First Published: Red Front, Vol. 2, No. 1, March/April 1968
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.
When, in the period of the general crisis of capitalism, the rights enjoyed by the working class under “parliamentary democracy” become a threat to the wealth and power of the ruling monopoly capitalists, they seek to destroy both those rights and “parliamentary democracy” itself.
“Fascism in power is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” (G. Dimitrov: “The Working Class Against Fascism”; London; 1935; p.6).
Fascism is not, however, simple capitalist dictatorship. It is capitalist dictatorship in which the powers of the capitalist state machinery of force are strengthened by means of a counterrevolutionary mass movement, composed mainly of reactionary petty-bourgeois elements and lumpenproletarian thugs.
A fascist party generally has its origin in a small group which puts forward a programme designed to deceive the working people and lower their vigilance, a programme designed at the same time to appeal to finance capital and secure its backing ” just as Hitler’s “German Workers’ Party” was taken over by the finance capitalists of Germany as the instrument of their fascist dictatorship.
Among the more important points in the programme of such a fascist party are the following:
1) it presents itself as a “revolutionary workers’ party”;
2) it takes up a national or racial antagonism (real or invented) within the country and strives to intensify this in order to assist the monopoly capitalists to “divide and rule”;
3) it opposes the strike weapon (“in the interests of the working class”) and urges the workers to work harder (so increasing the profits of the capitalist class);
4) it denounces democratic voting and demands that policy decisions should be made by “a leader”;
5) it denies that women are equal to men, it denounces demands for equal economic and political rights for women and calls for women to be allotted a “special role” in society-centred primarily on the home and the family.
All these points of a fascist programme have now been put forward in the programmatic statements of the so-called “Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist)”.
Seeking to capitalize on the present upsurge of Scottish petty bourgeois “nationalism”, the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” puts forward the view that Scotland, Wales and England are separate nations.
“Scotland is a nation”. (“The Manifesto of the Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist)”, in: “Scottish Vanguard”, Vol.1, No.2, p. ll).
But Marxist-Leninists have always understood that, despite declining survivals of pre-national languages and cultures in Scotland and Wales, these regions of Britain do not possess the characteristics of nations, but, on the contrary, that Scotland, Wales and England form a single British nation.
“The British, the Germans and others ... were formed into nations from people of diverse races and tribes.” (J.V. Stalin: ”Marxism and the National Question”, in: “Works”, Vol.2, Moscow: 1953; p.303).
“The British, French, Germans, Italians and others were formed into nations at the time of the victorious advance of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity.” (J.V. Stalin: Ibid; p.313-14).
“The formation of people into nations occurred during this period. I am referring to such countries as Great Britain (without Ireland), France and Italy.” (J.V. Stalin: “Theses on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in Connection with the National Problem”, in: “Marxism and the National and Colonial Question”; London 1936; p.99).
Basing themselves on the anti-Marxist-Leninist concept of the “Scottish nation”, the journal pf the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” publishes demands that Gaelic (which is spoken only by some 77,000 people in Scotland – mainly in the Hebrides – out of a total population of over five millions) be “allowed to regain its rightful place as the national language of all Scotland”, (Scottish Vanguard, Vol. 1., No.2. p.15).
More important, the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” portrays the ruling class of Scotland not as British imperialists (who in fact control the state machine and the economic resources throughout the whole of Britain) but as English imperialists” and “the ENGLISH CAPITALIST ESTABLISHMENT”. (“The Manifesto of the Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist) in: “Scottish Vanguard”, Vol.1, No.2; p. ll).
This false, anti-Marxist-Leninist picture of Scotland as “a nation oppressed by England” opens the door for the publication of chauvinist attacks on English workers – attacks which serve the interests of British imperialism (the existence of which is denied by the W.P.S.) by seeking to divide the British working class, the unity pf which is an essential precondition for socialist revolution.
