First Published: Marxist-Leninist Quarterly No. 7, Summer 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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Britain in the seventies is going through historic and radical change. Never in the post-World War Two period have the economic and political struggles of British workers been so widespread and hard hitting. Never before in this period has the failure of parties claiming to lead the way towards socialism in Britain been so explicit as it is now. The need for a revolutionary party is being felt by a growing number of class conscious workers.
A revolutionary party cannot be created by proclamation. Its programme and polices cannot be copied from another Party’s documents. Such a party has to be created by apply the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism in the concrete condition of Britain. Only concrete practice guided by Marxism-Leninism can bring the revolutionary theory without which there can be no revolutionary party.
The years of activity of the Communist Party of Great Britain have produced little or no revolutionary theory because for a considerable period of its existence the CPGB has followed an incorrect method of work. A ’revisionist’ decision-making process controlled by a bureaucratic leadership attempting to mechanically follow the policies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has ended in tragic and abysmal failures. The process is to be rejected totally.
Thus in Britain the young Marxist-Leninist movement is left with no other option than to carry out its work without adequate revolutionary theory available, let alone an established strategy. How do we go about developing such theory and strategy? With the help of interim or working policies based on the existing knowledge of different political fields of struggle, we shall change our environment and develop theory, and train cadres in mass work. These interim policies or ’working lines’ which we intend to formulate and present to the Marxist-Leninist movement and the broad labour movement in the coming months for discussion, will guide our involvement in immediate struggles, bringing out the components of the required strategy.
But in the absence of a strategy practice in different fields of struggle cannot be co-ordinated and could even be largely unproductive, unless these are related to a broad understanding of the international and national situations in which we find ourselves today. By continually relating the different struggles to these broad pictures we can develop deeper understanding of all struggles i.e. grasping the essence of capitalism and imperialism today determining the stage of the revolutionary process we are at now and the future that awaits us. Finally, in the light of the historical experiences of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the socialist countries we shall be able to construct a strategy – a ’programme’ for the British revolution.
With this objective in mind, we devoted a large part of our time in our Second Special General Meeting held last February to summing up of our preliminary findings on the present international and national situations, which we have presented in the following pages. Preliminary as they are only from a reconnaissance survey, there has been an emphasis on formulating principles, developing a Marxist Leninist methodology to be used in subsequent investigations. This is the most significant aspect of the two statements presented.
As we embark on an analysis of the international and national situations for the first time in the Marxist-Leninist movement we, as expected, have found ourselves in conflicting positions in some cases. Our understandings of present-day imperialism differ. And while we unanimously recognise that the US and the USSR are the two main enemies, differences arise as to their relative strengths and weaknesses. It is agreed that the Soviet leadership is Social-imperialism in Lenin’s sense of the term, although since a substantial minority do not accept the ’social imperialist’ characterisation of the Soviet state, such characterisation has been dropped from the statements. A large minority does not agree with the statement made about internal and external contradictions and thus does not accept some implications regarding Socialist diplomacy drawn in this document. There are differences on the question of relative rates of degeneration in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries.
In the statement on the national situation we have primarily drawn the lines of demarcation between ourselves and those whom we consider as diversionary tendencies in the working class movement. But the failure to develop a positive Marxist-Leninist position indicates the political and theoretical weakness of the movement.
We present the two statements to the Marxist-Leninist and broad labour movement. Like any documents guided by Marxism-Leninism, these are by no means final positions. The correctness or incorrectness of the various positions contained in the statements can only be tested in practice, improved upon and used as guides. The significance of these documents lies in the role they can play as a perspective for the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain and we therefore hope that this document will initiate a debate within the Marxist-Leninist movement on the concrete issues faced by us.
In Summer 1969 the ideological and political standpoints on most basic questions facing the revolutionary movement in Britain at the time were stated by the Joint Committee of Communists, the forerunner of the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in a document entitled ’Marxist Leninist Movement in Britain: Origins and Perspectives’. The document sought to place the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain within its recent historical context and to point the direction for future development. Analysing the concrete conditions, it examined the fragmentation of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain and argued that only by acknowledging the actual state of the movement can an understanding of the possible path of unity and progress be grasped.
