First Published: n.d. [1977?]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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[MIA Note: The pamphlet was reproduced in Appendix 3 of Will Podmore’s biography, Reg Birch: engineer, trade unionist, communist (2004) which stated, “Dorothy Birch wrote the party pamphlet Britain in the World 1977, a scorching rebuff to the Chinese party’s three worlds notion and its consequent attempt to suborn Britain into a war against the USSR.” Page 147)]
THIS STATEMENT of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) evaluates Britain in the world today and the problems that face the British working class. We do not judge or give instructions to any other working class and we do not tolerate instructions from any other on how we shall act. Our party was founded on Marxism-Leninism and the Communist Manifesto is our first text. “Communists have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.” “They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own to shape and mould the proletarian movement.” “The immediate aim of the communists is the formation of the proletariat into a class, the overthrow of bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.”
We set down arguments that are raging throughout the world and we seek to elucidate them for the British working class. Our party shall face our task and our duty. We in Britain are being urged to put into cold storage our revolutionary task and to join in alliance with our employing ruling class, the bourgeoisie, to strengthen NATO and its economic arm the EEC, so embracing the European bourgeoisie, the neo nazis and the USA agents in Europe, to crush the aspirations of the European working class for freedom, national independence and revolution. We have been offered the role of pivot in this, even to the extent of replacing a reactionary Labour Government by a similar Tory Government because the Tories shout louder for a war because they usually gain office in a war. This preparation is to be carried against the USSR as Hitler propounded; all on the pretext that the USSR is the greater danger, greater than US imperialism (our party very early made the point that revisionism, the revisionism of Khruschev ,Brezhnev was the greatest danger), and imperialism, however lesser, in our own land. Therefore it is argued that the working class should unite with its own imperialism and US imperialism to defeat USSR imperialism.
It is a call for war not defence and that the world will be saved thereafter by the third world.
Remember that World War I killed 10 million soldiers and 30-50 million civilians by the war itself and the resulting epidemics. World War II resulted in the destruction of one eighth of the total populations of Russia, Yugoslavia, Albania and Poland, to a total of at least 56 million people.
Communists oppose war; it is a crime against humanity. Our duty is to achieve revolution to prevent war. We must not march in a crusade for capitalism. We must, if imperialist war be forced on us, turn it into civil war.
Are there two “superpowers”? “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.” The description is inaccurate and the origin of the term educational. “Super” was borrowed by Hollywood from the aristocratic English “bright young things” of the twenties who used super, short for superlative, to describe their silly games. It was then taken up by schoolboys and the Hollywood moguls of about the same level of sophistication as small boys, used “super” to describe an actor or a film. Now they use “super-colossal” and plain “super” is left for “super-markets” and “supertankers”. As transient as these were the “superpowers” of the past – Philip’s Spain, Napoleonic France, the British Empire, Hitler’s Germany, the thousand year Reich that lasted twelve years, even the greatest superpower of all time Attila, the “Scourge of God” whose armies were as the sands of the shore, who held the whole known world in thrall. All these were destroyed. At Chalons in 451 when Attila was killed and his armies “melted like the morning dew”, was the pattern set. There is but one superpower, the proletariat, and that is the superlative power above all others.
The US bourgeoisie was a “superpower” until the Koreans and the Vietnamese made them run with their tails between their legs. Then it was Russian imperialism that was the “super-colossal” power – a country that for all its vast area cannot feed itself. Now the US President has a present for Europe, a neutron bomb that kills people without damaging property. He, surely, must go up the League of Superpowers. The City of London has a financial angle in every bit of dirty business going on in the world. Can we, the British, then claim to be a “mini-superpower”? Meanwhile the Japanese manufacturers are quietly, without trumpets, going about the task of completing the ruin of first British manufacture, then West German, now USA. Is Mitsubishi then a ”superpower”?
Imperialists have no frontier and are never patriots. Just as they combined to create Nazism as the weapon to destroy the only socialist country, the USSR, so they would combine to destroy nascent revolution everywhere including the USSR.
Such a line is destructive of Britain and the British working class. Britain is to be an aircraft carrier and the British to be expendant. In 1916 at the Battle of the Somme 60.000 British soldiers were killed in three hours; at Paschendale 300,000. Their generals declared they were expendant though no gain came from either battle.
