Year 2000 No. 138, August 21-25, 2000
August 15, 1939 - August 24, 1997
Hardial Bains long history of political activism as a communist began early when he was still in India. He recalls the first time he began participating in communist affairs at the age of nine or so:
I remember the day I first picked up the red flag. I was a child then, barely conscious of the world around me. Today, an experienced person, I know that the red flag which I hoisted for the first time so many years ago is still the hope of humanity. This red flag must not be set aside. We must continue to build the communist party around the strategic aim of ending all exploitation of persons by persons through the revolutionary transformation of the society from capitalism to socialism to communism.
Forty-three years, to be precise, have passed since the time I first picked up that red flag. I remember well the pride I felt as I made that flag from some cloth which had been dyed red and a bamboo stick. I remember marching out of my house, shy but determined to catch up with the others in their demonstration. Since that time, not a few have defiled the red flag, the sacred banner of the struggle of the people for their national and social emancipation, the flag of socialism, communism and revolution. As I look back and bring my memories to the fore with the benefit of hindsight and investigation, I have come to the conclusion that the problems the world is facing today, and which it has faced during the past more than four decades, are the result of the betrayal of this red flag by phony socialists and phony communists.
After moving to Canada in 1959 as a young man, Hardial Bains pursued his post-graduate studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from 1960 to 1965. He got involved in the youth and student movement which had risen up against the US domination of Canada, against imperialist aggression, and against the decadent education system. Hardial Bains established the Internationalists in 1963 and was elected president of the B.C. Student Federation in 1964.
Hardial Bains obtained an M.Sc. degree in microbiology and took up a lectureship at Trinity College, Dublin for two years (1965-67). He was known for his excellence in teaching and his concern for his students. There he founded the Irish Internationalists.
In February and March of 1967, under the auspices of the Necessity for Change Study Programme, Hardial Bains delivered a series of lectures which contained some of his main ideas on change and progress; he developed these ideas further from that time. His first celebrated pamphlet was entitled Necessity for Change. He founded the Necessity for Change Institute of Ideological Studies in 1967; it was later registered as the Ideological Studies Centre, and he directed its research projects for many years.
Upon his return to Canada in May 1968, there was never any question whether or not Hardial Bains would become a political activist in Canada. His deep commitment to the international working class ensured that he would engage in the struggles of the working class wherever he was. He felt that while India had made him a communist, it was the Canadian working class that matured him and turned him into the sincere and forthright figure that he was.
Hardial Bains spearheaded the ideological struggle against the revision or dogmatic rendering of communist ideas. In his collection of essays, Communism 19891991, he argues that the abandonment of progressive ideals and socialism was at the heart of the conflict in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He himself had fought against this abandonment since the 1960s. It was this ideal which led him to campaign for the creation of a new communist party. His most recent book is Modern Communism: The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).
When anyone asks what most distinguished Hardial Bains, it was his dedication to solving the significant problems facing society and working on the basis of maximum political mobilization. He consistently spoke against an empirical and opportunistic analysis of a situation and urged everyone to seek the truth through analysis of facts and not to express opinions about any theory or historical development without investigating. No action could be taken randomly.
For him, there was a living, dialectical link between sovereignty and the people exercising control over their lives. He stressed that people cannot affirm their sovereignty without a modern constitution and a political mechanism which places the electorate above their representatives. In September 1990, Hardial Bains submitted, on behalf of CPC (M-L), a brief to the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing (known as the Lortie Commission). He published two books dealing in depth with the constitutional problem of Canada, The Essence of the Consensus Report on the Constitution and A Future to Face. Another book, A Power to Share (1993), focuses on the renewal of the political process. Following the October Referendum on the Charlottetown Accord in 1992, he initiated the organization of the National Council for Renewal, and subsequently the Canadian Renewal Party, as a non-partisan political association pursuing the policy of empowering Canadians. His death came at a point when he was still concentrating on this key issue based on his belief that unless this political question is resolved nothing else will change.
