Communist Party of Great Britain
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The Nucleus is a most important part of Party organisation. The nucleus of a library is a necessity for every keen Party Member.
Here are a few suggestions:
The ABC of Communism—Buharin
Communism & Society—Wm. Paul
Between Red & White—Trotsky
Communist Industrial Policy
Towards a Communist Programme
What is the United Front?
This book is mainly an abridgement of the Party Commission’s Report, adopted as the basis of Party organisation at the Battersea Conference, October, 1922. The sections dealing with the Press, and with special fields of organisation are wholly omitted while other parts have been considerably cut down.
It took six months to get even the skeleton structure of the new organisation established: that is now complete in almost every part of the country. The task for the Party is to develop this skeleton structure, to clothe the dry bones of organisation with flesh, and most important of all, to breathe a revolutionary spirit into the organisation. In this task some districts are already well advanced; others have not fully risen to the opportunity. Consequently, this Handbook is both a guide to present working, and also a plan of ground that has yet to be covered.
By the co-ordinated effort of Party members the new organisation will gradually be built up. It is to assist the builders and to help quicken the pace that this Handbook is issued. A word of warning is necessary here. Organising has no meaning at all apart from policy: it is only important as a means of achieving the political work of the Party. The actual building must therefore be gradual, stage by stage, growing with and assisting, not hindering, our political tasks. To regard the new Party organisation as an end in itself is to doom it to certain failure.
It is necessary from the outset to realise the difference between the organisation of the Communist Party and that of the old-style Socialist Party. The old type of Socialist Party was a loose association of propagandists. Its work was mainly confined to the platform and individual work. Beyond a general “programme” of a theoretical character, its membership had little real common policy or concert in its work. The branches worked on their own in their own locality, save for the occasional visit of some national representative. “Headquarters” was something separate from the ordinary membership; it served as a registry of members and subscriptions, and dealt with “national” questions. Division was common between “officials” and “rank and file”; and a large proportion of the membership was inactive save for occasionally turning up at a meeting.
All this is the exact opposite of a Communist Party. A Communist Party is the leading party of the working class it exists not to propagate a certain theory or doctrine, but to give a lead to the working class, and all its work is organised for this purpose. Its object is, not simply to spread general “propaganda,” but to establish a systematic organised influence throughout the working-class movement. Until this is achieved Communist manifestoes will only sound like phrasemongering without backing.
For this purpose it is not enough for individuals to be active in their sphere; their work must be part of a common campaign directed by the party as a whole. It is not enough the centre or division to issue manifestoes and circulars; they must actively direct the daily work of the membership.
The old loose system of branches and headquarters will not serve this purpose: nor does it change this system to try to superimpose on it a notion of “centralisation” that only means leaving all the power in the hands of a few persons at the centre. This would mean bureaucracy of the worst trade union type. In a Communist Party there is no rank and file: every member has his own special work, and responsibility, and only the direction of the whole is unified.
Three cardinal points which are all new to this country are:—
(1) Group Work.—The method of sharing out the work and responsibility is by making every, member a member of a working group: that is to say, either of a special committee in charge of some special activity under the direction of the district or centre, or of a nucleus which is carrying out the party policy in some working-class organisation,
(2) Reports.—To give unity to the work of these groups it is necessary to have a system of regular reports, each group reporting regularly to the directing authority in charge of its work. Without regular reports it is impossible for the centre or directing authority to know the position and give detailed instructions; and the work of these groups, however energetic, is lost to the party.
(3) Instructions:—Every activity has its leading committee or directing authority appointed by and subject to the Executive Committee, which supervises the actual work and gives day to day instructions (not general instructions) on what to do and what is the correct party line to follow. Without such specific instructions, groups and members will either be inactive, or else will act individually, without combined force and with possibly conflicting policies.
In considering the party organisation, we must always keep in mind the principles governing our work, namely:—(a) Centralised Direction—establishment of strong, directing centres operating in conjunction with the party centre. (b) Division of Work—the allocation of members to working groups for special tasks and the drawing of every member into the work by this means. (c) Organised Influence in the Working Class as the Aim—the conscious directing, concerting, and concentrating of all activities of our groups with a view to building up a network of influence throughout the working class and its organisations.
