Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Anti-Revisionism in the United Kingdom

High Tide: The Consolidation of Maoism by the Late 1970’s

By the mid-1970’s the architecture of the UK anti-revisionist movement was more or less established with two major national organizations and a host of smaller groups, considered large if they had a stable membership of a dozen – continuing to exist. Cover

For the first half of the decade, it was the CPB (ML) led by Reg Birch that seemed the most promising organisation to make a political break through. Nationally organised, led by a leading trade union leader, and having a workplace base in the engineering union, it suffered from being guided by a chauvinistic political line that made it impotent in terms of going beyond the dominant Labourist ideology of trade unionism. At the Party’s Second Congress in 1971, the defining theoretical feature of the organisation was expressed in “The British Working Class and its Party” which argued that were only two classes in Britain. As an organisation, the CPB (ML) never produced a theoretical journal but continued to issue a ’written by workers’ paper, The Worker, on a monthly basis.

Its principal rival for the designation of “leading centre” of UK anti-revisionism was the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) whose credentials were enhanced when it threw off its federal party building approach at its Third Conference in March 1976. The CFB’s standing was enhanced with its rebirth as the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain in July 1977. This was the result of fusion with the Communist Unity Association and a potential new partnership with the Communist Workers Movement. The CWM was formed in 1976 by three branches that had left the CPB (ML).

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The later 1970’s saw a slow numerical decline in active Maoists in Britain: the rapid growth and turnover of the late 1960’s was now but a distant memory. The movement was wracked by a number of strategic political disputes in the late 1970s that fundamentally re-shaped it. As small groups disintegrated, former members would seek out one or another political home: leading comrades of the East London Marxist-Leninist Association (that had evolved partly out of the North London Alliance in Defence of Workers Rights) first went into the CPB (ML) and six months later into the RCLB.

Other groups, like the Communist Organization of the British Isles, formed in 1974, devoted itself to theoretical questions. The Manchester Marxist-Leninist Group worked with other groups to form the Joint Action Committee of Marxist-Leninists in 1975, largely to do solidarity work with foreign revolutionary movements (notably in Eriteria and Kampuchea). Some groups like the Association of Communist Workers and the Communist Unity Association (M-L) chiefly distinguished themselves by the prolific production of critiques of other organisations’ political positions in duplicated pamphlets.

Some organisations became mere shadows of their previous selves and gradually disappeared: the Communist Workers League of Britain declined after a series of expulsions of members but did produce two studies on workplace organisation in 1974 and the need to build the party in their 1976 publication, ’Hey! It’s Up to Us’ that proposed a Party-building Commission of all Marxist-Leninists to which only one other organisation responded favourably.

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The Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) (CPE (ML)) may have considered itself “the party” but it was a minority within the movement and suffered a substantial loss of momentum when a split in 1974 saw the formation of the Workers Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-Tung Thought.

Differences on international theory and strategy in the late 1970s, including the “Three Worlds Theory” and the Albanian criticism of China and Mao Zedong exacerbated the crisis of UK Maoism. This period saw a rapid defection by the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), first to a pro-Albanian stance and then as quickly to defence of the Soviet Union in the 1980’s. This pro-Albanian turn by was echoed by the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) as it joined in the condemnation of the “anti-Marxist” Mao in support of the Albanian positions. This left the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain as the only significant group still supporting the post-Mao leadership in China, which was reaffirmed by a RCLB delegation to China in November 1977.

Index of organizations in this section (by alphabetical order)
Committee for a Socialist Program
Communist Organisation in the British Isles – Communist Formation
Communist Party of England (M-L) – Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (M-L)
Communist Workers’ League of Britain (M-L)
Communist Workers’ Movement
East London Marxist-Leninist Association
Joint Action Committee of Marxist-Leninists
Nottingham Communist Group and Stockport Communist Group
Revolutionary Communist League of Britain
Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought

Contents

General Background Materials

The Family Tree of the Anti-Revisionist Movement in the UK [Chart]

The High Tide of UK Anti-Revisionism: A History by Sam Richards

Materials on the 20th August 1978 Demonstration on the Occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Invasion of Czechoslovakia

Press Releases, Invitation Letter, etc.

