Communist Unity Association (M-L)

Broad Fronts and United Fronts. An Analysis

First Published: n.d. [1973?]
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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Following a long period of working closely together and of political discussions centering around the question of party building, the Communist Unity Organization (Marxist-Leninist) and the Marxist-Leninist Workers Association have united into one organization, the Communist Unity Association (M-L).

It is on the basis of a common understanding on a question of party building tasks, that our new organization is founded. Briefly, we hold that party-building is central to all our work and requires the creation of three necessary conditions for the party; ideological unity on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought, political unity on a revolutionary strategy based on an analysis of concrete British conditions and the building of links with the working class. Our general strategy for creating these conditions is based on the premise that it is essential while conducting the necessary M/L analysis of British conditions to engage in practical working class struggles, striving to unite revolutionary theory with practice.

Only on the basis of real advance in integrating Marxism-Leninism with concrete British conditions can Marxist-Leninists be correctly united, and a party come into being capable of giving revolutionary leadership to the working class.

In relations with other Marxist-Leninist groups, we believe the widest fraternal contacts and interchange of views are valuable and that while forthright criticism and struggle against incorrect ideas is essential, we must scrupulously avoid any “small group” or “mountain stronghold” mentality.

Some previous publications of the CUO (M-L) & MLWA are now the publication of the CUA (M-L). All have been re-printed and where both organizations had produced publications on the, same issue, these have been redrafted into one single pamphlet.

We welcome all comments or criticisms on any of our political stands.


The substitution of the broad front for the Marxist-Leninist party is a constantly recurring error among Marxist-Leninists. It has been the main feature of sectarianism in the anti-revisionist movement.

This makes an analysis of the role of broad organizations very necessary for defeating sectarianism and right opportunism on this matter.

Sectarianism and right opportunism are products of the widespread influence of the labour aristocracy and the petty-bourgeoisie in the Marxist-Leninist movement.

The Labour Aristocracy is the main prop and detachment of the bourgeoisie in the working class movement. In the Marxist-Leninist movement the influence of the Labour Aristocracy and the petty-bourgeoisie has manifested itself very often in the dressing up of essentially bourgeois democratic demands in extremely leftist socialist phraseology.

Both, however, betray their affilliation to bourgeois democracy by their non-partisanship or lack of concern for building a disciplined revolutionary communist party.

Lenin noted this feature in Russia when the first revolutionary tasks were bourgeois democratic. There are similarities in Britain today under conditions of an increasingly reactionary bourgeoisie.

This is what Lenin said:

As we have already shown the non-party principle is the product – or, if you will, the expression of the bourgeois character of our revolution. The bourgeoisie cannot help inclining towards the non-party principle, for the absence of parties among those who are fighting for the liberation of bourgeois society implies that no: fresh struggle will arise against this bourgeois society itself. Those who carry on a ’non-party’ struggle for liberty are not aware of the bourgeois nature of liberty or they sanctify the bourgeois system or else they put off the struggle against it... (The Socialist Party and Non-Party revolutionism)

However, of the organizations that commit this error, it would be incorrect to state that the need for a revolutionary Communist Party is virulently opposed. No, this is not the case and since it is the fashion to invoke or appropriate the name of Lenin, the fact that Lenin fought for the formation of a revolutionary working class party cannot be denied. What is the case is that Party aims are given to what should be broad non-party organizations. In the absence of giving prime attention to building a party, the practice of such behaviour is non-party revolutionism. In Tzarist Russia there were many organizations, essentially bourgeois democratic, which professed Marxism. However, on the question of forming a disciplined party of revolutionaries, most of them fundamentally opposed Lenin’s proposals.

The anti-fascist front. The 7th world congress of the Comintern

At the 7th World Congress of the Communist International in August 1935, Georgi Dimitrov[1] in his report “The Working Class Against Fascism” formulated the policy of building a United Front against fascism. Dimitrov fought for this policy before and after the military coup in 1923 which brought a savage fascist dictatorship to power in Bulgaria.

It was a profound weapon against sectarianism in the Bulgarian Communist Party and, whilst proposing unity with the social-democrats, when they rejected or feigned unity it was a sharp weapon in isolating and exposing them. Of course, where unity of communists and the social-democrats was achieved it speeded up the downfall of the handful of fascist reactionaries. In his report to the Comintern Dimitrov said:

The Communist International attaches no condition to unity of action except one, and that an elementary condition acceptable for all workers viz., that the unity of action be directed against fascism, against the offensive of capital, against the threat of war and against the class enemy. This is our condition. (Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works, Vol. 1 page 52, Sofia 1967)

Such a condition summed up the main aspects of a communist party’s struggle against the bourgeoisie and made the united front against fascism a link in achieving the socialist revolution. However, there is a good and bad side to everything and where this applies to the united front against fascism depends on the strict observance of this condition. Contained, in the United Front Policy was the danger of it becoming an end in itself, of it becoming an appendage to bourgeois democracy and not a weapon for realizing the programme of the communist party. This danger was always there.

