Weekly, January 2001
What It Means to Be Pro-Active
- Conversations with Hardial Bains -
The following items are based on conversations Hardial Bains held in January and February 1995 with Party and non-Party activists to elaborate the themes of the Historic Initiative, launched by CPC(M-L) on January 1, 1995.
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What It Means to Be Pro-Active
One of the themes which appeared repeatedly and dominated the conversations is the need to be pro-active. The notion that a party like CPC(M-L) has a leadership which is pro-active while the membership should be merely reactive was repudiated in the course of these conversations. Comrade Bains stressed that CPC(M-L) is based on its entire membership being pro-active. Initiatives have to come from all levels of the Party and from all its organizations, consistent with a point of convergence for the realization of the aim set for the period. Comrade Bains stressed in all the conversations that not only does CPC(M-L) have to be pro-active but the entire working class has to be pro-active. Efforts have to b made on an ongoing basis to ensure that the working class becomes pro-active. A political force such as CPC(M-L), whose declared aim is the victory of socialism and communism, cannot but be pro-active. CPC(M-L) cannot afford to be guided by passing events, and it is not. In fact, CPC(M-L) is a creator of events on the basis of a plan.
CPC(M-L) has worked out a plan as the first phase of the Historic Initiative. What should it do now? Should it wait for the plan to succeed on its own? Or should it make efforts so that its plan, its agenda, triumphs over the agenda of the capitalist class?
To demand that the entire society accept our proposed agenda is to be pro-active, Comrade Bains said. In March 1963, when the organization The Internationalists was founded, we demanded that everyone accept the proposal to have a discussion group. We were not being reactive when we demanded that everyone accept our proposal. We were being pro-active.
In October 1966, the demand that The Internationalists be strengthened organizationally was put forward. This proposal was made openly and a response from the whole society was demanded. This was not treated as a private matter, although of course the secrecy of the internal organization was maintained according to the well-known principle that the general line must be discussed openly while only those concerned know the technical and organizational details.
In May 1968, The Internationalists proposed that the instruments of working class propaganda be established as part of preparing the conditions to found the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). At the same time, the call was given for all Marxist-Leninists to unite to build a single Communist Party as the vanguard of the working class.
In 1970 the call was given to resist the attacks of the state under the slogan "Build the Resistance Movement." This was followed in the 1971-72 period with the slogan "Build the Unity of the Marxist-Leninists." In 1972, CPC(M-L) initiated the plan to prevent the liquidation of the Party which was being promoted by the attempt to establish many communist groups and parties. In 1978 the Party placed the elimination of the adverse consequences of Mao Zedong Thought on the agenda.
Beginning in 1982, CPC(M-L) s work to develop the leading role of the Party brought to the fore the historic agenda to: 1) Build the movement for enlightenment and 2) Build the mass party and non-party press. Ten years after this work was taken up in the 1984-85 period, the Historic Initiative was launched.
These examples of being pro-active are only on one front of work, namely, the front of establishing, building and consolidating CPC(M-L). We have been and remain pro-active on all vital fronts. Examples in 1995-2000 include the work on modern definitions, the work for democratic renewal, and the work to establish the Groups of Writers and Disseminators. This refers only to a few of the major areas of work. To give a complete account of the work, which ranges from the work to build CPC(M-L) to the struggle against state-organized racist attacks, would require hours and would fill many volumes.
CPC(M-L) makes use of the space available for communism by being pro-active. Not only must CPC(M-L) use this space but it must always strive to extend it. The space which is available for communism never remains the same under all conditions. Many examples can be given to illustrate this point.
The space for communism in the 1960s was to reconstitute a real Communist Party at home and support the same abroad within the broad international context of opposing capitalist restoration, supporting the national liberation movement and opposing the capitulation to imperialism and all reaction. Once this task was achieved in Canada on March 31, 1970, the space for communism changed, but the broad international context remained the same. Different spaces were available for communism at different times, and it is important to remind ourselves of the space made available during the past 30 and more years in Canada. The skill of organizing is to recognize this space in time and to make use of it. This, in a nutshell, can be called being pro-active.
1. The space available for communism in the 1963-67 period:
The space available for communism during the 1963-67 period was to raise the level of discussion amongst those who were politically the most active and concerned sections of society, in that instance the youth and students. This level could be raised by drawing conclusions from the concrete conditions, fighting for the general line on this basis and by providing an organizational framework consistent with the times. The Internationalists occupied this space as elaborators and fighters for modern communism. The Necessity for Change pamphlet published in 1967 is the best product of this work.
2. The space available for communism in the 1967-1970 period:
The space available for communism during the 1967-70 period was to wage the sharpest possible ideological struggle for the victory of the general line of The Internationalists, to elaborate and deepen it further, to re-organize and consolidate The Internationalists on the organizational principle of democratic centralism and to draw in all the best elements who had emerged in the movement so as to build the instruments of working class propaganda. This was a precondition for the reconstitution of the Communist Party on the theoretical basis of Marxism-Leninism.
