Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Progress in Party Building

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 4, November 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The opening paragraph of the em>Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain declares:

The Revolutionary Communist League of Britain holds that the central task in Britain today is to build the revolutionary Communist Party, the political party of the working class.

What progress has been made in achieving this task since the founding of the RCLB in July 1977?

The RCLB has consistently followed a policy of walking on two legs in Party-building; that is on the one hand building the League self-reliantly, and on the other struggling to unite with other genuine Marxist-Leninists in Britain. Experience shows that this policy is overwhelmingly a correct one. It also shows that the two aspects of the policy are closely interrelated.

Self-reliance means relying mainly on ourselves. It enables us to go on making progress whatever the difficult circumstances and even though other forces cannot be fully relied upon. However it is precisely by being mainly self-reliant, by pressing ahead resolutely and proving that gains can be won in practice that we can show all other genuine forces that victory can be won if we unite around a correct line, even if for various objective or subjective reasons they have problems in forging ahead on their own. Building the Party self-reliantly and struggling to unite the genuine Marxist-Leninists for Party-building are two aspects of a single contradiction which are in contrast to each other but at the same time dialectically inter-related. We press ahead with building the RCL ideologically, politically and organizationally and at the same time we issue the rallying call to all other genuine Marxist-Leninists to “Unite with the RCL – to Form the Single Leading Centre for Party Building”.

Progress in building the RCL self-reliantly has been concrete and unmistakable. Since the founding of the League in July 1977 numbers of members and candidate members have increased by well over a third. This is a concrete proof of the correctness of the ideological and political line of the em>Manifesto of the RCL and at the same time vivid proof of the growing desire for unity in the Marxist-Leninist movement around a correct ideological and political line. We must go on recruiting new members in a planned and principled way and make sure that they are consolidated as militant fighters in the ranks of the League not only organizationally but even more important, ideologically and politically. This is the guarantee for even greater victories in recruiting advanced workers and revolutionary intellectuals in building the Party of the working class.

From September 1978, “Class Struggle”, the political paper of the RCL, which was published monthly, is now being published every two weeks. This also is a vivid concrete proof of the correctness of the ideological and political line of the RCL. While the revisionist Birch clique leading the “Communist Party of Britain Marxist-Leninist” increased the frequency of publication of their opportunist paper, “The Worker” as an act of desperation when their numbers started to decline seriously following the consolidation of their opportunist and splittist line, the increase in frequency of “Class Struggle” has been achieved from a position of strength. It has been achieved in a planned way on the basis of systematic Ideological, political and organisational work. The ideological and political line of the paper and its ability to integrate the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought with the developing practice of the class struggle in Britain and in the world have been strengthened through criticism and self-criticism. Sales of the paper to workers in factories have increased and further valuable experience has been gained in how to use a Communist paper in building revolutionary bases in the industrial working class and how to use it in study classes to win the advanced workers to the cause of Communism and building the revolutionary party of the working class. Thorough all round organisational planning was done to create the preconditions for “Class Struggle” to be published fortnightly. One of the most valuable aspects of this was the successful Fighting Fund earlier in 1978 which raised over 300 more that the target of 1,500. This fighting fund campaign linked comrades and friends concretely with the task of building the Party of the working class. It provided the funds for a self-reliant improvement in the professional quality of the printing of RCLB publications. This improvement is very clear to anyone who compares “Class Struggle” of now and a year ago. At a glance it tells a very important ideological lesson – the seriousness and dedication of the RCLB in boldly and conscientiously building a professional revolutionary Party, which can lead the working class in defeating all the viciousness and cunning of the monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie and overthrowing them in a glorious socialist revolution. At the same time the strengthening of RCL self-reliance in printing was a crucial precondition for “Class Struggle” to be published fortnightly.

The increased frequency of publication of “Class Struggle” is therefore a vivid concrete proof of the success of the RCL’s self-reliant Party-building line. At the same time it provides a most important opportunity for still greater victories. The political paper of a revolutionary Communist organization is a collective propagandist, agitator and organiser. Doubling the frequency of “Class Struggle” more than doubles our ability to educate and organise the advanced workers in the course of struggle against the monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie. With increased frequency of sales in factories and more topical news we show the vast superiority of revolutionary Communist ideology over bourgeois ideology concretely, and we proclaim the existence of a revolutionary working class organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist system. This persistence is indispensible In rallying advanced workers to the revolutionary Party because they have no interest in a petty-bourgeois discussion circle which exists half-heartedly and for its own sake. The increased frequency of publication of “Class Struggle” will also give the League the opportunity and also the obligation to strengthen the integration of its Marxist-Leninist line with the developing events of the class struggle.

