The Conference opened with a reading of the poem
"Something Is Calling Now, Move
Hardial Bains, followed by introductory remarks which addressed
the concrete conditions of 1967 and today. The first were
delivered by Dr. Richard Daly, as guest of honour. Dr. Daly was
present as both participant and witness at the Necessity for
Change Conference organized by The Internationalists under the
leadership of Hardial Bains and held in London, England 50 years ago.
The second were presented by Louis Lang who was present when the
Internationalists, the precursor organization of CPC(M-L), were
reorganized in 1968 in Montreal and was a founding member of the
Necessity for Change Ideological Studies Centre, which conducted
the Conference proceedings. A third paper, delivered by Enver
Villamizar, detailed the work of the revolutionary youth of the
nineties to preserve and make available the treasury of thought
material bequeathed to the working class from the revolutionary work of
Hardial Bains and thousands of other comrades working under the
direction of the Party's Central Committee.
The keynote presentation by the Ideological
Studies Centre was titled The Here and the Now. It addressed
necessity to find a new reference
point and develop the analysis of the concrete conditions in the
space and time of today leading to the strengthening of
Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought. This was elaborated in
subsequent presentations, one titled How the National Interest Is
Used to Trump the
Public Interest and another by Ideological Studies Centre associate
Eric Hoffman, a
specialist in the history of science and authority on the
thesis presented by the deconstructionists and neo-pragmatists.
Eric made an important
contribution on The Vantage Point of the New.
The Conference addressed a key problem in thinking and
outlook, which is the relationship between consciousness and
social being. Consciousness arises from social being, how people
acquire their living and their organizations and relationships
within society. Social consciousness, which reflects the new
being fighting to be and to build a new society fit for human
beings, becomes a material force to hasten the birth of the New.
Comrade Bains wrote in 1997, "[The Necessity for Change analysis] lays down ideological remoulding as the key to the uninterrupted advance and victory of revolution. Basing themselves on the concrete contemporary situation and the problems of the working class movement, The Internationalists took up the questions of organization and the role of the individual in the revolutionary transformation within the context of the work of the collective." The Necessity for Change analysis states decisively, "understanding requires an act of conscious participation of the individual, an act of finding out," placing action in the first place and understanding in its service.
Establishing a new reference point and giving birth to
New demands revolutionary work and analysis. Revolutionaries
cannot be bystanders describing the human condition if they are
to enact change and bring in the New. Revolutionary practice
exists in a dialectical relationship with revolutionary theory.
Revolutionary practice cannot exist without revolutionary theory,
and practice leads the way through actions with analysis.
Revolutionary theory without revolutionary practice serves no
purpose and can even become dogmatic renderings to block the New
from coming into being. Revolutionaries cannot repeat the old
analysis and reference points and expect to change the situation
and give birth to the New. Actions to bring in the New within the
concrete conditions of the here and now are strengthened and
sustained with analysis of the existing objective and subjective
conditions, activating the human factor/social consciousness and
broadening the revolutionary practice.
The form and content of revolutionary work are in need of constant renewal and change in conformity with the changing subjective and objective conditions. The victories and theory of the past inform and guide the work in the present and give confidence to the people to march on.
The Conference was attended by party secretaries from across the country and representatives of work among the workers and youth, including delegations of steel, construction and forestry workers, teachers and education workers and others from the public sector, as well as youth from Mexico and the United States and invited guests. Important interventions by invited guests from Mexico, Cuba and the United States enriched the conference during the second day and revealed how the concrete conditions in each country are also bringing forth renewal in thinking and organization. This gave participants an opportunity to express their enthusiasm for the determination of the peoples of the world to open a path to progress and defeat U.S. imperialist interference and aggression.
Dr. Pablo Moctezuma Barragán, Mayor of Azcapotzalco in the Federal District of Mexico and leader of the Unión del Trabajo de México (Mexteki) shared experiences in opposing nation-wrecking and efforts to replace it with a new nation-building project in that sister country. Basilio Gutiérrez García represented the Communist Party of Cuba with a lively presentation on the decisive role of the Communist Party in the Cuban revolution, followed by an extensive and vigorous Question and Answer session. Kathleen Chandler, General Secretary of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization, addressed the culture of resistance in the United States, while Gurbachan Singh, General Secretary of the Punjab Human Rights Organization, spoke of the contribution Hardial Bains made to the protection and promotion of human rights in India and the world. Comrade Lal Singh represented the Hindustani Ghadar Party of India and Michael Chant, General Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain, also participated. The Ambassador to Canada of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela H.E. Wilmer Omar Barrientos Fernández spoke to the Conference regarding U.S. imperialism's continuing efforts to undermine Venezuela's nation-building project, which includes threats and preparations for direct military intervention, a coup d'état and regime change.
The Conference concluded with the decision that the Party would deepen the work undertaken on this occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration of the historic Necessity for Change Conference held in London, England in 1967, in the form of study groups and discussion forums which bring forward revolutionary work that gives birth to the New. It expressed the participants' confidence in the affirmation of the human factor/social consciousness and their determination to defend freedom of speech as a human right and build public opinion to oppose the aggressive warmongering path pursued by U.S. imperialism, its predatory wars of conquest and the dangerous interference in the affairs of sovereign nations in which Canada is also engaged. The Conference pledged full support to all peoples and countries striving to defend their independence and build the New, and vowed to make Canada a zone for peace in the world.
This Historic Conference was held in tandem with other
events that showed the Party's profound appreciation for the work of
all those who join in to change the world. This included a reception on
the evening of August 12 and a memorial gathering
and concert at Beechwood Cemetery on August 13. The memorial
gathering and concert paid tribute to Comrade Hardial Bains on
the occasion of the 20th anniversary of his untimely death and to
the leader of the Cuban Revolution and Comrade-in-Arms of the
peoples of the world, Fidel Castro Ruz. The concert also honoured
Charles Boylan, Wendell Fields, David Mackay, William McQueen
and Alastair Haythornthwaite who died in the past year and
all Party comrades who have passed away. A special tribute was
also paid to Ernesto Che Guevara on the 50th anniversary of his
death in combat.
