The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was formed in 1920 (the Unity Convention in London started the process which was completed at the Leeds Unity Convention in January 1921).
The parties/groups that came together to take that most historic step for the British proletariat were:
The British Socialist Party (BSP), formally the Social Democratic Federation (SDF).
The Communist Unity Group (CUG), who were members of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) which itself had been made up of people expelled from the SDF.
The Workers’ Socialist Federation (WSF) which its leader, Sylvia Pankhurst had now re-named the Communist Party, British Section of the Third International (CPBSTI).
The Communist Labour Party (CLP) which included William Gallacher.
The South Wales Communist Council.
Those who today point at the vast array of parties and groups proclaiming themselves to be ‘communist’ as proof that due to splits and political differences things have now changed irredeemably and that there is no longer any hope of a single Marxist-Leninist vanguard party (these people are usually hopeless petty-bourgeois cynics who cannot distinguish between revisionism and Marxism-Leninism in the first place) should study the beginnings of the CPGB and the long and protracted negotiations and discussions that went into that merger (it must also be remembered that where parties have differences life usually sorts out the correct line and the party that was incorrect, once the situation is clear, either changes its line or suffers a rapid fall into opportunism).
What was needed then, as now, was an honest appreciation and understanding of Marxism-Leninism and the concrete realities, the objective conditions, of the day.
At that time there was a great need to push the Labour Party into power, to even work within it (under certain conditions), to show it up as the imperialist party that it was (still is!), whereas today, that job having been done (many times over in fact) the great need is to break the proletariat and its organisations (trade unions etc) away from the Labour Party both organisationally and ideologically (at the same time cleansing those unions of the self-serving, in reality imperialist-serving, Social-Democratic, i.e., Labour Party, strata of leadership that has taken control of them).Class against Class,
In 1929 the party stood 25 candidates in the General Election and released the document called Class against Class, the General Election Programme of the Communist Party of Great Britain which in fact, if not in name, was the first Party Programme. The document not only explained the then current situation but also explained what a post revolution workers’ government would do in some detail, hardly the stuff of a mere election manifesto as even if the 25 Communist candidates all won the seats that they were contesting they would be in no position to form or lead a government. This quote from the second section of the first page shows not only why the Party took part in bourgeois elections but also that they fully understood the need for the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat following the forceful overthrow of the old order and that this was their long-term aim; ‘…it participates in elections, in parliamentary action, in all forms of political activity as the means to the preparation of the working class for the act of imposing its will, i.e., exercising its own dictatorship over the capitalist class preliminary to the building of socialism and the elimination of classes.
‘The political power of the capitalist class is exercised, not merely through the parliamentary institutions, which it modifies or discards according to the advancement of oppositional opinion within them but through its own class control of all institutions, by its own officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, police force, law courts, press, schools, church. It is only possible to conquer this class domination when, through the breakdown of capitalist economy and the sharpening of class relations, which inevitably follow, the majority of the workers are prepared forcibly to throw off the capitalist class control in all phases of social, industrial and political activity, and themselves take control of the factories, mines, workshops, railways etc.
‘The manner in which the everyday struggle of the workers against the capitalist class culminates in the fight for power was clearly seen in the General Strike of 1926. Although the strike was generated by the efforts of the working class to defend their economic conditions the action itself brought the classes face to face with the question – which class shall rule in Britain? The capitalist class answered with the suspension of parliamentarism and the mobilisation of its military forces ready to answer with war in the streets. The working class led by the leaders of the Labour Party intent on the welfare of the State was unprepared for so decisive a battle. The working class was defeated. Nevertheless it is thus that the fight for power comes for which the working class has to prepare’.
