The Socialist Workers League, founded in 1938, was outlawed when World War II broke out in the fall of 1939. Illegality and the pressures of war decimated its membership, but small groups continued operating, mainly in Toronto and Vancouver. Some members joined the CCF and argued for left-wing policies there.
At a national convention in Montreal in 1944, the Trotskyists decided to launch a newspaper (Labor Challenge) in 1945, and to launch an independent public organization, the Revolutionary Workers Party, as soon as possible after that.
The convention decision was unanimous, but when moves began to implement it, some members raised objections to leaving the CCF. Ross Dowson, the organization’s National Secretary, responded to those objections in the article below, distributed internally in July 1946.
The article was signed "Paul Kane," a pen-name frequently used by Ross Dowson throughout his political career. He was responding to an article by "G.V.", probably George Van, who had joined the Vancouver branch during the war. Dowson's article appeared in Vol. 1, No. 2 of the Internal Bulletin, Canadian Section of the Fourth International, dated July 1946.
A public call for the formation of the Revolutionary Workers Party was issued two months later.
A Contribution to the Discussion
by Paul Kane
In 1928 upon his return from the 6th Congress of the Communist International with J.P. Cannon, Maurice Spector, leading executive member of the Communist Party spoke the first words in Canada in defense of the Russian Left Opposition and the principles of Revolutionary internationalism.
Spector’s subsequent expulsion resulted in the formation of a small group in Toronto that called itself the Canadian Left Opposition and functioned as a branch of the American Opposition. For 4 or 5 years this handful of revolutionaries, despite violent persecution from the Stalinists and the bosses, carried on a pioneer work. They conducted study classes, forums and circulated the American Militant.
Their expulsion and the subsequent split in the Canadian Communist Party was not as extensive nor as productive of as capable a leadership as it was in the United States. While the American comrades started to branch out to form the basis of a national organization, in Canada the opposition remained confined to Toronto.
It was not until late in 1932 when the corruption of Stalinism became more obvious to the advanced workers and the group had added to its ranks Jack Macdonald, former national secretary of the Communist Party, that the Canadian Opposition began to grow and spread its influence.
By 1934 the group had grown considerably and began to extend its influence into the trade union field and the unemployed movement. It began to publish irregularly a press of its own. Mass meetings were held that attracted hundreds of workers and contact was made with elements in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Montreal and elsewhere. In August of that year, the decision was made to constitute the group as the Workers Party of Canada. A youth group called the Spartacus Youth League was organized about the same time.
The growth of the organization was based not on experienced revolutionists who had come through years of struggle in the Stalinized CP but on new recruits to Marxism. The difference in ideological maturity between the leading 2 or 3 comrades and the membership was vast and great responsibilities were thrown on the leadership. The organization was never able to respond to its new responsibilities. Without material resources it retained a paid functionary only at occasional periods. Its press, The Vanguard, appeared irregularly. No national tour was made by any leading comrade to consolidate the contacts gained across Canada. A national convention was never held.
The collapse of the German proletariat, the innumerable working class defeats on a world scale, the continuation of mass unemployment, all had a demoralizing effect on the Canadian workers. The WP began to feel the repercussions of these defeats. Its meetings fell off in attendance and its press circulation dropped. In the party, which still had comparatively few genuine roots in the working class, defeatism and disillusionment began to grow.
In this period of worldwide reaction when the Fourth International was weak and isolated, revolutionary tendencies were developing in sections of the Social Democracy. Trotsky advocated a policy of entry into these reformist and centrist parties. This tactic became known as the French turn. Its purpose was to put the revolutionary vanguard in contact with these left wing groupings, influence them, fuse with them and eventually reconstitute the revolutionary party with a broadened base. In the United States the tactic of entry into the Socialist Party was carried out with considerable success.
