The Marxist-Leninist Movement in Britain: Origins and Perspectives
Joint Committee of Communists: Statement on the Question of Party Building

First Published: The Marxist, Number 12, Autumn 1969
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Introduction to the June 1972 Reprint:

’Origins and Perspectives’ was first published in Summer 1969 by the Joint Committee of Communists, the forerunner of the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). It sought to place the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain within its recent historical context and to point the direction for future development. In an analysis of concrete conditions it examines the fragmentation of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain, and argues that only by acknowledging the actual state of the movement can an understanding of the possible path of unity and progress be grasped. With the clear and unequivocal aim of socialist revolution and transformation in Britain, ’Origins and Perspectives ’ calls for the formation of a Marxist-Leninist Party on a sound basis.

The analysis put forward in the document shows the two distinct and opposing lines on the question of Party-building. One line calls for the creation of a ’centre’, self-defined and self-proclaimed. This line argues that such a ’centre’ will gather around it revolutionary forces, and that these forces will produce a correct policy and style of work. The second line argues that the development of the movement requires opposition to such’centralism’. The autonomous and disparate nature of groups has to be overcome in the fight for a Marxist-Leninist party. This autonomy and disparity is not ’accidental’. Its causes have to be recognised and a complex struggle carried on, first for subjective, and then objective, unity on a solid political basis. Further fragmentation is the fruit of any other approach, with the unnecessary obstruction of political and organisational development.

It can be clearly seen that whereas one line gives organisation and leadership a superior status to ideological analysis, policy and the discovery and development of correct methods of work; the second adopts an opposite approach. This correct line places politics firmly in command and states that leadership and organisation can develop only from the actual experience of building policy and applying the mass line.

An understanding of, and agreement with this analysis enabled the component Marxist-Leninist groups of the Joint Committee of Communist in September 1969 to form the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist. This meant the adoption of a new constitution and a development in the political relations between the groups. A transition was made from the level of simple subjective unity that had formerly characterised the member groups. A Federation Committee with power to implement decisions agreed unanimously was constituted on the basis of one delegate from each group. The Committee was able to successfully undertake the task of publishing our monthly paper Struggle, the first issue appearing in December 1969.

Supporting the strengthened Committee, quarterly ’General Meetings’ were instituted. These sought to ensure maximum participation in policy making. Agreement on policy in one area was the object of the discussions of the greatest possible number of members at these meetings. Each meeting is preceded by study and preparation on the part of the groups. The preparation of documents and resolutions seeks to summarise agreements and differences during the preparatory period.

This approach to policy seeks to involve the whole membership in an exercise of mutual help and education, and is an essential part of our approach to revolutionary politics. We hold that the fight for a common C.F.B.(M.L.) political line is a fight for the Party. Elementary analysis clearly indicates that no strategy exists yet for socialist revolution in Britain. Without this strategy a ’Party’ is only a name, and no such organisation can claim to be the vanguard of the working class. Strategy involves direction and makes possible correct tactics. A ’vanguard’ without direction is a tragic nonsense.

The publication of Struggle has strengthened the C.F.B.(M.L.) numerically, organisationally and politically. It has been a weapon in the fight against ’small group mentality’. Struggle itself has improved politically and technically, and although there is room for more improvement, it has won respect from many outside the ranks of the Federation. It has assisted the Federation in the formulation and development of policy in particular areas of work, and has thus, we know, assisted those involved in work in a number of fields. In its turn, the Federation and Struggle have received criticism, support and advice as a result of the ever-widening readership. We regard this mutual relationship as most valuable, and its development is a key factor in our style of work. As stated in ’Origins and Perspectives’ we do not believe that a successful approach to theory and policy is possible without active organisational engagement in practical work.

We also reject the view that political work needs little or no theory. The development of the Federation resulting from the publication of Struggle and other political work enabled us to have a successful first Special General Meeting in April 1971. Lengthy and thorough discussion of our experience convinced comrades that the time was now ripe for the publication of a C.F.B.(M.L.)theoretical journal. This would fill a long-felt need in our work and organisation and assist further the development of ideological and political clarity. The new theoretical journal of the C.F.B.(M.L.), Marxist-Leninist Quarterly, has now been published.

