuous process. To get a little less abstract, we can generally identify a series of steps that encapsulate any mass-line practice. 1) First, any organizer has to begin with social investigation: figuring out what the issues or grievances of the masses are at all levels (economic, social, political, etc.), and then figuring out how the masses can be broken down into various sections. This can take the form of surveys, reactions to lived experiences, and so on and so forth. Coming out of this process a point of political intervention should be identifiable, with a basic plan of action following soon after. 2) Once these questions have been answered (not in full because one is only able to truly know the world through struggling to change it), one must gather all those forces which are capable and willing to struggle and fight for the campaign that has been initiated. This can take the form of meetings, a campaign call-out, etc.… this is the means by which the advanced are united. 3) Following the gathering of forces, it’s incumbent on organizers to put people into action, to intervene in the world in a political way. Through the process of going to people and engaging in politics with them, one can increase their political level; this is the process of “bringing up the intermediate”. In turn, this also serves as further social investigation for the organizers, where we are able to learn from the masses. 4) After initiating any sort of political action, there will inevitably be some sort of reaction to the work that one is engaging in. An organizer should use this as an opportunity to see what results have been obtained through the political action, and re-evaluate the initial plan. Maybe there is a victory, maybe there isn’t, but either way there needs to be some form of accounting for and systematizing the effort that one has engaged in. 5) Every struggle that isn’t the final struggle against capitalism will inevitably die down at some point. It’s the job of organizers to consolidate the gains made during the campaign, either in the form of ensuring the reform is successfully implemented or, more importantly, organizing new people that have been brought into political life through the work that has been initiated. At the end of the day, winning or losing the specific reform is not what’s important: advancing the class struggle by increasing the level of struggle among the masses and increasing the skills and capacities of revolutionary organizers is decisive. Consolidation should serve this end. In order for consolidation to happen, formal organizations are necessary; there needs to be something for people to be consolidated into. 6) Once new forces are consolidated, a new round of investigation should begin, and the cycle begins anew.

Mass-line is not simply a set of static principles, but when applied, is a radically democratic and vibrant way of organizing.

What the Mass-Line Isn’t

No discussion of the mass-line would be complete without looking at what the mass-line isn’t, or, that is to say, types of practices that invoke the concept of mass-line as a justification for various sorts of opportunism.

The mass-line is not tailism. Tailism is a method of practice by which revolutionaries only allow themselves to follow the most advanced ideas of the masses, never moving beyond these ideas nor putting forward any revolutionary politics; revolutionaries tail the masses. Some use the mass-line as a means of excusing this type of practice, saying that the mass-line means that we have to go to the masses and meet the masses where they are at politically––to learn from them. While this is true, it is only half of the mass-line: revolutionaries are also supposed to raise the political level of the masses in the process of struggle, and this can only be done if revolutionaries openly put forward a revolutionary political program. The mass-line is intended to raise the level of the masses and connect them with revolutionary struggle, not serve as an excuse for revolutionaries to hide their politics.

The mass-line is not econonism. Economism can be characterized as a type of practice in which economic demands are raised to a primary place of importance, while political demands are sidelined or ignored. Fighting for increased minimum wage without simultaneously and openly connecting that struggle with a fight for an end to the wage system and capitalism is an example of economism. While the mass-line is concerned with specific demands and grievances of the masses, it does not stop there: it is a means by which revolutionaries can connect these specific demands with the broader revolutionary struggle, and pull the masses into that struggle. One should not confuse specific tactics or demands with broader strategies.

The mass-line is not bureaucratism. This should be fairly obvious but it is not. In many of our organizing experiences, we have seen otherwise democratic structures mis-used by power-hungry bureaucrats, even when the stakes are relatively low. This is especially common within unions, of both the student and worker variety. There are some people who, without saying it openly but through their actions, conceive of the mass-line not as a radically democratic way of connecting the masses with revolutionaries, but as a means by which the masses can be controlled. Revolutionaries should use the mass-line to awaken the potential of the masses to govern themselves; the organizations formed in the process of struggle should form the basis of socialism.

The mass-line is not commandism. The mass-line is necessary because revolutionaries hold a different set of ideas from the masses about how the world operates and how it should operate; we are Maoists, the masses are not. An organizer must be conscious of this difference. If, for instance, we insist that the masses become Maoists for us to work with them, we will very quickly find ourselves isolated. Commandism is the practice of standing ahead of the masses politically and commanding them to “catch-up.” To act in a commandist manner is to forget about the “from the masses” aspect of the mass-line, and to act as though the masses have nothing to teach us. It is a self-isolating practice, but one that is practiced by much of the left in the imperialist countries. While the mass-line involves raising the political level of the masses, this is done through struggle, not through sloganeering or demanding that the masses politicize.