The errors of certain parties in the World Communist Movement, following the victory against fascism are not to be found in the United Front Policy itself, although mistake’s must have been made in how it was carried out, but in the inability to adapt to the new conditions after the war. Many communist parties did not make use of the leadership and prestige won by them, notably France, in a war against bourgeois rule itself.

The government of the united front

It is comparatively easy to understand how the United Front Policy is both a dual tactic for exposing social democracy, on the one hand, and a weapon for isolating the fascists on the other. But how does the Government of the United Front against fascism avoid becoming the faithful servant of capitalism? How do communists in such a government ensure the carrying out of the one condition attached by the Comintern to the formation of a united front. In our view the Communist Party could do only one thing and that is insist on the condition of unity laid down by the Comintern. It would expose those parties in the front that did not want to prohibit fascism, anti-working-class legislation and allow the free movement and activity of the Communist Party. Such a government could only be transitional in the socialist revolution.

In his report to the Comintern, Dimitrov discussed this question as a practical problem facing communists in the future in anticipation and as a consequence of a successful Popular Front Policy. He pointed out that a successful government of the popular front could only come at a time of political crisis, when the bourgeoisie was weak organizationally and politically. He also stated that such a government would have to take determined measures against the financial magnates, allow complete freedom for the Communist Party and be backed up by a mass popular front movement. Most important, however, such a government would come at a time when the working class needed a practical demonstration of the need for a soviet type republic. It would thus be a transitional government.

It would require a very thorough analysis of the actions taken by communist parties that participated in popular front governments (e.g. the French Communist Party) before we can properly judge those actions. But the errors following the victory against fascism and the rapid growth of revisionism indicates that the socialist revolution was lost sight of in the battles against fascism with all its horrors and barbarism.

Although Dimitrov committed right errors after the war; on the question of the Popular Front Government he was clear. It is in the stating of the conditions for such a government, to assist the bringing about of the socialist revolution that the correctness of the United Front Policy becomes clear. In his outline Dimitrov explains rightist and leftist interpretations of his policy. But this did not prevent such errors from being committed by communist parties throughout the world in applying it. Now, in reviewing the historical experience of the United Front Policy we are witnessing a ’left’ interpretation of it by the Progressive Labour Party (P.L.P.)[2] More of this later on.

The Communist Party of Great Britain (C.P.G.B.) and the united front policy

The Communist Party of Great Britain never fully mastered Benin’s proposed dual tactics with regard to the Labour Party.[3] The C.P.G.B. invariably fell into one-sidedness with regard to unity and struggle. In itself, this is not a tragic error provided it is recognized in time and rectified.

With the adoption of the United Front Policy by the Comintern, it was especially necessary that the C.P.G.B. in applying this policy learnt to struggle against the Labour Party through its proposal for unity against fascism. And where unity was achieved, the importance of communist initiative in the front cannot be overstressed as the method of continuing the struggle against social-democracy.

The following resolution was put to the 15th Congress of the C.P.G.B. in 1938:

The Communist Party declares that it fully accepts the constitution of the Labour Party, asks for no special privileges, and will abide by all decisions of the Labour Party conference, accepting at all times the same obligations and enjoying the same rights as all other affilliated organizations.

The question of affiliation to the Labour Party first arose in 1920. It is doubtful that 18 years later, presumably after 18 years of practical application, that such a one-sided unity resolution was correct. When one considers the differing conditions between 1920 and 1938, especially after the experience of the Ramsey MacDonald Government, one would have thought that this tactic had been superseded by events. If not superseded, at least modified.The issue upon which proposals for joint action was made to the Labour Party was the reactionary legislation of the National Government of Chamberlain which could have paved the way for fascism in Britain. This was correct.

However, it is clear from Harry Pollitt’s political report to the 15th Congress held in 1938 that the C.P.G.B. was trailing behind the Labour Party. Don’t forget that here Harry Pollitt was addressing a communist congress. Surely, such an address or report should have summed up the successes and short-comings of the C.P.G.B.’s campaign to defeat the influence of social-democracy.

The goal of a communist party is the socialist revolution and this should not be lost sight of in the consideration of tactics. Tactics must serve the strategy and if at any time they do not, then tactics must give way to strategy and a new tactical plan worked out which will take the communist party one step further in achieving its long term aim. Anything else is opportunism. It is stated quite clearly by Harry Pollitt that the main responsibility for fighting the National Government was with the Labour Movement (a euphemism for The Labour Party). Such a remark at a public meeting of workers may have tactical considerations but in formulating the general line of the Communist Party, it is an abdication of leadership.