Looking Back on
Within the situation, anyone taking a stand for a just cause, defending the dignity of a people, or opposing racism and war, was liable to be labelled as having "psychological flaws," and in many cases put in prison for their conscience, driven to drink, to drugs, to ruin, and even exile. One can recall the famous stand of Muhammad Ali against the Vietnam War and the clenched fist salutes of the African American track stars at the 1968 Olympics, which brought all hell down on their heads. The imperialists ended the brilliant career of Paul Robeson, at least in the U.S., when he was dragged before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 along with many other cultural workers. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed on fraudulent charges of espionage used to justify the overt and covert activities of the espionage agencies against the peoples of the U.S. and the world.
Those from a working class background or a progressive family from other strata were pressured to abandon and reject their background and conscience to gain entrance to the top universities and make whatever compromise necessary to find acceptance within the imperialist world. This laid bare the reality of Anglo-U.S. liberal hypocrisy. In that world you were entitled to be a communist but you would not be permitted to have a career. Anyone raising serious objections to the state of affairs would be labelled a troublemaker with behaviour problems.
To remain a worker committed to the dignity and rights of the working class was portrayed as being a failure, a person with no say or standing of any kind in society. Those who agreed to be compliant with imperialism were permitted to become trade union leaders at a time anti-communist clauses were in all trade union constitutions -- no communists were permitted to be members of trade unions, at least openly, especially in leadership positions. Our Comrade Rolf Gerstenberger, who is here with us today, in 2003 became the first known communist elected President of an industrial union local, in fact the largest steelworkers' local in North America at the time. The support of the workers for Rolf was so solid that attempts to remove him were in vain and the United Steelworkers were forced to change their constitution at the next international convention.
Hidden in all this "end of ideology" nonsense and anti-communism in the sixties was the question of the relations of production, the motion of society, identifying who are the producers of all wealth and should be the decision-makers. Completely obscured was the existence of the dignity of labour, so well brought out in the pages of TML and Workers' Forum, and in the work carried out by the steelworkers, forestry workers, miners, public sector workers, teachers and education workers and others. In this modern imperialist society, the social process of production has placed the socialization and cooperation of the means of production throughout the entire economy as a most urgent strategic question. This has to be an action of the collective of working people in their own interests and of society through the creation of modern relations of production where the actual producers assume control of the direction of the economy to serve the well-being of all and the general interests of society. To their great honour, Hardial Bains and The Internationalists brought this issue into the forefront of consideration.
The imperialists introduced corruption into the working class movement, calling on workers to fight for "a bigger slice of the pie," a redistribution of wealth, while keeping the old relations, society and state intact. The highest aim of those calling themselves socialists was to achieve a good so-called middle class life, which means a bourgeois life of subservience. By 1967, this corruption had entrenched itself in the communist movement bringing it to the point of liquidation, against which a big movement was developing.
Negative tendencies within the struggle, ranged from purely intellectualizing what the "most correct" position should be, to linking oneself with some centre, whether in Moscow, Belgrade, Beijing, Europe or elsewhere. The split in the international communist and workers' movement was affecting the work in all its contingents, obstructing uniting in action to provide solutions to the problems facing their societies and the world. In our experience, stereotypes prevailed and people were supposed to define themselves not by their deeds but by distancing themselves from what others said about them. One of the favorite accusations was blaming activists such as The Internationalists who were fighting for democracy and justice, not the state, for inciting police violence and repression.
Meanwhile, aloofness prevailed to the plight of ordinary working people, oppressed nations and their struggles, as well as the difficulties the youth and students were facing. The imperialists promoted a degenerate youth culture along with a "New Left" loudly proclaimed to be "against society" and for "revolution," and "revolutionary action," but without serious analysis, without building anything, and in fact advocating the most backward bourgeois cultural trends while calling them progressive. The Internationalists exposed as regressive the mouthing of revolutionary phrases while promoting bourgeois culture. The organization fought to re-establish the main aim of the movement as socialism and communism.
It should be remembered that the world was still in the flow of revolution -- with the victory over fascism fresh on people's minds. Victorious battles for national liberation against imperialism were raging throughout Asia, Africa and Central and South America, with the heroic resistance in Vietnam against U.S. aggression at its pinnacle and U.S. imperialism and its allies, including Canada, still smarting from being forced to sign an armistice in 1953 halting their aim to conquer all of Korea.
Sharp contention between capitalism and socialism continued amidst intense contradictions amongst the big imperialist powers. Even though the working class was largely paralyzed by the split in the communist and workers' movement and the ensuing opportunism, it never gave up the struggles for its rights. Youth and students from all classes and strata yearned for the New and surged in large numbers against war and for just causes such as educational, civil, national and working class rights. The ruling elite in the Anglo-U.S. world paraded in front of the youth anti-heroes and worthless demagogues on every issue to turn young people away from challenging the prevailing anti-consciousness. Yet in spite of those efforts conscious people came forward interested in formulating a new basis for the development of society.
Hardial Bains upheld the conclusion of Marxism that mere understanding does not bring freedom; awareness is not liberation. Simply knowing that something is rotten with the world but keeping this as a target of the brain, or merely taking action for action's sake, however well-meaning, changes nothing. The times were calling for something more. They were calling on us to Move On.
The Internationalists answered the call to move on. Comrade Bains pointed out that the work of The Internationalists did not have its origins in the written word, but in the dissatisfaction with the conditions of their time. The activists were immersed in the problems facing the world. They did not hide behind a phrase or believe that solutions could be found without relying on their own efforts. He pointed out that The Internationalists had no particular ideology at the start but reflected the frustration felt by the youth and intellectuals at the time and the discontent of the working people with the existing conditions. Most importantly, The Internationalists brought together people who were advanced and the champions of enlightenment, those who wanted to change the situation and move on.