The argument is given that Communists should support USA imperialism against Russia. If USA is weaker it must be so particularly in Asia following its defeats by Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. None of these People’s Victories came from the bourgeoisie of these countries or by alliance with “lesser” imperialists. The victories’ were won by the people led by strong Marxist-Leninist parties, by Communists who had clear unequivocal reliance on the revolutionary zeal of proletariat and peasant forces.
In Europe, imperialism, except in Albania, is not defeated; nor is it in Latin America, India, the Middle East, Turkey, Australia, Japan or Indonesia. The imperialism and the revisionist posture of the USSR springs from the crushing of the Bolshevik Revolution and the internal contradictions stemming from that.
Russia has naked imperialism with the oppression at home of Tsarism and Empire building abroad just as all imperialisms including the British Empire were created. So, we do not use the words “social imperialism” to confuse the issue.
The question of “which is the weaker USSR or USA?” inevitably leads to alliance with one or the other. For the working class, this is betrayal, a disowning of their revolutionary role and a revival of Second Internationalism. It is a betrayal if the working class does not turn an imperialist war into a civil war. “European unity” as a bulwark against attack is an invitation to a European working class plus their “parties” to ally themselves with their own bourgeoisie in economic and military blocs. Some of the wilder statements and frenetic approach to this spring from ideological reasons , ideological unclarity, ideological doubts and above all, a failure to know and rely on the working class as the one revolutionary force and the one force against war, imperialist war. Our party has never been unclear on this; furthermore we have never referred to the USSR of the new revisionists as social imperialism. It is a capitalist imperialist power as we stated regarding the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
NATO emerged from the occupation of Europe at the end of the Second World War, with the endorsement of Churchill’s Fulton speech in 1946, legalising US bases, ostensibly as a cordon against the USSR lending strength to revolutionary forces throughoutEurope. NATO was set up to crush revolution in France and Italy. Europeans won the war but USA occupied Europe afterwards. We have suffered US airbases on the soil of Britain ever since. NA TO was a direct product of the “Cold War”. Now British workers are being asked to be mercenaries in a multinational army under the command of neo Nazis, US imperialists, Vichy traitors and Belgian generals who handed over Belgium intact to the Nazis.
The origin of the EEC was a majority of occupied, defeated collaborators. The aim of Napoleon and Hitler was to inflict a “Continental System”. The EEC does this. The Common Market emerged from the prodding of US imperialism. Schumann, its voice in Europe, established a commercial unity of the six member countries for the benefit of US capitalism. Now the USA has been outwitted and surpassed by West German capitalism. We were once told that Europe would be a buffer third force between USSR and USA. Whatever happened to that theory? At the same time US agents and British cunning recreated passive labour movement organisations throughout Europe. The basic function of the EEC was to restore European capitalism which was in collapse following the war, to stop the march of progress of the proletariat. The EEC was therefore the necessary economic arm of military revanchism in Europe. Nothing accelerated this more than the role of the revisionist parties in France and Italy.
The British people owe thanks to De Gaulle, who saw the EEC solely as a French monopoly, for keeping the British out. Then by intense propaganda, by promises of employment, greater markets, no inflation, no passports, greater prosperity, a minority of British people actually voted to stay in the market, abstainers and those in dissent being a majority against. The result has been a faster, fiercer lowering of living standards than at any time in the history of British capitalism; so much so that the prophecies of our party have come to pass. We see the ruin of British industry and agriculture, and of our capital London, mounting unemployment, high inflation, the destruction of our hard-won reforms -the National Health Service and the Education Service -but we also see the complete disillusionment in the “benefits” of the EEC and the mounting attacks on British membership by the working class ’and even sections of the bourgeoisie frightened by the pressure and the bitterness expressed by British workers.
But none of these economic pressures on British workers are insurmountable. By far the most heinous effect of membership was the loss of sovereignty and independence of our class. The EEC is a more efficient gendarme than our own ruling class could provide; that is the real reason why the British government fought to remain in the Market. Faced with the eternal intransigence of the British working class, British capitalism was provided with the best excuse in all its history for the greatest exodus of British capital and the rundown of British industry. Articles 67 and 92 of the Treaty of Rome are worth study. Among the tenets is the provision that “at all times anything which will affect trade between member states or be incompatible with the Common Market, aid shall be forthcoming a) to make good damage caused by natural disaster or other exceptional circumstances (social change, revolution) and b) to promote in European interests such actions to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of member states (revolution in Britain)”. Now we see the demand for direct election from Britain to the EEC, the elected being answerable to no one at home, not even bourgeois democratic Parliament, These are the reasons why the British working class must not only get out of the Common Market but in aid of their brethren in Europe, seek to destroy it.