“How many English NALGO members supported the efforts of their Scots counterparts for, and right to, parity in wages with their English ’comrades’ and ’fellow-workers’. How many English miners supported demands by their Scots ’mates’ for enquiries into Scots pit closures ...
“Solidarity’ with such as these I find unbearable.” (“Scottish Vanguard”, Vol.1, No.2; p.5).
Recently the programme of the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” has been developed much further along fascist lines in a book entitled “POLITICAL POWER: A CLASS ANALYSIS”, by Dr. S.W. Taylor (Edinburgh, 1967). The book is published by the W.P.S. and is endorsed by Ken Houlison, Val Sutherland and Tom Murray (on behalf of the Central Committee of the W.P.S.) as a book which, “must be widely read for its fundamental challenge to pedestrian and all too often, if perhaps subconscious, conventional thinking.” (Preface, p. 1.)
Militant workers have long been under the impression that the strike was an invaluable weapon by which to defend or improve their economic conditions. This, says the W.P.S. (in company with the Federation of British Industries and the extreme right-wing trade union leaders) is a delusion.
“The effect of the economic strike upon the economy is in the direction of depression. The very scramble for a bigger slice of the cake cuts down the amount of cake to go around anyway. Such strikes therefore exacerbate the very state of poverty which they claim as their cause and this is their Luddite-like characteristic.
“... Strikes directed against the employers hit the people...
“What value is a weapon which cuts savagely at one’s friends, ... but which merely brings a sense of vicarious delight to the class enemy and gives him the opportunity to introduce anti-working class laws in the march towards fascism? ...
“Economic strikes against the employers which force up wages play into the hands of monopoly capital enterprises which alone can afford to stand up against the economic blows of the costs and the losses of production involved. ... The end of this road can only be, for the worker, to create a new status for himself and stripped of the freedom he yet enjoys, be tied by Laws to his workbench as an industrial serf on a bare subsistence wage... For capitalism the economic strike is the blow which refreshes. ...
“Economic strikes do not serve to bring economic gains to the working people in the long run, but rather to bind them ever more firmly to wage servitude. ... Inflation can swallow rises as quickly as they are given.” (p.119-121).
Yet just over a hundred years ago, in 1865, Karl Marx disposed of these reactionary arguments in his famous address to the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association (published as a pamphlet under the title “Value, Price and Profit”). He concludes his lengthy analysis with the conclusion that
“a general rise in the rate of wages would result in a fall of the general rate of profit, but, broadly speaking, not affect the prices of commodities.” (K. Marx & F. Engels: “Selected Works”, Vol.1; Moscow; 1958; p.447)
and asks rhetorically if the working class,
“ought to renounce their resistance against the encroachments of capital, and abandon their attempts at making the best of the occasional chances for their temporary improvement? If they did, they would be degraded to one level mass of broken wretches past salvation.” (K. Marx & F. Engels: ibid., p.446).
Marxist-Leninists have long been under the impression that economic strikes were important in raising the class and political consciousness of the working class in preparation for their emancipation from capitalism. This too, says the W.P.S., is a delusion:
“This is a short-sighted argument and does little justice to the intelligence of the working people. It is on a par with the type of military leadership which, for the sake of action, sends men ’over the top’ into senseless suicide battles. ... Only the cessation of economic strikes will result in the filling up of the reservoirs of mass organisation and working class political power” (p.120).
Here again the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” stands Marxism on its head. For, as Marx pointed out in that same address of 1865:
“By cowardly giving way in their everyday conflict with capital, they would certainly disqualify themselves for the initiating of any larger movement.” (K. Marx & F. Engels: Ibid., p.446).
What alternative does the W.P.S. propose to the working class in place of the economic strike?
Again it is one which will endear the party to the Federation of British Industries. The workers should follow, in our capitalist society, the example of the Stakhanovites in a socialist society. They should work
“as if possessed” (p.122).
“The political party of the working class must be the centre from which eradication of the Luddite mentality will spread throughout the movement. ...
