First Published: The Marxist, No. 7, Summer 1968
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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THE BIRTH of the Glasgow Communist Movement, initially known as the Glasgow Marxist Group, was celebrated with the production and distribution on May Day, 1967, of a pamphlet introducing The Marxist in Glasgow. It was around the journal that the participants of the first meeting of the group assembled together.
The aim of the group at that time was to provide a collective basis for political activities as a step forward from the individual work previously undertaken. Collective study, sale of The Marxist, and help to intensify the contradictions in the revisionist organisations were accepted as our immediate political work. Doubtless our organisation was nearer to a discussion group than to an action group, but considering the objective reality of the time it would have been impossible last May to have worked in any other way. A base was established, creating a rallying point for anti-revisionists in Glasgow. The group had a fairly clear idea of what had to be done.
The organisational frame work consisted of two groups besides our own. One discussion group consisted of YCLers and the other of members of the Communist Party. For some time there was also an industrial group which, due to unavoidable circumstances, could not be continued. In due course it became unnecessary to continue with the satellite groups.
When we first came together the principal feature of the GCM was its informality. This was appropriate to the circumstances in the early days. As we progressed this informality became a weakness and we had to make two changes. Our meetings, which had formerly been a mixture of educational discussion and business, were divided into education meetings and business meetings. Secondly, a clear line of distinction had to be drawn between members and non-members.
The summer of 1967 produced problems. Holidays interrupted the working of the discussion groups, and the absence of The Marxist coincided with this to interrupt the continuity of our contacts. These problems had, though, the positive effect of propelling us into factory-gate work. By then the CP leadership were well aware of our existence and had started its smear campaign against us on an individual basis. Public meetings of CP and YCL members which we organised in June with Tom Hill opening discussion on ’Revisionism and Way Ahead’ helped considerably to offset the CP’s campaign.
During last year we published the following leaflets: Introducing The Marxist (May 1967, 500 copies); On Vietnam (June 1967, 500 copies); The Wilson Screw on the Workers (reprint of an article in The Marxist, 800 copies); The GCM (M-L) (November 1967, 500 copies); An Open Letter to Scottish Electricians (December 1967, 2,000 copies); Unite to Assist the Vietnamese People (January 1968, 300 copies); Notice of Redundancy (on Clyde shipbuilding mergers) (February 1968, 400 copies); and Crisis on the Clyde (March 1968, 1,500 copies).
In addition to our own publications we have sold between forty and sixty of the following: ’TheMarxist;’ ’Letters from China;’ ’Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung;’ Statement of the CCCP of Cuba on ’The New Imperialist Aggression’ and a number of other items. Our second excursion into public work was the June 1967 demonstration on Vietnam. We distributed our leaflet and sold The Marxist and the song-sheets of the Folk Singers for Freedom in Vietnam, while the march was assembling and then joined the march individually.
In contrast to this we determined representation on the ad hoc committee for the October 1967 demonstration where, with some small success, we opposed the revisionist pacifist attempts to negate the whole proceedings. On the demonstration itself, we participated as a group under our own banner. We were the only people selling Vietnamese literature at the demonstration.
For the March 1968 demonstration we published the leaflet ’Unite To Assist the Vietnamese People’ exposing the attempt of the Committee for Peace in Vietnam to prevent any demonstration taking place. This we distributed selectively among the active members of the CP, the YCI and the peace movement.
The CPV then changed its line and called for a silent, sloganless, bannerless demonstration in mourning for the dead of Vietnam. We joined with our banners and some placards and the result was demonstration fifty per cent mourning and fifty per cent victory. Again we sold, and were alone in selling, Vietnamese publications.
From the very beginning education had been one of the toughest problems. It is now many years since the CP made any serious attempt at comprehensive Marxist education so that the question of how best to operate Marxist educational discussions had not been tackled in Glasgow until last May.
We have tried several lines of approach to the problem with some success. But as we are coming increasingly into contact with workers at factory gates and with various anti-Marxist political groups in united activities, the need for theory becomes increasingly more important. We are now embarking on a seven week discussion of ’On Contradiction’ and’ A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement.’
The GCM (M-L) had a pre-history of struggle against revisionism and against the revisionist leadership in the YCL. It inherited this struggle from the members who had been conducting it on an individual and branch basis. The GCM later accepted responsibility for continuing the fight.
We had hoped that on the basis of our activity we could become a rallying point for those who dropped out of the YCL, especially after the 1967 Congress. This has not yet taken place. It is apparent that many of the cadres who, disgusted with revisionism, have ceased to be active in the YCL have remained members of the CP and some have adopted the position of economism. Such cadres must not be allowed to become pessimistic and fade out. We shall take steps to counter the effects of revisionism on the morale of those who, in the past, have been politically active.
For the future we shall have to broaden our base among workers and intellectuals; improve our ideological and political understanding; develop more cadres and involve more people in our activities. Provided that a correct analysis is made of the experience we have accumulated over the past year, our prospects for doing this are excellent.