Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist League of Britain

District Committee Report to the General Meeting of the London District

First Issued: February 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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EROL Note: This is an unpublished internal document. Other than organisational initials [CFB/CWM/RCLB] and those referring to individuals, the following initials were used throughout the report:
FC = factory cell
PC = Political Committee
CC = Central committee
DC = District Committee
BC = Branch Committee
ULI = Ultra-Left Idealism
ALF = Anti-League Faction
NEB = New Era Books
CL = Cell leader
PPC = Print Production cell
DS = District Secretary
Cdes = comrade(s)

* * *


1. It is ONE AND HALF years since our last general meeting. This took place at a time when the lines of NR were very dominant in the RCLB. It was specifically held in order to carry through the line on ’Bolshevisation’. Since then we have been through an important struggle against the Anti-League faction and have overturned many of their lines and much of their ultra-left idealist influence. For nearly a year the League has been in a stage of rectification in three main fields; democratic centralism, ideological and political line, and style of work. Although good progress has been made in a number of specific areas, this has still to be summed up overall.

2. We are very much in a situation of change, caused by a number of related factors – not only the questions raised by the rectification stage, but also the steady expansion of our work, and, most importantly, our unity with the CWM. In summing up the past period and looking forward to the next year we will have to look at all of these factors.

3. It would therefore be pretentious if this report were to put forward definite conclusions on all the questions facing the League and the London District at the present time. Our aim is to strengthen unity and the fighting spirit of the district. Where there are questions which cannot be resolved right now we will have to ensure that they are properly dealt with over the coming period.


4. Over the past year the RCLB has been engaged in rectification. In particular the C.C. has decided that in rectifying past errors and weakness we should particularly focus on the ultra- left idealism of the Anti-League faction. They have linked this ultra-leftism with the brand of revisionism promoted by Lin Piao and the Gang of Four which has been extremely harmful in the International Communist Movement. In the view of the P.C. and the C.C. ultra­left idealism has been the main deviation in the RCLB since its formation.

The contradiction between the D.C. and the C.C.

5. It follows from this that the main focus of this report should be criticism of ultra-left idealism, the main focus of the whole organisation’s work over the past year. However, the DC have important differences with the CC on what are the main errors and main contradiction inside the RCL, as well as criticisms on the way the Rectification Stage has been led. We have found much of the leadership on the rectification stage dogmatic, abstract and not in accordance with our concrete experience in London. We have been critical of the Centre’s idealism and metaphysics in reaching conclusions about our main error without doing sufficient investigation.

6. We have therefore found great difficulty in using the rectification stage to educate comrades to differentiate between genuine and sham Marxism, for cadre development and as a general guide to our work of leading the district over the last few months. Therefore the theme of this report cannot simply be the summing up of our work around rectifying errors of ULI both of the ALF and the RCL as a whole. We will concentrate on concretely summing up our achievements and weaknesses in all areas of work in the district since our last general meeting. In this way, seeking truth from facts we hope to collectively arrive at a deeper understanding of the objective and subjective situation.

7. We raise these points not in order to rally support against the line of the CC but in order to stimulate democratic debate at the general meeting and in order to clarify the DC’s basic approach which is clearly different from that of the cc. We do not think that the question of these differences should be the main theme of the General Meeting, although it will inevitably be discussed.

8. Handling this contradiction has been complex. We have little experience in the organisation of carrying out struggles between different levels of the organisation. Our understanding of how to carry, out such struggles has been developing alongside the discussion on promoting proletarian democracy under centralised guidance .Attempts to resolve the contradiction have taken up much of the DC’s time and are the main reason for the delay in calling the district general meeting. However, both the PC and the DC have agreed that it will be in the interests of truth if the DC’s report reflects their honest understanding of the situation without covering up differences.

9. Therefore while raising our vigilance and deepening our understanding about the widespread and disruptive effect of ULI, the report will not concentrate on it.

Ultra-left idealism and the Anti-League Faction.

10. What was the effect of the ULI line of the ALF in the London District? In our view this ULI had a number of specific characteristics. As we understand things at the moment these were:
a) A left opportunist line on the International Situation, which objectively supports Soviet Social Imperialism.
b) A dogmatic and idealist separation of theory and practice.
c) An individualist, menshevik line on Democratic centralism, combining ultra-democratic anarchism with extreme bureaucratic centralism and commandism.
d) An Ultra-left dogmatic and idealist line that general calls would mobilise the masses rather than long and painstaking work, substituting Trotskyite dramatics for base-building, and demagogic phrase mongering for concrete investigation of concrete conditions.
e) A left sectarian line on inner party struggle which equated the contradiction among ourselves with contradictions between ourselves and the enemy.

11. In summing up the effect of the faction in London we need to separate two factors – the effects of this political and ideological line and the direct practical effect resulting from their presence in London.

12. Direct practical effect of the ALF. In the short term their direct effect was considerable.
a) In the Industrial Cell, set up in June 1978, the work was disrupted for a number of months by PR’s individualism and splittism. This held back the work of industrial base building, mainly because in such a situation it was almost impossible to sum up and develop the work in a systematic and objective way. It also delayed the formation of a factory cell in London.
b) The NEB cell was also directly affected by the activities of the faction. It lost one cadre – ID – and this put pressure on the other cadres at a time of limited cadre resources. The NEB CL was also strongly influenced by members of the faction, resulting in some demoralisation and as a result weaknesses in the work of the shop for a period of months early last year.
c) The PP cell received direct leadership from a member of the faction; PD, who was particularly responsible for promoting an ULI line and had very damaging effects. This has been quite carefully summed up by the DC and the PPC. The result of this was overwork and demoralisation. The activity of the faction was also an important factor which contributed to the resignation of SG in a state of confusion and demoralisation.