Early in 1937 when the WP was in this state of general disorganization and demoralization, its leadership grasped upon the tactic of entry into the CCF as a solution to its problems. The B.C. comrades whose relations to the centre were at best very tenuous, had already entered the CCF. The SYL had also entered the CCYM a year or so previously. The fact that the experience of the SYL proved conclusively the non-existence of a field for revolutionary activity even in the youth section, failed to deter the party leadership. After a long and bitter fight over the application of the French turn to Canada at that time the organization by an extremely small majority voted to enter the CCF. No sooner had the decision been carried than the entire top leadership dropped out of the movement. The entry was thrown into the laps of less experienced comrades. Under these circumstances entry meant, in essence, liquidation of the movement. Its operation was further complicated by the failure of a section of its opponents to co-operate in the task.
The CCF was already in the grips of a strong and unopposed bureaucracy and our comrades were compelled to operate on a completely illegal basis. It soon became obvious that there was no native left wing in the CCF. We had entered the CCF when it was rapidly moving to the right and declining in influence. A left wing appears to have developed a few years previously but it had been defeated and expelled prior to the WP entry.
Not only was the entry fruitless in so far as bringing new blood into our movement but the conditions of the entry and the sterile atmosphere in the CCF infected our own ranks. Many comrades who had supported the entry became disillusioned and dropped away. Forced to work illegally with weak and inexperienced leadership, a few comrades became acclimatized to the mellow and do-good CCF milieu.
It was not until late in 1938 that the remnants of the entrists and non-entrists with the aid of the International became reconciled. Upon the advice of the International, preparations were made to wage a principled fight against the CCF leadership reorganize an independent Canadian section. Early in 1939, after the expulsion of the remaining comrades in the Ontario CCF, the group was reconstituted as the Socialist Workers League. But before the SWL could consolidate itself and renew its national connections, the Second Imperialist war broke out.
The bourgeoisie ruthlessly attacked the labor movement. Repressive anti-labor legislation (Canada Defence Regulations) was passed and hundreds of workers were arrested. Our movement, the sole principled opposition to the war, was the first victim. The first person persecuted under the Defence of Canada Regulations was Frank Watson. The Stalinists, at that time proponents of the Stalin-Hitler pact, were declared illegal and their leadership was interned. No printer would handle our press.
The war hysteria had serious repercussions on our movement. Politically inexperienced and petty bourgeois through and through, the leadership became paralyzed and eventually collapsed under the pressure of events. During the war a handful of comrades in Toronto managed to maintain connections and publish 3 or 4 issues of an illegal mimeographed paper. In 1942 an organizational trip was made across Canada and connections were renewed with a few scattered contacts and the old centres of Montreal and Vancouver. Due to the weakness of our forces and our illegality, the groups in Vancouver, Prince Rupert and the East had turned independently of one another once more towards the CCF which provided a shelter from political repressions and limited contact with leftward moving workers.
In November 1944 a National Conference was held in Montreal with representatives from Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and the International Secretariat. There we reconsolidated our ranks and adopted unanimously a resolution; "to realize in the shortest possible time the formation of the Canadian section of the Fourth International."
The Political Committee document in Internal Bulletin Volume 1, No. 1, after a searching analysis of the CCF and the general world situation concludes that the necessary condition for the building of the revolutionary party at this period requires the open and independent existence of the Canadian section of the Fourth International. The PC does not shut its eyes to the varying opportunities that present themselves in different sections of the CCF. On the contrary, Section 21 of the document points out that "wherever fruitful work is being done in CCF clubs, at present this work should be continued and intensified." "Under certain conditions where we have the necessary forces, we may endeavor to build CCF Clubs under our direct influence and leadership."
Nonetheless, to concentrate our main activities in faction work in the CCF at this time would be false. We must immediately prepare to raise the banner of an independent section of the Fourth International.
The Montreal Conference was in unanimous agreement on the principled question of the need for an independent revolutionary party and set up the structure for its development. The remaining problem was the tactical question of when and how to best build the party. The G.V. document however reveals a principled opposition to the revolutionary party. Repeating the time worn and bankrupt arguments of the POUM, the British ILP and the Austro-Marxists, and other centrist opponents of the Fourth International, G.V. claims that there is no material basis for an independent revolutionary party and that even "to continue along present patterns will have certain clear and tragic results. The worst will be isolation from the masses and discredit in the eyes of the militants and revolutionists in the mass organizations." Accordingly there is material basis only for Stalinism, Social Democracy, centrist movements and other agencies of working class betrayal.
