Hardial Bains – A Man of Revolutionary Action

82nd Anniversary of the Birth of Hardial Bains, August 15, 1939

Hardial Bains
On August 15, we celebrate the birth, life and work of Hardial Bains, founder and leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Hardial Bains was, above all else, a man of revolutionary action. He came to Canada as a youth from India in 1959 and immediately integrated with the life of the working people in British Columbia and took up the struggles of the student youth with whom he shared weal and woe.
• Hardial Bains – A Man of Revolutionary Action
• A Biographical Sketch

Hardial Bains – A Man of Revolutionary Action

On August 15, we celebrate the birth, life and work of Hardial Bains, founder and leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Hardial Bains was, above all else, a man of revolutionary action. He came to Canada as a youth from India in 1959 and immediately integrated with the life of the working people in British Columbia and took up the struggles of the student youth with whom he shared weal and woe.

The late Charles Boylan, who was also a youth at the University of British Columbia at the time Hardial got a science degree, wrote about the conditions in those days.

“Imagine the situation. The world, including the entire range of ideological and theoretical schools of thought, was frozen in Cold War dogma. Disinformation and misinformation were the norm, whether it came from the schools of Euro-American imperialism or the schools of Euro-Soviet communism. A condominium of reaction undermining the historic achievements of communism, revolution and national liberation was in place. All avenues to independent analysis and thinking were barred in practice if not in scripture. Yet the feeling ‘the world is not going to remain the same’ was pressing on the hearts and minds of the youth. The necessity for change was impelling. What was missing and most needed? What key was necessary to unlock that dialectic of change?

Demonstration at the University of British Columbia October 24, 1962 during the “Cuban Missile Crisis,” just months before The Internationalists were founded.

“In 1963, Hardial Bains was a 23-year old graduate student at UBC, who four years earlier immigrated to Canada from Punjab, India to study microbiology. In Punjab, Hardial had earned a well-respected reputation as a deep-thinking revolutionary communist and scientist whose political activism and scientific investigation were said to have begun the moment he could breathe on his own. But what to make of this world in the imperialist heartland and internationally, in which the conditions were so complicated that even the idea of a proletarian front for revolution had been declared a dead letter even by many communist parties?

“The Cold War was suffocating everyone to the point where the right to conscience was banned. Hardial Bains refused to accept the block on thinking and called on students and faculty to defend themselves and express their right to conscience through actions with analysis. One of his first public acts was to stand up courageously to the ‘better dead than red’ psychological terrorism of McCarthyite anti-communism. At a mass democracy meeting, standing atop the popular soap box in the public square in front of UBC library, Hardial faced down the hysterical finger-jabbing scream from the fringe, ‘That man is a communist!’ replying instantly, ‘Yes, and proud of it!’

“Reflecting upon the incident later, Hardial said this response was a historic turning point in the sense that it publicly ‘smashed the cringing cowardice and spinelessness of the communists of the time.’ The refusal to defend one’s right to conscience became a feature of the past. Communists were called upon to be open and proud of their views and the accomplishments of the workers’ and communist movement. This was the ‘beginning of the New. Nothing can stop this movement now,’ he concluded from this experience. But the New was small like a single cell of an organism beginning its journey in life.”

Hardial had the ability to listen to and heed the call of history to organize to bring about the changes required to open society’s path to progress, always keeping in sight how to remove the main obstacle to moving forward. He based his actions on what the situation revealed in the particular conditions and circumstances, ensuring an organization was put in place to gather together all those in whose interest it was to bring about the required changes to the conditions. For this to occur, he always followed the dictum: Unite the Advanced Forces to Mobilize the Middle and Isolate the Backward. He made sure that the clash between Conditions and Authority would be resolved in a manner which favoured the interests of the working peoples at home and abroad and the cause of the peoples and nations everywhere for peace, freedom and democracy.

Hardial Bains heeded the call of Engels that Marxism is Not a Dogma but a Guide to Action. He also profoundly followed the maxim No Investigation, No Right to Speak to emphasize the necessity of going into the heart of the matter at any time so as to discern the line of march and devise as its integral part the tactics required to achieve the aim set. In this way, Hardial set an example of what it means to oppose the disinforming role of the state, which seeks to deprive the people of their own ability and outlook to establish their own vantage points and act in a manner which favours their interests.