“There is need to engender the theory and spirit of Stakhanovism in industry for the sake of the working class political movement itself.” (p.122-3).
As has been said, fascists present their movement as one of “socialist revolution”. The “Workers’ Party of Scotland” applies this principle not only in relation to the name of the party, but to German fascism in particular:
“The views of the bourgeois communists ... who seek to bury the truth in lies, especially that Hitler was merely the paid agent of monopoly capital, must be rejected. ...
“Fascism ... is the socialist revolutionary movement in the era of transition ...
“The essential prerequisite of communist participation in bourgeois parliaments ... is that the party be totally free of corruption itself. ... Hitler, and the National Socialist Party satisfied this criterion. ...
“The power Hitler released in his ’National Socialism’ was the power of the organised proletariat, the same power as had been released across the border in the Soviet Union.” (p.31,33,52).
In fact, says the W.P.S., the ideology and organisational structure of the German fascist movement were essentially that of the German “Left Communists” – which (as will be shown later) they regard as “the correct trend” within the German communist movement.
“Broadly speaking, the tactical and organisational planning and ideas of the German ’Left’ communists and Hitler’s National Socialist Movement were on parallel lines.” (p.51).
It is true, admits the W.P.S., that the German fascist movement in its later stages came to serve the interests of the capitalist class, but this was because of the “errors” of the leadership:
“The tragedy of the German National Socialist Workers’ Movement was precisely in the nature of its leadership. ... The power Hitler released in his ’National Socialism’ was the power of the organised proletariat.... His error was to misdirect it into the service of bourgeois purposes. It thus proved too big a power him to handle. ...
“Fascism is capitalist ideology grafted onto a working class organizational stock. It is the socialist revolutionary movement in the era of transition whose leadership is usurped by the bourgeoisie.” (p.48, 52, 33).
And who was responsible for the victory of the “opportunist’-leftist” fascist “socialist revolutionary movement” over the “correctly-led” “parallel” “Left Communist” movement? None other than Lenin, says W.P.S.’!
It was Lenin above all who exposed “parliamentary democracy” as a sham facade to the machinery of force that forms the essential structure of the capitalist state. At the same time Lenin stressed – in particular in his book “Left Wing Communism”, an Infantile Disorder” – that it essential for Communists to participate, where possible, in “parliamentary democracy” in order to expose the true character of parliament as a talking-shop to deceive the working people.
A harmful error on Lenin’s part, says the W.P.S.!
“A clean break with parliamentarism and with the slogan ’parliamentarism as a tactic’ is the order of the day. ... Participation as tactic is seen to be wrong in all circumstances and the most damaging form of opportunism. It is not just a question of a Marxist-Leninist Party not standing candidates, but of urging the working people to keep away from the polling booths.” (p.111).
Lenin cited the experience of the Bolsheviks to illustrate the necessity for Communists to participate in “parliamentary democracy” and the Communist International, under Lenin’s leadership, made acceptance this principle a condition of affiliation to the C.I. “A gross error,” comments the “Workers’ Party of Scotland”. The Communist International was
“based on false internationalism, on big nation chauvinism, on the baton and the gag in the relationships within and between the world communist parties. ...
“Its policy of domination and interference in the affairs of fraternal parties was in breach of proletarian internationalism. ... This is the key to the mistake of the period. ...
“Lenin was to make the mistake of insisting on the universality of this particular experience, ... making its acceptance a condition of affiliation to the Communist International ...
“By overriding considerations of ’narrow national’ tactics and demanding ’international conformity’ the Comintern was precisely overriding proletarian internationalism which it failed to understand correctly. ...
“Lenin should not have entered into the struggle as a participant, confined his advice to a theoretical evaluation of the problems involved. ... The world has gone through agonies of struggle for truth to crystallize and to emerge. ...