To deny that there is a material basis for an independent revolutionary party is for revolutionists to deny the character of this epoch..." an epoch of imperialist wars and proletarian revolution." The Program of the Founding Congress of the Fourth International states: "The orientation of the masses is determined first by the objective conditions of decaying capitalism and second by the treacherous politics of the old workers’ organizations. Of these factors, the first of course is the decisive..." The workers and farmers move to the parties of the left under the compulsion of objective conditions. They will reject the parties of betrayal only in the process of the struggle.
To concede that there is only a basis for the agencies of the liberal bourgeoisie in the ranks of labor, for reformist and centrist parties, is to utterly fail to comprehend the nature of this historic period. The capitalist crisis is driving the world proletariat towards revolutionary struggle and to reject the class collaborationism and the futile parliamentarism of these parties. The objective conditions are more favorable to the building and flourishing growth of the revolutionary party than at any other time in history. One small evidence of this is the great response that Labor Challenge has met from the Canadian workers in the short period of its existence.
This crisis of world capitalism is at the same time the crisis of both Social Democracy and Stalinism. It exposed the CCF opposition to war as fake. Today in the present wage struggle the CCF is being unmasked to the most advanced Canadian workers as a barrier in their path, as the third party and last ditch defender of the capitalist order. Many workers who had been attracted to the radical traditions of the Stalinist movement have been confused and disoriented by its dizzy political twists and turns and its all-out support of the II World War. The complete isolation of the USSR and the increased dangers of imperialist attack will compel the Kremlin bureaucracy to enter into even more cynical deals with the imperialists and more sharply expose the Stalinist parties as its political tools. The immediate period ahead will demonstrate even more clearly to the workers that the interests of the Kremlin oligarchy and the policies of its agencies such as the Labor Progressive Party have nothing in common with the interests of Canadian proletariat.
On a world scale the objective conditions are ripe, rotten ripe, for the growth of the revolutionary world party. The workers and the oppressed colonial peoples of the entire world have demonstrated time and time again their readiness to move along the road to power. Stalinism and Social Democracy have stemmed up and diverted their revolutionary aspirations. The crisis confronting world labor is a crisis of leadership. The crisis of worker leadership will only be solved by the Fourth International. Only the Fourth International has been proven in action to possess the moral and political armament to engage capitalism in mortal combat.
V.’s disagreements with us, however, are not just over matters of timing; whether the revolutionary party can or should be built now or whether it will be more propitious to build it at a later date. He is opposed to the very nature of the parties of the Fourth International. He is opposed to our Bolshevik character.
V. revives the time worn drivel that Stalinism is the heir of Lenin, that Bolshevism begets Stalinism and thus the revolutionary party based on Bolshevik principles will lead only to Stalinism. "The revolutionary party (Bolshevik party) ultimately and quite dialectically produced bureaucratic and totalitarian reaction." Here V. finds common ground with all the enemies and renegades from Marxism, Stalinism, Social Democracy, right through to the intellectual prostitutes of the bourgeoisie. Stalin himself answered this petty-bourgeois nonsense by marking as his first victim Lenin’s program and the Bolshevik party. A line of blood separates Stalinism from the Bolshevik Fourth International. Stalinism and Bolshevism are not twins but antipodes. Marxists analyse the degeneration of the Bolshevik party as the product of the existing basis of the productive forces of the USSR and the isolation of the October revolution.
In dealing with this very question Trotsky wrote: "Scientific thinking demands a concrete analysis: how and why did the party degenerate? No one but the Bolsheviks themselves have up to the present given such an analysis. To do this they had no need to break with Bolshevism. On the contrary, they found in its arsenal all they needed for the clarification of its fate. They drew this conclusion; certainly Stalinism "grew out" of Bolshevism, not logically but dialectically; not as a revolutionary affirmation but as a Thermidorian negation. It is by no means the same." Enough for V’s dialectics and his petty bourgeois fears of Bolshevism.