In the CFB we have come to the position of recognising the struggle for a political programme for the British revolution as the struggle to build the party itself. We maintain that for too long we have held the incorrect view that the programmatic work is something that is to be and can be separated from the task of party-building and time is somehow not ’ripe’ for such work. Rejecting this erroneous view, we now place the development of a programme and the programme itself in the centre of all our activities. It is not enough to recognise that unity can only be achieved through struggles. It is more important to understand that struggles must be, carried out systematically, and this can only be done round the concept of a programme. The present document is the first step towards it.
3. Without a correct world view of revolutionary development no organisation can pursue correct policies in its own country. In this, as in all other spheres of work, the correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything. Our own general line on the present international situation is based on recognition of the four main contradictions in the world today. These are:
1 between the oppressed nations on the one hand and imperialism and Soviet revisionism on the other
2 between the proletariat and bourgeoisie in the capitalist and between the proletariat and new ruling forces in the revisionist countries
3 between the imperialist and Soviet revisionist and among the imperialist countries
4 between socialist countries on the one hand and imperialism and Soviet revisionism on the other.
4. The key feature of a real understanding of the world today is that since the beginning of the imperialist era, imperialism has been the main enemy of the world’s peoples. Towards the end of the 19th century, capitalism due to the development of its productive forces and the surplus value at its disposal turned to the export of capital in its inherent drive for maximum profit. This introduced the era of super profit and imperialism to the world.
5. Throughout the 20th century collusion and contention have characterised the relations between different imperialist powers in the continual striving of each to extend its own sphere of domination. The early domination of British imperialism began to decline rapidly following the 1914-18 War and by 1945 it had given place to the domination of US imperialism. The Russian Revolution of 1917 challenged the imperialist domination of power in the world and created a base for the extension of the democratic and proletarian revolutions.
6. During recent years imperialism has further concentrated its finances and power through the development of the multinational corporations. Also it is rapidly changing its form from colonialism to neo-colonialism. Another new and complex development in economic relations between the countries is resulting from the economic changes that are taking place as the revisionist Soviet Union continually degenerates.
7. In terms of active military involvement the US remains the most aggressive enemy of the peoples of the world. REFERRED. Its developed resources, its overseas financial assets, are still many times greater than any other state. Its active counter-revolutionary role in the world is as naked as ever. Its huge subversive organisations are daily busy planning and organising aggressions, interference or control in small or militarily weak nations. US intervention, covert and overt, has been responsible for the overthrow of governments like those of Iran (’53), Guatemala (’54), Indonesia (’65), Greece (’67), Cambodia (’70) and Chile (’73). US imperialism remains determined to export counter-revolution.
8. The next most powerful state in the world is the USSR. The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought in the era of Socialist revolutions. Today the policies of the Soviet leaders are directed against the oppressed-nations and the world’s revolutionary forces. The foreign policies of the Soviet Union today closely approach those of an imperialist country. The pre-existing economic and political agreements with the East European countries have changed into unequal relations as indicated by the doctrine of ’limited sovereignty’ which followed the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the ’socialist international division of labour’. The Comecon, from being an organisation of mutual assistance and co-operation, has become an exploitative instrument in the hands of the Soviet Union, characterised by its aid and trade policies. These policies include tying aid to the purchase of Soviet goods, often of inferior quality, and insistence on fixed period interest-bearing loans. In these, and in the tri-continental countries, the Soviet leaders have conducted policies that fit them to Lenin’s description of the Second International leaders as ’Social Imperialists’. The reluctance of the Soviet Union to supply arms to the Palestinians to re-establish their national rights, accompanied by vacillations and manoeuvres in Middle East politics, refusal to recognise the legitimate Government of Cambodia led by Sihanouk until the latter’s victory became certain, are clear indications of the Soviet backing of the national liberations struggles only to the extent that they can control and divert them. The relative increase in supplies of arms to North Vietnam after the mid-sixties was thus to check the fast deterioration in Soviet-North Vietnam relationship, and was meant to exert pressure on the latter. The 20-year Indo-Soviet treaty is a military pact, the nature and extent of which has hardly any parallel in the tri-continent. While realising this basic change in the Soviet foreign policy, we must recognise that we are theoretically inadequate in this area until we have a fuller understanding of how this happened and until, we have developed a class analysis of the present Soviet state and have examined closely the specific structure of its political economy.
