What the League for Socialist
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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’
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.
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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