13. However, in terms of our overall development in London the direct effect of the ALF was not so great. We lost three cadres in all, and with the exception of print which was then under the direct leadership of the centre, out work was held up rather than seriously disrupted. In fact the main features of the struggle against the faction in London, was comrades’ ideological firmness and support for the basic line and orientation of the RCLB against a leftist and splittist attack.

14. The effect of the ALF’s line. The ULI line of the ALF did not make much headway in London, Only in the PPC was it adopted to any great extent. There an ultra left line on publications which demanded that the PPC produce all League publications without paying any attention to the actual capabilities and resources of the cell was the main cause of the serious disruption of the cell over the last year and a half. But in no other units was the ULI line of the ALF adopted to any significant degree. Individual comrades, including the present DS were for a time taken in by some of PR’s militant sounding phrases and this led us to put too much stress on ’pure’ ideological struggle.

So there was some support for the ideological line of the faction on inner­party struggle. But this did not last long and the main feature of the ALF’s presence in London was not one of comrades being swept up in support of their lines but on the contrary of disruption to the work caused by the necessity for comrades to struggle against the faction.

15. There is a wider sense in which the RCL was effected by the ULI line of the faction. As the Rectification Stage has unfolded it has become clear that a number of the lines of the League had ultra left idealist characteristics. Of particular importance are the line on the Zimbabwe Campaign, and the line on ’Bolshevisation’. Both of these had considerable influence on the district.

However the DC does not believe that the district as a whole followed the ULI in these leads blindly.

16. Right from the inception of the Zimbabwe Campaign the then BC, as well as many other cdes. in London criticised its idealist and dogmatic aspects – although not by name. In particular we criticised the commandist and unrealistic way in which it was organised, and its separation from our main party building and mass work tasks. These criticisms were substantially correct. At the same time there were positive aspects to the work on Zimbabwe in London. We were able to correct some economist tendencies in our mass work, and to mobilise the initiative of contacts from the middle strata in an overall positive way, We also think that generally comrades’ enthusiasm was developed in a creative and not a dogmatic or idealist way.

17. The line on ’Bolshevisation’ was also presented in an idealist and dogmatic way – as a question of abstract ’principle’ which had to be applied regardless of concrete circumstances. This had some damaging effects on the ’centre’ cells, in particular the PPC, which was largely detached from the district in July 1978. It also pushed forward the cell building – a process which was already under way in early 1978 – at a rate which was too fast. This made it more difficult to understand and resolve certain questions – on the role of cell leaders, and on the necessity for an area unit in London. At the same time it must be said that the reorganisation of the old branch into cells was a correct step, which corresponded to reality and the demands of the branch members. It is also our view that the main aspect of the district’s response to ’Bolshevisation’ was materialist and creative. Very early on we took up the problem of developing CLs [cell leaders].By the end of 1978 the DC came to the conclusion that the division into self-contained cells based round single areas of work had been too absolute, and began looking into ways of breaking down some of this compartmentalisation. One concrete result of this was the formation of the ’London District Cell’ in early 1979.

18. We will look at these two questions more closely later in the report. We raise them here, specifically in relation to the rectification stage, to show that ultra-left idealism was not been the main deviation in the London District in 1978.

Ultra-left idealism in London – seeking Truth from facts.

19. Do we then think that we were and are immune from ultra-left idealism in the London district? Certainly not. Through the course of the rectification stage, and the debates and discussions which it has provoked, it has become clearer that there has been an idealist and leftist current running through the RCLB from its inception, and even before. In particular there was an in­ correct purist attitude to ideological questions. We gave too much importance to ’pure ’ideology divorced from questions of political line and actual practice, and this encouraged the erroneous idea that most questions could be solved ’mainly ideologically’ We need to sum up the effects of this idealism quite carefully. In our view it has been the main source of a sectarian and complacent attitude in London – an attitude which was very common just after the formation of the League. Among other things this has meant that we have mishandled the relationship between workers and intellectuals. Because we have viewed the important questions of transforming our class stand ’mainly ideologically’ we have fallen into some workerism in our thinking. Through fear of being ’intellectualist’ we actually suppressed some of the positive characteristics of the revolutionary intelligentsia – for instance a rigorous attitude to questions of theory – and instead encouraged dogmatism, brandishing the ’Quotations’ as a kind of talisman. In our internal style of work we have tended towards pure revolutionary attitudes in dealing with personal weaknesses and contradictions, thus promoting a sectarian style of criticisms and self-criticism. They are certainly other examples of this ’pure ideology’ line which cdes may want to raise, This is precisely a form of ultra-left idealism because it was based on some abstract principles learned in books and divorced from reality, and it substantially overestimated out own significance.

20. Why then does the DC not say that the main error in the London district has been ULI? Why is there a contradiction between the DC and the CC on this question? In our view the question is not so simple. Looking back over the past 2 or 3 years we can say that a significant trend in our ideological stand has been ultra-left and idealist. But there have also been strong tendencies towards rightism and conservatism. Ideologically the dogmatic over centralism of the RCL has promoted liberalism and employee mentality, and this has been a feature of our work. In our central mass work task – industrial base building – we have had tendencies mainly of economism and tailism. Above all we have underrated the importance of advanced theory, and in handling the relationship of theory and practice we have had strong empiricist tendencies.

21. We do not think that these problems can be solved by particularly focussing on ULI . We have made errors of both left and right, particularly focussing on ULI, not only confuses this fact, it also, in the view of the DC, confuses the nature of the rectification required in the RCL. In our view our weaknesses are due mainly to our inexperience and isolation from the struggles of the people and weak grasp of Marxist-Leninist theory. We think they are being and will be rectified in the course of practice – summing up and learning from past mistakes and building on our strong points. We do not think that there is a major ideological error standing like a road block and preventing us from doing this, as there has been for instance in China due to the influence of Lin Piao and the Gang of Four. The key to overcoming our weaknesses is not therefore mainly ideological.

