Political Report to the March 24th Meeting of the National Council of the English Communist Movement (Marxist-Leninist) (1972)[1]

First Published: The Marxist-Leninist, (Internal Discussion journal of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist)) Vol. 1, No. 1, September 1974
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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Our movement has been in existence for just over four and a half years; as the English Internationalists from August ’67 then as the English Communist Movement from January ’70.

What have been our achievements? What obstacles have we had to overcome? What are the current problems to be resolved in order for the Party to advance still further? What has been the history, and what is the present stage of the revolutionary mass movement? How can we organise to influence it and ultimately to provide leadership to it? The following report should answer these questions.


In 1963 the Communist Party of Great Britain split. Progressive individuals had been leaving the Party since the dissolution of the Third International, but the first official and major split based on opposing the Modern Revisionist political line took place in 1963. This anti-revisionist movement was led by Michael McCreery who formed the Committee to Defeat Revisionism and for Communist Unity. McCreery unfortunately died in April 1964 and following his death his entire Committee disintegrated. This split was a reflection of the Committee’s failure to actually build communist unity. Thus while the Committee correctly refuted revisionism on the theoretical level, it did not in fact oppose revisionism on the level of methods of work. The following lessons can be learnt from the experience of the CDRCU.

1. Opposition to revisionism must not remain the exclusive right of an elite group of Marxist-Leninists. Opposition to revisionism must develop amongst the broad masses of the people; it must be based on their struggles and must serve their struggles.

2. To oppose revisionism it is not enough to ’theoretically’ refute the revisionist line. Real opposition to revisionism must extend further. It must be reflected in methods of work-in organisation. Any opposition to revisionism which is not developed in this way one sided and subjective and will itself inevitably give rise to revisionist theory.

3. To unite the broad masses of the people to oppose British monopoly capitalism it is first necessary to unite the Party organisations. The Party organisations and units must develop out of mass struggles. Any organisation, group or unit which is made up of a collection of chance individuals, each with their own individual interpretation of Marxism is bound to disintegrate and split. Unity of thinking develops out of struggle to sum up common and shared experience of actual struggles.

4. In order to build the Party organisations, strengthen and ultimately lead the revolutionary mass movement it is necessary to disseminate revolutionary ideology amongst the broad masses on an extensive scale. These are some lessons from the CDRCU experience.

By 1967 the revolutionary mass movement had achieved unprecedented heights, and was to continue to do so in each succeeding year up to the present. The youth and student movement erupted into vigorous struggles against the decadent bourgeois educational system; throughout the middle and late sixties the youth and students launched struggle after struggle against monopoly capital and expressed their resentment towards the concrete conditions of their particular form of oppression. This great movement was followed towards the end of the sixties by the worker s and minorities who conducted struggles against racial discrimination, the rise in prices, low wages and unemployment. These struggles further developed into vigorous opposition to the fascist and anti-democratic policies of the Wilson and Heath governments on the questions of Ireland and immigration and Trades Unions.

It was out of the revolutionary mass movement of the youth and students that the English Internationalists developed. In August 1967 the Necessity for Change Conference held in London was a concrete expression of the revolutionary sentiment of the Youth and students. It was the most advanced members of the revolutionary mass movement of youth and students who gathered together in London to form the English Internationalists after two weeks of intense discussion, debt and summing-up.

This revolutionary conference was led by Comrade Hardial Bains who represented both in line and method what was best in the revolutionary mass movement of that period. Comrade Bains was the founding member of the Internationalists in Vancouver in 1963, and in Ireland in 1965. It was Comrade Bains’ correct leadership, his resolute adherence to revolutionary principle and his flexibility in applying these principles that ensured the development of the proletarian revolutionary line at the conference in contrast to and in opposition to the bourgeois reactionary line, and consequently, the victorious and successful conclusion of the conference.