Finally, the mass-line is not mass fetishism. There is a tendency, predominately but not exclusively among white male communists in the first world, to fetishize the masses. Everything that the masses do, according to these comrades, is somehow sacred and shouldn’t be questioned. This phenomenon is closely linked to workerism, or the extension of “identity politics” to class: to be a worker is considered another aspect of one’s identity. This approach is usually rooted in a romanticized view of the masses and class struggle, and is often found within people that have very little connection to the masses or class struggle. Revolutionaries can and must criticize backwards practices found within the masses, practices like, but not limited to: racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.  The mass-line is a means by which these incorrect ideas can be systematically abolished, not encouraged simply because the masses hold them.

The Question of Organization

Up until now, this article has dealt with fairly abstract questions, sometimes using concrete examples, but focusing on universal principles. Now we will begin to concretely examine types of organizations, struggles, and methods of work.

Before examining concrete types of organization, it is perhaps worth looking at the question of organization more broadly. The question of organization has typified the disagreements between the communist and anarchist camps, with the former falling on the side of organization and the latter generally falling on the side of varying levels of disorganization. Some Trotskyist sects will focus on the necessity of seizing leadership in various bourgeois or labour-aristocratic organizations, anarchists will critique any type of organization other than the lowest level of “voluntary” association as being undemocratic and bureaucratic, but communist methods of organization are not explored. Why is organization (in the abstract) necessary? Why are organizations necessary? What do communist organizations look like? What do mass organizations look like? What is the relationship between these different types of organization? How should communists relate to non-communist organizations?

To situate these questions concretely, let’s examine the current political context in Canada. With the anti-globalization movement of the 1990s, the broad left in the imperialist countries faced a rebirth or revitalization of sorts after the glaring defeats of the 1980s, the fall of the USSR, and the so-called “end of history”. This left, of course, largely was not interested in the launch of the Protracted People’s War in Peru, or the ongoing PPWs in the Philippines and India but sought to chart its own path against “dated” Leninist methods and models. The “new-new left” gained theoretical coherency in what can be referred to as movementism. To a certain extent the attacks on the World Trade Centre in September of 2001 had a chilling effect on the development of the movementist left, but with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the anti-globalization movement developed into a broad anti-war movement, with some of the largest demonstrations in history occurring in opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The movementist left continued to develop more-or-less along these same movement, anti-globalization, and anti-war lines, exemplified by the social forums, until the financial crisis of 2008. The 2008 crisis not only opened space on the level of discourse for critiques of capitalism (it became clear that the “end of history” hadn’t arrived and that capitalism wasn’t working), but also provided a material basis for the radicalization of the working class in the imperialist countries. 2008 was pivotal insofar as it marked a turning point: struggles after 2008 became more consolidated, radical, and ideologically coherent than they had been in the preceding years, albeit still maintaining the same organizational forms of the anti-globalization movement.

More recently we have felt the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis in the series of mass movements that have swept across Canada and the rest of the world. In 2011 the Occupy movement burst onto the political scene, and resulted in occupations in nearly all major and mid-sized cities across North America. Occupy was one of the first truly mass movements to arise in North America in the 21st century (the immigrant rights movement and the anti-war movement are also mass movements of the 21st century). It was also important insofar as it very directly called into question capitalism, and put forward the notion of class and class interests into the mainstream, though in the economistic form of the “1%” versus the “99%”. This was followed in 2012 with the so-called Maple Spring, which was far more radical and long-lasting than anyone could have anticipated: indeed, it resulted in the very fabric of Quebec society being questioned by large numbers of people. In 2013 Idle No More swept across Canada and, for the first time in memory in some locations, notably the Prairies, we saw the mobilization of large numbers of First Nations people against the effects (though notably not the system) of Canadian colonialism. These movements largely ignored the existing left, though certainly copied organizational structures and ideological orientations from the movementist milieu.

What is movementism? We include in the movementist milieu most anarchists, trade union activists, social democrats, revisionist communists, and even some self-styled anti-revisionists. In the context of talking about organization, a unifying feature of the movementists is a mistrust of organization and a belief in the transformative power of spontaneous gatherings. Even where revolution is desired, or talked about on an abstract level, no tactical or strategic discussion of how to build revolution occurs. Instead, there is a belief that a convergence of various movements, small affinity groups, and individuals will somehow result in qualitative leap in the left’s capacity, and a social transformation will follow. This was the “strategy” put forward by the overly-triumphalist sections of the movementist left during the Occupy movement. It was the “strategy” advanced by movementists in Quebec during the Maple Spring. And yet, in each instance, these mass movements ultimately failed, retreated, and capitalism remained unchanged.[1]

The experience of the mass movements of the last 10 years show that movementist or spontaneist approaches to social change are a dead end. The lack of organization among the mainstream left resulted in there being no force capable of seizing on the opportunities these mass uprisings occasioned, notably by applying the mass-line and transforming the uprisings into revolutionary movements. This experience, more than anything else, highlights the need for organization: there must be an organization that can coordinate action among revolutionary forces to intervene in struggles and movements, and that can coordinate and qualitatively transform mass uprisings into revolutionary movements. Organization will allow for the development of revolutionary movements: disorganization will allow for another Occupy.

