Ted Grant

International Conference shows C.P. rank and file must fight for real Marxist policy

Written: May 1967
Source: Militant, no. 26 (May 1967)
Transcription: Francesco 2008
Markup/Proofread: Emil 2008

The last few weeks have provided examples of the meaning of the policies, theories and practice of the British Communist Party, on both home and foreign policy.

On April 25th there was held the conference of "European" "Communist" Parties at Karlovy Vovy to discuss the present situation in Europe. Compare this meeting with the gatherings of the Communist International in its early years. These proceeded from the basis that the enemy of the working class was the capitalist classes of all countries. Not from sentiment, but because of the international foundations laid by capitalism – as explained by Marx in the last century – the interests of the workers of all countries were the same, consequently the need for the international organisation of the working class. Meetings of the Communist International were called to discuss the theoretical and practical problems of overthrowing European and world capitalism. The conference was regarded as a meeting place of one international party to discuss the ways and means of doing this, and the special problems facing different countries, especially the big countries of Western Europe, and primarily to find the road to a United Socialist Europe. Consequently they were regarded with fear and horror by the capitalists of the world, especially Western Europe.

Contrast the situation today! Although Capitalism has been overthrown in Eastern Europe (even though totalitarian one party systems have been set up) this Conference is regarded with complacence by the Western European and international capitalists. It is a conference not of one international party but of separate parties, both in the countries where power has been seized, and in the countries of Western Europe.

The Greek representative, speaking of the army coup stressed the need for the ‘neutrality’ of Greece from West Germany and America! As if it was not a question of landlordism and capitalism setting up this criminal Bonapartist dictatorship for fear of the Greek workers and peasants. As if it was not a question of organising the Greek people for the overthrow of this regime and calling for the support of the workers of the world for a struggle for a Socialist Greece.

John Gollan, the General Secretary of the ‘British’ party spoke like the other delegates, not from the outlook of internationalism but as a Britisher representing ‘British’ interests. The Morning Star of April 26th reports proudly how Gollan spoke at length:

“The British Government far from taking a firm stand against the revenge-seeking aims of the West German Government, is evasive about the Oder-Neisse frontier, and refuses to make a categorical and complete denunciation of the Munich agreement. Despite the heavy expenditure entailed, the British Government maintains troops in West Germany.”

“Mr. Gollan said this was ‘not to fulfil any post-war pledge of preventing the emergence of fascism again, nor to save Europe from a mythical ‘Soviet threat’.’

“The aim was in effect ‘to support the West German Government with its military ambitions against other European States.’

“He declared that the big West German monopolies hoped to make use of the European Common Market as an economic counter-part of Nato. ‘They hope that just as NATO has given them the opportunity to become the major military power in Western Europe, so the Common Market will give them the chance to become Western Europe’s major economic power.’

‘But for Britain, entry into the Common Market would mean a serious worsening of the economic position of the British working people. It would also deepen the divisions between East and West and to make more difficult the steps to achieve European security...’

‘We are for all measures which lessen tension, lead to ending the present divisions, and remove the dangers of military adventures by West Germany’.”

As if the last World [War] was not only the responsibility of the German, but of the French, British, American and other capitalists as well. As if NATO is not organised for the defence of all the capitalist powers in this alliance including the British capitalists. As if ‘tension’ between East and West is not caused by the fundamental differences in social systems.

The way to fight West German and British and other European capitalist militarism is to fight against capitalism at home and to extend the hand of friendship to the West German working class, the first victims of the Nazis.

The British capitalists are trying to enter the Common Market in the interests of British not German monopoly capitalism. The present divisions in Europe are insane. The forces of production have long outgrown both private ownership and the national state. The Common Market is not a solution. But the present position also cannot solve a single problem facing British capitalism either at home or abroad. The solution would not be entry into the Common Market but the democratic Socialist United States of Europe.

But Socialist solutions are furthest from the minds of the leaders of British Communism. Dealing with the forthcoming Budget on April 8th, J.R. Campbell, one of the principal ‘theoreticians’ of the C.P., in a leading article entitled “How To Get Out of Stagnation Street” criticises the Chancellor James Callaghan as being “among the high priests of financial orthodoxy”. The article could have been written by a Keynesian capitalist economist. There is nothing about Socialism in it. He begins by saying: “The Budget presented by Mr. Callaghan should be judged by whether it reduces or prolongs the present stagnation in the British capitalist economy...” He then proceeds with the typical arguments produced by the Labour leaders in their criticism of Tory policy before they came to power. “So the over-all demand of the Labour Government should be that the Government takes steps to reflate the economy.”

Militant painstakingly explained to the Labour leaders before they came to power that inflation and deflation are only two sides of the same coin. That while 380, now even less, combines and monopolies, together with the banks and insurance companies, control 80% of the economy and nine-tenths of the productive economy, the laws of the market apply, and no matter their intentions the Labour leaders are compelled to operate on ‘orthodox’ capitalist lines. That the capitalists operated on the basis of the maximum production which could produce profits for them.

Yet here we have this pretended ‘Marxist economist’ declaring “In fact, it is the policy of creating stagnation from time to time which prevents the really necessary changes in the British economy from being carried out.” If Marx read this he would laugh his head off at this pseudo-Keynesianism, if he did not get thoroughly angry at ‘Marxism’ of this kind. Capitalists do not create stagnation because they like it. Nor do capitalist governments control the economy. It is the economy which dictates policy to them.

Practically every paragraph commits elementary errors against the ideas of Marxist economics, or Socialist policies. For example the SET tax should go and instead... “There is only one way out of this situation, and that is to identify the main unnecessary imports and reduce them by selective import quotas...” Any student of economics, even capitalist economics, could explain that this would be even worse for the economy than the measures taken by Callaghan. Campbell forgets the world market on which Britain depends. If Britain introduced selective import quotas, all the other capitalist powers would answer with reprisals and the British economy would be in an even worse position.

But what a position for a Marxist paper and a Marxist writer to put forward! ‘Practical’ policies which land the working class in a mess (of which Lenin was most scornful) instead of upholding the banner of Socialist principles!

Campbell finishes his article by saying “And please, please, please don’t let’s have any ugly cant about measures which attack the people being ‘tough but necessary’. They are usually a cowardly and unnecessary surrender to vested interests and a betrayal of the principles of the working-class movement.” No better comment could be made on this article of Campbell's.

The criticism on Callaghan is the criticism in the main made by Wilson of the budgets of Maudling and Selwyn Lloyd. There is not an atom of Socialist or Marxist perspective in them. No attempt is made to explain to the workers the need for Socialist policies.

Just to finish off and show the degeneration of the Communist Party, Will Paynter, General Secretary of the National Union of Miners is quoted approvingly in the capitalist press as well as in the April 8th edition of the Morning Star making a savage and unwarranted attack on the miners. He is a leader of the Communist Party yet can say re absenteeism, “Irresponsible antisocial behaviour, represented by voluntary absences, especially on Mondays and Fridays, is the other indefensible, element.” The agony of toil of the miners, the hardness of the job, and all the other factors which have been emphasised by the Communist Party in the past are forgotten. He wishes to ingratiate himself with the other trade union bureaucrats and puts forward the position of the Right Wing. What has this to do with Socialism or Marxism or even elementary trade union principle?

No wonder the C.P. lost votes in the last council elections! They put forward no real alternative to the leaders of the Labour Party. Every sincere YCL-er, every sincere adult member of the Communist Party must see that there is something wrong. They should fight for a Socialist policy in the Communist Party and prepare to join the broad stream of the Labour Movement to fight for a Socialist Britain in a Socialist Europe.