Our Reply [to “THE MARXIST:” A statement by the London District Secretary of the Communist Party]

First Issued: January 1967
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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This document was distributed with copies of Frank Stanley’s statement: “The Marxist”: A Statement by the London District Secretary of the Communist Party, January 1967

A statement issued by the London District Secretary of the Communist Party was sent to Branch Secretaries who were asked to show it to branch members, for them to sign that they had read and approved it. The secrecy of this attack is consistent with the wave of expulsions in the CP., and the stifling of genuine debate over the political strategy for the working class, in which the CP, indulges.

We urge all CP. members, all working class militants to reject this attempt to have their minds made up for them, to ask for their own copy of Stanley’s statement, for open debate on the splits and confusion in the ranks of the CPGB, and to study ’The Marxist’ itself, and the statements of the CPSU and the CPC so that they can decide on the international conflict over the road to world revolution. It is to help them in doing this that we make available Stanley’s statement together with our comments.

We will not stoop to answer the personal attacks made, nor pick up each pettifogging point. Let us see where Stanley really stands politically. On page 8 he quotes Reg Birch: “The arguments between Tory and Labour are all arguments about how to make capitalism work”. “This implies (says Stanley) that it is a matter of indifference to socialists whether there is a presence East of Suez or not, or whether the pound is devalued or not”.

It implies nothing of the sort, it means what it says, that arguments between Tory and Labour, between Fascist Spain and South Africa, are real differences, but they are still all capitalist countries. The fact is that the CP’s programme for supporting the Labour Government, for unity of the left, is a programme which leaves intact the private ownership of the means of production, the bourgeois State (its police, army, civil service etc.) and Britain’s central position in the world imperialist market economy, with its exploitation and repression of the colonial countries. Reduction of armaments, a “left Labour” leadership with a fairer incomes policy, more spending on social services, leaves untouched the power of the ruling class. It may or may not be better than Wilson/Heath policies (leaving aside the complete failure of the CP. to achieve any movement towards it – not one M.P. has voted against Wilson, abstention is as far as their courage takes then, but what is certain is that it is not a socialist programme, and will never achieve socialism. It has nothing in common with Marxism, with revolution.

On page 3 Stanley accuses us: “the conclusion which must be drawn from this is that the workers can only capture political power by armed revolution”. He admits that the C.P.G.B. is no longer interested in revolution. It is flying in the face of reason to suppose that the ruling class will not fight back if their position is threatened. And if they do so, “peaceful transition” becomes something entirely different. The difference, the mass involvement of the people in politics is what Stanley fears, for he says on page 10:

“behind the Parliamentary majority there must stand the organised workers – there must be mass struggles to secure the necessary transformation of the State machine”. This is to see the revolution in terms of a lot of M.P’s making new and better laws, whilst the working class stands by to see fair play. It is typical of the Party leadership which sees democracy as a biennial jamboree, called Congress, with an empty space in between, in which the rank and file exist to carry out a political line and not to determine it by participation, in which manipulation takes the place of winning conviction through education. It has nothing in common with the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, of a whole class, with its revolutionary party at its helm, exercising political power, realising new forms of organisation, of social being.

This is why Stanley is as horrified as any Victorian bourgeois father at the Red Guards (“hooligans” he calls them – heard that before about young people active in politics? The Red Guards are bringing politics into every realm of life, they are learning politics, Marxism, by engaging in struggle, they are an example of bringing the masses into an inner-party struggle, so that the socialist revolution can be carried to a new stage. Stanley’s bourgeois soul will only admit the legitimacy of actions formulated by his famous congresses.

Let us take the points at the end. We are said to claim for ourselves leadership to denounce all other groups. Not at all, we know that a new revolutionary party will only emerge out of patient and devoted work, out of participation in struggle, out of the development of better theory. We are not afraid of hard work, we know that we are part of the future out of which a new leadership will arise. We will unite now with anyone who is fighting capitalism on particular issues. We are not afraid to work with anyone who is sincere. But we will not evade the necessary struggle with these allies, struggles over principles and strategy. If they are wrong we shall say so, and expect them to criticise use. Any other attitude is a cowardly opportunism, an insulting glossing over of differences for fear of offending a false unity, a contempt for others.

We are accused of disrupting the leadership of the C.P.G.B. in accordance with the plans of the C.P.C. We are not so vain as to suppose we can disrupt anything. The CP. is falling apart (let the “Morning Star” publish its circulation figures, minus those exported to Eastern Europe) and we will play our part in exposing its confusing and negative role. We lack the vanity of those who claim an electoral victory on a vote which loses its candidate’s deposit, which talks of a left victory at the T.U.C. when the progressive resolution is defeated, who talk of a mass party whenever 10 recruits are made.

The smear that the C.P.C is using us will remind members of the years they spent defending themselves against the attacks of 𔄢get back to Russia”.

“Many people” says Stanley on page 1, ”recognise that the documents and reports produced by the CP. ... the “Morning Star” “Labour Monthly”, “Marxism Today” and “Comment” represented a considerable body of Marxist thought and analysis”. Which people? The CP. leadership is living on its fat, it is many years now since anyone took it seriously as a political force. Its watered down Marxism can engage in debates with Christianity, but is not much use in giving leadership in the working class task of achieving power. We are content to let history be the judge of our aim to bring Marxist thought back into the political struggle history that is being made by the British workers, and the international workers and peasants who are fighting imperialism.