A throwaway attack piece on the Young Communist League’s (YCL) Challenge magazine website reveals the critical flaws in the thinking and tactics of communists who ultimately remain wedded to the Labour Party.
Unfamiliar with the concept of tactical voting, Tom Flanagan criticises George Galloway for following through on what he set out to do by founding the All for Unity political alliance, i.e. tactically voting for whichever candidate in his constituency is most likely to defeat the Scottish National Party (SNP).
Comrades representing the Glasgow and Aberdeen branches of the CPGB-ML were in attendance for the induction of new candidate members into the Party in Scotland this weekend. All comrades were active red youth and are typical representatives of the new generation of young workers entering the Marxist-Leninist movement today. A couple of comrades had never been politically active previously, whilst others had tried to be active in the Communist Party of Britain or had left the SWP.
All those who wish to enter the ranks of the CPGB-ML as candidates must display a higher level of commitment to the Party than friends or Supporters. The working class does not need another Party purporting to be communist which is full to the brim of well-meaning but inactive stay-at-homers. All the comrades inducted in Scotland this weekend are regular attendees at political education classes which take place weekly and all are in agreement with and committed to the Party Programme, ensuring the highest level of unity in our ranks. After a day of political discussion the comrades heard about the priorities for the national mobilisations of CPGB-ML groups over the coming months. The Central Committee urged all new candidate members to organise with their branches participation at this years May 1st rally in London and the need to reserve tickets for the October Revolution celebration which is being hosted on Saturday 4 November.
Below we publish a letter from a young comrade who had the opportunity to witness revisionism in action, as Rob Griffiths of the Communist Party of Britain was invited to speak at his school.
While it is disappointing that such a rank opportunist and arch revisionist was given the opportunity to speak, it is not surprising given that the decaying husk of the CPB simultaneously presents itself as the revolutionary party of the working class while also being devoid of any revolutionary content, effectively serving the ruling class.
Having republished J. V. Stalin’s classic pamphlet Foundations of Leninism the CPGB-ML has organised a print run of The History of the CPSU(b) – Short Course. These books are now on sale via the party ebay account. Candidate and full-members of the CPGB-ML and Red Youth are requested to order their copies through email@example.com where they will be due a discount. All others who wish to purchase the books may do so via ebay. Prices:
Copies will also be on sale from the CPGB-ML contingent at this years May Day demonstration which assembles in Clerkenwell, London at 12noon. Check out http://www.londonmayday.org/ for more details. And comrades can also pick up a copy from the party school on May 2nd in Southall.
Red Youth comrades can apply each year to enter onto a cadre development programme in Marxism-Leninism. This year Red Youth has just over twenty young comrades on the programme run by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Comrade Aberrabii a student in the West Midlands has completed his first module which requires a written assignment, assessment and public presentation. He gave his presentation to a meeting in Birmingham this month which was well received. Red Youth will publish a select number throughout the course of the year and encourages comrades to work their way through our online education programme. We’re happy to publish his speech here.
What is imperialism? That is the first question that should be asked when debating or having a discussion about imperialism. If we look at the dictionary definition then imperialism is essentially the policy of extending a country’s power and influence through colonialism, use of military force, or other means.
So then, what is a definition of imperialism meaningful to Marxist Leninists? It is the highest stage of capitalism as Lenin said in his Imperialism: The highest stage of Capitalism, its most advanced and parasitic stage. It is not a policy of this or that government but rather something inevitable and imperialism has to come to life in order for capitalism to be fully developed, in other words imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism
There are various contradictions within the imperialist system that will contribute to its destruction. These contradictions are why imperialist nations are in terminal decline. Lenin clearly outlined three primary contradictions that contribute to this decline, as well as eventual collapse of capitalism and imperialism.
The following letter to our blog was written by a young comrade from the Midlands who recently left the YCL to join Red Youth. His reflections are those born from the frustrations of working in a party castrated by revisionism. We will stress now, before you read his observations, that Red Youth certainly doesn’t have all the answers and we’re up against it trying to build a revolutionary youth organisation in a country where no revolutionary mood prevails amongst the masses, for the time being. These are the same objective conditions which both the YCL and CPB have to contend with. Our strength (and their weakness) lies in our correct analysis of these conditions; a thorough and rigorous critique of social democracy, its root causes and it’s influence on the British labour movement. We are pleased with the enthusiasm with which this comrade joins us in our work, but we must emphasise that ours is a long, arduous struggle which requires much patience as well as persistence. For this reason it is absolutely critical that Red Youth comrades make every effort to study Marxist-Leninist theory, to develop their political understanding and be able to take part in the work to build up the revolutionary class conscious. That struggle is a marathon, there are no quick fixes, easy avenues or cheats. Its long, hard struggle, and we welcome all those who are prepared to make that journey.
That said, despite a thoroughly positive and glowing appraisal of our party’s work to date (!) the letter highlights some of the aspects of our culture and work which set us apart, stemming from our analysis of present and past. We do not shy away from openly admitting the need for revolution and actively work towards it. Our correct understanding of the specific historical conditions that led to the ‘golden’ post-WW2 boom – as a result of the devastation of the war and continued imperialist exploitation of the Third World means that we do not shed a tear for the death of social democracy. We recognise that no amount of tinkering and reform can put an and to capitalist crisis and the drive towards imperialist wars. We recognise the inalienable right of people to fight imperialism and we stand firmly with them and openly call for the defeat of our “own” government in these wars of aggression and plunder. Capitalism cannot provide a decent and secure life to the masses of working people, it can only offer temporary concessions to a few. This is where we differ from the CPB and YCL, who have all but abandoned any talk of revolution and dream of a return to the heyday of social democracy. We agree with and participate as far as we are able in the fight for reforms and concessions under the present conditions – but we will not lose sight of our end goal, the socialist revolution. – RY
“Almost nine months ago, I joined the Communist Party of Britain in Shropshire – three weeks ago I left for the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
I’d describe my former self as the kind of communist that clung to the insole of the labour party. But why did I change my mind? What went ‘wrong’ along the way? Keen to serve a movement I was then happy and honoured to be a part of, enthused to draft new ways to create a big communist student movement in my local area; I was elevated quickly. First, to Young Communist League organiser for Shropshire, then the West Midlands, then the whole Midlands – all this over the course of 3 months, partly because I was the only YCL secretary in the Midlands. It was this elevation, that made me realise how useless and inactive the party was. Later, the real CPB would be revealed to me as the badly organised, anti-youth, anti-DPRK, anti-communist organisation it is.
The organisational inactivity of the CPB Two months after becoming Shropshire students organiser I drew up a small plan and discussed it with my branch secretary, who seemed as usual relatively pleased to accept my ideas. We had 3 comrades of eligible age for the YCL in Shropshire; a 12 year old school girl who was the daughter of a branch member, a 22 year old man, and myself. I outlined the following items:
The convening of our three young communists in a place suitable for students to hold a meeting, to debate what we stood for and what we want to achieve
The leafleting of the sixth-form college in town about the event
The setting up of a YCL Shropshire Facebook page
The ordering of copies of challenge and other youth campaigning materials to support setting up a communist youth movement in Shropshire
This was in September 2013. In February, almost five months later (and a month and a half before I joined CPGB-ML), I was still waiting for support in terms of literature, party education materials, help to find a meeting place. Until December I was still expecting this fictitious support.