The organization started out as a discussion group, with the explicit aim to create an academic atmosphere, which was lacking on the UBC campus. The prevalent atmosphere was anti-consciousness, the holding of rigid opinions against inquiring into a subject matter and the constant assertion of views that had no basis in life, which in fact were detrimental to the progress of life. The Internationalists had a limited aim and a modest beginning. It did not spout big or small phrases taken from books or any particular ideology to impress the world. Its ideology, politics and culture took shape within the work to create an academic atmosphere and seek truth to serve the people.
Its ideology, political line, organization and culture became strong in the course of the development through constant work. Comrade Bains said this does not mean the people involved had no ideology. He himself was a communist with a history of political activism dating back to the late forties, while most of the others were progressive in one way or another, even though suspicious of communism. What brought everyone together was their concern about the existing conditions, the education system and culture, and their rejection of the aim of society, its motive for living.
Hardial Bains said the organization came out of the conditions of the sixties, had a mass character, and no preconceived notions at its founding. It flourished on the rich soil of the working people's enthusiasm for change, and came to corroborate the same conclusions that Karl Marx had reached one century before. This was not accomplished through reading some conclusions of Marx and imposing them onto the situation in a dogmatic or religious way. No, The Internationalists arrived at those conclusions by using them as a guide to action in its work, by building its organizational form consistent with its content and aim to find solutions to the problems of the time.
The discoveries within the here and now through work and practical politics ensured the independence of The Internationalists both as an organization and in terms of thinking. This became the key ingredient for the ability to find its bearings in any complex and difficult situation. The ultimate aim was socialism and communism, which was proclaimed to the world with the founding of CPC(M-L) in 1970. The existing communist party had betrayed that aim since 1952 when it took up the line of American exceptionalism promoted by Earl Browder, the communist leader in the United States. Exceptionalism declares the state in Canada and the U.S. democratic and at the service of all social classes. Rather than developing their own independent politics based on a nation-building aim, the aim the Communist Party took up was to deliver the working class provincially to the Social Democrats, and federally to the Liberals.
We, the youth of the sixties generation, Hardial Bains writes, rose up to provide ourselves with consciousness and organization, working out our theory and line from the concrete conditions of that time, relying always on the activism of the masses and remaining always in the van of the movement. We neither substituted our activism for the activism of the masses nor remained on the sidelines. The Internationalists adopted the principle of collective work and individual responsibility, according to which every member has the duty not only to implement the agreed upon decisions but also to participate in arriving at those decisions and to set the agenda of work based on the plan of action established by the Party for the period.
The insistence that members must participate in arriving at decisions was considered not just a right but a duty. It put the individual at the centre of all developments and the organization as a means to achieve results, thereby establishing a living dialectical relationship between the individual and the collective, between form and content.
The existing conditions made The Internationalists necessary. It came into existence to solve the main problems of the day, otherwise there would have been no reason for its existence or explanation for its success and the subsequent success of CPC(M-L). It was the soil of humanity, the struggles of the working class and others that provided the condition for solving the problems of the day.
To bring the solutions forward required the study of that soil of humanity with the precision of science; it required the conscious activity of those taking a stand for the working class and other sections of the people against imperialism. Hardial Bains teaches that certain things come into being independently of us and others come into being because of us. This is the living dialectic. Solving the main problems of the day gave rise to the discussion group in Dublin, Ireland under the leadership of Comrade Bains in 1965, the Necessity for Change Study Program in February and March 1967, and the Necessity for Change Conference in London, England, in August 1967.
The times were calling for an ideology inspired by the desire for change and guided by the science of Marxism-Leninism; with a political objective for the working class to fulfill its mission as the emancipator of all humanity. The times were demanding an organization be brought into being, a vanguard of the working class, with democratic centralism as its form and built on the basis of conscious work. Without solving the main problems of the day no progress would have been accomplished in resolving the main strategic question, the mobilization of the working class and other strata to open society's path for progress.
The Necessity for Change analysis was the weapon to lift the veil of anti-consciousness blocking progress. Hardial Bains says The Internationalists irresistibly attracted all those thinking about taking the decision to join the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists. It appeared as if they were just waiting for us, like the mother liquid waiting for that one crystal, and there you are -- everything was crystallized.
I can confirm this as I was one of those persons facing a choice to be or not to be crystallized. Those aspiring to and interested in formulating a new basis for society and who came into contact with The Internationalists faced a choice. The choice presented was to lift the veil, to break through the prevailing anti-consciousness, and to participate consciously in the act of finding out, to fight for the interests of the working class, to take up the scientific outlook, and importantly to take up the conscious collective work of building the instrument of the class, its vanguard, the Marxist-Leninist Party. The alternative was to remain where one was, aware of the rottenness of society, protesting perhaps, complaining about how bad things were but waiting for someone else to solve the problem, in essence remaining a slave of the conditions.
Comrade Bains says the five-year path leading to the reorganization of The Internationalists as Marxist-Leninist in 1968 was the summation of a period transformed into a real advance in every sense of the word. The following two years were days of reckoning for everyone active in the sixties. The gravitation of the activists was towards The Internationalists, towards the working class. This gravitation presented a crucial moment to found the Party in 1970.
A watchword of The Internationalists was the transforming effect of conscious participation in the work, action with analysis, conscious work with a plan and an aim, in forming the new personality needed to bring about revolution. No finer example of such a new personality could be found than in the person of Hardial Bains.
These days today are also a period of reckoning. Everyone who has been active wants to know where to go, what to do, how to be effective in bringing about the required social change that defends the rights of all, which they possess by virtue of being human.
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Necessity
Change Conference and the 100th anniversary of the Great October
Revolution and the many other milestones of the birth of the New,
we are duty-bound to come to terms with today's conditions; with
the problems which demand solution today. We are duty-bound to
provide answers and solutions to the problems of today.
(Edited slightly by TML for publication.)
On behalf of the generation which in the 1990s took up the work of the generation of the sixties, I am pleased to be here today and welcome you to this conference. Under the theme The Birth of the New, the conference is held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Necessity for Change analysis in 1967.
The Conference is organized by the Ideological Studies Centre, incorporated in 1972 with Hardial Bains as the President and Director of Research and Richard Daly as its Secretary. Prior to this, on September 20, 1968, the Necessity for Change Institute of Ideological Studies was formally inaugurated in Montreal at a meeting held at Sir George Williams University, which today is named Concordia University. That meeting set the direction the Ideological Studies Centre follows to this day.