So what type of organization is necessary? An organization that is able to coordinate the actions of its members toward a common goal. An organization that can serve as a place where the various struggles ongoing in society can be brought together and linked; where they can be politically centralized under a conscious political leadership. An organization that can consciously learn from past mistakes and synthesize experiences in order to move forward. An organization that is composed of the advanced section of the masses. An organization with a coherent structure and ideology, with a plan of action to make revolution. These characteristics describe a vanguard organization, or the party. As Maoists, we all agree on the necessity of the party; we are supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Why bring this up? It is worthwhile to situate and conceptualize the role of the vanguard party as we consider the role of mass organizations. We can therefore say that one type of communist organization is the highly organized vanguard party, and that the experience of mass movements from the last 10 years underlines the necessity of the vanguard party to the revolutionary process.

While a centralized, ideologically coherent vanguard party made up of the advanced sections of the masses is necessary, the masses as a whole will not be able to participate as members in such an organization. This is for a number of reasons: maybe they are not communists, maybe they don’t have time to commit to a party, maybe they have other time commitments, and so on and so forth. However, even those people that aren’t communists need to be involved in the revolutionary process: the success or failure of revolution and of socialism will depend on the direct involvement of the masses as a whole. How do we as communists handle the apparent contradiction between the necessity of the involvement of the masses in the revolutionary process, and the existence of a centralized vanguard party?

Another type of organization is necessary. Here we have what we can call “mass organizations”, or those organizations that exist for the masses. Mass organizations must be democratic. They can be organized around specific issues or around specific demographic groups. They can be ad-hoc, or created with permanence in mind. Mass organizations should generally have a revolutionary leadership––that is to say, they should be consciously involved in the revolutionary movement. Mass organizations should target a certain political level within the masses: i.e. either the advanced, intermediate, or backwards. They should have the lowest possible basis of unity necessary to achieve the political goal that they set for themselves. Mass organizations should be all-encompassing; we should strive to organize the entirety of the masses into various mass organizations. Mass organizations should form the basis for the institutions that will exist under socialism. Mass organizations are another means by which the advanced are united, and the intermediate (and sometimes even backwards) are brought up.

It is worth nothing that “mass organization” is not synonymous with “mass movement.” While mass organizations may be capable of launching mass movements, which will themselves involve different levels of organization, mass organizations put the question and necessity of organization at the centre of their work. Mass organizations are decidedly anti-movementist in this respect.

What about those individuals that are more politically advanced than the mass organizations, but are not yet willing or able to join the Party? Here we insert another type of organization, which can be called an “intermediate organization”. Intermediate organizations have a higher level of political unity than a mass organization generally does, for instance they may be consciously anti-capitalist. However, intermediate organizations generally do not require agreement on a unified revolutionary strategy. In our current Canadian context intermediate organizations are especially important: while there are a number of parties that have set themselves the task of becoming the vanguard of the Canadian proletariat, no party (including our Party) has yet achieved this. As such, there is not a vanguard organization to which new communists will “naturally” flock. An intermediate organization allows new communists to get involved in political work with a lower level of commitment than party membership would entail, but still under the political leadership of the party. Intermediate organizations are themselves transitory; as the class struggle develops and a singular vanguard emerges, the utility of intermediate organizations decreases. Similarly, as the political level of the masses is raised, intermediate organizations should be subsumed into mass organizations.

What should be the relationship between the party, mass organizations, and intermediate organizations? First and foremost, the party must exercise political leadership over the mass organizations and transitional organizations within its fold. While mass organizations and intermediate organizations may be initiated by the party, they must themselves be autonomous organizations and internally democratic. Party members and supporters must be involved in mass organizations and intermediate organizations, but they must not act in a commandist way inside of these organizations: commandism here could be seizing leadership positions and pushing a political line ahead of the political level of the organization’s membership. In turn, the party must incorporate the perspectives advanced by mass and intermediate organizations, and synthesize the correct perspectives into its own political line. In short, there must be a constant dialogue between party and mass organization, with neither overstepping the other in terms of importance: a revolution is impossible without the masses or without the leadership of the vanguard.