Of all the relevant writings and documents Hardial Bains produced during his lifetime, the most significant was the Necessity for Change analysis. It drew warranted conclusions about the degenerate culture and conditions imposed on the youth as a result of the Anglo-American imperialist influence during the 1960s and the anti-communist crusade. Based on the Necessity for Change analysis, he concluded that Understanding Requires an Act of Conscious Participation of the Individual — an Act of Finding Out.

As he famously wrote in the Necessity for Change pamphlet, which sold thousands of copies amongst the youth and students and revolutionary forces in the 1960s, this call places revolutionary action at the centre of all our endeavours. Only when an individual is in the fray, in the battle, with the aim of humanizing the social and natural environment in the specific circumstances faced, does the line of march emerge from what the situation reveals. Only on this basis of putting revolutionary action at the centre of our concerns, can one be worthy of calling oneself a Marxist-Leninist, Hardial pointed out.

By paying attention to what is continuously coming into being and passing away, which we call the ensemble of relations of humans to humans and humans to nature, the necessity for change is revealed as the need for the people to establish their own political power in the course of settling scores with the old conscience of society. Only then will the pre-history of humankind give way to the people themselves becoming the makers of history. From the old way of handing over the use of their voice and name to others, the people will finally speak in their own name, Hardial forcefully pointed out.

At each stage of the development, Comrade Bains led members and supporters to achieve numerous significant accomplishments, including:

– uniting the Marxist-Leninists in one organization based on Marxism-Leninism and democratic centralism in the late ’60s;

– founding the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) in 1970, as the necessary instrument to forge the unity of the working class to accomplish its mission of constituting the nation and vesting sovereignty in the people;

– taking bold stands in defence of all when the state launched racist attacks against Afro-Canadian students, as well as the Indigenous peoples and peoples of South Asian and West Indian origin in the late sixties and early seventies;

– establishing on a profound anti-imperialist basis the solidarity movement in this country to support the struggles of the peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean for liberation. Included within all this was the militant support he organized for an independent Cuba against the Bay of Pigs invasion and during the so-called missile crisis, and for the national liberation of Vietnam and other countries of Indo-China fighting against U.S. imperialist aggression.

He also led the reorganization of the Hindustani Ghadar Party abroad in 1969, on the basis of democratic centralism to carry forward the traditions of the Ghadri Babas and for the liberation struggles in India.

Hardial’s important contributions also included the defence of Marxism-Leninism and the elaboration of Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought. His work in the field of philosophy and the social sciences included paying first rate attention to the crucial relationship between form and content, and to the study of Marxist-Leninism amongst the youth, and to push forward the movement for enlightenment. He spearheaded building the Party press and non-Party press and the technical base for the work of the Party on every front. His contribution to the study of the constitution of European nation-states and how sovereignty was established in a fictional person of state to deprive the people of decision-making power led to the powerful program of opposition to euro-centrism, reliance of each people on their own thought material and for democratic renewal and the call to break with the past and move on.

Hardial Bains addresses celebration of successes in building the Mass Party Press, August 31, 1986.

His feats are indeed legendary for the boldness which characterized them. He was fearless in the face of the repercussions of daring to defy the Anglo-American authority which, under the aegis of democratic liberties, permits only those activities the ruling elite deem fall within “reasonable limits.” Our comrades spent much time in jail and many lost their jobs and careers because the forces that exist above the people decide what is “reasonable.”

So too the Indigenous peoples, the workers and minorities and all fighting forces suffer the repercussions of the fact that the society is split between those who rule and those who are supposed to submit. Those who rule tolerate anything except defiance to their rule. On this basis, they define what is acceptable and inclusive, and what is fringe and extremist and not acceptable under their rule.