But it was my promotion to Midlands district officer that was the real turning point for me. I was charged with creating the Midlands district of the YCL, organising a regional movement of youth in their late teens and early 20s for the mobilisation of Marxism-Leninism within the labour movement. This is a big task to give an enthusiastic 16 year old campaigner – nevertheless, as I put it at the time to queries of “was I sure”, I was well up for it.
I knew that we only had 175 active and non-active members in the whole of the Midlands, so I was trying to be realistic, not stretching too far to branches that may lack any bulk in membership under 30. The plan was to get together three people (aged between 11 and 29 as is within the party rulings regarding age), in each the Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Shropshire branches together, and encourage them to have bi-monthly branch meetings and a monthly study group. If this proved successful over a year we would collectivise everyone within the age bracket across the Midlands and hold a YCL district launch in Birmingham. Another part of the planned strategy was to leaflet colleges in order to create education branches.
Things were looking good at first – we had in the Shropshire branch 3 eligible YCL members. In Birmingham we had one young contact who was caught up in border disputes with other branches and consequently not doing anything, and someone who was nearly 25 – this was fine at first.
In Wolverhampton there was nothing: not only was I to find at the 15th February district congress that they were one of the most inactive branches as part of our deflated Black Country initiative, but I found out a week before hand they had no members under 30.
Four months before that fateful meeting, I received a 15 year old contact in Nottingham. I thought this was excellent at the time, I thought if he could work with the largely mature Nottingham branch on youth for me I could then focus more on the further West Midlands stuff. However, I was to find that due to disorganisation this was apparently impossible. I found that the Nottingham branch, another gem of inactivity, was made up of two men in their 60s and one in their 50s, who were all apparently “to afraid to talk to him” and that the only one in four months who had made any effort to contact him other than a couple of times electronically was me.
And then they had the gall to ask me to help build the YCL in Wales from Shropshire. I was furious with the total lack of anything, but particularly after this erroneous request. I was just about ready to explode because of all this – but then there were the ideological holes to boot.
The ideological hollowness of the CPB My ideological suspicions began around December but they had nothing to do with the labour party at first. It started with the pro-capitalist coverage of the DPRK. Nothing in the Morning Star is ever really pro-capitalist no matter how wrong or counter-revolutionary, but this really was. It quoted UN statistics without checking the sources and alleged that the north ‘wasn’t socialism’ and highly ‘undemocratic’. It even contradicted their position on the country in Britain’s Road to Socialism, going far enough to publish headlines like “UN pledges to bring North Korean leaders to justice”. I thought in Britain’s Road to Socialism our message on the DPRK was quite clear, that we supported its ‘right to popular sovereignty’, that we supported it against American imperialism!
When I was approached over twitter about the contradiction between my open support for the DPRK and the Morning Star’s stance, I explained that the Morning Star was the paper of the movement. As such it couldn’t marginalise itself down to pure communist viewpoints and had to please a great deal of it’s bulked readership; including CND, Stop the War and the TUC. For a CPB member this was an adequate, well thought-out answer, but I was to find out that even this was wrong.
I e-mailed Zoe Hennessy, the YCL’s general secretary; I felt that the recent anti-DPRK bombardment in all media left or right wing was demoralising our member’s in their support for the country (particularly our young members), so I offered to write an article in support of it to put people’s minds at rest. It was the reply that was to enrage me almost as much as the organisational problems I had encountered: The Communist Party of Britain dose not endorse the DPRK. It never has done and it never will. Apparently the Morning Star is the embodiment of the CPB’s collective views on North Korea and many other things which I thought was merely content added for “the movement”.
While all this was happening an article was published around Christmas on comrade Mao Zedong to celebrate his birthday. It described someone who would “probably have been remembered as a great revolutionary if he’d died in 1952” but who’s final two political campaigns were “an utter failure”, later accusing him of harbouring a personality cult and being an unstable leader. Very celebratory…
Incidentally the paper also refused to publish anything celebrating the birthday of comrade Stalin, utterly spitting in the eye of one of the greatest contributors to Marxist theory aside from Engels or Lenin.
Conclusion So what did I decide to do next? Well I saw a rather impressive group of communists in late September at the Tory party conference demo, who seemed to sidle up to the communist party red block, and chant with us. The two groups looked fabulous together, 60 or 70 red flags were made 90 or more in a block. I saw they had a paper called Proletarian. I wanted work experience in political journalism – so I contacted the editor’s e-mail.
I secured a meeting at the office of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in Birmingham. I wasn’t wooed at first by their opposition to the people’s assembly or the Labour Party in any measure, as things were still working for me at the point I had this meeting in October, but I saw something in them then that brought me back, and made them indelibly my new and fine comrades, people who I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with.
From about the February 15th district meeting, when I began to see just how pointless it was, I started looking for a new party either similar to my own thoughts or robust enough to accept my robust opinions.
I trawled through things like the Socialist Labour Party, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the Marxist Student Federation – all of these organisations to me either appeared totally revisionist or ineffective in political strategy to the point of laughability. It was then I realised the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was the only effective left party in Britain; the only one still growing and equipped with practical, applicable campaigning methods for the 21st century.
A party that stood for all the right things – defending the democratic legitimacy of Zimbabwe and it’s legitimate popular leader Robert Mugabe, telling the truth about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, true anti-imperialism; rather than just what seems to be more acceptable to public opinion. They don’t allow their ideological strength to make them dogmatic.
Under the CPB I was given no equipment, no literature and no support. I join the CPGB-ML and almost immediately I’m given seven newspapers, a wad of our youth programme and a wad of leaflets. I am also sold books at £2 a throw – unlike the ones the CPB sold at their district committees for between £5-£20, which were all far out of my price range on top of train fairs. I have a permanent link to my nearest branch organiser, I’m told if there’s anything I need in terms of equipment or help it’s mine providing I’ve got a good reason, we’ve already got Shropshire based members and supporters around too – so we’re all set.
Coupled with this we have a stunning two-part programme, including the mind blowing Red Youth programme “we want freedom” – which envisions a diplomatically non-volatile Great Britain, universally free education and the deployment of capital allocated to youth by youth and for youth. That’s a revolutionary youth programme, not BRS’s “lowering the voting age to 16 would be reflective of how some people think but let’s make everything else up along the way while also making nothing up and doing nothing”.
I can see the ship sinking for the “Communist Party” already. CPB membership isn’t just under 1,000 as it claims – it’s 700. They did an internal survey recently that said 200 of their members had either died or gone missing. The CPGB-ML in Birmingham alone gets several requests for membership a month. The CPB’s complete refusal of self criticism, unwillingness to reform outdated party structures, the anti-youth mentality all leads one way – decay. The CPB is dying. Every general election it loses members on the same programme, every time labour or whoever else they support are elected they fail to do anything of meaning. My old party only misleads a few students here and there (most notably in the North West where they’ve recruited about 20ish white university students) – but it’s propaganda and negation on the radical student movement reaches far further than even it knows.