In connection with the so-called third world, specious arguments, wishful in character, are used, an example of dogmatism. Even population numbers are quoted as a political reason. The conception is mechanistic and over-simplified. Why three worlds? Who are they? Which is the first, the second? Maybe there is a fourth or a fifth. The origin of the term third world is capitalist phraseology. It was first used in connection with the absurdity of “non alignment”. Tito said he was a non-aligned force and would act in an independent way. Nehru could not afford to appear pro-Western and did not want to be pro-Eastern so he too was non- aligned. Out of this grew the theory that there was another force existing in the world and the development of this theory became the third world, accelerated during the period of the polemic of Albania and China with the revisionist forces come to power in the USSR .Neither Tito nor Nehru would or could give allegiance to either so dramatically took the hand of US imperialism, becoming vassals of the USA. If then we are to believe that there is no socialist camp where is the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania and where is the proletariat of the world?
What is the third world? Does it mean the Middle East, India, Malaysia, Africa, South America? Where is Japan, Australia, Israel, Egypt, Yugoslavia, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Mexico, Chile, South Africa? And above all, where is Socialist Albania, the only socialist country in Europe? Is the new leader of Pakis tan, who cuts off hands, in the third world? Are the countries of Somalia and Ethiopia, countries with stone-age development and twenty first century weapons donated by kind imperialists, engaged in a bloody war with each other, in the third world? In both countries there has been drought, starvation and death when their imperialist supporters provided little or no help. What about the Shah or Hussein, both educated and supported by the British imperialists? And is Africa again to be the cockpit of all the other worlds? Once there was British East Africa and German East Africa and Africans on both sides killed each other for the greater glory of the Kaiser and the King. Are we to allow that again? We were expected to agree that the hideous regime of South Africa came to the support of the Angolan people; indeed we were told that this “superpower” or that “superpower” plus a bunch of white mercenaries fought the war in Angola. The Angolan people were hardly mentioned and their deaths evidently of little importance. Were they, too, expendant, like the British Tommies? Once Africa was the cornucopia for British, French and German capitalism; now is it to be the parade ground for the two “super-powers” and Marxist-Leninists must support the one against the other; or do we work for the time when the African people are able to throw out the “advisers”, “helpers”, soldiers from outside and with them those traitorous foreign-educated so-called leaders trained and educated by imperialists to be their lackeys; and re-create the developing African culture and economy destroyed by venal chieftains, Arab middlemen and European slave traders? It is the duty of all workers, especially European who bear a heavy burden of guilt, to give assistance to the African peoples to stop a modern version of bought chieftains and warring imperialisms. The definition of a third world is based on the theory that the greater the under-development the greater the potential for revolution, that the man with the ox is more militant, a greater force for change than the one who has passed that stage. Dialectically, if he did not have the ox he would be even more revolutionary.
Likewise the primitive man, not yet having discovered the wheel, was a greater force for change than one who had. It is a false premise that the undeveloped, less privilege, “more” exploited are more prone to progress, to revolution.
That is idealism, not Marxism. All exploited are potentially progressive, potentially revolutionary, and capitalism exploits all. It is a question of class, of class relationships, alone. Otherwise there is the danger of racialism, “black against white”, “east against west”, “north against south”, old weapons of imperialism.
For us there is one world of exploited and exploiter. Here is the division and the unity is only to be resolved in victory over the exploiter by the exploited. Our duty in Britain, national and international, is the crushing of Capitalism here and British Imperialism abroad, especially the ending of aggressive imperialist occupation of Ireland.
British capitalism in decline is still a power, an imperialist power, and possess great acumen, cunning and experience. Our working class has not and must not underestimate the strength of this enemy. For us it is the major enemy and its defeat the greatest contribution we can make to the international working class, to the leading socialist countries Albania and China and to Vietnam, Korea, Laos and Cambodia. These are still looked at with hungry eyes by international capital which uses every trick of its bought propaganda organs, to vilify. The descendants of the instigators of the Opium War and the friends of Zog still flourish and wield power in our land. Because of the greed and instability increasing daily, war may break out between any of the capitalist powers. Such a war would have workers as soldiers and their families as casualties of appalling dimensions, on issues utterly trivial, as, for example, which flag will fly in the strategic policy of Southern Africa. To anticipate such a holocaust is to follow the wretched example of Kautsky. We communists must do all in our power to unite the working class against such a war and such class murder that would. The only war we prepare for is against capitalism, itself the seed of all wars in this age.