22. It is mainly a question of understanding the correct relationship between theory and practice, of grasping the leading role of theory, of integrating theory with practice, basing our plans and theories on objective reality and operating the mass line. Because we have not done this in the past, because we have not developed the Marxist-Leninist style of work, of Seeking truth from facts, we have made errors of both left and right, It is through grasping this question, promoting this slogan that we will pave the key to overcoming errors whether left or right, and, we will be able to develop a Marxist-Leninist style of work, rather than what could more accurately be described as a ’petty bourgeois socialist’ style of work.

The B.C. Report of July 1978

23. Although we are now speaking of weaknesses it does not do to exaggerate, as we have progressed in political maturity and learned from past weaknesses and mistakes we have tended to overcome much that was wrong in our work. This is seen in the last BC Report of July 1978 which although written in a period of NR’s influence in the RCL at least partly grasped the main direction which our work should take. There we spoke of Subjectivism in our work and thinking (by which we meant Idealism and Dogmatism, and put forward the slogans of seeking truth from facts and making concrete analysis of concrete conditions.

24. We also said that the Branch had errors of Liberalism, and a tendency towards ’working half-heartedly without a plan.’ and shying away from active ideological struggle. In particular we focussed on the question of empiricism which in October ’78 the DC summed up as the main error of the London branch. We pointed out that we had been weak in study, that we had not studied and applied lines and had not put policies consciously in command of our mass work.

25. In addition at that time we paid a lot of attention to the question of strengthening democratic centralism – specifically to developing initiative under centralised guidance. It was our view then that we were somewhat ’constipated’ and over centralised in Our work, and we saw the formation of a District and cells as an opportunity to break some of the ideological and organisational fetters which were holding back our work.

26. In summing this up the DC thinks that the general orientation of the July 1978 report was a good one for the period in which it was written, It has weaknesses it relied too much on ’pure ideology’ and had some idealism and some empiricism in it, But overall it provided a good orientation for the district.

In particular it attempted to counter the line of ’Build the League to Build the Party’ still at that time the line of the League – and to re-establish the leading role of theory and the need to integrate theory and practice. Over­all we want to build on this orientation which we think is a good one for over­coming our weaknesses.

27. These points will become clearer as we sum up the work of the District over the past 18 months. In general our approach to this must be one of SEEKING TRUTH FROM FACTS.


28. We will sum up our past work mainly by looking at the work of the DC over the past eighteen months. The work of individual cells will mainly he summed up by the cells.

29. One important weakness of the July ’78 report and the General Meeting was that it did not establish clear central task for the DC. This was mainly because we had no experience of DC’s’ or Districts. Secondarily, we did have some idealist notions of how much we could actually achieve in the new situation. We put forward a rather grandiose and abstract formulation on the central task of the DC. “The central task of the DC will he to develop the work of the League throughout London, spreading wide its influence. This means firstly grasping the policies of the RCLB, secondly propagating them in a planned way, and thirdly investigating, summing up experience and strengthening those lines. More concretely the DC will organise public meetings, demonstrations, and campaigns, consolidate and expand the work of base-building by giving ideological and political leadership to the existing cell and by establishing more cells, organise’ Class Struggle’ sales on a wide basis, and lead a League Supporters Group of contacts.”

30. Thus orientation is both empiricist and idealist. Empiricist because it is a list of all the possible areas of work which could be taken up by the DC without a clear formulation on what was primary. It was also idealist because it painted a picture of our capabilities which had little or no relation to reality. We were not about to develop the work of the league throughout London, spreading wide its influence’ our aims must be more modest and attainable.

31. This formulation caused some confusion on the DC for a number of months about how to relate the different tasks that needed to be done in the district. After struggling to resolve this problem and accumulating some experience we put forward a new formulation on the Central Tasks-“The Central Task of the London District is to build the League in London. Concretely this means building a vanguard cadre force, armed with Marxism-Leninist Theory and actively carrying out the lines of the RCLB.” 18/6/79.

32. By specifically relating the task of the DC and district to the question of building a vanguard cadre force and to the necessity of grasping advanced theory, this formulation provided a much clearer orientation for the DC. We are now in a position to further sum up the work of the DC on the basis of our experience since then.

33. Before doing this it is right to explain two particular contradictions which have weakened the overall leadership of the DC to the district. Firstly, one comrade on the DC – Cde N – has increased his family commitments which has seriously restricted his work on the committee by bringing to the fore the contradiction between personal life and political work. This combined with some ideological weaknesses, in the comrade, mainly liberalism, which has made it extremely difficult to overcame the difficult objective contradictions, is the basis for the DC’s proposal that Cde N should not be re-elected to the DC. This has meant that for a large part of 1979 there have only been two really active members of the DC. Clearly this is an abnormal situation in a relatively large district, and there was liberalism on the DC in not getting to grips with this problem sooner.

34. Secondly, the fact, already referred to, that the majority on the DC has disagreed quite substantially with major aspects of the rectification stage, has meant that during 1979 the DC has had to spend a disproportionate amount of time grappling with this contradiction – not only from the point of view of trying to understand the truth of the matter, but also the difficult problem of how to give leadership to the district in such a situation. It is no exaggeration to say that about half the time of the DC has been spent on this question.

35. In the main, our work can be divided into two main themes – Strengthening Democratic Centralism and Orientations for District work.


36. This is not just an abstract question of internal organisation. It is a key political question for the district. Above all democratic-centralism is the means for insuring that correct ideas are concentrated and our lines and policies are brought ever more closely into accord with reality. This is quite crucial for us at a time when we understand little of the objective laws of the British revolution. Equally important, democratic centralism is the tried and tested way of ensuring ’unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness among all cadres. We have for some time been conscious of the need to encourage initiative among cdes. in London, but this can only be done when cdes. are clear over our main aims.. The main way in which we can achieve this clarity and unity is though good leadership (centralism) based on democracy. This is true for DC leadership and for national leadership.