For instance everything it says about almost everything apart from capitalism as a system and the British bourgeoisie back up the imperialist argument unwittingly. A British democrat, and I’ve met a few, may say that you have to vote your way out of trouble, that if you don’t like a government you have to vote for the opposition to oust them, namely; the Labour Party. According to British social democracy this is the only way to achieve change. The CPB will say that you have to vote labour to get the Tories or the Lib-Dems out and you can’t have a revolution because a) it will “alienate” people and b) we live in a western “democracy”. So revolution is an absolute last resort and therefore not appropriate or possible unless people all over the country starve on the streets and worker’s have lost all their gains.
I spent 8 months in the labour movement, trying to attract young people with the time to join the labour movement’s communist youth section – but everyone who wanted to do that just did the natural thing and joined the largely middle-class led Labour Students long before I was on the streets. We have the advantage in that all the true communist students are with Red Youth. We’re better organised, ideologically stronger, growing at a much faster rate and regularly active. My message to all in the labour movement who consider themselves Marxists, is to join our party – the true party of Lenin.”
CPB general secretary Robert Griffiths last week made what should, but do not, read as surprising words. This self-proclaimed ‘communist’ took to Facebook to praise former deputy prime minister John Prescott, or as he is known these days ‘Baron Prescott, of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire‘. The reason: Prescott referred to Israeli atrocities in Gaza as “a war crime”.
So for Griffiths the crimes committed against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are either forgiven or forgotten. And that Prescott was a faithful lackey of the arch-Zionist Tony Blair is also either forgiven or forgotten.
He may be condemning Israeli war crimes today, but while in government Blair, Prescott & co were nothing but one of Israel’s most faithful friends. For example, following the second Intifada, Blair praised the “restraint” shown by the butcher Sharon. Similarly when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, Prescott while still deputy PM was presented with another opportunity to oppose Israeli war crimes. At no point did he stand up to Blair and Labour’s Zionist policy, instead he helped implement it.
Let us be clear: even if Prescott has found a conscience over the crimes of Zionism, one war criminal’s condemnation of another war criminal is a hollow condemnation. He may well mourn the blood on the hands of the Zionist entity, but he never once so much as moved his own hands to prevent the spilling of the blood of the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Iraq was the issue of the day it was in Griffiths and co’s interest to ‘oppose’ the war, while in practice supporting the architects of the war – the Labour Party. Today there is no political gain to be had for speaking out for the people of Iraq but seemingly it is politically safe for Griffiths to praise a criminal in that imperialist war. It is much more important to be seen as supporting Palestine, while again in practice supporting imperialism, in the shape of the Labour Party. But this “support” of Palestine, is also to use Palestine.
For Griffith’s comment is two pronged: firstly a poor attempt to find some nominally left figures in the Labour Party, to give some shred of credence to his party’s policy of attempting to push one capitalist party to end capitalism.
Secondly, he does criticise the silence of the current shadow cabinet. With the CPB congress around the corner the issue of “re-establishing a mass party of labour” is on the cards. Here ‘communists’ will debate whether to continue supporting the imperialist Labour Party or create a new social democratic party, or in other words yet another capitalist party tasked with ending capitalism. Griffiths is in the camp of the latter and his comment further alludes to this fact. And in all this Palestine is merely an issue used to further his new-party agenda.
Finally, for the CPB leadership John Prescott may represent a good working class old Labour man. To us he represents the very worst of our class: a class traitor and instrument of imperialism with the blood of the men, women and children of Iraq and Afghanistan on his hands.
Of all the stars and objects in the heavens, planet earth is by far the most beautiful. Abundant with life and capable of providing enough for all her inhabitants, man and beast, our human civilisation should by now have broken the bonds of class society and be well on the way to unlocking the limitless potential and creativity of all our children. Instead, imperialism’s destructive power is visible from space; and our garden of Eden is a frightful paradise lost. It’s no coincidence that such bestiality and wickedness has befallen our world since the collapse of the once glorious Soviet Union. No amount of tears or regret will resurrect that socialist bulwark to imperialism and war, but it’s name is showered in glory and calls out to us today, across the lost years since its demise, with a message about the kind of world we’re capable of building. Only by a resolute struggle against opportunism in the labour movement and a consistent, practical application of the teachings of Marxism Leninism, will we be able to get humanity back onto the path of progress and make up for these years groping in the darkness. Workers have the power to do something about the desperate situation in Gaza – our collective power can make a difference; without shells to fire and the guns to fire them, without the media voice and peddling of the corporate lies Israeli Zionism would be strangled in its lair.
The following article depicting the bombardment of Gaza by the Zionists is taken from RT.com:
Astronaut photographs Gaza offensive from space
A German astronaut managed to capture the Gaza war zone from space while aboard the International Space Station. He called it his “saddest photo yet.”
Alexander Gerst, a German flight engineer, geophysicist and volcanologist, spread the news with a short tweet on Wednesday, as the ISS was on a flyby over Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The image went viral.
My saddest photo yet. From #ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over #Gaza & #Israelpic.twitter.com/jNGWxHilSy
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 23, 2014
One can clearly see the spots in which the yellowish glow of exploding targets is more prominent than elsewhere.
“From the International Space Station we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over Gaza and Israel,” He wrote on his Facebook fan page late last night, with a German translation underneath.
The ESA astronaut is currently on the 57th day of his mission, together with Russian commander Maksim Surayev and American engineer Reid Wiseman.
Israel is currently in the midst of an all-out assault on Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip – an operation that has recently gone into a new phase, as escalating hostilities and ground warfare bring the death toll to 700.
There are casualties on both sides, but the overwhelming majority is Palestinian, 80 percent of them civilians, according to a recent UN report.
THIS WEEKEND – come and meet cpgb-ml comrades outside the Israeli embassy from 11am and then join us in Southall from 1pm until late
11am – Support the demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy:
National Demonstration Saturday 26 July Assemble 12 noon, Israeli Embassy, London. March to rally in Parliament Square
1pm – Support the international celebration of anti-imperialist resistance and solidarity
Saklatvala Hall, Dominion Road, Southall, UB2 5AA A social event to celebrate two important anniversaries in the revolutionary calendar: – the victory of the Fatherland Liberation War in Korea – the storming of the Moncada Barracks in Cuba. This year we will also be marking the 10th anniversary of our party’s founding! An excellent event for bringing friends and family and friends to enjoy a mix of inspiring speeches and informal socialising with like-minded comrades. Alongside representatives from fraternal embassies, come and hear RT journalist Marcel Cartier report back from his recent trips to Ukraine and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. All welcome, including kids. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Map: click here
The Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) this month reaffirmed its position of continued backing for the imperialist Labour Party at the 2015 general election. It does so in a draft domestic resolution circulated in advance of its upcoming Congress this autumn. This resolution was forwarded to redyouth.org and is reproduced in full below.
Aiming low, the CPB’s revolutionary vision is limited to bringing down the Tory-LibDem coalition. In their draft domestic resolution they further state that a Labour government is “the only practical and viable alternative”. The reality, however, is that the Labour Party offers no alternative, let alone a viable one for the working class. As its interests align with those of the ruling class, Labour is in fact no different from the other major parties.