Czechoslovakia, 1968. Tanks for the Memory, Leonid [leaflet]


Communist Workers’ Movement

The CWM was formed in 1976 when three branches split away from the CPB (ML) based on a criticism of what it characterized as the organisation’s opportunism and reactionary politics: “The Absolute decline of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)”. The document later became the basis for a call for a national conference of Marxist-Leninists in July 1977 but it overestimated the possibility of uniting the various potential attending groups against the background of the Albanian break with China and its impact on the Marxist-Leninist movement. 

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In reaction to what it perceived as the stifling internal life of the CPB (ML), the CWM was characterised by a loose internal life and undirected activism. The organisation did recruit from other groups, including some members of the Joint Action Committee of Marxist-Leninists, but this probably only added to the factionalism that plagued the CWM (the Birmingham branch, for example, split from the organization).

The CWM made efforts to consolidate itself; publications were produced, Workers’ Notebook and the New Age newspaper; conferences were held and political support for ‘the three Worlds Theory’ was adopted as policy. But the drive to implement a democratic centralist internal life caused disagreement and members’ defections increased, including Ian Williams, who joined the Labour Party. In the end, the CWM with its reduced membership, joined the RCLB in June 1980.

Background Materials and Polemics

The Historical Experience of the C.W.M. (Draft)

Take the Bolshevik, Not the Menshevik, Road in Party Building [on the CWM Conference]

On the Birmingham Conference, July (1977) by the Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist)

Primary Documents

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The “Absolute Decline” of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Open Letter to All Marxist-Leninist Organizations

Programme of the Communist Workers’ Movement [1977]

Correspondence from the Birmingham Conference [1977] on Marxist-Leninist Unity

Conference of Marxist-Leninists, Birmingham, 2/3 July 1977 by Ian Williams

Why Paul Foot Should Be A Socialist. The case against the Socialist Workers’ Party

CWM National Conference: A Success

Birch Sinks Lower [New Age No. 3, April/May 1978]

CWM and RCLB: Determined to Unite [New Age No. 4, June 1978]

The State of the Unions [New Age No. 5, July 1978] Cover

Whose Coup? [on Afghanistan] [New Age No. 5, July 1978]

Kampuchea: Fear and Fantasy by Malcolm Caldwell [New Age No. 5, July 1978]

Eritrea–Fighting for Freedom [New Age No. 8, November 1978]

WRP Against revolutionary violence

NC Minutes: 4th November 1978. Item #4: Yugoslavia [Internal Bulletin #5]

Obituary: Malcolm Caldwell [New Age No. 9, February 1979]

Hands Off Kampuchea! [New Age No. 9, February 1979]

The VOP case: Revolutionary journal attacked for defending the working class

China Defends World Peace

Iran–The People Stand Up [New Age No. 10, March 1979]

Kampuchea Solidarity

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Three Nations One Enemy [New Age No. 11, April 1979]

Anti-Racist Tactics in Hackney: Time for a Rethink [New Age No. 12, May 1979]

Red Salute to Comrade Joshi

Ireland: A visit to the north OR MORE CORRECTLY THE OCCUPIED SIX COUNTIES

Rebuild the Revolutionary Spirit

Revolutionary anti-imperialist struggle in Ireland: Build Solidarity!

October Books closes

The East is Red [New Age No. 16, October 1979]

Marx, Engels and the Fenians [New Age No. 16, October 1979]

Ban the Birch [New Age No. 17, November 1979]

Caldwell on Kampuchea

Communist Workers’ Movement holds 3rd National Conference

Interview with National Secretary of the CWM

Political Programme of the Communist Workers’ Movement [1980]

Periodical

Party Line Index

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Revolutionary Communist League of Britain

The RCLB was created in July 1977 as the result of the fusion of the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Unity Association. It continued to grow thereafter through its merger with the Communist Workers’ Movement in June 1980, and its subsequent fusion with one of the largest of the remaining small groups, the Birmingham Communist Association.

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Shortly after its foundation, the RCLB witnessed in quick succession the abandonment or expulsion of a number of leading comrades. The RCLB’s Secretary (associated with the “Anti-League Faction”) was expelled and went on to form the Stockport Communist Group in 1980. London was the site of a second major struggle against the alleged “rightist” politics and “bureaucratic authoritarianism” of the League Chairman; and the departure of the editor of Class Struggle, the RCLB’s monthly newspaper, brought about by the activities of a self declared “Kim Il Sung” faction that worked under the auspices of Mosquito Press.

