First Published: Compass,Sunday, February-March 1975
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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WHEN THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF GREAT BRITAIN FIRST PUBLISHED ITS NEW PROGRAMME, “THE BRITISH ROAD TO SOCIALISM”, IN 1951, A GREAT MANY SOCIALISTS WERE DECEIVED BY IT.
Since then a great many eyes have been opened to the reformist, revisionist character of the programme propounded by the leadership of the CPGB.
The revised draft of “The British Road to Socialism” to be presented to the 30th Congress of the CPGB in November 1967 has been prepared because conditions have made it necessary to disguise their betrayal of the British working class somewhat more subtly than was thought necessary in 1951.
But beneath its new, bright surface “The British Road...” remains the road, not to socialism, but to a new form of state-monopoly capitalism which, at some time in the future, the British monopoly capitalists may deem it opportune to bring about with the assistance of the revisionists in the leadership of the CPGB.
The draft begins with a quotation, not from Marx, Engels or Lenin, but from William Morris. No doubt its authors would have liked to quote from Khrushchev, but that would have been too revealing.
In a sentence which sounds like a paraphrase of “Old Moore’s Almanack”, it is claimed that
In the course of this many-sided struggle, the labour movement will be able to throw off right-wing leadership. New political alignments will come about, and it will become possible to elect a Parliamentary majority and government pledged to a socialist programme (p.7).
It is all so easy, if only the “legal”, “constitutional”, “parliamentary” is followed for
We believe socialism may be achieved in Britain by peaceful means and without armed struggle, and this is our aim. (p.7)
The reason given for this unhistorical, anti-Marxist-Leninist statement is that
Many countries, covering a population of millions, are today socialist states.
This new balance of forces in the world opens up new possibilities for the advance to socialism elsewhere. Formerly it was only possible to envisage a forcible taking of power. Today the advance to socialism can take place by other means.
That is why the Communist Party envisages a different road to socialism” (p.24).
Unfortunately, most of these “socialist states” are socialist no longer, having been betrayed on the road of the restoration of capitalism by the leaders of the revisionist parties.
In fact, the “peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism” presumes that the members of the capitalist class are such democrats that if the working people express a wish for socialism through parliamentary channels, they will step aside, allowing their state machinery of force to remain neutral and ready to be “taken over”.
These are dangerous, false illusions which revisionism strives to create in the minds of the workers, who thus become infected with “legalism” and an easy prey to reactionary violence. It should never be lost sight of that the Bolsheviks were successful in achieving working class power because they were, from their inception, a party which conducted revolutionary struggle.
The revisionists of the CPGB (Now CPB – ed.) pledge themselves that
...the aim of the Communist Party is not to undermine, weaken or split the Labour Party (p.25).
And they pay tribute to
...the struggle of socialist forces within the Labour Party to make it a party of struggle for socialism (p.25)
This renders a great service to social-democracy. Instead of exposing it as an ideology which serves the interests of Big Business within the working class movement, it plays up the myth of a “Labour Left which will transform the Labour Party into a genuine party of socialism, thus helping to keep alive within the working class illusory faith in social-democracy.
To the extent that the revisionism of the “British Road...” is accepted by the working class, it can lead to two possible results:
By fostering illusions in “parliamentary democracy” and by damping down the movement for organised revolutionary struggle, it may facilitate the imposition by monopoly capital of a repressive fascist dictatorship.
Or, in different circumstances, it may lead to the establishment of a new form of state-monopoly capitalism masquerading, with the help of the revisionists, as “socialism”.
Certainly the revisionists envisage the establishment of “...a socialist state machine”. (p.32).
But this “socialist state machine” is far removed from the dictatorship of the working class, envisaged by Marxist-Leninists.
The Communist Party and the Labour Party, in which the right-wing has been defeated, will be the political organisations of the working class primarily responsible for the success of building socialism (p.33-4),
And they will fill
...the leading positions in the ministries and departments, the armed forces and police, in the nationalised industries and other authorities...by men and women loyal to socialism (p.32)
But the capitalist class will be free to operate their own political parties, newspapers, etc.:
Democratically organised political parties will have the right to maintain their organisations, publication and propaganda, even if hostile to socialism...
Newspapers and periodicals will be owned and controlled by political parties and social groups (p.31-33).
The revisionists of the CPGB propose that their “socialist” government will bring about
...the nationalising of large-scale industries and trade (p.35)
In order to
assist small owners who have hitherto been progressively squeezed out by the monopolies (p.35-36)
Just as the “socialist democracy” proposed by the CPGB will be the “parliamentary democracy” with which we are familiar, so the “socialist economy” which it proposes will be the “mixed economy” with the extension of state ownership into large-scale industry and commerce which has long been featured in the programme of the Labour Party.
The new draft of “The British Road...” claims that
The vast destructive power of modern nuclear weapons makes the prevention of a third world war the most important issue facing humanity (p.19).
But unless imperialism is destroyed, a third world war is inevitable. The struggle against a third world war cannot be separated from the struggle against imperialism. But the revisionists of the CPGB do precisely this, implying that classes and nations oppressed by imperialism should abandon revolutionary struggle “in the cause of preserving peace”. It is under this cloak of “saving the world from war” that the Soviet revisionists are exerting pressure upon the Vietnamese people to capitulate to US imperialist aggression.
The revisionist distortion of “peaceful co-existence” merely helps the imperialists in their aims of trying to intimidate peoples into capitulation under threats of nuclear blackmail. The CPGB seeks to intimidate the British people into acquiescence in imperialist aggression by warning them that
...a war would result in the annihilation of Britain (p.18)
But history proves beyond any doubt that appeasement of imperialist aggression does not preserve world peace but, on the contrary, makes world war inevitable.
Every Communist Party member, every worker, must seriously consider what he or she is supporting when asked to promote the programme and policy which the revisionists leaders of the CPGB are presenting to the working class.
There is not one Word of Marxism-Leninism in it.
It is a programme of betrayal of the revolutionary class interests of the working class.
It is a programme which can never bring about socialism.
It is a programme which can only lead the working class away from the path of revolutionary struggle on to the road of reformism and class collaboration, and so to defeat before its class enemy.
There is only one road to socialism in Britain. It is the road of revolutionary struggle of the working class. It is the road charted by Marxism-Leninism, the road of the revolutionary smashing of the capitalist state and the establishment of the dictatorship of the working class.
And the revolutionary struggle can only reach its goal of working class power and the building of a socialist society when it is led by a Marxist-Leninist Party of the working class.
It is our cardinal task to build such a party.