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What the League for Socialist Action is,
and What it stands for (1961)

In 1961, in anticipation of the creation of a new political party with close links to the Canadian Labour Congress, revolutionary socialists decided to merge their organizations into one group, the first national, public Trotskyist organization in Canada since the Revolutionary Workers Party dissolved its public face and entered the CCF in 1952. The formation of the League for Socialist Action (LSA) was announced in the June 1961 issue of Workers Vanguard.

This statement was published in Workers Vanguard in June 1961, and then as a 10˘ pamphlet. The pamphlet include the June 1961 date but must have been actually edited and produced later, because the "New Party" didn’t adopt the name "New Democratic Party" until July.

What the League for Socialist Action is,
and What it stands for

The League for Socialist Action is a fusion of the Socialist Educational League, centered in Toronto, and the Socialist Information Center of Vancouver, and their supporters scattered across Canada.

The League for Socialist Action is committed to unconditional support of the New Democratic Party in its aim to place workers’ and farmers’ governments in Ottawa and the provinces.

Its purpose is (1) to bring together, to organize into an effective force, all supporters of the NDP who seek to win it to a class struggle program and a socialist objective; (2) to build the party, to participate in its day-to-day activities and to advance ideas that will give conscious direction to the working people of Canada in their struggles to defend and extend their interests.

The first requirement for the workers in all countries of the world is to break cleanly from the capitalist class and their political parties, and any and all concepts of coalitions with their parties. The workers and farmers must build a party of their own based on their primary class organizations, the trade unions, with the aim of taking the power out of the hands of the capitalist class and into their own hands.

The NDP that has been launched by the CCF and the CLC meets this requirement. It opens up the possibility of galvanizing the entire working people of Canada, in alliance with the struggles of the workers in other parts of the globe, to eliminate once and for all the recurring depressions spawned by capitalism and to eliminate its wars which now threaten mankind with atomic destruction, and to usher in a new world of peace and plenty.

Those associated together in the League for Socialist Action seek to join forces with all those who now understand this challenge in order to win the majority of the working class to this realization. Our support for the NDP is unconditional. Our participation is not contingent upon certain specific programmatic planks being adopted by the party, and we lay down no terms as to who must be in the leadership of the party. We recognize the authority of the majority in democratic debate to decide the policy of the party and elect the leadership it sees fit to pledge to implement that policy.

For a Class Struggle Program

At the same time we affirm the right of the minority to freely advance its ideas in the organizations that are part of and allied to the new party, and to seek to win the majority to the support of its views and establish a leadership in the party consonant with its views.

While we declare our unconditional support for the new party we declare our conviction, based on experiences both in Canada and in other parts of the world, and on our analysis of objective reality, that the program being advanced by the leadership of the CLC and the NDP is inadequate. Were it to continue to remain the program of the party it would render it incapable of meeting the needs of those whose support it seeks.

Their program is reformist when the task is revolutionary—that is, socialist. While capitalism is moving out to slash the many gains already won, imposing new burdensome taxes, straight-jacketing organized labor with union-busting laws, cutting down on social legislation, and throwing hundreds of thousands into unemployment; they talk in terms of the affluent society and the amelioration of class conflicts. They project a perspective of merely removing what they present as minor defects in the existing capitalist order of things, of patching capitalism up and making it more tolerable, instead of a perspective of fundamental change. While the movement is clearly working class, the present leadership preaches conciliation, peaceful co-existence with capitalism, not class struggle against it.

For a New, a Socialist Society

This is the most revolutionary period in human history. One third of the world’s population lives under a planned economy—which is the foundation for their colossal progress and achievements of the past decade. With increasing strength the peoples of East Germany, Poland, Hungary and in the Soviet Union itself, are striving against the bureaucratic regime to establish working class democracy. Whole continents are being torn by revolutionary struggle from the domination and exploitation of the imperialists. Cuba, just 90 miles off the American coast, with its example and inspiration, is stirring all Latin America.

