Editorial Notes

Where Is the British Communist Party?

(September 1931)

Source: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 22, 5 September 1931, p. 4.
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The catastrophic collapse of the British Labor government is an example of reformist bankruptcy that rings around the entire world. Since the world war there has been no more striking illustration of the truth that social democracy is the shield behind which capitalism marches in its assaults upon the working class. In the dramatic events of the past week the whole game stands revealed. MacDonald and Company led the British masses up to the edge of the precipice and then pushed them over it. A reduction in the miserable unemployment dole and a cut in wages for the civil employees, the signal for a furious attack on wage standards in industry: these are the concrete results of the workers’ experiment with a reformist Labor government. What will the laboring masses of Great Britain learn from this terrible experience and how will they prevent a repetition of it on a still greater scale? These are the most important questions arising out of the present situation.

And here it must be acknowledged that, as far as can be seen now, there is nothing to warrant optimistic expectations on this score in the immediate future. It is true that the masses learn only in the course of their own experience. But even this is not an automatic process. It is the historic function of the Communist party to assist the masses to assimilate the experience and raise their struggle to higher ground. And it is precisely this indispensable factor that is lacking, thanks to the devastating regime which ravages and disrupts the Communist movement from within. The heavy blow which reformism has dealt to the workers ought to be transformed into a still heavier if not a mortal blow against itself and its future usefulness to the masters. But the arm which could deal the blow – the party of the vanguard – is palsied.

The stabilization of British capital ism rested in the first place on the reformist labor bureaucracy, and particularly on its “Left wing”. The policy of Stalin in the general strike covered its advance and disarmed the revolutionary workers. Only this enabled the labor bureaucracy to escape unpunished for the betrayal of the general strike and to prepare the way for the new debacle. The pseudo-Left wingers are now organizing another division of labor to head off the furious resentment of the masses and divert it again into the same channel of reformism. And again their maneuver is facilitated by the helpless regime in the Comintern.

The Stalinists content themselves with routine denunciations of the strategy of the Left reformists, in all of which can he read a fatalistic acceptance of their victory. The question of what could be done to defeat this strategy and open the way for the Communist party to bound forward at the head of the insurgent masses has not yet occurred to them.

They will not press the counterfeit Left wingers to the wall, split their ranks and take the workers away from them with a fighting policy of the united front on concrete issues of the day. God forbid! Only a few years ago they could make a bloc with these same people – social imperialists to the core – “against imperialist war”! They could sit at the same table with the betrayers of the general strike at the moment of their betrayal and even after it! But they have become very radical since then Having burned their fingers on the “united front” with the strike-breakers – after expelling the Left Opposition for opposing it – they will not think of a united front with reformists any more under any circumstances. And with this pseudo-radicalism, the British Communist Party – already enfeebled, disrupted and beaten down by the international leadership – is still further handicapped and prevented from taking a single step forward in the face of this tremendous opportunity.

With an air of wisdom, pathetic in its emptiness and impotence, the Daily Worker “exposes” the aims of the “Left” laborites. In the issue of August 27 they say the Labor “Opposition” to MacDonald is “trying to prevent the workers from turning to the Communists”. This is the last sentence in the leading editorial. It represents their conclusion on the subject of the Laborite “opposition”, the only conclusion they have offered up to date. But the matter does not end with this inference, which is a fairly obvious one. That is rather the premise from which we should begin. What is the Communist party going to do about it? – that is the question. On this crucial point the Daily Worker has not yet reported any program of the British Communist Party. Neither has it offered one of its own as it is in duty bound to do if internationalism means anything to them. Let the America Stalinists ruminate over this question and tell us what they think about it. And while they are at it, perhaps they can give some Information on another question of primary importance to every internationalist: Where is the British Communist Party? Did it expire completely in the embraces of Purcell and Stalin? Up to the present writing, we have heard nothing of its activities or its proposals in these events which are so fateful for the proletariat of the entire world. Could there be a more devasting commentary on the present regime in the Comintern than the recital of this single fact?

Last updated on: 27.1.2013