First Published: FORUM for Marxist-Leninist Inner-Party Struggle, No. 5, July 1964
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The great debate in the Communist movement has led to the necessity to distinguish between two trends, the revisionist and the Marxist-Leninist. Broadly, these trends may be defined by their attitude to three questions: peaceful co-existence; peaceful competition; peaceful transition to Socialism.
The revisionists see peaceful co-existence as the be-all and end-all. Marxist-Leninists work for peaceful co-existence of countries of different social systems but at the same time recognize that peace can only come with the end of imperialism.
The revisionists believe that peaceful competition in raising living standards etc. will show the benefits of a Socialist system (in twenty years time) to the people of the capitalist countries and make them demand Socialism. Marxist-Leninists, while not ignoring this factor, also emphasize that peaceful competition cannot be allowed to override struggle and solidarity now.
The revisionists place nearly all their hopes on a peaceful transition to Socialism. Marxist-Leninists point out that it is deceiving the people not to point out, that while we work for a peaceful transition it is more than likely that this will not be the case, and we must therefore also prepare ourselves for a non-peaceful transition. All else stems from these three main strategical considerations. They have been better expressed elsewhere, I admit!
Bearing in mind the low level of Marxist-Leninist thought and activity in the Communist Party of 16 King Street and the far lower level in the Labour Party it is doubtful if more than two or three thousand comrades at the present time accept even the broad, simplified, Marxist-Leninist position set out above.
The immediate task seems to be the drawing together of these comrades, the winning round of others, and the re-formation of a Marxist-Leninist Communist party in this country. The winning of support can be better accomplished by a party than by various differing groupings. Differences on minor issues can also be better settled by comradely discussion within a party than by polemics between individuals and groupings of the same basic outlook.
The situation at the present time could be a lot worse. There appears to be only three main groupings though there are, of course, a lot of small groups and individuals as well.
But even this small measure of division is causing a considerable amount of confusion. Comrades who could be doing useful work are not keen on joining a movement which appears to have a divided leadership. Others are relapsing into inactivity. Some Marxist-Leninists seem to see others as the next worst enemy to the revisionists, sometimes pushing imperialism into third place. Minor differences are elevated to a great height.
If this is not sectarianism, then what in hell is? It must and will be overcome. There must be a coming together of Marxist-Leninists in Britain. Perhaps a round-table conference is too much to hope for at this stage but surely some united public activity over some matter of common concern is not out of the question? Sectarianism fears united action as the devil fears holy water. United activity could lead to informal discussions and, after that, a conference.
There is also the duty on each one of us to end our own isolation and inactivity. We must seek out, unite with, and fight alongside, other comrades. Even when in isolation we must be continuously taking action against revisionism. This action must take place. The question of whether it should be taken, for example, inside or outside the party is a secondary matter. In my experience serious action inside the Party will soon result in one finding oneself outside. We must write in our point of view wherever it will be accepted.
Politics is a serious matter for Marxist-Leninists. Only revisionists and sectarians alike regard it as an amusing hobby.
The British people need a Communist party as soon as one may be formed; the struggling peoples abroad need practical solidarity now.