1.—The Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee is the leading body of the Party. It must contain the ablest directing forces in the Party. It must be able to meet continuously at the Party Centre.
The Executive Committee must be chosen from the whole membership on the sole ground of personal qualifications from nominations made at the Party Congress. Thus the directing body of the Party consists of some seven or nine members the exact number is determined by the Congress—who must be able to reside in the neighbourhood of the Party Centre.
In order to secure representation from different parts of the country and different tendencies in the Party, the Congress also elects a larger body, the Party Council, which should be summoned by the Executive when questions of major importance have to, be decided. The actual directing responsibility rests with the Executive.
2.—The Work of the Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee is the continuous directing body of the Party, and meets every week, or more often if necessary. It defines the policy of the Party on current issues, national and international, and lays down the lines of the organised activity of the Party. Its decisions are communicated to the membership through the Party Press, through written instructions, or through special commissioners sent to particular districts or localities.
The Executive Committee is divided into two bureaux—the Organising Bureau, which deals with technical questions of organisation, records, finance, allocation of membership to special work, communications and distribution; and the Political Bureau, which deals with the direction of political activities of the Party—general meetings and campaigns, work in trade unions, workshops, parliament, local government, etc. The Executive as a whole decides important questions of principle.
Each bureau covers a series of departments. Each member of the Executive is in charge of a principal department or departments with a Committee to assist him. All activities of the Party are organised by departments under the charge of a responsible Executive member and/or a leading Committee.
The two secretaries of the Party, the Political Secretary and the Organising Secretary (who are elected by the Congress, and are members of the Executive Committee), act as secretaries of the Political Bureau and the Organising Bureau of the Executive respectively, and are together responsible for the preparation of the agenda and necessary materials for the meetings of the full Executive, and also for the work of the various departments. Either may also act as chief of a special department.
The Political Secretary deals in particular with the business of the Executive Committee; he signs on behalf of the Executive Committee, and he conducts the Party’s relations with other Parties and the International. He handles the material received from the various political departments, and he takes the initiative in bringing forward and working out questions of Party Policy.
The Organising Secretary has in his charge the work of the Organising Bureau, the work of which he initiates and organises. He receives all correspondence and distributes it to the different departments. He deals with relations with the districts and other organisations of the Party.
3.—Headquarters Leading Committees.
Special Committees prepare beforehand the matters to be dealt with, in order that the Executive may be relieved of as much detail as possible, and concentrate its attention exclusively on the task of leadership in the current political situation and Party organisation.
Each department has its separate organising secretary (unpaid), appointed from the Committee in charge. These organising secretaries attend executive meetings in an advisory capacity when required, and report weekly (unless this is done by the E.C. member) to the Organising or Political Bureau.
The E.C. member on a Leading Committee is responsible for the direction, and has the right to veto any decisions of the Committee or to refer any points to the judgment of the Executive Committee as a whole.
Decisions on policy are taken by the Executive Committee alone. The Leading Committees are working committees, preparing the material beforehand upon which Executive decisions will be based, and subsequently organising the work decided upon. They only take decisions on day to day points in accordance with the lines of policy laid down. Each member will be engaged in carrying out a certain piece of work—planning it out, making all arrangements, getting in touch with necessary people, etc., etc. The Organising Secretaries of committees will co-ordinate the work of committee members, and will carry out the ordinary clerical work by means of organised voluntary assistance.
In addition to the Party Secretaries and the Organising Secretaries of departments, the Executive may appoint particular individuals to carry out special pieces of work, to report on a given question, undertake a given piece of organisation, or perform some special commission in a district or locality. The Executive can invest such individuals with all powers necessary for this work.
The departments of work of the Organising Bureau are as follows:—
(3) General Management.
(4) Printing and Publishing.
(6) Transport and Communications.
(8) Technical Supplementary.
The departments of work of the Political Bureau are as follows:—
(2) Parliamentary and Municipal.
(3) Labour and Co-operative.
(4) Press and Publications.
(7) Political Supplementary.
The District is the pivot of Communist organisation. Upon the effectiveness- of the District depends the effectiveness of the Centre and of the work in the locality. The importance of the District lead is not that it is an independent governing body for its region, but that it is the representative of the Centre for its region. The Executive Committee and the District Party Committees in conjunction constitute the Party lead; they are the Leading Committees of the Party, and all specialised Leading Committees only draw their authority from them.