After the conclusion of the Necessity for Change conference held in London which adopted the Necessity for Change analysis, the founding of this Institute was one of the first acts deemed necessary, along with and on par with the reorganization of the Internationalists as a Marxist-Leninist youth and student movement. The logic was that once the analysis was adopted, two things were required. The first was a disciplined Marxist-Leninist organization to lead its implementation, to organize the unity of the people in action to implement the plans of action they themselves adopt from analyzing their concrete conditions at any given time. The second was that continuous work must be carried out to investigate the concrete conditions, wage the ideological struggle and do the theoretical work required to open society's path to progress.
The guideline for the Ideological Institute was to seek truth and put it at the disposal of the people. Its aim was to investigate all aspects of the struggle for production, class struggle and scientific experimentation without fear or preconceived notions. The comrades strove to propagate the investigation actively in all its aspects as widely as possible, with the sole purpose of broadening and deepening the political consciousness of the working and oppressed people to defeat imperialism and all kinds of reaction.
On its method of operation its Constitution said:
In all its operations the Ideological Institute shall solely depend on the people and thus shall ask for their full cooperation by aligning itself with them. For this purpose, it shall strive for the development of a mass line, through mass-investigation, mass-discussion and mass-agitation. The Ideological Institute shall counter the growth of individualistic and idealistic tendencies by outlawing "expertism," "narrow empiricism" and "narrow ideologues."
Today it is my honour to inform you that in May of this year, on the anniversary of the reorganization of the Internationalists as a Marxist-Leninist youth and student movement and the creation of the Necessity for Change Institute for Ideological Studies, the Party entrusted the preservation of the archives housing the work of Hardial Bains and the Party under his leadership to the youth of my generation, the generation that reached political maturity in the nineties and took up the work of the generation of the sixties.
We constituted the Hardial Bains Resource Centre as a non-profit organization in charge of the archives that contain the work of Hardial Bains and the Party under his leadership since the sixties. The archives contain a very important body of work, in which thousands of people have participated and made contributions. Our aim and our honour are to mobilize our generation to inherit and make the archives available as a guide to action to all those coming forward to tackle the conditions and problems of society in the present and find solutions.
The Party entrusts us to make the resources available to the younger generations in a manner that imbues them with the Necessity for Change. This highlights something Comrade Bains told us in 1996 when he encouraged us to organize the Youth Organizing Project. Pointing out that we the youth of the nineties were taking up the crucial work of the youth of the sixties, he reminded us, "The past only has beauty if it exists in the form of the present and the revolution only has relevance if it finds its adherents from one generation to the next."
With this in mind, we are proud to take up the work entrusted to us to ensure the archives of the Ideological Studies Centre and the Party work associated with the name of Hardial Bains are current and available. We call on all of you to help us in this endeavour. With your experience in facing the revolutionary storms, you can assist us to better grasp how the past informs the present as a guide to action to better overcome the problems of the present, reach warranted conclusions and find solutions. This also extends to an appeal for financial assistance so that we can train ourselves and other youth to acquire the skills required to carry this work forward.
In our initial work, we have already learned many things we need to take up seriously. For instance, did you know that Comrade Bains introduced a cataloguing system which is a complete departure from both the Dewey system and the Library of Congress? It militates against a pragmatic approach to keeping records using subject based information in favour of a system based on objectivity of consideration. It requires the activation of the human factor/social consciousness to establish a reference point based on the work undertaken at any given time, as set by the Party and the institutions of the working class to fulfill and accomplish definite aims.
As its frame of reference, Comrade Bains' cataloguing system maintains the link between the work undertaken at any time and the program set by the Party and the class. This requires identifying the problems taken up for solution and the concerns of the Party and the class at that time in history. It contributes to forming a world outlook by militating against spontaneity and disinformation. Using this cataloguing system is itself an education in the relationship between form and content and how one is transformed into the other, as well as how giving up the one lets down the other as well.
The work of the Hardial Bains Resource Centre is a challenge that begins with preparing the conditions in all earnest to make it successful. We have started in a modest way by providing some pamphlets with material from the archives to assist comrades to prepare for the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Necessity for Change analysis.
I would like to conclude by repeating the words of Hardial Bains at the time he and his comrades launched the Necessity for Change Institute of Ideological Studies at Sir George Williams University in Montreal in May 1968:
"Join the Ideological Institute and participate in the development of the new world. The old world is decadent. Through revolutionary activities the time is coming when the old crumbling structures will be finally destroyed by the working and oppressed people."
Thank you. Red Salute to Comrade Bains!
(Edited slightly by TML for publication.)
In our theoretical work, we have fidelity to the ensemble of human relations and to what is being revealed by these indispensable relations, most importantly, the need for political power. We study the thing-in-itself and in its relations, as Lenin taught us to do. We pay attention to the objectivity of consideration and make sure we adhere to the method of dialectical and historical materialism.
In political work, the strategy and tactics for revolution are taken into account at all times. How one unites the people in action during a period of flow of revolution is very different from how one unites people in action during a period of retreat of revolution, as exists today. Under both circumstances, investigating the social forces favoured by the political work through mobilizing them for a definite aim is crucial.
In political work we follow the method of uniting the advanced forces to mobilize the middle and isolate the backward. We safeguard the unity of the people like the apple of our eye. We do everything in our power to uphold the dignity of the working class, end the marginalization of the people and their criminalization, and the criminalization of the human factor/social consciousness. Most importantly, we have the responsibility to lead the working class to constitute the nation and vest sovereignty in the people. We can only do so if we settle scores with the old conscience of society and learn to act in a new way which is consistent with the requirement of the times.
This Conference is not about the political aspect per
se but will concentrate on the theoretical aspect. [...]
