On April 2 in Toronto, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) hosted a celebration of the 35 years of work and struggle waged by the Party for the cause of revolution and socialism. The broad representation of people at the celebration gave expression to the role the Party has played in developing the leading role of the working class and uniting the people to defend their interests. Those present included workers from many sectors of the economy with a significant contingent of steelworkers, a large delegation of youth, Party activists from the sixties and the many who have come forward in the present period, as well as delegations from Nova Scotia and Quebec. The internationalist spirit of the celebration could be seen with the participation of a delegation of American communists, the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba and the Toronto Consul General, as well as friends and activists representing the national minority communities including South Asians, Palestinians, Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, Iraqis, Lebanese and many from Latin America and the former Soviet Republics.
The entire evening, with speeches, singing, food and dancing, imbued those present with confidence and strength to advance the decisive battles ahead to defend and further develop all that humanity has given rise to. Here was a force that has remained steadfast through the many twists and turns of the revolutionary movement, that has faced the period of retreat of revolution by working out its line consistent with the developments and sticking to its organizational principles and methods of work. Here is a party in the thick of the struggles of the working class and people in Canada and which expresses the same internationally. It is a party that is carrying forward a program for democratic renewal and presenting to the Canadian people the kind of party needed by the polity at this time to avert the dangers of fascism and war and to turn things around in favour of all oppressed peoples.
The MC for the evening was Pierre Chénier, secretary of the Workers' Centre of CPC(M-L). He warmly welcomed everyone and began by paying respects to all the communists in Canada and around the world who have passed away and devoted their lives to the cause of revolution and socialism. Accompanied by a performance of The Dawn, a song from the Spanish Civil War, all present stood in a moment of reflection.
The highlight of the celebration was a presentation by CPC(M-L)'s National Leader Comrade Sandra L. Smith who spoke to the achievements of the Party. She spoke to the strength of the Party in working out its line and program in this period of retreat of revolution, the significance of building organization to contend with the dark reaction being imposed by U.S. imperialism, and the role of the Party in opening the path to progress and for all to come forward and join in this mighty battle. Speaking about the Party's Historic Initiative, Comrade Sandra said:
"The work and struggle of CPC(M-L) and of its precursor organization, the Internationalists, created the conditions for this Historic Initiative which is nothing other than the continuation of the initiative taken by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels when they issued the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848. It is the continuation of the initiative of the Paris Commune, the great October Revolution in Russia and the great Anti-Fascist Liberation War. It is a continuation of the work of all the fighting forces on the world scale -- in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The key element in this program is the first step to transform CPC(M-L) into a mass party of the working class. The second step, to be taken simultaneously, is to lead the working class to constitute itself as the nation and vest sovereignty in the people.
"Who should set the agenda is crucial to the people, especially for the development of the human factor/social consciousness. At this time, when the working class and the broad masses of the people are fed up with the hidden agendas which are being imposed on them, the Historic Initiative provides an agenda which comes out of the concrete conditions and whose necessity and validity can be ascertained by all. Our aim is to put the working class and people in full control of the situation.
"Ideologizing, politicizing and organizing the people is the most important work of a political party. The aim of this work is to make people conscious, to enable them to take up politics and governance, and to ensure that they fight for their own interests by opening society's path to progress which will be the condition for their own emancipation. We call on the workers, women and youth, on all national minorities, on the people of Quebec, the First Nations and all progressive and enlightened forces to oppose the conception of a political party that is merely interested in manipulating people to provide itself with credibility, legitimacy and positions of power.... Such parties are electoral machines that thrive on the division of the polity in favour of their own sectarian interests. CPC(M-L), on the contrary, is dedicated to putting the working class and broad masses of the people into positions of power.