1.—What a District Party Committee is.
A District Party Committee is a committee operating in some important centre, and from that centre, directing the, activity of the membership in the whole surrounding district. It is elected by the District Congress of Representatives from the whole district.
The area covered is not a geographical division of the country drawn on the map, but is based on the actual unity of membership around some principal town.
The District Party Committee itself combines and directs the activities of the membership in its district through its various departments and sub-committees.
The District Party Committee must be able to meet continuously at the district centre so as to carry on its directing work. This means that its members must reside at the centre or in its immediate neighbourhood.
The District Party Committee works in close relation with the Executive Committee, to which it is responsible. The membership of the District Party Committee has to be sanctioned by the Executive Committee. The initiation of policy is the work of the Executive Committee. The organisation of carrying out policy in the District is the work of the District Party Committee. The District Party Committee keeps the Executive Committee acquainted with conditions obtaining in the district, and puts before them concrete suggestions of policy as a result of local expressions of opinion, so that the Executive Committee may reach its decisions on policy with full knowledge of the conditions prevailing throughout the country and the feeling of the membership:
2.—How, a District Party Committee Works.
To carry out its work the District Party Committee follows the same principle as applies to all working committees—division of work. The departments of activity of the District Party Committee correspond as closely as possible to the departments at headquarters so as to facilitate the closest co-operation.
The District Party Committee divides into two sections or bureaux in the same way as already described with the Executive. The method of work also corresponds. The bureaux are responsible for the work under their care and the preparation of questions for discussion by the full committee; the District Party Committee as a whole decides all important questions of principle; each member has one or more departments (corresponding to the Headquarters Departments as closely as possible) under his care, with a committee, if necessary, to assist him.
The departments of work of a District Organising Bureau are:—
(1) Register of members, with their qualifications and the work to which they are allocated. This register will enable the committee to keep under review the disposition of members’ activities, and to draft members for new work as needed. There will be a general register of individual members, with their Party record, record in working-class movement, and personal record: In addition, there will be separate registers of the different organisations for each activity: trade union nuclei, factory nuclei, trades councils and Local Labour Party fractions and nuclei, propaganda committees, distribution groups, etc. Finally, there will be the special registers of members with certain qualifications and functions (speakers, instructors, linguists, printers, cyclists, etc.).
(2) Subscriptions and Finance.—This covers not only receipt and checking of subscriptions, and control and allocation of expenditure, but principally and above all, the raising of funds, stimulation and direction of local effort, and co-ordination of district and local finance.
(3) General Management.—Maintenance of offices and office equipment, arrangement for conferences (hospitality, material, accommodation), etc.
(4) Distribution.—Maintenance and control of the distribution apparatus of the Party, through the groups in the localities and the factories, both for the sale of literature and for the rapid distribution of leaflets, Executive cables, etc. This does not cover the despatch of the Worker’s Weekly, which goes direct from the Centre to the localities.
(5) Transport and Communications.—Organisation of ways and means of sending, receiving, and, if necessary, of accommodating literature, messages, individuals, etc., and of maintaining lines of communication with the Centre, and also between localities and between workshops.
(6) Information.—Organisation of all necessary information concerning the district through the local information groups, and collection and transmission of information to the Centre.
(7) Technical Supplementary Work.—Printing and printing presses, safe keeping of documents, etc., special accommodation for individuals, special lines of communication and distribution.
The work of the Organising Bureau, being technical in character, would not normally need any committee or committees, but only the securing of assistance on the records work.
The departments of work of a District Political Bureau, covering all the different fields of the political activity of the Party and the direction of the groups carrying out these activities, would need each its leading committee in charge of the Bureau member detailed for that activity. These would be as follows:—
(1) Industrial Committee.—For the direction of the nuclei in the unions and the workshops, in accordance with the lines laid down by the Central Industrial Committee.
(2) Elections and Municipal Committee.—For election work (parliamentary and municipal) and direction of municipal representatives. The work of nuclei and fractions in Local Labour Parties and Trades Councils (except where the latter deal only, with industrial matters) concern both the two committees mentioned above, and must be controlled as a result of careful consultation and/or demarcation.