The fact that for the first nine years of its existence the party went without a recognised programme did not hinder either its practical work or the ideological education that the CPGB of that era was noted for. From its inception the party involved itself in all the class battles of its day, playing a leading role in the ‘Minority Movement’, a militant left organisation within the trade unions, the ‘Hands off Russia campaign’ (which is best remembered for the refusal to load the Jolly George with munitions for the invasion of the Soviet Union which happened just before the formation of the Party but all the prominent people ended up in the CPGB), it had utilised the electoral system and followed Lenin’s advice on seeking affiliation to the Labour Party. The Party also played a heroic and militant leading role in the 1926 General Strike (in spite of having twelve of its leading comrades imprisoned in 1925 and several more during the strike itself), this episode is very well documented in a five part article in Lalkar, editions July/August 2006 to March/April 2007. The young CPGB had built strong international ties with other communist parties abroad and was seen as one of the best sections of the Third International. The party also stood on the side of the national liberation movements that were trying to break free from the grip of British imperialism describing the situation thus:
‘Britain is an imperialist power, subjecting to its rule and exploitation not less than 450,000,000. From the colonies of the Empire come vast quantities of raw materials, oil, rubber, cotton, wool, ores, corn; yet the poverty of the hundreds of millions of workers and peasants who produce these things beggars description. In India the death rate is the highest in the world. The average wage is 1s. per day. Three hundred million are illiterate. Two per cent. have a right to vote and they must be people of property. The Viceroy overrides all unfavourable legislation, i.e., unfavourable to British capitalist interests. In Kenya, where the princes of Britain have just been holiday-making, the Government has stolen the land of the natives and imposed compulsory wage labour at 8s. a month.
‘The whole fabric of empire and imperialist exploitation is held together by military might. When the masses rise in revolt, as in Arabia, bombs are dropped upon them. In India and elsewhere the police carry arms and use them, as in the Bombay mill strike. Trade union organisation and political organisation of the workers is often made illegal. When a colonial people demand their own parliament, as in Egypt, they are brought face to face with the big guns of the warships. The Empire is maintained as a vast reservoir of human exploitation, and raw material for the metropolis’, while this policy of support for the national liberation struggles was certainly not more difficult then the life and death struggle of those fighting in the national liberation movements it did contain a certain level of difficulty and necessitated a degree of courage given the pride in the British Empire that was drummed into every school child’s head from a very early age along with the belief that British imperialism was doing the ‘colonial’ peoples a favour by running their countries ‘properly’ for them and the absolute faith in the God-given right of ‘our’ rulers to suck those colonies dry of their wealth. It was difficult but it was absolutely correct to stand with those national liberation movements, and if this principled policy led to the party facing a period of unpopularity it would be proved right in the long run, for workers who believed that it was right to enslave others would never succeed in freeing themselves. Those who balk today at the ‘difficulty’ of calling for the victory of the Iraqi and Afghan resistance should study this period of the history of the CPGB, they may find it quite instructive! This programme/manifesto committed the Workers’ Government to ‘The declaration of independence of every country hitherto ruled and controlled by British imperialism, and the offer of friendly assistance to them to maintain their independence and develop in the direction of Workers’ and Peasants’ Republics’ and ‘A declaration of friendship with the oppressed workers and peasants of the world’.
Class against Class was not then the ‘over-zealous’ and ‘politically infantile’ thrashing about of a small group of untested and naive but well-meaning comrades who had yet to learn better, no! This was the first programme of a party that had already been steeled in battle and which had a very good grasp of the science of Marxism-Leninism and an understanding of how it should be applied to the world around it. There are many today (some so-called communists among them) who still cannot find sufficient courage to stand up and voice support for the Soviet Union and its achievements 16 years after the total restoration of capitalism in that land, and these are usually the very people who mock or call the party of 1929 immature. The party in Class against Class commits itself totally to support the Soviet Union and declares that the Workers’ Government shall establish ‘Immediate unity and federation with the Soviet Union’ and give ‘Support to the Soviet Union programme of international simultaneous disarmament as the means to end war’.
There are some who insist that in producing this document the CPGB were merely ‘following orders’ from Stalin as the Class against Class position had been adopted by the Communist International and it was simply given to them to apply. This theory does not hold water because it ignores the role that the CPGB played in the Communist International where they took part in all the discussions and put forward their own experiences which, especially after the General Strike led them to describe the Labour Party in the following terms: ‘This Party is the third capitalist party. It lays claim to the title of Socialist Party, but has nothing to do with socialism. Whatever associations it has with the working class are due to its development as a parliamentary wing of the trade unions, now turned to account as the means of subordinating the trade unions to its dictatorship on behalf of capitalism. It rejects working class politics and exploits the workers’ organisations for “national politics”.