Today, we all face unacceptable developments such as workers confronting the refusal of their employers to negotiate wages and conditions of work and to recognize what belongs to them by right, such as their pensions. The people are left to fend for themselves as a result of the smashing of the social contract whereby pensions are lost, security is unknown, compensation for injuries and illness is taken away, and individuals and families are abandoned to fend for themselves in a world they do not control, all sanctioned by governments and their courts and state agencies.
What kind of unity in diversity is it that criminalizes religions and political opinions which are not those of the ruling caste? What kind of governance is it that elevates unworthy elements to occupy ministries and social institutions for purposes of political expediency, and has destroyed all vestiges of the public authority with the exception of the police powers?
How many times do we hear ourselves say, "It is unthinkable," when we consider the likes of a Donald Trump as President, or the devastation caused by the wars of aggression, occupation and regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Palestine and now also Venezuela, Brazil and other countries? What kind of civilization imposes brutal genocidal sanctions against smaller countries such as Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea or anyone who does not toe the line of the U.S. imperialists and the international financial oligarchs who are vying for control of world markets and natural resources, access to cheap work forces, and who fight for spheres of influence and zones for export of the social wealth they have seized from what the working people produce?
Why do we feel the developments and the situation are "unthinkable"? How can they be "unthinkable" when it is precisely the ability to think and abstract absence that makes us human, that distinguishes us as a species from other members of the animal world?
Meanwhile, even as we face the difficulties associated with how to think about what is taking place and to sort out what's what, we are constantly bombarded with the mantra that capitalism is the end all and be all of systems and that the way to confront the dangers humankind faces is to strengthen the police powers which capitalist liberal democracy engenders.
Among other things, this is done by blaming communism and resistance to oppression for disrupting what is best -- the ideal way of life with its universal values. Theories of family values, family life, individual freedom and others are all in the service of this self-serving view that seeks to cultivate a feeling that this ideal life is what is desirable and the aim of living and to seek an alternative is futile.
To paralyze the people, a vision of socialism is advanced that is nothing other than the same ideal notion of a bourgeois lifestyle replete with the same aim, desire and motivation, which every worker and person in society should accept and dream about. An illusion is created that if only the distribution of wealth were fair, education free, health care free, pensions secure, the environment free from pollution and so on, everyone could attain this ideal lifestyle and live happily ever after.
The aim of this anti-communist dogma is to stop people from investigating what modern life should be and elaborating a line of march for change. The dogma deprives people of an outlook and a way of cognizing the human relations and general intelligence that exist independent of their will. How this is achieved is an unexamined key function of the state and its public authority. In depriving people of an outlook, blocking their insight, and negating their own vantage point, those who have usurped power by force deprive people of political power and create conditions for much greater tragedies, while insisting that the ruling elite and their system are the only solution.
The people face a serious situation. The public powers that are supposed to bring solutions to problems are behind the recurring crises and wars, which are becoming worse. Frederick Engels the great collaborator of Karl Marx points out, "Where class struggle and rivalry in conquest has brought the public power to a pitch, it threatens to devour the whole society and even the state itself."
It is not just a matter that the state is big and bad but that the state is destroying itself, devouring itself without any alternative allowed. This situation is covered up by all sorts of theoretical speculations dogmatically presented as the best description of the world and its problems.
In sharp contrast, the Necessity for Change (NfC) analysis takes theory as insight, as a guide into what the relations and conditions are showing. The NfC analysis is a guide to the cognition of human relations and relations of humans with nature. It demands lifting the veil, ripping apart the imposed cover-up.
Why is lifting the veil on relations important? Most everyone knows what the general problems in the world are and talks endlessly about them: the threat of global war, nuclear holocaust, environmental degradation, mass impoverishment including famines, insecurity and all the abuses of the human condition we see daily on the newscasts. Crucially, so long as we just leave the general problems as being something that affects us all, we will never look at what generates this general human condition. How does the general human condition relate to and target people as individuals and members of collectives? What is the origin or source of the individuals and collectives, their social being?
Without taking up an outlook that allows for looking at the general, the ensemble of human relations, then the question of general interest, collective interest and individual interest cannot be sorted out, let alone how to harmonize the individual and collective interests with each other and the general interests of society. Without taking up an outlook that allows for looking at the general, the battle of democracy will not be brought to a conclusion that favours the people and their political empowerment and opens a path for society.
First put forward by Hardial Bains in 1967, the NfC analysis is a call to turn words into deeds. It sorts out the problem of how to gain political power. Without paying attention to this analysis, it is not possible to bring about the transformations the situation demands.
The world needs the massive human productive powers and modern human relations and general intelligence those productive powers create. Either the productive powers are liberated from the narrow confines of the old civil society or we will continue to have terrible destructive forces unleashed against us and the world, as we see happening today.
From the perspective of the Old, the attitude is to destroy the productive powers through crises and war. Karl Marx called them universal wars of mass destruction and famine. We see today whole nations and people facing obliteration.
From the perspective of the New, a way has to be found to look at the massive human productive forces and the human relations and general intelligence they create and channel them in the service of the interests of the people.
In this regard, the NfC analysis sorts out in practical terms the question of epistemology and philosophy, the relationship between consciousness and being. People do not want to hear how badly they are being attacked. They want to become involved to change the situation. As Marx said, the issue is not one of understanding the world, but of changing it. Hardial Bains brought forward the NfC analysis to settle scores with the old conscience of bourgeois society by making sure words and deeds are one. First comes the deed then the word.
The rejection of anti-consciousness entails becoming conscious of those relations entered into between humans and humans, and humans and nature.
By taking up the question of organization and the remoulding of our world outlook in practice through deeds, a connection is revealed between how to organize to bring in the New and our thinking, with how we view the actual situation and conditions, and what needs to be changed.
A dream and desire for an alternative to the social system and old relations as they exist becomes concretized for those who come forward to take up that dream and draw up plans of action. The plans for action take those who have come forward beyond their individual scattered actions, whether they are protest actions, strikes, or any other attempt to see justice done.
We have to go beyond individual scattered actions. We establish a plan for action, a program, and a coming together for action that emerges out of the actual general conditions. This allows for unity in action beyond any single action of the people who are presently engaged in struggles of various kinds. No matter how big or small the number of participants may be initially, those numbers can grow when the dream of the alternative is captured in organizational form and consciousness.