(3) Labour and Co-operative Committee.—For co-ordination of work inside co-operative societies and guilds, Labour clubs, and miscellaneous local Labour organisations, and undermining and propaganda work in local social democratic organisations.
(4) Education Committee.—For arranging the training classes of candidates for Party membership, special training of Party workers, organisers, etc., and instruction of workers outside the Party.
(5) Propaganda Committee.—For co-ordinating the work of the local propaganda committees, organising joint demonstrations and special campaigns, and instructing speakers.
(6) Woman’s Propaganda Committee.—Directing of women’s propaganda committees in the localities.
(7) Political Supplementary Committee.—For propaganda and undermining work in Government and bourgeois institutions; and special intelligence.
The work of these committees needs to be carefully arranged and prepared so that they cover the actual day-to-day work of contact with the groups under their charge and the forwarding of instructions; and do not turn into old-style discussion committees on policy, the decisions on which are the province of the District Party Committee. Regular minutes, agenda, and reporting to the District Party Committee to whom they are responsible are essential. On all the more important committees a District Party Committee member must be present. Thus, if we suppose a District Party Committee of eight, three might form the Organising Bureau and five the Political Bureau. The five members of the Political Bureau could cover between them the first five committees on our list, i.e., Industrial, Elections and Municipal, Labour and Co-operative, Education, and Propaganda; and in addition the Woman Representative would cover the Woman’s Propaganda Committee, and the most suitable representative the Political Supplementary Committee.
Every town or village or administrative district of a town where our members exist constitutes a local Section of the Party. Boundaries follow existing administrative or electoral lines (or parts of these).
The importance of having Headquarters for local organisation cannot be exaggerated. The possession of local head-quarters makes the difference between a definite organisation aiming at establishing its hold in the life of a town and a local society with a weekly meeting.
Temporarily it may be necessary to combine adjacent areas in order to secure a sufficiently large membership to maintain local rooms.
An Aggregate Meeting, for the purpose of bringing together all the members in a given locality, is held once a month. This Aggregate Meeting discusses the general issues of Party policy. It elects the Local Party Committee.
For the purpose of daily activity members are combined in small working groups. These groups are based on some easy natural connection; they consist of members living near each other, or working in the same place, or attending the same union branch, or taking a common interest in some special piece of Party activity. These groups have all definite work to do and work under the direction of the district, either through the Local Party Committee or directly.
The Area Group is a group of Party members living within easy walking distance of each other. The Area Group is the fundamental unit of Party structure: it has therefore been dealt with specially in a separate 8-page booklet, which every member should make certain of having. The booklet is called. “How an Area Group Works,” and costs one penny.
In addition to belonging to an Area Group, each member is allocated to some special Group by the Local Party Committee working under the District Party Committee, which has to sanction all groups, and may at any time revise their composition, transfer members’ activities, or call for the creation of special groups.
Examples of working groups for general Party work in a locality will be:—
(1) The Speakers’ Group;
(2) The Instructors’ Group;
(3) The Stewards’ Group;
(4) The Literature Sellers’ Group;
(5) The Working Group at Local Headquarters.
The Local Party Committee is elected annually by, the Aggregate Meeting of members in the locality. Its composition has to be sanctioned by the District Party Committee. The size of the Local Party Committee is determined by the Aggregate Meeting. It will normally consist of the secretary, organising secretary, treasurer, and two others, but the number will naturally vary with the number of the membership and the work to be done.
The duties of the Local Party Committee are:—
(1) To maintain a register of members and candidates in the locality, together with information required of their qualifications, etc., and the work to which they are allocated, and to forward copies of this register twice a year to the district and centre, with monthly revisions.
(2) To enrol members and candidates for membership in accordance with the procedure prescribed (where this right has been accorded the Local Party Committee in question by the District Party Committee and Executive).
(3) To receive and forward subscriptions.
(4) To allocate members to their work, keep charge of the composition of groups, and transmit instructions for their work under the general direction and sanction of the District Party Committee, and to forward reports from the groups to the District Party Committee.
(5) To direct such local Party activity as may be entrusted to them by the District Party Committee, and in general to co-ordinate locally the activities of the membership..
