First Published: Communist Unity, October 1971.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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Instances of sectarianism in the Marxist-Leninist movement are well known by all comrades. The sloganising student who sees ’revisionism’ around every corner, yet would run ten miles rather than involve himself in a true mass workers struggle, is a figure which can be exposed even by C.P.G.B. revisionists for his divorce from workers politics. His outlook is anarchistic, his manner is arrogant but when his ’thing’ is done he will retire to the run of the mill self-orientated student life declaring in true leftish fashion that “the whole of the British working class is corrupted by the super-profits of imperialist exploitation”. Never will it cross his educated and thoroughly bourgeois mind that he has passed through the stage that bourgeois liberals have passed through decades ago during their radical phase.
Nowadays it is not usually bourgeois liberalism that distracts the Marxist-Leninist movement – it is sectarianism. This may not indicate a fundamental change, in the consciousness of the workers but surely it shows that much has changed by way of increased awareness of revisionism.
Liberalism was the vanguard of the bourgeois elements within the Communist Parties until the exposure of modern revisionism. Now only sectarianism can defeat the working class within most sections of the Marxist-Leninist movement. Most comrades are aware of the nature of modern revisionism and so opportunism appears in new forms.
Far from this move to sectarianism being an ’over-reaction’ to revisionism, it seems clear that it is a new form of opportunism itself. We will cite one clear instance of this. Rejection of the Leninist concept of building a Party that encompasses all workers within a given state comes from the ultra sectarian English Communist Movement, which takes the ludicrous policy of McCreery, Tudor Hart etc. to horrible conclusions! Ultra militant posturing in courts etc. by these strange, adventurist, but highly glorious individuals, only serves to divorce them further from a working class that they objectively despise. Some years ago, when these comrades called themselves ’The Internationalists’ they produced theoretical tripe which obscured all political analysis with a theory of the “individual spirit” being smothered by a “historical crib”. Now they display their individual spirit in their self-orientated way by sloganising and sermonising to the workers who, it seems, reso1utely refuse to follow their brilliant example!
Neither they, nor any other sectarians of the Manchanda school, have produced one real lead in the struggle to build a party or made any contribution to its programme. They have influenced university circles however. It is clear that opportunism on questions of Party building is common to all sectarians. On the other hand, bourgeois liberalism has passed through those same university gates, bringing its own brand of worthless goods.
The bourgeois liberal wing of the C.P.G.B. has long held sway over the proletarian and industrial elements who were disorganised and dispersed in the early fifties when factory branches were abandoned. In 1956 when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary to put down a counter-revolution, many of these characters were shaken out of the Party by its adherence to the Soviet line. However, the grip of the liberals was not relaxed but rather intensified, due to the complete lack of real understanding of the events in Hungary by the Party leaders.
Opposition by the liberals in the C.P.G.B. was not always a question of anti-revisionism!
However, amongst the C.P.G.B. ’rebels’ who have joined the Marxist-Leninist movement, are many who reject the role of Stalin in the history of communism and who gave support to the dregs which revolted against proletarian power in Hungary. Some have even attempted to give ’leadership’ to honest working class comrades. This ’leadership’ consists mainly of sterile debate dedicated to hacking away at all proven communist principles in the attempt to completely dissipate the movement. Together with this, the liberals, as always, see their main aim in the corruption of working class Party building principles. Where there once was a Party there is bourgeois liberalism allied with elements of the Labour Aristocracy. Where there once was a Party building organisation (the J.C.C./C.F.B.) there is now bourgeois liberalism allied with the Labour Aristocracy, corrupting the great militant Party building aims of ’Origins and Perspectives’. Where liberalism or right opportunism holds no sway, sectarianism runs rife confusing mass organisations with Party building ones, sloganising and generally discrediting the Marxist-Leninist movement by continued divorce from the working class.
Many spurious theories have emerged about the roots of revisionism in Britain. It has been said that the C.P.G.B. was a mainly working class Party before the war. It has been pointed out that Harry Pollitt was a worker and that he was largely responsible for the “British Road”. Thus some are of the belief that revisionism arises from the ignorance of workers and that the situation can be remedied by the steady hand of ’intellectuals’. Sometimes they say that revisionism was imported from the Soviet Union and that Stalin had a hand in it! Wherever there is an ’analysis’ of this all important matter, a consistent class analysis is not made and profound irrelevancies are preferred. A second line comes from our old friends the sectarians who insist, when their views are pushed to their logical conclusion, that revisionism arises because the workers as a whole are bought off by imperialist super-profit.
Of course they will hasten to add that the British worker is exploited! There is a similarity, observe, between these two lines. The workers are to blame! But stop a moment. The first argument comes from bourgeois liberals and the second from ’Hard-Line’ Marxist- Leninists. The connecting thread is supplied by the fact that they are both a product of the imperialist universities and they are both very definitely bought-off.
This is the class base of opportunist theories of revisionism in Britain, but what is the class base of revisionism itself? The Communist Unity Organisation believes that it is the Labour Aristocracy that is the main-stay of revisionism amongst the workers, just as they are the back-bone of social democracy.
We would define these as a handful of Trade Union officials, Party workers and the strata of technical workers. Technicians have replaced the small producers as middle sections of society. These technicians, who some laud as the vanguard of the productive and therefore potentially revolutionary workers, are the foremen and supervisors of the working class and are the direct link of Monopoly Capitalism with the workers. It is logical that their ideology coincides with that of the bourgeois liberals. In the C.P.G.B. this is a clearly observable fact. These forces are also in struggle with the proletariat in the Marxist-Leninist movement.
This is an important programmatic question, i.e. the Labour Aristocracy. Without a study of class questions there can be no real programme for the Workers Party or even a programme of Communist unity. We will not be dogmatic about our view of the Labour Aristocracy. In fact, we use this space to declare that there must be a study of this question throughout the entire Marxist-Leninist movement. Further, we propose that there be a conference on the question of the Labour Aristocracy that the whole movement should sponsor.
Right opportunists and bourgeois liberals hold that the Labour Aristocracy does not exist or has very little influence. Sectarians or left opportunists, hold that the greatest section of the workers are Labour Aristocrats, or that the economic state of the workers must change qualitatively before they reject revisionism and social democracy. Both these lines revise the whole nature of Capitalism in theory and put the onus for political corruption on the masses themselves. They represent the forces of opportunism and sectarianism in the Marxist-Leninist movement. Without the complete exposure of these theories there can be no progress towards a real Party with a real workers programme, for we will be betrayed or left in the lurch again.
Forward to Communist Unity and a Communist Party!