The CPB were not so shortsighted however as to leave their tracks completely uncovered and attempted to salvage what little credibility may remain. In continuation with the ‘demand’ to ‘reclaim’ the Labour Party, they set out that “the period up to and immediately following the June 2015 general election will demonstrate conclusively whether or not Labour can be reclaimed as the mass electoral party of the labour movement. Labour’s election manifesto will reveal whether trade union influence has produced a left or progressive programme.”
Rather than continually threatening to reconsider their relationship with the Labour Party the CPB should learn the lessons of history. The betrayals of the Labour Party as far back as the first government it formed 1924 are well documented. Firstly, it u-turned its opposition to the reparations regime; a program designed to further fragment the defeated countries of the Great War through guilt payments to the imperialists. Secondly, it immediately set about the persecution of leading members of the emerging Communist Party of India who were valiantly fighting against the British colonial rule. Even in its final week of its founding term, the Labour Party authorised the promulgation of the Bengal Special Ordinances, giving powers of indefinite imprisonment by executive order without specific accusation, trial or judicial sentence.
Clearly, the intentions of the Labour Party were never rooted in the common interests of the working class to begin with, and from there on, Labour’s love-in with imperialism has flourished…
The Attlee government, which has been called by much of Britain’s ‘left’ an example of what the Labour Party can do for the masses, is no less an example of how imperialism had branched across all fronts of society. Whilst nationalization, full employment and the National Health Service met many of the necessities of the British working class, these were only temporary concessions. At the same time the horrifying standards for overseas workers who remained under British colonial rule intensified. Tens of thousands subsequently died across the globe in revolts against the administration of British imperialism, carried out loyally by the ‘socialist’ Attlee administration.
The position of the Labour Party during the coal strike should have yet again clearly exposed its loyalty to imperialism once and for all, as labour and the TUC buckled to the Thatcher administration, the media, the police and the intelligence services. In helping to undermine the resistance of the NUM, the vanguard of the British working class was lost. Having come to power with the biggest landslide majority in history, the Blair ministry ensured the continuation of monopoly capitalism’s policy of dismantling the public sector, plummeting thousands of workers into a state of despair.
Any future Labour government would be no differently than any other, and the CPB would do well to remember that. Having already vowed to axe JSA for under-21s and to continue the ‘freeze’ policy on energy bills rather than nationalising the energy sector, it is clear that this Labour government, alike all before, are servants of monopoly capitalism.
Lenin & Britain
In early 1920, Lenin advised British Communists to support and attempt to affiliate themselves with the Labour Party in order to truly expose its character and nature to the masses. Owing to the fact that the public at the time had no experience of a Labour government, Lenin insisted on a formation of a bloc with them on the condition that the communist’s retain their liberty to expose any treacheries committed by the Labour Party.
Having followed this guidance, the former Communist Party of Great Britain was refused in its applications for affiliation in consecutive years from 1920 until 1924. In doing so, the Labour Party proved that it would prefer close relations with the capitalists to the unity of all workers.
Nothing has changed since. The Labour Party always has, is, and forever will be a representative of imperialism and the impending doom of the international working class masses, the continued global exploitation of our international brothers and the impending doom of poverty, famine and war.
Only by breaking from the Labour Party once and for all can the working class hope to build a better future. Only under the guidance of Marxism-Leninisms can we hope to rebuild the fragmented society and form a single, mass movement that puts the masses first.
Marxism will break our chains!
Draft EC Domestic Resolution
For a United, Militant and Political Labour Movement to Defeat the Ruling Class Offensive
1. The priorities for Communist Party work over the coming period will be to:
Build the People’s Assembly movement, the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, the trades councils and community-based campaigns to draw many more people into the struggle against austerity and privatisation.
Strengthen the National Assembly of Women, highlight the feminisation of poverty and project the alternative policies outlined in the Charter for Women.
Expose and combat the agenda to privatise public sector schools and the NHS, including through support for trade union action to defend the quality of our state education and health services, highlighting the need to abolish public schools and private health care.
Project a left-wing programme of alternative policies as in the People’s Charter, particularly the case for a Wealth Tax and public ownership of energy, public transport and the financial sector.
Win the labour movement across Scotland, Wales and England for progressive federalism to resolve the national question in the interests of a united working class movement against British state-monopoly capitalism.
Expose the right-wing character of UKIP and build a left and progressive mass movement against EU membership rooted in the trade unions.
Work to ensure that the Morning Star position as the daily paper of the left, progressive and labour movements is reflected more substantially in sales and financial support.
Explain the need for the trade unions to take the necessary steps to ensure that labour movement has its own mass party, capable of winning general elections and enacting policies in the interests of workers and their families.
Strengthen the Communist Party through deeper involvement in local campaigning work including on the electoral front, a more systematic approach to political education and cadre development and a bolder policy of recruitment especially in the trade union movement.
2. The Communist Party warned before the end of 2008 that the financial crash and economic crisis would be utilised by the ruling class to launch an offensive against the working class and peoples of Britain. The chief forces of monopoly capital would strive to rescue their system, restore its profit base and ensure that the British state and government enforce the interests of big business at whatever cost to the mass of workers and their families.
3. Economically, the dominant section of the capitalist class, organised in the big financial institutions of the City of London, has been served by policies designed to protect its most basic interests. Thus the banks and financial markets have continued to be bailed out with public money and other supportive measures, as liabilities remain nationalised while profits are privatised. Reform and regulation of the financial services sector has been minimal where not postponed altogether.
4. The monopoly capitalists in every sector have benefited from further reductions in taxes on profits, capital gains and high incomes while nothing substantial is done to stamp out their prolific use of tax havens and other tax evasion devices. Unprecedented cuts in state expenditure have reduced tax pressures on the rich and big business, while also helping to depress wage levels generally as prices let rip across the economy. Whole sections of the public sector have either been privatised – most notably the Royal Mail – or prepared for privatisation in the case of education and the NHS.
5. The minimal economic upturn which began in 2014 was delayed by the government’s policies to redistribute even more wealth and purchasing power from the working class and the poorest in our society to big business and the rich. The recovery is flimsy and based on house price inflation, financial mis-selling compensation and consumption by the wealthy, rather than on investment in productive industry to meet growing mass demand at home and abroad. Moreover, it takes place in an unreformed British economy which retains all its most fundamental weaknesses and distortions: overdependence on financial services and armaments (where public money subsidises most of the R&D, production and export sales); underinvestment in civilian manufacturing, engineering, science and technology; absence of effective strategic planning in vital sectors such as energy and transport; and ceding of ownership of key areas of the economy to overseas monopolies so that the British capitalist class can continue to export capital and speculate in finance and property without destroying British state power’s domestic economic base. This ruthless drive to maximise monopoly profit is generating an enormous overaccumulation of capital, much of which will never be realised at its full nominal value. It is preparing the ground for future financial scandals and crashes.
6. Socially, the offensive has intensified overwork by underskilled workers who are increasingly impoverished and insecure. Mass unemployment persists as superexploited migrant labour is imported to maintain a large “reserve army” which can be drawn into employment and then expelled with ease. This has proceeded alongside the imposition of an employment model in key sectors of the economy, such as retail and finance, where zero hours contracts and other forms of precarious work have become the norm for millions of workers in Britain.Thus trade union bargaining power is undermined and wage levels depressed. This wide-ranging attack on real wages, pensions and welfare benefits has rapidly deepened poverty and inequality. In addition, the consequent reduction in working class purchasing power limits the scope for real economic recovery, thereby aggravating the problems of capital overaccumulation and helping to precipitate the next cyclical downturn in the British economy.