(6) To take charge of the local rooms, etc., and manage finance.
(7) To arrange the monthly Aggregate Meeting of members and prepare the agenda for it.
The Officers of the Local Party Committee are:—
The secretary, in charge of correspondence, the minutes and agenda of the Local Party Committee and the Aggregate Meeting, and communications with the District Centre and the groups.
The organising secretary, in charge of the register of members, their allocation to work, and subscriptions. The organising secretary instructs members in their local activities (as agent of the Local Party Committee). He prepares the monthly financial report to headquarters and the district; and, in conjunction with the secretary, he prepares the monthly general report to headquarters and the district.
The treasurer, in charge of finance and expenditure.
The organising secretaries of the various special committees. In addition, local auditors are elected by the Aggregate Meeting.
L.P.C. Meetings.—The Local Party Committee should meet weekly, and its agenda should contain at least the following items:—
(1) Minutes of previous meeting.
(2) Organiser’s report from area groups, and decisions for him to transmit to the groups.
(3) Instructions from District and Headquarters.
(4) Reports to District and Headquarters.
(5) Arrangements with regard to special activities in the locality.
(6) Report on finance.
(7) Report on registration.
(8) Arrangements for monthly aggregate meeting.
Local Finance.—Members’ contributions are collected by the leader of their area group, and checked by means of the special group finance card.
Registration.—In charge of the Organiser, or, if necessary, of the Organising Committee. It is most important that the Organiser should forward to District Centre a note of all alterations and additions to the information given in the members’ register, and he should secure and forward complete particulars of newly-enrolled candidates.
The basic register of the membership in the locality should be kept in an exercise book, one name to a page or two pages, and the names arranged according to area groups as far as possible. A list of headings of information required should be drawn up by the Local Party Committee, if necessary, on the instructions of the D.P.C. The items on this list should be numbered consecutively, as, for instance, (1) Name; (2) Address; (3) Age; (4) Date of enrolment as candidate or full member; (5) Trade union; and so on. The information obtained from each member can be set down in the book against the appropriate member. Space should be left for additional information, and for alterations.
Besides the basic register, the organiser should keep card indexes of all groups and lists of members doing special work, or with special qualifications. Ordinary blank postcards can be used for this purpose. The following is a list of some of these special registers that will be necessary:—
(1) Area Groups.
(2) Trade Union members (according to T.U.).
(3) Trades Council members.
(4) Labour Party members.
(6) Specialists—e.g., group leaders, women members, printers, cyclists, or any others with special qualifications.
In charge of some special side of general Party work in a locality will be:—
(1) The Propaganda Committee, consisting of the group leaders of the Speakers’ Group, the Stewards’ Group, and the Literature Sellers’ Group; together with a member of the Local Party Committee, and working under the District Propaganda Committee. This deals with public meetings, demonstrations, house-to-house propaganda, etc.
(2) The Organising Committee, including the local organising secretary and treasurer. This (which will probably consist of three members of the Local Party Committee) deals with finance and subscriptions, the maintenance of the register of members and candidates, the management of the local rooms, and hospitality. The Organising Committee may form special committees to deal with special parts of its work, e.g., for the management of the local rooms or for the organisation of Communist Saturdays and Sundays.
(3) The Finance Committee, for the special task of raising funds, organising collections, etc., and working in conjunction with the District Finance Committee.
(4) The Election Work Committee, acting under the District Elections Committee and maintaining the necessary ward electoral committees.
(5) The Education Committee, which is responsible for the training of new recruits and the general organisation of instruction groups, study circles, classes and lectures for workers outside the Party, and for the maintenance of the Local Party library (to build up a members’ library of the most important Party books, etc., should be the aim of every local organisation). Recruits are brought into a training group as rapidly as possible, and placed under a suitable instructor. This forms the first special work of the new recruit.
(6) The Entertainments Committee, in charge of socials and similar means of raising money and attracting non-Party workers.
(7) The Distribution Committee, in charge of the distribution of Party literature, and of leaflets, etc., through the area groups, nuclei, etc., and with a special “ Workers’ Weekly” Distribution Sub-Committee in separate control of the sales of the Workers’ Weekly.
