May 7, 1968
Reorganization of The Internationalists
as a Marxist-Leninist Youth and Student Movement
A Decisive Event in the Political Life of Canada
May 7, 2021 marks the 53rd anniversary of the reorganization of The Internationalists into a Marxist-Leninist youth and student organization. The Internationalists, precursor organization to the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), was founded in Vancouver on March 13, 1963. The reorganization of The Internationalists, under the leadership of its founder, Comrade Hardial Bains, took place in Montreal from May 7 to May 25, 1968. It was a development of historic import to the political life of Canada which marked a crucial step towards the creation of CPC(M-L) as the party of the Canadian working class, a revolutionary party capable of and dedicated to providing the struggles of the working class and people with the consciousness and organization they require to win victory.
The work of The Internationalists under the leadership of Comrade Bains sorted out the crucial issue of who decides as it pertains to the political organization of the working class and its leading role in the society and the indispensable role of consciousness and organization in the mobilization of the people to participate in finding solutions to the key problems facing the society. In an article entitled “Paying First-Rate Attention to the Need of the People for Consciousness and Organization,” Comrade Bains points out the living legacy of The Internationalists:
“Besides other things, in dealing with the problems of consciousness and organization, The Internationalists adopted the principle of collective work and individual responsibility, that every member has the duty to not only implement the decisions agreed upon but to also participate in arriving at them. This insistence that they must participate in arriving at decisions was considered not just a right but a duty as well. It put the individual at the centre of all developments and the organization as a means of achieving them, thereby establishing a dialectical relationship between the individual and the collective, between form and content.
“[…] It was a historic moment of departure from the building of organizations on the basis of old definitions, to building them on the basis of the present and modern definitions. It became profoundly clear that The Internationalists as a political organization could only develop on the basis of political unity and political initiative, as manifested in concrete terms by their line of action with analysis and in defence of their immediate and strategic aims. Such aims were set according to the demands which arose from those conditions, for the harmonization of the general interests of society with those of the collective and individual, placing in the first place the role of the masses in ensuring that it happens. […]
“[The Internationalists] provided a framework through which everyone’s word and deed could shine, realizing the tasks set for that period. This meant that as a way of life, all those in whose interest it was to make the decisions in the course of realizing their aims were mobilized. A modern way of doing things was established, linking the organization with the content, words with deeds, the individual to the highest responsibility of ensuring that nothing passes by without his/her scrutiny. A truly revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist organization was created by the individuals who wished for nothing else but the victory of the working class in its historic march for emancipation. A qualitative change took place, in both the spheres of consciousness and organization. This change was consistent with the concrete conditions and deserving of those who prided themselves for being members of the vanguard organization of the working class.
“The Internationalists created another form consistent with the aim of providing the class with consciousness and organization. This was the form of mass democracy, today known as the method of mass political mobilization. It is the method of seeking the opinions of the masses in the course of work. Seeking the opinions of the masses was not an option but an obligation to the mass activism. It was the only reliable basis for the realization of any task set for the period. Bourgeois formalism, the method of spending millions of dollars by using the most modern techniques to confuse the people — gossip, character assassination, etc. — were replaced with involving the people in discussion. What was to be done, how and when, emerged as ongoing work under all conditions without exception.
“For The Internationalists, work and mobilization constituted two categories of a single whole, interdependent on each other and on everything else. Action with analysis had the same relationship. The starting point for The Internationalists was always work, as demanded by the concrete conditions of the time.
“Besides the method of mass democracy, The Internationalists carried out the work of mobilization at various levels, ensuring that all problems inside or outside the organization were sorted out on the basis of advanced positions, through criticism and self-criticism and by always keeping the aim of unity in first place. Struggle was never separated from either the ongoing task of strengthening unity or from the aim of realizing the immediate aims set for the period or at the cost of the strategic aim. The Internationalists placed struggle in first place. This meant putting the entire consciousness and organization in the service of the class struggle as the only basis of development in society. How should class struggle be waged and against whom and when were the most important questions which The Internationalists dealt with, on the basis of the keenness and seriousness they required. It is for this reason that everyone was called upon to participate in arriving at decisions not just as a right which belongs to them but also as a duty demanded from them by the organization. […]
“Finally, The Internationalists provided forums to the people, both internal as well as external, private as well as public, for their mobilization. Basing the organization on the principles of democratic centralism required The Internationalists to have a leading line all the time, which is presented to the masses all the time, ensuring that their level of consciousness and organization are not lowered to that of the bourgeoisie.[…]
“After a period of less than two years of vigorous all-round political activity from May 1968 to March 1970, it was analyzed that all the material and technical conditions were ready to found the Communist Party. The required theoretical and political work and the organization as their integral part were ready for the founding of CPC(M-L), declared in a public meeting in Montreal on March 31, 1970.
“This entire work to involve everyone in the decision-making plan, which came to be known later on as the method of maximum political mobilization, meant that the entire work always had to be based on the people according to the concrete conditions of the period. If the working class is to lead everyone in fulfilling its historic mission to create a new society, people’s right to make decisions must be recognized as must the demand that so doing must be considered a duty as well.”
This is what is being revealed more than ever as a result of the conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. The neo-liberal anti-social offensive has created havoc for the people but the working class is a class with its own aims, political program, consciousness and organization. Under these conditions, the importance of the principles of building and consolidating organization elaborated by Comrade Bains and embodied in the work of CPC(M-L) cannot be overemphasized. Otherwise, working out and achieving the pro-social aims of the working class and people is not possible. By working out and then basing themselves on these principles, The Internationalists in their day provided themselves with the capability to meet the needs of the times and so too Party activists and the working class today must also meet the needs of the times.