Yet another concrete proof of the League’s self-reliant policy in Party-building has been its success in leading the first nationwide campaign in Britain in solidarity with the armed struggle of the Zimbabwean people against the agents of British imperialism and its ally, US Imperialism. Although this campaign falls many times short of what we would wish in abstract, considering the limited objective resources it is a clear victory proving the ability of the RCL to campaign on vital issues of the revolution nationally and internationally on a nationwide basis.

These three examples, the marked Increase in membership of the RCL, the publication of “Class Struggle” fortnightly, and the campaign of solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe, are vivid concrete proof of success in the League’s policy of self-reliance in Party-building. They were achieved through militant organisational work in which many lessons were learnt. But on the final analysis they are all proof of the correctness of the League’s ideological and political line. Without the line being correct it would be impossible fully to weld the cadres around it and for them to go into action with one heart and mind. It is because the League’s line is overwhelmingly correct that such marked organisational victories have been won since its foundation in July 1977.


Building the League self-reliantly is the leading factor in our policy on Party-building. But that does not mean we ignore the need to unite all genuine Marxist-Leninists for Party-building. These policies are two aspects of a single contradiction. Since its foundation the RCL has paid great attention to uniting the Marxist-Leninist movement. Correctly handled, building the League self-reliantly does not hamper the work of uniting the Marxist-Leninist movement but facilitates it and is in fact indispensible to it. Unity of many individuals can only come about through unity of thinking: unity that will live must be unity around a correct line. Therefore in holding up the em>Manifesto of the RCL as the most valuable advance in Britain today towards the Programme of the future revolutionary Communist Party we do so to facilitate, not to hamper unity around a correct ideological and political line for the British revolution. When we press ahead self-reliantly in building the League this helps to prove concretely to sincere but perhaps doubting elements the general correctness of this ideological and political line.

Progress is being made in the struggle to unite all genuine Marxist-Leninists 1n Britain. As far as uniting individuals with Marxist-Leninist views around an emerging centre is concerned this can be seen in the recruitment figures to the RCLB. In terms of Marxist-Leninist organisations a process of polarisation is going on in the Marxist-Leninist movement between those moving towards building a single leading centre on a correct ideological and political line for the British revolution and those opportunist elements resisting this process. This polarisation is inseparably connected with the development of contradictions inside each organisation in the struggle for a correct line against incorrect and opportunist lines.

In particular, heartening work is being done in a militant and systematic way in strengthening unity on ideological and political line between the Revolutionary Communist League and the Communist Workers Movement. Common ground is widening and being consolidated, lines of demarcation are being narrowed. While the comrades of each organisation correctly persist in struggling for what is right, an excellent atmosphere is being strengthened on the basis of a desire for unity in which both sides seriously listen to the view points and criticism of the other and struggle for unity in terms of what conforms to objective reality and to the revolutionary interests of the working class. Just before May Day this year the two organisations publicly pledged themselves to struggle for unity on major principles; and in keeping with the spirit of this meeting on August 20th both organisations jointly organised a demonstration in militant protest against Soviet social imperialism on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Meanwhile the struggle for unity on ideological and political line goes on, and the RCL gives its fraternal good wishes to the Communist Workers Movement and congratulations on the CWM’s progress in internal consolidation. The comrades of the CWM largely consist of ex-members of the “CPBML” who left on the basis of opposition to the revisionist line and methods of work of the Birch clique. Since then the CWM has been consolidating itself ideologically, politically and organisationally through summing up experience systematically and through struggling against individualist and opportunist tendencies. We are sure that through persisting 1n this process of consolidation the CWM will strengthen the Influence of its correct line amongst the working class and bring an extremely valuable contingent of revolutionary fighters to the cause of Party building.

At the opposite pole in the struggle to unite the Marxist-Leninist movement, the revisionist Birch clique has exposed its line even more and is heading for crisis. Long echoing the “left” opportunist line on the international situation, it ignores the fact that the oppressed nations of the third world are the main force in the struggle against imperialism, colonialism and superpower hegemonism; it prettifies the Soviet Union which is the more dangerous of the two superpowers and the most dangerous source of war, and it ignores the fact that the peoples of the second world must be won over to the broad international united front against the hegemonism of the two superpowers. Recently it has gone even further with wild and underhand attacks on the Communist Party of China, for example in supporting the social chauvinist attacks by the Vietnamese authorities on Chinese nationals and whitewashing the role of Soviet social imperialism in Indochina. With these manoeuvres the Birch clique is trying to poison the minds of the honest members of the CPBML against socialist China and Mao Tsetung Thought. This is bound to lead to opposition, whether open or silent and the CPBML will further disintegrate under the domination of this revisionist line.