In meekly stressing the C.P.G.B.’s desire for unity, one can see in Harry Pollitt’s report great attempts to appear reasonable in the eyes of the workers following the Labour Party. Without doubt such a public approach at different times can be a communist reply to the bourgeoisie’s slander that communists are ’power-hungry’, sectarian, unreasonable etc. But if one goes too far out of the way just to appear ’reasonable’ and one-sidedly stresses unity without struggle, as is shown in the above quote, then one is forgetting that social-democracy is the enemy of a revolutionary communist party.

Under Harry Pollitt’s leadership the United Front Policy and the fight against fascism meant glossing over socialist revolution and the need for a dictatorship of the proletariat in Britain, whilst on an international scale slurring over the imperialist nature of Britain, France etc because of the fight against fascism. It was Harry Pollitt’s view that the presence of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany had changed the nature of a war between imperialist countries, some of which still had basic democratic rights. When the 2nd World War broke out and Harry Pollitt’s line was taken to its logical conclusion by his advocacy of support for Britain’s participation in the war a fierce struggle culminating in his forced resignation erupted.

In the ’Communist Party in War Time’, a record of C.P.G.B. documents before 1941, the War was classified as an imperialist war. TheLabour Party was vigorously attacked for its support of the war. A self-criticism by Harry Pollitt for his stubborn support of participation wasalsa published. However, it is clear that the C.P.G.B. did not fully analyse or understand why it had come to the brink of making a disastrous error in evaluating the 2nd World War at its outbreak. In 1941 after the invasion of the U.S.S.R.. Harry Pollitt was reinstated stronger than ever as the man ’Who had been right all along’. This was undoubtedly a decisive victory for revisionism in the C.P.G.B.

The 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union did very much change the situation making the war principally a war between socialism and imperialism. It was necessary to call upon the people to defend socialism and defeat imperialism. Instead, directives were issued by Harry Pollitt of which the following are the conclusions:

1) The Churchill government is the representative of national unity for the fulfillment of the aims of the British-Soviet Pact, of the United Nations, and victory over Hitler. The weakening of the Churchill Government would mean the weakening of national unity, create doubt and alarm in allied countries, exultation among the fascist enemy, and lead to intrigues for alternative combinations which would open the way to the increased influence of the pro-fascist forces.
2) Our political aim must therefore be directed to the strengthening of the Churchill Government; that is to remove the still remaining reactionary Munichite elements, and bring in democratic anti-fascist representatives enjoying popular confidence.
3) The decisive role in achieving this, maintaining national unity, defeating the pro-fascist forces and all tendencies to demoralisation and confusion, and strengthening the National Government, rests above all with the organized working class movement. Unity of the Labour movement is essential for achieving this aim.

Such a policy was an outright sell-out of the independent role of the Communist Party. It was a policy which said ’do not rock the boat’. It was a policy which called upon the workers not to make demands on the Government. Everybody knows that the bourgeoisie always reserve their right to criticize and restrict the communists.

In 1941, the ’Daily Worker’ was banned and contained in Harry Pollitt’s report is a weak protest. Surely, this was a time for illegal work on the part of the C.P.G.B. and explaining to the working class that in a war against fascism the National Government was employing fascist methods against the communists just like the Nazis. It was a time for explaining to the workers that they should defend socialism but crush imperialism, including British imperialism. As for the C.P.G.B.’s concern about the National Government or other imperialist countries changing their mind about fighting fascism, let us just note that a communist party which was really playing an independent role could expose in the eyes of the people the bourgeoisie compromising with fascism.

In case anybody has any doubt about the incorrectness of the strengthening of the National Government line during the war, surely its continuation after 19^5 indicates a complete desertion of communism.

On the Progressive Labour Party and the historical experience of the anti-fascist front

The decision of the 7th Congress of the Communist International for the formation of a brood anti-fascist united front has been the subject of a great deal of attack from Trotskyites. Most recently, the American Progressive Labour Party have found theoretical justification for their attacks on Mao by claiming that the beginnings of revisionism stem from this decision. The revisionist betrayal of communist parties throughout the world after the defeat of fascism is supposed to prove that the United Front Policy against fascism was wrong.

In the P.L.P.’s theoretical journal for November 1971 is an article entitled ’Lessons from the History of the International Communist Movement’. The article is a prime example of ’left childishness’ and boils down to the ’no compromises’ nonsense leftists are constantly rehashing. It covers a number of critical decisions in the history of the international communist movement e.g. The New Economic Policy in the Soviet Union[4] and the Comintern 7th Congress.

The article declares that a straight call for socialism and presumably the dictatorship of the proletariat should be made at all times and that this applies to worker and peasant alike. Now, everybody knows that the question of the working class seizing state power becomes a practical problem in times of revolution when the bourgeoisie is sufficiently disorganized and the working class has accumulated sufficient strength to make the attempt successful. Leading up to this is a fairly long period of organizing, uniting and training the working class behind its vanguard, the communist party, ready for such an attempt at state power.