Among the dangers that V. threatens if we "continue along present patterns," that is to build a revolutionary party are: "arbitrary and incorrect policies and tactics progressively divorced from reality," "isolation of the leadership from the rank and file," "ultra leftism" and a "duplication of third period Stalinism." Far from developing from or through the revolutionary party, the party is the only guarantee against such dangers. The revolutionary party based on democratic centralism hammers out its program and develops a leadership which is responsible to the program and the membership. In the early 20’s a great wave of ultra leftism developed throughout the communist movement. A product of the immaturity of the revolutionary parties and the isolation of the communists from the proletariat, it was corrected by Lenin through the Third International—through the party. The party, far from giving rise to sectarianism, ultra leftism, etc., is its only antidote.
V. wails that one of the factors that prohibits us today from building the revolutionary party is the absence of a Lenin. What a mockery of Lenin whose greatest contribution to the working class was the Bolshevik party. Here he exposes not only his entire lack of confidence in democratic centralism but also his lack of confidence that our program will develop the revolutionary cadres and the revolutionary leaders.
But there is no need to deal with this question in the abstract. The World Party of the Socialist Revolution exists in the Fourth International of which we are the Canadian section. Let us deal with the concrete. The Fourth International has a structure and a program. Is its program divorced from reality, ultra-leftist third period Stalinist? Is its leadership isolated from the rank and file, or bureaucratic? V. evades the living movement, for it is a living refutation of his position. For V. the very existence of an independent revolutionary party is a manifestation of ultra leftism.
Comrade V. "charges" the West Coast comrades with attempting "to duplicate the structure, function and activities of another revolutionary party which operated in another part of the globe—of attempting to pattern an organization along 1917 lines." No doubt V. refers here to the Russian Bolshevik party. The Bolshevik party of 1917 had its roots in a struggle which developed in the Social Democratic movement long prior to that date in 1903. It was not created on the spot on the eve of the revolution nor was it created even in a revolutionary period. It developed over many years in struggle against violent opposition within the SD movement. It was not the result of any preconceived ideas but a product of the circumstances and situation confronting the Russian proletariat and peasantry. The success of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the complete bankruptcy of the other parties of Social Democracy was a confirmation of Lenin’s position of 1903 and the need for Bolshevik parties to lead the struggle against capitalism. Having been proven in the fires of the class struggle, the structure and character of the Russian Bolshevik party was taken over in 1919 by the Communist International.
While the history of the past two decades abounds with revolutionary situations, nowhere was there the combination of this objective situation coupled with the subjective factor—the revolutionary party. Only the Bolshevik party has led the workers to power. The wreckage of the POUM, PSOP, and all the opponents of Bolshevism strew the arena of the class struggle. The Bolshevik Fourth International has alone stood the test of events. The Fourth International, which accepts as a whole the Thesis and Statutes of the first five years of the CI, has already proven that it is the only serious opposition to world imperialism. Those who have rejected Bolshevism, have without exception rejected revolutionary struggle.
What does V. offer in the place of the revolutionary party modelled on the struggle of 1903 and the victorious revolution in 1917? What is his substitute for the revolutionary party? All he offers is the liquidation of the cadres of the party even as they now exist. If the one side of the coin, the revolutionary disciplined party may appear to V. to threaten us with ultra-leftism etc., the other side of the coin, Van’s amorphous structureless spontaneous vanguard, threatens with the dangers of opportunism. Already the lack of a disciplined party has presented us with serious manifestations of opportunism. Most notably the case of H. Archibald who considers it more important to remain in the good graces of his fellow MPs and capitulate to the pressure of the bourgeoisie than to struggle on the basis of our program.