At the same meeting steps were taken to ensure greater centralism and efficiency in our political development. A common group constitution, adopted by all member groups, was agreed to replace the former individual constitutions. Substantial amendments were made to sections of the Federation Constitution, replacing a required unanimous vote by a two-thirds majority vote as a prerequisite to policy action by the Federation Committee. Delegates to the Federation Committee were given the duty of seeking the full support of their groups for decisions of the Federation Committee. These developments enabled a sharper struggle against ’small group mentality’ to be mounted and underlined the growing leadership of the Federation Committee. The need for such leadership had emerged and come to be seen in the common political work and problems of the groups.

A listing of the developments of our Federation does not indicate a lack of weaknesses and problems, or a lack of awareness of them on our part. We are dedicated to the formation of a Party equipped with a clear political strategy and tested methods of work. Our ability to perceive and resolve our problems and weaknesses will contribute to that goal. Seeking a political understanding of the basis and nature of revolutionary organisation in our concrete conditions we are increasingly applying our understanding of Marxist philosophy and political economy, on the one hand, and applying and consolidating this understanding in the investigation of particular problems, on the other. Here then is no piecemeal cataloguing of ’areas’, but attention paid to the particular within the context of a broader understanding. Our study, discussion and practice are more and more being brought within this framework) though this is no easy task. Questions confronting the international communist movement such as social imperialism and the foreign policy of socialist countries and issues such as the Irish struggle, trade unions and social democracy are being treated in this way. We do not seek or boast of instant decisions and do not content ourselves with meaningless and useless, generalisations. We fully acknowledge the difficulties inherent in our approach, while steadfastly maintaining it to be the only correct one.

Progress in the work of building a revolutionary working-class strategy in turn brings about the conditions for increased unity and organisational growth. It is not possible for Marxist-Leninists to divide their work, achievements and mistakes into ’organisational’ and ’political’ categories. The essence of our approach is the interrelation of the two; politics must command organisation, but there can be no revolutionary politics without organisation. We are confident of the correctness of our approach and our increasing ability to play a key part in the formation of a genuine vanguard Party of the British working class.

The Marxist-Leninist Movement in Britain: Origins and Perspectives

THE MAIN AIM of this statement is to place the present situation in the Marxist-Leninist movement within its recent historical context. By doing this an explanation of the fragmentation which characterises it becomes possible. It is only by understanding this fragmentation that the correct policy for building a disciplined revolutionary Party can be constructed. The Joint Committee of Communists (JCC) was formed as this statement describes in April 1967 and by definition could only at that time represent the necessary initial stage of subjective unity. Recent lengthy discussions within the organisation led to the analysis which follows, and this, together with the joint work and struggle over the past two years or so now enables the growing objective unity that is developing within the JCC. To aid in the understanding of this process a previous statement on Party-building is appended.

We hope then that these two documents make clear that there are two significant lines on Party-building. One is that a centre has to be created first, self-defined and self-proclaimed. Around this centre it is argued that revolutionary cadres will gather and a policy and a correct method of work will emerge. Against this the JCC has posed the necessity of recognising the autonomous nature of the groups which exist and through joint work create an objective unity which will lead to the formation of a firmly based democratic centralist Communist Party. Thus in one, leadership and organisation precede ideological analysis, policy and methods of work. In the second politics is in command and it is understood that leadership and organisation can only develop from the practical experience of constructing a policy and applying the mass line.

THE ROOTS OF REVISIONISM lie deep in the past and have grown gradually, so that many comrades have become aware of its existence and dangers only over a long period in the light of experience. The intention here is to provide an explicit formulation as to the origin and development of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain.

Deep ideological battles have been waged from the days of Marx and Engels. As the Chinese comrades have made clear, these battles will continue throughout the era of Socialism, while classes and class struggle remain. In order to establish and consolidate Socialism and bring about Communism the proletariat must defend its interests against all anti-Socialist forces and classes. Since revisionism takes many forms, sometimes subtle, it is necessary to judge each situation, each ideological concept, strictly on the basis of what class interest it serves.