Comrade Bains’ bold stands brought out the true countenance of what are called the liberal democratic institutions, which the rulers today are even more desperate to preserve and perpetuate. This desperation is becoming increasingly hysterical and irrational due to the evidence showing that the conditions, which gave rise to the nation states brought into being since the English Civil War in the 1660s, no longer exist. The liberal democratic institutions established to sort out the contradictions within the ranks of the rulers and between the rulers and the people so as to avoid Civil War no longer function.

However, the significance of Hardial’s work cannot be established by simply providing a sum total of his contributions or deliberating on which of these contributions is the most important. This is why when speaking of significance we speak about things that are signified, which emerge out of the events as they unfold. In French, we say, “the importance of the work of Hardial Bains,” which is the same as saying the significance of his work. In other words, “comment cela nous importe” means how the work is relevant to us. In this vein, the work of Hardial Bains brings us a basis for dealing with the world today, what it means to be revolutionary.

For instance, the significance of fidelity to the ensemble of human relations is that modern society has at its heart a power that mediates between the human productive powers and the existing political association. Using fidelity to the ensemble of human relations as a guide, we direct attention to social structure, the order of it and what is its measure, so that we can make predictions.

Prediction is not about events, such as when the arctic ice will melt, or whether we have 20, 30, less or more years before irrevocable climate disaster takes place and the world ends. The significance of having fidelity not to the person of state and political mythology but to the ensemble of human relations means that you can make predictions about the plan of action and the tactics and organization required to deal with the problem you have taken up to resolve. You cannot do that without paying attention to and being guided by the relations of the whole and the parts.

Pondering the state of the communist movement after the collapse of the former Soviet Union when the retreat of revolution we are currently experiencing set in and the crimes being committed against humanity began to increase manifold, Comrade Bains said, “If one is a revolutionary and not a Marxist-Leninist, one can become a Marxist-Leninist. But to be a Marxist-Leninist and not be revolutionary — that is a problem.”

According to the example given to us by Comrade Bains, what then does it mean to be revolutionary?

To be revolutionary, CPC(M-L) points out, is to take up the tasks presented at every period that will actually change or revolutionize the situation. This stands in opposition to providing good descriptions of the situation or hiding behind “correct” phrases.

(With files from the Hardial Bains Resource Centre)


Hardial Bains

August 15, 1939 – August 24, 1997
A Biographical Sketch

Hardial Bains was born in India in 1939, in Chak 6 which today lies in Pakistan. His father was a well-known communist who was persecuted without let-up, working underground when not imprisoned for his anti-colonial and progressive activities and resistance to the atrocities committed by the British Raj.

Hardial was brought up in Mahilpur, District Hoshiarpur. The family of seven brothers and sisters suffered as a result of the persecution carried out by the British — Hardial was finally able to meet his father for the first time when he was nine years old. Though his mother carried the heaviest burden, raising a family without a source of income, she never wavered and, on the contrary, made sure all her children received an education and his sisters were the first women admitted to the college in Mahilpur. Hardial’s older brothers and sisters were then able to support the family when they were old enough.

Hardial was active politically as far back as he could remember. At the age of eight or nine he joined the communist movement and fought for the freedom of India against British rule.

Hardial joined the student wing of the Communist Party of India in grade four, the youngest member in the entire country, which he remained for some time. Recalling that tumultuous period Hardial said, “There was an age requirement for members but, being relatively tall for my age and generally exuberant and energetic, nobody asked me about my age. Later on, I was the youngest secretary at the district level.”

He journeyed throughout India engaging in many feats to organize the people against the cruel rule imposed by the Raj. Early on he earned the nickname Leader which befitted him his entire life. Through his writings and personal example, Hardial taught that a leader is the person who does whatever is necessary so that others can make their contribution to the cause of peace, freedom and democracy and the emancipation of humanity. He always paid attention to his work despite the personal cost to himself and his career as a scientist, university professor and researcher. His family — both in India and in Canada — stood as one with him, as did the Party he established and the fraternal parties with which he devoted much time to find solutions to common problems. For the support of his family, his peers and people throughout the world he was always truly grateful.

