On March 4th, the PCR-RCP attempted to hold the book launch of J. Moufawad-Paul’s Continuity and Rupture at Maison Norman Bethune. During the book launch, there was a physical altercation that ended the event prematurely. The Central Committee of the PCR-RCP condemns those behind the altercation. Because this altercation reflects poorly on the PCR-RCP, we believe it is necessary to offer an explanation of both what happened and how the Central Committee has responded. We know this explanation will not satisfy everyone involved, just as we know that our response will be controversial, but we feel that the situation is serious enough to warrant this statement.
The altercation occurred between four members of the Montreal branch of the PCR-RCP on the one side, and three other PCR-RCP supporters on the other side. The three who were attacked have been branded “anti-party elements” by the Montreal branch, an evalutation that the Central Committee does not share and which was not made by the organization as a whole. In the midst of the presentation, four party members stormed into the Maison Norman Bethune, physically assaulted the three individuals classified as “anti-party”, and forcibly ejected them despite the protests of the author and others in attendence. At no point did any of the three individuals attempt to disrupt the book launch. One of these three individuals had their glasses stomped on and broken. They were all followed to the nearby Metro station and called a variety of names, including some chauvinist slurs.
The reason for the Montreal branch labelling these three as anti-party elements relates to two issues. First, there is a developing line struggle within the PCR-RCP which, up until now, had been internal. The primary issue in the line struggle is an understanding of the mass line, but related questions include: trans liberation, sex work, and the relationship of the Party towards unions. The assaulted comrades uphold a line which runs counter to the majority opinion of the Montreal branch, but not counter to the majority opinion of the organization as a whole. Second, two of these individuals had previously written criticisms of the PCR-RCP which were then distributed internally. One of these criticisms contained very serious allegations against a PCR-RCP supporter; the Central Committee was, at the time of the altercation, in the process of investigating these allegations. This attack was a spontaneous act that is in contempt of the ongoing investigation, and runs counter to Maoist methods of resolving line struggles.
The PCR-RCP is not a Party of goons. We reject the use of physical force to solve line struggle, especially when the line struggle is not yet at an antagonistic level. This attack was not a Maoist way of resolving line struggles. Even further, we note that if anti-party elements show up at a public event, there is no reason to attack them physically unless we are also physically attacked. If people in attendence make anti-party statements then it is our job to argue with them and prove them wrong. If we are correct, we should have nothing to fear. Physically assaulting them not only undermines our ability to hold public events by making us appear to be a punitive and dogmatic organization, but also justifies a violent spontaneity that undermines the kind of discipline to which a vanguard-seeking organization should aspire.
What happened was not in line with Maoist methods of work. Worse, and most egregiously, what happened undermines the credibility of the organization in the eyes of the masses. Why would anyone want to join an organization where one group of people assault another group of people who supposedly share the same politics? What sort of discipline and care for the masses does this attack demonstrate?
In response to this condemnable behaviour, the Central Committee has expelled from the Party those four members who initiated the altercation on March 4th. We have not taken this decision easily: we recognize it is extreme, but we feel this is an extreme situation. The fact that they undermined an ongoing investigation of the Central Committee, engaged in actions which were not Maoist in character, raised the level of antagonism in an ongoing line struggle, discredited the PCR-RCP in the eyes of the masses, and yet do not appear to show remorse for their actions has forced us to make this decision. We hope that in time we can regain the confidence of the assaulted comrades, resolve the line struggle in a non-antagonistic manner, and rebuild the trust of the masses in the PCR-RCP.