G.V.’s position may be summed up as (1) defeatism as to the possibility of creating the revolutionary party, (2) opposition to the party on principle. To justify his position further he is compelled to conjure up a distorted picture of the CCF, to make it appear as a possible substitute or even as the revolutionary party of the working class itself. He characterizes the Regina Manifesto as "a sound revolutionary socialist statement." This document, the 1933 position of the CCF, contains no inkling of the Marxist conception of the state. It is a classical example of a reformist program. Abhoring all forms of militant class struggle, it promises the Canadian people socialism by means of the ballot. It opposes confiscation of industry. True to its middle class and agrarian origin, it calls for complete socialization of finance and only limited social "ownership of industry and services." Its program is one of pacifism. It advocates world disarmament and full support to the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization. Where is the revolutionary socialism in the Regina Manifesto?
The struggle of the CCF bureaucracy to wrest itself free from any programmatic commitments and its rapid move to the right makes even this program appear revolutionary. But it is only left of the most recent programmatic statements of the CCF. The most recent manifestos have been purged of even the whiff of socialism that the Regina Manifesto emitted. Where the Regina Manifesto states "We stand resolutely against participation in imperialist Wars" the 1944 Manifesto remarks that "The first duty of a CCF government will be to mobilize all the resources of Canada in support of the armed forces of the United Nations." Where the Regina Manifesto revealed a limited feeling for class concepts and called for the elimination of a social order "in which one class dominates and exploits another," the 1944 Manifesto calls for union management and production committees. The Regina Manifesto states the CCF will not "rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialized planning" but the 1944 Manifesto states that the CCF will socialize only those industries which "are monopolistic in character." The Regina Manifesto is but a memory of the distant past of the CCF and reflects in no sense the present stage of CCF development. In this sense, due to the very fact that the CCF leadership is rapidly repudiating in its swing to the right, the Regina Manifesto may be used as a weapon by the left wing, but it falls far short of a program for revolutionary socialists.
The characterization of the Regina Manifesto as a revolutionary document is obviously stupid. It is still necessary, however for revolutionists to understand the real significance of programs in reformist organizations. Program and principles have at no time hindered or restricted the actions of Social Democratic leaders. Social Democracy does not differ from Trotskyism solely on the basis of program but especially on the basis of adherence to program. CCF MPs have at no time been restricted by party program but in essence, in actual practice, it is they who determine party program in their speeches in the House and to the public. At the recent B.C. CCF Convention "left winger" Angus MacInnis MP brazenly declared that he had never supported the foreign policy of the Regina Manifesto and arrogantly asserted that "no respectable MP" would stay in the movement if subject to the rank and file control advocated by the Sooke Club resolution.
The only occasion that Social Democracy shows any concern about programmatic commitments is when an opposition develops which attempts to make them adhere to past program or struggles for a new program. They are used as weapons to enforce disciplinary action against an opposition that may arise to their leadership, particularly the opposition of revolutionaries. We would be naive indeed if we, like V., evaluated the CCF solely on its program. The bureaucratic leadership has never been committed to defend or advance party program. The history of reformism is not only one of incorrect program or even of continual revision of program. In periods of crisis, Social Democracy betrays and renounces its professed program and the most elementary interests of the working class.
Nowhere in his documents does V. characterize the CCF politically except by characterizing some of its parts such as the Regina Manifesto. However on two or three occasions he likens the CCF to the pre-October Soviets erected by the Russian workers, peasants, and soldiers in 1917. If this characterization were accurate it would not only be stupid but criminal to be standing on the outside. This ignorant attempt to embellish the CCF collapses completely under the slightest scrutiny. The pre-October Soviets encompassed the great masses of the oppressed workers and peasants. Born in the great revolutionary upsurge that swept through Russia for a second time, they were organs of the struggle for power. The Soviets were united front movements embracing all the organizations of the masses including the Mensheviks, the Bolsheviks, and the Social Revolutionaries, etc. Does the CCF have any of these characteristics?
The pre-October Soviets were instruments of revolutionary struggle and were the products of the revolutionary situation that developed in the weakest link in the capitalist chain ... Russia. Are we in a period of pre-October in Canada or even in B.C.? At one and the same time V. claims that to build a revolutionary party is utopian, and that we already have in existence the pre-October Soviets. If such organs of struggle were already in existence in Canada we would be required to immediately reevaluate our analysis of the Canadian scene and our perspectives. If in B.C. the CCF amounts to the pre-October Soviets and in the great industrial East the CCF carries on a most feeble existence what, we must ask, is the cause of this amazing example of uneven development? We will search V.’s documents in vain for the answer.
