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April 2, 2020  - No. 3

CPC(M-L) CELEBRATES ITS
50th ANNIVERSARY

The Party's Deed Is Its Word


The Party's Deed Is Its Word - Pauline Easton
We Are Our Own Models - Margaret Villamizar

Reflections
A Veteran from Student Days in 1968
A Woman Leader from the 1960s
Opening a Path Forward
The Early Years

 


The Party's Deed Is Its Word

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) was founded 50 years ago based on the Necessity for Change analysis (NfC). This analysis was expounded by Hardial Bains in the course of a study group held on the theme Necessity for Change in 1967 and adopted by The Internationalists, CPC(M-L)'s precursor organization, at a conference held in August 1967. NfC determines that Understanding Requires an Act of Conscious Participation of the Individual, An Act of Finding Out. Its adoption led to a determined and thoroughgoing offensive against ideological subversion and block to development through social forms and the transformation of The Internationalists into a Marxist-Leninist Youth and Student Movement which took up the work to unite all Marxist-Leninists in one party. Basing itself on the revolutionary experience acquired by the communist and workers' movement in Canada and internationally, it took up the aim to build the kind of organization which the working class requires to open society's path to progress. The emancipation of the working class by ending the exploitation of persons by persons so as to humanize the natural and social environment is at the heart of its concern. Based on NfC, in 1995 the Party adopted a nation-building Historic Initiative to lay the foundations for a mass communist party created by the working class in the course of constituting itself the nation and vesting sovereignty in the people.

In this world which worships the phrase, like all the real problems of life, quality itself is reduced to a phrase. But we set ourselves the task to create a new kind of communist in the form of a modern democratic personality by organizing the working class and people to carry out nation-building on a modern basis, consistent with the needs of the times. This requires engaging in setting and carrying out those projects which are necessary to open society's path to progress. In all cases, the aim is for the working class and people to empower themselves by laying the claims which they must. By upholding their own rights, they fight for the rights of all.

This is a program to end the marginalization of the Party so as to end the marginalization of the working class and people as those who are ruled by privileged elites and have no say over matters of concern to the society. This includes the direction of the economy as well as laws and regulations which determine what constitutes crime and punishment and matters related to war and peace. It is the duty of the communist party to ensure the working class plays its leading role so that the present crisis of thought and the anarchy and violence in which humanity is mired are resolved in favour of the people, not the rich who have usurped power by force.

The requirement is to create an anti-war government -- a form constituted by the people to provide their desire for peace, freedom and democracy with a guarantee. It requires bringing into being new forms of governance at every level which are established by the people so that their voice is heard and their decisions determine the outcome. It requires enlightenment theory as expressed by Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought to guide people in establishing their own reference points and elaborating modern definitions so that the historical task of democratic political renewal is accomplished.

Today, as is the case under all conditions and circumstances, the workers need an enlightened party such as ours. Such a party must be capable of finding its bearings in a manner which provides leadership on a new modern basis. This requires doing everything needed so that others can make their contribution to turn things around in their favour.

The ensemble of social relations between humans and humans and humans and nature reveal the need for people's empowerment. As the working people take up the cause of defeating the retrogressive liquidationist pressure which the bourgeoisie, imperialism and all reaction are imposing on society and on the peoples of the entire world, it is crucial for working people to speak in their own name and use their own voice to lay the claims which they must.

Today the rulers govern through their police powers only. They exercise the decision-making power to disinform the people so as to block their participation in setting the direction of the economy and making crucial decisions on matters which affect their lives. The clash between the conditions and authority must be resolved in favour of the working peoples of the world.

Cartel party governments have taken over at all levels to push the neo-liberal anti-social agenda of the international financial oligarchy. They represent a force which is corrupt, degenerate, anti-worker, anti-national and anti-social. The liberal democratic forms they espouse are anachronistic because they represent the aim set for society by privileged elites to advance their propertied interests. However, the material conditions have surpassed the ability of these interests to propel progress. They have changed tremendously from what they were during the 20th century due to the development of the productive powers of the working class on a massive scale as a result of the achievements of the scientific and technological revolution. Despite this, the authorities continue to act in the old way, as if everyone is a thing which is their private property, even the discoveries of science which belong to humanity by right along with land, air, water, space and all the products of their labour. They think they can dispose of human beings and the relations they enter into as they wish. This has created an intolerable situation which is socially and environmentally unsustainable. Most importantly, it means that the authorities which try to control the productive powers to benefit narrow private interests cannot succeed because people are not things. The results of the scientific and technological revolution are the product of humanity's labour which can no longer be contained by private interests. These private interests resort to methods which destroy the productive forces because they surpass their ability to control them. They use police powers and resort to war based on their belief that Might Makes Right.