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During the 1980s, the RCLB maintained its solidarity work with “unconditional support” for the struggle in Ireland, activity in anti-deportation and anti-fascist work supporting Anti-Fascist Action and in the Miners’ Strike of 1985. There was also a strong internationalist stance in its solidarity work on Palestine, the Philippines, Cambodia and Southern Africa. As part of this effort, in 1986 the RCLB organised a “Eurocentrism & the Communist Movement” conference in London. A publication of the same name was produced and received an international readership out of proportion to the membership of what was a declining organisation.

Muted criticism of the course taken by the Communist Party of China emerged in the RCLB’s opposition to the violent suppression of the Tianamen Square protests in 1989. The organisation adopted a new Political Platform in 1992 but did little to re-energise itself. The bookshop face and organising hub of the organization – New Era Books – was closed in January 1993. There were less than 30 participants at the RCLB’s last national meeting in Hoxton, London in 1996 but the organisation was unceremoniously dissolved in April 1998.

Background Materials

CUA-CFB Unite in Revolutionary Communist League

Letter to the members of the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain from the Stockport Communist Group

Primary Documents

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Militant Founding Congress of Revolutionary Communist League of Britain Held

Secretary of the Central Committee of the RCLB interviewed

Revolutionary Communist League Founded [Peking Review]

Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain

Demonstrators Denounce Soviet Aggression

Forge Ahead In Building the League! (Political Report to the general meeting of the London Branch) [unpublished internal document]

Take the Bolshevik, Not the Menshevik, Road in Party Building

Victory over the “gang of four”

Support for Socialist China Means Wholehearted Support for China’s Veteran Leaders

“Fight on to Unite the Marxist-Leninist Movement”

Proletarian Internationalism and the Duties of British Communists

Struggle to Build a Fine Style of Work in the League!

Forge Ahead In Building the League! (Political Report to the general meeting of the London Branch Committee) [unpublished internal document]

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Grasp Bolshevization – Forge Ahead In Building the League (Political Report of the London Branch Committee) [unpublished internal document]

There Is A Two Line Struggle in London District by J.B. [unpublished internal document]

Turn the Unions into Fighting Class Organisations

Ten Years after Czechoslovakia – Strengthen the Struggle against Soviet Hegemonism!

British Communists Lead Demonstration

Firmly Establish the Factory Cells!

A Major Step in Building the Single Leading Centre

Fight for Democratic Rights for National Minorities. Build Unity of the Working Class

Progress in Party Building

Refute the Right Opportunist Line in Party Building

Britain and the Struggle against Superpower Hegemonism and War

Criticism of A.C.W. Splittism

National Minorities – State Racism Hides Behind National Front

Solidarity with Democratic Kampuchea

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Kampuchea Resists Massive Viet Nam Invasion/Dr. Caldwell Murdered

Soviet-Vietnam Aggression Denounced Throughout the World

China and Vietnam: What Is The Truth? [leaflet]

Invasion of Kampuchea Condemned

K.R.A. Launches Fierce Counter-Attack

’The Kampuchean People Will Defeat the Agressors’

Kampuchea: Part of a Common Struggle Against Soviet Expansion

Open Letter to John Pilger

Class Struggle “Special Issue on Kampuchea“

Kampuchea Support Campaign Established

London meeting... Kampuchea Solidarity develops

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Militant RCL Conference Denounces Faction

Labour, Tory – Two Wings of a single bird of prey Cover

The Party of Labour of Albania – A New Centre of Revisionism

Build the Party at the Point of Production

Some Points of Self-Criticism on Ireland by T. E.

China’s New Long March: A continuation of Mao’s revolutionary line

Against the ACW’s Hopeless Dogmatism. (A Reply to the Association of Communist Workers’ pamphlet: On the Social-Chauvinism of the RCLB) by L.S.

District Committee Report to the General Meeting of the London District [internal document]

Zimbabwe 1980 – The Year of People’s Power [flyer]

Comments on the Political Line of the Zimbabwe Campaign of 1978 by T.E.

Study Notes to Marx’s Wage Labour and Capital

The RCL and CWM Have United!

Birmingham meeting celebrates BCA merger

Our Coverage of Ireland by the editor of Class Struggle

Connollyism and Leninism by Hugh Stevens

RCLB Holds Second Congress

Report on the Second Congress of the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain Cover

Report to the Second Congress by the Chairman of the First CC

Introduction to the Second Congress’s Revised Text of Section 7 of the Programmatic Document

Programmatic Document Section VII (as amended by the 2nd Congress)

Foreign Communists Greet RCLB Second Congress

The Irish Struggle, the CFB and the RCL by J. B.