Overcentralism in the RCLB

37. Our concrete understanding of D.C. has gone through different stages since the rectification movement in the CFB. During and after the rectification of right opportunist errors we mainly concentrated on strengthening our centralism. This was necessary since we were engaged in overcoming the ultra -democracy which characterised the internal life of the CFB, and all comrades took up the struggle against individualism and disorganisation in our work. This was positive in that cdes grasped the importance of readership in practice, and after the League was founded it was able to move to a higher and more disciplined stage of development. It also had important negative characteristics.

38. In particular too much emphasis was put on formal centralism, both nationally and locally. Rank and file cdes were educated to follow along behind ’bold and ’excellent’ leads, to suppress doubts as ’intellectualist’ and so initiative was stifled. It has been quite characteristic for cdes to be incapable of political action ’unless they got a lead’. This was damaging to the organisation as a whole because it ’strengthened tendencies towards dogmatism in the leading cttees and because the ’democratic transmission belt’ was not functioning properly made it extremely difficult to develop a style of work of seeking truth from facts.

39. Even at that time comrades were at least perceptually conscious of this weakness. Moves were made to ’strengthen democracy’ on the CC, and on the BC. The problem was that ’we did not know how to do’ it. We approached the matter mainly in a dogmatic way – by studying ’On Practice’ and selected ’Quotations’ and then exhorted comrades to ’use their initiative more’. Only through practice were we able to grasp this question more firmly. In particular two developments confronted the BC/DC quite sharply with its shortcomings. These were the activities of the ALF, and the enlargement and re-organisation of the London District.

The Anti-League Faction and Democratic Centralism

40. The members of the faction – particularly PR – made a lot of mileage out of our over centralism. When she joined the branch she took advantage of our over centralism to sow confusion in our ranks. Because we were not used to lively debate over issues, and because we did not have a deep grasp of our main lines and policies or carry them out in a creative way, PR was able to pose as a real proletarian for some time. To many cdes. she was like ’a breath of fresh air’ in the rather stultifying atmosphere of the branch. She was able to use this genuine desire to build a more lively and democratic organisation to further her own aims of overturning the lines of the RCL, promoting herself and NR, and ultimately splitting the organisation.

41. As is well known the vast majority of cdes. in London rallies to the local and national leadership in the struggles against splittism and factionalism. Significantly this was done on the basis of democracy. So long as the PC tried to deal with PR’s splittism almost in secret – through notes and individual discussions – we made little headway. It was only when the question was opened up and related at least to an extent – to questions of political line and practice that cdes., first in the IC and then in the district as a whole were able to isolate PR and unite firmly against splittism. Also in the early part of the struggle the DC tended towards liberal slavishness- suppressing our own doubts about PR because she had been recommended by the Centre and hesitating to open up struggle against her at a later date. As it later turned out this was a factionalist recommendation from NR. What we learned from this was to have a less dogmatic attitude to leadership, whether central or local, and to have more confidence in the rank and file. To put it simply we had been afraid of democracy before opening up the struggle against PR.

42. This struggle also highlighted the fact that cdes were genuinely concerned at the over centralism which was both highlighted and actually promoted by the ALF, and that this was a correct concern. Again the DC was provoked into looking at the problem more concretely.

Bolshevisation and Democratic Centralism

43. At the same time we were reorganising the branch into a district, and this too highlighted the need to strengthen proletarian democracy. Having grown to 18 members in a relatively short period of time, it was just not possible to have a leading core in London, which could give leadership on everything. The DC had to rely on the cells to use their initiative within an over­all framework. We could no longer use the methods of leadership appropriate for a small and compact unit.

44. Within this context the DC began looking at the question of strengthening Proletarian Democracy soon after the formation of the District. We made some steps in setting up a system of reports from the Cells and regularly circularising a DS circular to the CLs. However, these developments were severely hampered by the struggle against the ALF, and between October and Jan 1979, the main work of the DC was taken up with this struggle. In the early part of this year we had to concentrate mainly on repairing the immediate organisational damage caused by the faction – in print and NEB, and in coming to terms with the new responsibilities given to the DC as a result of the expulsion of the faction (It was only in Dec 1978 that the DC was given leadership responsibility for NEB and PP cells).

45. So the question was only taken up systematically after the March conference against splittism. Soon after this the UC formulated its documents on ’Proletarian Democracy’ and the ’Central Task’. These were intended to promote discussion of our democratic centralism and to give an overall orientation to our priorities in this area. Simultaneously we began to get to grips with the important difficult question of how to find an organisational framework to best promote democracy. A proper report system was established between the DC and the CLs which on the whole worked well. The DS Circular was made more regular and through discussion and criticism it has been strengthened to include more exchange of information on developments in the District as a whole. Regular meetings between the DC and CLs were instituted to discuss major questions of line and orientation, so strengthening the understanding of individual CLs and also breaking down some of the isolation of the cells – a negative feature of the ’Bolshevisation’ line.

46. The progress in these areas should be summed up by the General Meeting. Overall the DC thinks that these have been positive developments which we should build on over the coming year. In particular it has been a shortcoming that we have only been able to increase democracy for CLs and not for the district as a whole. True, we thought, and still think, that the role of CLs was particularly undemocratic in the period following ’Bolshevisation’ and that this needed a speedy rectification. True also that our aim was to encourage CLs themselves to strengthen democracy in their own units, rather than imposing a blanket ’District democracy’. But it is also the case that we have been slow and rather uncreative in taking up the now widespread demand to increase the opportunities for discussion and exchange throughout the district. In the coming year we should certainly build on the ’advances already made to strengthen further our proletarian democracy. In particular we should aim to hold more frequent district meetings – for instance on Ireland; re-orientation in mass work, unification with the CWM. We also think that initiatives for meetings between cells to study particular questions should be encouraged.