What about mass organizations, potential mass organizations, or campaigns that have not been initiated by the party? Generally speaking, restricting ourselves to be only involved in organizations and campaigns we have started is the incorrect approach: it is self-isolating. Applying the mass-line correctly means going to the entire masses, not just those directly organized by the Party. There are plenty of good initiatives launched by the masses that are worth engaging with. These various campaigns and organizations should be appraised on a case-by-case basis, with some of the following criteria being used to make the decision: Can involvement in this campaign raise the political level of the masses? Can it lead to the accumulation of revolutionary forces, either through recruitment into the party, mass organization, or intermediate organization, or through connections to other sections of the masses? Can it be co-opted by the bourgeoisie? Do we have the capacity to involve ourselves in this struggle? While not exhaustive, new initiatives originating outside the party should be evaluated using these concerns. What is most important is that the political line of the party should not be hidden when intervening in these other struggles: there is no way to raise the political level of the masses without being open politically with them.

In almost every location except for perhaps the largest cities, there is a group of “leftists” that are involved in nearly every cause. These folks have a practice that involves moving from rally to rally, sitting on committees, holding panel discussions, supporting picket lines: in short, doing very little. These people have been pejoratively referred to as the “rent-a-crowd”. It is necessary to point out that these people do not constitute the masses; when deciding to be involved in an initiative or not, the rent-a-crowd should not factor into the decision. Indeed, these people largely have other political commitments, are committed to incorrect ideas, and it is generally impossible to have political leadership over them. They are best ignored when possible (their own irrelevancy makes this easy), and defeated politically when ignoring them is not possible.

The institutional form of the relationship between the party, mass organization, and intermediate organization is the united front. The united front serves to bring these various struggles, campaigns, movements, and organizations together in a direct way, literally placing them in dialogue with one another for the purpose of adopting common tactics. The party should attempt to make its political line hegemonic within the united front, but must do this in a political rather than bureaucratic manner. Not all coalitions are united fronts, and indeed, if a coalition or united front stops serving the task of building revolution, revolutionary organizations should have no problem abandoning that specific manifestation of a united front. Building a revolutionary united front is an important milestone for revolution in this country.

Reform VS Revolution?

Having dealt with the mass-line in the abstract, and then concrete types of organization, there is still a glaring hole in the discussion of communist methods of mass work: namely, what mass work can and should look like. How should we decide what types of demands to put forward, or campaigns to initiate? How do we connect tactical decisions with our broader strategic orientation? Why even bother with specific demands or reforms? How do we avoid lapsing into economism?

Revolutionaries need to speak to the masses where they are at in ways that directly influence their day-to-day lives, i.e. on the concrete level of their daily experiences, which at this historical conjuncture largely takes the form of specific reforms or campaigns. In turn, winning specific reforms allows the masses to see that victory is possible, combating the crisis of confidence that afflicts the working class after nearly 40 years of defeats. We have to become less uncomfortable with specific demands, and engage in an actual mass-line practice of consciously synthesizing those demands with our revolutionary program.

It may seem on the surface that what is being proposed is a retreat into economism––that we should focus instead on specific reforms rather than revolution. How do we fight for reforms and meeting the masses where they are at without lapsing into economism?

The answer to this apparent contradiction is a political answer. All reforms have a political content indicated by the class that they serve. For instance, access to clean drinking water is apolitical in an abstract sense: we must drink water to survive. However, the means by which clean drinking water is accessed, who has access to it and who doesn’t, how clean drinking water is achieved, and so on and so forth are political questions. For the fight for any specific reform to not lapse into economism, the struggle must focus itself beyond the specific reform, and put itself in the service of the broader revolutionary movement. It is only by consciously connecting the struggle for a reform to the broader revolutionary struggle, and subordinating the immediate reform to the revolutionary process in an open way, that the struggle for immediate reforms does not lapse into economism. Also, if a reform is won, it must be made clear that the state has not provided the reform, but rather that the reform was wrested from the state through struggle. Economism is combated on a subjective political level by consciously and openly advancing revolutionary politics in the midst of a struggle for specific reforms. Thus, insofar as revolutionary politics are concerned, the dichotomy between reform and revolution is a false dichotomy; the fight for specific reforms, done in a revolutionary manner, is part of the broader revolutionary process.

As with any type of struggle, the question of victory looms large in any discussion of specific tactics. Generally speaking, victory in a struggle is what should be sought after. Not winning a struggle can have a demoralizing effect on its participants. However, the victory of any individual struggle is less important than the advancement of the class struggle as a whole. Struggles should not be undertaken solely with the criteria of whether or not the struggle will be successful; if a struggle will likely lose but will still advance the class struggle, it should be undertaken. What is important is the consolidation process of mass-line practice that was outlined earlier. Struggle, as will be discussed below, is the means of developing cadre capable of leading the masses to revolution. As such, training and developing new leaders can be reason enough for struggle. If, for instance, a strike is lost but the workers involved have gained experience and developed new leaders capable of leading workers elsewhere, the struggle should be seen as a victory in light of the broader class struggle.

