Letter to the members of the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain from the Stockport Communist Group

First Published: Red Star, No. 9, January-April 1982
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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Dear Comrades.

Three years ago the so-called ’anti-league faction’ i.e. ourselves, was expelled from the RCLB. Because of the bureacrat-centralism which then prevailed in RCL, and also because of our own ideological errors and bad style of work, we were not able to bring the two-line struggle in the RCL to fruition. The objective and subjective conditions did not exist which would have allowed us to convince you that the RCL’s line was a rotten, social-chauvinist line nor for you to show us what was wrong in our thinking and style of work. We would like therefore to try to clear the air so that the theoretical struggle on the tasks of the international proletariat may concentrate on the main issues and not be obscured by subordinate matters.

Firstly we want there to be no thought in your minds when reading our subsequent self-critical remarks that we are in any way retracting the severe criticisms which we have made regarding the RCLs ideological and political line on the objective class struggle. The criticisms which we made on the RCL’s social-chauvinism, its wish to defend the fatherland, its refusal to support the struggles of the peoples of such nations oppressed by British imperialism as Ireland and Zimbabwe, and on its economist and spontaneist line on the class struggle in Britain, were in general entirely correct and in most cases unfortunately retain their validity. (Though as the self- criticism elsewhere in this issue of ‘Red Star’ explains, our effectiveness in fighting the RCL’s revisionism was crippled by our support for the Chinese revisionists and for aspects of their ’three worlds’ theory.)

Those of you who were in the RCL at the time will recall that the specific event which sparked off the train of events which led to our expulsion was the accusation by our member who was then the Secretary of the RCL that the then Chairman of the RCL was a “traitor to the working class.” Our member’s subsequent refusal to make a self-criticism for this remark was incorrect and we are now prepared to make a self-criticism. The specific matter which provoked the accusation – whether or not to continue the RCL’s Zimbabwe solidarity work – was but one aspect of the deeper struggle between Marxism and revisionism in the RCL and therefore this contradiction was antagonistic. But in the interest of winning the maximum possible unity around the correct line it was essential to differentiate between lines and the comrades who held those lines and, at least initially, to have treated the contradictions with the latter non-antagonistically. We didn’t grasp this point and incorrectly treated the contradictions with the then Chairman of the RCL and with other leading members of the RCL as antagonistic ones.

An underlying reason for this failure to handle contradictions correctly was circle mentality. We weren’t all that interested in winning the maximum possible unity, mentally wrote off the members of the RCL and were quite content to split away with a handful of people and found another circle. The interests of the working class would though have been best served it we had made our self-criticisms and stayed in the RCL to fight for our line. What the working class needs after all is a national organization, not a plethora of small circles.

In our view this course of action would more than likely have still led to a split because the contradiction between the two lines was antagonistic. But whilst splits are sometimes necessary, and inevitable, they should nevertheless only tale place when they are objectively necessary. In 1979 the contradictions in the RCL had not matured to a state where a split was necessary. We were not however prepared to spend further time and effort to win over those comrades who held the revisionist line and worked instead for a premature split. This was a liquidationist and defeatist attitude.

We hope that these brief self-critical remarks will move you to study again our criticisms of the RCL’s social-chauvinist line and help you to see that these criticisms were in essence correct and remain correct. Since our expulsion from the RCL, some progress has been made by you in defeating revisionism in your ranks, especially on the question of Ireland, but on the cardinal political question of the day – the attitude one takes to the coming imperialist war – the line of the RCL is as social-chauvinist as ever. Despite loudly proclaiming in ’Class Struggle’ its opposition to social-chauvinism, it is evident that it still advocates the most concentrated form of social-chauvinism, namely, ’defence of the fatherland’ in an imperialist country. Its seemingly wholehearted support for the struggle of the people of Ireland against British imperialism is therefore objectively nothing more than camouflage for your support for British imperialism which, when it goes to War as part of the US-led imperialist alliance, will do so for no other reason than to protect, its exploitation and oppression of the British, Irish and millions of other workers and peoples around the world. We urge the RCL to respond to the criticisms which we and others have made of’ its social-chauvinist line and we particularly urge the members of the RCL to discuss the questions raised in this debate, to fight revisionism and to reject social-chauvinism in the discussion of your line on the international class struggle which we understand you are about to undertake.

Comradely Greetings,
The Stockport Communist Group