First Published: n.d., 1977?
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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MIA Note: This document was prepared by the WPPE for the July 1977 Birmingham Conference of Marxist-Leninists organized by the Communist Workers’ Movement. For more about the conference, see the Communist Workers’ Movement background and primary materials on the “High Tide: The Consolidation of Maoism by the Late 1970’s” page.
There have been many calls of late, for unity of Marxist-Leninist groups in Britain. The initiative starts off well and seem to have every chance of bringing about a degree of unity but then seem to slip backwards and get lost in useless small talk and back-biting. Literature abounds and quotes from Mao, Lenin and Marx are plentiful. But practical experience is chucked out of the window (if it ever existed) and replaced with the “crystal clear teachings of the fathers of former revolutions”. From the way some so-called Marxist-Leninists behave you could even get the idea that if only the “greats” were here now, perhaps we would not even need a working class, our heroes could do it all by themselves. By turning Mao, Lenin, Marx and other Marxist leaders into proletarian Errol Flynns, the sentimentalists and fanatics divert attention from the science and practice into personalities and gossip. Mao, Lenin, Marx and other great leaders would be the first to condemn this kind of religiosity.
What type of groups are we trying to unite? Is there really anything homogenous about them? Are groups automatically worth uniting just because they increase the printing bills by putting “M.L.” after the organisation’s name? Are the organisations organised entirely “theoretical” or do they do any organised work at their work place i.e. do they have any practical experience in trying to organise working people? Do they write and talk (politically) in a way that makes the average worker in this country laugh with disbelief (e.g. by showing fanatical (religious) reverence to Mao and by spending their time and efforts merely regurgitating undigested material from Chinese publications)? Does their membership include “lunatics”, disruptors, police collaborators and those who are more interested in constructing long boring treatises criticising other groups than in constructing a revolutionary movement? As regards police collaborators, when will there be a better time than at “unity meetings and conferences” to collect valuable information about which Marxist-Leninist cadres are active and where and what their links are – quite apart from the opportunities afford for making trouble, sowing discord and sabotaging the efforts of genuine revolutionaries to unite.
We must not think in terms of unity unless we first state clearly what or who we want to unify and why. For this reason WPPE feels that it is not practical (or even correct) to unite the numerous so-called Marxist-Leninist groups into one party at the moment. There must be a clear perspective for such unity and whilst we are beginning to learn who we can and cannot unite with (from experience of informal contacts and through literature) we have not as yet had sufficient evidence to indicate that the time is right to merge our own organisation into a joint body.
There must be a correct political programme for the UK, including analysis of:
The British economy
Classes in the UK
The National Question in the UK
World political developments
And a practical strategy for revolutionary advance in the UK.
Initially we believe that a more down to earth approach would be to attempt unity of comrades who are active at their workplace or in their community. We propose that comrades in the same industry or doing similar types of work should work together in developing a united Marxist Leninist strategy and base within that industry or community. We believe that by establishing these links we will eventually be able to separate genuine revolutionaries from “text-book revolutionaries”. In order to make revolution we must study hard and work conscientiously amongst our fellow workers in Britain. Either one without the other is useless. Actual political work amongst working people is the fountain-head of knowledge and study is the well of experience.
If we are sincere revolutionaries then the problem of “mountain stronghold attitudes” and over emphasis on local work will not be difficult to deal with. But let us not think that we can unite with other “ML” groups just because they call themselves “ML” or just because they proclaim themselves to be revolutionaries and quote “classic” texts.
We must unite for revolution with all those, of whatever label, who show willingness to struggle and to cast aside their own organisation if and when this is necessary. It may transpire that many people within numerous parties and organisations, united through struggle at their workplace or in their community, ardent in their desire to destroy capitalism and to make Britain truly socialist and truly democratic, will cast aside the tired, discredited and stagnant, egotistical “party leaders” and work to form a new, more effective party of the working class.
In preparation for this party we must work hard to develop an accurate class analysis and a widely agreed upon programmes which will enable us to mobilise and motivate ever wider sections of the working people. The class analysis and programme are our guide, but our willingness to involve ourselves in struggles day to day with our fellow workers against capitalism, as represented by our employers or government, is proof of our sincerity. Any so-called comrades who are too scared (or too lazy, or too selfish) to struggle now, are always too scared (too lazy, too selfish). They are as useless in the struggle now as they will be at the time of the revolution and after it. We must judge people by what they do and how they act; not simply by what they say about themselves.