Sunday, July 15, 2007

Open letter on a few articles about Gagnon and Corbin

July 2007

To the Internationalist Workers Group Open Letter on a few articles published in Notes Internationalistes (no. 6 and 7)

Dear comrades,

A closer reading of the article “ Charles Gagnon 1939-2005 An intense Commitment, A sincere Revolt, but to what end? published in Notes Internationalistes (march 2006), made us see a lot of weakness and ambiguity in it. First, we have to state precisely that the bourgeoisie’s dominant ideological activity among the workers “consists of inventing organisations, parties, which will invent solutions whose ideologies - even if they’re dressed with sentences from Marx or Lenin - are irrelevant for the proletariat, even if they seem to have been relevant for them in the past,like with the Russian Revolution, or any other event. It will be a matter to introduce among the workers positions which, in the name of the revolution or past revolutionary struggles, will be means to defend the capitalist society today. (La Gauche Communiste de France, Contribution à une Histoire du Mouvement Révolutionnaire, p.10 - free translation).

It doesn’t matter what Charles Gagnon has written. As a political militant, insofar as he always claimed to belong firstly to the quebecois nationalist current during his felquist (FLQ) period, secondly and mostly to the Maoism and Stalinism, he had never have been related in any way to the history of the worker’s movement or to proletarian internationalism. He always belonged to one or another political current of the bourgeoisie. In particular, and besides it’s for this reason that this article is consecrated, he was related to a current - Stalinism and its Maoist variant - which was the spearhead of the bloody and dreadful counter-revolution from the ‘20’s along with the ‘30-40-50’s and even in the ’60’s...

Two years before the breaking-up of En Lutte, Gagnon wrote : "We have no hesitation to recognise that Stalin was a solid defender of the Marxism-Leninism, that he continuously maintained the fundamental principle of the USSR's construction of socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat. We recognise that he played a determining role within the Comintern and, by means of this, in the development of the communist forces throughout the world. " (Forum International, international review of En Lutte, April 1980 - free translation).

Now, Notes Internationalistes presents to us this militant well-known Maoist as a militant whose commitment would deserve to be saluted and whose example should be, despite its "errors", followed :

A militant who produced "criticisms - no matter how inadequate - of the Quebecois nationalist movement, indeed of all national liberation movements." (Internationalist Notes, new series no.6)
A militant who "at least in his public life, was very far removed (sic!) from the political positions we defend." (Ibid)
A militant indirectly presented to us as "a militant from the revolutionary vanguard", a revolutionary who "was always working with material provided by the historical experience of the class." (Ibid)
A militant who "was finally defeated politically by his self-imposed isolation. Cut off from the struggles and from contact with the proletarians with whom he had been able to communicate with so easily and "organically" [who] gradually lost the thread of the relatively promising theoretical work he had undertaken in the period leading up in En Lutte's dissolution." (Ibid)

Notes Internationalistes then thinks it is possible, from the political frame provided by Maoism and Stalinism, to produce a denunciation - from a proletarian point of view - of nationalism ; to have (classist) positions arrived at from very far away from the Communist Left positions instead off conflicting and opposed from them ; to be part of the revolutionary vanguard and to reappropriate the history of the worker's movement ; and finally, to achieve a "natural and organic link" with the proletariat while having a framework for theoretical study. It even cries the so-called political death - "defeated politically" - of a Maoist militant.

Notes Internationalistes never refers to a "class point of view", even to any notion of classto evaluate the "work" of the Maoist militant and his group En Lutte!. But his affiliation to the Communist Left labels its opinion and therefore grants Maoism - or at least to this Maoism - a working class nature. From this, an openly opportunist position is taken by the IWG, which is a member of the IBRP.

In fact, the whole article reveals a view which shows an absence of a clear and sharp political break with Maoism.

The article presents the formation of the En Lutte! group as a "product of an entire generation of rebels, not just in Quebec but around the world, who were rising up to fight against all forms of oppression and exploitation, and who were disgusted by what they knew about the gulag in the USSR and the Eastern Bloc [but] swallowed whole the belief that the socialist project might be renewed by Maoism and the "youth" movement." (Ibid).

Thus, it seems to attribute a "positive" nature in the adhesion to Maoism of a generation of militants even though, from a communist point of view, Maoism has been a bourgeois political trap for these militant energies. This impression is later confirmed when the formation of the Maoist En Lutte! is implicitly saluted : " after a promising start, En Lutte! was repeatedly shaken by the atrocious foreign policy of China." (Ibid) (we underline). How, from a proletarian view, can the formation of a leftist Maoist group can be promising? Excepting the promise of the defeat and counter-revolution.

While we’re at it, and this is the question's central point, the conclusion of the article claims a historical, political, and theoretical continuity between Maoism... And the IWG thence the IBRP which is particularly dangerous and needs to be fought.

"When En Lutte! dissolved many of his old comrades openly renounced Marxism, but for some of us theoretical reflection and ongoing participation in workers' struggles led — with more than a few detours and false starts — to Left Communism and the International Bureau for a Revolutionary Party." (Ibid) The footnote where it says that the Internationalist Notes is "merely using the word "Marxism" for the sake of readability" doesn't matter : it keeps continuing to wreak havoc and confusion on what is really Marxism. Worse, in the same footnote, it adds that a majority of former Maoists "are still willing to get involved and fight during the next wave of anti-capitalist struggle."