Reforms are not the only type of mass practice that can be engaged in within the framework of the mass-line. Two other types of initiative come to mind when looking at specific mass-line tactics. First, we have what can be called “serve the people programs”, a type of practice where communists provide a specific good or service for the masses as a means of building connections with them and organizing them. Perhaps the most famous examples in North America are those programs run by the Black Panther Party, such as their free breakfast program, their free clinics, and their direct actions that replaced state functions in the communities in which they were strongest (adding stop-signs to busy roads, for instance). As with the struggle for specific reforms, what is most important is that these serve the people initiatives are consciously tied back to the party and revolutionary politics in an open manner; revolutionary politics are what make serve the people programs distinct from charity, on a subjective level. The point of a serve the people program is not to provide a service, but rather to use that service to connect with, organize, and politicize the masses.

The second type of initiative would be the defense of the masses in the form of a specific action rather than a protracted campaign. These actions involve the most advanced section of the masses and can often result in concrete organizational gains. Furthermore, the party can come to be seen as defending the interests of the masses, which makes future organizational efforts around specific campaigns easier.

With this in mind, how should one decide what type of reform, campaign, action, etc. to engage in? Social investigation of a given situation––which can take the form of synthesizing lived experiences, or more formally doing survey campaigns––should reveal the needs and desires of the masses in any given context. These contradictions––contradictions insofar as there is an antagonistic contradiction between the demands of the masses on one side and the reality of capitalism on the other––should be broken open in order to mobilize and organize the masses. A struggle should be undertaken with the sole criteria of whether or not it advances the class struggle, whether or not through exploiting the contradictions inherent in capitalist society the struggle organizes the largest number of people around a correct political line and practice. Some communists pontificate over whether or not communists should start struggles or just engage in those that organically arise as the contradictions of capitalism play themselves out: this is a non-issue that is largely dependent on the context. If struggles are ongoing and there is space for communist politics within them, communists should involve themselves in those struggles; if struggles don’t exist, communists should start them as a means of organizing the masses.

Some comrades take an erroneous view that all communists need to be involved in every struggle that exists. This often manifests itself as an insistence that every protest is necessary to attend. While it is correct that eventually communists will need to be involved in every struggle within society, not every communist will be capable of involving themselves in every struggle. This mistaken approach can be called “hyper-activism”. Hyper-activism is incorrect insofar as it does not allow communists to “dig-in” to the masses; to find a section of the masses to really organize, and really lead.

Finally, it is worth briefly talking about the concept of militancy. Militancy means, simply put, the willingness to struggle and be confrontational. It can sometimes mean willingness to engage in physical altercations with police or reactionaries, but this is not the most important aspect of militancy. Importantly, though, the militancy of a tactic is not the criteria on which a tactic should be evaluated: all tactics should be evaluated based on whether or not they will help advance the class struggle by transforming the objective conditions they are used against. Militancy is sometimes necessary, and is sometimes not necessary: it is one approach among many. Specific tactics, insofar as the mass-line is being employed, should primarily be aimed at organizing and engaging the largest possible section of the masses around a correct political and organizational line. There are some comrades who are perhaps too influenced by adrenaline who forget this fact, and in over-emphasizing the importance of militancy in every situation, act in a commandist fashion vis-à-vis the masses.

Communist Conduct

The question of how communists should conduct themselves, both among the masses and inside the party may seem to be a banal question, but effective mass work without proper conduct is impossible. Insofar as all conduct is concerned, but chiefly toward the masses, communists must conduct themselves humbly and without arrogance. Often communists approach the masses as though communists know everything and simply have to teach the masses the correct ideas. One thinks, for instance, of the myriad rallies that we have all surely attended in which presenters spout off a list of facts and some platitudes that the audience largely knows and agrees with but that passersby are unconvinced of. Instead, to properly apply the mass-line, one must realize that one can both teach the masses the correct political ideas (raising their consciousness), but also communists have much to learn from the masses in terms of understanding concretely how society operates. It is only by approaching the masses in a humble and open manner that we can effectively organize the masses.

Communists must constantly combat sectarianism. Oft-times it is easy to substitute the health or success of an organization for the success of the class as a whole, seeing the advancement of an organization as the advancement of the class struggle. Sometimes it is true that a single organization is necessary for the advancement of the class struggle (as in the case of legitimate vanguard organizations), but many other times it is not. As a result, communists will often look out for their own organization above the interests of the masses: this can manifest itself in various ways, such as not correcting mistaken practices within an organization, covering for mistakes (often very serious ones, such as the SWP’s handling of rape internal to their party), or attacking other organizations in an unprincipled manner. In turn, communists should be open, where possible, to working with other organizations and certainly should be open to working on the initiatives that are brought forward by the masses: sectarians frown on all initiatives not started by the party or its mass organizations, and communists must combat this trend. Communists always struggle for the broadest possible unity, and see struggle against other comrades or tendencies as a means of building unity, not defeating others.