Brute force is behind the law of slavery to which human beings have never submitted. Today humanity's greatest asset is a modern international working class which is making headway to realize its striving for peace, freedom and democracy. This modern working class requires an organized political force constituted as a Party such as ours, whose deed is its word. Such a Party provides the organization the working class needs to find its bearings so that it can sort out the problems humankind faces in a manner which favours it, not the rich who have usurped power by force.

During this overall period of retrogression in which terrible pressure is put on people to succumb to everything which is negative in the society, our Party calls on the working class, women and youth to stand firm. All together we must lay the claims on society which must be made. The act of laying these claims constitutes the human factor/social consciousness. It is the fight of the working people to enunciate and lay the claims they are entitled to make on society which humanizes the social and natural environment and brings forward the modern democratic personality.

The alternative to the status quo CPC(M-L) has put forward is its program for political renewal and a modern constitution, contained in its program Stop Paying the Rich -- Increase Funding for Social Programs. It is the program for the working class to constitute the nation and vest sovereignty in the people. What is meant by "the will of the people" will find its expression as the working class and people elaborate their own decision-making process on a modern basis. This requires affirming their right to participate in arriving at decisions and implementing them.

This will settle scores with the institutions which hypocritically say one thing and do another. It will create a modern world which belongs to those whose deeds are their word. Finally Canadians will be able to proudly say that Canada's deed is also its word.

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We Are Our Own Models

A stand that has characterized the work of CPC(M-L) right from the beginning rejects the notion of being anyone's agent or dependant. This has always set CPC(M-L) apart from parties that would change their stands according to how the wind would blow in other countries they considered to be their models. This outlook of CPC(M-L) was embodied in the slogan "We Are Our Own Models," adopted when a foreign party tried to dictate to the Party who it would accept as a representative in exchanges between the two parties. At that time it was said that the endorsement of this foreign party would determine if we were real Marxist-Leninists or not. CPC(M-L) responded by stepping up its own work to organize the Party and the class and clearly stated that it is the recognition of the working class when it joins the work that determines the legitimacy of the Party, not foreign recognition.

The stand of the Party was set originally when it adopted the Necessity for Change (NfC) analysis. NfC is based on the demand that everyone must stand on their own feet by participating in arriving at decisions and implementing them. This is the thread running through its work in different periods leading to the Party's championing and elaboration of Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought which gives it its red spine. It was this revolutionary outlook that led Hardial Bains to declare with great foresight in 1984-85 that no individual, collective or social force could act in the old way but had to find their bearings in the new conditions of the retreat of revolution. It gave rise to the initiative to create the Renewal Party in 1993.  It is brought out in the work of the Historic Initiative to lay the foundations for a mass commuinist party and the book Modern Communism, as well as in the work of the Youth Organizing Project (YOP) spearheaded by Comrade Bains in 1996, and its methods of work: Learning Together, Working As a Collective and Taking Up Social Responsibility -- subsequently adopted by the Party itself. The Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the Party's 7th Congress, titled The Thinking Canadian, is a passionate advocate of this principle. In fact, this principle is the essence of the Party's program for democratic renewal, further developed in the recent period by calling on Canadians to speak for themselves, in their own name and to Empower Yourself Now!

Today the Party gives priority to the work to highlight working people speaking in their own name on matters of concern to the society so that they lay the claims which they must in defense of the rights of all. It is the essence of the work to bring forward the new democratic personality which puts decision-making in the hands of the broad masses of the people, not ruling elites.

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Reflections

A Veteran from Student Days in 1968

I have been with the Party and the Internationalist for over 52 years. I recall as a student in Ontario in the '60s I was sympathetic to the civil rights movement in the United States and opposed to the Vietnam War and the military draft the youth in the U.S. were subject to. Discussion and questioning of these developments swirled everywhere. But little of it concerned Canada and our life.

This changed dramatically for me as an individual and for my fellow students with the visit to the University of Guelph in the summer of 1968 of a contingent from The Internationalists that had been reorganized in Montreal. They set the campus ablaze with discussion of the role of U.S. imperialist culture in Canada and the manner in which it blocked people from organizing on a conscious basis to bring about change. The discussion went on for more than 24 continuous hours with heated exchanges, debates and views.