9. Politically, the US and the USSR play the same role. The US is undoubtedly in a much better position to export counterrevolution directly and through puppet regimes, while the active military involvement of the USSR is restricted at the moment to certain areas of the world only. However, the ideological effect of Soviet revisionism acts as counter-revolutionary force against progressive movements throughout the world, while the USSR is posing as their ally. Thus, strategically the two combined are the main enemies of the world’s peoples. Tactically, one or the other will be the dominant hostile force depending on the specific situation in different countries and areas of the world. It will be adventurism not to take note of the specific strength that the US possesses, and it will be opportunism if we choose to depict the Soviet Union as merely a country ’betraying’ the world’s revolutionary forces.
10. The objective weaknesses of imperialism in general, and the US in particular, are today more pronounced than ever. Following the 1939-45 War, increasing’ areas of the world were removed from the imperialist orbit. National liberation struggles have dealt great blows to imperialism. Rivalries between imperialist powers are intense, and trade and currency wars are increasingly featuring in their relations. The ’dollar empire’ received a considerable blow with the ending of dollar-gold convertibility, in August 1971, while such pacts as SEATO and CENTO have become considerably weak. This decline has been reflected in the inability of the US to control fully the UN over the past few years. In this situation the crisis ridden US administration has been increasingly unable to cope with the rising struggles of its own people who play an important part in the anti-Vietnam war movement. In the immediate sense the US is still a real tiger, but its essentially paper nature becomes clearer year by year.
11. In the epoch of the collapse of imperialism the fate of the Soviet revisionism cannot be any better than that of the US. The treacherous role that Soviet revisionism plays is being increasingly recognised by the peoples of the world.
12. Since the last war the main revolutionary struggles in the world have developed in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In China, North Korea and North Vietnam, socialism is being constructed after victorious people’s wars against foreign and domestic reaction. National liberation struggles continue in the southern part of Vietnam, in Laos and in Cambodia. The heroic fight of the Indochinese peoples to expel the US aggressors and smash domestic reaction had a great influence on revolutionary developments all over the world. These successes have yet again proved that it is not economic or military might that always succeeds, but the poor or small nations can defeat aggression when their cause is just.
13. Similar struggles are developing against British, Portuguese and white South African colonialism in the continent of Africa. Recently, people’s wars in Guinea Bissau reached an important new stage with the defeat of the Portuguese army and the declaration of a sovereign and independent republic. In a number of countries in different parts of the world, armed struggle is developing against local reactionary ruling classes. These experiences continually illustrate the correctness of Mao Tse-Tung’s dictum that ’political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’.
14. The growth of democratic and revolutionary forces has assumed a significant level in South Asia. The fight of the Bengali people against the West Pakistani-military dictatorship was welcomed in our resolution in October 1971. The struggle has not succeeded in achieving national selfdetermination, due to the comprador bourgeois leadership of the struggle, as we pointed out in the resolution. However, the revolutionary forces who carried a parallel struggle for democracy and advance to socialism have continued their fight with opposition to Indian expansionism and Soviet revisionism.
15. The struggles in the tricontinent are going through different stages, led by different developing leaderships, ranging from Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries to bourgeois nationalists. Insofar as all these struggles demonstrate a growing awareness of the nature of imperialism and a desire by the masses to improve their conditions; we support them. This support will encourage the working class in its fight for hegemony in the anti-imperialist movement.
16. Although popular struggles have had enormous successes, they have also suffered a few defeats as well. The tragic events of East Bengal (now Bangladesh), Sri Lanka and Chile teach many lessons by negative examples. As part of the international communist movement, we have the right and duty to criticise and condemn the leaderships responsible. We wholeheartedly extend our support to the people in their struggle against repressive regimes in their countries. Such events necessitate the furthering of our understanding of the variable roles of the bourgeoisie through the studies of the policies of revolutionary organisations within these countries.
17. Studies on the role of the ’national bourgeoisie’ will help to understand why many tri-continental countries today proclaim neutrality and claim to tread the path of nonalignment. Though the final defeat of imperialism in these countries is decided by the victory of the working class and its strategic allies, nevertheless the progressive or vacillating roles of sections of the bourgeoisie, which creates problems for the US and the Soviet power-blocs in their attempts to control policies of these semi-colonial countries, are of tactical importance. We must remember in this respect that in the semi feudal and semi- capitalist countries the social stratification is more complex than that of advanced countries like Britain. Unlike Britain, where the principal contradiction is between capital and labour, in the tri-continental countries the conflict of these two most antagonistic classes has not yet come to the fore. In these countries there, are a number of contradictions, with different class alignments and while all contradictions, in the long run, are reduced to that between capital and labour, due attentions are to be paid to other contradictions so as to bring about the major class conflict onto the surface.