Ireland: Firm Support for the Republican Movement

The Struggle of National Minority People and the line of the RCL [October, Volume 1, No. 1, April 1982]

Schools Action

Debate over the Standing Committee’s “Reorientate The League” Document

Reorientate the League for the Tasks of the Moment!

Criticise and Overturn the League’s Programmatic Work

Reorientate the League for the Tasks of the Moment! – A Criticism

In Response to Reorientate the League by a comrade from the Leeds branch

RTL – Redraft of the First Seven Paragraphs

Rally Around “Reorientate The League!”

Amendment to “Reorientate The League....”

Branch Response: Leeds

Branch Response: Yeovil

Proposed Offering of Amendments for Conference

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On the Question of Unconditional Support for the Republican Movement and the Struggle of the Irish people

The Oppression of Women – Criticism of Old Lines

Racism, National oppression and Free National development [October, Volume 1, No. 2, October 1982]

Building An Ireland Solidarity Movement

Irish Independence and Britain’s Communists by H. Stephens

The Way Forward

A Task Taken Up For Solution by Keith Anderson

Spirit of Freedom: RCL Statement on Ireland

Remembering Comrade Joshi

RCL Conference

RCL Third Congress Cover

Eurocentrism, the ’key link’ in theoretical work

Black National Minorities, Working Class and the R.C.G. [October, Volume 1, No. 3, Summer 1985]

Colonialism and Eurocentrism

Eurocentrism and Revolutionary Politics [Ad for Conference]

Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement

Eurocentrism and the Communist Movement [Internal study papers (uncirculated)]

Challenging Eurocentrism by Juliet Ucelli and Dennis O’Neil [Foward Motion,]

The Theory and Practice of Mao

Ireland: Class Struggle and National Liberation

Ireland’s Neutrality and Irish Republicanism

The Left Drifts Right

RCL: Ten Years Anniversary

Workers Revolutionary Party 1985: The Death of A Political Cult

Glimpses into Herstory: Women’s Oppression

Criticism of the ’Revolutionary Internationalist Movement’

Statement of the Central Committee of the R.C.L.B. [on the Tiananmen Square massacre]

China A Class Struggle Special Supplement [on the Tiananmen Square massacre]

Poland: Socialism or Social Democracy

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St. Pancras 1960: When Tenants Came Out in Their Thousands

Vicious Sentence

Wapping, Jan 24 – An Eyewitness Account

Letter: The Two Superpowers and the Arms Race

Editorial on the Mass Line

Editorial: Solidarity Takes Power

Pre-Fourth Congress Discussion Documents

The responsibility of membership of the RCL

Class Struggle, National Struggle and Party Building

Discussion Document on Methods of Work

Base-Building

The Working Class and the Struggle for Socialism

The Political Economy of Imperialism and its Effect On Class Structure

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Solidarity not squabbling

Irish Solidarity

RCL Congress: Women top of the agenda...

Conference on the Political Economy of Imperialism: Documents and Notes [June 23, 1990]

Basis of Women’s Oppression

Should Women Fight Imperialism?

The Crisis in the Gulf

Internal Discussion document on socialist transition: “China–Continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat”

RCL Conference: “The Future of Socialism” Cover

Poland: Military Rule Exposes Sham ’Socialism’

Speech Introducing the Political Platform of the RCL

The Political Platform of the RCL

In Praise of Mao Zedong

Report of the Proceedings of the National Consultative Conference of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Why Publish the Political platform of the RCL?

“Was it Worth 25 Years?” Some Ask. But the Struggle is Not Over. [leaflet on Ireland]

’Reflections’ on Open Polemic

Looking Once More at China

Travelling Out of Limbo [on the demise of the Class War Federation]

Periodicals

Revolution Index

Interim Journal Index

October Index

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Nottingham Communist Group and Stockport Communist Group

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The NCG began as the Nottingham branch of the CPB (ML), which broke away in 1975. Led by ‘Harry Powell’, the NCG soon articulated two clear points of demarcation from other UK ML groups: its emphasis on programmatic work and its strong identification with and support for the Gang of Four and the US–based Revolutionary Communist Party. In 1980 the NCG embarked upon the task of setting up a party building commission with the equally small Stockport Communist Group, comprising two defectors from the RCLB. The resulting appeal, “Build the Party!” was issued in 1981 “to develop a revolutionary programme embodying a thorough scientific analysis of the character of contemporary British capitalism and on the basis of this scientific knowledge to elaborate a strategy for the conduct of revolutionary struggle in Britain.” However, the five person commission created to further the project broke up under “intense ideological and political struggles.”