This indefinite period requires all kinds of taction1 compromises in-order to achieve the long term aim on which, of course, there can be no compromise. In the metropolitan capitalist countries the task of defeating social-democracy and revisionism has long been a major step required to bring about a socialist revolution.

It is clear to anybody who wants to make a study of Dimitrov’s speech at the 7th congress on the United Front Against Fascism that, properly implemented, it was a powerful weapon against fascism and a skillful weapon against the social-democrats who tended to compromise with it. However, P.L.P. prefer to treat Marxism-Leninism as a lifeless dogma which deals in ready made formulas. They are, of course, at liberty to interpret Marxism Leninism how they please provided it stays within the four walls of a leftist sect and they cease dishing up old and familiar rubbish to the working class.

An example of sectarianism and how not to set up an anti-fascist front in the ’London Alliance (in defence of workers’ rights)’

The formation of the North London Alliance, now the London Alliance, resulted from the spontaneous coming together of a number of groups, most professing Marxism-Leninism, against fascism.

The two bills i.e. The Industrial Relations Bill and the; Immigration Bill were isolated as the main examples of this trend along with increased police repression.

First meetings of the N.L.A. were taken up with formalizing the organization by giving it aims and a constitution. There was much discussion on one point of the constitution i.e. whether or not the organization should specifically disallow Trotskyists, revisionists and social-democrats from taking part or, more accurately, from becoming members. A majority of speakers characterized the organization as an ’Alliance of Marxist-Leninist groups and individuals’. Following from this generalization and also, it was argued, as a means of drawing a clear line of demarcation with Trotskyists, revisionists and social-democrats, recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat was made a condition of membership.

Contradictions abounded in this perspective for what should have been an anti-fascist front.

1) If the North London Alliance is an ’alliance of Marxist-Leninist groups’, then why don’t those groups unite in a communist way in order to help build a party?
2) If this ’alliance of Marxist-Leninist Groups’ is not to have the primary task of helping to build a Party, then the N.L.A. should have been correctly constituted as a front in defence of basic democratic rights.
3) As such it should have been clearly stated that the North London Alliance is a broad organization uniting all those that can be united in defence of democratic rights. All references to affiliation to Marxism-Leninism, recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat and exclusion of Trotskyists revisionists etc. should have been deleted.

However, most people attending the meetings were blind to these contradictions. It was evident that the organization was made up of various leftist sects, which neither wanted to build a new Communist Party or set up a proper front against the danger of fascism. Rather, they preferred to maintain their ’Marxist-Leninist purity’. From this example, one can see the link between the essential non-partisan nature of such revolutionaries and the bourgeois democratic nature of their demands i.e. defence of workers rights.


We think that the record of the C.P.G.B. in carrying out the United Front Policy is a record of right errors. Today, ’left’ errors are committed by anti-revisionists in fronts.

Marxist-Leninist in London have witnessed the formation of an organization essentially anti-fascist, set up to defend basic trade union and democratic rights, which included in its aims the dictatorship of the proletariat. This organization, the London Alliance in Defence of Workers Rights, analysed above, is one of the many organizations which should unite all those that can be united. However, in the hands of sectarian Marxist-Leninists the broad front is substituted for the Marxist-Leninist Party.

If one looks at the London Alliance demonstration of a broad front against fascism which makes the basis of unity against fascism one of recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat, one has a practical application of the P.L.P.’s and the Trotskyites objection to the Comintern decision. They say that the United Front Policy amounted to a rejection of the fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is nonsense! It only amounted to such where the communist party sacrificed its right to separate organization, programme and failed to take the struggle further after the victory against fascism. The London Alliance could not possibly unite broad masses of the people in a common struggle against fascism. The following facts most certainly show up the P.L.P.’s view that it was possible to defeat fascism by making a straight call for the dictatorship of the proletariat as hopeless phrase-making and wishful thinking. These facts are taken from the voting at the Gorman Elections held in April 1932:

Thaelman......3,706,759......10.2% (Communist)

In fact the German Communist Party was criticized by Dimitrov and other parties of the international communist movement for relying too much on general declamations against social-democracy and capitalism and not enough on exposing the social-democrats in a skillful way by making demands upon them etc. General calls for the dictatorship of the proletariat must come within this category. Furthermore, the German Communist Party often addressed workers with speeches not readily understood by them.

Whereas the Nazis spoke about bread and jobs to recruit the workers and peasants to their war-mongering chariot. The Nazis recruited a great deal of their strength from-the discontentment of the masses of peasants and other petti-bourgeois with Versailles Treaty. Dimitrov criticized the German Communist Party for not taking sufficient account of this discontentment with the Treaty of Versailles. So, if anything, the German Communist Party tended towards the kind of sectarian error that the P.L.P. and London Alliance are pushing.