On the class struggle nationally the revisionist Birch clique is persevering with its narrow trade unionism. Under cover of revolutionary phrases It follows the baton of trade union lieutenants of capital and conducts no struggle at all to expose them as agents of opportunism in the working class movement, in defiance of the lessons Lenin taught about the need especially to combat opportunism and revisionism in an imperialist country. (The revisionist Birch clique is not only throwing Mao Tsetung Thought out of the window but has long ago discarded essential teachings of Lenin.) Meanwhile, their own labour lieutenant of capital, the trade union bureaucrat Birch, is reaching retiring age in the trade union bureaucracy and even the revisionist CPBML clique with all their audacity will not be able much longer to present him as a great leader of the working class! It is essential to keep up the struggle against the revisionist Birch clique not only to rally genuine Marxist-Leninists from the CPBML but of even greater concrete importance to destroy any illusions people may have that Birch is a Marxist-Leninist leader. These illusions must be destroyed in the struggle to unite all genuine Marxist-Leninists for Party building.

The small groups also show signs of the tendency towards polarisation in the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain. The trend is against small group mentality and we must carry through the struggle and educational work against small group mentality. No new small groups have formed recently and several have either died suddenly or are withering, while amongst others there are signs that they see the need to grasp a correct line for the British revolution and break out of their individualistic friendship circles and unite in larger democratic centralist organisations. Although it is Inevitable there will be many twists and turns in establishing the single leading centre and clearing up the muddle in the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain all comrades must grasp that the main trend is towards unity around a correct line and that this is excellent.

In the struggle for unity with other Marxist-Leninist organisations the RCL is deliberately concentrating its cadre resources on winning unity with the CWM through militant and systematic work. The CWM is closest to the RCL in ideological and political line and unity between the two national organisations will bring an important numerical increase in strength of the organised Marxist-Leninist forces. Although Marxists cannot prophesy, the prospects are definitely favourable that the CWM and RCL will reach unity in a single democratic centralist organisation on the basis of a united ideological and political line some time in 1979.

The policy of the RCL is to continue to be ready to struggle for unity with other Marxist-Leninist organisations where there is a sufficiently common line, a sufficient desire for unity and where cadre resources permit. It will still be necessary to struggle for unity with other elements and circles even after the founding of the revolutionary Communist Party. This is because the class struggle in bourgeois society inevitably throws up different bands of fighters who may sincerely desire revolution although they are confused or have been misled by bourgeois ideology about how to achieve it.

Such a struggle for unity is essential to ensure that all genuine revolutionary elements are concentrated in one single vanguard organisation of the working class so that the working class can readily recognise the true centre of revolutionary Communist leadership. It is our duty to clear up the mess in the British Marxist-Leninist movement. Part of the process of Party building is ensuring that the working class is able readily to recognise the existence of its own party. At the same time the continuing struggle for unity with even quite small circles will ensure that all possible valuable experience is concentrated in the future revolutionary Communist Party.

However in terms of building the Party numerically, present experience is suggesting that the process of uniting with other Marxist-Leninist organisations may not bring as many gains as the process of building the League self-reliantly. With the exception of unity between the RCL and CWM which will definitely have an important aspect of uniting two national organisations, it seems that comparatively speaking fewer comrades can be brought together in a year by the struggle for unity with other Marxist-Leninist organisations than the RCL can recruit on a systematic and principled basis by building the League self-reliantly over the same period of a year. While striving to win as many honest comrades as we can from the CPBML, in the struggle against the revisionist Birch clique, we must be mentally prepared for the possibility that in the process of disintegration of the CPBML the majority of honest comrades may be at least temporarily lost to the ranks of the revolution owing to demoralisation and confusion. For ideological and political reasons it is without doubt essential to continue the struggle against revisionism in the Marxist-Leninist movement and for unity of all genuine comrades round a correct line. Nevertheless, in terms of winning numbers for Party building, which is also important (as materialists we know that correct ideas are no use at all unless there are the people to turn them into a material force) it is increasingly necessary to pay attention to building the League self-reliantly.


The majority of recruits to the RCL at present and for some time to come will be won on the basis of an all round desire for revolution and a theoretical understanding that to have a revolution it is necessary to have a revolutionary party. Many of them may come from the revolutionary intelligentsia. This is not a bad thing; it is a fine thing so long as they are good comrades and understand the need for intellectuals to guard particularly against bourgeois ideology in their thinking and to be ready to remould themselves over a long period of time in the course of struggle. Nevertheless although intellectuals tend to pick up unfamiliar ideas more readily, because of their position in society of working by their brain, it is essential to pay special attention to recruiting working class comrades to ensure that the Party that is built has a proletarian class character and has deep roots in the working class. For this we must win class conscious workers with a strong fighting spirit in the course of actual struggle against the monopoly capitalist class.