The consciousness develops from the initial dream and rejection of anti-consciousness and grows in quantity and quality. The consciousness provides coherence and becomes a material force among the people especially when it assumes an organizational form consistent with what the conditions demand.
Not to take up the Necessity for Change outlook but to accept the anti-conscious outlook leaves us like those describing an unfolding tragedy: a person drowning in a river complains loudly from the water about those describing the situation from the riverbank, "Here I am drowning and there you are describing my drowning and the condition of the water."
"Society has all these problems; I have all of these problems drowning in a society with all these problems, and there you are describing the problems."
This is usually heard as here I am with all the problems and there you are only describing them and not helping. The plea for help of the drowning person at that point is empty and the concern of those on shore is likewise useless because the cries of the drowning person are met with descriptions of the water and the process of drowning from those on shore.
The person drowning in the water and those on shore have reasons for their particular actions or so it is made to appear. The point is they are both indifferent to one another. Simply put, the laws of nature prevail in the situation without human consciousness. The problem is not two activities where one is drowning and the others are describing. No. The problem is no common space exists for the will to be to solve the problem, for the human factor/social consciousness to be activated. The person in the water and those on shore are detached and vanishing in relation to one another. There is no unity in action. There is no "I" in the here and now that acts to transcend this situation of desperation and change it.
What is needed is to overcome the prevailing relation of separation between word and deed. A relation of unity out of the destruction of the existing separation is necessary. A new relation must be created with the destruction of the old system. And that relation has to be infused with consciousness. That consciousness comes by rejecting anti-consciousness and thinking through the phenomenon, thinking through the brain, thinking through the experience. Not only thinking things through and considering what exists are necessary. The consideration has to have an objectivity; the consideration has to go through the phenomenon. "I" is the phenomenon with its act of conscious participation in the act of finding out; the here and now is also the phenomenon, which appears as a flash, as an instant like a wave and then vanishes.
This battle of democracy in bringing to completion the final struggle against everything Old, out-of-date and medieval, must deal with the fact that the system of governance now existing for civil society does not solve any of the problems. On the contrary, the system of governance negates the pressing need to look at what the New would entail.
The end to governance based on the rule of laws over persons and things must bring forward arguments for a system of self-governance, governance of the people by the people for the people; a human power over what Marx called a community of goods; a society with enlightenment fit for all of its members.
Overall we are dealing with the problem of having an historical framework -- what is going on now, why it is going on like this and what does it mean for the future -- now and then.
The now, in front of us, is being in the present moment, being under the present circumstances inherited from the past. Now is also what directly follows from circumstances that exist in the present. Now is the conflict between past and present, from which our actual situation emerges directly.
Taking the NfC, its analysis, teachings, insights, now, we start with the fact that it was presented in the middle of the Cold War in 1967, precisely at the midpoint between the beginning of the Cold War of the post WWII period and the end of the Cold War when the former Soviet Union collapsed. We receive it today as a concept standing on its own, emerging out of the now of 1967. We receive it as a concept of the self-movement of history independent of anyone's will today.
The NfC necessarily provides a way of looking at the history through which it moved. This self-movement of history corresponds to the whole of that history and reveals itself as a way to look at that history -- with consistency, continuity and coherence. The only choice in 2017 is whether to take it up or ignore it. As with any product of history, there is no choice about whether it exists or not. Taking it up in essence is to take up the necessity of an historical framework of reference, a reference point, for that history.
Without taking up NfC, we will not be able to distinguish what is relevant and what is not, and we will not be able to determine the issue of fidelity, what we have fidelity to -- a cause, an organization, or fidelity to the ensemble of human relations -- and what they are revealing, independent of anyone's will.
We are speaking to a way of looking at the world. As an image, consider the apocalypse we are constantly presented with, that as a result of global nuclear war or global climate change or global famine, the human species will come to an end. It is presented as we, the peoples, are all in a boat that is sinking fast. And we shout out to those on shore, those owners of capital in control, with authority, deciding the rules of the road, we shout out, here we are drowning and there you are describing the water. There can be a better or worse description, and we can shout louder, but the relation remains. We are a passive force, and things external to us, the you over there, decide what happens.
The egocentric I of the present, that rejects NfC and deals with things and phenomenon outside of the historical movement, has the inability, or refusal, to look at what the relations are. They see the here and there as separate, outside of time and space. They give a location, which is not time or space. What is between the here and the there? They see everything as a force external to them. They are a passive force; we are drowning and there is nothing we can do. Everything happens by external force, not the internal self-movement. There is no basis for relating the people here and there; it is seen as separation. There is no way to grasp the contradictions inherent to any self-movement.
The people on the sinking boat shout out, help us, we are the 99 per cent, and you are only the one per cent. They repeat what the one per cent has already told them. So the one per cent shouts back, even though we are one per cent we are indispensable. You must have been sleeping on the job since you have a leaky boat. We used to own 50 per cent of all the wealth of the world and now we only own 20 per cent of the wealth of the world. You are preoccupied with the one per cent and we deal with the percentages of who owns the wealth. When the wealth we owned at the end of WWII, 50 per cent, goes down to 20 per cent, it shows we cannot control everything. It is too big for us, unthinkable, we do not have words for it. So we will destroy what we cannot control to make sure no one else can control it. And you in the boat will keep shouting and describing. It is a passive spectator view.
The important point is that looking at the world as the one per cent and 99 per cent is the same as saying a major war is going to break out as U.S. wealth declines. We do not look at the world as a whole, its ensemble of human relations, of humans to humans and humans to nature. Instead we are dividing it into percentiles and supposedly the percentile will determine the action. The measure is quantity, do we have some of the wealth, not enough, do some people have too much of the wealth, and so forth. It is a means to hide the actual relations and what they are revealing.
In 2017, the Cold War and bipolar division of the world, the conditions under which NfC was first presented, no longer exist. At the end of the Cold War there were many people who understood that the end of that period was brought about based on the crisis of the social relations of production and the productive forces. It was understood that the period of the general crisis of capitalism had come to an end, and that a period of retreat of revolution with the institutionalization of an all-pervasive counter-revolution had come into being.