‘The Labour Party ‘in principle’ stands for the nationalisation of the banks, land and industry by purchase, i.e., State capitalism, but relegates in practice even this “principle” to the far distant future. Meanwhile it is prepared to advocate the development of rationalisation of industry. A common ground is thus provided in its programme for the co-operation of Tories, Liberals and Labour. The Labour Programme says (Labour and the Nation, pp. 15, 16), “they”, (the capitalists) “will be well advised to begin by setting their own house in order – to modernise their organisation, improve their technique, eliminate waste and apply more intelligently the resources which science has revealed”.
What is more, Class against Class also told people exactly why the CPGB had gone from a position of giving some support to the Labour Party to now opposing it in the section headed ‘Our Changed Attitude to the Labour Party’ which says: ‘Prior to the formation of the Labour Government in 1924, the Communist Party, although the leaders of the Labour Party were as treacherous then as now, advised the working class to push the Labour Party into power whilst sharply criticising and exposing the leaders of the Labour Party. To-day this policy is no longer possible for the following reasons. The situation of 1929 is entirely different from that of the years prior to the General Strike and the Labour Government of 1924. In the years immediately after the war the Labour Party, in spite of its anti-working class leaders, was forced by the pressure of the workers into action against the Tories and Liberals, e.g., threatened general strike against war on Russia, demand for a capital levy, repudiation of the Versailles treaty, big working class action on wages and hours of labour, etc. The Labour Party also had not yet become a closely knit party with a single discipline. It was a federation of trade unions and parties offering facilities for criticism from within and a means of struggle for our Party to battle against the middle-class leadership and to strengthen the working class force within it.
‘The Labour Government exposed the Labour Party leadership completely. It proved the Communist Party criticisms to be correct. The “Minority” Labour Government was nothing more that a coalition with the Tories and Liberals. The Labour leaders “led” the General Strike only to betray it in the face of the challenge from the State. The General Strike raised the question of class power – which class shall rule in Britain. The Labour Party leadership of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress were against the struggle for power. They stood for capitalist power against working class power. They co-operated with the Tories in the defeat of the General Strike, but from within. They denounced the General Strike and propagated against it. They developed the offensive against the Communist Party and the revolutionary workers who stand for the working-class struggle for power. They tied the trade unions to the Tories and Liberals under the banner of Mondism and transformed the Labour Party from a federal organisation to a single party with a capitalist programme under the banner of “Empire and Mondism”. It is now no longer possible for the Communist Party or the trade unions to bring pressure to bear on the Labour Party from within. It is a completely disciplined capitalist party.
‘The Communist Party, as the party of the working class, must of necessity therefore explain to the workers in deeds as well as words the completely changed situation, and set before the workers the means of advancing to socialism.
‘These are the reasons for the Communist Party’s exposure and denunciation of the Labour Party as the third capitalist party, and why it puts forward its candidates against the Labour Party and selects its leaders for especial challenge.
‘Class is against class. The Labour Party has chosen the capitalist class. The Communist Party is the party of the working class.’
Class against Class stands up pretty well overall as a revolutionary programme of over 70 years of age. Yes some circumstances have changed, the tactical answers to some problems have altered but the basic revolutionary attitude towards the Soviet Union, Internationalist duty, the Labour Party, revolution by force as the only method of overthrowing the bourgeois dictatorship and promoting the dictatorship of the proletariat as the only means of protecting the revolution and its gains are all there shining through as a wonderful example of how the programme of a Marxist-Leninist party should be written. This is also a valuable indicator of the high level of class consciousness of the working class in 1929 Britain. Today we start at a lower ideological level thanks to years of Social-Democratic leadership of the working class and revisionist and Trotskyist treachery, but that does not make our job impossible, on the contrary, it is still just as possible if perhaps a little harder. We can only address this problem by making ourselves better equipped to teach the necessity of revolutionary struggle and understanding to workers and to lead that revolutionary struggle. We must study what was correct in previous historical periods and how and why things ‘went wrong’.
