First Published: Vanguard, Vol. 1, No. 1, February 1964
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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I well recall that the late Harry Pollitt rarely ended a major speech without a ringing “Long Live Comrade Stalin!” to thunderous cheers from platform and audience alike. Most of the present top leaders of the C.P.G.B. would have graced that platform. The death of Stalin was commemorated at Hackney Town Hall (March 1953) at which the main speakers were John Gollan and Solly Kaye. The speeches, full of poignant regret for the passing away of Stalin moved many in the audience to tears. I wonder if on the 3rd of March of each year, Gollan, Dutt, Campbell and the rest ever think of inserting even a little 3 line memorial to Stalin in the Daily Worker – or, how do they manage to come to terms with their conscience? Or perhaps Mr. Khrushchov’s shadow stretches to King Street, his words echo out of King Street, “Better if Stalin should have died ten years earlier.” How well Hitler and Mosley would have rejoiced if this had happened.
The Soviet Weekly, on the first anniversary of Stalin’s death expressed the view that “The Soviet people deeply grieve the loss of their teacher and leader,” and went on, ”Stalin conceived a boundless faith in Lenin’s revolutionary genius and adopted Lenin’s path as his own; he never swerved from that path; he creatively developed Marxism-Leninism; he enriched theory. By 1940, heavy industry had increased to 16 times compare with 1913. Lenin’s behests were sacred to Stalin and he won the supreme confidence of the Soviet people.” The Daily Worker would have echoed those sentiments. If not, perhaps it’s then time Editor, J. R. Campbell, will correct me?
In less than two years, N. Khrushchov for years a member of the Central Committee, chose, without consultation with any other fraternal party to loose a thunderbolt on a dazed world, via a ”secret-speech, to which the U.S. State Department had extraordinarily rapid and complete access. According to Khrushchov the Soviet Union had for 29 years groaned under a monster in human guise.
A dazed world? Yes, and no more dazed than J.R. Campbell who, addressing my Branch of the C.P. and asked whether Khrushchov had really made such a speech replied, “It is neither confirmed nor denied by Khrushchov – but our party must accept that it is all true.”
In fact, not only the Khrushchov version of Stalin but all the new theories pronounced at the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. (956) were accepted lock stock and barrel by the leaders of the C.P.G.B. and fastened on to the party. I exclude Harry Politt, whom I don’t believe was ever very happy with Khrushchovism. I recall a 1956 meeting at which Pollitt was the speaker. He was asked to comment on a remark by Ullbricht that ’Stalin could no longer be numbered among the classic Marxists.’ Harry replied, “I disagree with Ullbricht.” The cheers lifted the ceiling. Not long afterwards Pollitt was retired as General Secretary, I do not believe the official reason of ill health.
The fundamentally important ideologic debate between the C.P.C., and their supporters throughout the world, against the revisionists who are revising Marxism-Leninism into outright petty bourgeois opportunism, is in itself an indispensable and profound political education for all class conscious workers. The Chinese party has set an example by insisting that Chinese workers and the people closely study both sides of the great debate. All the important attacks on the C.P.C. by the Khrushchov group have been published without omission in the Chinese press. How different the C.P.G.B. who had privately decided to sing to Khrushchov’s baton, misinterpret the Chinese comrades, decide to “give the lead”, “guidance”; to demand a “vote” in the Branches after “’briefing” carefully selected Branch officials, thus obtaining a mechanic vote of confidence in its line, and on the basis of this close the press to any views which contradicted the E.C. Statement of 14th September, 1963.
It is not for me here to challenge this E.C. Statement point by point, this is being done and will continue to be done by all who wish to uphold the Marxist-Leninist outlook. My view is that the Statement is shot through and through with misrepresentation of the Chinese stand. It is full of social democratic hypocrisy, permeated with a ’philosophy’ that “nuclear weapons decide all”, that one must retreat from position after position into the hope of cajoling the U.S. imperialists into retraining from dropping nuclear bombs on the people. I have yet to find one single iota of practical evidence that Khrushchovism, in its 8 years, has had the slightest molifying efforts on the sanguinary cannibalistic activities of U.S. imperialism.
Cuba, all Latin America, South Vietnam Laos, the Taiwan Straits etc., etc., all bear witness that U.S. imperialism is a homicidal gangster who can only be manacled by the people answering tit for tat! The Chinese were one-hundred per cent right on this. Their own actions in Korea, against Cuba, furnish irrefutable proof that a homicidal gangster is also an incurable coward and can be stopped by resolute courage.
It is true, the criminal atomic slaughter of the Japanese cost 250,000 lives, but the Khrushchovites and all those who slavishly sleep-walk behind, “forget that the main executioner is imperialism in its everyday quest for profit to beat down mercilessly all who oppose it. Hunger, poverty and disease kill more innocent people in a single day than even did the murderous bomb dropped on innocent women and children in Japan. Therefore, I hold that the main enemy is imperialism led by the U.S. billionaires and not nuclear weapons. Which does not mean that the struggle to ban the bomb is not an important struggle.
The C.P.G.B. leadership fails to understand, or do not wish to understand the living nature of imperialism. Since 1956, they have tended to fashion the C.P.G.B. into a detachment of the world peace movement, to the detriment of its role as the vanguard of British labour. It is largely this factor which has blunted the ’alternative’ to Labour party policy which the C.P.G.B. policy is supposed to be. Due to this pacifist obscurantism the mass of the British workers fail to see an alternative to the Labour party and regard the British C.P.G.B. as a vocal ginger group within the wide Labour movement. It could be likened to a “fortissimo passage in a political symphony composed by socia1 democrats, whose leaders today, as in Lenin’s day, are outright place-seekers, unprincipled compromisers, saboteurs of working class unity in the service of monopoly capitalism. I believe this explains the lack of growth of the C.P.G.B. and its electoral impasse. And it is also reflected in the increasingly petty-bourgeois content of the Daily Worker and the “maturing respectability of Party propaganda, which aims for the “vote” rather than the necessity to cast off the yoke of capitalism – as Lenin so often put it.
While one must guard against ’left adventurism’, which often means to run too far ahead of the mass movement, one must doubly guard against deteriorating into a lot of ’blood-pressure gage’ of the movement running at its tail mouthing dutiful slogans. This, all too often, is a familiar pattern in working class history, as shown by such as Trotsky, Bernstein, Kautsky, Macdonald, Thomas, Browder, Dange and so on.
I put to all members of the C.P.G.B.: what is modern revisionism if not a continuation of this capitulation to capitalism in our own day? What exactly is the policy of the Daily Worker, when one looks in vain for an inspirational lead to get the warlike blockade of fraternal Cuba lifted? When one looks in vain for a single word of condemnation of Khrushchov for his intensified supply of arms to the imperialists ’water-boy’ Pandit Nehru?