56th Anniversary of the Founding of The Internationalists

The Question of Ideology at the Centre
of the Work of The Internationalists in the
Sixties and of the Party Today

Meeting in Toronto, March 16, 2013, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of
The Internationalists.

The Internationalists, the precursor organization of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), was founded at the University of British Columbia 56 years ago, on March 13, 1963. A central feature in the work of The Internationalists was to put consciousness at the centre of their activity. In opposition was the implementation of the U.S. imperialist thesis that the world can exist without ideology, that there is no need for ideological considerations, no need for theory, and that ideology and theory are mere encumbrances against greater unity between nations. Today too the pretense prevails that political parties which espouse neo-liberalism have no ideology, or that only what are called parties of the extreme left or right are ideological. The corollary is that parties which espouse neo-liberalism are moderate, inclusive, pragmatic and viable while others are doctrinaire and only seek to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

This fraud began in the 1950s when Anglo-American imperialists advanced the thesis for "the end of ideology." The so-called elimination of ideology in the world began in earnest. Instead of contention in the field of ideas on theoretical grounds, the entire world was filled with all kinds of slanders, especially personal slanders. The pinnacle of calumnies were the attacks on the personality of J.V. Stalin by Nikita Khrushchev and others. Since that time, people hear more about the corrupt practices of presidents and prime ministers than they hear about the disasters of their policies, and the disasters which they are organizing with their programs so that they do not organize for an alternative. In Canada what is called the news cycle is filled with stories of how the Prime Minister and the Privy Council handled the former Attorney General. These stories ignore the need to hold SNC Lavalin, with its long history of bribery and corruption, to account. More importantly, the stories are told in a way which does not permit the drawing of warranted conclusions which show the corruption of the state itself in its service of the likes of SNC Lavalin. The need to develop the ways to hold the government itself and the Privy Council to account are not even raised. In the United States, the tales of bribery at the highest echelons involving both highly placed individuals and companies which are given government contracts are too many to keep track of.

When the founder of The Internationalists Hardial Bains addressed this topic on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Founding of the Irish Internationalists in Dublin, Ireland on December 9, 1995, in his opening remarks he said, "This replacement of sharp ideological battles on the basis of theory, that is on the basis of recognizing that there are certain facts which need to be recognized if debate and discussion are to take place, has been widespread. These facts that need to be recognized in legitimate debate have to be facts of life, not categories conjured up through one's mind. It can be said that this was the single most important weapon in the hands of imperialism which led to the collapse of Eastern Europe. The final days were facilitated by Mikhail Gorbachev, who, in the true liberal style, presented the thesis that there are such things as 'universal values.' Universal values are synonymous with the dark ages, with medievalism. Scientists do not speak about universal values. Science, by definition, signifies a body of knowledge about a subject or a field which then one debates. One is obligated to provide full knowledge as to what has been achieved up to this point, and what has to be achieved from that point on. In this respect, the work of Karl Marx in the sphere of philosophy, political economy and socialism is a very good example of scientific work. In the same fashion, there are many others who carry out this scientific work today. Yet, the opposite is widespread. For example, economists abound who claim that their economic theories work, but in their own countries there is complete dislocation of the economy and ongoing crisis."

Science also delimits what is precisely known and what is to be further discovered, Hardial Bains pointed out. He cautioned that as one lives and participates in life, all kinds of things spontaneously arise in one's head and that these things are not so powerless. "However, there are things which happen because of us and our conscious activity. These things that happen because of us, because we are human beings, are not spontaneous. These things that happen because of us and our conscious activity can only be conceived scientifically; they can only be conceived as a science. They cannot be conceived otherwise. There are things that have come into being independently of us, and there are those things that have come into being because of us. This is the dialectic that operates, which lives. Under all circumstances and conditions, the presupposition is that this dialectic does not exist if you eliminate human society. If one accepts the logic of today's capitalist leaders, who should correctly be described as modern-day slave-drivers, they put forward very strongly that human society does not exist. What exists for them, at least according to them, is merely 'family values,' not even the family as such, but family values. It is not possible to conceive of any progress for humanity if one dismisses the existence of society and replaces it with 'family values.'"