47. These are only partly organisational problems, the main ideological lesson that we have learnt is that proletarian democracy is a key factor in developing the league. At the same time we must still ensure that democratic initiatives are used to strengthen the organisation and its central leadership and not to split away from or undermine it.

The DC and the cells

48. It has also been an important part of the DC’s work to take up specific problems relating to particular cells. There have been some weaknesses in this area, although we have had a longstanding commitment for DC members to take a more active role in the work of the different cells, this has only been done to a certain extent. It has not been possible to report back effectively and to collectively sum up the different areas of work in the district in order to give stronger leadership. Even so we have made some progress.

49. In the last few months of 1978 we had to pay a lot of attention to the unfolding contradiction in the IC and at the same time given guidance on when to divide the IC by setting up a factory cell. This was complicated by the struggle against the faction. It was also quite a difficult problem in itself. We had to be sure that the FC could function as a self-reliant unit – that good provision was made for outside assistance etc. We also had to wrestle with the problem of what best to do with the cdes from the IC who did not join the FC. Consideration of this question went through a number of stages. We finally decided to set up a FC in March ’79 and to form the other cdes. into a London District Cell, the main task of which was to mobilise middle strata cdes – what we had previously called ’contact work’. Through experience it has become apparent that this LDC should be built up as an ’area’ cell with a number of tasks – supporting factory cells, developing other mass work such as Anti-racist work – organised round its central task of winning cadres, the most part will not be industrial workers, for the League. These questions still need further study and discussion with the cdes. involved in this work, but this is our general orientation. It took us some months to understand the necessity for such a Cell, partly because we had been dazzled by the dogmatism of the lead on ’Bolshevisation’ and partly because we had so little actual experience on which to base our plans.

50. In addition we have had to resolve particular problems of resources. Both NEB and PP cell lost cadres after the expulsion of the faction. It has not always been easy to balance the particular needs of different areas of work, particularly at a time when the DC was having to take up the reins of leadership to the centre cell and when cadres were in short supply generally, It is exactly because of this that we have put a lot of stress on the need to do good work with non-members, to ensure that we have a regular stream of new blood into the organisation.

51. Finally a large part of the DC’s attention and time has been taken up with the very acute problem which came to a head in the PP Cell in April. This required some quite careful investigation and discussion over a period of months and continuing involvement by the DC after that.

52. In summing up the question of democratic centralism since the formation of the district, we think that our experience has exposed a number of weaknesses in, our democratic centralism – in particular a tendency to over-centralism. This weakness has historical roots in the struggles of the CFB against ultra­democracy, and is also related to the dogmatic tendencies of the RCLB at its foundation. This was thrown into even sharper relief by the ultra-left idealist attack of the faction which fed on our lack of democracy and, tendencies towards dogmatism. We also think that we have been able to learn from past mistakes and that the general movement in the district and the League ’ as a whole towards greater and more lively democracy is a positive movement which should be consolidated.


53. The question of democratic-centralism is not a ’thing in itself’. It is closely related to our overall lines and their implementation this is why the two questions were related in the DC documents on ’Proletarian Democracy’ and ’Central Task’. This clearly related the task of the DC to the question of building a vanguard cadre force, and to the necessity of grasping advanced theory; It also related the central task to the work of base-building and of mobilising the revolutionary intelligentsia. In general we think that this has given a good orientation for the work of the District.

54. An important task of this General Meeting is to consider to what extent this orientation has been confirmed by our practice. There are a number of factors to be considered.

Integrating Theory with Practice.

55. Firstly the question of Marxist-Leninist theory. We have made some progress here. In particular the DC has promoted style of integrating theory and practice, by having an overall line or orientation in different fields using this to guide practice and then regularly summing up and strengthening the overall line and orientation. This is very important style of work for countering the influence of empiricism and it is one that has been taken up actively in a number of cells – particularly the NEBC and the LDC. By using this method we can make clear and definite if sometimes regular progress, ’rather than running round circle’s and falling prey to subjectivism in our work.

56. In the more general field of study our progress has not been so good. Some units have found it difficult to organise regular study, and the DC has not been able to give much guidance on the question. We are not yet in a position to sum this up, but it is a high priority to promote better study and the district. We intend to focus on this question in the coming months with the aim of giving better leadership and creating ,better objective conditions for the cells to study.

Building a vanguard cadre force.

57. The question of study relates directly to another weakness in our work. Over all the League has not had a good cadre policy. Cadres are our most precious asset, but we have not really found a way consistently to develop and strengthen our members. Study is one important aspect of this, but it is not the only one. In fact it has been semi humorously observed that we take better care of our contacts than of our members and candidate members. This is a problem which the DC and CLs in particular need to consider and for which they need to find a solutions.

58. Where we have had a good general policy is in the work of mobilising and recruitment of contacts. This has been a major task of the London District Cell which has given good leadership to our contacts – through regular study and mobilisation in practical tasks…As a result of this work we have recruited 3 new members since March 1979, thus making up the losses caused by the faction. We also have three close contacts working regularly for the league and a wider circle of supporters or people making the first steps towards us. This work will be summed up in greater detail by the LDC.

59. It is also, true to say that the district now has less contacts than at any time since the League was founded. There are a number of possible explanations for this – the confusion in the International Communist Movement, the ’mopping up’ of old contacts from the period of the founding conference and the publication of the manifesto. But in the view of the DC the key factor has been our lack of involvement in mass work, except for industrial work, which has involved a relatively small number of people. To explain this point we need to look at the process of development which has taken place in our understanding of this area of work.

60. Firstly, we rejected the dogmatism of concentrating all resources on the industrial working class. In the DC document on the Central Task we specifically repudiated thus view and said that, we must devote resources to other strata of society, in particular the revolutionary and progressive intelligentsia. Through this new orientation, together with the concrete experience of the comrades working in contact work, we were able to see that this field of work was not merely a question of arranging study and practical work for individuals who happen to come towards us. We have developed a more active attitude to these people, and have grasped the importance of mobilising them for the revolutionary struggle. It is within this context, primarily, that we see two other features of ’district organised’ work – our public meetings and CS sales.