Hardial Bains most treasured legacy to the Canadian working class and people is the programme which has made the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) the standard-bearer of the working class. He presented this economic and political programme, Stop Paying the Rich Increase Funding For Social Programmes!, to the Canadian electorate in the June 1997 Federal Election.
In order to circulate the political and economic agenda of CPC (M-L) widely among Canadians and to contribute to the development of enlightened public opinion, Hardial Bains refined the theory and practice of new journalism, both Party and non-Party. He challenged in practice the control of the media by the monopolies and included a large number of people in this project. He linked journalism in an inseparable manner with the concerns of the people, on one hand, and the achievements of social and physical sciences on the other. In doing so, he emphasised that journalism must help readers grasp the concrete events at any time.
One of the practical steps Hardial Bains took was to develop the editorial policy for a new publication named All-Parties Political Forum. With the political inventiveness with which he discovered what was needed, he set for this publication the objective of raising the level of discussion in the polity. His hopes for the All-Parties Political Forum reflected one of his most cherished principles, that the people should unite politically regardless of their ideological orientation. He believed that all political parties, activists and other concerned people should cooperate and exchange opinions on vital problems facing society and occupy the centre-stage.
While dealing with the questions of sovereignty and renewal, Hardial Bains defended democratic and minority rights. To achieve these goals he organised the Committee to Defend Peoples Democratic Rights in Montreal in 1969. Later on he built similar organisations across the country, including the East Indian Defence Committee (EIDC) in 1973, and the Peoples Front against Racist and Fascist Violence in 1980.
Over the last thirty-five years of his political life, Hardial Bains work has been characterised by its broad appeal. While paying close attention to the task of mobilising the working class, he persisted in analysing the difficulties of the Canadian working class, women, youth and students, and the Canadian polity as a whole. Never underestimating the role of the individual, he firmly advocated the concept that change could come only through the collectivity of the working class and people.
In 1989, Hardial Bains fiftieth birthday was celebrated at a Party function for the first and only time, because it came in the course of a week-long social and political gathering of Canadian communists and their families and friends. In a speech he delivered on August 19, 1989, he said:
... there has been a suggestion that this is a celebration of one mans birthday. This is not the case. This is a celebration of the birth of a movement which the Canadian working class and people gave rise to, and that movement is more than a quarter of a century old. I personally as an individual do not matter because individuals do not set the course of things. It is the social force.... This is not the era of knights and individual heroes. It is an era of the collective work of the working class and its allies. It is the era of the Party, the era of imperialism and the social revolution of the proletariat, as Comrade Lenin said. So in this meeting, we celebrate the developments, the progressive movement, the strengthening, stabilisation and consolidation of a political movement. And we have that political movement here, our Party, its allies, its mass organisations, especially the Mass Party Press of which we are very proud.
Hardial Bains repeatedly explained that self-centred and self-ingratiating personalities could thrive only in conditions where the present state of human society is put forward as the last stage in its development.
Because of his communist ideals and enlightened outlook, Hardial Bains was much admired by his colleagues and by those he befriended in the course of his political engagements. At the same time, he continued to be slandered, reviled and persecuted by the Canadian state and establishment and was denied citizenship until 1988. He was refused entry into the US on the basis of fabricated evidence.
As National Leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), Hardial Bains stood at the forefront of the struggle for sovereignty. He stood against the anti-social offensive and spearheaded the development of a pro-social programme for the working class. In spite of all the analysts who claimed that it was socialism which failed when the former Soviet Union collapsed, Hardial Bains continued to expound what socialism really is, and how it constitutes the present and future of human kind. He passed away with the strongest conviction that socialism will triumph in Canada and elsewhere and that capitalism will certainly be overthrown.
Hardial Bains turned fifty-eight on August 15, 1997. He has six children and lived in the National Capital Region. His wife, Sandra, is a political personality in her own right.
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