I was out of town with a summer construction job but as I landed back in town my circles were abuzz and others had joined in to keep the discussion going. I was introduced to students at the University of Waterloo where I attended who organized campus literature tables and discussions around the Marxist-Leninist classics and especially The Necessity for Change pamphlet.

It was the beginning of two years of dizzying developments that led to the formation of the Canadian Student Movement at a student conference in Montreal in December 1968, a particularly freezing winter where students from Ireland, England, the U.S., India and South Africa joined students from Quebec, Ontario, BC, the prairies and the Maritimes, to exchange views and experiences in discussions led by Hardial Bains. This event was followed by the opening of a revolutionary bookstore in Toronto on Gerrard Street; the Conference of Anti-Imperialist Youth in Regina in May 1969; the Vancouver Conference held in Vancouver in 1969 and my deployment as part of a contingent of Canadian revolutionary youth working in industry and participating in developing and strengthening of the revolutionary organs for working class propaganda according to my abilities in southern Ontario. After all this activity, we founded the Party in Montreal in March 1970.

All of this was possible thanks to the guidance of The Internationalists who worked to found the Party and the workers, students and youth who answered the call.

The 50 years of work the Party has carried in very difficult circumstances is a testament to the tenacity of the comrades at all levels in the setting of the tasks and the work necessary to move forward. It is indeed an occasion to celebrate our collective work for people's empowerment.


Discussion at Necessity for Change Conference, London, August 1967.

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A Woman Leader from the 1960s

As a young woman activist in the 1960s, along with so many others, I was looking for a way to change the situation: to address the injustices faced by women, workers, and students; to end the wars of aggression against Vietnam, Cambodia and Latin America; to create a better world. We organized the Students for a Democratic University, the Vancouver Liberation Front, the Red Collective, the Partisan Organization. Some of us organized unions to improve working conditions and women's liberation organizations to fight for the emancipation of women. We kept looking for the way to make a fundamental breakthrough. And, for me, it wasn't until I met Hardial Bains and many of us began to learn about the Party's work and aspirations; its commitment to seeking truth from facts, that understanding required an act of conscious participation, an act of finding out. And, as the Party has done at each important juncture since, it opened a path for us, for the Unity of Marxist-Leninists which brought activists together, strengthened the movement and captured the strivings of many youth, students and workers.

It is this capacity to provide theoretical and practical leadership that has put the Party in the forefront of the progressive movement; and that continues to open the path at every stage to create the space for the working class and people to not only have their voices heard, but, through their own program and initiative, to create a world that truly meets the needs and aspirations of its members.

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Opening a Path Forward

The political excitement in Montreal in the summer of 1968 was palpable. Every week demonstrations, meetings and discussions raged on the issue of national liberation for Quebec. The world was in flux. Myself from Toronto and my close friend from Chicoutimi went to as many of the actions as possible when we were not working at our summer jobs. He was a student at the Université de Montréal on the other side of the mountain while I was at Sir George Williams University in the downtown. We had met during the transit strike in 1967 when he picked me up on his motorcycle while hitchhiking and had become great friends.

A poster caught my attention for an August seminar at Sir George organized by The Internationalists. We decided to attend, and my goodness did that ever make a change in our lives that neither one of us anticipated. The main speaker Hardial Bains spoke with such clarity and conviction we joined with others after the speech to speak to him personally. He enquired as to our activities and expressed an interest to meet again to exchange views.

We met a few days later and told him that Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was coming to Montreal and activists were busy organizing to denounce his strident opposition to Quebec independence. Hardial said that a contingent from The Internationalists would be there and asked if we were going as an organized force. We said with some embarrassment that we were not organized as yet but were interested in doing so. He suggested that we should put our views on the issue of national liberation into the form of a leaflet for distribution and discussion. He mentioned that the motion and political life in Quebec was what drew him to Montreal earlier in the year as the place to reorganize The Internationalists as a Marxist-Leninist youth and student movement. He said one photograph in the imperialist media in particular had caught his eye showing Quebec youth militantly confronting the RCMP.

We met again a few days before the Trudeau demonstration and showed him a draft in English and French of a leaflet entitled "Long Live the National Liberation of Quebec!" To our surprise he only made a few suggestions including one to at least have a way for readers of the leaflet to contact us. He then inquired how we were going to print and pay for the leaflet. In our excitement to put our thoughts down on paper, we had not even thought of those details. He told us The Internationalists had means to do so and would assist us on that front. Hardial said we should meet again after our action to sum up the activity. We did so and soon began attending the Marxist-Leninist discussions at the meeting room on rue Jeanne Mance.