7. Culturally, capitalist ownership and its market anarchy favour mass production of anything that can be turned to a profit. Extreme concentrations of wealth together with neoliberal hostility to regulation have enabled many more of Britain’s cultural institutions to fall into the hands of financial speculators, business crooks and pornographers who have no interest in promoting informative, progressive, challenging, liberating or genuinely participative aspects of culture. Instead, much of capitalism’s output reflects the system’s drive for maximum profit regardless of other considerations.
8. Ideologically, the ruling class offensive has unleashed a new propaganda drive against socialist, collectivist and progressive ideas and values. Particular targets include the public services, trade unionism, social solidarity, wealth redistribution, public ownership and anything relating to socialism and communism. Mass media outlets confine news and current affairs coverage to a narrow consensus in which even Keynesian and social democratic views struggle to gain a platform, while socialism and communism are excluded altogether.
9. Politically, big business and the mass media exert enormous pressure, reinforced by the ‘first past the post’ electoral system, to maintain consensus between the major political parties. Straying from the austerity and privatisation agenda or opposing British imperialism’s world view is punished by ferociously hostile media coverage and the loss of financial support. ‘Normalisation’ of fascist parties and representatives in Britain and other parts of Europe as a legitimate part of the political spectrum, while communists are ignored or pilloried, is a particularly disturbing development. At a time when the ruling class has shown itself so unfit to rule – when the scale of corruption in business, parliamentary, media and police circles is too big to be covered up adequately – the mass media allows a platform mainly to ‘anti-Establishment’ views from the far right rather than from the left.
10. In anticipation of this all-round assault, the Communist Party proposed that a mass movement be built around a People’s Charter for Change, putting forward alternative policies to those of austerity and privatisation. Led by the RMT but backed also by the FBU, PCS, other unions and socialists, including left Labour MPs, such an initiative gathered pace in the course of 2009 as the People’s Charter was endorsed by the British TUC annual conference. But there was resistance to wholehearted campaigning in favour of the charter in advance of the 2010 general election. The initiative began to lose impetus, especially after the incoming Tory-LibDem regime more than doubled the public spending cuts proposed by the outgoing Labour government and mounted a vicious attack on pay and pension rights in the public sector.
11. Confronted with an open declaration of class war, unions in that sector understandably prioritised the defence of their members’ terms and conditions. Millions of workers responded magnificently to the call for industrial action in defence of their occupational pensions. In the private sector too, trade unionists in the construction, electrical, railway and other industries demonstrated their willingness to defend jobs, pay and trade union rights against employers backed by a government willing to drive through the biggest decline in working class living standards for 80 years. Yet the trade union movement was unable to build sufficient unity to halt or even slow the austerity offensive. Union sectarianism within the public sector and an inability to secure wider understanding of the common interests of public and private sector workers rendered the general strike call at the 2012 TUC conference inoperable.
12. Throughout this period, the Communist Party advocated trade union and working class unity, pointing out that the necessary defence of public sector pensions was too narrow a basis for the scale of resistance needed. We exposed the link between pension liabilities and covert plans for extensive privatisation. Britain’s communists insisted that winning the case in the labour movement and among the wider public for generalised strike action was far more important than immediately “naming the day.” Even more significantly, we argued that industrial militancy was a necessary but insufficient condition for defeating the Tory-led austerity and privatisation agenda. Coordinated and generalised strike action had to be planned within a political context, one which rejected the legitimacy of the Tory-LibDem regime in favour of a political alternative around which a wide coalition of forces could be mobilised.
13. In the terms pioneered by the CP’s programme Britain’s Road to Socialism, we proposed that a popular, democratic anti-monopoly alliance be built in which the organised working class movement would play the leading role, drawing together all those who could be won to oppose exploitation and oppression. This would mean promoting not only industrial militancy but community campaigning, making connections between the two, engaging in the battle of ideas, stepping up the struggle to reclaim the Labour Party for the labour movement and recognising the necessity for the movement to have its own mass party. It would involve challenging the myths used to divide the working class, such as falsely identifying public sector pay and pensions, benefit claimants or migrant workers as the cause of Britain’s economic and financial crisis. It would also mean dropping any illusions that the Labour Party leadership or the European Union intends to block the ruling class offensive. Furthermore, we proposed that such a movement should develop what Britain’s Road to Socialism calls a ‘left-wing programme’, many of policies of which are reflected in the People’s Charter. The reality must be faced that such an approach was not adopted by the trade union movement as a whole, despite the efforts of communists and socialists in the course of 2012 and 2013.
14. Nevertheless, substantial elements of it have been embraced by significant forces in the labour and progressive movements since the general election. In particular:
There has been growing recognition of the need for trade unions to play a more active role where possible in community organisations and campaigns, not least through reinvigorated local trades union councils, community-based union branches and support for local anti-Bedroom Tax campaigns.
The launch of the People’s Assembly movement in 2013 and its subsequent adoption of the People’s Charter and other left and progressive policies represents an embryonic mass alliance against state-monopoly capitalism, bringing together several trade unions with community campaigns and sections of the Labour Party and wider left including the Communist Party.
Recognising the role of a daily paper and its website in the battle of ideas, the active engagement of trades unions with the Morning Star continues to grow, with nine unions (Unite, GMB, CWU, RMT, FBU, POA, UCATT, Community and the NUM) now represented on the management committee of the paper’s cooperative society.
15. It should also be recognised that the trade union movement has not been laid low by the ruling class and its government and state apparatus, despite setbacks and defeats as well as some victories. Already in 2014 we have seen civil and public servants, railway workers, teachers and lecturers, carers, electricians, journalists, firefighters, prison officers and others taking industrial action.
16. What now needs to happen is that the labour movement and the left, including the Communist Party, assess realistically the objective conditions and trends in Britain today, take the necessary steps to overcome their own weaknesses and take full advantage of the contradictions within British state-monopoly capitalism.
17. Trade unions need to seek greater unity in the fight against austerity and privatisation to protect public services, jobs, wages and pension rights. They should also appreciate the extent to which ruling class strategy is political and ideological, aimed at weakening trade unions financially and organisationally. The escalating attack on union rights and facilities in the public sector confirms this reality. It must be resisted by the whole labour movement because it prefigures a wider offensive against trade unionism in the private and voluntary sectors as well. The Campaign for Trade Union Freedom can play a valuable role in promoting a united, militant and political response. This must include closer co-operation between unions and through trades union councils to organise unemployed, part-time, temporary, casual and migrant workers. The welcome revival of trades councils would be strengthened if more unions ensured that their local branches affiliated and played an active part in them. With more than three million workers unemployed or underemployed, the TUC, its affiliates and their sectoral organisations should consider how to go on the offensive for a shorter working week and working life with no loss of pay or pension, thereby countering proposals to postpone the retirement age still further to 70 and beyond. Nothing would do more to create jobs, boost purchasing power and improve the quality of life for millions of workers and their families.