In 1956 at the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU, Khrushchev precipitated political conflicts that had long been simmering, and accelerated the development of revisionism which had led to the rapid deteriation of the socialist position in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. On the pretext of opposing the ’personality cult’ Khrushchev launched a full scale attack on Stalin, completely negating his role in the period of socialist construction and the fight against Fascism. This anti-Stalin platform was actually the cover for an offensive against many of the basic propositions of Marxism-Leninism. It was claimed that in the Soviet Union the dictatorship of the proletariat had outlived its usefulness.

The usurpation of proletarian power by a new type of bourgeoisie was presented by the revisionists as the beginning of an era of socialism without class struggle or contradiction. Khrushchev proclaimed the establishment of a ’State of the Whole People’ and claimed that the CPSU had become a party of the whole people.

With these fundamentally anti-Leninist concepts the renegades in the Soviet leadership sought to disguise their betrayal of Socialism. Reformist notions of ’peaceful transition to socialism’ and a class-collaborationist version of ’peaceful co-existence’ became enshrined as the main feature of the Soviet revisionists’ general line for the international movement. The Twentieth and 22nd Congresses of the CPSU attempted to force these theories on all other Communist Parties. The ’unity’ envisaged by the revisionists demanded unquestioning acceptance of Moscow’s leadership, i.e. capitulation to revisionism, which was rightly seen by the CPC as the first step to capitulation to imperialism. Herein lie the roots of the present-day social imperialism of the Soviet leaders with their theories of ’international dictatorship’ and ’limited sovereignty’.

On Peaceful Co-existence

The hypocrisy of the revisionist distortion of Lenin’s theory of peaceful co-existence became clear when the Soviet leaders supported the introduction of UN troops into the Congo, resulting in the murder of Patrice Lumumba. Revolutionaries were again shocked when the Soviet leadership pursued bourgeois adventurist power politics in Cuba. This was followed by humiliating withdrawal in the face of nuclear blackmail and by the agreement struck between Mikoyan and U Thant over the heads of the Cubans for the introduction into Cuba of UN ’observors’. Other examples from among many are the Soviet sale of MIG fighter planes to India at the time of that country’s aggression against socialist China; the endorsement of the Evian agreements; the ideological, political and organisational disarmament of Iraqi Communists which led to the destruction of their Party; and the loans and other assistance given to the reactionary Indonesian regime at the very time it was massacring thousands of Communists. In Vietnam there has been the use of the cheap slogan, ’Peace in Vietnam’, to hide the reality of betrayal.

The Lenin-Stalin concept of liquidating war through the liquidation of imperialism is turned on its head in the revisionist formulation of victory through economic competition with imperialism. All the exploited peoples of the world are to wait passively until the glorious day when Soviet wealth will convince everyone of the virtue of Socialism.

In this way nuclear war will be averted, and in the meantime all ’little wars’ of national liberation which could lead to bigger wars must be avoided. The CCP has earned the vilification of both the Soviet revisionists and the US imperialists by exposing such opportunism and pointing out that although tactically US imperialism is a ’real tiger’, strategically it is a ’paper tiger’. Thus the more one fears the imperialists and their blackmail the more arrogant and dangerous they become: the surest guarantee of peace lies in the success of wars of national liberation.

On Peaceful Transition

’Peaceful transition’ to Socialism based as it is on the revisionist theory of a neutral or malleable State was proclaimed in ’The British Road to Socialism’. It presupposes that, first, the enemy can be neutralised through elections; second, that the enemy will later accept defeat after ’unity of the Left’ has ensured a parliamentary majority.

This departure from Marxism-Leninism led for example in India’s Kerala to the complete fiasco of the elected Communist Government easily deposed by the reactionary Congress National Government. In Brazil and Greece the reactionary cliques who have seized control have been systematically persecuting and trying to wipe out all opposition. In France and Italy, where the communist parties had grown in size and prestige during the anti-Fascist war, long years of revisionism have transformed these parties into social-democratic vote-seeking machines, today’s equivalents of the bankrupt parties of the 2nd International so roundly condemned by Lenin.