18. So we welcome the opposition of any tri-continental countries, temporarily away from, alignment with either of the superpowers weakening the latter’s supremacy in the UN in such regional bodies as the OAS, and the general moves to strengthen state sovereignty as illustrated in the campaigns to protect fishing and mineral, rights of the medium and small maritime nations. Imperialism is to be defeated by the broadest possible united front of all progressive people. In this united front, the vacillating sections of the bourgeoisie have a temporary and limited role to play as, distinguished from the role of the workers, peasants and patriotic middle classes which have a long term, strategic aspect. The UN today provides a useful forum for anti-imperialist propaganda, though it cannot be used as an instrument for the objective expression of the will of the peoples of the world.
19. National liberation struggles are rapidly exacerbating the inherent contradictions of monopoly capitalism and imperialism. The repeated currency crises, trade wars, accelerating export of capital, are manifestations of these contradictions. An important by-product of capitalist rivalry and crisis is the weakening of the post-war agreements which resulted in the formation of NATO. Britain, the one-time prime imperialist power, finds itself more and more under attack. It has joined the EEC in an attempt to increase the rate of profit on its investments at home and abroad. Membership of the Common Market goes hand in hand with the intensified attack upon the rights and conditions of the British working class and as such we have and we will continue to oppose Britain’s entry.
20. British membership of the EEC and the weakening of the ’special relationship’ with the US-illustrates the nature of the new contradictions developing between the US and West European states. The evolution of the independent foreign policy of French governments follows the end of the Fourth Republic, demonstrated by their pressures to reject ’dollar imperialism’ and US nuclear hegemony has been a positive factor in lessening US dominance over West European capitalist powers. The plan of the EEC countries to form their own super-state in an attempt to become a third superpower creates difficult problems for the US and the USSR. The working class in Britain can take advantage of these rivalries between the imperialists and capitalists, as such developments will not only weaken the main enemies of the world’s peoples, but also these create contradictions amongst the bourgeoisie groups in Britain.
21. The world crisis of capitalism represented as clearly within the EEC as elsewhere by commodity overproduction and monetary instability makes international capitalist cooperation imperative but unstable. The paternalistic and counter-revolutionary notion that British workers need ruling class internationalism in order to develop working class internationalism must be rejected.
22. The invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet revisionism marked a new phase in the political developments of Eastern Europe. The dictatorship of the proletariat had never been consolidated in Eastern Europe, the process of degeneration here is much faster than that of the Soviet Union. The new ruling forces are divided among themselves, differing in their attitude towards Moscow with an increasingly strong tendency for independence from it. Stresses can be observed operating upon the Warsaw Pact, but as yet Soviet control is still considerable. However, the independent policies of countries like Romania have aided similar pressures for change in other East European countries as evidenced in the recent Helsinki preparatory talks for the planned ’European Security Conference’. These divisions among the east European revisionists are to be encouraged to the extent they create problems for themselves and for the Soviet leaders, but we should not confuse these developments with working-class advance.
23. In the fight against imperialism the revolutionary people of the socialist countries have a vital role to play. By consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat they are able to best oppose the class enemies. In the forefront of the socialist camp are China and Albania. Both are consolidating the dictatorship of the proletariat through continuing the class struggle. In China this has taken the exemplary form of the Cultural Revolution.
24. It is the duty of the Socialist camp – consisting of Albania, China, North Korea and North Vietnam – to extend moral and material support, as appropriate, to the people fighting for national liberation and socialism. Strategically, the internal contradictions are prime and therefore tactical attitudes towards bourgeois states must serve the interests of the internal progressive forces. The dictatorship of the proletariat in the socialist countries allows additional opportunities to fight world reaction on a diplomatic level, although at all times aid and diplomacy are an auxiliary form of struggle. The Vietnamese comrades have amply demonstrated how to combine political, military, and diplomatic struggles. The vacillating bourgeois states join the united front with the socialist countries to ’exploit’ the contradictions between the superpowers in their own class interests. The socialist states must use these diplomatic gains, however temporary, for revolutionary advance forcing the ruling class to retreat further from their class positions. Aid and diplomacy help to heighten internal class contradictions if the benefits of these are experienced by the masses.
25. The contradictions which may appear, from time to time between the diplomatic struggles of the proletariat states and the political struggles of the proletariat outside such states are non-antagonistic.