18. The People’s Assembly must be strengthened organisationally, financially and politically as a militant movement that unites the unions, trades councils, anti-cuts groups, community campaigns and the non-sectarian left in action against austerity and privatisation, in support of an alternative left-wing programme based on the People’s Charter. A powerful movement of this kind is needed to combat the Tory-LibDem coalition and to prepare for whichever government takes office in 2015 and attempts to continue the ruling class offensive. More broad-based local groups should be established locally and coordinated regionally, with active trade union participation at every level and in every nation and region of Britain.
19. Women have been hit disproportionately hard by the ruling class austerity offensive as low-paid workers, users of public and voluntary services, single parents, carers and partners most at risk of domestic violence. Dedicated facilities for women, including victims of rape, have been cut. Yet women have also come to the fore in many local campaigns, whether to defend library and hospital services or to oppose the Bedroom Tax. This makes it still more urgent that trade unions, the People’s Assembly and other campaigning movements do everything possible to support, involve and promote women, including through the provision of dedicated structures and resources where appropriate. In particular, the fight for equal pay for work of equal value has still to be won, highlighting the need for action in favour of compulsory equal pay audits in all sectors of the economy and associated demands. The National Assembly of Women and the Charter for Women can play an invaluable role in linking local and individual campaigns to develop a women’s movement across Britain, promoting political understanding and unity in action against austerity, privatisation, militarism and war.
20. The peoples of Britain can be proud of the extent to which they are building a multiracial society in the teeth of all attempts to divide them against each other. It must remain a top priority to defend multiculturalism and secularism against all attempts to promote religious, ethnic, linguistic or national prejudice and discrimination while building a diverse but integrated working class culture based on class pride, collectivism, unity, equality and solidarity. Mobilising masses of people to deny a platform to racists and fascists wherever possible remains central to this objective. However, this must be accompanied by an explanation of why it is in the interests of workers and people generally to unite against exploitation and oppression. Allowing discrimination against any particular section of the workforce or population eventually undercuts the position of all except the exploiters. That is why the Communist Party rejects on principle the superexploitation of migrant workers, opposes all racist immigration and nationality laws and calls for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. We will continue to work for unity across the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement, based on a recognition that different approaches and priorities need not be a barrier to co-operation, coordination and unity in action wherever they can be achieved.
21. All forces of the labour and progressive movements need to be drawn together in the construction of a mass movement that can turn a defensive struggle against austerity, privatisation and imperialist war into an offensive one for social advance and socialism. The prospects for doing so will be enhanced by the degree to which clarity and unity can be won around a left-wing programme of policies that make inroads into the wealth and power of the capitalist class and its state. Substantial agreement already exists in favour of policies such as democratic public ownership of key industries and services, economic planning, sustainable energy and transport policies that severely reduce carbon emissions, a more progressive taxation system, extensive action to eliminate tax evasion, measures to boost wages, benefits and pensions, imposition of selective price controls, a big construction programme for more council housing, investment in public services and a halt to all forms of privatisation, imposition of capital controls, a major switch from military R&D and production towards civilian and socially useful goods and services. Britain’s repressive anti-trade union laws must be repealed and employment rights expanded. New emphasis needs to be put on promoting policies that guarantee fulfilling employment, training and education opportunities for young people together with equal pay and rights at work for all workers, including women, youth and migrants.
22. At the same time, communists and socialists must step up our efforts to explain how and why so many of the left and progressive policies outlined above fundamentally contradict the neoliberal approach to economic and social questions entrenched in the fundamental treaties and institutions of the European Union. There is a peculiarly British view among progressive-minded people, trade unionists and even socialists that the EU somehow represents an exercise in social progress, solidarity and peaceful co-operation. Most workers across large parts of western and southern Europe have shed such illusions in the course of bitter battles against the brutal austerity and privatisation being enforced by the troika of the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Building a mass left and progressive movement with trade union support against British membership of the EU, especially in the run-up to a possible referendum, will therefore be an internationalist as well as a domestic and democratic necessity.
23. Development of a broad, militant mass movement across Britain against state-monopoly capitalism and for a left-wing alternative is the best context in which to resolve the national question in a progressive, constructive way. Instead of dividing the political class struggle against a united British capitalist class into separate Scottish, Welsh and English compartments, the Communist Party and its allies argue for maintaining working class and labour movement unity in a federal Britain. To secure such federalism on a progressive basis the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly of Wales must be granted powers to challenge monopoly capital in the interests of the workers and peoples of those two countries: powers to stop closures, to intervene industrially and to own and control productive resources. In England, a chamber of the Westminster Parliament could function as an English legislature, with the House of Lords abolished and democratic regional assemblies established by popular demand. Powers and resources should be restored to local government, while directly elected mayors and cabinet-style governance which diminish collective local democracy are scrapped. At the same time, the federal government should retain powers over currency, banking and a sufficient share of tax revenue to be able to redistribute income geographically in terms of social need and to provide a fulcrum for the assertion of democratic power against that of big business. In this way labour, left and progressive movements across Britain would retain their united potential to overthrow the wealth and power of monopoly capital and redistribute it among the workers and peoples of all three countries.
24. The Communist Party is clear that the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition must be defeated in the forthcoming general election, which means supporting the election of the, at present, only practical and viable alternative – a Labour government. This need not require support for every Labour candidate, especially where communists and other candidates may be standing on a broad left platform against the worst Labour champions of neoliberalism and imperialism. Nevertheless, only a defeat of the Tories and LibDems in the election overall will raise people’s morale and determination to fight for left and progressive policies.
25. In the meantime, to help secure such a result, maximum pressure must be exerted on the Labour leadership to propose a winning programme. At the forefront of Labour’s manifesto should be a commitment to end the austerity and privatisation offensive. Real increases in incomes, including the introduction of a statutory living wage, would boost living standards, production, investment and employment. Selective controls on rents, fares and energy and food prices would bring relief to the many millions of people on low incomes. A massive council-house building programme would give hope to many families and young people desperate for a home of their own, as well as creating up to a million new jobs. Rolling back the privatisation of the NHS, notably in England, and putting an end to PFI profiteering would be a vote-winner, likewise a Labour pledge to take the gas, electricity, water, postal and railway industries back into public ownership. Such a left programme could be be financed by abolishing Britain’s nuclear weapons and reducing military spending to the average European level; taxing the rich, financial speculation and big business profits more equitably; and ending the tax haven status of overseas territories under British jurisdiction.
26. Nor should the connections between domestic and international matters be neglected, which is why the labour movement needs to develop its own independent foreign and defence policy in opposition to EU and NATO and in favour of fair trade, social justice, popular sovereignty, international co-operation and peace.
27. While it is unlikely that many of these policies will be accepted by the Labour leadership, arguing for them can raise the level of political understanding in the labour movement, better equipping it for vital strategic tasks ahead.
28. Since the early 20th century, the Labour Party has been the mass electoral party of the labour movement in Britain. Its class base and broad popular appeal have enabled it to win elections, form governments and introduce reforms in the interests of workers and the people generally. Labour’s federal structure, with its affiliated trade unions and working class composition, has helped to ensure the existence of a significant socialist trend within the party, as well as the stronger social-democratic one. Generations of working people have seen Labour as the main repository of their aspirations for a better life and a fairer, more humane society. But while Labour governments have sometimes improved economic, social and political conditions, they have never challenged the foundations of capitalism and imperialism and indeed have waged wars to defend colonial power against national liberation movements. The social-democratic trend in the party has always refused to pursue a strategy for taking state power and using it to replace capitalism with socialism.
