Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

RCLB Holds Second Congress

First Published: Class Struggle, August 1981
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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For a couple of years past, the struggles of the working class in Britain against the imperialist ruling class were at a low ebb. The possibilities of wringing concessions from British imperialism by means of the forms of struggle mainly used during the 30 years of relative stability in the capitalist system had been almost exhausted; in conditions of mass unemployment, after all, the effectiveness of strike action is very much reduced. The biggest obstacle to an effective fight back has been the deep influence of opportunism, particularly in the form of social democracy, which has served to stifle and divert working class struggles.

Historically, when the working class has been unable to fight successful economic struggles, it has turned to political action, and the belief in the necessity of the proletariat taking power has spread out from the few who had kept the ideas of socialism alive to much larger sections of the working people.


The turn to political action is under way. Working class youth, with black youth to the fore, have taken to the streets and hit back against years of police harassment. In one city after another, respect for the ’law and order’ of the ruling class has been battered by the militant youth. Despite the abuse of the press, wider and wider sections of the working class will draw lessons from them, fight harder against the capitalist offensive and refuse to be dragooned into order either by opportunist leaders or the state.

When events such as those which have occurred recently on Britain’s streets took place in other countries, it used to be said, “It wouldn’t happen here!” It has, and the face of politics in Britain will never be the same again.

It was in circumstances when these momentous events were taking place in Britain and the struggle of the Irish people had seen a massive upsurge that the Second Congress of the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (RCLB) took place. It made a number of key policy decisions which will have a great bearing on how effectively it can work in the new conditions of the class and national struggles in Britain.

The Congress re-affirmed the strong stance of the League against opportunism. The importance of this has been underlined by the Labour Party’s condemnation of the youth who rose up against the police and by its long-standing hostility to the struggle of the Irish people. It is constantly shown by the way revolutionary and progressive people run into the obstacle of opportunism when they seek to win support for the struggles of the national minorities and the Irish people, and when they fight in the unions for them to stand up for their members’ basic interests.


The Congress recognised that the socialist revolution in Britain could only be carried through by an alliance between the working class and the national minorities. It upheld the orientation of building communist cells in industry as a firm base in the working class for the communist party the League is working to rebuild, and affirmed the vanguard role of the proletariat in the revolution in Britain, while recognising that, at the present time, the national minority people are in the vanguard of the struggle against the British state.

The Congress finally made a complete break with the old, objectively social-chauvinist line of the League on Ireland, and pledged the RCLB’s unconditional support to the armed struggle of the Irish people and to their Republican leadership in the fight against British imperialism.


There are still many problems which the League has to grapple with, but the decisions taken by its Second Congress will help ensure that the work it does in the coming months strengthens its ties with the most advanced elements in the struggle against the imperialist ruling class and its state and enables it to carry its party-building work forward.