Background Materials

Stockport Communist Group: A Self-criticism

Primary Documents

Controversy over China by the Nottingham Communist Group

Mao on Revisionism by the Nottingham Communist Group

Is China Still Socialist? by the Nottingham Communist Group

Resolution: The Present International Situation and the Tasks of the Proletariat. The Contribution of the British Proletariat to the World Proletarian Revolution by Communist Unity (Stockport Communist Group)

The Way Forward in Re-building the Communist Party by the Stockport Communist Group [1979]

The MARXIST-LENINIST MOVEMENT IN BRITAIN: Past, Present and Future by the Nottingham Communist Group

Revolution on Trial! [leaflet on Gang of Four trial] by the Nottingham Communist Group

An Open Letter to the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain and the Communist Workers’ Movement from the Stockport Communist Group [1981]

Resolution on the Joint Communique by the Stockport Communist Group [from A World To Win, May 1982]

Build the Party! by the Nottingham Communist Group

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Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist)/Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

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Although formed in March 1972, the CPE (ML) had its roots in an earlier incarnation, the English Communist Movement (Marxist-Leninist) that emerged from the student-dominated Internationalist trend which originated in Canada with Hardial Bains. The politics of the organisation – in all its forms – was dominated by a stress on ideological struggle, and the voluntarism that characterised the ‘Necessity for Change’ Conference held in London in August 1967. For these militants, ceaseless activism was deemed proof of one’s revolutionary consciousness.

The activities of the CPE (ML) were labelled as “ultra-leftist” by many others in the ML movement. There  were also internal struggles, including expulsions in 1974 that saw the formation of the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.  However, the real shake-up to the organisation came with the discovery that they had made “the serious, though understandable, mistake of adopting ‘Mao Zedong Thought’ alongside Marxism-Leninism as their guiding ideology.” The solution lay in founding of a “genuine party of the British Proletariat:” the very pro-Albanian RCPB (ML) in March 1979.

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The creation of the RCPB (ML) marked the rejection of the organisation’s Maoist allegiances, a cover-up of its Maoist past, and the recognition of the Party of Labour of Albania, headed by Enver Hoxha as “the foremost Party in the International Marxist-Leninist Communist Movement”. 

The RCPB (ML) suffered the loss of two leading comrades within a short time after its foundation. In December 1981, founding member and noted avant-garde composer, Cornelius Cardew was killed in a car accident and John Buckle, who had led the party under the name of “David Williams” since 1978, died in an air crash on November 27, 1983. 

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The new party continued the traditions of its predecessors – frenetic activity and the proliferation of non-sustainable broad front organisations that consisted of very few members. The RCPB (ML) produced publications for the various broad fronts that it created in the early 1980s – the ’Trade Union Revolutionary Opposition’ (something the CPB (ML) refused to countenance), the Women’s Union of Britain and People’s Democratic Front.

Today, the RCPB (ML) has abandoned much of its anti-revisionist past. In the spirit of “one big Marxist tent” it is likely to be sharing platforms with the New Communist Party and the Communist Party of Britain at solidarity meetings in praise of North Korea.

In 2011, the RCPB (M-L) began publication of a new irregular monthly magazine, The Line of March.

Background Materials

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Words [Published by the Irish Internationalists, 1967]

Necessity for Change! by Hardial Bains

Death of a Dissident [On Cornelius Cardew] by Edward Fox

Cornelius Cardew 70th Birthday Anniversary Festival [articles and photographs]

Liberation Music [on Cornelius Cardew] by Richard Gott

Cornelius Cardew – Outstanding Musician, Composer, Communist by Sandra L. Smith [also link to film on Cornelius Cardew, "The Content of Our Song" by independent film-maker Stuart Monro]

In Commemoration of Comrade Hardial Bains

Polemics

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Why Does the RCP of Britain (ML) Reject the Slogan ’The Main Enemy Is at Home’? by the Marxist-Leninist Party of the USA

