Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

A Major Step in Building the Single Leading Centre

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 3, August 1978
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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In the last issue of “Revolution” we wrote the following:

Whether or not to form a single leading centre is a major question for the British Marxist-Leninist movement today. Over the next two or three years it is likely to be the subject of a fierce two-line struggle. Increasingly all genuine Bolsheviks all genuine Marxist-Leninists will gravitate towards and struggle to establish a single leading centre for the Party of the working class. But just as increasingly the minority of Mensheviks of opportunists who are soaked in petty-bourgeois individualism and who do not put the interests of the working class first will look for one reason after another as an excuse to keep away from the leading centre that is emerging. This process is historically inevitable. (Revolution Vol.3. No.2, pp2-3)

The central task in Britain today is to build the revolutionary Communist Party of the working class. That revolutionary party will inevitably be built just as the working class will inevitably overthrow the bourgeoisie in socialist revolution. People can either speed up the wheel of history or desperately attempt to slow it down. Just as it is inevitable that the revolutionary Communist Party will be built in Britain and that increasing numbers will rally to it as they grow in consciousness and determination, so also it is inevitable that a smaller number of opportunists will desperately try to obstruct the building of the revolutionary Communist Party.

“The development of the proletariat proceeds everywhere amidst internal struggles” as Engels said writing to Bebel (28th October 1882).

In grasping its world historic mission to overthrow the bourgeoisie it is necessary and essential for the working class to debate and struggle over the strategy and tactics needed to achieve victory. Similarly whenever any task is to be done for the revolutionary cause, and time can appropriately be taken, it is right to discuss and, if necessary, struggle over what is the right or wrong way to do it. For the proletariat democracy is for a purpose, not an end in itself: to achieve clarity and unity about the best way to win each and every battle. With the slogan “Unity, struggle, unity” the working class and revolutionaries can constantly increase their consciousness and battle strength by using struggle over correct and incorrect ideas to reach unity on a higher level.


On April 29th this year, two days before Mayday, the Communist Workers Movement and the Revolutionary Communist League held an important joint meeting to celebrate International Labour Day by issuing the following joint statement: “We are determined to achieve unity in a single lively democratic-centralist organization as speedily as possible by struggling for agreement on major principles”.

This statement is the result of persistent and principled exchanges with the CWM for over a year and marks a new high point in the unity that has been achieved. By persistent and patient exchange of views on ideological and political questions and on methods of work both by the national representatives of the CWM and RCL and by comrades at other levels of the organisations, the CWM and the RCL have increasingly come to share a common political language and to share mutual respect based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. The two organisations are using the proletarian weapon of criticism and self-criticism to narrow and resolve the lines of demarcation between their different ideological and political positions. Unity that comes through struggle will live. So long as the CWM and RCL persist in starting from the desire for unity and struggle to achieve unity at a higher level of understanding, success is assured. So long as we stand firmly on the interests of the working class and are prepared to criticise the stand of the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie, and so long as we struggle to grasp Marxism and oppose revisionism, success is certain.

In the course of the struggle for unity, the CWM and RCL will not only unite but will grasp more clearly the correct line on a number of subjects including the international class struggle and the national situation in the British Isles.

The united democratic centralist organization that the CWM and RCL are determined to build will be stronger in its ideological and political line and in numbers. It will be a landmark in the struggle to build the single leading centre for the revolutionary Communist Party of the working class and an even clearer rallying point for all genuine Marxist-Leninists in Britain.


Although the unity trend around the correct ideological and political line for the socialist revolution in Britain and for our contribution to the international class struggle against the hegemonism of the two superpowers is bound to grow, there will also be a handful of revisionist and opportunist leaders of Marxist-Leninist organizations who will inevitably oppose this trend.

The working class was brought into being by capitalism and exists now in Britain under capitalist relations of production. It is inevitable that the ideas of the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, will penetrate the thinking of the working class in various forms. Nor is the working class a pure class sealed off from other classes and strata. On the contrary representatives of other classes and strata are continually being thrown down into the working class by each turn of the capitalist crisis. In addition the ranks of the proletarian revolutionaries are swelled by representatives of other classes and strata, especially the revolutionary intelligentsia, who sometimes bring some characteristic bourgeois or petty-bourgeois types of thinking with them into the Communist movement together with their positive contribution. For all these reasons the struggle in the working class for the right way forward to revolutionary victory over the bourgeoisie is not solely a struggle between correct and incorrect ideas: it involves a struggle against bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology. Ultimately the struggle is a reflection of the external class struggle inside the Party and the communist movement. For all these reasons revisionist and other opportunist elements will inevitably step forward from time to time in the Marxist-Leninist movement to obstruct the working class and divert it down a cul-de-sac. The development of the ’proletariat in the course of struggle is not only a question of internal debate between right and wrong ideas: it also involves an antagonistic struggle with pushers of bourgeois ideology and politics within the movement, the revisionists and other opportunists. Whatever short term confusion these revisionists cause the working class’s far more strengthened in its clarity, unity and militancy by every inevitable struggle against revisionism.

At present in rallying the single leading centre in the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain it is particularly necessary vigorously to expose the revisionism of the Birch clique which controls the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). With ever such revolutionary phrases this clique covers up Birch’s complete subservience to the everyday trade union struggle for better conditions of work within the existing and continuing system. It covers up the fact that he is a trade union hack, a labour lieutenant of capital, who sits on the General Council of the TUC while it sells the firemen and the Grunwick workers down the river, without even exposing and denouncing them. Birch has no mass support and got his union seat only as a trade union bureaucrat and so daren’t even make a show of denouncing the TUC otherwise he would be chucked out of his seat, his game would be exposed and he would lose all his pickings.