Sectarian Marxist-Leninists are in a tangled mess when it comes to the relationship of the broad front to the Communist Party. Indeed, they do not seem to comprehend the difference between the two. We shall attempt to disentangle them.

Firstly, the primary thing is the urgent need for Marxist-Leninist unity in a new revolutionary communist party. A programme must be worked out relevant to British conditions and based on a proper class analysis. Journals, conferences, debates and the upholding of unity whilst persevering in principle must create the unity for forming the new party.

Secondly, the anti-fascist front is different to the trade-union or tenants association because it is set up to achieve immediate political, and not principally economic tasks. But the political aims of the anti-fascist front are not identical, although they may be bound up with the aims of a communist party. Such a party must win the leadership of the front by having the initiative in it. This depends on the situation. It also depends on a concrete analysis of political tasks, what forms the struggle against fascism takes. Principally, however, they will be democratic tasks and the front must unite all those that can be united to achieve them.

The party whilst upholding the aims of the front must not submerge itself in it and must insist on the right to agitate for socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat without making this a condition for membership to the front.

Having said this, it can be clearly seen that a successful front against fascism requires a communist party based on a programme for revolution in Britain. No such party exists and must be formed. Those that wish to fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat would do best by laying emphasis on the formation of such a party.

Fronts against increased attacks on the working class’ organizations or living standards: should be set up, but they must be set up properly and have a correct relation to party building tasks. Let us now pass on to studying the problem of working in trade union and tenants associations.

Trade Unions and Tenants’ Associations

The adoption of the ’peaceful’ British Road to Socialism after the 2nd World War by the Communist Party of Great Britain was followed by the closing of factory branches. The Party adopted the social-democratic form of organization based on election boundaries. This, of course, is significant in as much as it clearly reveals the distinction between social-democratic and communist organization. Indeed, proposals from anti-revisionists inside the C.P.G.B. has late as 1964 were based on this very question of factory branches.

A communist party must be the conscious vanguard of the working class and must, therefore, be composed of the most class and politically conscious members of the class. Through its organization, agitation and propaganda it must raise the consciousness of the masses to the level of its programme for revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Trade Unions and Tenants Associations, however, are very basic forms of working class organization which wage the workers economic struggle against the capitalists. Lenin said that trade unions are ’schools of communism’ but only so long as communists working in them do not tail behind tho workers’ trade union consciousness.

It is necessary to review tendencies in the Marxist-Leninist movement which result from a misinterpretation of Lenin’s thesis on the role of communists in and their relationship to the trade unions. The position of tho social-democrats and more recently the revisionist C.P.G.B. has long been understood by Marxist-Leninists and class conscious workers as being one of restricting their activity to trade unionist politics.

Anti-revisionists and Marxist-Leninists coming out of the C.P.G.B. in the past have balked at the class-eollaborationism preached by the revisionists. To such an extent has been the revulsion of Marxist-Leninists to the John Gollans, Paine Dutts and their cronies, that leftist positions have been adopted causing great damage.

Leninist view on the matter (i.e. with regard to the trade unions)

The Leninist position of the impossibility of workers’ spontaneous struggles against economic exploitation and oppression developing of itself beyond trade unionism is irrefutable. But to deduce from this that communists should not work inside trade unions or that the role of communists is to remain outside striving to bring politics into the trade union struggle is to make nonsense of Lenin’s statement:

Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside of the economic struggle, from outside of the sphere of relations between workers and employers. (What is to be done? Selected Works (1950) Vol. 1 page 287)

It makes nonsense of the above statement because Lenin is not saying that communists should not go into the trade unions as the following quote makes clear:

It is precisely this absurd ’theory’ that Communists must not work in reactionary trade unions that brings out with the greatest clarity how frivolous is the attitude of the ’left’ Communists towards the question of influencing ’the masses’, and to what abuses they go in their vociferations about ’the masses’. If you want to help ’the masses’ and to win the sympathy and support of the masses, you must not fear difficulties, you must not fear the pinpricks, chicanery, insults and persecution on the part of the ’leaders’ (who, being opportunists and social-chauvinists, are in most cases directly or indirectly connected with the bourgeoisie and the police) but must imperatively work wherever the masses are to be found. (Left Wing Communist an Infantile Disorder Peking 1965 pg. 44)

It seems that ’outside of the economic struggle’ is interpreted as outside the trade unions thus causing a fair measure of exclusiveness toward the trade unions and a preference for general slogans. We must, most certainly, conduct agitation, distribute leaflets, sell a revolutionary newspaper etc. amongst the most diverse strata of the people. But this is not an argument against doing all these things in the basic organizations of the working class, where they can be done to greater effect. With regard to agitation, which is done mainly by the spoken word, this can only be done effectively by communists organized at the place of work, in the tenants associations etc. where they are able to influence the mood of the workers. Unless communists work in such a way as they become real working class politicians, able to expose the spinelessness of social-democracy, a communist, party will never become the kind of party which is able to influence the masses and lead them into battle at the decisive moment.