On the history of the nationalist deviations of the RCP of Britain (ML) by the Marxist-Leninist Party of the USA

The nationalist program of the RCP of Britain (ML) violates the ABC’s of Marxism-Leninism by the Marxist-Leninist Party of the USA

On the question of communist unity. Reply to comrades who wonder why RCPB(ML) and CPGB-ML are separate organisations. by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Primary Documents

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Political Report to the March 24th Meeting of the National Council of the English Communist Movement (Marxist-Leninist)

Hail the Great New Upsurge of the English Proletariat

Long Live the Fighting Traditions of the English Working Class

Tenth Anniversary of the Internationalists Celebrated Amidst Great Revolutionary Enthusiasm in England and Ireland

Who is the Real Cause of “Violence” and “Terror” in England and Ireland?

Stockhausen Serves Imperialism by Cornelius Cardew

Statements of the National Executive Committee, CPE (ML)

Interview with Delegation of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Presenting the Ideas of the First Congress of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist)

The Followers of “Mao Tsetung Thought” in Britain Promote Straightforward National and Social Chauvinism Cover

Documents of the Founding Conference of the Women’s Union of Britain, March 6, 1982

British Maoists’ Promotion of Soviet Social Imperialism

On the Fifteenth Anniversary of Founding of English Internationalists, Forerunner of Genuine Marxist-Leninist Party in Britain, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Report of the Central Committee of RCPB (ML) Submitted to the First Congress by David Williams

Commemorating the Centenary of the Death of Karl Marx, the Great Leader and Teacher of the International Proletariat

Step Up the Mass Struggles of the Workers for Their Rights and Against the Capitalist Exploiters! May Day Statement of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Cornelius Cardew His Life and Work

Report to the Second Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) by Michael Hamilton

The Working Class Movement and the New World Situation by Chris Coleman

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There Can Never be Genuine Democracy in Britain without Withdrawal from Ireland by Chris Coleman

There is a Way Out of the Crisis

Draft Programme for the Working Class

Report of Delegation of Central Committee of RCPB (ML) to North Korea: North Korea Forges Ahead on its Chosen Path

National Consultative Conference Points the Way Forward

Historic 3rd Congress of RCPB(ML) Successfully Held [Communiqué Issued by the National Office of RCPB(ML), April 11, 1999]

The Line of March to a New Society [Political Report to the Party’s 3rd Congress on the Work of the Central Committee]

Resolutions of Third Congress of RCPB(ML)

Ten Years Since the Coventry International Seminar

The Revolutionaries [Interview with Chris Coleman]

Successful Seminar: “There Is A Way Out of the Crisis”

Periodicals

Marxist-Leninist Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2 April 1982

Marxist-Leninist Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1 February 1990

Marxist-Leninist Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 July 1990

Marxist-Leninist Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1 January 1991

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The Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought

The Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought (substituting Mao Zedong Thought after 1979) was created in 1974 when Aravindan Balakrishnan (popularly known as Bala), formerly a member of the National Executive Committee and Central Committee of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), led a break-away from that organization. The new organisation was characterized by the ultra-left posturing and Mao worship formerly evident in the CPE (ML) or, as Bala described them: the “Communist” Party of Elizabeth (Most-Loyal).

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Drawing upon the Chinese experience of base areas, the Institute argued in favour of revolutionaries being based in working class communities, “the weakest link for the fascist state system” where political mobilisation involved whole families free from the “fascist rules and regulations and job security” involved in workplaces or educational institutions. Here revolutionary cadre could integrate and learn from the “sterling qualities of the labouring people while raising the intellectual level of the workers. Taking a working class job in the community is vital for this.”

Starting from this premise, the Workers’ Institute opened the Mao Tsetung Memorial Centre at 140 Acre Lane, Brixton, a poor and oppressed working-class area in South London in October 1976, running evening lectures, study groups and film showings. The Centre operated as a commune with 13 members living on the premises, half in paid work, six doing full-time revolutionary work, with a strong emphasis on women taking a leading role (apart from leading the Party Committee headed by Bala).

A distinctive feature of the Institute’s “Cultural Revolution” politics was that it regarded itself as a component of the Communist Party of China, arguing that:

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“The Communist Party of China and Chairman Mao are on the verge of launching the final offensive, this year [1975] to dismantle the old world of colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism and build the new world of socialism. The establishment of the international dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary for this, led by the Communist Party of China and Chairman Mao and with the People’s Liberation Army of China as its main pillar. Only thus can mankind march forward to communism.”