The Necessity for Change Conference was a decisive turning point in the history of the struggle between the two lines in England. With the breakdown of the CDRCU following McCreery’s death, by 1967 there were no less than twenty different organisations and groups in England all claiming to be opposed to revisionism, all claiming to be Marxist-Leninist, and all claiming to be developing the correct line and method in the English revolution. It did not take us long to learn the bitter truth. McCreery’s experience had not been summed up and most of these groups had learnt nothing from it. What were the lessons of the Necessity for Change Conference?


We learnt that the most basic mistake made by all previous anti-revisionists in England was that they doubted the revolutionary capacity of the English proletariat. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “We must have faith in the masses and we must have faith in the Party. These are two cardinal principles. If we doubt these principles we shall accomplish nothing. “The bourgeois reactionary line was isolated and exposed at the conference. The left opportunist line was to doubt the revolutionary capacity of the masses. The right opportunist line was to doubt the revolutionary capacity of the Party. One line denounced the masses for not being revolutionary; the other line denounced the communists for not ’leading’ the mass movement. The correct line adhered to by Comrade Bains opposed both these points of view.

The Internationalists developed out of the actual struggles of the revolutionary mass movement and as a consequence of this experience was imbued with the basic sentiment that the broad masses of workers and other oppressed sections wanted revolution. It is only the worst kind of bourgeois intellectual who has participated in no revolutionary struggles who acquires Marxism-Leninism through self-cultivation, thinks of himself as virtuous and revolutionary and the people as apathetic with all the faults.

The mass movement can only be influenced and ultimately led through sustained work from a low level to a higher level. Any attempt to jump from nothing to the ’heavenly kingdom’ is bound to degenerate into reformism or terrorism, tailism or adventurism.

It is from this basic question of attitude that certain left and right opportunist tendencies have arisen in the anti-revisionist movement. Doubting the revolutionary capacity of the people leads to serious errors of programme and policy. It gives rise to ’organise to understand the world’ as opposed to ’organise to change the world’. It gives rise to the line of convincing the masses to be revolutionary and theories of ’creeping communism’. What sort of revolutionary programme can be developed when one starts from doubt?


The Necessity for Change Conference taught us the necessity of adhering to a correct method of waging inner party class struggle. If the method is wrong then the results will inevitably be wrong; the method of inner party class struggle has been an important question in determining whether a revolutionary group or organisation unites to advance or splits and decays. In 1967 two attitudes were taken towards us on this question, and the experience taught us a profound lesson. Denounce all and repudiate all; doubt motive and ignore effect. This was one line. We were denounced, especially our leading comrades such as Comrade Bains, as petit-bourgeois intellectuals with romantic association with revolution. We were branded as non-Marxist-Leninist or anti-Marxist-Leninist. ’How can you be anti-revisionist without being Marxist-Leninist?’ I/we were told. ’If you are not Marxist-Leninist we are not interested in you’. These were some of the ’repudiations’. From the other side, and this was mainly amongst our own ranks. Some of our comrades regarded themselves and the Internationalists as faultless and above criticism. Both positions are one sided and subjective. One gives rise to unprincipled disunity, the other to unprincipled unity which is bound to degenerate into the other.

Following the leadership of Comrade Bains the correct line was developed. ’Participate to solve the problem’ and this has been a cardinal principle of our Party ever since. Has this not been a basic feature of the nine year history of the anti-revisionist movement in England? Subjectivism and one-sidedness have resulted in the worst forms of factionalism and splittism. In the course of our work we created the opposite trend, by adhering to the principle of ’Participate to solve the problem’ and ’cure the illness to save the patient’. We have systematically strengthened the inner party unity, encouraged our comrades to remould their thinking and developed the revolutionary policy of the movement.