26. The aggressive and counterrevolutionary policies of US imperialism and Soviet revisionism are bound to fail. The national democratic and socialist revolutionary movements, the two great historical currents of our time, complement each other and together with all round support from the socialist countries constitute the main elements of the international strategy against imperialism.
27. Certain positive lessons can be learnt from the break-up of the international communist movement in the 50s and 60s. One feature of these has been to underline the primary responsibility each communist organisation has for making its own analysis and developing suitable forms of struggle against its immediate ruling class. But because the communist movement cannot be but internationalist the policies and political records of all Marxist-Leninist organisations must be open to questioning and criticism while developing closer and closer links between them. Such development requires full equality of the organisations irrespective of their size, and frank exchange of views in a fraternal manner.
28. In recent years some aspects of Chinese foreign policy have caused concern within the CFB. We raised with the CPC questions relating to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and more particularly the British Marxist-Leninist movement. Unfortunately we have had no reply from the CPC, nor has there been any analysis published by the Chinese comrades on the recent developments in their foreign policy.
29. The world Marxist-Leninist forces have not developed as rapidly as seemed probable in the 1960s. Splits and divisions have occurred, where opportunities seemed to exist for the creation of national Marxist-Leninist parties.
30. However, these events have demonstrated that revolutionary parties cannot be successfully formed on a basis of anti-revisionism alone, but they require the conscious assimilation and application of the living science of Marxist-Leninism. Where these lessons have been learnt, the last decade has provided invaluable experience for the completion of the world’s revolution.
31. Britain’s decline to a second-class imperialist force after World War Two has led her to seek a form of parity with the two super-powers through the EEC, see para.20. Though this develops a contradiction with them, Britain still requires the help of US imperialism to neutralise any future challenge from the USSR and Comecon.
32. A complex pattern of conflict and coIIusion between Britain and the superpowers is seen in the redistributed spheres of influence in the tri-Continental countries. While the US and the USSR contend to take over the colonies and the neo-colonies of Britain, she cooperates with the US against the USSR on national liberation struggles.
33. The main enemy of the working class and its allies is British imperialism. Our present stage therefore is one of building the forces and leadership for the Socialist Revolution, to overthrow and smash the present state machine, and institute the dictatorship of the proletariat led by a Marxist-Leninist party with the correct political policies for working class advance. In the present situation with communist forces still weak and inexperienced our first priority is to draw clear lines of demarcation between correct and incorrect political tendencies, develop our mass work, and above all build the CFB as a prerequisite for forming a Communist Party. (See Sections D and E).
34. The decreasing strength of the British ruling class is now to a large extent masked by the weakness of the revolutionary movement in Britain. Economically and politically the British ruling class is in a crisis which is not only part of the general world crisis of capitalism, and, imperialism. Since 1945 Britain’s force as an imperialist power has drastically declined and, there have been many important changes in the economy, until today Britain’s stands as a second class imperialist power in the world. The British ruling class owns some of the most outdated and least profitable means of production; a situation that is exacerbated, try its dependence on international trade. However, it still has considerable foreign investment and international financial power which partly disguises its decline. Britain’s crumbling traditional heavy industry base is unable to withstand foreign competition, and the rise of new industries necessitates rapid restructuring if profits are to be maintained, let alone increased. The British ruling class is thus faced with the problem of capital necessary for the new industrial sector being still mainly concentrated in the older heavy industrial sector. The consequences of the changes outlined in this para. Have not been analysed by the Marxist-Leninist movement, and should be regarded as an urgent task for the CFB.
35. In this crisis the ruling class is increasingly forced to mount attacks on workers living standards and democratic rights. Instead of wages being determined in localised struggles between each employer and those he employs, the State is now playing a growing part in attempting to control this process. As a result of both so-called ’industrial relations’ laws and prices and income policies, the working class is facing a combined and direct attack from the individual, employer and the State machine. Such developments of state monopoly capitalism again raise the threat of fascism.
At the same time it causes increasing contradictions within the ruling class, teaches important lessons to the people about state power and helps destroy illusions about the potential of reforming capitalism. At times however, the British ruling class still uses its other tactic, that of liberalism of reforms and concessions, to confuse and disarm the people. This deceives a section of the workers and is an important cause of reformism and revisionism within the working class movement.
