Arthur Horner

Opening Remarks

Source: Communist Policy to Meet the Crisis, Report of the 21st National Congress of the Communist Party, November 1949.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

It is fitting that this Twenty-First Congress should be held in this great port and industrial town of Liverpool, and particularly in this hall, for it was here in 1925, twenty-four years ago, that the Communists were expelled from the British Labour Party.

In the years since 1925, changes have taken place. The Communist Party, which is now thirty years old, has become steeled and hardened in struggle, and is now a recognised force in the British working-class movement. Side by side with this, we observe in our country a great crisis of capitalist society, now reaching its climax.

The Communist Party, as always, scorns to hide its aims. Under capitalist society it exists to fight against the exploitation of those who toil by hand and brain, and to lead the struggle to improve the working and living conditions of the toiling masses, to strengthen the working-class organisation and political understanding of the need of ending capitalism and establishing Socialism.

We claim that in this we are at one with the pioneers of the British Trade Union and Labour movement. Those who have departed from these aims are the real betrayers of working-class principles. We, the Communists, are the inheritors of the true traditions of Britain’s working-class pioneers.

Communists fight to preserve peace and to do so through the establishment and maintenance of international working-class solidarity. In this, and in this only, consists a guarantee of peace.

With what will the warmongers fight their wars, except with the bodies of the workers and peasants? If the workers and peasants can preserve solidarity there can be no war. The peace aims of the Communist Party are in full accord with the purpose of Britain’s working-class pioneers. We have always regarded the struggle for prosperity and the fight for peace as one struggle, a struggle which must be waged incessantly against those who spread misery and want and who continuously prepare for war. For war is not only a question of butchery on battlefields. It is an economic question.

There is still in this country a widespread underestimation of the gravity of the national situation. It is no longer possible for British imperialism to emerge from its crisis at the expense of the Colonial peoples in the same way and to the same extent as in the past. They are increasingly throwing off the burden of foreign exploitation.

Because of this we are told that the British people must now face the necessity to earn their own-living. The working class of Britain has always been compelled to earn its own living and to support capitalists and landlords who did not. These exploiters now complain that their income arising from the exploitation of Colonial peoples is diminishing, and they have the audacity to use this as an argument and a justification for British workers to make new sacrifices to give them higher profits. The so-called patriots turn to the last mature unit of their society, the U.S.A., bloated with the gains of two wars. They cry: “Save us!—if you would save yourselves.” They undertake to undercut and restrict our trade with countries who have economies which are complementary to our own, and, thereby sacrifice Britain’s true interests. They have rendered forfeit the independence of our country, politically, militarily and territorially, all so that they can secure Marshall Aid.

This position reaffirms that it is only working people who can afford real patriotism, for it is they who must live and die on their native soil. Only the working class and its allies can save Britain from the bankruptcy and ruin which threatens it. Britain’s, one positive asset lies in the skill and energy of more than twenty million skilled workers, and this fact alone can produce the answer to Britain’s problem.

It is the workers who represent the decisive force in our society. The capitalists, however, fail to recognise this elementary fact. They still hope to preserve the traditional position of class privilege when conditions have completely changed. They think their class system is eternal and suffering only a temporary setback, but they are really facing the last crisis.

It is now apparent to all that the role of Right-Wing Social Democracy is to try to preserve the capitalist system.

They talk of Trojan horses. The capitalist Trojan horses in Britain at the present time are the Right-Wing Social Democrats. For inside this horse’s cover are hidden the betrayals of the working class, the betrayal of unity, the betrayal of the true interests of the working class. They pretend that because they were of us they will be for us, and for our interests. They urge in their anxiety to help their masters—freeze wages, halt social services, accept the consequences of devaluation; then ultimately all will be well. For they see the future as a future of recovered capitalism, and not as a future under the new regime of Socialism and working-class power.

In order to endeavour to render service to their masters, they would kill the goose that lays the golden eggs—they would hurt the workers—these more than twenty million upon whom the future of this country depends. But the goose—the great mass of the workers—will refuse to be strangled, will refuse to have their wages frozen, will refuse to permit a halt in the development of the social services, will increasingly demonstrate their determination to oppose the coming of war and will cause the reduction of expenditure in preparation for war. But because the Right Wing know this, they turn to those in the heart of the working-class movement who are giving the working class the real lead in the struggle for a true solution of Britain—s problems. They find in the heart of the working class the Communist Party—the Party which has exposed and will continue to expose the true nature of our problems and the real relation of forces within the country—the force of the working class which cannot be held down in its determination to struggle, unless the potential power of the working class, unless the unity of the working class is destroyed. So disunity is sown—the spreading of the seed of hatred within its ranks.

This has been the main weapon of the capitalists, especially through Right-Wing Social Democracy. They urge purges, suppressions, expulsions and dismissals. They seek to operate victimisation against the militant workers, and especially against the Communists, whom they recognise are the true leaders of the working class in this country. When the workers must be attacked, they make the first onslaught on those who stand in the way—the vanguard which protects the ranks of the working class; and it is not surprising that these measures are now being operated against Communists—not separate from the mass attack, but as part of their preliminaries to the onslaught against the working people of this country.

We Communists are proud to declare before the people of this country and of the world that we are Communists. It is the custom in Right-Wing Social Democratic circles to talk of the Communist Party in this country as if it were some small, insignificant force, but the depth and violence of their attack is the proof that they do not really regard it as a trivial matter, but, in fact, as the main force which can ultimately lead to the destruction of their aims and those of their masters.

We have no consciousness of impotence, no consciousness of smallness, for we belong to the single greatest political force in the world. There is no political party, no political organisation expressing common ideals and purposes as are the Communists in the various countries of the world. In all sorts of circumstances and all sorts of conditions, in countries where we are leading, the workers in the exercise of working-class power, our comrades head huge armies marching for the liberation of the peoples of their countries.

We represent the future. And no efforts on the part of those who oppose us can drag humanity back into the horrors of the past.

We represent the conception of Socialism of the future. We believe that these purposes for which we stand should end impoverishment and win the earth from the fear of war. We seek a world in which the exploitation of man by man shall cease, when the evolution of human society to new and higher forms shall become possible to all mankind, when Socialism and peace shall be enjoyed by all.

There are those who state that the Communists seek and desire misery and disasters as a condition of the growth of Communist influence. They produce the misery. It is the capitalist system which produces the disasters. We Communists do not need these conditions to develop our influence. But it is in these conditions when the best efforts of the members of this Party are called forward in organising the working class in the struggle against misery and against war. It is according to the measure of our earnestness, endeavour, skill and devotion to the struggle that we shall achieve that influence for the working class which will give to the Communists of this country the leadership of the workers in the struggle.

Comrades, in this twenty-first Congress we urge that there be no pessimism. Let there be no sense of frustration. The future is ours. And there are those of us who were never more optimistic, never more certain, never more determined to achieve the goal of Socialism than we are on this day in the year 1949.