61. The series of public meetings which began in October last year was a new departure for us. They were specifically aimed at mobilising individuals for party-building and this has largely determined their character. It is too early to sum these up fully, but we think that they have been a definite step forward. They have been unpretentious and materialist. They have also educated us. We have already made some new contacts through these meetings and in the view of the DC such meetings will continue to be a regular feature of our work.

62. We have been less successful in promoting sales of CS. Over the year these have declined and now average about 60 an issue, including factory sales. Leads from the DC aiming to change the situation have met with little response. In understanding this there are a number of factors to be taken into account. The past year has been a difficult one and all cdes have been hard pressed at times. CS has often been a low priority, on the DC as well as in the cells. Weaknesses in this area also relate to our over-centralism – cdes. have wanted ’leads’ or ’mobilisation’ on everything, rather than using their initiative. These are important factors which must be looked at concretely. But again we come back to the key question of our lack of involvement in mass struggles. In trying to promote sales of CS we have concentrated mainly on organisational questions or defining lists of priorities. Basically this method can never work, because it is top heavy and bureaucratic. What we need to do is to create the conditions in the district for cdes. to use their initiative in actively promoting our lines among the people.

63. There has been development in this direction. The initiative of the LDC to take on cell responsibility for writing and selling on a particular question, which was later taken up by the NEBC, has been an important minor breakthrough. What we must do now is to generalise and build on this experience. This is quite a key question for the district. If we confine our work of mobilising the advanced elements to holding public meetings to explain our stand, and selling , our paper to people who approach us, important as these are, then we will certainly develop a static and sectarian attitude to party-building.

New orientation in Mass work

64. Party-building can not take place in isolation from the struggles of the people. On the contrary if we are really to integrate theory with practice we must take part in those struggles – this is a vital aspect of ’understanding the objective laws of the British revolution’. In the past we have had a sectarian line on this question. Our activities have largely been confined to ’internal work’ and industrial base building often in fact divorced from ’party building’. We have tended to justify this line on the grounds of ’grasping priorities’, and ’using cadres well’.

65. These are important principles of leadership, but in practice they have often resulted in a stilted and over cautious style of political work, The point about ’grasping priorities’ is that’ it determines how and to what extent we devote our resources to particular issues, not whether we take them up at all. For all our talk of ’priorities’ we have not in fact had very clear priorities. This has made it difficult to mobilise cdes’ initiative on specific questions – for instance the important Irish demonstration in the summer. In the absence of a common understanding of our main task, and of the main priorities in our work, some cdes have tended to restrict their political work to the central task of their particular unit, while others have called on the DC to take up almost every issue which has arisen, Both views are wrong – they are both different forms of subjectivism. But the main point which they highlight is that we have not as an organisation understood the importance of taking part in struggles ’other than those at the ’factory’ – nor have we been able to give a good general orientation as to how to do so. There has been dogmatic and some times bureaucratic leadership rather than educating comrades to find their bearings within the League’s general strategy of rallying the advanced to party-building.

66. This is not an easy question to resolve. First the Leagues’ “New Orientation in mass work ” goes someway to overcoming this rigidity and gives us good perspectives for developing work outside strict industrial work. Second, it does require a lot of attention to organisational questions – not only resources, but also the way in which we organise cdes. to carry out tasks, But above all it requires more study of our overall political orientation and lines. It is only when cdes understand our general aims that they can use their initiative and find their bearings independently. The key question is thus one of promoting democratic discussion and debate over questions of political line!

67. The Zimbabwe Campaign has been the main example of non-industrial mass work over the past year and a half. This is a concrete example of the problem of ’grasping priorities’ and we must sum it up carefully.

68. The main aspect of the line of the Zimbabwe campaign was its left idealism it was not based on any deep or wide-spread discussion of political line. Politically it was presented in absolute dogmatic terms. This combined with cdes’ opposition to a previous rightist tendency in our attitude to British imperialism, enabled NR to push a leftist line of all out attack on British imperialism internationally and never mind the superpowers: The question was posed in a moralistic way, and cdes. who raised doubts were attacked as friends of British imperialism. In industrial work the campaign was presented in a left sectarian way which tended to isolate us from many of the workers. The leaflets were supposed to force the workers into supporting the struggle in Zimbabwe,’ organisationally the line of the campaign did not relate its grand and demagogic proposals to our actual capabilities or our other party building priorities.

69. The main result of all this was that for a period of nine months the Zimbabwe campaign took on a life of its own. In many ways it became a substitute for party building and it was superimposed on our industrial work, rather than integrated with it. We were unable to maintain that level of activity for a long period, and when the initial campaign was stopped so did virtually all our work in support of the struggle of the people of Zimbabwe.

70. There are a number of reasons for this inactivity – the CC has been slow to sum-up the campaign and this has disorientated the DC, the DC itself has not used its initiative but has sat waiting for a lead. But a key point is that not enough political and. organisational preparation was done in a way which would have enabled us to maintain this important area of work over a longer period, but less frantically. The campaign was like a bolt from the blue, and it was never properly integrated with our other work in such a way as to make the best possible use of resources.

71. The Zimbabwe Campaign as it was actually carried out in London also had positive aspects once cdes had grasped the political importance of the work a great deal of initiative was used in a creative way. Contacts were mobilised a large number of successful meetings were held, including a jumble sale in North London. In the factory the Centre’s dogmatic leaflets were re-written to speak to the workers and successful collections were held. Progressive people from the middle-strata were mobilised for revolutionary political work in a way that we have been unable to since then. The concrete result of these activities was that the London district raised well over £2,000 for the Land rover fund.