36. A growing number of workers are seeing through the facade of bourgeois parliamentary democracy and are seeking an alternative although as yet not on a politically conscious level. Workers’ struggles for the protection and improvement of living standards and working conditions against the encroachments of capitalism are predominant despite the TUC’s class collaboration and concern for the capitalist economy, the open acquiescence of most trade union leadership’s to antiunion legislation and policies of deliberate conciliation proposed by labour politicians. These apparently economic struggles necessarily become a political struggle against the wealthy minority of landlords, industrialists and financiers and their tail of administrators, lawyers etc., who own and control industry in Britain today. Miners, hospital workers, building workers and others have resisted wage freeze restraints, suffered arrest and imprisonment in defiance of ruling-class law. As state institutions and the media, backed up by the judiciary and police attack workers’ rights and organisations, there is developing awareness that political power is the organised use of force by one class in order to keep another class in subjection.
37. Its history as the first capitalist ruling class and the first imperialist power largely determines its present position. Similarly the ideology and politics produced during this period of world dominance had a considerable effect in weakening the Working class, and its allies in Britain. This is demonstrated in a tendency towards chauvinism and racism which is being used increasingly in ruling class propaganda and legislation such as the Immigration. Act, to oppress racial minorities and attempt to develop dangerous divisions in the working class. A fragmented trade union movement, together with reformist social democratic politics, still forms a major obstacle to revolutionary change. It is also important to combat the sexist attitude deeply rooted at all levels in considering any revolutionary advance of the British working class. Although sexism discrimination, oppression and exploitation based solely on difference of sex is not a direct product of imperialist ideology, the latter strengthens women’s oppression and exploitation through all its institutions and uses the myth of women’s inferiority to divide the working class.
38. The main political representation of this social-democratic tradition is the Labour Party. Formed by certain trade unions to negotiate for them in Parliament this relationship between the two main reformist forces has not changed since then in any qualitative way. This organisation, which has mass working class support is nevertheless a bourgeois party. The constitution of the party claims control from below, but it has been amply proved that the rank and file have virtually no control over the decision making process. Undoubtedly the, Labour Party is just another executor of capitalism, duping the workers with its socialist phraseology, which is in essence reformist and corporatist. Our tactics and strategy towards it should be worked out in this light and bearing in mind, the recent exacerbations of the contradiction between the Labour, rank and file and trade unionists on the one hand, caused by the Industrial Relations Act, Housing Finance Act Wage Freezes, and the Labour Party’s leadership’s openly opportunist stance on such issues – .i.e opposing them in words but supporting the ruling class in the name of upholding the constitution. These are the same issues which have forced the TU leadership, under pressure from the rank and file to voice the contradictions within the Labour Party in order to maintain their own facade of solidarity with working class interests. We must not allow workers to be, taken in by the forced face-saving ’shift to the left’ of the Labour Party. We must point out that the nationalisation proposed by the Labour Party is no real shift to the left as the industries come under the control of the bourgeois state. This does not mean control by the people, but more effective control by the bourgeoisie.
39. The revolutionary tendency that was demonstrated by the formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGP) was never fully realised in the creation of a revolutionary strategy for the British working class. The final authority of the Communist International had certain attractions for the immediate post-war period when a European Soviet Republic was expected to be won within months or at the most a very few years. But when this failed to materialise the British Party, like many others was left high and dry dependent for its strategy and at times even its tactics on the decisions of international meetings. “Self reliance”, the objective corollary of building Socialism in one country, was never practised because of a false view of internationalism. ’Self-reliance’ in this context means creating an ideologically mature and expert cadre-force capable of applying Marxism-Leninism to British conditions and an effective ’leadership to give optimum support for decided policy. By the end of the Second World War the CPGB had degenerated to the state where it tailed behind the mass social-democratic movement, an unwelcome militant but essentially reformist junior partner to the Labour Party.
40. The present political situation is a direct product of this experience. The CPGB in effect blames its reformist politics on the working class with almost classical revisionist opportunism that workers have to be ’won’ to vote left as a precondition to further advance. At the same time these politics of gradualist advance lead to the economist belief that industrial struggles provide the experience which will lead to revolutionary political change. The CPGB is characterised by dogmatism in the political defence of its programme and bureaucracy in its style of work both towards people within the Party who disagree with the Party and those outside the Party. The programme itself – ’British Road to Socialism’ – revises the Marxist-Leninist teachings–that the bourgeois state must be smashed and cannot be used in the construction of Socialism under a dictatorship of the proletariat. It is only a hypothetical blueprint for what might happen when a ’left’ Labour/CPGB government comes into being. While the CPGB is a relatively powerful paper organisation we should bear in mind that some members are active communists engaged in day-to-day struggles and are at times extremely critical of the ’British Road’. It is to these comrades, perhaps long made cynical by revisionist politics and methods of work, that we should direct part of our attention.