3. The space available for communism in the 1970-1973 period:
The space available for communism during the 1970-1973 period was to build the resistance movement against the state-organized offensive to liquidate CPC(M-L) by means of direct police attacks and the activities of secret agencies and opportunist provocateur elements. It was the space to build a broad movement to unite all Marxist-Leninists in one party and to oppose all attempts to factionalize and liquidate it.
4. The space available for communism in the 1973-1977 period:
The space available for communism during the 1973-1977 period was to defend the purity of Marxism-Leninism, to defend the general line of CPC(M-L) on this basis and to frustrate all efforts of false communism to occupy this space.
5. The space available for communism in the 1977-1982 period:
The space available for communism during the 1977-1982 period was to consolidate the victory of Marxism in Canada, to consolidate CPC(M-L) organizationally, to overcome the adverse consequences of Mao Zedong Thought and to prepare the conditions to develop the leading role of CPC(M-L).
6. The space available for communism in the 1982-1987 period:
The space available for communism during the 1982-1987 period was to develop the leading role of CPC(M-L), to build the movement for enlightenment and to prepare for the impending collapse of pseudo-socialism and the change in international conditions.
7. The space available for communism in the 1987-1993 period:
The space available for communism during the 1987-1993 period was to continue to develop the leading role of CPC(M-L) and to broaden it to include organizing the working class as an immediate task, to work out the entire program of democratic renewal, and to carry out the analysis of the concrete international situation in order to establish the general line for this period of retreat of revolution.
8. The space available for communism since 1993:
The space available for communism since 1993 is to work out the Historic Initiative and put it in place. The launching of the Historic Initiative on January 1, 1995, and its Five-Year Plan of Action from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 1999, was a step in this direction. The second Five-Year Plan of Action adopted on January 1, 2000 to strengthen the work started in the first phase and take it to victory is the continuation of the direction set in 1993 to provide the society with an alternative.
Under any conditions the availability of space for communism is determined on the basis of what crucial element the conditions are calling for. What is crucial is not determined on the basis of what a party may need but according to what is required for opening the path for the progress of society. Determining the space for communism under any circumstances and occupying it is what is called being pro-active.
What It Means to Be Reactive
Is there a space for communism which is reactive? Yes, there is a space, but how communism occupies it will determine if it can benefit from it or not. The entire field of critical economic and political exposures is reactive. The entire protest movement is reactive. The economic struggle of the working class is reactive. The entire field of politics within the limits of bourgeois parliamentarianism is reactive.
Being reactive means in this instance that communism must not permit capitalism to carry on without being criticized and - exposed in the eyes of the working class. This space which communism must occupy assists the working class to become educated and raises its level and fighting capacity. The highest school of education is class struggle, and the effort for communism to occupy this space is a constant and ongoing one. This remains the case under all conditions.
One thing Comrade Bains stressed in his conversations, however, is that this space cannot be occupied unless communism positions itself in such a manner as to create conditions for its advance. One of the spaces communism must occupy is that of ideological struggles specific to the conditions. Occupying the space set for communism at any particular time, developing the class struggle which falls in the category which can be called reactive and waging the ideological struggle are areas of work inseparable from one another.
When we say that there is a reactive space for communism to occupy, we mean that work must be subordinated to and coordinated with being pro-active. Without being pro-active, to be reactive is negative and plays a disruptive role. In other words, being reactive can only be productive within the framework of being pro-active.
The Historic Initiative and its Five-Year Plan of Action are pro-active. However, if this work is not taken up within the plan set by CPC(M-L) for the whole period in line with its strategic aims, it will be reactive and have a negative effect. The plan set in 1970 for this whole period was to prepare the subjective conditions for revolution with the strategic aim of the victory of socialism and communism. The Historic Initiative is pro-active because it brings us closer to achieving these goals.
Simply to react is a common response within capitalist society, because the vast majority of the people are being exploited by a small minority. This minority has both economic power and the state machine at its disposal. The exploited are spontaneously reactive. They do not see that the conditions in which they live are actually the conditions for their exploitation.
Naturally, everyone s first response is reactive, but this is not the issue. The issue is what should be done to change the situation. Those who work as CPC(M-L) does will have to analyze the conditions and be pro-active within these conditions. They will have to get everyone who is spontaneously reactive also to become pro-active. And they will have to develop tactics to achieve this.
In the final analysis, the working class has to reduce the bourgeoisie to being reactive. It can accomplish this by being pro-active right from the start. This is precisely what CPC(M-L) has done and why it is the vanguard of the class. The Historic Initiative will further contribute towards its success.
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