The CPC Condemns Publication of
Tim Buck's Reminiscences (1977)
We previously posted
Ian Angus's 1979 review of
Yours in the Struggle — Reminiscences of Tim Buck, a book
published by NC Press in 1977. That review included the following
For all of the inadequacies of Yours in the
Struggle, its editors deserve congratulation for publishing an
important historical document, especially since they did so in defiance of
an attempt to suppress it. Both of the editors have been suspended from
the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada for releasing the
Reminiscences against the Party leadership's instructions.
The following letter from the CPC's Central Executive
Committee sheds additional light on that episode. It is undated, but
from internal evidence it was written late in 1977, probably in
November. (The original in our possession is date-stamped "Dec. 20
1977," possibly the date on which it was received or filed.)
William Beeching, who co-edited the controversial
book, was involved in a series of conflicts with the party leadership
through the decade. He was censured for "pursuing a separate left
opportunist line" in 1970, and eventually expelled by a party convention
in January 1980.
To All Members
Communist Party of Canada
The CEC addresses this letter to you in order to
acquaint all members of the Party with the position of the Central
Committee in respect to this book, published by the NC Press, Toronto,
under the direction of Comrade Bess Mascolo and edited by Central
Committee member William Beeching and alternate CC member Phyllis
The book is based on a series of taped interviews made
by comrade Buck in cooperation with the CBC. The existence of these
tapes was first brought to the attention of the CEC by comrade Mark
Frank. Copies of the tapes are in the possession of York University,
Toronto, and are available for public study. The CEC received a copy of
the transcript of the tapes from comrade Buck. Following its study of
the transcript the CEC decided to write to comrade Buck (who was in
Mexico for the winter) outlining its conclusions concerning the taped
material for his consideration.
The CEC found that much of the material provided a good
source for writing the autobiography which comrade Buck, though ill, was
working on with the assistance of comrade Beeching. In this respect,
however, the CEC pointed out there was need of validation of happenings,
accuracy checking, correction of names, etc. The CEC also drew attention
to other material requiring further development, as for instance the
treatment of the Industrial Workers of the World; the socialist
breakthrough; definition of the proletariat; the treatment of the early
years of the formation of the Party which, as described in the
transcript, could leave the reader with the impression of an exercise in
conspiracy; and the treatment of the struggle against the right-wing
position of "American Exceptionalism", which required filling-out to
encompass all the forces involved in the struggle against opportunism,
particularly the important role played by the YCL.
But far more serious than the above, some of the
material in the transcript was open to misinterpretation at the expense
of the Party. Two such areas drawn to the attention of comrade Buck in
the CEC letter were the treatment of the 20th Congress of the CPSU and
that of the 1946 "spy case".
The CEC letter to comrade Buck pointed out that the
transcript treatment of that historic Congress might create the
impression that the fraternal delegates from brother Parties were
treated with contempt or worse in respect to the exposure of the cult of
Stalin. The CEC advised comrade Buck that the transcript coverage of
this aspect of the work of the 20th Congress could be misconstrued and
thus obscure the impact of that Congress on world development; and on
the strategy and tactics of Communist and Workers’ Parties. The CEC
letter to comrade Buck stressed that there should be no impression
conveyed in the autobiography of an approach to the 20th Congress that
differed from the Party’s assessment of it.
Secondly, the transcript’s treatment of the "spy case",
directed to undermining the reputation of the Party as part of the
imperialist preparations for its cold war assault against social
progress and peaceful co-existence, was rather ambigious [sic] and thus
open to misrepresentation about the nature of this RCMP-rigged case and
the role of a then Communist Member of Parliament.
Finally, the CEC letter to comrade Buck drew attention
to the important role he had played for many years in the leadership of
the Party, and consequently that what is written in his autobiography
will be considered as part of the history of the Party. From this
standpoint the CEC expressed its view that it was essential there be
full agreement between author and CEC on the political content of the
In outlining its views to comrade Buck, the CEC fully
appreciated that the material studied by it was only a transcript of the
taped remarks made during taping sessions. Consequently such remarks
made during an interview would not necessarily be well thought out or
well formulated. But in the actual writing of the autobiography comrade
Buck would take fully into account the comments of the CEC.
