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Socialist Educational League Formed

The Revolutionary Workers Party ceased public activity in 1952, and stopped publishing a newspaper. Most of its members joined the CCF. A new newspaper, Workers Vanguard, was launched in 1955. It published this article in December, 1955.

Socialist Education League Organized

by George Stanton
Chairman of the Socialist Educational League

The Socialist Educational League has been formed. This is the most important development that has taken place in Canadian labor politics for many years. It can already be said with con­fidence that the League is destined to play a vital role in the struggle for a socialist Canada.

The League is a product of the crisis that confronts the CCF. Its purpose is to fight against the Liberal-reformist policies that the present leadership are foisting upon the movement and to fight for a socialist CCF.

The success or failure of this struggle will determine whether the CCF will disappear into some new coalition of Liberal-reformist politicians, and all its precious capital as an independent movement of the working people be dissipated, or, whether it will serve as its-founders hoped—as an instrument to establish a socialist Canada.

From refusal “to be entangled in any more wars fought to make the world safe for capitalism” the Coldwell leadership ended up dur­ing World War II supporting con­scription of manpower and without conscription of wealth. With the opening up of the cold war they swung the movement behind the militarization of Canadian economy, voted support to aggressive military alliances such as the Marshall Plan and The North At­lantic Treaty Organization until we witnessed the shocking spectacle, at the 1950 Vancouver National Convention, of M. J. Coldwell demanding what Liberal Prime Minister St. Laurent was only cau­tiously feeling his way towards; demanding that Canadian troops be sent into the counter-revolutionary War in Korea to bolster up the corrupt and discredited dictator, Synghman Rhee. From here it was only a small step for Coldwell to defy the position adopted by the party in convention, and the known opinion of the people of this coun­try, and support the rearmament of the enemies of the German people.

All this has been done under the guiding principle enunciated by Coldwell that “the class struggle is dead.” Even more, according to the present leadership, socialism NOW, instead of aiming to “eradicate capitalism and put into operation the full programme of social­ized planning which will lead to the establishment in Canada of the Co-operative Commonwealth, is a vague moral or ethical idea the exact character of which no one can determine but an inner few.

It is obvious that if the leader­ship are allowed to continue unchecked on this course that they will destroy the movement. They must be fought against and the movement re-oriented.

Under normal circumstances one would expect that this struggle for a socialist CCF could and would take place from entirely within the CCF itself … and without the organization of such a body as the Socialist Educational League. Did not David Lewis, just a few years ago when national secretary, write “Nothing and no one is so holy as to be above analysis and criticism. Thus we must tolerate inside the CCF all shades of understanding of socialism and keep our doors wide open to all honest Canadians.”?

Unfortunately these good words of David Lewis are honored only in their breach, not in their observance. All the attempts of the rank and file to resist this false course have met with slander, har­assment and persecution. Faced with such hostility, thousands of members of the movement have dropped into inactivity, many have dropped formal membership. Others have attempted to organize resistance to the course of the leadership.

Unable to meet their opponents on the plane of ideas, the leadership has resorted to what all bankrupts do—to the use of formal organiza­tional powers—expulsions. Immediately after being repulsed by the membership-in-convention, the British Columbia leadership used its executive powers to drive left winger and ex-M.P. Rodney Young out of the movement. This Spring saw the expulsions in Ontario of almost a score of leading activists. The Provincial Council quite frankly admitted that “the accused had been useful members of their riding associations and had not shown any overt disruptive tendencies,” that they were expelled not for any overt acts, but for their ideas.

The leadership does not have “doors wide open” but has closed the doors of the movement to socialists who do not share their “understanding of socialism.” A couple of years ago several prominent members of the Revolutionary Workers Party, after the disbanding of that organization which had always supported the CCF, applied for membership in the CCF. Along with acceptance of all the obligations of membership -they asked for one of the privileges—freedom to express their views. Their applications had the support of constituency clubs in which they had work­ed for some period—but the Ontario leadership barred them.

The result of all this is that an atmosphere of submissiveness, of conformity, pervades the majority of the constituency clubs. There are almost no serious discussions on party policy, of unfolding na­tional and international events. This has become the prerogative of the “leadership” not the members. The clubs are being transformed into machines that are supposed to leap into action only when there is an election and there are leaflets to distribute.

Anyone familiar with the real condition of the movement can only conclude that for the whole next period the struggle to build a left wing cannot proceed from entirely within the movement it self. Other resources have to be developed. The SEL has set itself this task.

The League, formed by some of those who have been expelled, by some of the former members of the RWP, and by activists now in the CCF, through its activities intends to stimulate the development of the CCF in a socialist direction. Through its classes and forums it will provide what is so lacking in the constituency organizations. Through such activities as the Toronto election campaign it will show workers, both members and supporters of the CCF, what can be done, generating pressures against the leadership. It will popularize the program of socialism, applying it to the problems of the working people of this country.

It will develop the program that is necessary and around which the left wing will rally if the CCF is to be saved for socialism. When con­ditions are favorable the League will seek to win affiliation to the CCF as the socialist educational wing of the movement.

The Socialist Educational League needs your help. Join it now!

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