Addressing the source of modern-day ideological struggle, Hardial Bains traced it to the time of the struggle against medievalism. The ideology which arose at the centre of the dispersal of medievalism was that human beings had superiority over any ideas or anything existing beyond their grasp. This ushered in a period when human beings, their material-sensuous activities, their lives and work, their theories and ideas, have more and more taken centre-stage. This has been the period in which one God after another, one supernatural power after another, held over the heads of the people like the Sword of Damocles, has fallen. The last God to fall is the one which defines rights based on private ownership of property. Once that takes hold, Hardial Bains pointed out, the dark period of medieval obscurantism which continues to linger, will end, and with it so too the organization of society, its state and governments based on privilege, not rights by virtue of being human, will fall. "Finally human beings themselves will make their history consciously. It is precisely this consciousness which The Internationalists championed," Hardial Bains said.

Hardial Bains explained further: The moment the struggle against medievalism began, there also arose an ideology against it. The material conditions for this ideology had to already exist, at least in their initial stage. This struggle against medievalism has taken many shapes and forms but the fact is that an ideology has come into being which will put an end to medievalism. Against this, there is also the degeneration of the bourgeoisie which wants to revive medievalism, to bring it back in forms of obscurantism. This gives rise to intense ideological struggle. Today, it presents itself as a matter of outlook. Is the outlook forward-looking? Does it put the humanization of the social and natural environment at the centre of its attention, or is it self-serving and narrow, seeking to legitimate practices that cannot be justified?

The ruling class likes to pretend that it has no ideology but the issue of ideological struggle is not a minor question. James I of England in the early seventeenth century declared that the issue is not whether the sovereign is right or wrong. No, he said, that is certainly not the issue. The issue is, how dare you even raise the question. That is the issue. You cannot even raise the question about the sovereign, specifically what the sovereign should or should not do.

And this is what we hear argued once again today in how the Privy Council handled the SNC-Lavalin case. It is the Prime Minister's prerogative to appoint ministers, give them their mandates and expect them to follow, whether or not it violates their conscience to do so, and with no accountability in terms of social responsibility. So said the Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick and so said the Prime Minister's former secretary Gerald Butts.

But, objectively speaking, as concerns the views of James I in the 17th century, the world did not agree with his dictate and gave their views as to what the sovereign should or should not do, and revolutions took place. His son Charles I was beheaded. Now we have come this far that the imperialists are trying to suggest that there are values which cannot be questioned. It is the basis of what is now called a rules-based system of law to make believe it is the same as what constitutes Rule of Law -- whether nationally or internationally. This is what has been enshrined in decisions taken by the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Paris Charter which claim certain values that cannot be questioned. And they demand adherence to these values if they are to permit a country to join their so-called community of civilized nations or an individual to become a citizen. This is now being pushed to extremes with the demand that they will allow individuals to participate in elections so long as they adhere to these values. Today, before all else, countries and individuals are told that they must agree with these values or be destroyed. In other words, they are saying a country or a person cannot question what the U.S. presidency or the European Union or Canada or NATO should or should not do. This is the way imperialism speaks.

The question really boils down to this: the time has come to adopt a modern definition of sovereignty -- a definition which admits that no power can stand above the people, and no authority can question what the people can or cannot do. The people must speak out in their own name. What is presented to the people is that they must accept the will of the financial oligarchy that is being imposed on the whole world. This the people will never do.