72. What are the main lessons we should draw from this campaign now? Politically we must not confine our mass work to industrial base building it must become involved in wider anti-imperialist struggles. In doing such work we must ensure that we grasp its overall political significance in relation to our struggle against British imperialism and the 2 superpowers. In this way we will ensure that cdes. can really use their initiative consciously as communists, rather than just following behind demagogic calls to action because they sound revolutionary. If we do this then we will not only deepen our understanding of the main contradictions in Britain and the world we will also directly strengthen our own ranks. In particular, we will be able to mobilise wider sections of the people for revolutionary struggle. Finally, we must learn from the negative aspects of the Zimbabwe Campaign and ensure that such work is integrated with our overall priorities in a clear way and that we have the resources to sustain it.

73. These points and this summing up are all the more important as we move into a period where we will be taking up other areas of mass work – particularly anti-racist and anti-fascist work.

Industrial Base Building

74. Our central areas of mass work over the past three years has been Industrial base-building. A detailed report on industrial work has been circulated by the factory cell and it is dealt with relatively briefly in this DC report. This is not because industrial work has been demoted in importance, but it is partly because the main changes and new orientations in our work are to do with non-industrial work and partly because the DC has not had a firm grasp on industrial work over the past year. There have been two main reasons for this. Firstly the DC itself has been weakened by the contradictions with cde. N. and cde N himself as the District IWO for the major part of last year has been unable to carry out this important task well. Secondly the reorganisation of the district after the expulsion of the faction has taken up a lot of the time of the DC. In particular a great deal of attention has been paid to the work of print, and to a lesser extent the formation of a District cell. In those circumstances the industrial work has to a large degree been left ’to take care of itself’. This is not a good thing, but it is a matter of objective fact. It means that, despite some quite good preparatory work done by some cdes and contacts, we have been unable to begin any consistent work at a second factory. It should also be said that this work has been hampered by a drop in the number of cdes available for early morning factory sales.

75. Despite these negative factors the DC believes that we have the objective capability of expanding the scope of our ind. work over the coming year. During 1980 we should have, at least 8 cdes. working in factories, as well as some close contacts in East London. This should certainly provide the basis for consistent work at least one more factory.

76. Very important for this expansion will be a good summing up of our experience of base-building so far. The cdes in the FC now have a few year’s experience. During that time, they have all played active parts in the economic struggles of the workers. Through our leafleting and paper sales we have consistently attempted to raise the level of consciousness of the workers. The cell has further been able to establish a ’Class Struggle Group’ in the factory, and they have won at least one worker to a position of subjective support for the League and Communist politics. There have also been setbacks and weaknesses in the work. Our cdes. have at times had tendencies towards economism or led behind the workers. At other times they have adopted leftist, sectarian positions. These weaknesses are detailed in the FC report.

77. At this stage the DC is not in a position to draw definite conclusions about our industrial work. Clearly it is a longer and more complicated process than we had imagined in 1976. After 3 years work by 4 cdes we have not really ’rallied’ one advanced worker. This is almost certainly not a cause for self­criticism or despondency, but rather a reflection of the difficulty of this key task in an imperialist society. If this is so then we must sum up this lesson and strengthen our line. Above all in this work we must overcome tendencies towards empiricism – following the rhyme of the day to day economic struggle, but not consciously applying a definite policy, summing up and so deepening our understanding. Our practice has shown that there are many problems involved in winning over the-advanced workers. We now need to focus on this question, sum up our experience and set clear goals.

Work of the ’Headquarters’ District

78. Many cdes. in the district have been involved in areas of work not covered in this summary. The NEB cell has continued its work of consolidating and building what is now the only Marxist-Leninist bookshop in Britain. In the course of this the cell has not only propagated Marxism-Leninism in many areas of the Country, it has also directly served the work of the London District. A number of League supporters have been won by the shop, and the existence of the shop with its full-time workers has made many organisational tasks easier to perform. Now that NEB cell is part of the District we must ensure that its work is integrated even more closely with our overall priorities, particularly in the area of contact work.

79. The PPC has come through an extremely difficult period and is establishing a firm basis for the production of League publications in the future. In London they received the brunt of the attack of the faction. Despite this, aggravated by objective difficulties, they have remained ideologically firm in support of the League. In the past the work of these cdes. was sometimes looked down on as unimportant. This was quite wrong – by their reliable and increasingly expert production of revolutionary propaganda they are directly serving our main task of winning over the class conscious vanguard. This cell too has directly served the work of the District in the past year through the production of district leaflets and posters. As we have collectively been able to overcome difficulties the cdes. in the cell have increasingly stepped forward to take an active role in the general work of the district.

80. It has also been the case that because of our position in London we have established good links with a number of other organisations – mainly of course CWM, but also the Bangladesh Workers Association and organisations such as the Confederation of Iranian Students and the YFHL and some IWA cdes. This work too is important for the work of party-building in Britain.

81. However, we do not think that such questions should be central themes of the district general meeting. They all arise from the fact that London is a kind of ’headquarters’ district. They are areas of national work which must fall on the cadres in London, just because we are in London. This is an important consideration when allocating resources, but in terms of summing-up the work of the district we think it best to concentrate on those areas of work which to a lesser or greater extent concern the district as a whole. In this we include, of course, the cdes. in the NEB and PPC cell, who are also involved in the general tasks and priorities of the district.

82. Summing up our work then, what are the main features to be drawn out? IN general the DC thinks that the trend is good. We have come through the attack of the ALF. In doing so we have learnt some good lessons, not just about ULI but also about our own weaknesses in theory, on the importance of combating empiricism, by studying questions, making definite plans and regularly summing up and on the need to rectify tendencies towards over centralism. On all of these questions there are definite advances in the district. The task now is to build on these advances, consolidate them, and so strengthen the overall line and orientation of the London district.