Communists must be principled. In the work that communists do, they should hold to their politics and practice. Communists should be dependable. They should struggle against lapses into various opportunisms, including right opportunism (giving up principles for immediate gains) and left opportunism (posing as more “radical” for the sake of being more radical). It is only by being principled that communists can win the respect of the masses.

Communists should endeavour to be “good people”.  Communists should not steal from the masses. Communists should be honest, and not engage in subterfuge or intrigue; political problems should be brought into the open, and open political struggle should be demanded. Communists should generally be pleasant. Communists should put the masses above themselves, and have a spirit of self-sacrifice in terms of how they work with and approach the masses. Communists should combat all forms of oppression. Communists should engage in criticism and self-criticism as a means of correcting mistakes; in turn, communists should not back-down from attacking unjust criticism and should support those subjected to unjust criticism. Communists should, where possible, defend the interests of the masses when they are attacked. Communists should build one another up and support one another, rather than tear each other down. Communists should complete tasks that they set for themselves.

In terms of organizational discipline, communists should strive to adhere to the principles of democratic centralism. Communists should uphold publicly and carry out decisions that are reached by the organization. By opting to join the party, communists give the party a monopoly on their political activity; a communist should be willing to struggle where needed, and should centralize their political activity into the party, intermediate, and mass organizations. Pride of place should not be given to one’s own opinions when they run counter to the democratic will of the organization; this is an anti-democratic approach. Communists should respect elected leadership within the party and mass organizations, even when they personally disagree with the choice made by the organization. In turn, internally there must be freedom of discussion, critique, and debate, and a fully democratic practice. But at the end of the day, communists must be disciplined.

On the flip side, failure to uphold high standards of conduct within an organization and among the masses will lead to an organization’s downfall. The masses will be distrustful of those people and organizations that attempt to change the world without gaining their trust. Constant infighting, which arises either due to subterfuge and intrigue internal to an organization, or due to a stagnation of mass work, further hampers an organization’s ability to act. In turn, not holding oneself or one’s organization to high standards is a sign of individualism, or placing the individual (often times oneself) above the interests of the collective or the interests of the revolutionary process and struggle. This is not to say that individuals should not take the time to properly care for and maintain themselves; sometimes life allows for different levels of activity within the revolutionary movement. But insofar as one’s political work is concerned, individualism (the act of putting the individual before the collective or organization) must be combated at every opportunity in order for struggles to be successful.

Communist Leadership

There have been frequent references in this document to the concept of political leadership, as opposed to bureaucratic leadership. The necessity of the party to lead the masses in a political rather than bureaucratic way has been emphasized. What then does communist leadership, i.e. the means by which the party leads the masses in a political manner, look like?

While our experiences here are limited insofar as our mass practice is limited, we can at the very least conceptualize what bureaucratic and political leadership looks like. Ultimately, all political organizations have political leadership of the masses as a goal. However, some organizations misunderstand the means by which political leadership is achieved. Bureaucratic leadership upholds the primacy of holding positions in organizations and institutions; bureaucratic leadership is the assumption that power comes from holding positions, and that holding positions is indicative of political leadership. Those that focus on bureaucratic leadership confuse control over an apparatus with leadership over the members of an organization. As such, the primary task for those engaged in a process of bureaucratic leadership is to win these institutional positions; their practice is largely electoral. We can recall trade union bureaucrats, student union bureaucrats, etc., many of whom will self-identify as revolutionary or radical, but hide their politics at every opportunity in order to win elections. They then assume that simply holding a position somehow transforms the class character of an organization and the political outlook of its membership: one thinks of the tragicomedy in which most unions support the NDP, but most union members vote Conservative. An ironic feature of bureaucratic leadership is that as the political difference between leaders and members increases, the members of an organization are less likely to be involved, thus simultaneously entrenching the bureaucracy while lessening their influence over the membership, effectively defeating the proclaimed purpose of holding positions in the first place.

Does this mean that communists should refrain from running for or holding positions in bureaucratic structures or institutions? Of course not: this makes about as much sense as irrational anti-economism. Rather, the holding of positions should not be the primary goal of communist political action, nor should it be confused with actual political leadership. Indeed, political leadership and bureaucratic leadership can and should go hand-in-hand when done properly (i.e. those that have political leadership should hold positions in an organization), but one must not be substituted for the other. If communists seek to hold positions, they should be open about their politics through the election or selection process: the holding of a position in an organization should be seen as part of mass-line practice and should be on the basis of politics rather than simply practice (i.e. we should avoid situations where communists are chosen not because the masses agree with their politics, but because they’re the best or only person for the position). Finally, communists must evaluate whether or not holding the position advances the class struggle, and must be willing to give up positions if the class struggle is not advanced through their possession.