An Institute assertion that caused much amusement and embarrassment among other leftists was that the INTERNATIONAL DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT had indeed been established covertly in 1977 “by Our Party”, the Communist Party of China.

The Worker’s Institute came to broader public attention when the diarist in The London Times began reprinting some of the group’s material, as amusing asides. “Though the hired scribes of the bourgeoisie vainly try to “level” us by describing the Workers’ Institute as the ’most lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe in Britain’, their masters are well aware of the danger of the rapid growth and development of the Workers’ Institute in the past four years to their class interests.”

The political activities at the Mao Memorial Centre was subject to police monitoring and a number of members were subject to deportation orders. Their refusal to recognise the authority of the courts led to further harassment and imprisonment. The closure of the Mao Memorial Centre followed a police raid on March 22, 1978. For a short period thereafter, meetings were held at the University College London Union, but by 1981 little was heard from the Workers’ Institute. If asked, the reply was that they had gone underground.

Historical Background

The Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought by Sam Richards

Primary Documents

Uphold the Communist Spirit of Self-sacrifice of the Worker Comrade Ekins Brome! Death to the British Fascist State!

Seven Important Lessons

WORKERS’ INSTITUTE SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTS VIGOROUS PROGRAMME TO UPHOLD CHAIRMAN MAO’S REVOLUTIONARY LINE AMIDST THE MASS UPSURGE IN BRITAIN – A REPORT

On Building a Revolutionary Stable Base Area

On the Closure of the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre by the British Fascist State

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The Communist Workers’ League of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

The roots of the organisation lay in the Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League led by A. Manchanda. A split in the RMML in August 1969 saw about half the RMLL membership leave; some led by Harpal Brar formed the Association of Communist Workers. Others, led by former RSSF student leader Edward Davoren, founded the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front in September 1969.

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The Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front was a broad campaigning organization which produced the Irish Liberation Press, a paper for Irish workers in Britain, starting in March 1970. In 1972, the INLSF decided to shift its focus to organizing the working class at the point of production and the Communist Workers’ League of Britain (ML), which had previously been operating as the driving force within it, went public. In turn, the Irish Liberation Press was renamed the Voice of the People in March 1972; Davoren retired from active political involvement that autumn.

The Voice of the People was certainly the best produced UK ML paper in the 1970s: typeset and in colour with a professional layout. However, the organisation itself suffered from both a series of expulsions including the former General Secretary of the INSLF, and police scrutiny of its activities around the Irish struggle.

The principal legacy of the CWLB (ML) was two pamphlets: “Building Communist Revolutionary Bases at Place of Work” and “Hey It’s Up to Us!,” which inspired a short-lived “Marxist-Leninist Working Commission on Party Building Preparatory Work“ in 1977. The Commission maintained its focus on Marxist-Leninist unity, but efforts to bring groups together proved unsuccessful. It dissolved in 1981.

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Background Materials

Statement by the Executive Committee of the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front Concerning the Irish Repubican Army and Sinn Fein

On the Social-Chauvinism of the R.C.L.B. by the Association of Communist Workers

Polemics

Active Ideological Struggle Is The Key Link In Party Building by the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Primary Documents

Join Us

Editorial: Free These Patriots Now! Irish Liberation Press, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1971)

INLSF Intensifies Struggle Irish Liberation Press, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1971)

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An Open Letter: ’A slave yourself, you assist in the enslavement of others’ Irish Liberation Press, Vol. 3, No. 1 (1972)

A New Socialist Newspaper Will Go On Sale May 1, 1972 Irish Liberation Press, (1972)

Motive Behind the Race Riot That Wasn’t Voice of the People, Vol. 2, No. 4

Building Communist Revolutionary Bases at Place of Work

“Fascists and Racists Get Out of Our Town!” Voice of the People, Vol. 5, No. 1 (1975)

Hey! It’s Up to Us!