What is the CCF? Has it any similarity to the pre-October Soviets? The CCF is not a united front organization of struggle but a political party of reform of capitalism. The CCF is not even a labor party. Frightened by the class-struggle tendencies of the trade unions, the CCF middle-class politicians hold them off at arms length and attempt only to corral their vote. While it is true that the CCF has the endorsation of the CCL, it remains a middle-class agrarian party with its base in the Prairies. In industrial Quebec it is a mere shadow, with little influence in the Anglo-Canadian population of Montreal and no support among the French-Canadian working class. In industrial Ontario, where it likewise has no MPs, it is primarily middle class and has suffered a serious decline since the 1945 elections. Even in B.C. its trade union affiliates are exceptionally weak. Composed basically of petty-bourgeois elements, the CCF limits its operations to the parliamentary field and enters the workers’ battles only under the greatest pressure and with the greatest timorousness.
How "unique" is CCF democracy which V. claims is its "great source of power"? A casual glance at the proceedings of the B.C. CCF Convention explodes his democratic myth. Discussion was limited to 2 minutes per speaker. Some of the most important questions never reached the floor, having been shelved for the new executive. There was no minority reporter on the Resolutions committee, although the minority counted at times 40% of the convention. The minority got no representation on the Provincial executive committee. The Sooke club resolution demanding that "no individual or elected group of individuals" be permitted to commit the CCF on policy without the consent of rank-and-file bodies of the party brought the wrath of the whole leadership on its head. It was then that Maclnnis screamed that "no respectable MP" would stay in the movement if subjected to rank-and-file control.
At some length V. explains the democratic structure of the CCF and brazenly states "The final and irrevocable authority in policy matters is the annual provincial convention to which each club has representation of one delegate and one alternate for every 10 or 20 members. The decisions of the convention are final and binding on the provincial executive and all party representatives." Were the CCF MPs instructed to ditch the party stand of opposition to war and support the second imperialist war? Who decided that CCF MPs should drop "no conscription of manpower without conscription of wealth"? The provincial executive? The national convention? The clubs? Emphatically no! The CCF bureaucrats and MPs decided. For the leadership of the party there is complete and unfettered democracy. For the rank and file there is another standard. There is democracy in the CCF as long as the rights and privileges of the leadership are left unchallenged. In essence it reflects the democracy in the bourgeois democratic state upon which it is based and upon which it lives a parasitic existence. Behind the parliamentary "democratic" front of the capitalist state the big trusts wield the power. In the CCF behind the constitutional "democratic" front stand the MPs, MPPs and their bureaucratic stooges.
Comrade V. and our West Coast comrades are well aware of the "unique" degree of democracy in the CCF. Everywhere in all their activities our comrades are compelled to disguise our activities and sometimes even our program. Our comrades who submit material to CCF News are compelled to use all sorts of subterfuge. Articles that are directed against class collaboration and reformist betrayal use evidence that is old and dealing with foreign betrayals. There is little immediate application of our ideas and a minimum of criticism of the present CCF bureaucracy.
One of the documents contributed to the discussion claims that it is necessary for us to stay in the CCF at all costs. What can this mean—"at all costs." The first cost that reformism demands of revolutionaries is the denial of their revolutionary principles and program. Without struggling on a principled program wherein would we differ from the betrayals of the Canadian workers perpetrated by the Lewises, Winches and Coldwells! To submit to their pressure is to be equally guilty of their crimes.
The weak and limited influence of the CCF in the great industrial east only signifies for V. a magnificent opportunity for our movement to build the CCF "from scratch." His naive description of the "democratic" internal regime in the CCF is only another phase of his attempt to foist on revolutionaries the task of building a reformist party. While isolated comrades may find the building of a CCF club an effective vehicle for the spreading of revolutionary ideas and the building of our movement, V. would give our movement as a whole the perspective of building the CCF.
