Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (M-L)

Criticism of A.C.W. Splittism

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 4, November 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The following letter from the Association of Communist Workers was published, in a recent issue of ”Revolutionary Zimbabwe” in the name of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Front. The RCLB has replied, refuting this criticism and criticising in turn the splittist attitude of the ACW. This reply follows the ACW’s letter.


A new organisation under the name of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign has stepped onto the stage with a great fanfare, promising to move heaven and earth in support of the national revolutionary war of the Zimbabwean people against British imperialism and its representative, the fascist Smith regime in Salisbury. It is worthwhile asking the question, therefore, what is this organisation and what are its credentials and what are the credentials of those gentlemen and ladies behind this “new” organisation? It is painful to have to say this, but it would be a sin against truth not to state that a significant number of the gentry behind the new enterprise are people who were in the late and unlamented Zimbabwe Solidarity Committee (ZSC) precisely at a time when the latter could have done some useful work; that these very worthies hounded us out of the ZSC and forced us to form the Zimbabwe Solidarity Front (ZSF) for no other fault on our part than that we wanted to carry out the political programme contained in the basic document of the ZSC; that this crowd refused to give solidarity to the struggle of the Zimbabwean people on the only basis on which such solidarity can properly be extended, namely, on a proper anti-imperialist basis, which in turn involves the explanation, on the one hand, of the connection between imperialism and the prevalent opportunism in the working-class movement in imperialist countries and, on the other hand, the connection between the liberation of colonies and the social emancipation of the proletariat in imperialist countries. Some of these fellows, fine ’Marxist-Leninists’ that they are, who remained in ZSC until only the other day, degenerated to the extent as to have become the deadly opponents of ZANU, the organisation that has throughout spearheaded the revolutionary war against the fascist Smith regime, and enthusiastic supporters of the ANC under the leadership of the Muzorewa/Sithole clique, the despicable tool of the settler fascist regime and of AngloAmerican Imperialism. Without uttering a word by way of criticism of the their past sins – if indeed they are past – or by way of explanation for this apparently one hundred and eighty degree turn, they have, with typical disregard for the intelligence of the people around them, launched themselves afresh under a new name in the hope that people will forget about their past and will be unable to recognise the wares they peddle. These gentlemen obviously believe that if you change the name of things you change their essence. But, gentlemen, this is an absurdly forlorn hope. For if you had really intended to work for the sole purpose of supporting the struggle for national liberation of the Zimbabwean people there was only one honourable course for you and that was that you should have joined forces with the only organisation that has consistently, and on a principled basis, been extending fraternal solidarity in this country to the national liberation struggle in Zimbabwe, to wit, the Zimbabwe Solidarity Front. Such a course is all the more incumbent on the people who call themselves Marxist-Leninist, on the one hand, and never tire of beating their breasts about the need for unity, on the other hand. It is clear from your conduct that you follow a splittist line under the cloak of honeyed phrases about unity. All of this goes to show that you are acting in a manner disruptive of the working-class movement. That despite the change in name you are offering nothing new. In short, we are witnessing the latest example of setting up the same old shop under a new signboard.

Zimbabwe Solidarity Front

* * *


Dear Comrades,

We are writing to strongly criticize your splittist activities in publishing in “Revolutionary Zimbabwe” a “criticism” of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign of the RCLB.

The very first time that the RCL knew of your “criticisms” of our work on Zimbabwe was when we heard about them in “Revolutionary Zimbabwe’! Is this the way to promote unity among Marxist-Leninist? Instead of approaching the leadership of the RCL and making sober, principled criticisms you make wild and unprincipled accusations in public. You show little desire to implement Chairman Mao’s great call “Unite, and don’t spilt”, but instead seize opportunities to widen differences. Split, and don’t unite, is your motto!

We in the RCLB firmly uphold Chairman Mao’s line that active ideological struggle “is the means for ensuring unity”. But you use ideological struggle as a means to disunity. You see struggle as an end in itself and hit out wildly in all directions without grasping the purpose of ideological struggle is to achieve unity. In this you show one of the characteristic features of small circles which Lenin described when he referred to “the circle wrangling that goes by the free ’process’ of the ideological struggle”. (One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back, Moscow ed., p. 189)

The fact that this is the case is clearly demonstrated by the fact that you have ignored the two letters sent to you in the last five months by our Central Committee, requesting that a meeting be held between representatives of the ACW and RCL to discuss Party-building and the question of unity between the ACW and the RCLB. Instead of taking up this offer you launch an attack on the RCL!

On the content of your “criticism” of the RCL:

Firstly, we have not launched “a new organisation under the name of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign”. We have started a campaign of practical solidarity work with the struggle Zimbabwe by the RCLB itself. If you had taken the trouble to approach us first with your criticisms you would have found this out.