"The Historic Initiative is both audacious and full of confidence because it is a plan of action which goes against the tide of retrogression. There are not a few in this world who have reconciled themselves with retrogression and think that communism is finished. But they are gravely mistaken. This is not the time to accept retreat but to organize to go forward. The Historic Initiative in this respect can be called the marching call for the working class and people to occupy the space which is available to open society's path to progress. This is the time for everyone to step forward and carry out this work according to their own possibilities and by working out their own interests. We have full confidence that this can be done because it must be done and that it will, indeed, be done!"
Comrade Sandra announced the publication of Thinking about the Sixties by Comrade Hardial Bains, founder and leader of CPC(M-L) until his untimely death. Thinking about the Sixties is both a profound reflection on developments in the sixties and an important guide to the struggle today, with its focus on building organization and refusing any conciliation with state attacks. "With the release of this book, we are ushering in a most exciting period of organizing work," Comrade Sandra said. "Members of a communist party are, by definition, organizers. Merely adopting a position in favour of some progressive stand is not sufficient as far as a communist is concerned. As Karl Marx pointed out, philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways, 'the point, however, is to change it.'" Comrade Sandra highlighted the contribution of Comrade Bains on precisely this point. Pointing to the banner on the wall which, under the portrait of Comrade Bains, read "The issue is not to wave the red flag but to show our colours through our deeds," she said this is what gave the Party its motto: The Party's Deed Is Its Word. This is what the Internationalists established in the sixties by paying attention to the concrete conditions of life and the necessity for change, she said. The Party is not hidebound; it opposes the dogmatic rendering of life and the tasks facing the people, especially the notion that one can have revolutionary politics and bourgeois lifestyle.
"CPC(M-L) is faced with changing the situation from success to victory by overcoming difficulties and this is the fate of all human beings and their collectives and societies as a whole," Comrade Sandra said. Referring to Karl Marx's call "Hic rhodus, hic salta" (Here is the rose, here dance), she said: "We do not choose the rose and are not after the perfect dance. It is our honour to do our duty to fighting humanity by accepting life as is and leading within the situation."
"This coming period is going to settle scores with the need for organization and for the people to be politically organized," she said. "This hits at the very core of the preparations for fascism and war which are favoured when people are not an organized force but always marginalized politically, left out of the equation." Comrade Sandra gave as an example the very dangerous "partnership" being imposed by the U.S. imperialists as contained in the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America adopted at the recent summit between Prime Minister Paul Martin, U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vincente Fox. The U.S. attempt to completely annex Canada and Mexico so as to impose a United States of North American Monopolies is being done through executive decree. The entire Parliament and all the political parties are kept out of the deliberations. We cannot permit Canada to become part of a reactionary North America, Comrade Sandra emphasized. There can be no conciliation with the direction the Martin government is taking Canada today, embroiling it in the war crimes and aggression of the U.S.
Comrade Sandra also called on all those who see the significance of the Party's political, ideological and theoretical contributions, to financially support the Party so that it can professionalize its institutions. She highlighted the important role played by TML Daily in informing the people by focussing the issues. She also highlighted Workers' Forum which provides the workers with the theory they require to pay attention to their direct experience and provide their struggle with a perspective. She stressed the necessity to help finance the Party's theoretical front of work, especially on the question of opposing disinformation on crucial issues such as nation-building and the need for the people to develop their own thought material.
Comrade Sandra's entire speech was punctuated with the applause of participants. Her announcement that the Party will hold its 8th Congress this year on the theme "Laying the Foundations for the Mass Communist Party" was met with resounding applause.
Following these remarks, Comrade Enver Villamizar hailed the Party on behalf of the youth. Introducing Comrade Enver, First Secretary of the Communist Youth Union of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), Sandra hailed the fighting youth of today. "These youth represent the sons and daughters of our working people, the very best society has to offer. They are the product of this society, the society which was brought into being following the bi-polar division of the world. They do not know and are not infected with the sectarianism of the prior period -- they are not infected with the illusions about security provided by the social contract between capital and labour of the prior period and are not prepared to compromise their conscience. We hail their quality of coming forward as the willing instruments of the changes which are required so as to make sure the world averts the disasters which imperialism led by the U.S. and all reaction are preparing. We are committed to providing them with everything they require so that they can put themselves at a par with what society demands of them," she said.