But there was not the awareness of the destruction of human productive powers and the blocking of the release of human energy required for the benefit of human society. This blocking underlies the current situation of retreat of revolution and counter-revolution. While many recognize the destructive forces that are being unleashed, little attention is paid to the fact that a much greater crisis of capitalism is underway. Without this awareness there is not an awareness that all individuals are being compelled to act in a new way.
If the act of acting in a new way is not addressed, the outlook that remains in place, the reference point that remains in place of past, present and future, is one of a past that no longer exists and of a future that has not yet existed. An individual person looking at the world will define where they are now using a dead past and a future yet to be born. The "I" of the present, the single human individual, will define themselves in terms of the non-existent past and non-existent future. They cannot deal with the present, what is inherited independent of will from the past, all our forms of governance, structures, arrangements, vocabulary, from the past. Nor can they deal with everything, with the whole, and the fact that all phenomena come into being and pass away. In other words, they look at the world as it exists outside of time and space. Space is the condition of our being, time is the now -- instead a location is given, here we are drowning or there they are describing the water. The future therefore will either be utopia, which literally means outside of space, or dystopia -- an imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror; an imaginary society in which social or technological trends have culminated in a greatly diminished quality of life or degradation of values.
Given this, what sort of understanding can be brought to bear on the world in the present moment, given that understanding is presented outside of time and space, outside of what the historical movement reveals? The understanding is referred to as Apocalypse Now. The whole human space worldwide is in a crisis of such immense proportions that the existence of the human species is called into question. Because of worldwide imperialism, and a world that gives into the wants and desires of world imperialism and the major powers, the outlook on the future is given as a global outlook, as a future of global nuclear holocaust, global war on terror, global famine. With this supposed reference to the current world, the claim is that any future is unthinkable. The horrors are too big to consider. These horrors exist objectively but subjectively there is to be no possible consideration. In other words, the horrors are objectively too big objectively to frame.
The inferences drawn from this global outlook are that the human productive forces, the humans that collectively created all the technology that allowed this to happen -- nuclear war, climate change, etc. -- these humans cannot control their own creations. There is supposedly a breakdown between the productive powers created and the products of that creation. They are too immense to think about or control. It is unthinkable, it cannot be thought through. NfC and our outlook reject this. It can be thought through; the contradictions can be resolved in favour of humanity.
The whole history of humanity up until this time, which people refer to as a human species, exists based on the ensemble of relations of humans and humans and humans and nature. But the inference that things created by humans cannot be thought about is that human beings as a species, as the whole of humanity, past, present and going into the future, now face extinction. The inference is that that species is just some category people use to collect all individuals. The entire species faces extinction based on what it created, yet the species has no thinking about what it created. This is absurd. The species responsible for creating human history, human society, is being seen as just a category of thought, that it does not exist as an active population.
The sum total of all the relations that ever existed -- all our relates and thinking about that -- breaks down too. This is to block recognition that relations of humans and humans and humans to nature are what are indispensable, not U.S. leadership, not those now in control. All individuals, all members of that human species, all persons are indispensable, not dispensable as the rulers claim.
All the relations of natural
history and human history
breaking down and it is said there is no way for us to refer to
what exists in the present. Global climate change, global war on
terror, nuclear war, etc. -- that global is something that cannot
be thought about. Given the people claiming control are also
claiming the situation is unthinkable, the only conclusion we can
draw is that we need our own thinking and our own way of looking
at the world, from a different vantage point. And that comes from
the vantage point of revolutionary practice, which will enable us
to resolve conditions to our advantage, the advantage of the
working class and people. Even though the ensemble of all
relations is huge, we can think it through.
That vantage point comes by taking up Understanding Requires an Act of Conscious Participation of the Individual -- An Act of Finding Out. What is significant here is that the understanding is not based on people just participating together on the one hand, at an action or meeting for example, and on the other studying what the situation is. The single isolated individual that we are forced to be in the absence of taking up the historical framework, is that you participate with others and study what is going on. There is a separation, an absence of the human factor/social consciousness.
If you see them as separate, the society that exists will be reproduced.
The many ways people get together to participate, get together to study, the ways humans have of uniting, ends up with a top and a bottom, with a top superior to the bottom. That is what we are dealing with. When we talk about human beings, we talk about homo sapiens, it is not one part, homo, and then the other, sapiens, it is not homo plus sapiens. The act of conscious participation, an act of finding out, is a single whole. It is the same as saying human factor/social consciousness.
Instead, individuals are said to face other individuals in isolated ways, not as relations that each human enters into in relation to other individuals, collectives and all of nature and all of humanity. The whole history of the globe which is supposed to be coming to an end is torn apart, which is that the natural history is ripped apart from human history. Proof of that is that there are nuclear weapons created that could obliterate all productive powers, there is technology created that is going to bring the species to an end. The only way to survive is not by advancing human existence, but whether individuals will have food and clothing.
Understanding Requires an Act of Conscious Participation, An Act of Finding Out is a way of looking at the world. It is not the activity of some special interest group. NfC comes forward to provide a basis for an outlook, for what is relevant and what is not relevant. If you cannot see what is and is not relevant, you cannot see the necessity. You cannot see what history reveals, and this revealing takes place without mediation, independent of our will, without a revealer.
There are three aspects of any Now -- the moment of the present; the order of things, the way they are arranged; and what has been inherited from the past. There is something directly emerging, being revealed in the present, without mediation. In the present there is the structure, the quality of what we have in contradiction with itself, the measure of the times. Any structure we talk about, the society we live in, is composed of what has been inherited from the past and the measure of how things are sorted out, parts and whole, individuals and collective.
Our fidelity is not to a percentile, to the 99 per cent, but to the ensemble of human relations. We constantly deal with people dividing things based on percentages, the one per cent, 99 per cent, per cent of income, per cent of control of the wealth, dividing that per cent, and so forth. There is no historical movement in that. Fidelity is to the relations of humans and humans and humans and nature and what they are revealing, which is the need for the New. It is not to a particular cause or interest group. We have to have fidelity to actual conditions, not ideas in our head.