“The Soviet Communist Party stepped off on the wrong foot in its relations with fraternal parties, beginning with the publication ’Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder’ and going on to the policy of diktat which became the policy of the Comintern and who consequence was the failure of communist policy, first in Versailles Germany, and later in all the other communist parties of the West.” (p.17, 45, 54, 55, 59).
The particular “error” on the part of Lenin which led, the W.P.S. asserts, to the victory of fascism in Germany was the expulsion by the Communist International, under Lenin’s leadership, of the “leftist” Communist Workers’ Party of Germany in 1921 for failing to carry out C.I. directives. The W.P.S. comments on this action as follows:
“In usurping the leadership in this manner the Comintern beheaded the German communist movement on the eve of a revolutionary situation.” (p.44-45)
Since the leadership of the Communist Party of Germany “was no more than a putty group of ’yes men’” (p.45).
Thus, says the W.P.S.,
“Hitler picked up the option Lenin rejected.” (p.51).
It has not been uncommon for spurious “Marxist-Leninists” to seek to attribute the rise of modern revisionism to “the errors of Stalin”. The W.P.S. goes further and attributes it to the “errors” and “interference” of Lenin!
It presents as one important root of the rise of modern revisionism the expulsion by the Communist International, under Lenin’s leadership, of the German “leftists” – already discussed.
“The split in the German communist movement ... was the deep historical root of the later Great International Ideological Dispute.” (p.48)
The W.P.S. presents as another important root of the rise of modern revisionism the “betrayal” by the Soviet Communist Party, under Lenin’s leadership, of the international revolutionary movement in that, after the establishment of Soviet power, the Red Army was not ordered to “extend the Soviet Revolution to Germany”:
“These were the circumstances which made Germany alone of the Western nations the natural prospective ground for the extension of the Soviet Revolution. ... Had the Soviet Revolution entered its true international phase in the immediate post-war period this is the direction it must have taken, to leap the national boundary on to German soil. .. It could have happened. ... Objective conditions were ripe. But the mind of man – ideas, thinking, theory – is also part of objective reality. ... The Revolution was fated to enter its national and not its international phase.” (p.29-30).
That this trotskyite formulation is not accidental is shown by the praise of the W.P.S. for Trotsky’s “creative contribution in, e.g., organising and directing the Red Army at a most critical juncture of revolutionary history, or his role as a focal point of a contradiction that cried aloud for solution.” (p.64).
and by the statement that
“Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky ... were the leading comrades-in-arms of the Soviet revolutionary leadership ... united ... in common cause.” (p. 37)
The W.P.S. agrees with Trotsky that the “theory” of Lenin and Stalin that Socialism could be built in one country was
“a revisionist illusion” (p.68) and “a gross distortion of Marxism” (p.69).
This “theory”, they allege, was
“the inevitable outcome of the wrong views held by the Soviet leadership on the question of the International Revolution.” (p.69).
and these “wrong views” on the question of International Revolution led to the rise of modern revisionism both in the Soviet Union and in the Communist parties of the “West”:
“The Soviet initiative was to become blunted as its revolution slipped down to the muted key of its more specifically national phase. ... The Great International Ideological Dispute revealed a state of revisionism so widespread as to be virtually universal throughout the Western Communist Parties. Thus was instanced the bankruptcy of Soviet policy as vested in the communist parties of Western capitalism, and this is where, it must be said, the 1917 Soviet Revolution suffered its setback which turned it from its international to its national phase. ...
“The Western communist parties belonged to the structure of the Soviet International Revolution. The uniformity of their failure, their impotence and inability to seize the leadership in mass struggle, of which the defeat in Germany was but an instance, was the expression of the failure of the revolution to enter directly into its International Phase.” (p. 26, 33).
The W.P.S. agrees with the trotskyites that
“even before the war the distortions being produced by the suppression of democracy within the U.S.S.R. were beginning to make their presence felt with more and more force.” (p. 70).
“the pre-war trials and purges in Russia and the post-war ’doctors’ plot’ were symptoms of a deep ideological and political malaise associated with this leadership rift” (between Stalin and Trotsky) (p.37).