However, the primary tasks for Marxist-Leninists today are the theoretical tasks necessary for uniting the movement on definite principles. But at our places of work, in the tenants associations and wherever the workers are organizing, we should strive to give a lead where we can and organize into caucuses for this purpose. Compared with the forces and influence of social-democracy and revisionism, we are very weak. But it only assists the omnipotence of social-democracy and revisionism for communists not to make a start in fighting them properly.

Should communists accept official positions within a trade union or tenants’ association?

This is a matter that requires careful attention. Generally, if tenants and workers want a communist to represent them in a trade union or tenants association, then he or she should stand. It should be clear that it is not only obligatory for communists to go into these organizations, but also that communists must have a line on the affairs of the union or association. Quite properly, workers would have little respect for a communist who had a line but after convincing everybody of its correctness was unwilling to take a lead in carrying it out.

One may hear the objection that taking official positions is bound to lead to a communist compromising his or her politics. This view is incorrect and contained in it is an assumption that a communist in an official position does not continue the struggle against the social-democratic hierarchy and ceases to bring politics into the union. Moreover, it implies that he or she will not use such a position as an arm of communism against social-democracy.

The seeking of positions as an aim in itself by stealth and backroom manoeuvring is contemptible, however, worthy only of social-democratic careerists. A communist’s strength must rely, and be based on the support and sympathy of the mass of workers. In the past there have been communists in the C.P.G.B. involved in ballot rigging and this has been defended by some Marxist-Leninists as a tactic. In our view such tactics are inadmissable in principle. Politics must come first. If the workers don’t follow us immediately and red-baiting temporarily isolates communists, the only thing is to wait and work patiently to win the workers. We will win in the end because only communism truly represents the interests of the working class.

’Red-baiting’ and how communists work in broad organizations

Two questions have arisen. How do communists work in trade unions and tenants associations? Where communists are organizing the setting up of, say, a tenants association, do; they make the platform-one which explains the general crisis of imperialism and calls for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie?

With regard to the first question, the problem of ’red-baiting’, there is no straight answer. In conditions where the tenants and workers enthusiastically welcome communists, there is, of course, no problem. Also, where workers are benevolently neutral, if there is such a thing, communists can fight head on the red-baiting of the Labourites. But, if communists are tremendously isolated in a tenants or workers meeting it would be comparatively easy for social-democrats or revisionists, to move the expulsion of ’reds’ or ’agitators’. In such circumstances it would be folly for communists not to bide their time, dodge ’red-baiting’ and choose more favourable circumstances to win the ear of the workers. In the trade unions where social-democracy is very strong, this is a much more difficult problem.

In complicated situations, the need for communists to constantly sum up experience and make a proper assessment of the mood of the workers is important. Communists must not be cowered from raising important political questions or allow themselves to be silenced from exposing the spinelessness of social-democracy by the bluster and hysterical anti-communism of the Labourites and revisionists. It is often the case that such people have become so exposed through their practice that their intrigues and objections to communists increase ten-fold whereas the workers are becoming more sympathetic to the communists. Only objective and not subjective analysis can ensure that we keep our bearings.

With regard to the second, question, the answer is no. It is the job of a communist party to call such meetings. In setting up a tenants association, regard must be had for involving the greatest number of tenants in a broad struggle against a single piece of legislation, a rent increase, bad conditions, etc. Politics will be brought into the struggle by communists through a constant fight against racism, social-democracy, revisionism, etc. and through agitation against finance capital as the main enemy of the tenants. Exposure of the Law Courts and the Police as tools of the State is bound to arise as a counter-measure of the bourgeoisie against the tenants fight.

This cannot be done all in one go, we must be involved deeply in the struggle and not standing on the sidelines.

How is a trade union or tenants association a front and what is the connecting line with the communist organization

The word ’front’ implies a vehicle through which communists social-democrats, revisionists etc. work together on a particular issue by agreement e.g. anti-fascist front, anti-apartheid or anti-imperialist front.

Which organization has the initiative in such a front depends on the situation but if the front is to be at all thorough going and vigorous, then it should be led by communists who must strive for the initiative.

Trade unions or tenants associations don’t strictly come into this category. Rather, they are basic organizations of the workers’ economic struggle against the capitalists and the tenants fight against the Landlord. To the extent that communists can win the leadership of a tenants associations or trade union, they can become fronts for a communist position in the trade union or tenants movement.

Lenin’s characterized trade unions as ’schools of communism’. We think that this is the best view. The same applies to tenants associations but to a lesser extent. The connecting line with the communist organization must be the formation of cells or caucuses at the present time, with an eye on factory branches in the future.

These cells must be vehicles of communist policy and therefore under the control of a communist party. However, under present conditions, where no real Marxist-Leninist party exists, it is impossible to carry out such a policy effectively. Eventually though, it must be carried out because, in addition to being the core of opposition and struggle against social-democracy, communist caucuses are the only reliable channel for recruitment to the communist party.