What then is political leadership? Political leadership is fairly straightforward: it is the ability to influence the political outlook and action of the masses through non-bureaucratic methods. As the mass-line is applied properly and the party grows in influence, it is increasingly seen as the sole legitimate defender of the interests of the masses. As such, the masses now have a reason to take the party seriously, and will change their political outlook based on the political positions of the vanguard, regardless of whether or not communists hold institutional positions above the masses. Political leadership is unobtrusive in the sense that the masses must come to their own conclusions, rather than being bureaucratically managed or ordered to certain political positions. Political leadership is, as the name implies, political: it is the ability to influence the politics of the masses. Communist leadership is necessarily political leadership.

Communist leadership is predominately concerned with the question of solving contradictions. Inevitably over the course of struggle, contradictions within the communist movement will arise. These may take the form of personality conflicts, or may represent competing political lines: in either case, the job of communist leadership is to see the contradictions through to a resolution that advances the class struggle. In turn, communist leadership must be able to pick out the contradictions within capitalist society and resolve them in the interests of the working class and the class struggle.

The building of mass leadership is another aspect of communist leadership. Recall that mass organizations should form the core of the institutions of socialism. As such, these organizations need a strong leadership that is able to grow these organizations and see them through to the task of socialist construction. This leadership does not need to be communist, but it must use communist leadership methods; that is to say, must exercise political leadership over the mass organization. Furthermore, the continued existence of mass organizations over time is dependent on the development of new leadership to lead new sections of the masses as organizations expand, or to replace existing leaders as they move on from organizations, are deposed, etc.  As such, communist leadership must be concerned with building the leadership capacity of the masses: a leadership that isn’t able to reproduce itself is a leadership that ceases to exist.

Before moving on, it is necessary to touch on questions of marginalization and identity. There are a number of groups within society that for one reason or another are oppressed: these include women, LGBTQ people, racialized people, aboriginals, people with disabilities, and so on and so forth (this list is not exhaustive). Even in the most democratic organizations, it is all too easy to sit back and not combat these other forms of oppression. As a result, it tends to be easier for white, straight, cis-gendered men to take and hold leadership positions. In turn, white, straight, cis-gendered men are seen as natural leaders and have an easier time exercising their authority within organizations. The result is that many organizations wind up being “boy’s clubs” that are unable to speak to the needs of the majority of the proletariat insofar as the organization’s perspectives are limited by the social position and privilege of their leadership. As such, to ensure the viability of all organizations, there needs to be a constant struggle against these forms of oppression: people from oppressed groups should be encouraged to take leadership positions, special emphasis should be put on preparing people from oppressed groups to take leadership positions, and all communists should struggle against oppressive practices as they arise within organizations of any type. This is not to say that politics should be pushed aside in favour of identity, but rather that other forms of oppression need to be taken into account when considering the question of leadership.

In summary, communist leadership is: political leadership as opposed to bureaucratic leadership, concerned with solving contradictions, building mass leadership, and consciously fighting against oppression.

Dual Power, The Mass-Line, and PPW

Until now the question of mass work and the mass-line has only vaguely been situated within the strategy of PPW. It may seem unclear how fighting around specific issues, for specific reforms, or in other ways previously highlighted can transform the struggle in a qualitative manner to a higher stage, namely the launching of PPW. Below is a sketch of how such a transformation could occur: inevitably the actual progression of events will be different, but it is important to consciously connect the mass-line and PPW.

As our mass work becomes more successful and our party and mass organizations grow, we will inevitably come under increased state repression. The defense of revolutionary mass organizations will become a necessary part of our mass work, ensuring that it can continue. This defense may result in violent confrontation with the state. The forceful defense of mass organizations and their activities against state repression can constitute the opening stages of the strategic defensive in an urban setting. In turn, insofar as mass organizations constitute the embryo of what will become the institutions of socialism, the ability to defend mass organizations is the basis for the establishment of dual power. As capacity to defend mass organizations grows, so too does dual power; this is the basis for establishing liberated zones and the transition from the strategic defensive to the strategic equilibrium. Of course that transition will also involve a consolidated military strategy, but that is outside the scope of this document.

The armed defense of mass movements and mass organizations also serves a propagandistic purpose, insofar as it can serve to popularize among the masses the necessity of using violence as a tool of social transformation. The masses will see that the state will violently repress their efforts to change society; in turn they will see that only violence is capable of resisting the state in this respect.

