Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Historic 3rd Congress of RCPB(ML) Successfully Held

[Communiqué Issued by the National Office of RCPB(ML), April 11, 1999]

First Published: Worker’s Weekly, Supplement to the May Day issue, 1999.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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The Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) success fully held its 3rd Congress, the Party’s highest decision-making body, in London, beginning its proceedings on March 19 and concluding on March 21, 1999.

RCPB(ML) came to its 3rd Congress as the culmination of the period of its work which began on January 2, 1994. The Party and its cadres also came to the Congress with the experience and deliberations of the two National Consultative Conferences of 1998 behind them. The agenda of the Congress centred around the problems the Party had taken up for solution, the work which it had identified as crucial, in extricating society from its crisis.

The Congress took place at a crucial time for the working class and people. In the situation where the capitalist crisis is extremely acute, Tony Blair has been brought to power as the champion of the bourgeoisie to actually carry Thatcherism forward. The Congress put forward that in this situation, the Party must articulate the vision of the new society and the way forward into the 21st century which the objective conditions are pointing towards, to give confidence to the workers’ movement, and imbue it with the revolutionary theory based on settling scores with the old philosophic conscience and as part of the summing up of the workers’ and communist movement world-wide in the 20th century. The Congress pointed out that such a revolutionary theory will give an invincible quality to the proletarian movement for emancipation. It pointed out that the Party must work out the modern arrangements that require to be made to advance the communist and workers’ movement in the conditions of retreat of revolution as well as the coming revolutionary storms. The Congress pointed out that the Party must formulate the immediate as well as the strategic political tasks that the working class needs to elaborate to lead all of society out of the crisis, and that it must set the tasks which the Party must now undertake and the aims it sets for itself in advancing on its line of march. These were the themes of the Congress. They were summed up in the slogans of the Congress: Forward into the 21st Century! For a Socialist Britain!

The banner of the 3rd Congress with these slogans and the logo of the Congress, inscribed with the Party’s red star and hammer and sickle, was hung prominently at the front of the Congress hall. It is reproduced on the back page of Workers’ Weekly.

At 2.55 pm on Friday, March 19, a representative of the Central Committee, to prolonged applause, declared the 3rd Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) open.

He then welcomed the delegates and observers and announced the presence of the fraternal delegates and observers participating in the Congress proceedings. Following this, the Congress elected a seven-person Presidium. The Congress Rules and Agenda were then discussed and adopted. As never before, those that have participated in the work of the Party were those that participated in formulating the Agenda and the 52 pages of material on which the Congress deliberations were based.

The Political Report to the 3rd Congress on the Work of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) was then given. At the commencement of the report, the representative of the Central Committee called on those present to remember all those comrades who have fallen since the last Congress of RCPB(ML) in 1987, particularly our beloved Comrade Hardial Bains. The Congress observed a minute of silence in their memory. The Political Report declared that with this 3rd Congress, RCPB(ML) proclaims that it is standing firmly on its own feet. This can only be done if at the same time any theory of exceptionalism is rejected. The Party does not hold that there is a peculiarly British road to socialism, nor that the issue is to build socialism with peculiarly British characteristics. Standing on our own feet means that we are capable of dealing with the world as it is and not as a category of ideas. In this context, the Report summarised the line of march of RCPB(ML) since January 1994. It summed up the objective situation in the light of the anti-social offensive which is being carried out in Britain by the Labour government, and condemned Tony Blair’s “Third Way” which seeks to conciliate the class struggle. And it assessed the importance of the fighting programme for the working class: Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes!

In setting the seal on the entire work of this period, the Report explained, the holding of the 3rd Congress is something which is quite momentous. It pointed out that since the 2nd Congress of the Party in 1987, the world has gone through a historic turning point. The main and crucial aspect of the Party’s and the Central Committee’s role during this period, it declared, is that the Party of John Buckle, Cornelius Cardew and the many other comrades who worked to the utmost to build the Party and to give it life not only survived, but is here today holding its 3rd Congress. This declaration was fervently applauded by the delegates. The Report affirmed that the Party was never reconciled to a situation where it had difficulty finding its bearings or a situation which could be described as “groping in the dark”. It was this factor of not being reconciled to the situation, a determination that the Party should live, and a realisation that only the work of the Party itself could ultimately transform the situation that were the basis for the Party to once again make its own history.

The Report declared that as a historic stage in its forward march, with this Congress the Party is rising to meet the challenge of opening the path to take society into the 21st century on a new basis. It affirmed that in preparing for the coming revolutionary storms, the Party must build itself in the heart of the working class so that the class is organised and made conscious that it must take control of what belongs to it and empower the broad masses of the people. The Party and the working class should elaborate and fight right now for their vision of a socialist society, of a socialist Britain, a modern society in modern colours, proletarian colours, the Report concluded. It was met with a vigorous standing ovation, and it ended the proceedings of the first day of the Congress.

The Political Report set the tone for the deliberations of the Congress which took place on the second day, March 20. The agenda items dealt with the key theoretical, ideological, political, organisational and practical issues facing the Party and the class – problems which demand solution. In pointing towards the future, the orientation of the discussions centred on building the communist party on the new historical basis as the most crucial factor in bringing about the transformation of society to socialism through revolution. The discussions were successfully completed.

The morning of the third day, March 21, was allocated to a closed session in which the new Central Committee was elected. At the commencement of the afternoon session, it was announced that a new seven-member Central Committee of the Party, its leading body between Congresses, had been elected. Three-quarters of its new candidate members are women. It was announced that the Central Committee had held its First Plenum and had re-elected Chris Coleman as National Spokesperson for RCPB(ML).

The Congress received messages of greetings from a number of fraternal organisations abroad as well as from British organisations and individuals. As well as these, the Congress was addressed by the leaders of the delegations attending the Congress from the Communist Organisation of Britain, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Indian Workers Association (G.B.), New Communist Party of Britain, Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist), Communist Ghadar Party of India, and by Sandra Smith, National Leader and First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).

The Third Congress of RCPB(ML) to enthusiastic applause adopted Resolutions on the Party’s programme and political tasks for the coming period. These are published separately.

In his concluding remarks, a representative of the new Central Committee said, “It was in July last year that we resolved to hold this 3rd Congress at the time of the 20th anniversary of our Party. There was much work to be done from that time but it has been accomplished and we are here and the 3rd Congress has been held. It is also five years since the launch of our draft document There Is a Way Out of the Crisis which has now been formally adopted by the Congress. This alone constitutes a great victory for the Congress. But as the resolutions have pointed out, as the political report has pointed out, there are great vistas opened up for the working class and people but there are great responsibilities on the Party also to fulfil its duty in organising the working class and people to bring about this socialist revolution in Britain, to bring about a transformation of Britain into a modern country with modern sovereign states and moving forward into the 21st Century on a new basis, a socialist basis. We pledge to fulfil these responsibilities on the path this 3rd Congress has charted.”

The Congress concluded with the singing of the first verse of The Internationale and the shouting of the slogans: Hail the Victory of the Third Congress! Forward into the 21st Century! For a Socialist Britain! Long Live the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)! Workers of All Countries, Unite! With pride in its accomplishments, the 3rd Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) ended its historic proceedings at 4.35 pm on Sunday, March 21, 1999.

A closing cultural event celebrating the victorious 3rd Congress was held that same evening. It was a festive event of music, song and poetry marked by great enthusiasm. Its centrepiece was a powerful video celebrating the Congress, which interspersed footage of the Congress itself with a mosaic of the Party’s rich fighting history.