Further, such roots in the working class organizations will ensure that the communist party can mobilise the greatest number of workers against growing reaction, police atrocities, the British Army’s role in Ireland and the colonies and the threat of a third imperialist war.

Many sided struggle against social-democracy and revisionism is the key to winning workers to communism and revolution

The main prop of the bourgeoisie and the front line of its influence in the trade unions and tenants associations, is the thoroughly bought off Labour Aristocracy. Social-democracy and revisionism are strongest in the trade-unions and the Scanlons and Jones act amazingly quickly to bring under their influence or break any section of the trade union movement which threatens to undermine or become a centre against their monopoly. They viciously defend their positions which give them privileges, perks and an above average income. They are thoroughly contemptible and thoroughly bought off.

In the tenants movement, wherever communists are organizing, so are the social-democrats parallel to and directly ... against the communists. In short, communists can do nothing, worthy of communism without coming into head on conflict with social-democracy and revisionism. Undoubtedly, without this faithful prop of bourgeois ideology, the capitalists would be stripped of a great deal of their power. It is a primary task to totally discredit social-democracy and chase all its protagonists out of the trade unions and tenants associations. This cannot be done by sloganizing alone, but by persistent communist work wherever the workers are following then.

Anti-imperialist National Liberation Fronts

Of late, it has become very fashionable for many groups and parties calling themselves Marxist-Leninist to attack the concept of New Democratic revolutions in colonies and neo-colonies. The starting point for this position is usually rejection of China as a country where the working class holds power and are building socialism. Or, at least, an undermining of this.

This is the latest position of the American Progressive Labour Party. In Britain, the Marxist-Leninist Organization of Britain (M.L.O.B.)[5] have published reams on Mao as ’China’s Counter-Revolutionary’. The British & Irish Communist Organization (B. & I.C.O.)[6] who in 1968 published an excellent critique of the M.L.O.B.’s position called ’Is Mao a Fascist’ have declared that...

Chinese foreign policy is not being formed on the basis of any communist principle.

Whilst, not venturing to draw any conclusions on ’what internal changes in China’ this is supposed to reflect they assert that...

For a revolutionary, for a communist group to look to China for leadership now would be absolutely disastrous. (Communist Comment, No. 48 8th Jan. 1972)

We are without doubt that for any revolutionary or communist group to take any guidance fro, the irresponsible ravings of the I.C.O. would indeed be disastrous. The B. & I.CO. must undoubtedly justify these assertions and explain and prove in whose class interest docs the CP.C.’s foreign policy operate if it is not being formed on ’any communist principles’. We feel sure that in making this justification of such irresponsible assertions, the Marxist-Leninist movement will witness the B. & I.C.O. getting closer to joining the camp of the M.L.O.B. and the American P.L.P.

However, it is this arena of trends in the Marxist-Leninist movement which makes it necessary to make, clear the views of Lenin, Stalin and Mao[7] on the national democratic movement as a reserve of the socialist and not the bourgeois revolution under imperialism.

What does Mao mean when he talks of several revolutionary classes in colonies and neo colonies? At this point one might well hear the dogmatist shout – What? The proletariat is the only revolutionary class in the world today.

This is quite true. The only truly revolutionary class i.e. the one with a future is the proletariat. But what about the national bourgeoisie in the colonies who are in contradiction with imperialism and may be prepared to take up arms against it? Is this class not revolutionary?

Mao answers in the affirmative. Yes, they are revolutionary, but the national bourgeoisie has a dual character. Whilst being in contradiction with imperialism, they lack the firmness and discipline to load a successful struggle against it and tend to seek compromise with imperialism. Thus, the second part of the Marxist-Leninist theory of revolution in the colonies which says that a successful anti-imperialist liberation struggle requires the leadership of the proletariat through its Marxist-Leninist party. Such a party, however, must not confuse the democratic revolution with the socialist revolution. Communists in colonial and semi-colonial countries should be concerned for the unity of all those classes fighting against feudalism and imperialism.

The history of the Chinese Communist Party includes periods of domination by leftism and dogmatism with regard to the Chinese revolution. All of these trends underestimated the revolutionary potential of the peasantry and denied that the national bourgeoisie is an ally of the proletariat in the struggle against feudalism and imperialism.

Needless to say, such leftism upset the United Front against fuedalism and imperialism and caused great set-backs to the Chinese revolution. These are historical facts which expose the incorrectness of the line of the American Progressive Labour Party which has raised the slogan ’No alliance with the national bourgeoise’ in colonial countries, skipping over the democratic revolution and organizing the workers and peasants under the one slogan of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The so-called “broad front of Marxist-Leninist groups”

We have already spoken of the London Alliance professing to be an ’alliance of Marxist-Leninist Groups’. This is an interesting concept which deserves closer examination. Beside being a contradiction in terms, there are two important aspects to the question. One is the substitution of the front for the party which we have already dealt with, and the other is connected with a concept of how the party is to be built. Let’s deal with this second aspect.