(8) The Information Committee, in charge of the collection and compiling of information for the locality, obtained through the area groups, nuclei, etc., and transmitting information required to the district and headquarters.
(9) The Women’s Propaganda Committee, carrying on the special Party propaganda among women, under the direction of the District Women’s Propaganda Committee.
In addition to working groups and committees for general Party work in a locality, as enumerated above, there will be the nuclei in the trade union branches and workshops, etc., which work directly under the district and do not report to the Local Party Committee. The nucleus is not dealt with further here. But every member should get a copy of “Twelve Points,” which deals specially with nuclei. There may also be special groups or individuals performing special work directly for the district or the centre. In all cases the allocation for work of any individual member comes directly under the cognisance of the Local Party Committee.
Where the L.P.C. does not, consist of area group leaders it is very important that its members should be in close touch with the working of the groups so as to know all the problems that arise and be able to deal with them.
First Meetings of Area Groups.—A good first meeting of the area groups is very important: where possible it should be summoned by the L.P.C., and every endeavour should be made for an L.P.C. member to be present at the first meeting. Where the L.P.C. is composed of group leaders, this is, of course, easily possible. At the first meeting arrangements should be made for distribution of the Party paper, house to house canvassing, collection of contributions, reports from group members to the group, and from the group leader to the Local Party Committee, etc.
There should be a weekly meeting of all the area group leaders at which the local organiser, treasurer, and member of L.P.C. in charge of distribution, must be present. As many as possible of the other L.P.C. members should also attend.
The L.P.C., on the basis of reports from the groups, must work out instructions for each group separately; these should be conveyed to the group leader by the local organiser, who is also responsible for seeing that the group leaders’ reports come before the L.P.C.
Either regularly or from time to time as may be found necessary, there should be a group leaders’ conference or extended group leaders’ meeting with the L.P.C. members. This should contain besides all the area group leaders, other responsible workers. These will be almost always the leaders of special groups, e.g., leaders of training groups, trade union nuclei, trades council and labour party fractions, etc.
Agenda of Group Leaders’ Meeting.—At the weekly meeting each group leader should hand in a written report of the result of the work done by his, group, and also report verbally on difficulties, etc. There should be a discussion of each report by the whole meeting. Each group leader will communicate criticisms and suggestions from his group.
Decisions of the L.P.C. will be communicated to each group leader, as well as any special instructions and explanations of them.
The meeting should take place immediately the paper is out, as supplies can then be given to each of the group leaders’ for use of their groups.
Each group leader will also hand in contributions received, and have his group finance card signed by the treasurer.
The organiser will state what further information re registration of members, etc., is required from the different groups, and the leaders will note this, and also inform the organiser of any changes.
Each group leader should make a note of the instructions that he is required to convey to any members in his group.
The success of the group method of working absolutely depends on careful, efficient reporting, see page 20.
Where the membership of a local organisation is, say, thirty or less, it is neither necessary nor possible to have a Local Party Committee. It is sufficient for coordination of activities and the transmission of reports and instructions that the leaders of the area groups should constitute a committee, and meet regularly for this purpose.
Where there is only one area group, of course, no special: committee should be required, but different members may be in charge of different activities, e.g., as regards finance, distribution, party training, etc.
Where there are only two groups a group leaders’ committee of two may not be enough, and one or two leaders of other groups (e.g., training group, trades council or Labour Party fraction) may be added.
Activities of a Single Member.—What are the activities of a single member in the small locality? He should be active at least as (1) a member of his area group, and (2) some other special group as well, e.g., on trades council fraction, in a training group, etc. He must participate in general party activity, and must attend the monthly aggregate meeting of members.
The members of the group leaders’ committee are responsible leaders of party work, and must be prepared to undertake considerable duties, for instance:—
(1) Work as Area Group Leaders in charge of the activities of an area group,
(2) Work as a member of the Group leaders’ Committee, with special charge of at least one special activity, e.g., organisation, finance, distribution, education, etc.
(3) Member of Trade Union nucleus, and probably Trades Council Fraction or Labour Party Fraction.
(4) Member of a training group, at first. Later, when fully qualified, they may have to act in their turn as instructors.
(5) Other party work—speaking, organisation of socials, etc.