Hardial began his political work in Canada soon after he emigrated and arrived in Victoria, BC in 1959. He immediately began to familiarize himself with Canadian life, its economy and history. He integrated with the woodworkers and learned of the Ghadri Babas who fought for Indian freedom and against the racist exclusion laws the British imposed in Canada and elsewhere. Moving to Vancouver, he pursued post-graduate studies in microbiology at the University of British Columbia from 1960 to 1965 and worked as a lab technician for the BC government from 1960 to 1961. He immersed himself in the burgeoning youth and student political movement and was elected President of the BC Students Federation in 1964.

Hardial Bains shortly after his arrival in Canada in 1960 (left); working in the lab; and in front of International House at UBC in 1962.

A feature of his work during this period was to build an organization with the social forces interested in bringing about the change demanded by the times. In 1963, he gathered forward-looking youth into The Internationalists. They worked to establish an academic atmosphere on the UBC campus against the degenerate sectarianism of factional politics and ideological collaboration with the ruling class that Hardial later identified as the three “i”s of “imperialism, ignorance and impotence.”

Hardial taught at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland from 1965 to 1967 as an exchange lecturer. His teaching manual was still being used by the Department when Hardial paid a visit to the university 25 years later.

During his stay in Ireland Hardial introduced the method of holding mass democratic meetings out in the open, which large numbers of students attended to discuss current affairs and take stands about them in a manner which favoured their interests and addressed their concerns. He founded The Irish Internationalists in Dublin to lead this work and organized the Necessity for Change Study Program to involve the youth in analyzing their conditions and drawing warranted conclusions. The series of important lectures he delivered under the auspices of that program led to holding the important Necessity for Change Conference in London, England from August 1-10, 1967. The Necessity for Change analysis adopted by the Conference is summed up in the celebrated pamphlet titled Necessity for Change, which sold thousands of copies in those days. This pamphlet was republished in 1998 with a preface by the author and continues to be much sought-after today.

Hardial Bains leads discussion at the Necessity for Change Conference in London, England in August 1967.

Hardial subsequently returned to Canada, landing in Montreal on May 1, 1968. He was joined in Montreal by many other revolutionary youth from British Columbia and across the country. Together under Hardial’s leadership they carried out all-sided revolutionary organizing work. By May 7, The Internationalists which had been founded at UBC in 1963, was reorganized as a Marxist-Leninist youth and student movement consistent with the conclusions of the Necessity for Change analysis that revealed the need for an organized force based on democratic centralism. Hardial continued to elaborate and enrich the Necessity for Change analysis on the basis of the experience gained in the course of the work. The Necessity for Change Institute of Ideological Studies established in 1967 was subsequently registered as the Ideological Studies Centre and Hardial worked professionally as its Director for the rest of his life. To this day, the ISC continues to elaborate the Necessity for Change analysis and the revolutionary theory required by the revolutionary movement.

During this period in the sixties, Hardial Bains also spearheaded the founding of many organizations which fought for the democratic rights of the people, including upholding the rights of all workers and the right of the people of Quebec to self-determination and the hereditary rights of the Indigenous peoples. His work in support of the liberation struggles of the peoples of India, Korea, Vietnam and Indo-China, Cuba, Greece and all peoples everywhere ensured the anti-imperialist content was put in first place. His work settled scores with Anglo-Canadian chauvinism, anti-communism, modern revisionism and opportunism of all hues as well as U.S. exceptionalism. Most importantly, Hardial spearheaded the work to found the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) in 1970 and remained its National Leader until his untimely death in 1997.

Hardial Bains addresses the Sixth Congress of CPC(M-L) in October 1993.
Hardial Bains addresses the founding conference of the Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition of Canada.

Organizations he founded always played a crucial role in organizing the workers, women and youth to take their place in a manner which contributed decisively to sorting out problems faced by the people at any time.