On US-USSR Collusion

From the 2Oth Congress onwards the class-collaborationist, anti-revolutionary character of revisionism became more evident with the increasingly close relations between the USA and the USSR. Both struggled to ensure a balance which would enable them to control the world situation by a division of the world into spheres of influence: a policy undoubtedly agreed at the Camp David talks. The real import of the phoney line of peaceful co-existence could be seen in such instances as the partial test-ban treaty and the treaty of non-proliferation -both designed to enforce a US /USSR nuclear monopoly; in the revisionist overtures to the imperialists proposing mutual co-operation for the establishment of a ’peace zone’ in Europe; and in the joint manoeuvres in the Middle East to protect oil interests and to quell the Palestinian liberation movement.

* * * *

Despite the continued use of Marxist terminology the line of the Soviet leadership should be seen as being no different from that churned out for years by the social democrats -socialism and peace in words -bourgeois dictatorship and imperialism in actions.

* * * *

However, a general understanding of modern revisionism was not constructed primarily in this country. Many comrades in Britain had been critical of what they regarded as mistakes in the policy of CPGB. The publication of ’The British Road to Socialism’ heralded by Harry Pollitt’s ’Looking Ahead’ had been criticised. The closing of factory branches and the organisation of ’The Party’ round electoral areas was seen as extremely dangerous. The attacks on Stalin and the consequent negation of the heroic struggles of the Soviet people to build Socialism against tremendous odds were external factors in the growing but fragmented opposition to the CPGB leadership.

But it was not until an international lead was given that conditions became subjectively conducive to an organisational grouping to fight against revisionism. The publication of ’Long Live Leninism’ by the Chinese comrades in 1960 and its rapid suppression here by the CPGB revisionists, the rabid, public attack by Khrushchev and his yes-men on Albania in 1961, and the publication in 1962 of a polemic against the French and Italian revisionists -a clear statement of policy on the part of the CPC – all of these were among the sparks which were to revitalise the international Communist movement. By re-establishing an ideological base, the Chinese and other comrades had given us the means to attain political clarity, and had thereby provided an organisational cement.

* * * *

It was in this situation in Britain that many comrades with quite varying histories, were brought together. The basis for unity lay in the recognition of the revisionist nature of the various political viewpoints outlined above, and a partial understanding of the ideological springs that were their source. ’Anti-revisionist’ rather than ’Marxist-Leninist’, in the sense of agreement to a joint political platform would not be an unfair way of characterising the movement at that time. The ideological, political, organisational and tactical polemics that were to follow (although this was not clearly seen at the time) were the only means by which the qualitative change could be achieved.

Several years later many debates and discussions, which in their time were pursued in a rigorous polemical manner, now appear to be redundant. One of the most important of these concerned the possibilities or otherwise of changing the CPGB. The alternative was to work outside it, expose it, and build a new Marxist-Leninist Party. In this regard Michael McCreery among others played a positive role from 1961 onwards, and by taking a firm and clear stand on this issue helped to win many comrades to the correct ideological line.

However, a lesson by negative example should be learned from many of the organisational steps taken by McCreery and those who supported him. Overemphasising and indeed distorting the role and possibilities of leadership, McCreery and his followers concentrated on the creation of a frame-work for which it was hoped grass-roots support could be won. ’Central Committees’ and absurd titles emerged and most anti-revisionists saw that these comrades were in this sense divorced from reality. Opportunists were attracted to these organisations and others genuinely seeking the political realities were repelled.