Unity with the CWM

83. The main development will be the coming unity with the CWM. In the period of accentuating contradictions nationally and internationally this unity of the RCL and the CWN will certainly mark a major step on the road towards the re-building of the Communist Party. The new organisation should constitute a powerful unifying force for both groups and individuals. It is therefore of vital importance that we handle this unity well. If we do so it is not just wishful thinking, to envisage a qualitatively new stage of struggle before us. Nowhere is this more so than in London.

84. Uniting with the CWM will mean big changes for the London district. In all there will be about thirty members of the united organisation living in London – although a number of these will probably be PC members. It is also likely that a number of other individuals and groups will apply to join the new organisation. This in itself underlines the importance for us of making good progress in strengthening democratic centralism and deepening our grasp of theory and line. It would also mean quite substantial re organisation of our work, above all in the work of print and the work now carried out by the LDC. More comrades will mean greater opportunities, but we must also pay a lot of attention to internal consolidation if we are to make good use of those opportunities.

85. Above all we must ensure that in uniting the 2 organisations in London, we build on the strong points of each. We think that our cdes in the CWM will be able to learn from our more extensive experience of democratic centralism – our discipline, and organisational strengths. In turn we think that at present the CWM is characterised by more lively democratic debate over questions of line than the RCL in London. This will be an important strength of the new org. As soon as possible after this general meeting we will hold a joint meeting of all RCL and CWM members in London to discuss these general points and perspectives for the future.

86. To some extent this means that we can not be too categorical about our future plans. The present situation is one of change, and we will need to be flexible and creative. Even though the RCL is the larger org. we can in no sense impose our view of things on our CWM cdes. There will be much discussion at various levels over the coming months so that we can learn to speak with a common language.

Internal Consolidation

87. At the same time the DC does have a definite perspective for our development over the next year. This should be discussed and in our view adopted by this Gen. Meeting. In general we think that we should continue the trend of the last 12 months. Our main slogans should be ’Integrate Theory and Practice’; ’Seek Truth from Facts’ ’Develop a Lively Democratic Centralist Organisation’ What will this mean concretely?
a) We will pay more attention to study of Marxism-Leninism, He will do this in a number of ways – through better organised study round our district public meetings, through study round the new programmatic document, through district meetings on key questions – immediately Ireland, and anti-racist work, through encouraging more initiatives on study – for instance two cells want to study political economy, so we would encourage them to organise this jointly.
b) There must develop a style of work: in all units of studying questions, developing a general line, applying that line and summing up experience. At present some units are better at this than others, but we are sure that such a style of work is a powerful weapon against on the one hand, empiricism, and on the other, idealism or dogmatism.
c) We will continue to pay attention to strengthen proletarian democracy through wider discussion of questions of line and of our general orientation. We intend to establish a regular pattern of district meetings to discuss these questions in a wider forum than the cells.
d) At the same time we will continue our practice of CLs meetings and reports and replies.

The main purpose of these policies is to establish a stronger and more united cadre force, better able to use its initiative in carrying out our tasks. These are therefore mainly questions of internal consolidation.

Political and Organisational Priorities.

88. It is also necessary to agree on our main political and organisational perspectives over the coming period, precisely so that we can carry forward our central task in a lively and united way.

89. Our central task remains “Building the League” in London. Concretely this means building a vanguard cadre force armed with Marxist-Leninist theory and actively carrying out the lines of the RCLB. More specifically over the next year we will:
a) Carry out in conjunction with the Centre the organisational and ideological work necessary for the centralisation of publications in London,
b) Sum up our experience at the first factory and strengthen our line on industrial base building, Extend our ind. work to a further factory.
c) Develop anti-racist and anti-fascist work. This will depend to a large degree, on the LDC, but cdes. from other cells and particularly contacts, will also be mobilised and indeed should mobilise themselves.
d) Make step by step advance in other areas of work. At this stage we must firmly relate this to our central task and mainly organise it round the work of strengthening CS. The main question on which we will develop work in this way will be Kampuchea. Other important questions which we will certainly take up in line with our resources are Ireland, Southern Africa, the Tory attacks on living standards and democratic rights.

90. Cdes. should realise that such an outline perspective is only an outline. It is based on our best understanding of the main contradictions in the world, our own main task, and objective possibilities. It is not a programme or an exhaustive list of all tasks that must be carried out. The DC would be incapable of giving such a lead, and furthermore one of the main purposes of this report is to give cdes. a general perspective within which they can use their initiative more. The key to doing this is not a list of tasks, but strengthening our ideological and political grasp in order to create the conditions for better work.

91. In order to give better leadership to the district in this period of change and opportunity it will also be necessary to strengthen the DC. The DC is therefore proposing that one other cde. is elected to the DC to replace cde. N. and that in addition a CWN cde. should be a permanent and active observer at DC meetings. This group of 4 cdes will provide the core of local leadership in the new organisation.


92. This has been an unprecedentedly long district report. This is because many things have happened since our last Gen. meeting, and it take times to ex plain things in an undogmatic way. In the second paragraph of the report we said that we couldn’t put forward definite conclusions on every question facing the League and the district. Many different questions have been raised in the report which cdes. will rightly want to discuss. But there is one central theme to the report and to the general outlook of the DC. It is that we must learn how to develop the initiative of our cdcs. within the overall framework of our party building tasks. We think that we will do this by grasping more firmly our central task – promoting study of Marxist-Leninist theory and general policies of the League and doing this on the basis of wider proletarian democracy. Our long term perspective is to strengthen our ideological and political unity’ while at the same time relaxing some of the dogmatic aspects of our over centralism.

93. This does not mean a major change of direction or criticisms of a major error. Rather we are seeking to consolidate a good trend to lay the basis for significant advance in the near future. That is why we have paid a lot of attention to questions of internal consolidation, and why we must continue to do this guided by our main slogans of

London District Cttee. January 1980.