Comrade Enver stressed the contributions the Party is making to empower the Canadian people to build another world. He quoted Comrade Bains: "The past only has beauty if it exists in the form of present and the revolution only has relevance if it has its adherents from one generation to the next." He announced that it is with great pride that the youth are taking responsibility for the sale and distribution of Thinking about the Sixties. "Today, the youth are involved in the work of the Party by building their organizations and discussion groups through which they form their outlook, activate the human factor/social consciousness and intervene in politics to change things. The discussion on this book will contribute to this work. Today the youth are taking up the same necessity for change that the youth of the sixties did, but not at the same level. Today we have more than 35 years of the Party's experience and of the Internationalists before it, as well as the experience of the entire International Communist and Workers' Movement," he said.
"As was the case for the youth of the sixties, one of the biggest blocks to changing the world facing the youth today is the attack from the various forces in society who have usurped power by force against politics and discussion. Today the youth face this pressure everywhere, whether in their high schools, universities, places of work -- all the spaces in which the youth live their lives are supposed to be 'politics free.' In general an apolitical atmosphere is considered to be positive. Meanwhile, those who try to introduce discussion and politics are labelled trouble-makers or as those who seek to cause 'controversy' and 'divide people' or engage in 'hate propaganda' -- just for raising issues crucial to humankind. Then comes election time, the youth are blamed for not voting as if this is the sum total of their role in society. Those youth who stand on principle and refuse to accept what is unacceptable are made the target of attack and labelled extremists or 'attitude problems.' But giving up their principles is exactly what the youth refuse to do."
He pointed out that Thinking about the Sixties addresses the main issue facing the youth today, the need to raise the level of consciousness and organization of the people so that they can affirm their right to decide the affairs of the nation and the world. "Today the need to build discussion groups where the youth can together sort out how to discuss and how to be effective and most importantly how to involve everyone in decision-making is more important than ever. In the context of the preparations for the Party's 8th Congress and with the release of Thinking about the Sixties we are calling on everyone to involve all Canadians in discussing the real situation facing us so that together we can sort out what to do. We are calling on everyone to involve their peers in CPC(M-L)'s Historic Initiative to build a mass communist party which puts itself at the disposal of the people to empower themselves and to participate in a Canadian nation-building project," he said.
After Comrade Enver's remarks, teams of youth distributed complimentary copies of Thinking about the Sixties to all the participants. They also immediately started sales of the book, determined to raise funds to cover the cost of production before the evening ended.
A fantastic buffet was then served following which participants eagerly received more messages of greetings on the occasion. The Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, His Excellency Ernesto Sentí Darias, and the Toronto Consul General, Laureano Cardoso, were warmly welcomed with chants of "Cuba si! Yankee no! Viva Cuba!" In his remarks, the Ambassador emphasized the important role played by the communists and the work of the heroic people of Cuba to overcome the difficulties the island faces.
General Secretary of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization Comrade Kathleen Chandler highlighted the joint work of the American and Canadian communists and the struggles of the two peoples against darkest reaction being imposed by the U.S. imperialists. She, along with a youth representive, presented the Party a framed photograph showing the red flags of the USMLO and CPC(M-L) waving in New York City during the actions against the Republican National Convention in August 2004.
Comrade Rolf Gerstenberger, president of United Steelworkers Local 1005, spoke on behalf of the Workers' Centre of CPC(M-L). He emphasized the indispensable role CPC(M-L) plays in providing theoretical, political and organizational guidelines to the Canadian working class and the importance of participating in this work.
The evening concluded with much discussion among the participants and lively singing and dancing that brought to the fore the great joy and enthusiasm felt in the achievements of the Party and the confidence that together, relying on our own forces, we will ensure the progress of society and that humanity advances. A decisive contribution to the celebration was also made by musicians from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
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