The guidelines on this question are as follows:

a) Differences in policy are developed over a long historical period.
b) Struggle must be based on how to apply the policy and on summing-up the experience of applying the policy.
c) Differences in the Party should never prevent us from working with those comrades with whom we differ up until those differences become fundamental and basic and there is no basis for unity.
d) The basis for unity to adhere to is the fundamental desire to oppose British monopoly capitalism.
e) The fundamental criterion in deciding if a political line is correct or not or if a comrade is good or bad must be based on effect, on social practice.
f) We must insist on the unity of motive and effect. Doubting the motive of these comrades who have made mistakes and are under criticism, provides no way out for them to change. The motive of our comrades can only be revealed over a long historical period, unless conclusive evidence exists that they can not be trusted, are police spies, etc.
g) Use the Internationalists’ guidelines on building fraternal relations.[2]


The final basic lesson of the Necessity for Change Conference was that we must learn from and apply the lessons of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, we must acquire, grasp and apply Mao Tsetung Thought. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a model for conducting Inner Party Class Struggle. Based on mobilising the Chinese people to rally around the proletarian revolutionary centre headed by Chairman Mao, uphold the proletarian revolutionary line and to denounce, repudiate and criticise the bourgeois reactionary line headed by Liu Shao-Chi. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a model in arousing the masses and uniting them, in transforming the Party and rectifying its style of work and building closer ties between the broad masses and the Party, in opposing revisionism and adhering to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Without learning from and applying the advanced experience of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution we shall be unable to lead and conduct any successful struggles. In 1967 the anti-revisionist movement was in the main sceptical of China and Chairman Mao, some actively and openly denounced China, and most of them believed that Mao Tsetung Thought had nothing in common with the English proletariat. These fundamentally wrong ideas were seriously opposed at the conference, and since that time our Party has never ceased to oppose revisionism and popularise Mao Tsetung Thought.


1. The Tactical Weaknesses of the Revolutionary Mass Movement.

a) It is weak. b) Its associations and centres of command are infiltrated by the class enemy. c) Its struggles are sold out even before they begin. d) It is prone to imperialist and social fascist propaganda. e) It is aimless. f) It is without defence. g) Every failure leads to further disintegration of the revolutionary mass movement.

2. Strategic Strength of the Revolutionary Mass Movement

a) It is strong and in fact invincible. b) Its associations and centres of command can never be infiltrated by the class enemy. c) Its struggles can never be sold out and every struggle strengthens it, on the long range basis. d) It is immune to imperialist and social fascist propaganda. e) It has the lofty aim of liquidating class society. f) Millions and millions of people form the impregnable and invincible defence. g) Every failure leads to further consolidation and strengthening of the revolutionary mass movement.

The tactical weaknesses of the revolutionary mass movement are irresistibly turning into their opposite, that is its strategic strength, UNDER COMMUNIST REVOLUTIONARY LEADERSHIP.

We must discern very carefully the real stage of the revolutionary mass movement. Between 1967 and 1972 it has become increasingly militant, its class composition has shifted from mainly petit-bourgeois and intellectuals, to industrial proletariat as the main force, it is influenced by the social fascist political line more strongly than ever before, it is organisationally extremely weak, its revolutionary capacity and strength are inexhaustible. There are important tendencies developing at this time to take note of.