Area Groups.—These are the fundamental units of Party organisation. They must be based on place of residence. Their most important immediate work is that of distribution of the Party paper, and house to house canvassing.
Other Groups.—Besides the area groups, the following groups are almost certain to be required in the locality:—
(1) Training group or groups.
(2) Trades Council and Local Labour Party fraction or nucleus.
(3) One or more Trade Union nuclei.
(4) Co-operative fraction or nucleus;
Where a small group of members exists in an isolated town or village, this group,will function as an Area Group, and the District Party Committee must decide what particular activity, in addition to house to house canvassing and recruiting, the group is to concentrate upon. Clearly such a group cannot do a bit of everything.
Group work covers the whole normal work of the Party. From the Executive Committee to the smallest group, members will be working in their groups.
Groups will be of the following main types:—
(1) Leading Committees.—The Executive Committee and District Party Committees, and the Special Committees under these, e.g., the Central Industrial Committee and the District Industrial Committee.
(2) Local Committees in charge of some activity locally. The Local Party Committee co-ordinates activities locally under the lead of the District Party Committee. The local special committees e.g., Propaganda Committee, Distribution Committee, etc., may either be directed by the Local Party Committee (with general District supervision); e.g., the Propaganda Committee, Entertainments Committee, etc., or by the District Party Committee directly; e.g., the Election Work Committee, or by the Centre directly; e.g., the Workers’ Weekly Distribution Committee. In the majority of cases the direction will pass through the Local party Committee.
(3) Working Groups carrying out work under instructions; e.g., the Speakers’ Group, Literature Sellers’ Group, etc., and, technical groups for assistance (clerical, etc.) at the local headquarters or District or Party Headquarters.
(4) Area Groups, covering the whole membership for purposes of contact, information, collecting and forwarding subscriptions, and general local work.
(5) Nuclei and Fractions in working-class organisations. These may form their own special local committees; e.g., the N.U.R. Local Committee or Local Industrial Committee, working directly with the District or Centre.
(6) Militant Groups for conducting some special piece of pioneering work in a new field for the Party; e.g., opening up a locality not previously touched by the Party, or developing membership in a union where we are weak.
Constitution of Groups.—The old branches are replaced by Groups and Nuclei. Groups are not casual associations of a few members engaged on a particular piece of work, but actual units of Party organisation.
All Groups and Nuclei must be formally constituted by an authorised Party Committee. Their composition must be sanctioned by the Party Committee. They must hold regular meetings, elect a secretary, and keep minutes. They must regard themselves as Party organisations strictly carrying out the instructions of the Party lead, and reporting to it. Groups and Nuclei should only be formed under the direct instructions of the responsible Party Committee: and their constituting should be carried out, by an authorised representative of the Party Committee.
Direction of Groups.—Groups and Nuclei receive their instructions from the Leading Party Committee to which they report. They should take the greatest care to see that they are acting in accordance with the Party lead so as to be acting as a uniform force and not as a medley of isolated units. A Group acts on its own initiative only in technical questions of application, (e.g., tactics to pursue in the branch room by a trade union branch nucleus in order to carry through the Party policy) or in rare cases of emergency.
Management of Groups.—The management of a group or nucleus depends on its size. In the ordinary small group there will be simply a group leader who acts as secretary, convenor, and organiser. In larger groups there will be a Management Committee of three or more, with one acting as organising secretary. The duties of the management are:—
(i) to distribute work to the members of the groups, i.e., to organise and instruct according to directions from the Leading Committee and to explain how to carry out the work;
(ii) to receive and forward reports.
Regular Meetings and Reports.—All groups and nuclei must hold regular meetings. At these meetings members report on work done and prepare the common report to the Leading Committee, and discuss further work. In addition, every group and nucleus should regard itself as a regular Party organisation, and bring all affairs of the Party within its province for discussion. In particular, it is the common task of all groups to study the decisions of the Executive Committee and of the International. The agenda of the meeting, which will be prepared by the Organising Secretary, will consist of:—
(1) Minutes of previous meeting and discussion of matters arising.
(2) Discussion of reports received from individual members and of the report to be forwarded to the Leading Committee from the nucleus.
(3) Affairs concerning the group (e.g., Union and Branch affairs in the case of a trade union branch nucleus).