Within a generation we have suffered two world wars of unprecedented slaughter and destruction and have been afflicted with the waste and demoralization of cataclysmic economic crises. With the loss of their imperialist holdings and the entry of new forces onto the world market the capitalists attempt to keep their industrial plants operating and profits pouring in by initiating a vast program of military expenditures. To no avail—a major crisis is shaping up in the capitalist world. In desperation they are attempting to shore up the system by turning against the workers at home. Capitalism promises the people of Canada not amelioration of conditions but austerity, oppression, dictatorship and/or atomic destruction of mankind. Only through an irreconcilable struggle against capitalism, towards its elimination and the establishment of socialism, will the Canadian people and the people of the world find the full freedom, equality and democracy for which they aspire.

A Party for Peace, Not War

The threat to the peace of the world, the main force behind the drive towards atomic destruction is not the Soviet Union—nor is it China. It is American imperialism and the old but now much enfeebled imperialists, and their hangers-on such as Canada, which seek to roll back the struggles of the colonial peoples and re-establish their domination of those areas from which they have been driven.

It was the U.S. that flew the U2 planes, that conducts provocative nuclear armed airflights over Canadian territory right up to the borders of the Soviet Union, that thousands of miles from American shores has built more than 300 military bases that are encircling and directed at the Soviet areas. It was the U.S. which stalled on the cessation of atomic tests and procrastinates in the disarmament sessions, while, along with its satellites, increasing military expenditures and perfecting ever-more fiendish instruments of death and destruction.

To be a factor for peace Canada must be broken from the commitments made by the Liberals and the Tories to the imperialist war drive and must be identified with the freedom struggles everywhere. The forces of the NDP must mobilize the Canadian people in the struggle against war, must raise the demand: that the question of nuclear arms in Canada be taken out of the hands of the government and decided by the people in a national referendum.

Houses, Schools—Not Bombs

The NDP should firmly commit itself to struggle now, and when elected break Canada from participation in the NATO military alliance, withdraw Canada from NORAD, remove all Canadian forces from the soil of any other country and demand the withdrawal of other country’s armed forces from Canadian soil. For the reallocation of all military appropriations to the financing of vast programs of low cost, low rental subsidized housing, schools, hospitals and roads. No shipment of Canadian uranium to any country manufacturing and testing H Bombs.

No support of the U.N. which has proved to be an instrument of imperialist strategy, but rather, towards an alliance, a free association of the people of the world by the identification of Canada with the world-wide anti-imperialist and socialist strivings through a program of trade and aid. For recognition of China, for extended credits to Cuba and all countries seeking trade and aid. Only when the working people of Canada and the major countries in the world have the power in their own hands can we realize the cherished commonwealth of labor.

The NDP must mobilize the people of Canada behind a program which will block and reverse all the efforts of the Canadian capitalist class and their political lackeys, the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and Social Credit parties, to impose the crisis of their system on the backs of the working people.

Jobs. for All—30 for 40

Technological progress is now reaping vast profits for the industrial and financial oligarchy and condemning thousands to permanent unemployment. The NDP must solidarize itself with organized labor’s fight to win the benefits of technological change for the workers by establishing the shorter work-week with the same take-home-pay in all union contracts, and by fighting to enact a shorter legal work-week. The establishment of a sliding scale of hours would insure that all have the right to work.

Alleviate the hardship of unemployment with unemployment insurance for the duration of unemployment at union rates of pay; for union organization of the unemployed, linking up the unemployed with the fighting capacity of organized labor.

Mobilize popular opposition to roll back. the anti-labor offensive, wipe all union-busting legislation off the books, encourage, promote, strengthen all organizations of the working people, the co-ops, the credit unions, trade unions—for a Bill of Rights.

Public ownership, nationalization of the basic industries and the financial institutions, the establishment of industrial democracy, participation of the people in the productive processes and the planning of the economy for the service of the people, is not some abstract principle or the expression of an ultimate objective. The crucial dependence of Canadian economy on the world market and its uneven development has transformed public ownership and production for use from a programmatic statement on the nature of the socialist society that lies ahead and a desirable aim, into an immediate necessity.

Public Ownership—-Planning

To the Nova Scotia CCF-NDP demand that the coal industry there be nationalized, should be added the nationalization of the government-financed Malton AVRO plant, its re-tooling and the production of goods needed by the people for sale at cost. The nationalization of the government-financed uranium industry and a crash program to develop uranium for peaceful energy purposes. The nationalization of the CPR and its unification with the CNR, their re-financing and their co-ordination to provide a nation-wide network functioning in the interests of those working it and providing transportation at cost.