29. After its first term in office, the new Labour trend led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown openly pursued a neoliberal agenda on behalf of British state-monopoly capitalism, which included dismantling the trade union and class basis of the Labour Party to make it completely safe for big business. Since then, the Miliband-Balls leadership has failed to break with neoliberalism. On March 1 2014, the Labour Party embarked on what might well be the final stage of its mutation into a non-labour party. Delegates including those from all but one of the affiliated trade unions voted to weaken, perhaps fatally, the collective basis of trade union involvement in the party.
30. The period up to and immediately following the June 2015 general election will demonstrate conclusively whether or not Labour can be reclaimed as the mass electoral party of the labour movement. Labour’s election manifesto will reveal whether trade union influence has produced a left or progressive programme. If the party moves away from austerity, privatisation and the renewal of nuclear weapons and commits a Labour government to measures in favour of public ownership, progressive taxation, public sector housing, price controls and additional rights for workers and trade unions, this will indicate that the battle to reclaim the party can possibly be won. In the ongoing drive to do so, the whole of the left and the labour movement would have a duty to support the Labour left and affiliated unions in their efforts, reinforced by an upsurge in determination and enthusiasm to implement Labour’s manifesto policies in the face of ferocious ruling class opposition.
31. Should the manifesto fail to propose a clear alternative to neoliberalism, Labour will let down its supporters and either lose the election or subsequently govern with the same feeble and reactionary policies that threw away the largest parliamentary majority in history achieved in 1997. Under these conditions, the labour movement and the left will have no option but to take the necessary steps to re-establish a mass party of labour. Staying with a party that no longer pretends to represent working class interests – and where the prospects of it doing so have all but vanished – is a recipe for permanent defeat and despair. While the initial moves towards re-establishing a labour party will have to come from a minority of unions, some of them small or non-affiliated, it will be vital to win at least one or two of the big battalions of the labour movement to this objective.
32. The proposal that unions form their own distinct party, rooted in the labour movement and affiliated to Labour like the Co-operative Party merits serious consideration. It would need to have its own policy-making conference, elected leadership and financial autonomy. Such an initiative could give unions a clearer, stronger and collective political voice both inside and beyond the Labour Party – all the more so if it does not operate bans and proscriptions. Were unions to decide later that they need to re-establish their own mass party outside the Labour Party, much of the initial preparatory work would already have been done.
33. This battle of ideas will be central to the debate that needs to be taken forward urgently about reclaiming or re-establishing the labour movement’s mass party. In particular, ways have to be found to engage the trade unions more extensively in this discussion, however difficult this may be in the run-up to the general election and during any post-victory honeymoon period. Trade union bodies at every level, up to and including the Trades Union Congress, should organise discussions, meetings and conferences to consider the crisis in the political representation of the working class, the future of the Labour Party and how more workers can be drawn into political activity and representation. As the left’s only daily paper, with six Labour-affiliated and three non-affiliated unions represented on its management committee, the Morning Star would be especially well placed to stimulate the debates and initiatives necessary to help resolve the crisis of working class political representation, whether through reclaiming or re-establishing the labour movement’s mass party.
34. However, it must be recognised that the biggest problem on the left in Britain is not so much a shortage of socialist parties as of socialists. The long decline and collapse of social democracy, the previous divisions which severely weakened the Communist Party and the adventurism and sectarianism of the far left have all contributed to a failure to defeat the New Right’s ideological onslaught since the 1970s. The left must now take on the full and urgent responsibility to reclaim the labour movement for socialism, which is a precondition for reclaiming or re-establishing a mass party which can advance beyond social democracy. This will only happen if the left and the trade unions prioritise the work of raising the political consciousness of workers in large numbers, explaining and projecting the ideas and values of socialism.
35. Strengthening the Communist Party and its influence would contribute directly to resolving the crisis of working class political representation in Britain. This is because the CP is rooted in the labour movement, organises to build mass campaigning and seeks to apply its Marxist outlook to vital strategic questions in a non-dogmatic, non-sectarian way. A bigger and more influential Communist Party, active on every front of the political class struggle, unifying in its approach, unwavering in its commitment to socialism, imbued with internationalism, would help transform the political situation in Britain.
36. Building the Communist Party would strengthen not only the party itself but every aspect of resistance to the capitalist onslaught. Attention should be given to identifying working class activists as potential recruits to the party. The unique role of the CP in developing such original analysis and a guide to action as the Charter for Women should lay the basis for attracting a new generation of campaigning women. The party must support the Young Communist League politically and with resources to help the YCL extend its work among youth and students.
37. Central to developing the role of the Communist Party must be the activity of Communists in workplaces, most of which are today unorganised or very weakly organised. The strength of the resistance to ruling class attacks in the 1970s was firmly based on hundreds of CP branches in industry. Effective and politically mature workplace organisation, especially in key sectors of the economy, is essential for redeveloping a strong, confident working class movement that can give leadership in communities and wider struggles. Placing Communists at the centre of such work must be a priority if the ruling class offensive is to be defeated.
38. Communists must raise our effectiveness as a result of improving our political education and cadre development and thus the united and disciplined approach of all comrades to our political work.
39. We need to raise our public imageand have a bolder approach to electoral struggle. Communist policies must be highlighted and tested in electoral contests, reflecting experiences in grassroots struggles. All party organisations have the capacity to be involved in elections and should put forward candidates under the party banner in local council polls. This approach can also provide an effective basis for communist participation in parliamentary and assembly election campaigns in selective constituencies. The party should also keep under consideration the construction of longer-term electoral formations in alliance with trade unions, domiciled communists, socialists, environmentalists and other progressives.
40. Key to the ideological struggle and the battle to increase Communist Party is increased sales of the Morning Star, the only paper that offers a daily outlet for communist and socialist ideas and reportage of working class issues. A more influential and financially secure Morning Star is essential to social advance. Every party member can play a role in buying and selling the Morning Star, raising donations to the paper’s Fighting Fund and winning labour movement shareholdings in the PPPS co-operative that owns it. Working with the Star editor and Management Committee we must carefully develop a strategy to ensure that the Morning Star is rightfully seen as the paper of the People’s Assembly, the unions and the broader movement.
41. Ongoing capitalist crisis expresses itself in a worsening standard of life for working people while the pampered elite enriches itself still further. Our party’s revolutionary proposals offer a decisive but achievable alternative to the austerity agenda favoured by Establishment parties. Communists should play a leading role in combining everyday struggles with the longer-term goal of opening the way to a socialist future.
For some months now, Red Youth has been receiving requests to contribute financially towards an advert in the Morning Star, ostensibly to commemorate the birth of JV Stalin. This advert was being prepared by Second Wave Publications, a small left-wing publisher.