In 1969, he founded in Montreal the Committee to Defend Democratic Liberties. As well in 1968-69, he founded the revolutionary student movements and the organization Les Intéllectuels et Ouvriers Patriotes du Québec while building the instruments for the party press which came out daily in two languages from the beginning. Hardial also organized the Indians who resided abroad and reorganized the Hindustani Ghadar Party in 1969 on the basis of democratic centralism and the revolutionary principles consistent with the call of all Indian martyrs, to turn their sacrifices to liberate India into victory. Organizations across the country founded under his leadership include the East Indian Defence Committee in 1973 and the People’s Front Against Racist and Fascist Violence in 1980, as well as the West Indian Peoples Organization, amongst others. He also worked closely with women and youth in defence of their rights. Closest to his heart was the work amongst the workers from coast to coast to develop a workers’ opposition on the basis of the independent politics of the working class so that they could sort out the problems facing the workers’ and communist movement and society to their advantage.

Hardial Bains speaks to the Third Annual Convention of the East Indian Defence Committee in 1977 (left); and at a rally held in conjunction with the founding of the People’s Front in Vancouver, November 22, 1980.
Hardial Bains in march at the founding convention of the Democratic Women’s Union in Vancouver,
March 8, 1981 (left); and in conversation with the youth, August 30, 1992.

A red thread connecting his politics was the ideological struggle against the revision or dogmatic rendering of communist principles. Many of his writings address how the abandonment of progressive ideals and socialism was at the heart of the conflict in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the betrayal of the peoples’ cause in various countries of the world. The fight against this abandonment was a salient feature of his activities from the 1960s.

Hardial Bains at a rally called in March 1977 after the Party’s Workers’ Centre was raided and he was arrested on trumped-up charges.

Hardial Bains was greatly admired amongst his colleagues and those he met in the course of his political activities for his dedication to the progress of humanity and adherence to the most advanced principles. The Canadian ruling elite despised his politics and targeted him for attack under the notorious program Operation Chaos led by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He was continually slandered and defamed. He had to fight and defeated several fraudulent lawsuits aimed at criminalizing and discrediting him and he defied several attempts to assassinate him including trying to force the car he was in off the road and setting fire to its gas tank and other such desperate acts. He was the subject of an Interpol warrant during the War Measures Act in 1970, and denied Canadian citizenship until 1988, which carried with it the denial of the rights of his spouse and children. He was also deprived of his passport by the government of India from 1975 to 1977 during the emergency declared by Indira Gandhi. He was under the constant surveillance of the FBI and denied entry into the United States.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989-90 and the end of the bi-polar division of the world, Hardial took up bold all-sided work to create the conditions for the empowerment of the people and to resolve the all-sided crisis with economic crisis at the base, in their favour. His work for the democratic renewal of the political process gives the direction the polity requires today. He presented a brief on behalf of CPC(M-L) to the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing in 1990. Later, in 1992, he led the Committee to Vote No on October 26, which spearheaded the effort to defeat the reactionary Charlottetown Accord referendum by which the ruling class tried to reform the Constitution of Canada while keeping the polity divided, the working people in an inferior position, the Indigenous peoples oppressed and the rights of the Quebec nation denied. The Committee to Vote No prevailed in the face of the entire establishment forces badgering the people to vote yes. To assist the No campaign to win victory, Hardial published two books dealing with the constitutional problem in Canada — The Essence of the Consensus Report on the Constitution and A Future to Face. He subsequently published a third book in 1993, A Power to Share , to show the way forward. A Power to Share focused on the necessity to carry out the democratic renewal of the political process. With the momentum and unity gained from the successful campaign to defeat the Charlottetown Accord, Hardial spearheaded the founding of the National Council for Renewal, which led to the creation of the Canadian Renewal Party as a non-partisan political association to continue the work of empowering Canadians.

Hardial Bains speaks at meetings in Toronto and Ottawa as part of the work in 1992 for Democratic Renewal and for a “No” vote on the Charlottetown Accord.
Hardial Bains speaks at the constitutional conference of the Canadian Renewal Party held in Ottawa, September 11-12, 1993.

In 1995, he launched an Historic Initiative, a nation-building project which calls for the working class to constitute the nation and vest sovereignty in the people. His theoretical work focused on the need to settle scores with the old conscience of society in a manner which enables the modern democratic personality to emerge. His life was cut short by cancer in 1997.

Hardial Bains launches CPC(M-L)’s Historic Initiative in Ottawa, January 1, 1995.

Source: cpcml.ca

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