This question is not just an Immediate question of how we recruit: it is a question of the whole character of the Party we are building. The Party cannot be built in a vacuum; that would deny its whole character as the vanguard of the working class. The Party must be built as the vanguard section of the working class able increasingly to lead the class in resistance to the attacks of monopoly capitalism and In preparation for the socialist seizure of state power.

As the first paragraph of section E of the em>Manifesto of the RCL states:

The purpose of the revolutionary Communist Party is to lead the working class in making a triumphant proletarian revolution. The Party will be the vanguard of the working class; at the same time it will be an inseparable part of the working class.

Thus a crucial and indispensible part of Party building is to bring forward increasing numbers of cells of comrades with deep roots in the working class and capable of leading the practical struggles of workers to success and towards the socialist revolution. Advanced workers cannot be won to the revolution on book learning alone but come forward in the course of mass struggles against the monopoly capitalist class. Therefore while the present historical task of revolution is to win the vanguard of the proletariat to a conviction in the necessity of revolution this must be carried out in the course of waging struggles that the mass of workers can take up.

At present in mass work where our resources to achieve our goal of digging deep roots in the working class are united, it is necessary to devote all mass work to the working class and to concentrate particularly on the industrial working class.

Although it is not true that the Party devotes itself entirely to theoretical matters, the relationship between party building and mass work Is a manifestation of the relationship between theory and practice. The Party guides the practice of the mass of workers through its line, policies and tactics. This process is one of turning the theoretical ideas of the Party into a material force. It is at the same time also one of testing the correctness or incorrectness of the Party’s theoretical line, policies and tactics and strengthening and enriching the line, policies and tactics by summing up the experience of using them in revolutionary practice.

Prior to the founding of the Revolutionary Communist League in July 1977 the comrades of the future organisation spent the greater part of their time in formulating and grasping the ideological and political line of the em>Manifesto. This was a theoretical task. After the successful founding of the League the urgent requirement was to carry the ideological and political line of the League, theory, into practice and to test it in practice and particularly to test it in mass work with the industrial working class. Inevitably there were some weaknesses in this process. On the one hand there were some cases of lack of faith in the party and the masses and an Idealist reluctance to translate correct lines and policies into a material force through mass work; on the other hand, there were some cases of empiricist jumping into practice, forgetting those lines and policies without which practice gropes about blindly. The key is to strengthen our grasp of a fundamental principle of Marxism, the style of work of closely integrating theory with practice. In any task we must both grasp theory (line, policy or tactics) and also push forward in practice. Theory is the guide to practice while social practice is the criterion of truth. One important test of our lines and policies is how well they conform to the desires of the mass of workers and how readily the workers grasp them and use them in mass practice. While continuing to educate the working class in communist ideology and opposing bourgeois ideology, especially revisionism, we must pay particular attention to this test of mass work in our task of integrating the universal truths of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the British revolution.

The League is a national organisation with branches in over half a dozen towns and cities in Britain and by using our democratic-centralist structure to concentrate correct ideas upwards we can accumulate increasingly rich information about the correctness or incorrectness of our ideological and political line. Already experience is strongly confirming certain key points in the em>Manifesto of the RCLB.

For example, as the em>Manifesto says, the Labour Party is the “best bosses’ party” (paragraph C37). The experience of mass work strongly confirms that this corresponds to the thinking of the advanced workers. At the same time it is a very sharp and practical line of demarcation with the revisionists and all the other opportunists who, as paragraph C38 says, try to tie the working class to the coat tails of a bourgeois political party.

Another crucial example of how the correctness of the line in the em>Manifesto is being confirmed through mass work and how it is providing an invaluable guide to mass work is the policy laid down in paragraph C51 of striving to “turn the trade unions into fighting class organisations”. With the spread of social democratic ideas and the power of the Labour lieutenants of capital as a result of the temporary victory of revisionism, as soon as the workers in any factory start to fight back against the attacks of monopoly capital they run up against the pressing need to turn the unions into fighting class organisations. This correct line and policy gives direction and gives clarity for the immediate struggle. It also educates the class as a whole to get full control of their unions in the struggle with revisionists and opportunists, which is one essential precondition for preparing the balance of forces for the socialist revolution. Several other examples could be given. The lesson therefore is this: we will greatly strengthen Party building if we closely combine and strengthen the ideological and political line of the em>Manifesto with our mass work among the working class.

In conclusion, we will persist in our dialectical policy on Party building which combines building the League self-reliantly with struggling to unite all genuine Marxist-Leninists. Party building undoubtedly requires the militant and conscientious work of scores and hundreds of comrades and there will be twists and turns, but the overall picture is bright. The RCL together with other genuine Marxist-Leninists will undoubtedly succeed in rebuilding the revolutionary Communist Party of the working class ideologically, politically and organisationally. We have the world historic cause of the working class as our banner. We have victorious Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to guide us. Provided we persist in doing what is right and correct what is wrong our ranks will surely thrive.