Note that this is not to argue for a spontanaeist approach to the defense of mass organizations, which is to say that in the moment of their repression, the masses will spontaneously come to be able to defend their institutions. The organization of such a force is a necessary political task if such defense is possible. However we should also be wary of lapsing into adventurism on this front; the ability to effectively organize around any military strategy has as a precondition mass support, which means the growth in scale and quality of our mass organizations and mass work.

 

***

The conception advanced in this article is formed from the collective experiences of building a revolutionary party in an imperialist country, largely over the eight years of the PCR-RCP’s existence, but with some insight stretching back even before. This being said, in the present period our work is still at a basic level, and as such, our perspectives will be as well. The understanding of the mass-line and methods of mass work advanced above should serve to properly align our practice in the years to come, in order for us to deepen and develop our future perspectives. We have a lot of work to do, and millions of people to organize. Let’s get to it.

[1] See J Moufawad-Paul’s The Communist Necessity for a more fleshed-out discussion of movementism and the anti-globalization movement.

 

This is a reproduction of an article which appeared in the most recent issue of Arsenal, the theoretical journal of the PCR-RCP

An Appeal on the 150th Anniversary of a Prison House of Nations

Today marks the 150th anniversary of Canada. Canada, a prison-house of nations, which keeps indigenous peoples subjugated under colonial rule. Canada, a dream-come-true for the rich, which continually attacks the working class and provides a veritable playground for the capitalist class. Canada, a country which is a breeding-ground for all other forms of oppression, constantly dehumanizing the most marginalized within our societies. Canada: a source of misery for millions and millions, at home, and around the world. Canada: a country which must be ended if the masses in this country are to enjoy even the most basic human dignity.

 
To indigenous peoples, who have struggled so long against Canadian colonialism: keep up the struggle for legitimate national self-determination! Do not settle for “reconciliation” or whatever other traps the Canadian state has set for us on our path to liberation. Nothing short of full control over our lands, resources, and people –in short, complete control over our futures as nations – will be able to overturn the effects of centuries of colonialism. And know that in the struggle for national self-determination, the Revolutionary Communist Party will be right alongside us, fighting to dismantle the prison-house of nations known as Canada.

To the workers and poor of Canada, settler, immigrant, and indigenous: we are poor because others are rich. The Canadian state has expertly crafted a system in which the work we do goes to benefit a small minority rather than improving our lives. While the rich go on expensive vacations, eat the finest foods, and relax in luxury, we work day-in-and-day-out and go into debt just to make ends meet. In almost every conceivable way, profit is put before people. It is not our fault: the system was designed this way. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Our enemies are not indigenous peoples and immigrants, but the capitalist class and the capitalist system itself! If we unite and fight, not only can we make gains –higher wages, cheaper rent, better working conditions, etc. – and improve our situation under the current system, but we can overthrow capitalism itself and build a world without exploitation: a world where we as workers aren’t treated as expendable wealth creators, but rather as people. The Revolutionary Communist Party will work tirelessly to this end, struggling alongside all those who fight for a better world.

To all other oppressed peoples in Canada: know that our struggles are also legitimate and just. Whether we struggle against xenophobia, anti-Black racism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, homophobia, ableism, or any other form of oppression, it is absolutely correct to demand basic human dignity against the systems which conspire to dehumanize us. While it can be tempting to look at each of these struggles as disconnected and unique, it is only through uniting –understanding our common humanity – that we can truly be successful in building a world without oppression. And in the struggles against specific forms of oppression, as well as the battle to unite these struggles together, the Revolutionary Communist Party is with us.

Who are we? The Revolutionary Communist Party is not a political party like the mainstream parties: we have no interest in parliament, and we don’t make promises we have no intention of keeping. The tasks we have set for ourselves are simple to grasp: the overthrow of the colonial Canadian state in order to secure real self-determination for all oppressed nations in what is now Canada, the end of capitalism in order to ensure that survival and a high quality of life for all is guaranteed, the construction of a truly democratic society so that we –all workers and oppressed peoples- can have control over our lives, and the end of Canadian imperialism to ensure that we do not live well here at the expense of others across the planet. In short, we struggle for socialism. And we know that the capitalist class will not grant this without a fight: the only way to build a truly just world is revolution. Among our members are indigenous peoples and settlers, immigrants and non-immigrants, men, women, and trans and non-binary people, students, workers, old and young. We come from all parts of Canada, and are united in our singular goal of overthrowing all existing social conditions. And it is only through this revolutionary unity that we can be successful in our respective struggles.

The time for action is now. We call upon all those who struggle for a better world to reach out to the Revolutionary Communist Party. Email us at pcr.rcp.canada@gmail.com: we are active across Canada. It is only through bringing our various struggles together and planning a strategic path forward that we can successfully overthrow capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. For far too long the capitalist class has been winning. We can reverse the tide. We have nothing to lose but our chains: we have a world to win. End Canada!