Socialist Educational League Formed
The Revolutionary Workers Party ceased public
activity in 1952, and stopped publishing a newspaper. Most of its members
joined the CCF. A new newspaper, Workers Vanguard, was launched in
1955. It published this article in December, 1955.
Socialist Education League Organized
by George Stanton
Chairman of the Socialist Educational League
The Socialist Educational League has been formed.
This is the most important development that has taken place in Canadian
labor politics for many years. It can already be said with confidence
that the League is destined to play a vital role in the struggle for a
The League is a product of the crisis that
confronts the CCF. Its purpose is to fight against the Liberal-reformist
policies that the present leadership are foisting upon the movement and to
fight for a socialist CCF.
The success or failure of this struggle will
determine whether the CCF will disappear into some new coalition of
Liberal-reformist politicians, and all its precious capital as an
independent movement of the working people be dissipated, or, whether it
will serve as its-founders hoped—as an instrument to establish a socialist
From refusal “to be entangled in any more wars
fought to make the world safe for capitalism” the Coldwell leadership
ended up during World War II supporting conscription of manpower and
without conscription of wealth. With the opening up of the cold war they
swung the movement behind the militarization of Canadian economy, voted
support to aggressive military alliances such as the Marshall Plan and The
North Atlantic Treaty Organization until we witnessed the shocking
spectacle, at the 1950 Vancouver National Convention, of M. J. Coldwell
demanding what Liberal Prime Minister St. Laurent was only cautiously
feeling his way towards; demanding that Canadian troops be sent into the
counter-revolutionary War in Korea to bolster up the corrupt and
discredited dictator, Synghman Rhee. From here it was only a small step
for Coldwell to defy the position adopted by the party in convention, and
the known opinion of the people of this country, and support the
rearmament of the enemies of the German people.
All this has been done under the guiding principle
enunciated by Coldwell that “the class struggle is dead.” Even more,
according to the present leadership, socialism NOW, instead of aiming to
“eradicate capitalism and put into operation the full programme of
socialized planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the
Co-operative Commonwealth, is a vague moral or ethical idea the exact
character of which no one can determine but an inner few.
It is obvious that if the leadership are allowed
to continue unchecked on this course that they will destroy the movement.
They must be fought against and the movement re-oriented.
Under normal circumstances one would expect that
this struggle for a socialist CCF could and would take place from entirely
within the CCF itself … and without the organization of such a body as the
Socialist Educational League. Did not David Lewis, just a few years ago
when national secretary, write “Nothing and no one is so holy as to be
above analysis and criticism. Thus we must tolerate inside the CCF all
shades of understanding of socialism and keep our doors wide open to all
Unfortunately these good words of David Lewis are
honored only in their breach, not in their observance. All the attempts of
the rank and file to resist this false course have met with slander,
harassment and persecution. Faced with such hostility, thousands of
members of the movement have dropped into inactivity, many have dropped
formal membership. Others have attempted to organize resistance to the
course of the leadership.
Unable to meet their opponents on the plane of
ideas, the leadership has resorted to what all bankrupts do—to the use of
formal organizational powers—expulsions. Immediately after being repulsed
by the membership-in-convention, the British Columbia leadership used its
executive powers to drive left winger and ex-M.P. Rodney Young out of the
movement. This Spring saw the expulsions in Ontario of almost a score of
leading activists. The Provincial Council quite frankly admitted that
“the accused had been useful members of their riding associations and had
not shown any overt disruptive tendencies,” that they were expelled not
for any overt acts, but for their ideas.
The leadership does not have “doors wide open” but
has closed the doors of the movement to socialists who do not share their
“understanding of socialism.” A couple of years ago several prominent
members of the Revolutionary Workers Party, after the disbanding of that
organization which had always supported the CCF, applied for membership
in the CCF. Along with acceptance of all the obligations of membership
-they asked for one of the privileges—freedom to express their views.
Their applications had the support of constituency clubs in which they had
worked for some period—but the Ontario leadership barred them.
The result of all this is that an atmosphere of
submissiveness, of conformity, pervades the majority of the constituency
clubs. There are almost no serious discussions on party policy, of
unfolding national and international events. This has become the
prerogative of the “leadership” not the members. The clubs are being
transformed into machines that are supposed to leap into action only when
there is an election and there are leaflets to distribute.
Anyone familiar with the real condition of the
movement can only conclude that for the whole next period the struggle to
build a left wing cannot proceed from entirely within the movement it
self. Other resources have to be developed. The SEL has set itself this
The League, formed by some of those who have been
expelled, by some of the former members of the RWP, and by activists now
in the CCF, through its activities intends to stimulate the development of
the CCF in a socialist direction. Through its classes and forums it will
provide what is so lacking in the constituency organizations. Through such
activities as the Toronto election campaign it will show workers, both
members and supporters of the CCF, what can be done, generating pressures
against the leadership. It will popularize the program of socialism,
applying it to the problems of the working people of this country.
It will develop the program that is necessary and
around which the left wing will rally if the CCF is to be saved for
socialism. When conditions are favorable the League will seek to win
affiliation to the CCF as the socialist educational wing of the movement.
The Socialist Educational League needs your help.
Join it now!
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