I. There is no organised resistance in England against the policies of the Heath government on the North of Ireland.

a) There is widescale disapproval which is reflected in militant demonstrations and agitations, this widescale disapproval would indicate that conditions for development of organised resistance exist but as yet no such development has been brought about.
b) The principle reason for this situation is because of the influence of the social fascist and imperialist political line amongst the people.
c) Organisationally the revisionists, trotskyists, neo-trotskyists, liberals and social democrats are extremely weak, but their political line has a large amount of currency amongst the broad masses of the people.
d) The situation will not change by itself. It will not change by quantifying the present activities that the broad masses are engaged in. It will change by bringing about qualitative transformation in the present method of struggle. A clear line of distinction has to be drawn between the Marxist-Leninist political line and the political lines of the social fascists ’and imperialists. In this way the broad masses will learn and gradually changes will be brought about.
e) The Holy Alliance and all social fascists are demanding concessions from British monopoly capitalism. No revolutionary demands are being popularised.
f) The Holy Alliance has degenerated to new heights in providing a ’revolutionary’ appearance to reformist and economist struggles. Today some of them are deceitfully calling Trades Union struggles revolutionary struggles and demands and strikes for higher wages, which are in the main led by various die hard revisionists, as guerilla war. They shamelessly equate people’s revolutionary war and guerilla war with demands for higher wages, strikes for higher wages and better working conditions, etc. They are bent on continuing the trend of quantifying the present methods and forms of struggle even if they have to resort to providing these struggles with revolutionary names. This is one example of the social fascist influence which must be combatted amongst the broad masses of the people.
g) Opposition to these tendencies must start at a low level, through developing a new trend creating conscious models and popularising the experience of such work. It is essential to adhere to the Marxist-Leninist political line and the Marxist-Leninist style of work.
h) The revolutionary mass movement is organisationally extremely weak because the bourgeoisie is very strong at this stage.
i) The last five or six years’ experience has shown that British monopoly capitalism places strong emphasis on giving long jail sentences to those that they fear, increasing the use of armed police and troops to combat the struggles of the broad masses of the people.
j) British monopoly capitalism is relying more heavily on the social fascist political line and social fascist political groups to assist it in liquidating any revolutionary struggles and in converting all struggles into exchange of platitudes and granting of concessions.
k) Again only communist revolutionary leader ship based on adhering to the Marxist -Leninist political line and method is going to expose and isolate the influence of this process among the broad masses of the people.
l) Political sabotage is still the principal means by which British monopoly capitalism is safeguarding its interests. But the trend is towards resorting to force as the principal means.
m) There has been a steady trend based on the consciousness of the people to be more scientific in opposing the social fascist and imperialist line. This trend is being spear-headed by all genuine communist revolutionaries and in the main by our Party and our fraternal Party in Ireland.


The growth and development of our Party can be divided into two stages. From August 1967 to October 1970: The stage of internal consolidation and internal growth. From October 1970 to the present time”: The stage of external consolidation and external growth. The left and right opportunist tendencies we have had to combat can be characterised as follows: From 1967 to October 1970 the main left opportunist tendency to oppose was the line of solving the problems of inner party life and inner party building detached from and separate from mobilising the broad masses of the people. The crudest example of this was the line ’Problems of the individual can be solved without overthrowing British monopoly capitalism’.

We have suffered many grave setbacks as a result of this line. For example, soon after August 1967 our Party actually divided as a result of this problem. Some comrades were preoccupied in trying to solve their’ sexual’ problems instead of making revolution. In opposing this trend, other comrades simply ’walked out’ left the Party and continued their revolutionary activity elsewhere. Both these lines and methods of dealing with the problems were one sided and subjective. A further example. Up until October 1969 comrades working in Sussex University used to give the slogan ’Be a communist and solve your hang-ups’. The most sophisticated expression of this wrong line came up in August 1970 when leading comrades (myself) attempted to rectify inner party life and deal with inner party problems divorced from developing the practical political programme and practical political work.

When the comrades wanted to take these problems up leading comrades (myself) gave the line ’you cannot criticise the leadership’... this is the only leadership you have and you can not give criticism’. This entirely one sided and erroneous line had dangerous consequences, we came close to liquidating our Party and it was only the strength and faith of our comrades in the future of the Party and in Mao Tsetung Thought that allowed us to overcome the difficulties of that period, together with the timely assistance of our fraternal comrades in the Canadian Party led by Comrade Bains.

The right opportunist deviation we have had to deal with came up most strongly during the second phase of development that is since October 1970. It is characterised by the line of mobilising the masses, building practical revolutionary programmes, participating in the revolutionary mass movement without putting the Party in command, without giving play to the leading role of the Party and without paying proper attention to inner party life and inner party affairs.

To build the Party internally we adhered to the general programmes of wide scale dissemination of Mao Tsetung Thought, the development of the resistance movement and the development of the student movement. This work finally brought about an internal Party organisation and we were ready to enter the second phase of growth. This stage was launched at the historic BASIS OF UNITY CONFERENCE in October 1970 and was again led by Comrade Hardial Bains. A general revolutionary programme was developed: UNITE WITH THE ADVANCED ELEMENTS. TO MOBILISE THE MIDDLE SECTIONS TO AROUSE THE BACKWARD SECTIONS. Revolutionary area committees were opened up in select communities, book shops were opened new units established and by March 1971 a national revolutionary newsweekly was being produced. The lessons of the Basis of Unity Conference were summed up and further developed by May 1971 under, the leadership of our national secretary Comrade George P. Malcolm and the final defeat of the left opportunist line in the Party left over from the first phase of development was achieved. Thus all the leading elements who were unwilling to put into practice the line of the October Basis of Unity Conference were expelled from leading positions inside the Party or severely criticised.