What followed was intense political activity that saw The Internationalists organize Les Intellectuels et Ouvriers Patriotes du Québec (Marxist-Leninist). Those who participated in the IOPQ worked tirelessly to expand the influence of The Internationalists throughout Quebec. They played a role in building a string of bookstores across Montreal called Les Livres et périodiques progressistes, attended the Regina and Vancouver youth and student Conferences, discussed in detail the necessity for the formation of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and in sum played a positive role in the founding of the Party on March 31, 1970.

All glory to Hardial Bains and The Internationalists for mobilizing the Quebec youth to participate in such a historic development and opening a path forward!

Long live the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)!

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The Early Years

It was my good fortune to be at UBC in the early sixties and encounter The Internationalists a year after its formation in 1963 as a revolutionary movement. The discussions, academic symposiums, the concrete programs of action associated with that period of upsurge of youth throughout North America were, on the West Coast, inspired and given direction by this fledgling movement.

Comrade Bains, with an incredible energy and dedication, was immersed in the practical politics of UBC as many, many students were drawn into political work. The slogans were profoundly simple: "Create an academic atmosphere on the campus," "Seek truth from facts to serve people" and "Understanding requires an act of conscious participation of the individual, an-act-of-finding-out."

Hardial Bains in front of International House at the University of British Columbia, 1962. The meeting to found The Internationalists took place here March 13, 1963.

Coming from an upper middle-class background where Cold War propaganda and media spin on the War in Vietnam was simply how we saw the world, The Internationalists provided researched exposures of the Great American Dream. Our own Party has written about this early period and the profound transformational impact of those early years which led to the formation of a revolutionary movement and in 1970 the formation of a party of a new type.

There were mass discussions in front of the UBC library, itself an iconic image on the old campus, where this young microbiology graduate student, Hardial Bains, would soapbox to lunch hour crowds from a few dozen and often several hundred. This type of gathering was known as a teach-in in the USA coming out of the Berkeley protests and direct action around the War in Vietnam and racism in the southern USA.

In those early years we called these "mass democracy meetings." These were not scripted lectures as were the classes on seemingly unconnected subjects. Rather, it was real exchange of ideas where the most coherent and logical explanations held sway.

This was the embryo of the modern communist movement in Canada. It challenged all old dogma, all those whose "Marxist" and "leftist" politics were on some dusty academic shelf, or rooted in a kind of mindless activism. It was based on our real-life experience as students subject to the confines of an education system which reinforced the status quo.

This early quality, breaking with the old, has characterized the entire life of CPC(M-L) and explains how our Party has survived so many challenges and turning points over more than half a century.

Fidelity to truth, integrity of organization, and setting a program consistent with the needs of the people at every stage of development, and having all members and activists as conscious organizers, breaking down the "you lead -- I'll follow" tendency which gives rise to various forms of bureaucracy. Right from day one, young men and women of all origins worked on an equal footing.

As the world adjusts to a global pandemic and economic dislocation unprecedented since the 1929 crash, we are entering a period where old sclerotic political arrangements are patently failing. "Who decides" has become a real visible problem. The incapacity of the old arrangements is not someone's "opinion," it has become a palpable objective feature of the mass consciousness. Constant disinformation by the Anglo-American mainstream media is being challenged as more and more people look to social media and the internet for news and analysis.

Very serious questions about the basis of the economy are being asked. For example, how do you shut down production while opening the gates to massive spending? Who really benefits from these multi-billion and trillion-dollar announcements? How can you print paper money which is not grounded in economic activity? There has been little discussion on the negative effects of massive "stimulus packages," or on how a currency is affected when the money supply goes in a direction opposite to production? Are we witnessing an unprecedented bailout in the manner of Goldman-Sachs but disguised as a handout to every laid off worker?

More than ever, the need for a new direction in the economy is becoming one of the burning issues of this period. On the 50th Anniversary CPC(M-L), it is timely to declare that there is such a party which addresses these central concerns.

Let us march forward together, emerge from this all-sided crisis and create a society which is rational, planned, opposed to the scourge of war and gunboat diplomacy, and which respects all countries, all peoples, and fights for the good of humanity!

Long live CPC(M-L)!

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