(4) Party affairs, local, district, or national (discussion of new policy, tactics, and methods affecting the whole Party).
(5) International affairs. (e.g., R.I.L.U., Communist International, development in Russia, coal strike in America, etc.).
(6) Allotment of work.
No matter how small the group may be, the procedure must be adhered to.
Division of Work and Responsibility.—All groups, whether committees, nuclei, or other forms of groups, are working groups, i.e., they are responsible for carrying out the work in their charge, and for this purpose each member has his definite task. The principle of group and individual responsibility must be thoroughly established. Each group is responsible for the work entrusted to it, and must see that it is carried out. It cannot plead absence of members or similar excuse, since it is the business of the group in such cases to arrange for the work to be covered, whether by, substitutes or otherwise (substitutes, of course, cannot be employed in the case of Committees, which are leading and responsible bodies; it is only in the carrying out of work that this must be done, whatever the circumstances, and substitutes used if necessary). During, holiday time, for instance, a group must take steps to ensure the continuity of the work. The same applies to individuals. They must arrange for the performance somehow of work entrusted to them. If they are prevented from doing it themselves, it is their business to find substitutes. Thus, if a distributor is prevented from going his round, be must get his wife to do it, or his son or other relative, or another comrade or a sympathiser. In any case, he is responsible for the work being done.
Personal Contact.—The purpose of a group is not simply the performance of the particular work entrusted to the group. The group is also a personal association of members. The group leader has a special responsibility to the members of his group, of personal contact with them and guidance; this is specially the case with area group leaders, The members, closely linked in common work for a common aim, should develop a real intimacy, until the group becomes, not a mechanical piece of structure, but a, real and living force of the Party.
Reports are of two kinds—organising and political.
Organising Reports cover only statistical information of membership, finance, and activities. These are entered on report sheets containing questions sent out from headquarters. The individual member or candidate has his questionnaire card to fill in for the Local Party Committee (which sends a copy to Headquarters). The Local Party Committee has its monthly report sheet, covering membership, subscriptions, and finance, meetings held, literature sold, etc., etc. Special committees or groups have their special report sheets to fill in, e.g., a house-to-house propaganda group will have its sheet to fill in, showing number of houses visited, and members, sympathisers, contributors and readers of the paper obtained.
Political Reports give actual reports of activities, and should be made with complete freedom and fullness. A political report, whether made by an individual to his group or by a group to its Leading Committee, or by a lower committee to a higher, should always cover:—
(1) Work done.
(2) Results obtained.
(3) Methods employed.
(4) Suggestions as to particular work.
(5) Information obtained.
Conscientious, straightforward and accurate reports are absolutely indispensable to the very life of the Party. Reports should as far as possible always be given in writing, and comrades responsible for making out reports should consider it a first claim upon their honour to vouch for the unchallengeable accuracy of the information given.
The line of reports corresponds to the line of instruction, i.e., the individual reports, as a rule weekly, to his group leader; the group reports weekly to the Local Party Committee or the special committee in charge; the Local Party Committee reports monthly to the District Party Committee, a copy of its report being forwarded to Headquarters; the District Party Committee reports monthly to Headquarters; and the Executive reports quarterly to the International. Every individual has the right of communicating with any Party Committee or with the International. Information from reports is carefully considered and filed by the Local Party Committee, District Party Committee, or headquarters.
1. The nature of groups, nuclei, fractions, etc., may be defined as follows:—
A Working Group is a local party organisation working under the direction of a Local Party Committee, District Party Committee, a Special Committee, or the Executive Committee.
A Nucleus is a Party organisation working inside an organisation. (A nucleus is not constituted by the mere presence, and activity of Communists within an organisation. The Communist members within an organisation must be first definitely enrolled as a nucleus by the directing authority, the District; they must be reporting regularly and receiving instructions-only then can they call themselves a nucleus.)
A Fraction is a Party organisation inside a representative or delegate body. (It is also used for a grouping of all the Communists and their followers inside a trade union or similar organisation.)
All these terms (and “Committee” could be included with them) cover forms of working Party organisations. They are units of Party organisation; they have to be enrolled by a proper Party authority; they hold their regular meetings, elect a secretary, have agenda and minutes, report to their directing authority, and receive instructions.