The Close parallel between counter-revolutionary fascism and counterrevolutionary trotskyism is shown clearly in the programmatic documents of the “Workers’ Party of Scotland.”
The “Workers’ Party of Scotland” holds that a third cause of the rise of modern revisionism in the international communist movement was the practice of taking votes on policy:
“A policy vote is a vote for or against a policy. ...
The policy vote is not the vehicle of true democracy as it is the means of overriding the views of the minority. ... True proletarian democracy is expressed through the system of Democratic Centralism which incorporates the principle of unanimity. ...
The policy vote reduces all decisions to the mediocrity of the average. ...
The policy vote ... is the instrument of stupidity. ... Through the policy vote the organisation falls victim to opportunism. ...
It is up to every individual who does not consider himself a bourgeois to see that he does not soil his hands by participating in a policy vote. ... In working class organisations he should avail himself of the right of discussion to challenge, not the resolution but the legality of the vote itself. ...
From the proletarian class point of view the policy vote is illegal and any decision reached through it is invalid.” (p.77,81,82,84).
The bizarre distortion of “Democratic Centralism” which is recommended by the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” bears a certain similarity to the fascist principle of obedience to an elite leader:
“Many tasks, and the making of wise decisions is one, can best be carried out by a single person. ...
’Iron discipline’...demands that the decisions of elected leaders at all levels must stand. They may be overridden neither from above nor below.” (p.79, 72).
Marxist-Leninists – along with all progressives – have always fought for equal rights for women with men. “Wrong’.”, says the “Workers’ Party of Scotland”.
“The bourgeois communist attitude is that men and women should mix together and be treated as equals, which amounts in practice to the vicious policy of male chauvinism. ... Men and women are not ’political equals’. ...
“Economically women should not aim for ’equal pay for equal work’...” (p.136).
As a “reward” for dropping the demand for equal pay and equal rights, the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” offers certain spheres of social life reserved for women under Scottish “National Socialism”.
“In the socialist reorganisation of society certain fields must be recognised as women’s spheres of interest. ... These spheres of interest would embrace those related to domestic and family life, and, in particular, civil law, medicine and basic education.” (p. 136).
The “Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist)” is no more a Marxist-Leninist Party, a party serving the interests of the working class, than was Hitler’s “German Workers’ Party”.
It is a reflection of the generally low level of political under standing among the so-called anti-revisionist movement of Britain that a group putting forward such a reactionary, pseudoŚnationalist, pro-fascist programme could have been accepted for a moment as “Marxist-Leninist”.
Yet the fact that some honest Comrades have accepted the W.P.S. as a “Marxist-Leninist group” has caused these Comrades to be influenced by the W.P.S. in favour of the formation of a loose federation of autonomous groups in various parts of Britain.
“Groups! Proletarians! Do not surrender power! ... The profusion of groups is not a bad thing. May it multiply a millionfold’. ... Keep power in your hands and unite in a great federal organisation. ... We say, a Federated Party for Wales, Ireland, Scotland and for England!.” (“Party Building, Two Roads,” a W.P.S. Discussion Document, 20th Sept.1967, p.3,4).
Even were they genuine Marxist-Leninist Groups, such a federation of autonomous groups would have nothing in common with Marxist-Leninist principles of organisation. Lenin, Stalin and the Bolsheviks fought unremittingly (even in a genuinely multinational state like Tsarist Russia) against such a form of organisation, and for the principle of a single, democratically centralised Party. (J.V. Stalin; “Works”, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1952, p.41, 36-40).
But, of course, the “Workers’ Party of Scotland” is not interested in the formation of Marxist-Leninist Parties. The parties which it wishes to see established are reactionary, pro-fascist parties, the demagogic programmes of which are adapted to local requirements.
But all these disruptive demagogues will be swept from the scene in the course of building a centralised Marxist-Leninist Party of Britain.