This financial oligarchy has the state in their hands; they have their armed forces; they have their police forces, intelligence agencies and political police. Governments are brought to power and declare whatever they like in the name of high ideals in the fashion of James I. See what the Government of Canada is doing nationally and internationally and what the Premiers are doing. See what the corporations do when they demand "the right" to hire and fire human beings at will. Monopolies close, open and downsize at will, affecting thousands of workers and whole communities. Such a dictatorship is considered normal. It is so widespread and so contemptuous of the needs and requirements of a modern human society but this is considered normal. The financial oligarchs and their institutions hold the decision-making power above the people. This shows us that the ideological question is very much tied up with the fundamentals of democracy. Today, for democratic rights to have meaning, individuals must exercise the right to question what "the sovereign" can or cannot do. The so-called rules-based law which those who have usurped power over others declare consummates itself and disappears when the people themselves become decision-makers in their own right. Then they become sovereign as a people. That sovereignty is not a matter of elections or Parliaments or referendums. It has to be brought into being and recognized as a fact through the creation of new forms and new institutions and new arrangements which enshrine this modern democratic personality which speaks in its own name.

One of the ways ideological struggle began in the 1960s was with the questioning of professors, of what they were saying. An atmosphere existed that was unacademic. A student could not question a professor. The Internationalists smashed this atmosphere which went against learning, against thinking and in various places professors were confronted and the students directly challenged them. The students brought out what was really at stake: outlook and ideology. At the centre of the struggle was the rising tide against U.S. imperialist cultural aggression, whether in Canada, England or Ireland. At the centre of this storm was the issue of ideology. So too, when dealing with the decadent educational system, ideology was central.

Hardial Bains always stressed that if the role of ideology is downplayed, or worse, is denied, what is left? The people are left with plaintive cries. Appeals are made to one almighty lord or another to have mercy on us, and when it suits the ruling circles, those who have usurped the sovereignty which by right belongs to the people, they speak about some crumbs trickling down so that a mythical middle class can realize their dreams. They arrogantly dismiss even the objective existence of a society which exists in concrete forms and push medieval notions where everyone is disposable and at the mercy of a lord and master.

Under the rule of the representatives of finance capitalists, those things which the medievalists used against the people in their day are used against the people at this time. For example, the struggles waged by the workers and people for justice and the realization of their claims on society, are declared problems of law and order. Today this is done in the name of national interest, economic prosperity, freedom, democracy, peace and other high-ideals. How can what the people say and do to realize their claims on society be a law and order problem? Prime ministers and the parliaments simply pass a new law and declare regulations as they wish, with impunity. Permitting corporations to act with impunity, reducing and cutting off unemployment payments, leaving injured workers to fend for themselves, cutting off funds for autistic children, making it impossible for professionals such as nurses and teachers to uphold the dignity of their professions because they are no longer permitted to have a say over their working conditions -- none of this is considered illegal because laws have been passed to declare whatever the oligarchs demand legal! Whose ideas are to prevail? Those of the people or those of the oligarchs? It is a serious question.

When the people are told that such things are done without ideology and ideology loses its importance at the insistence of the financial oligarchy, this causes grave harm to the people. A human person must have ideology. If a person does not have ideology, then that person is no longer given due recognition as part of the polity or even the human race. It is that important. Hardial Bains pointed out that for progressive people not to have ideology is to trivialize everything. He strongly said that what differentiates Marxist-Leninists from others is that they set their activity only on the basis of ideological considerations, no other considerations are present. To act merely by virtue of habit, instinct, nature goes against the human quality of abstracting absence, of activity planned on the basis of ideological considerations.

Vital to the work of The Internationalists in the conditions of the sixties, ideology is also essential for the entire historical period so that the historic successes achieved by the democratic revolution against medievalism are turned into historic victory. For this, every effort must be made for the democratic personality to emerge all over again and this can only be achieved by putting the question of ideology at the centre of the work of the Party as The Internationalists did during their lifetime.

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NATO War Crimes Committed Under
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This article was published in

Volume 49 Number 9 - March 16, 2019

Article Link:
56th Anniversary of the Founding of : The Question of Ideology at the Centre of the Work of The Internationalists in the Sixties and of the Party Today - Pauline Easton


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