To some extent the disruption and splits that occurred in these organisations can be attributed to the low and inexperienced level of the movement. Subjectivism and the mistake of a wish for reality – a vice against which Lenin warned – played a very large part. By utilizing his own financial resources McCreery was able to prop up an organization and a journal which were in reality a sham. The danger of such a sham could be seen in the number of sincere people, both at home and abroad, who were deceived by it. That, however, does not lessen their fault which was in not investigating this situation more closely. Indeed it became apparent that McCreery and many of those working with him saw the process of building an organisation as being the provision of the framework, its acceptance at face-value, an influx of members, international recognition and thus a further strengthening. ’Recognition’ came to play an increasingly important part, and is still a large factor, in opportunist calculations today.

McCreery consistently ignored the fundamental steps necessary to build a Marxist-Leninist Party. These were not in the first place organisational, but follow the principled sequence established by the history and experience of Marxism-Leninism. Ideological unity proceeds to political unity and in our situation requires a rigorous analysis of the international movement. From this, organisational unity proceeds to tactical unity, on the basis of an analysis of the British movement in far greater depth than the anti-revisionist position has yet produced.

This lesson has still not been learned by many, and the negative example of the ’Committee to Defeat Revisionism for Communist Unity’ (CDRCU) has not yet been learned. Split has followed split, often on the basis of personality issues. The way was laid open for the infiltration of highly dubious and bourgeois elements.

* * * *

At the same time as the CDRCU was formed some comrades adopted a different method of approach. Instead of a centralised ’generals without soldiers’ organisation, they sought to build the anti-revisionist movement on the basis of the formation of groups throughout the country engaged in local work and political struggle. In contrast to many features of the CDRCU this was a healthy development. It was a recognition of the objective position with no inflated claims being made. These groups helped to overcome the passive non-creativeness of many comrades: a product of the bureaucratic inner party life of the CPGB.

Further, instead of the ’take-over’ mentality, an understanding emerged of the need to build co-operation between groups on the basis of mutual respect and adherence to principle.

But it must be recognised that negative factors also emerged. The great limitations and waste of working in isolation were often not recognised. Sometimes the desire to protect group organisation from opportunist interference and disruption, became an excuse to elevate autonomy to a level of sacred principle, inhibiting work and political development. Similarly, sectarianism found expression in inter-group conflicts which, although often based on genuine disagreements, sometimes resulted in exchanges of abuse and insults. Often the basis for real unity was ignored or undervalued.

More generally, sectarianism took the form of a refusal in practice to differentiate between the corrupt and anti-working class leadership and structure of organisations and their members. This can still be seen in relationship to the CPGB, the Labour Party, International Socialism etc. Another feature has been elevation of non-antagonistic contradictions to an antagonistic level: the continued inflation of minor tactical and organisational differences into issues of basic principle. Sometimes this sectarianism springs from and is reinforced by grossly incorrect analyses of the political situation in Britain. One such has been the claim that the British proletariat no longer exists. This sees the super-exploitation of imperialism as having corrupted the whole of the British working class. Such views can and must be shown to be incorrect.

From bilateral contacts and arrangements the formal recognition of the need for groups to work together came to be formulated. Some early experience which went from the extreme of sectarianism to that of liberalism, by seeking unity through ignoring real differences, also taught valuable lessons. On the basis of such experiences and centred round comrades engaged in anti-revisionist struggle within and outside the YCL, the JCC was created.

The approach here was for the groups involved to combine theory with practice and gain experience in political work in their localities. Industrial, tenants’ and students’ work in the localities was combined with attempts to co-operate nationally in the Britain Vietnam Solidarity Front (BVSF) and Friends of China, among others.

The theory here was to engage in joint work and study and the development of a programme which would lead through ideological, political, organisational and tactical unity to the formation of a Marxist-Leninist Party.

It is necessary to consider recent events in the JCC. These cannot just be ascribed to personality factors, for although this theory of Party-building was and is correct, it has recently been distorted. The prime example of this has been the attempt to turn the BVSF into a Party. The ’Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League’, for a short time a member group of the JCC, attempted to promote a strategy built solely around the issues of the national liberation struggle in Vietnam. Primarily because of its petty-bourgeois base it was (and is) unable to build up links with the working class or in any way develop the internal contradiction between Labour and Capital on which the proletarian revolution in Britain will be based. It also epitomised the ’leftist’ error of which Lin Piao reminds us: that is, one-sidedly pursuing struggle’ to the exclusion of ’unity’.