As Lenin said: “There is one and only one kind of internationalism indeed: working wholeheartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy and material aid) such and only such a struggle in every country without exception. Everything else is deception and Manilovism, sentimental day dreaming”. This is why our party must guard against the luxury of diversion as an excuse to avoid our duty and deal a smashing defeat to our ruling class. We must make revolution where we live, know and defeat the enemy at home, our own capitalists, otherwise we become merely cafe-salon politicians.
Of course we know that there are two powers with enormous arsenals ready to destroy each other or any that stand in their way; and that they could unite temporarily to destroy revolution in their own lands or elsewhere. We also know that the people do not lie down under the threat of the mailed fist. Khruschev invited communists to give up struggle because the danger of world war was too great with the threat of the atom bomb which would destroy the whole earth. Since then there have been worse weapons but they did not stop the peoples of Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Now the USA has the ultimate weapon, the dream of imperialist generals, the bomb that will destroy people and leave property unharmed so that the loot is not spoiled. We also know of the contradictions within the USSR forcing the revisionist leaders into imperialist empire- building by way of distraction. We, the British Marxist-Leninist Party, know that the great Russian people will make revolution once again; since they were the first they shall not be the last.
When this shall be, what will be seen but all the European bourgeoisie and the USA rush to the aid of the new Tsars with NA TO forces at their head. Shall we see a 14-22 nation intervention to aid the new Tsars and the latter day Kolchak and Denikin?
With or without such an event the British working class will not forgive or forget the Nazis even with their new face. We will not march with the bourgeoisie, the imperialists to divide the spoils in a Third War. We will not save Europe for USA or West Germany. We will not ally ourselves with our capitalists, our bourgeoisie. We know, as we did in 1945, how to rid ourselves of Churchills, whatever the previous temporary acceptance. The working class allies itself with none other than the working class.
In considering this whole new polemic stemming from the theory of the third world, which represents an absolute departure from the dialectical development of capitalism to imperialism and the side by side emergence of the proletariat as the only revolutionary force, in this case the World Proletariat, so a new line is developed necessary for this new brand of revisionism.
First, that the “major superpower”, the USSR, is the greater enemy, therefore all forces must unite against it, especially in Europe. Therefore we are invited to form a Second International after the pattern of Millerand and Bernstein and so follow the betrayal of the Basle Manifesto and the Stuttgart Resolution, namely, unite with one’s own bourgeoisie for defence. This means, in Europe, support the EEC and NA TO. We have tried to show the origins of both these pieces of imperialist apparatus of oppression of the European working class: Such a posture, if adopted, must mean, not only alliance of the working class with its own bourgeoisie and imperialist power, but also in the ultimate, USA imperialism embedded and entrenched in every way in Europe.
There will then issue a call for a Holy War against USSR imperialism, a patriotic war to defend Europe not as before in 1912 “defend one’s Fatherland” but “defend one’s European Fatherland”.
We say no! The duty of the British working class is to oppose imperialism and imperial war, in struggle. The working class of Europe must unite against all enemies and against war. Workers throughout the world will and must unite to end war. To make revolution is to end war.
Our duty here in Britain is clear. We think that since we the party have no separate interest from our own working class, nor has the British working class a special or vested interest separate from the European working class, or that of the USSR proletariat or that of the USA proletariat, or of all the workers and peasants in the world, we should not kill each other for the masters. We are not to act at their behest. We must unite for revolution and peace, put down the warmonger, the predatory imperialists in the USA, USSR, in Britain, in France and elsewhere.
The need is most urgent, the more so following the denunciation of Stalin and the creation of the Khruschev line. Revisionism, a great and growing revulsion by workers developed and there begun at last a healthy development of Marxist-Leninist parties and groups, especially in Europe, the more imperative because of the strength of Revisionism in Europe. All this is now set at risk, a meddling attempt to turn these parties, these workers away from the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist road and to desist from internal struggle within their countries, the better to defeat the external enemy. We shall not and must not allow this to happen. A great clarity of mind and purpose of Marxist-Leninist direction and purity is beginning.
There must be no turning away now, no casualties in the war for Revolution for Peace for world working class unity, the establishment of Socialism in Britain, for closer unity with all forces of workers throughout the world. Then we shall at last achieve our great and historic purpose endowed to us through the great master Marx.
For Freedom. For Peace.
Down with Capitalism.
Down with Imperialism.