For Soviet Britain
The first ‘official’ programme was produced in 1935 and adopted by the CPGB as its programme in February that year at the 13th Congress, it was simply called For Soviet Britain (FSB). The world situation had once again changed and it was in this period that communists world-wide were trying to establish united fronts to combat the rise of fascism as a weapon against organised working class resistance on the part of the bourgeoisie. For Soviet Britain described the then current scene as such: ‘it is not only poverty and insecurity and unemployment which threatens the majority of the British people. For the great capitalist employers, the great financiers and bankers have one last use for us all, even after it has become unprofitable for them to employ us; and that is to recruit us for war. Just as in time of war the scrap metal of industry is fed back in the blast furnaces to make shells and guns, so now the ‘scrap men’ – which is all that ‘great bodies of men’ have become for the capitalists – are to be fed back into the gigantic machine of capitalist war.
‘The cause of capitalist war is the attempt of each national capitalist group – British, French, German, American, Japanese, etc. – to beat its competitors on the world market and to win bigger and bigger profits for its own millionaires. For monopoly capitalism has now reached the stage when war is inevitable - unless stopped by the workers. This is the stage of monopoly capitalism or imperialism. Imperialism means that the big trusts and big banks are dominating at home, are dominating (through their investments) abroad, and that the colonial countries have been divided up amongst the Imperialist Powers. Therefore the Imperialist Powers are rivals of one another in the world market.
‘With the crisis this rivalry becomes fiercer and fiercer. This competitive struggle is carried out, firstly by tariffs, quotas, and other economic measures, and then finally by war. We have seen the fight by tariffs, quotas, etc., and we are now reaching the stage of war. Daily and hourly the capitalists are preparing for this bloody solution of the economic crisis. The most fearsome, ghastly and deadly armaments are being piled up. Science and inventive genius are prostituted to discover and perfect the means of death and destruction of millions, in order to win new markets, territory, and spheres of profitable capitalist investment, to bring rent, interest and profit for a handful of employers, bankers and landlords’.
The Party was, it can easily be seen, not only aware that war was in the offing but fully understood that war is a necessary part of imperialism. Likewise it fully understood fascism and the reasons for its rise, summed up in the following quote: ‘Fascism is the weapon of the millionaires against the working class. Fascism is the dictatorship of the most ruthless, reactionary and jingo section of monopoly capitalism. The paymasters of Hitler and Goering are the biggest millionaire financiers and capitalists of Germany. The whole aim and object of the setting up of Fascist Governments, as can be proved in detail from the experience of Fascist Italy, Fascist Germany, and Fascist Austria, has been to reduce wages, lengthen hours of work, abolish social services, curtail education and cut unemployment pay. The object of the violence and barbarity used by the Fascists in crushing the workers’ trade unions, political parties and co-operatives is to prevent any resistance to this policy.
‘See what has happened to workers in other countries. The workers of Germany were beaten and tortured; the workers of Austria were mowed down by artillery fire; bombing aeroplanes and poison gas have been used against the workers of Spain. The lesson for us is plain. The capitalist class will stick at nothing. And Fascism is only a development of the force already used by the capitalist class in every country - through police, courts, and armed forces when necessary - to prevent the workers from securing their immediate demands and building up their power to overthrow capitalism and establish Socialism.
‘To prevent the workers’ resistance the Fascists use not only force but also fraud and deception. They play upon the prejudices which the millionaire press instils into the workers’ minds. In each country they blame the ‘alien sweaters’ - to prevent the workers laying the blame on their own exploiters. They stir up jingo feeling and nationalist hatred amongst the masses to take the place of class feeling against the millionaires at home.
‘In Britain the capitalist preparations for a Fascist form of Government are not only Mosley’s blackshirt gangs, financed and organised by rich capitalist groups. The “National Government” is also preparing the ground, with its militarising of the police, putting in middle-class officers and mobilising middle-class “specials”; it is swelling the numbers of its secret police, to spy upon working-class organisations; it is organising concentration camps for the unemployed, suppressing still further the workers’ right of free speech, and abolishing many other existing rights through the Sedition Act, and taking additional measures to concentrate control in the hands of central officials instead of elected local bodies. This is exactly how the Governments in Germany and Austria prepared the way for open Fascism’.