Open the books of big business so that the truth about prices, wages, cost of production, distribution and profits, executive salaries, kickbacks and payola, so that the waste and inefficiency, so that the source of the crisis of the economy is laid bare. Take over the idle factories, the electrical goods plants, the textile mills, that are turning once prosperous communities into ghost towns; produce for use under the control of the workers through a national plan.

The League for Socialist Action identifies itself fully with all such demands as: a non-contributory national health plan, free university tuition, the 18-year-old vote, parity prices for farmers, cheap loans and low cost credit to owner-operated businesses and working farmers. The League for Socialist Action identifies itself with all the social conquests of the working people and with all proposals that would deepen and extend them. It solidarizes itself with all actions which heighten the consciousness of the Canadian working class of the real situation confronting them; it supports any action which further cements their unity against capitalism and which would strengthen their capacity to struggle and project them towards the achievement of a workers’ and farmers’ government.

A Fighting Alternative

The NDP opens up tremendous possibilities before the Canadian people. But to realize the possibilities it must present itself as a real alternative to the capitalist parties. It must be rooted in the working class—in the primary organization of the working class, the trade unions. The working class is the only class in modern capitalist society in profound and persistent conflict with the tiny handful of financial and industrial tycoons who control the economy and state apparatus. The unions are the only mass organized social movement in conflict on a day-to-day basis with capitalism at the key point of their power—their control of the productive machinery of the nation.

The NDP must be an integral part of the lives of the workers, inextricably tied to their day-to-day struggles and not a mere election machine, persistently seeking funds but limiting the political activity of the workers to electioneering, going to the ballot box periodically then handing the job over to specialists, to MP’s and MLA’s. Labor political action is not a substitute for on-the-job action but a broad generalization and heightening of the day-to-day struggle, on the job, on the picket line, organizing, propagandizing, agitating, on all levels of the population and in all fields, cultural, social and on the municipal, provincial and federal areas of government, co-ordinating, giving leadership and direction to the Canadian working people.

Rank and File Democracy

The new party must develop its leaders and spokesmen from its own ranks. While welcoming intellectuals and professional people it will put into positions of trust and responsibility only those who identify themselves completely with the workers’ cause. Such persons, by their loyalty, their commitment to the aims of the party ranks, by their militancy and example, will help to overcome the deep underlying cynicism that has dissaffected large layers of the population from political life and will inspire them to join in the struggle.

The movement must be democratic—open to all who commit themselves to its support. It must have an internal life which not only permits, but consciously encourages the full play and exchange of ideas. Only then is there any assurance that the party will adopt the correct policies—only then can it develop and choose the type of leadership that the struggle for a socialist Canada in a socialist world requires.

Socialists greet the formation and join in the building of the NDP with deep satisfaction and enthusiasm. We are confident that the experiences ahead will prove the validity of our ideas which have been forged in the struggles of the past and will be re-tempered in the struggles ahead.

The attempts of the CCF-CLC leadership, expressed in the loose formulations adopted at the Winnipeg CLC convention, to launch some kind of liberal-labor coalition, were dashed to pieces by the onrush of events, by the developing economic crises and the Tory-Liberal-S.C. anti-labor drives. Regardless of any desires to the contrary the NDP enters the arena as a class party, a labor party.

Despite the campaign of lies and distortions about the socialist viewpoint we are confident that developing realities, together with the conscious participation of all who consider themselves socialists, around such a program as we have outlined, will make the NDP a powerful leap forward on the march to a socialist Canada.

June, 1961

Ross Dowson—Toronto.
Ruth Bullock—Vancouver.
Malcolm Bruce—Vancouver.

If you are interested in learning more about the ideas and activities of the League for Socialist Action visit the LSA headquarters in Vancouver at 875 Hastings Street East; in Toronto at 81 Queen Street West; or write for information to either address. Read and subscribe to the Workers Vanguard—$1.00 for 12 issues—81 Queen Street West, Toronto.

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