De Leonist Society of Canada - Opinion

Remarks about the De Leonist Society of Canada
(Opinion by the editor of deleonism.org)

The (small and generally inactive) De Leonist Society of Canada and the (now-disbanded) De Leonist Society of the U.S. came into existence due to the resignation of numerous SLP members circa 1977. The group left the SLP -- largely from the party sections in or near New York City -- primarily to protest the party's change in its interpretation of the by-then-ended war in Vietnam. During the war, the party's newspaper editorials had maintained that the war was primarily a conflict between a U.S. puppet regime in South Vietnam and a Soviet puppet regime in North Vietnam, i.e., a reflection of conflict between two class-ruled superpowers. The revised interpretation, also announced in an SLP newspaper editorial, held that the a basic element of the conflict was between the people of Vietnam who sought national independence and U.S. imperialism determined to deny the people of Vietnam their independence. According to SLP tradition, official party positions on issues can be established or modified by changes in the viewpoints expressed in the editorials of the party's newspaper, unless the membership chooses to use the democratic parliamentary procedure to overrule the editor, recall the elected editor, etc. A relatively small group of SLP members, who disagreed with the new interpretation, and then being unsuccessful in gaining the support among other members to undo the change by means of parliamentary procedure, resigned simultaneously.

Once the De Leonist Society came into existence, it's newsletters began to accuse the SLP of abandoning its principle of noncompromise and moving in the direction of reformism. Personally, I consider these charges to be without foundation. In the mid-1970s, the SLP began to take stands more frequently on infra-revolutionary issues, such as opposition to nuclear power plants and the defense of abortion rights. However, the party never misrepresented such incremental changes as stepping-stones in the direction of revolutionary change, the error commonly made by Trotskyists and other reformists who claim falsely to be socialists. As I see it, the SLP's literature continued to explain in clear terms the difference between reformist and revolutionary goals and methods.

In 1994, the small Canadian group did achieve something that I believe is of extreme significance, and a full discussion of the matter among De Leonists still has not taken place to date. In August of 1994, the De Leonist society "formally adopted" a reversal of a premise that had been considered fundamental in the De Leonist sector for almost a hundred years, the axiom that a genuine socialist society would have no political government, and no geographical constituencies (town, counties, states/provinces), but would have only an "administration of things" [Engels], that is, an economic administration, or management of industries and services by workers and their elected representatives. An introductory paragraph to the new position paper summarized: "In a nutshell, while we retain the Socialist Industrial Union to both enforce the right of the socialist ballot and administer socialist production, instead of discarding political democracy (the geographic constituency) we incorporate it in the De Leonist program to enable society-as-a-whole to determine policy on social issues -- i.e., issues not directly related to production."

[See the document entitled "Democracy -- Political and Industrial" in the De Leonist Society of Canada section of this site.]

Having cited these notable moments and occasions, the additional De Leonist Society documents which are linked on this site are of a more basic nature. They express views that most De Leonists would readily agree with, not only those who are members of the De Leonist Society.

The De Leonist Society of Canada now appears to be inactive nearly to the point of nonexistence, judging from the fact that they have even suspended publication of their last remaining newsletter. The organization did make a few more recent public appearances in the form of articles published in the Discussion Bulletin (which itself has ceased publication). In these more recent articles, the writers defended the traditional De Leonist position that socialism should use an accounting system based on labor time vouchers, and expressed disagreement with the World Socialist position that, in a socialist society, all goods and services should be distributed for free.

-- Observations and opinions by Mike Lepore, editor of deleonism.org, August 10, 2004, revised December 22, 2004.