Within Britain the revisionist Birch clique sings exactly the same tune as the revisionists of the CPGB in trying to fool the British workers into a reformist campaign to leave the EEC. They bitterly lament the destruction of old capitalist industries in Britain and try to hold back the wheel of history for the benefit of the more backward-looking and inefficient section of the British bourgeoisie. They never tell the workers that such periodic destruction of whole industries, of the means of production, is an inevitable result of the capitalist cycle of production, with the repeated booms and slumps, and that however much suffering this may cause in the short term the workers and working people will rise up twice as fiercely to hit back at the attacks of capitalism and will one day inevitably overthrow it!

Internationally Birch is paying in full the price of the free food and drink he got from the social imperialists in Russia earlier this year. When the Soviet Union engineered yet another invasion of Zaire in May, the “Worker”, the paper of the CPB (ML) shouted ”British imperialism Hands Off Africa” – that was the first time it had raised this slogan! What an attempt to throw dust in the eyes of the workers by pretending to be revolutionary. There is a Soviet agent who goes round Marxist- Leninist meetings in London to spy on the genuine revolutionary Communists: he must instead, now have a special word of thanks to say to Birch.

So eager is the Birch clique to whitewash the Soviet Union that they have banned the words “social-imperialism” and “superpower” in their publications because they are too revealing.

The Birch clique has recently completely fallen in with the social-imperialist and revisionist propaganda campaign about war. The “Worker” has published frantic articles about the neutron bomb because the Soviet Union hasn’t got it, while of course not mentioning that the Soviet Union this year has been systematically deploying the far more destructive SS 20 missiles aimed at West European cities. In fact the “Worker” has grovelled in bourgeois pacifism and despair.

This has been accompanied by wilder and more and more unscrupulous attacks on the Communist Party of China. The “Worker” has demagogically denounced the speech of the Chinese representative at the UN Assembly’s special session on disarmament as ”one of the more blatant calls for armament under the cloak of calling for disarmament”. It has desperately attacked Comrade Hua Kuo-feng, Chairman of the Communist Party of China, after he had met Sir Neil Cameron. Cameron had quite correctly pointed out, although of course from his bourgeois standpoint, that the Soviet Union’s vast army of tanks threatened both China and Western Europe. Hua Kuo-feng had followed the right, far-sighted and correct policy of Lenin, Stalin and Mao Tsetung of distinguishing between different imperialists according to whether they are willing temporarily to be friendly to the socialist state and of making use of this and of other contradictions to divide the imperialists, overcome them one by one, on an international scale and ensure the complete elimination of the imperialist system at the earliest possible opportunity. But the “Worker”, demagogically and frantically grabbed onto this and proclaimed “If these two gentlemen want war with Russia let them make their way to the frontier and fight it out on their own”. This is their way of whitewashing the most dangerous, adventurous and bullying source of war in the world today, the Soviet Union.


The fight against the revisionist Birch clique is an indispensible part of the struggle to form a single and correct leading centre for Party-building in Britain. In addition it is essential to continue to criticise small group mentality and fully show how it is a manifestation of petty-bourgeois individualism quite opposed to building a strong, united and effective Party of the working class. In particular it is a manifestation of the individualism of the leaders of some of the Marxist Leninist groups and circles in Britain.

The RCL has urged all genuine Marxist-Leninists to struggle for unity using ideological struggle as the weapon for ensuring unity. It has urged comrades seriously to struggle over the Manifesto of the RCL which is the most valuable advance so far made towards a Programme of the future revolutionary Communist Party. This is not a subjective boast. The correct ideas in the Manifesto of the RCL are not the personal property of the RCL. They are an application of the universal lessons from the international working class movement to the concrete conditions of the revolutionary class struggle in Britain. Where they are correct they are the property of the working class. Where there are weakness this will become apparent in the course of the struggle and they will be removed, thereby strengthening the Manifesto and the future Programme still further.

At present the RCL is concentrating its efforts in uniting genuine Marxist-Leninists in Britain on the struggle for unity with the CWM. Experience of past successful struggles for unity shows that to be successful they must be grasped firmly and pursued, with a sincere desire for unity, for a substantial period of time. The RCL is concentrating on the CWM because the lines of the two organisations are relatively close and because the CWM is the largest organisation close to the RCL in its thinking and has branches in several cities. Unity between the RCL and CWM will have a bigger positive effect on Party building than unity between the RCL and a smaller but equally correct organisation. It is in the interests of the working class to concentrate on winning unity with the CWM at present.

The RCL has for some time consistently proposed bilateral meetings to struggle systematically for unity and has opposed all larger committees of representatives of a number of Marxist-Leninist organisations which could become a federalist compromise with small group mentality. In particular we oppose the idea of a committee of all self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist organisations. A committee composed of representatives of several organisations can avoid federalist opportunism if all the participating organisations, already share common ground and firmly start from the desire for unity around a basic statement which will be strengthened through struggle. It would be necessary for one of the participating organisations to have earned sufficient political respect to act as a centre of leadership for the committee as a whole.

It seems that this was the situation in the highly successful “Organising Committee for the Marxist-Leninist Party” that the October League set up prior to the founding of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) of the United States, but similar conditions do not exist in Britain at present.

The RCL is confident that if both the CWM and the RCL persist firmly in struggle, starting from the desire for unity, unity will undoubtedly be achieved. This will be a major step in establishing a single leading centre in Britain. Whatever the particular additional steps are by which all genuine Marxist-Leninists will rally round to build the future revolutionary Communist Party of the working class we can be sure that through all struggles for unity and all struggles against revisionism and opportunism, that Party will be undoubtedly be built!