Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Movement

The “Absolute Decline” of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

International Situation

The party does not understand nor wish to really fight imperialism. At home this is reflected in their attitude to Ireland. ‥British Troops out of Ireland” is their limit, not British Imperialism out of Ireland. To suggest that the struggle in Ireland is up to the Irish people while British Imperialism retains this colony is not only a betrayal of the Irish workers but British workers as well. Quoting a CC member, “To call for a United Socialist Ireland is against the party line”. Why are we afraid to call for a United Socialist Ireland? Is this not a Marxist-Leninist demand? No one is suggesting that we must their support their battles or support any single organisation but as long as the workers in Britain remain silent they fail to champion the rights of an oppressed nation, they succumb to imperialism and betray. So does the party. As R. Birch said long ago, “Our party will stand or fall on its attitude towards Ireland.”

On this issue as on many others the party reveals a ’clear tendency’ to national chauvinism, while looking at the world with a blinkered vision.

The party has failed to expose the Soviet Union as a new and dangerously aggressive force which represents a threat to the world as well as an ideological threat, as it poses as a socialist country, corrupts and perverts revolutionary struggles throughout the world to further its expansionist designs. Articles in the Worker that denounce the Soviet Union as social imperialist in Angola, Poland and elsewhere had cut out all significant reference to the Soviet Union. Indeed such analyses have been interpreted as suggesting co-existence with the bourgeoisie in the face of Russian threat. This is a vulgar distortion.

The danger of inter-imperialist war is brushed aside by the party. To say that “Superpowers” are only propaganda (R. Birch to the Chinese) when the USA and USSR compete viciously in every corner of the world, to see all countries the same, none being stronger than the other...this is to shelve Lenin’s theory on the uneven development of capitalism. To say, “Beware of the imperialist designs of the USSR states the obvious” means an actual betrayal of the masses in the face of the danger of war. To ignore it on the basis that revolution will come here first is to defeat the very revolutionary process. We need to mobilise the working class against imperialism in international solidarity against the growing danger of war. This is part of the fight for revolution in Britain.

The party criticises the division of the world into 1, 2 and 3 as mechanical. So it is – but nobody, least of all the Communist Party of China sees such a division in such simplistic terms. Our Chinese comrades see the world forces as they objectively develop. They can see the divisions and differences between the countries of the world and are trying to develop a coherent picture of potential and real allies. They are trying to play off the contradictions to forestall war, to limit the capacity of the Superpowers and other imperialist countries from waging war on their own terms, to help mobilise the broadest masses against war.

By contrast, the CPBM-L position is subjective and mechanical. In their analysis of the EEC they only analysed one aspect, the threat to the British working class, and completely left out its position in the world situation, therefore presenting a one sided view. They divide the world into socialist camp and imperialist camp, the working class and the bourgeoisie. As stated by a CC member, “Today in any given country the main contradiction is between bourgeoisie and proletariat,” thus mechanically extending to the world a class analysis made of Britain (in passing depriving China of 500 million peasants). They distort and reject the theory and practice of National Liberation Struggles as an alliance of classes against imperialism – they see the bourgeoisie of the underdeveloped world as conniving with imperialism – instead of the Marxist-Leninist view which distinguishes between the comprador, national and petty bourgeoisie. One wonders how the Chinese revolution would have succeeded they adopted the CPBM-L’s present line.

... Undoubtedly there will be a banging of drums in the lunatic fringe of ultra leftists as to China’s intentions, with suggestions that communist tenets are being abandoned etc. Rest assured that there will be no deserting by China of the Marxist-Leninist position of supporting national liberation struggle.

Who wrote this telling condemnation of the Fourth Congress Line? – Reg Birch in August 1971.

Another feature of the international line is the attitude to other Marxist-Leninist parties. R. Birch had the gall to suggest to the Chinese comrades that we were the only party in the old world worth listening to, – in the pre-Congress document on the role of the party it was stated that we were the only party seriously taking up the question of revolution. This at a time when the CPBM-L is not growing, not making revolutionary impact, and is significantly ineffectual in theory and in practice. Arrogance of this sort reflects non-communist values. Whether we may or may not agree with these parties on their policies (for their own conditions) gives no-one the right to deny that sincere and dedicated comrades in every country are seriously taking up the question of revolution. And we salute them.

In concluding this section it is important to stress that the present epoch is characterised by the struggle between the forces of socialism and the forces of imperialism. This was true in Lenin’s time and is truer today. But within the fundamental struggle in the present epoch other contradictions intervene. Some become prominent and at any time a single contradiction will predominate. We are witnessing the demise of capitalism as a social system, but if we are to understand the forces at work in our world which will accelerate or retard this process in our own country or elsewhere we must understand what is happening in the world – which these forces are shaping.

In Britain we still have to achieve this clarity. In leaving the party we have set ourselves this task.