Two main lessons must be learned from the successful struggle against this sectarianism. Firstly we must be prepared to fight against both ’left’ and right deviations, within and outside the JCC and must regard these as a normal and essential part of our .political development. Secondly, while these struggles are necessary, great care must be taken to keep ’politics in command’ and not, under what-ever provocations, allow these to be conducted on the basis of the personalities involved. There was unfortunately in this recent struggle against sectarianism, an overemphasis on the style of work of the leftists which tended to obscure the main issue -that of their confusion between a policy for a united front and that for Party-building.

* * * *

Concurrent with the establishment and broadening of the JCC we have regrettably seen the failure to learn from past mistakes, and the experience of the CDRCU in particular, in the formation of the self-styled ’Communist Party of Britain (M-L)’. The consequences of the formation of this organisation are probably not so serious as they were in the earlier stages of development. Comrades are strengthened by experience and although a number of the central grouping of the CPB (M-L) are industrial workers this alters in no way the striking political and organisational similarities with the CDRCU which will find expression in a similar demise. However, while bearing in mind the above remarks relating to sectarianism, and seeking to distinguish: genuine from disruptive elements, the JCC must continuously struggle against the incorrect political line and organisational methods of this organisation. Not to do so would be to take a serious risk of further grave subjective setbacks.

For many months now the JCC has been actively seeking the next step forward. This has been generally seen as the formation of a body that would introduce a new type of relationship between the component groups, and between the groups as a whole and the working-class. The formulation has been in terms of a federation of British Communists. Such a federation must see as its prime task the development of conditions for the formation of a genuine Marxist-Leninist Party. This needs to be accomplished by gaining unity on the levels mentioned above – ideological, political, organisational and tactical.

In creating such a federation and developing from it a democratic centralist structure we must always bear in mind the concrete problems facing the constituent groups in their mutual relationships. All of the groups have different individual histories, class compositions, organisational structures and fields of work. These must be closely considered in building a unified organisation. Nor can we ignore the obvious problems of geographical separation.

Ideological work for unity will take various forms, Basing ourselves on self-reliance and seeking to integrate theory with concrete conditions, planned Marxist-Leninist education must take place with particular attention to the development of Marxism-Leninism by Mao Tse-tung. This education must centre a round the production of a programme. We will analyse and seek to make clear the roots of revisionism: this is a basic political duty to the working-class who have suffered for so long from its betrayals and false signposting. In this work we will recognise that this is the greater danger to the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain. We will also expose dogmatism and left-opportunism, particularly through a concrete examination of events in the last decade in the anti-revisionist movement. In combating both of these deviations we must stress that internationalism is a key component of our policy.

We still need to examine the British State much more closely. Here we must develop and build upon Lenin’s analysis and enquire in a detailed and concrete manner into its present economic and political structure. In doing this we must avoid that form of scholasticism which strangles Marxism by confining it within narrow textual and semantic channels. Similarly, a close analysis is needed of the Labour Party, the Labour movement and the CPGB. Urgent recognition and attention must be paid to the rapidly emergent corporate State.

* * * *

At an organisational level we will of course be motivated and informed by the need for a vanguard Party. To promote unity, aid progress, and build support we must engage in inter-group projects. These will include the production of leaflets, pamphlets and other material for joint campaigns.

The question of democratic centralism must be studied and the lessons correctly applied within the federation. This is a key point and an area of sensitivity and will need to be dealt with thoroughly and responsibly. At the same time we will have to recognise and apply the Leninist position on leadership.

In general while working in a planned and disciplined manner within our realistically assessed limitations we must increase our participation nationally in such areas as industrial, tenants’ and Vietnam work. At all times opportunism and adventurism must be combated by a consistent development in our own platforms.

* * * *

Attention must be paid to a vital area of organisational work, upon which so much else depends, the provision of a journal or journals. In the first instance we will concentrate on providing a theoretical journal, but as conditions become more favourable a more frequent educational and agitational paper will be published aiming to attain a wider circulation especially among industrial workers.