41. A section of the antirevisionists movement has, in a distorted form, produced its own variant of revisionism. The Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPB (M-L)) appears to believe that political theory can only be developed when the masses are ready. What ever their differences with the CPGB, their methods of manipulation, their attempt to mechanically impose a leadership on the movement, and a thorough going economism, are all hallmarks of British revisionism. Especially evident in their approach is the incorrect equation of economic and political struggle, notably, their ’comparisons’ between the inevitable, continuous and disconnected wage battles in factories and the conscious political strategy of guerrilla war developed by the Chinese and Vietnamese comrades.
42. In contrast, with both the revisionist: CPGB and, the distorted anti-revisionism of the CPB (ML) are the various Trotskyist tendencies. These groups have an incorrect understanding of the role of a revolutionary vanguard party, believing that such a vanguard will in itself transform a crisis of capitalism into a revolutionary situation and the seizure of state power. The International Marxist Group and International Socialism move rapidly from one struggle to another in search for a slogan or a new form of movement which will convince the masses that the time for ’revolutionary leadership’ is ripe. The IS have recently been concentrating efforts into economist, work in factory and shop floor organisations, and, have therefore submerged the overall political and cultural struggle into a desperate search for decisive strike action. The Socialist Labour League, similar to IS in its industrial orientation, has adopted a political and organisational form which mirrors the bureaucracy and commandism they simultaneously attack in the revisionist CP. In relation to the principal conflicts in the world today – the national liberation struggles in the tri-continent – the Trotskyists find themselves in a dilemma as they follow Trotsky’s ’Permanent Revolution’ which rejects the concept of the democratic stage of revolution explain the nature of the revolutionary movements in these countries, and when they attempt to analyse these movements the ’Stalinist’ leadership has to be made to be seen selling out the movement. The growth of the various Trotskyist groups indicates an increasing acceptance by some advanced elements of the working class and their allies of the need for revolutionary politics but the inevitably self-defeating nature of the Trotskyist analysis results in discouragement and apathy amongst militants who have seen their tactics and policies fail. There is an urgent need to recruit such cadres into the discipline of a Marxist-Leninist approach to militant action. In order to aid such recruitment it will be necessary to undertake a thorough analysis of the Trotskyist movement.
43. We for our part must draw demarcation lines between ourselves and these ’left’ and right opportunist trends. We recognise that the creation of a revolutionary strategy and the building of a Communist Party is a protracted struggle. It demands an understanding that, while the creation of revolutionary theory is an essential and present task whatever the state of the movement, the development of a mass revolutionary movement itself can only come from the testing of this theory in mass struggles. Working class revolutionary consciousness and the Party can only develop dialectically as the experience of the Russian and Chinese revolutions demonstrates. Mass consciousness and correct leadership cannot be posed one against the other as if they are independent factors.
44. More specifically, social democracy can only be effectively combated and destroyed by consistently posing alternative policies which start from a realistic assessment of the present stage. We do not and must not condone or accept present illusions, but our political organisational and tactical policies must be effective in mobilising workers and their allies, and must not be geared to some desirable future state of affairs.
45. Only by grasping this dialectic between freedom and necessity, between policy and objective reality, can we both avoid the error of tailism on the one hand, and on the other the left sectarian error of the ’revolutionary phrase’, which however superb and intoxicating will only condemn us to irrelevance. This section demonstrates that our understanding of the British situation is extremely vague. There has been no assessment of the changes in the structural and economic base of British industry since the war, or of the changing class structure of British society. Despite a developing crisis within capitalism and movement towards corporatism, we have not assessed the changing nature of the British state. In the absence of such assessments this document is of limited guidance to the activists and militants of the Labour movement. Indeed, the document reflects the weaknesses of the revolutionary movement and shows the vital theoretical and practical tasks that have to be carried out in the coming period. Our central aim, therefore, must be to overcome the weaknesses in order to develop a revolutionary policy. In this way only can we play our part in challenging and finally destroying the decadent and moribund system of British imperialism.