For reference point, reference from NfC is the same as relate; we refer to relations, the ensemble of relations, all the relations between individuals and collectives in relation to the general, the whole ensemble. For the egocentric "I," the "I" might rank preferences, desires. When we say "I as a relate," we not only think about things and phenomena, we think about the whole of relations, the whole of the working class, for example, not just its parts.
The emphasis on Apocalypse Now, the world as unthinkable, is to deprive us of an outlook. Depriving us of an outlook is a form of coercion equal to the bombs and guns and corruption and bribery used by the rulers to remain in power. We need our own outlook, our own politics, our own organization. We need our own concepts, like those of democracy.
Democracy is a feature of class society. We have parts (all individuals and all collectives) in relation to their general well-being. From the egocentric "I," you cannot deal with what is general. You can deal with what is too big or small, like too big to fail, or too big to think about. But you cannot sort out all the relations of individuals and collectives in relation to the general. If this sorting out is done as cartel, or as coalition, as is occurring today, the people will be deprived of power.
We need to frame conditions so we can look at the general. The general is not just everything together. It is also the source, what generates, and the next generation -- this is the general. We have to have a way of identifying the source, what generates, and what happens to the next generation, the future generation. We need a way of identifying both the source, the human productive powers, the present, the social structure today, and the future. There is no way to frame this without the outlook of Necessity for Change.
To be able to be active, the "I" is a relate, which means something is the source, the "I", and something is the target. The "I" is relating. The meaning emerges when you say what you are referring to. The coincidence of the act of conscious participation, act of finding out, is the coincidence of the actual situation, historical product and human activity. Through the act we establish the frame of reference. It is a product of that, it defines our space and our time now, the clash between past and present from which the future emerges independent of will. There is no participation without an organization that you have membership in. A reference frame requires membership. The egocentric "I" does not. With membership, the identity emerges by going through the act of participating and finding out. They have to coincide.
The identity of the human person emerges when the human person has membership in a human kind of organization appropriate for the conditions. The actual circumstances are filled with things that exist, as well as counter-facts. The actual is composed of the factual and counter-facts. You cannot on your own say these are the facts and everyone else has false news. Or these are the correct views and that is false. Instead we need membership in an organization that can go through the act of finding out in the actual historical situation to sort through what is factual and what is counter-factual, what is relevant and what is not. What is actual is that all things and phenomenon come into being and pass away. The circumstances we find ourselves in are inherited independent of our will. The necessity for the organization, membership and consciousness emerges because all relations that exist are independent of our individual will and there is the claim of ownership, control, domination, by the ruling class on the relations produced independent of will. Those who claim control, provide the will. And we are without that will, which is the definition of a slave. You are compelled to do what you do and cannot assert your own will.
The will that has to be asserted has a logic of its own. Repeating the mantra of "here we are drowning; there you are describing the water," or changing phrases to give a better description, or talk about it in a different way -- none of this deals with relate. Instead, the key content with relate is to plant the flag and go forward from there. NfC planted the flag in 1967 as a revolutionary reference point. It did so not to describe the world better. It has its own logic that can be followed from that zero point in 1967 to where it is now. Even though it is 50 years later, NfC will always remain that zero point, the point of origin.
The NfC analysis not only revolutionized the situation in the 1960s, but has continued to be mandatory for the development of the subjective forces for revolution since that time. Testimony to this are the successes achieved by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and the Internationalists before it, based on the conclusions of the NfC analysis.
We can certainly say that our most important success is that despite everything that has been done to wipe us out and the tremendous loss of Comrade Bains twenty years ago, we are still here. What is the reason we are still alive and kicking, developing our forces and expanding our influence? Certainly not that any of us are geniuses; nor do we ascribe to theories according to which certain individuals are imbued with inherent genes giving them special insights and ability of prediction.
What characterizes our Party and keeps us on the revolutionary path is our adherence to the NfC analysis. What keeps us vital is our adherence to action with analysis in which action and analysis are one; our ability to recognize the common space that exists within society for the will to be to solve the problems that present themselves.
The Party has taken up the aim of eliminating all the old considerations and arrangements blocking society's path to progress. It has launched an Historic Initiative to ensure nation-building takes place on a new historical basis that activates the human factor/social consciousness. To lead this endeavour, the Party is implementing a Plan of Action to transform the Party into a Mass Communist Party capable of leading the working class and others to bring about the social transformations demanded by the conditions.
CPC(M-L) is a Party that thinks with its own head and stands on its own two feet. The NfC analysis lays down ideological remoulding as the key to the uninterrupted advance and victory of revolution. Paying utmost attention to culture in ideological and social forms and to what the material conditions reveal in the here and now, CPC(M-L), similar to The Internationalists before it, rejects the notion of revolutionary politics and bourgeois culture, where Marxism is reduced to a dogma, and practice is overwhelmed with words that conciliate with imperialism and stifle the class struggle.
This Conference starts by looking into how these life and death matters present themselves in the Here and Now, and how the Now differs from the Then. Our aim is to reveal how to think about the situation and put an end to the dogma and outlook that activates the deadening anti-human factor/anti-consciousness. Such an outlook of the old smashes the political movement of the people for their empowerment. Without an outlook of the New and a way of cognizing the human relations and general intelligence that exist, everything and everyone are reduced to either dropping out because they cannot cope, going crazy unconcerned, expressing personal feelings, hatreds and desires, or engaging in acts of anarchism and spontaneity and fending for oneself.
Our Party is determined to build the New. Hardial Bains said:
"Social phenomena are sometimes like the harnessed
of a mighty river kept in check by the dam of history. When the
dam bursts suddenly, it is not history that crumbles into
oblivion. No. To the contrary, every drop of that mighty flow
resulting from the radical rupture nurtures the soil from which
history bursts forth.... the outcome depends on how far the
people see and grasp the necessity for change, the necessity to
bring about the deep-going transformations demanded by
(Edited slightly by TML for publication.)
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