It can be seen from this last quote that the CPGB had not at this point gone soft on the Labour Party as some suggest as when they rightly describe the ‘National Government’ as ‘also preparing the ground’ for fascism it has to be remembered that Labour was part of that Government. The united front policy was an appeal to ordinary Labour Party members and trade unionists to stand up to the rise of fascism with the only party prepared to do so, the CPGB. It was not a renunciation of the Class against Class position, it was a tactic to try to organise workers in their own defence. It must be remembered that there were still many workers who thought of the Labour Party as a socialist party, as their party, and these had to be pulled away from the Social-Democratic influence of the Labour Party and the trade union leaders who were pushing the gradual parliamentary road to socialism and paving the way for a fascist backlash against the organised workers. The CPGB put the question squarely to the British worker, either fascism and war under capitalism or peace and socialism through revolution.
They pointed out that ‘Many workers still believe that all they need can be obtained by Parliamentary action. The Communist Party declares it is not possible to end capitalism and establish socialism in Britain by the election of a majority in the House of Commons. The capitalist class will never allow itself to be gradually expropriated by successive Acts of Parliament. More than twenty years ago leaders of the Tory Party openly organised a rebellion in Ireland rather than submit to an Act of Parliament. Since then, the rise of Fascism throughout the world proves that the capitalists themselves will throw overboard all forms of democracy and resort to every kind of lawless violence to preserve their power and their profits. Without breaking the power of the capitalists it is impossible to get rid of capitalism or to build socialism. It is a question not of votes but of power.
‘The leaders of the Labour Party declare that the workers must choose between a peaceful gradual way of abolishing capitalism and establishing socialism and the revolutionary way advocated by the Communists. But the workers have no such choice. There is no such “peaceful, gradual” way. The organisation of Fascist storm troops, whose sole purpose is the suppression of the workers’ organisations by violence, is the final proof of this fact. The false character of Labour Party policy is written in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain; written in the blood of the workers, in the concentration camps, in the appalling suffering, the torture chambers and in the swing of the executioner’s axe. Yet after this unmistakable growth of Fascist violence in one capitalist State after another, the leaders of the Labour Party still urge the working class to rely only upon Parliamentary and ‘democratic’ methods.
‘They do more than “urge”: they will not tolerate any united action amongst the workers against Fascism and war. These Labour Party leaders, and chiefs of the General Council, who freely speak on the same platform with capitalists, would put a ban on any member of the Labour Party who joins in building a workers’ united front. They have even tried to throttle the rights of trade union branches and to insist that none shall be elected who may have other opinions than themselves. Such a policy, such opinions and such methods will never stop Fascism; on the contrary, they break up the unity of the working class for struggle against the capitalist attacks, and open the gates to Fascism and war.
‘It is nothing less than a crime to delude the workers with the false hope that the capitalists will quietly lay down their powers and privileges if only sufficient Labour members of Parliament are elected.
‘This was precisely what the German Labour Party (the Social Democratic Party, as it was called) and the German Trades Union leaders did. They, too, used all their power to prevent the Communists and Social Democratic workers from uniting to fight against Fascism. They, too, rejected the Communist Party’s offer of unity in the struggle against Fascism. They, too, told the German workers that there was no need for militancy or for struggle and that capitalism could be abolished, the terrible conditions of the workers ended, and socialism established by securing parliamentary majorities. It was just this which made possible the success of Fascism in Germany.’
This is a very long quote but, we think, necessary to show that the Labour Party and its policies (and its stated belief in the parliamentary route to socialism) were still being rightly criticised even while those workers still under the sway of the imperialist Labour Party were being called upon to help form a united front. The treacherous doings of the German Social-Democrats in the period leading up to the use of fascism in Germany are more fully explained in chapter 10 of the book Imperialism, the eve of the social revolution of the proletariat by Harpal Brar.