One often hears declamation of the Communist Party of Britain (M.L.) on the grounds that ’it was setup from above’ or that it ’wrongly set up a central committee at the beginning of its formation’. True, in conditions of extreme sectarianism in the Marxist-Leninist movement, such a beginning can be considered unwise. However, this is not the reason for assessing the C.P.B.(m.l.) as a sham party. The C.P.B. (m.l.) when it was formed did not have a correct programme for revolution in Britain based on a proper analysis of classes. This is why the C.P.B. (m.l.) is a sham party and a revisionist party.

The formation of the C.P..B. (m.l.) found a reaction in the coming together of Marxist-Leninist groups in the Joint Committee of Communists which on producing ’Origins and Perspectives’ renamed itself the Communist Federation of Britain (M.L.). Federation is not a communist principle but at this time of splits and divisions in the Marxist-Leninist movement it was a step forward. However, events proved that the leadership of the Secretary and Chairman, Sam Mauger and Sean McGonville, favoured the perpetuation of federalism. They saw proposals for, doing the work of laying the, foundations of a programme of revolution upon the completion of which federalism would be abolished, as attempts to set up an organization ’of the C.P.B.(m.l.) type’. In opposition Sam Mauger spoke of the party growing spontaneously out of internal discussion.

More of the C.F.B.’s position can be read in the old C.U.O. pamphlet ’Origins and Perspectives Betrayed’. It is enough to note here that Sam Mauger & Co.’s opportunism made federation a principle with all the justifications of ’building the movement from below’ in opposition to the super-centralism of the C.P.B. (m.l.).

The same idea is behind the term, ’broad front of Marxist-Leninist groups’ which sees the overcoming of sectarianism and the formation of a party as something which will grow spontaneously out of groups coming together in one organization. For example, Marxist-Leninists working together in a front against fascism.

Is it true that the mere working together of groups will overcome sectarianism? It most certainly is not! In the London Alliance, events followed the path of a clique of leftists gaining control of the organization, and from this position forcing out all opposition. Alternatively, a clique of careerists and opportunists, as in the C.F.B. are able to ride factions and also force out opposition.

We think that the problem of democracy and centralism is a basic question of communist organization which is likely to arise many times in the future. But let us be clear on the incorrectness of ’Marxist-Leninist broad fronts’, confusing fronts and the communist party and federalism in communist organization.


[1] Georgi Dimitrov was the leader of the Bulgarian Communist. He became Secretary of the Comintern in 1935. For over a decade previous he had fought against sectarianism and was the chief advocate of the United Front Policy. Following world victory against fascism, however, he committed right errors believing that the emergence of a socialist camp had made it possible to achieve socialism ’democratically’ i.e. through a bourgeois Parliament and not necessarily through armed struggle.

[2] The American Progressive Labour Party is a party which was formed at a time when anti-revisionist groups were forming inside communist parties and Marxist-Leninist parties were being set up following China’s lead in the polemic against Soviet revisionism. It was looked upon by many as a vigorous party and a fine example of communist organization. However, in the past few years, P.L.P. has followed an original error regarding nationalism in colonial countries to the present day, when they have completely rejected the historical experience of New Democracy and branded Mao as a counter-revolutionary.

[3] In 1920 Lenin proposed to the C.P.G.B. that they apply for affiliation to the Labour Party. Lenin pointed out that although the party was led by scoundrels, the C.P.G.B., at that time, was free to criticize the leadership and call for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie. Further, Lenin said that the workers of Britain had not experienced a Government of the Labour traitors, it was therefore incorrect to alienate the workers who at that time were following the Labour Party , support for which was growing. He said, ’support the Labour Party like a rope support a hanging man’. In the event of the Labour Party refusing affiliation this could be used to expose their opposition to working class unity.

[4] The New Economic Policy was a policy introduced in the Soviet Union in 1921. It allowed for limited development of capitalism in the country side in order to develop the productive forces of the countryside. It was absolutely necessary for maintaining the worker-peasant alliance and therefore ensuring the future of socialism. The policy was ended in 1928.

[5] M.L.O.B. supports Liu Shao Chi, dismissed from his leading position in the Communist Party of China at the height of the Cultural Revolution.

[6] The B. & I.C.O. is an organization which denies the dependence of theory on practice. They insist that theory must be worked out before there can be an application of theory.

[7] For the Marxist-Leninist position on New Democracy read ’On New Democracy’ by Mao, ’On the National and Colonial Question’ by Lenin and articles on the Chinese revolution (various controversies with Trotsky) by Stalin. The first two pamphlets can be obtained from the C.U.A.