Unfortunately, this letter was never sent to comrade
Buck by reason of the worsening of his illness and subsequent death in
Mexico. It was, however, sent to comrade Beeching who at that time was
collaborating with comrade Buck in preparing the transcript for
publication. Therefore, comrade Beeching, the main editor of the book,
was well aware of the CEC’s criticism of certain parts of the taped
It should be emphasized that both comrade Beeching and
comrade Clarke were fully acquainted with the CEC’ s criticisms of those
parts of the transcript outlined in this letter. For both were privy to
all decisions of the CEC by virtue of their positions on the Central
In view of comrade Buck’s death the CEC decided to
proceed with the publication of a book about Tim and his early life and
his work as a leader of the Party. This was done without prejudice to
further publication of materials of comrade Buck’s. In 1975 Progress
Books published "Tim Buck — A Conscience for Canada" by Oscar Ryan.
Comrade Mascolo, with whom the Secretariat met and who
is responsible for the publication of "Yours in the Struggle", was
likewise acquainted with the views of the CEC in respect to the
mentioned material. Yet, she too, in defiance of the views of the CEC,
went ahead with the publication of the book without the necessary
modifications and correction of those parts mentioned which could be
inimical to the interests of the Party.
Characteristic of comrade Mascolo’s defiance, was her
rejection of the request made on behalf of comrade Tom McEwen that the
foreward [sic] to the book he had written at the request of comrade Buck
not be published. Because of her insistence, all the taped material,
possible of misinterpretation and misrepresentation remain in the book,
material that enemies of the Party can use to link the honored name of
Tim Buck with the anti-Soviet, anti-Marxist-Leninist, pro-imperialist
policies of the Maoist leaders of China.
The very act of giving the book to NC Press, a
Maoist-oriented publishing house that publishes the works of Mao in
Canada and other ultra-left authors, unloosened a floodgate of Maoist
support for its publication and promotion. This support includes Dr.
James Endicott — a well-known advocate of the anti-Soviet positions of
Mao — his son Norman Endicott, and other-well-known supporters of Maoism
across Canada. Also actively supporting and promoting the book is the
publisher of the magazine "Northern Neighbors", Dyson Carter.
This attempt to associate comrade Buck’s name with
Maoism is done by NC Press in its advertising. A full-page advertisement
in Canadian Forum is headed by a quote from James Endicott’s
endorsement of the book. It is done also in the main text of the ad
where it states that Tim "encouraged Norman Bethune to go to China" and
neglects to say that Tim encouraged Bethune to go to Spain.
Incidentally, the pro-Maoist NC Press also uses a quote from comrade
Beeching in the ad, thus linking up the names of comrades Buck, Bethune
and Beeching with the anti-Sovietism of Maoism and Mao’s Canadian
advocate, James Endicott.
The CEC first learned, through a press release from NC
Press, that publication of "Yours in the Struggle" was going ahead and
that comrades Beeching and Clarke were editing the book. Neither of
these comrades saw fit to consult with the CEC before undertaking this
project. Such behaviour by two veteran members of the Party, holding
positions on the Party’s Central Committee, is intolerable. In this
manner, they set themselves on a course of evasion and defiance. This
was the way they chose to "honor" the memory of an outstanding Canadian,
an outstanding Communist, a steadfast Marxist-Leninist.
Consequently the Central Committee at its meeting of
October 14-15, 1977 characterized the actions of these two comrades as
"thoughtless, irresponsible and injurious to the cause of the Party, the
working class movement and, not least, to the memory of Tim Buck". The
CC decided to suspend comrade Beeching as a member of the Central
Committee and comrade Phyllis Clarke as an alternate member of the
Central Committee for ‘grave violation of democratic centralism in
defiance of a decision of the Central Executive Committee".
In addition to these disciplinary measures taken by the
Central Committee against two of its members, the CEC is taking steps to
receive an accounting from other comrades associated with the
publication and promotion of "Yours in the Struggle", and will take
whatever disciplinary measures it deems necessary in accordance with the
outcome of the said accountings.
Trusting this information will clear up any
misunderstanding in respect to the CC’s attitude to this publication and
why the action it has been compelled to take is vital to the best
interests of the Party and the working class movement.
Central Executive Committee
Communist Party of Canada.