Another point to be made from the large quote above is that this programme still has revolution as the only way to overthrow capitalism and rejects the parliamentary road as a means of social change.
On the question of the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ For Soviet Britain does not shirk its communist duty and declares ‘…when the present capitalist dictatorship which operates so harshly against the working class has been overthrown it will be necessary for these democratic Workers’ Councils to exercise a severe dictatorship over the defeated capitalist class.
‘For the Communist Party would be deluding the workers if it pretended that all need for struggle and for safeguarding the workers’ position would be over as soon as capitalism was overthrown. On the contrary, the capitalist class, which is very strong, very well organised and very determined, will certainly try and get back all that it has lost even after it has been overthrown. Experience has shown that a capitalist class which has had its factories banks, land, railways, shipping, etc., taken from it takes the most desperate measures to destroy the workers’ Government which has succeeded it.’
This programme of 1935, although set in a different set of circumstances retains the revolutionary essence of Class against Class, it still puts forward revolution as the only way forward, along with the proletarian dictatorship to protect that revolution, it still attacks Social-Democracy, it still supports the Soviet Union (still a difficult thing to do just prior to the war), it still gives support to the national liberation struggles and it still recognised that the struggle of our class for its emancipation and the establishment of socialism requires a communist Party to lead it, ending the programme with the words ‘We therefore appeal to every class-conscious worker to join the Communist Party without delay, knowing that by taking this step they are strengthening the only Party that can lead the working class to victory - the Party of Lenin, of Stalin, and of Dimitrov - the International Party of the revolutionary working class.’ It was still the revolutionary programme of a revolutionary party!
The British Road to Socialism – the retreat from revolution
In 1951 the CPGB brought out its next programme, the British Road to Socialism (BRS). There had been an un-named draft programme issued in 1939 but the war put paid to it going any further than that and it was left alone after the war, the BRS was a totally different programme and the start of the rot that saw a revolutionary party with a proud history sink into a squabble between two opposing groups of revisionists and end in liquidation as the victorious revisionist group, the Euro-communists, wound up the Party and transformed themselves into the short-lived and never lamented Democratic Left. The other group established (they would say re-established) themselves as the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) in 1989, not on the revolutionary ideology of the CPGB at its height in the twenties and thirties but on the basis of the 1978 British Road to Socialism (there had been revisions of the BRS in 1957/58, 1968 and, of course, 1978).
The 1951 BRS first put forward the idea that ‘a third world war is neither necessary nor inevitable’ claiming that the peoples united action ‘can be decisive for peace’. It is interesting to note that many of the revisionists, usually among the first to attack Stalin, claim, presumably to prove that neither they nor their cherished programme are revisionist, that Joseph Stalin either wrote the 1951 BRS or told a Labour Party delegation to the Soviet Union that he approved of it, we will let comrade Stalin answer that particular fiction, in one of his last works, Economic Problems Of Socialism In The USSR written around 1951-2 he, tackling exactly the above notions, says ‘What guarantee is there, then, that Germany and Japan will not rise to their feet again, will not attempt to break out of American bondage and live their own independent lives? I think there is no such guarantee.
‘But it follows from this that the inevitability of wars between capitalist countries remains in force.
‘It is said that Lenin’s thesis that imperialism inevitably generates war must now be regarded as obsolete, since powerful popular forces have come forward today in defence of peace and against another world war. That is not true.
‘The object of the present-day movement is to rouse the masses of the people to fight for the preservation of peace and for the prevention of another world war. Consequently, the aim of this movement is not to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism – it confines itself to the democratic aim of preserving peace. In this respect, the present-day peace movement differs from the movement of the time of the First World War for the conversion of the imperialist war into civil war, since the latter movement went farther and pursued socialist aims.
‘It is possible that in a definite conjuncture of circumstances the fight for peace will develop here or there into a fight for socialism. But then it will no longer be the present-day peace movement; it will be a movement for the overthrow of capitalism.