The fact that revolutionaries may enter or may maintain a large faction in a Social Democratic movement does not in any sense signify reevaluation of that movement’s historic role on our part. Reformism remains an agency of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of labor. We enter, build factions, and even clubs with the sole aim of build the revolutionary party. Revolutionaries do not subscribe to the theory that the workers must necessarily go through the experiences of reformism before moving to the revolutionary party. We certainly never subscribed to the theory that we must put them through this experience by our building the reformist party. Reformism is a barrier to the revolutionary development of the working class.
It is our American comrades proud boast that not only did they win the best elements in the Socialist Party to Trotskyism, but their expulsion at the hands of the right-wing bureaucracy smashed the S.P. as an effective organization and removed that obstacle from the path of the development of the American workers. The development of the CCF into a revolutionary party is virtually excluded. The fact, therefore, that it does not exist as a powerfully organized force among the Canadian workers, particularly in the industrial east, makes it all the more favorable for the growth of the open and independent section of the Fourth International.
The idea that the Trotskyists must build the CCF is presented in another document in what may appear to be a more palpable form, but which is as equally false as the previous argument. "If we can’t build a mass party in these areas (where the CCF is bankrupt or defunct), if we don’t supply the push in the CCF to do it, what is to prevent the LPP from capitalizing the situation growing out of the CCF ineptitude and our impotence? If they succeed in establishing a S.D. party with a mass base in these areas our tendency faces insuperable difficulties in trying to work inside a Stalinist organization." Aside from the despairing attitude of the author that dooms Trotskyism to the parasitic role of always living on and working inside other political movements, the major flaw in this argument is the belief that the CCF constitutes a barrier to the rise of Stalinism.
Both the CCF and LPP are reformist parties. Despite their fundamental similarity however, Stalinism constitutes a greater danger to the revolutionary development of the workers because of its attempts to mask itself in the traditions of the October revolution and Marxist-Leninist principles and also because of its more extensive and efficient apparatus. The question is more properly posed as—how can Stalinism be defeated? Can it be defeated by a strong CCF? The CCF can only combat the increasingly persistent LPP unity proposals with the most reactionary means. Even the CCF position of opposition to the LPP-Liberal Party coalition is threadbare, as the CCF has already supported such a coalition in Manitoba. The CCF MPs who are taking a less and less critical position to the Liberals in the Federal House do not want to be compromised from making such a step themselves at a later date.
Far from being a barrier to Stalinism, the CCF paves the way for the more dynamic Stalinist movement to extend its influence over the entire working class movement. Trotskyism and only Trotskyism his effectively combated the Stalinists. This accounts for the implacable struggle that the agents of the Soviet bureaucracy continue to wage against our movement.
Today no conditions exist that justify our continuing to concentrate our main activity on CCF fraction work. The CCF provides us with no special entree to the leftward moving workers. The CCF is in a period of decline. Its internal atmosphere is sterile; not only is there no sign of a left-wing tendency, but the bureaucracy has further tightened its stranglehold on the organization. In the Unions the CCF is identified with the top bureaucracy which is selling the workers’ struggles cheap. It is significant that in the greatest upsurge of the Canadian working class for decades the CCF stands divorced from the battle and is not making any gains but is retrenching.
Thousands of young workers and veterans have been thrust into militant action for the first time, thousands of workers are becoming dissatisfied with the CCF. Unless we build an independent party of the Fourth International these workers have no place to go but to the Stalinists who, with their pseudo-left turn, are now the sole gathering point for these leftward-moving workers.
Conditions were never so favorable as they are today for the unfurling of the banner of Trotskyism. Our past year’s activities curbed and hemmed in as they were, give us a foretaste of what lies ahead for us as an independent political party. Released from the restrictions imposed by a CCF orientation, our movement will sink its influence deep into the unions and rally around its banner the most militant and advanced elements of the Canadian working class.
Copyright South Branch Publishing. All