You claim that we should have “joined forces” with the Zimbabwe Solidarity Front on Zimbabwe work. To the extent that we should have approached you and seen what scope that is for co-operation, this is true, but it is not in the interests of the working class for the RCLB to join ZSF. This is a question of putting Party-building first and of which class we rely on in Zimbabwe work.

The Central Task in Britain today is Party-building. All other work must serve this central task. Zimbabwe work is important but is subordinate to Party-building. Frankly comrades, you put Zimbabwe and other broad front work first and show little interest in building the Party as is shown by your refusal to meet the RCL to discuss Party-building. Even from the point of view of Zimbabwe work itself, it is essential to put Party-building first. Really effective Zimbabwe work that heightens the consciousness of the working class on this question and really mobilises them, can only be carried out by the Party, or by a Party-building organisation, in a way which does propaganda and mass work on Zimbabwe as an integral part of the struggle to build the Party and lead the revolution, not as and end in itself, unrelated to the struggle for socialist revolution.

It is essential that Zimbabwe work is work done mainly among the working class, the leading force and the main force in the British revolution. It is our experience (and we have seen no evidence that the ZSF is any different) that at the present stage broad fronts can do work only among the petty bourgeoisie and intelligentsia. This is simply because such broad fronts (in the absence of principled ideological and political unity and democratic-centralist leadership) inevitable forget that mass work is only correct mass work when it is led by Marxist-Leninists and directed mainly towards the working class. The work of the RCLB on Zimbabwe is an integral and inseparable part of our factory work, not ’broad front’ work divorced from the struggle of the working class.

For these reasons we are not prepared to join any broad front on Zimbabwe. We are prepared to discuss how we can co-operate on Zimbabwe work.

We very much agree with your point that Zimbabwe work must involve the explanation of “the connection between the liberation of the colonies and the social emancipation of the proletariat in the imperialist countries”. This line is being firmly put into practice by the RCLB in its mass work among the industrial working class. We suspect that you do not put this line into practice. Unless Zimbabwe work is subordinated to Party-building and carried out as an integral part of factory work, the unity of the working class of Britain and the people of Zimbabwe will remain a pious wish.

We agree with your theoretical point about the “connection between imperialism and the prevalent opportunism in the working class movement in imperialist countries”, as the Manifesto of the RCLB makes clear. Unless we have a firm grasp of this question we cannot possibly fight imperialism. As Lenin said “the fight against imperialism is a sham and a humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism.” We do not think though that this is a point which we should make much of in our propaganda, it is rather mainly a matter for the understanding of the communists. Our propaganda and agitation among the working class must in the main emphasise the fundamental unity of interest between the struggle of the working class in the imperialist countries and the struggle of the oppressed people and nations. We must win the conviction of the working class to carry out their internationalist duty on the basis of materialism, i.e. their common interest with the oppressed people and nations in overthrowing imperialism. You on the other hand want to use the question of the connection between imperialism and opportunism as a stick to beat the working class with; you think that the working class must feel guilty about imperialism before they will support the struggle of the oppressed people and nations. In fact the vast majority of the working class have nothing to feel guilty about -they do not share in imperialist plunder and have no material interest in the continuation of the exploitation of the oppressed people and nations. That part of imperialist superprofits which the bourgeoisie use to bribe and corrupt goes mainly to the stratum of labour leaders, the petty bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia.

Finally, your statement that those members of the RCLB who worked in the old “Zimbabwe Solidarity Campaign” have not “utter(ed) a word by way of criticism” of past errors is not true. The CUA, which is the organisation the RCLB members in question worked in, sent a written self-criticism to the ACW for their errors in often opposing the line of the ZSC of supporting the ANC. So infected with small-group mentality is the ACW that it simply cannot remember receiving this self-criticism. You did not reply to the self-criticism of the CUA, as you likewise did not reply to the self-criticism of the CFB sent to the UWL for some errors of bourgeois feminism made by the CFB.

Comrades, the ACW has some achievements to its credit. In particular you have fought hard for Marxism-Leninism against opportunism and revisionism. You have also made errors of sectarianism and small-group mentality among others. Despite comradely criticism you are digging in your heels and refusing to heed criticism; if you persist in this you will become a reactionary obstacle to Party-building and the revolution, and will inevitably be swept aside by the working class.

This is the third letter we have sent you in five months. We insist that you reply to this letter and take seriously your responsibility to struggle for Marxist-Leninist unity and Party-building. We urge you to agree to our request for a meeting to discuss Party-building and unity between the ACW and the RCLB. If we do not hear from you within a reasonable period of time, and as you have chosen to attack us openly, we reserve the right to reply to that attack in public.

Comradely Greetings,
The Political Committee of the Central Committee of the RCLB.