* * * *

Various tactical considerations immediately confront us and have to be investigated concurrent with the above. We must speedily explore the issues immediately confronting the British working class. We need to decide which political groups we can work with and should formulate the minimum points for such unity. In the light of past experience we must seek to establish the best form and working style for united front organisations.

An important tactical question arises in the consideration of the role of leadership in broad movements. The matter of rank and file work, seeking to win people to a principled stand, must be set against the tactic of capturing offices and ignoring rank and file work. In this regard we must remember our origin in the CPGB and bear in mind that its methods are often still stamped upon us.

The federation for which we are working is only a step towards a Party. That must be a basic premise of its existence, if it is not to develop into an impediment to further progress. Nevertheless premature time scales should not be constructed. Many groups who are not yet members of the JCC must not be dismissed and we will continue to work for unity with them in a principled way. We must guard against sloppy work and liberalism in this area and not seek size for its own sake in any way. In those areas where individual comrades are working to establish groups the JCC must give generous help to the best of its ability. All comrades must avoid the ’club’ mentality and strive to realise the great and formidable duty that we owe the working-class. With all modesty, recognition must be given to our vital role in times which are fraught with danger for the working-class and yet which feel the strength of the masses aroused. The corporate State is at once a threat and an admission of this strength.

We are not uniquely cursed or blessed in Britain. The history of all Parties has been difficult. Any despondency which may exist should be replaced by a confidence which, while it recognises the size of our task, derives its basis from History, the people, and the world revolutionary situation.

Joint Committee of Communists: Statement on the Question of Party Building

1. The signatories of this statement believe that the formation of a Marxist-Leninist party is the top priority for all British Marxist-Leninists today.

2. We hold that the main characteristic of the Marxist-Leninist Movement in Britain today is the existence of individual autonomous groups. The nature of these groups is determined by the fact that they are making serious attempts to integrate Marxist-Leninist theory with practice in the concrete working conditions of their own locality or industry. Such groups in various parts of the country must increasingly co-ordinate their efforts in joint work and ideological struggle with the declared aim of forming together a Marxist-Leninist party.

3. Such an organisation of groups must strive to attain a level where the following conditions for the formation of a party are achieved:

a. a politically advanced cadre force, with a good grasp of the ideology of Marxism-Leninism gained from a combination of theory and practice.

b. a full analysis of the national and international political situation including the historical experience of the British anti-revisionist movement to date.

c. a draft programme that would need to be fully discussed to ensure that it was fully understood by all the constituent parts of the organisation and would stand the test of time; furthermore in the production of such a draft programme it would be necessary for a number of publications, statements, etc. to be brought out.

d. to have carried out as an organisation practical work upon which concrete evaluation could be made and practical conclusions drawn.

e. to have proceeded in accordance with democratic centralism utilising fully the methods of criticism and self-criticism.

4. Clearly no organisation in Britain, including those claiming national status, has fulfilled these essential conditions.

5. Progress toward the above conditions will be directly related to the degree of principled unity achieved amongst Marxist-Leninist organisations in Britain. We intend to take all necessary steps to build this unity.

AT A MEETING on September 28, 1969 the Joint Committee of Communists adopted a constitution under which the JCC became the Communist Federation of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Its political position is stated in the above statement. The decision to form itself into a federation strengthens centralism by making the policy-making body for the Federation a general meeting; by making the powers of the Federation Committee greater than the JCC monthly meeting; and by defining a number of political and organisational criteria which will govern the operation of the component groups. The CFB is confident that its stronger organisational form will enable it to be more effective in its political struggles for working class power. It continues the policy of the JCC in seeing itself as a part of the Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain and therefore welcomes any opportunity of working with any other Marxist Communist organisation or individuals.

The meeting elected as officers to the Federation a secretary, a Treasurer and a chairman. Anyone wishing copies of the Constitution or other information should write to the Secretary: Sam Mauger, 65 Sisters Avenue, London.