What This Paper Stands For Voice of the People, May 1977

The Labour-Tory-Liberal Anti-People’s Alliance Must Be Smashed–The VOP Policy for the Next General Election Voice of the People, May 1977

Front Page Change Voice of the People, May 1977

Why British Workers Must Support Ireland’s Struggle Voice of the People, 1980

Royal Romance and Oppression Go Hand in Hand Voice of the People, August 1981

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East London Marxist-Leninist Association

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The ELMLA evolved out of a Marxist-Leninist-dominated broad front organization called the North London Alliance in Defence of Workers Rights (NLA), which was formed in April 1971. The NLA produced the Bulletin which was incorporated in a printed broadsheet newspaper, Class War, starting in the spring of 1972. It was involved in community oriented campaigning that resulted in police attacks on its street meetings in Wood Green and Turnpike Lane in North London.

A Marxist-Leninist core inside the North London Alliance, the Mao TseTung Study Group, was instrumental in concentrating its work on East London. Its members were involved with the Red Star Press that republished the ’Works’ of Stalin, and in initiating the Anti-Imperialist Coordinating Committee, which worked with students from the Third World in London in the early 1970s. Tension over the political direction and activities of the NLA raised criticisms that the Alliance was merely an expedient front for the Mao TseTung Study Group.

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Members of the Mao TseTung Study Group subsequently formed the East-London Marxist-Leninist Association (ELMLA). The ELMLA established a factory cell at Ford Motor Company in Dagenham and produced the journal, Red Flag. The group split with the expulsion of two activists promoting the line “that the working class has been bought off with imperialist super profits.” After a turbulent six months of candidate membership in the CPB (ML) and the dissolution of the ELMLA in 1977, its leading members joined the RCLB.

Background Materials

Bulletin #1: Smash Creeping Fascism by the North London Alliance in Defense of Workers Rights [1971]

Class War #1 by the North London Alliance in Defense of Workers Rights [1972]

Class War #2 by the North London Alliance in Defense of Workers Rights [1972]

Primary Documents

Reply to Comrade L. [Unpublished letter]

Editorial: Towards Marxist-Leninist Unity

Oppose Superpower War with Revolution

History Study Notes: Communist Principles in Two World Wars

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Joint Action Committee of Marxist-Leninists

The Joint Action Committee of Marxist-Leninists (JAC) was formed in 1975 from a number of ad hoc groupings of non-aligned activists, almost exclusively intellectual in composition, including the Manchester Marxist-Leninist Group, which emerged from the university milieu in the 1970’s. The JAC chiefly worked in various solidarity campaigns (notably around Eriteria and Kampuchea) and undertook the translation of several European Marxist-Leninist texts. The JAC survived in the fractured environment of the UK Maoist movement because no other group could use its members’ unquestionable talents or, perhaps just as importantly, break down their unwillingness to submit to political direction within a party-building organisation.

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The mainly London-based JAC was involved in organising the July 1977 Conference at Birmingham initiated by the CWM, who had no London-based members at that time. With the failure evident at that conference the JAC had largely lost its purpose and it dissolved later that year.

Primary Documents

Proposal for ’The Aims and Principles of the Joint Action Committee of Marxist-Leninists’

Statement to the JACML from the Manchester Marxist-Leninist Group

Down with the New Tsars! Marxist-Leninists Intensify the Struggle Against Social-Imperialism by the Joint Action Committee of Marxist-Leninists

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Communist Organisation in the British Isles/Communist Formation

The Communist Organisation in the British Isles (COBI) was founded in 1974 by former members of the British and Irish Communist Organisation who disagreed with a range of that group’s policies and analysis. Cover COBI was an unorthodox anti-revisionist organization, drawing inspiration from the old De Leonist Socialist Labor Party as well as Mao zedong. COBI published four issues of a journal called Proletarian, as well as a number of pamphlets and flyers. In 1977, the group changed its name to Communist Formation and produced one issue of a journal by the same name. It disbanded several years later.

Primary Documents

What is the Communist Organisation in the British Isles?

Platform of the Communist Organisation in the British Isles

Towards a Communist Programme

Comments on the Transitional Programme

How COBI Proceeds – Three Letters on C.O.B.I.’s Perspectives

The Distinguishing Features of Leninist Political Practice

Periodical

Proletarian

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The Committee for a Socialist Program

This was a small group lead by Alex Hart, an early anti-revisionist and doctor by occupation who had been a founder of the Working Peoples Party of England, but then became an early convert to the ’green socialism’ that came out of the German Democratic Republic.

Primary Documents

What is Socialism?

On the Soviet Revolution under Lenin. A review of “Les Luttes de Classes en URSS 1917-1923” by Charles Bettelheim by Alex Hart

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