At the present time we have a right opportunist deviation in the Party which is seriously affecting our work. A revisionist trend exists which must be combatted: LEFT OPPORTUNISM INSIDE THE PARTY RIGHT CAPITULATION OUTSIDE. Those comrades who are peddling the revisionist line in the Party constantly work to undermine the leading role of the Party in the development of the revolutionary mass movement. They oppose the line of UNITE THE PARTY BRANCH IN ORDER TO UNITE THE BROAD MASSES OF THE PEOPLE. They promote themselves as the Party Branch, oppose coming under the supervision of the branch and the branch coming under the supervision of the masses. Instead they lord it over the branch and denounce the branch or the Party when their external programme gets into difficulties.

The leading role that the Party plays must be adhered to at all times. Our programme at this stage must be to strengthen the central organisation of the Party and arouse the broad masses of the people.

Strengthening the central organisation of the Party means applying Party policy, doing propaganda Łor the leading role of the Party, upholding the revolutionary authority of the Party leadership, making the Party membership subservient to the collective and the collective subservient to the broad masses. Representatives of the revisionist trend wish to go against this line. In more concrete form the revisionist tendencies in the Party are emerging on two basic questions. The question of the National Question in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and the question of what attitude must we take towards national minorities in England, especially Irish and Afro-Asian minorities.

In order to oppose these tendencies in the most comprehensive fashion it is necessary to develop our programme still further of arousing the masses and pave the way to acquiring leadership of the revolutionary mass movement.

Our programme at this stage must be:

1. Intensify study, application and dissemination of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. (Study, that is the main activity inside the Party by ’studying only when we have specific problems in mind’; application, that is the main activity amongst the masses in order to elucidate our policy and draw clear lines between Marxism-Leninism and monopolist and social fascist politics; dissemination, that is the main overall activity as a contribution to fulfilling the revolutionary need for Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought by the advanced and middle section of the working class.)
2. Repudiate and denounce bourgeois parliamentary democracy.
3. Organise to acquire political power by establishing and consolidating workers’ revolutionary area committees as the provisional organs of state power. Revolutionary committees must be established in all centres of production that is in factories, colleges and communities.
4. Work tirelessly to draw clear lines of distinction on every issue between the Marxist-Leninist political line and the political lines of the monopoly capitalists and the social fascists.
5. Consciously develop model struggles amongst the working class against British monopoly capitalism.

The key to deciding the future of our country is WHO CONTROLS POLITICAL POWER. We will achieve nothing unless the broad masses of the people see the necessity to control political power. All issues, all demands, all agitations and actions must be subservient to this basic and fundamental question. Without acquiring political power we can achieve nothing. If we agree to and actually carry out this general line in all our units in a systematic and protracted fashion we are bound to arouse the masses and build the Party and smash the present road blocks to this growth.

Chairman Mao has pointed out recently: “Practise Marxism, and not revisionism; unite and don’t split; be open and above board, and don’t intrigue and conspire.” Applying this instruction to all genuine communist revolutionaries is the best guarantee of going forward. We have been in existence for just over four and a half years. We feel very confident that the forces that Comrade Hardial Bains was instrumental in unleashing in 1967 in England are irresistible and are bound to surge forward from victory to victory.


[1] This political report was adopted by the National Council of the English Communist Movement (Marxist-Leninist) on March 24, 1972, and presented at the Founding Conference of the Communist party of England (Marxist-Leninist) which occurred on that date, subsequent to the dissolution of ECM (ML).

[2] GUIDELINES FOR FRATERNAL RELATIONS: – See “One Struggle, Two Enemies, Three Guidelines, Four levels of Work” available from Progressive Books and Periodicals.