First Published: FORUM for Marxist-Leninist Inner-Party Struggle, No. 9, November 1964
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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One of the basic points made in the pamphlet “Left Opportunism in the Anti-Revisionist Struggle in Britain in 1964” is that the Marxist-Leninist Party required in Britain must necessarily be a new organization, since it is impossible to transform the Communist Party of Britain into a Marxist-Leninist Party.
The authors of the pamphlet correctly expose McCreery as a left-opportunist, with whom Marxists-Leninists differ not merely on tactical questions, but on vital matters of principle. Yet, despite their criticism of McCreery’s thesis that a Party is the image of its leadership, on this key question their conclusion is identical with that of McCreery. They differ from him only on the tactical point – a new Party now or later!
According to both McCreery and the authors of the pamphlet, once there is a majority of revisionists in the leadership of a party, they are irremovable: the name, the publications, the assets of that party, are lost to the working class at least until the triumph of socialism.
Yet it is a matter of historic fact that at least until 1953 a majority of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were Marxist-Leninists. This party has, however, been transformed into one in which a majority of the leadership are revisionists. However, according to the authors of the pamphlet, such a transformation can take place only in a reactionary direction, never in a progressive direction. A majority of Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of a Party can be removed, but a majority of revisionists in the leadership of a party is irremovable! This is not Marxism, but defeatist metaphysics!
At the present time the revisionists do not dominate the Communist Party primarily by the use of undemocratic manoeuvres against a rebellious membership. They dominate the Party because the majority of the membership accepts revisionism as Marxism-Leninism and, there can be no correct way forward which does not recognise this fact.
One of the key tasks of Marxist-Leninists, therefore, is so to organise their political work as to lead the membership of the Party (who did not join the Party in order to betray Socialism and the interests of the working class) to realise from their own experience that the present policies and leaders of their Party are doing, just that.
At a certain stage in this struggle a Marxist-Leninist Party will come into being, It may come into being in one of two ways: either the present Communist Party will be transformed into a Marxist-Leninist Party by the ejection of revisionism and the revisionists at the hands of a politically conscious angry member ship; or a new Party will have to be formed.
If the second course has to be adopted the assets of the Communist Party will be left in the hands of a revisionist rump and the situation will be confused nationally and internationally by the existence of two parties, both claiming to be Marxist-Leninist. It follows that the first course is the more desirable of the two ways in which a Marxist-Leninist Party may be formed and it is this course which must be aimed for.
Of course the revisionists will intensify undemocratic manoeuvres as they see their influence declining. But such measures further assist in the political education of the membership. There is no mysterious law of history which predetermines, as McCreery and the authors of the pamphlet hold that the revisionists will inevitably succeed in preventing a democratic change in the policy and leadership of the Party. Their success or failure depends not on their subjective: desires but on objective conditions; and the correctness of our political work in this next period is a vital factor in determining these objective conditions.
To say now, at the beginning of the organised struggle against revisionism in this country, that the revisionists must inevitably retain their hold over the Communist Party is to say that inner-Party struggle against the revisionists is useless because it is doomed to ultimate failure. It is a thesis which helps revisionists by presenting them as, within the Communist Party invincible. It is no less harmful when it is put forward by the authors of the pamphlet concerned than when it is put forward by the disruptive left opportunist McCreery.