How Notes Internationalistes can say that some Maoist militants renounced Marxism? Never in a month of Sundays has the Communist Left has claimed any continuity between Marxism and Stalinism, not to mention Maoism. To the contrary, the Communist Left made an implacable and absolute break with these. To think it possible that Marxist thought can exist within Maoism and Stalinism is to forget - in the best case - an important experience from the Communist Left's combat, particularly against the opportunism of Trotsky during the '30's. It's an open door to theoretical eclecticism and revisionism, in short to giving-up Marxism. Furthermore, on the political level, it's to consider it possible that something which is living, something belonging to the proletariat, can exist inside Maoist and Stalinist organisations. It's to make believe that these latter don't belong to the political camp of the bourgeoisie and capitalism. It's an open door to bourgeois leftism.

"Of the times we shared with him, we will try and remember his "moments of truth," while at the same time pursuing his struggle for a proletarian party in different ways." (Ibid). Again, how Notes Internationalistes can relate itself to the experiences - historical and militant - that some individuals, whom today are militants in the IBRP and the Communist Left, had inside Maoism? Never in a month of Sundays the Communist Left claimed any "shared experience" with Stalinism whatever. To the contrary, the Communist Left made an implacable break-up and a deadly fight with Stalinism.
How Internationalist Notes may want to pursue the so-called fight for the proletarian party from any Maoist organisation? What does a Maoist party have to do with a proletarian party? Nothing. One is the negation of the other. The triumphant stalinization of the communist parties inevitably implied the exclusion of the left oppositions, and particularly the exclusion of the Communist Left. This latter formed itself in particular in its struggle against "the bolchevisation" of the communist parties during the '20's. What does a bourgeois
nationalist party has to see with an internationalist proletarian party? Nothing. One is the negation of the other. The adoption by the International of the "socialism in one country" inevitably implied the exclusion of the internationalists, especially of the Communist Left, from the CP.

To make it believe that revolutionaries might share the same methods or experiences with some Maoist groups, isn't it - in the best case - an opening to frontism... Which the Communist Left has always fought? To make it believe there could be any link, any common approach or research shared between Maoism and the Communist Left in the edification of the Communist Party, isn't it an open door to anything at a political and organisational level, not to say entrism, which the Communist Left has rightly fought? And isn't it to grant Maoism with some positive nature for the international proletariat and the revolutionary forces? The confusion and the political opportunism found in the Internationalist Notes article shows an incomplete and confused break-up with leftism. Particularly, the article reveals for our comrades that there's an existing continuity between their past within the bourgeois political camp and their present within the internationalist camp. Moreover, they see there a positive step in their militant life, a kind-of step in the path leading to Communist Left while even today, it hampers them and make them fall again in the leftism. They don't see that En Lutte! , as the ten or so leftist organisations they mention, has made disappear the "generation of rebels" which supported, and lost themselves for, the real revolutionary activity.

That honest and sincere individuals can free themselves from leftism because they are disgusted by its practices ; or because they understand - as an individual who really want to defeat capitalism and still has the strength to do so - it's a dead-end is one thing. Its another thing conclude that the passage through by leftism can represent a positive step towards the political clarification and evolution of a militant. The habits and ideas which were acquired in leftist groups retard the understanding of a truly living Marxism. The militantism of individuals in these leftist groups, leagued them with organisations of capital by bringing conscious proletarian elements in the same mess as themselves.

So that the individuals who really want to come out from leftism can make it happen, it is indispensable that they politically, and explicitly, break with leftism in general, and with their past experiences in particular.

Same Opportunism in the N.I" no.7 (December 2006)

Taking into account the article of December 2006, the use of the front page's headline "workers power against capitalist exploitation " puzzled us. It's an old slogan of the En Lutte!'s platform between September '73 and May '75. "Workers power " for the Maoists during those years was a step while waiting for the revolution in the imperialist countries. What is clear for the Communist Left is the dictatorship of the proletariat on an international level. So it can destroy capitalism, the working class has to overthrow all states and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat on a world level : the international power of the workers councils regrouping the whole proletariat.

In "Notes de Lecture, Deux Regards sur Jeanne Corbin (reading's notes, two looks on Jeanne Corbin - free translation)", Notes Internationalistes wishes to soften us up, again, on this Stalinist by throwing up the following ravings : "Yet, in the decade which will follow, the CCP will experience important crisis : the Guzenko's affair, the revelations of the XXth CPSU and the Hungarian insurrection of 1956. These crisis will lead many of the formers Jeanne Corbin's comrades to leave it. No one can know what would have been the Jeanne's attitude if she still would have been alive." (free translation). (Notes Internationalistes, nouvelles séries no.7 )

This "heroin" who was an editor for the Worker, the party's newspaper union, a union organizer, a party's official, and a writer for the Ouvrier Canadien in the early '30's, was loaded to her neck with Stalinism and she wasn't just an ordinary member. We find the same non-materialist suppositions on their opinions of Stalinist personalities again. The conclusion of the "Note de Lecture" on the "Scènes de la vie en rouge, L’Époque de Jeanne Corbin (Scenes of the life in red, the epoch of Jeanne Corbin - free translation)" concludes "Still, the biography of Jeanne Corbin is an important book to understand the strength and weakness of the social movement of this epoch (free translation)" (Ibid). Again, the article wreaks havoc and confusion with the expression "social movement" which is used by Marxologists of all stripes.

What is fundamental for the Communist Left isn't to understand the strength and weakness of the social movement (sic!) but the fact that those Stalinists have introduced positions among workers which, in the name of the Russian Revolution, were means to defend capitalist society. What matters for us is the class point of view. As for the ravings on "what would have been Jeanne's attitude if she still would have been alive", it comes from the most insipid idealism.

Finally, will the GIO/IWG again take Marx out of context to make him say that "nothing human is foreign to us " as it is used in the article, to maybe justify their opportunist positions?

Communist greetings,

Some internationalist communists, Montréal June 2007


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