Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Unity Association (Marxist-Leninist)

Economism or Revolution? A Critique of the Communist Party of Britain (M-L)


If there is to be a revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party built on a Marxist-Leninist revolutionary style, it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs. Mao Tse-Tung

Why does the working class need a revolutionary party to bring about revolution? It is the millions of exploited workers themselves, constituting the overwhelming majority of the British population, who will make the revolution. Why is a party necessary?

Precisely in order to provide the leadership to guide the proletarian masses on the immensely complex road to revolution. The strength of the enemy, the monopoly capitalist ruling class, is easy to see: its army and police force, its courts and prisons, its wealth, its command of all mass media1 its civil service bureaucracy, the bourgeois parliamentary system, its educational system and its ideology which pervades the whole society. The power of the bourgeoisie is more than matched by the utter ruthlessness with which these exploiters will struggle to preserve the system which gives them the ’right to grow ever more wealthy by exploiting the labouring masses. Only with the leadership of a party based on the most scientific theory of revolution, incorporating in itself all the most class conscious proletarians and all those won to a proletarian world outlook, can the working class achieve the unity, discipline and correct understanding necessary to defeat such an enemy. With such leadership, the mass movement of the working class is invincible, and this monstrous system of exploitation and oppression will surely be overthrown.

In Britain today the working class, under redoubled attacks from its imperialist rulers, is offered what leadership? The labour Party, which serves monopoly capital so faithfully in office, and still hopes to deceive workers, when out of power, into thinking that it represents their interest? The revisionist CPGB, which tails so closely behind the Labour Party, and has abandoned all the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism? The various Trotskyite groups, all claiming to be ’revolutionary’ but preaching and practising opportunism and anti-Communism? All of these groups compete to exert bourgeois influence on the working class movement. All have often been exposed before as objectively counter-revolutionary elements, and must be thoroughly exposed again and again, until all trace of their influence in the working class has been eliminated. There is only space here to state that, rather than providing the revolutionary leadership the working class needs, these organisations and tendencies exist essentially to divert the working class from such leadership.

One organisation, the so-called Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) claims to be just this revolutionary party that the working class requires. The CPB (ML) document ’The British Working Class and its Party’(April, 1971) begins with the following statement:

All political organisations in Britain and all institutions have it in common that they are for the preservation of capitalism in some form or other. From the Rightist reactionaries to the Leftist reformists the common aim is to live with the system and make it work. The only exception is the one Party whose aim is the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism class power and its replacement by the dictatorship of the proletariat for the building of socialism. That is us, the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

No false modesty here! The CPB (ML) claims forthrightly that it is the revolutionary party needed by the working class, the party that will lead the struggle to completely overthrow the capitalist system. This claim should be examined seriously. Does this organisation conform to what we would expect of a revolutionary proletarian party? Before answering this question we must determine what characterises a revolutionary proletarian party.

Firstly, the party must be guided by the most correct, scientific, revolutionary theory, which today is the theory of Marxism-Leninism Mao Tse-Tung Thought. Only armed with this theory can a correct analysis of the concrete situation in Britain be carried out, and a party programme capable of leading the mass revolutionary struggle be developed. Only in this way can the party fulfil its task of leading, rather than tailing behind, the mass movement.

Secondly, the party must incorporate all the most class conscious revolutionary workers, filled with the spirit of serving the people[2], and must be one with the proletarian masses, having the closest, most inseparable links with the non-party working class. It must be fully part of the working class, but be the most advanced, politically leading section, the vanguard of the proletariat.

Thirdly, the party, in order to be able to carry out its strategy and tactics, its task of leading the political struggle of the working class, must be highly organised and have the most effective discipline, requiring all members to be active in the class struggle under this discipline. Otherwise it would fail in its task. This communist discipline is built on the principles of democratic centralism. Lower levels must submit to higher levels in order that the most effective, centralised leadership be developed. This is only possible where, the fullest democratic discussion of issues is carried out, for only through such discussion can correct ideas be consolidated and incorrect ideas criticised, but following this open discussion the minority must submit to the majority. Communist criticism and self-criticism must be carried out, and the party must know how to rectify, and learn from its errors.

This revolutionary party, with a revolutionary strategy based on a correct theory, with proletarian ideology and with revolutionary proletarian discipline, must become the leading element in all aspects of the mass struggles of the workers. Adopting the revolutionary working style of ’from the masses to the masses’, it must be able to raise the mass struggle to an even higher level.

In judging a new party, it is not correct to expect an immense, revolutionary mass base, or to expect that such a young untried party will not make errors. What must be demanded is that the party conform to a mainly correct, revolutionary application of the theory of Marxism-Leninism in its programmatic strategy and in its practice, and is prepared to work in such a way as to overcome its mistakes and weaknesses.

It is not possible for us to comment either on the internal discipline of the CPB (ML) or on its internal organisation. What we are concerned to do in this pamphlet is to examine the theoretical understanding of the CPB(ML) and its application of Marxist-Leninist principles to the concrete situation in Britain. Since there can be no revolutionary party without a correct revolutionary theory, we feel that such an analysis is a sufficient basis for judging the revolutionary claims of the CPB (ML). We shall deal with articles from its newspaper ’The Worker’, and with its pamphlet ’Guerrilla struggles’, but principally we shall study its document ’The British Working class and its Party’, adopted[3] at the Second Congress of the CPB (ML) in April, 1971. The full contents of this document are published as an appendix to this document.


[2] The spirit of serving the people is the spirit of fighting self, and of utter devotion to the interests of the exploited masses, to revolution. We reject the distortion and vulgarisation of Chairman Mao’s great call to serve the people that some indulge in, claiming that they can win the people to revolution by doing some sort of welfare work among them, dispensing charity. We serve the people by helping them to help themselves, through the mass struggle to make revolution to seize political power, and to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.

[3] Adopted unanimously according to “The Worker”, August 1971. This document was not however adopted as the party programme, since the CPB (ML) had a party programme which was adopted at its founding congress at Easter, 1968. However, a new edition of ’The British Working Class and its Party’ has recently been published by the CPB(ML) and it is now called ’The Programme of the CPB(ML).