‘What is most likely is that the present-day peace movement, as a movement for preserving peace, will, if it succeeds, result in preventing a particular war, in its temporary postponement, in the temporary preservation of a particular peace, in the resignation of a bellicose government and its supersession by another that is prepared temporarily to keep the peace. That, of course, will be good. Even very good. But, all the same, it will not be enough to eliminate the inevitability of wars between capitalist countries generally. It will not be enough, because, for all the successes of the peace movement, imperialism will remain, continue in force – and, consequently, the inevitability of wars will also continue.
‘To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism’.
On the question of overthrowing the bourgeoisie the 1951 BRS had also lost its way claiming such things as the British people ‘can transform capitalist democracy into a real People’s Democracy, transforming Parliament, the product of Britain’s historic struggle for democracy, into the democratic instrument of the will of the vast majority of the people’ and ‘The path forward for the British people will be to establish a People’s Government on the basis of a Parliament truly representative of the people’’ and further ‘A people’s Parliament and Government which draws its strength from a united movement of the people, with the working class as its core, will be able to mobilise the overwhelming majority of the people for decisive measures to break the economic and political power of the big exploiters’. After this non-violent revolution clap-trap there is, of course, no mention of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The CPB have revised the BRS since they established or re-established themselves and each time it has reached new depths of opportunism and class treachery.
On the question of the Soviet Union the current BRS says ‘The collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialism was a severe setback from which Communists have had to draw many lessons. Those societies certainly had many faults – not least their restriction of democracy – which contributed to their downfall’.
While on the need for the forceful revolutionary overthrow of British imperialism it states ‘decisive advances towards socialism can only be achieved by mobilising the mass of the people in support of an intermediate alternative economic and political strategy which aims at securing full employment, a general improvement in living standards, a wide expansion of democracy and a genuine policy for peace’ unfortunately the CPB are among those today misleading the workers by claiming that peace can be achieved without revolution, which obviously means that imperialism, according to them, does not lead to war. This is anti-Leninist rubbish which flies in the face of common sense (at least the 1951 version did not have the example of the Pinochet coup in Chile staring them in the face to show what happens to ‘Left’ governments who try to use bourgeois parliamentary methods to advance socialist orientated policies peacefully).
They also argue ‘the socialist revolution can be carried through in Britain by organised mass struggle outside parliament, creating and combining with a socialist parliamentary majority - producing a government and mass movement determined and able to implement a socialist programme’ and claim in defence of their idea that imperialism will just let them take over because of a few demonstrations, strikes and an electoral majority of communist, Labour and other anti-capitalists that ‘the contradictions within imperialism and the historical growth of the world’s other progressive forces place considerable obstacles in the way of any attempts at outside intervention in support of the British ruling class’. This does not even need an answer from us as the programmes Class against Class and For Soviet Britain have already answered these absurdities eloquently.
The CPB, the Labour ‘Left’ and the various Trotskyist groups (including one now called CPGB who took the name when the euro-communists wound up the old party) and parties have already formed a ‘united front’ but it is a united front that supports Social-Democracy (and, therefore, imperialism) with the excuse that the Tories in power would be worse than Labour and they call on us to vote Labour therefore to keep the Tories out. As this position has lost its appeal, mostly because people can see that there really is no difference between the Tories and Labour in practice, the new cry is ‘vote Labour to keep the BNP out!’ This takes no account of the racist immigration and asylum policies put into practice by Labour while concentrating on what the BNP might do if they could ever form a Government.
The only hope for the working class in this country is to re-insert the key principles of those two early programmes (i.e. the need for forceful revolution to overthrow the bourgeois dictatorship and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat to defend that revolution, the need for a strong communist party steeled in Marxist-Leninist theory as its guide to action to lead the struggle, the need to understand imperialism, the need to see past colour, nationality and ethnicity when working out our friends and enemies and, most pressing at the moment, the need to oppose and un-mask Social-Democracy and its handmaidens, revisionism and Trotskyism, as the class traitors that they are) back into the working class.
This is a long and arduous task, given the amount of ideological regression brought about by the leadership of the working class movement by Social-Democracy and its allies but, it is a task that must be taken up with vigour and courage by all those who consider themselves Marxist-Leninists.
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