In the course of their efforts to publish this advert, comrades at Second Wave ran into a stumbling block in the shape of the editor of the Morning Star, Richard Bagley. We publish below the correspondence that has followed between a supporter of the advert – CPB Morecombe Bay & Lancaster branch secretary Norman Hill – and Mr Bagley, along with the original advert. Our readers may in this way judge the issue for themselves, while becoming better acquainted with the present editorial policy of the Morning Star.
It is our opinion that both the political outlook of the designers of the advert and the editorial policy of the Morning Star represent considerable obstacles to the struggle of the working class in its fight against capitalist crisis and for socialism.
On the one hand, Second Wave seeks to ‘celebrate’ Stalin in such a grossly abstract and amateurish manner that it would be better to spare him the shame, whilst the Morning Star would rather not discuss the matter at all, lest it expose their total capitulation to barely-concealed opportunism, economism and social democracy.
Any celebration of the life of Josef Stalin must be closely connected to, and make absolutely clear, the world-historic significance of the man, his work, and his achievements in the building of socialism if it is to have any relevance to the working class today.
The building of the Bolshevik party and the victory of the great October socialist revolution in 1917; the successes in the building of the world’s first-ever socialist society; the dramatic rise in the standard of living for millions of Soviet citizens, who had in just a few short years left feudal and primitive social conditions behind for good; the victory of the USSR over fascism; the firm leadership given by JV Stalin during these and other challenging and cataclysmic struggles … all this barely scratches the surface of the significance of Stalin and the Soviet experience for us today.
Here is a man who in death, as in life, inspires the most furious and passionate hatred of the bourgeoisie and its troto-revisionist hangers on. And the inspiration for this hatred rests not with the man, his personality or habits, but with his politics and with the achievements associated with those politics – namely, the defence of the principles of scientific socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Under the leadership of JV Stalin, the whole world watched with awe as the peoples of the Soviet Union set new heights for heroism and progress, abolished the exploitation of man by man, destroyed the feudal and capitalist relics of Russian tsardom, united the formerly colonial subjects of the Russian empire into a mighty force for socialism, liberation and progress which touched every corner of the globe and made the single greatest contribution to the ending of colonial subjugation for millions of starving, wretched and oppressed people.
Quite shamefully, Richard Bagley, rather than admit to and celebrate the above, seeks to belittle the role and contemporary relevance of the builder of socialism and inspirer of the defeat of fascism, asserting that he is merely a “single, divisive individual” who “died sixty years ago”. A more clumsy, ignorant and painfully dismissive statement we could not expect to be confronted with in another 60 years!
Even the most crass of bourgeois historians could not be found guilty of such outstanding stupidity. Comrade Bagley, a titan of the international working-class movement, brushes aside the earth-shattering contribution of Josef Stalin in such a matter-of-fact way it almost leaves one breathless.
But whilst such craven capitulation to the troto-revisionist fraternity is really quite tragic, it is to be expected. For, perhaps unbeknown to our friends at Second Wave Publications, comrade Bagley is not the only titan running the show; he is but a mouthpiece for his bosses back at Ruskin House – Griffiths, Haylett and the whole bunch of similarly dismissive Khrushchevite mummies who occupy the leadership of the Communist Party of Britain.
This sour and ageing gentry long ago abandoned all fidelity to Marxism Leninism, taking themselves over to the side of social democracy with a zeal and enthusiasm, the magnitude of which can only be matched by their combined egos. Such anti-communist comments as those made by Mr Bagley furnish further proof, if any were needed, that the party of Harry Pollitt and Willie Gallacher is certainly not the party of Bagley, Haylett, Griffiths and co.
How can such men claim any allegiance to communism? Or, rather, how arethey able to convince the rest of their party that they stand in the tradition of the old CPGB? Are the members so insipid? Are they so in awe of their full-time officials? The statement by the illustrious editor of their paper could not be further from these words of Harry Pollitt: ”Stalin – the man who really believed in the working class and evoked from it all that creative genius and energy which has astounded the world for over 30 years and will do more so in the future.”
How poor Comrade Pollitt would hate to hear that the inheritors of the Daily Worker/Morning Star, rather than being inspired to further creative genius by the life work of Comrade Stalin, instead choose to skulk away, brushing him aside and doing their best to pretend that Stalin and Soviet socialism never existed!
It is not Stalin who has no relevance to the working class in its fight against austerity but Bagley and company. It is not Stalin who is divisive but Bagley and all the rest of the revisionists and Trotskyites who work so hard to keep every class-conscious worker tied to the imperialist Labour party and divided from their comrades-in-arms in the oppressed countries.
Bagley has absolutely nothing to teach us about the struggle against austerity and war. Rather, it is Stalin whose words ring out today, as clear, true and full of hope and promise as ever:
“Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence as of old and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon – this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution.”
—- Forwarded Message —– From: N Hill To: Richard Bagley Sent: Tuesday, 10 December 2013, 23:41 Subject: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
You have censored an advertisement commemorating the birthday of Josef Stalin on the grounds that publication of the proposed half-page advertisement would ‘bring the paper into disrepute’.
I am interested to know how you arrived at this conclusion: was it based purely upon intuition or was it based upon factual evidence arising from some previous event? If the latter, please provide details.
Please provide me with some reason/s for your decision to censor the advertisement despite a fee and date of insertion having already been agreed with your advertising department some weeks before you made your decision (and then immediately departing for your holiday – leaving no time for an appeal to be made for you to reconsider).
You will be aware that a commemorative birthday advertisement was published in December last year without any problem so has there been a change of policy that has been kept secret from shareholders of the PPPS and the leadership of the Communist Party of Britain?
Norman Hill – in personal capacity
Secretary Morecambe Bay and Lancaster CPB,
Treasurer Northern District Committee CPB,
Communist Party member and Morning Star reader, supporter and promoter for 34 years.
From: N Hill To: Richard Bagley Sent: Friday, 13 December 2013, 9:39 Subject: Fw: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
This is a second request for reasons leading you to conclude the advertisement would ‘bring the paper into disrepute’ and to subsequently censor it.
A response will be appreciated.
From: Richard Bagley To: N Hill Sent: Friday, 13 December 2013, 13:09 Subject: Re: Fw: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
Apologies for the delay in replying to your email of December 10th but we are currently short-staffed at the paper.
I recognise your long-standing support for the paper so I welcome your request for more information on this issue.
As a long-term supporter you will be aware that each year PPPS members endorse the editorial link between the Morning Star and the Communist Party of Britain’s programme Britain’s Road to Socialism.
My role as editor, alongside many other responsibilities, is to ensure that the content of the paper reflects and assists the development of the strategy highlighted in that document, with the aim in the first instance of forging a popular democratic anti-monopoly alliance.
That is the central political role of the Morning Star as a daily newspaper with the historic and current goal of wide circulation.
Content destined for the paper’s pages cannot be allowed to fundamentally undermine this strategic objective.
The advert that you refer to does not pass this test.
I hope that this clarifies the issue.
Morning Star Editor
From: N Hill To: Richard Bagley Dear Editor,
I thank you for your reply and I am sorry to learn that the paper is short-staffed – I hope this is but a temporary situation.
I have always been aware of the editorial link between the paper and CBP’s programme, the BRS, and I fully acknowledge the paper’s invaluable work in helping to build a broad democratic alliance against multi-national monopoly capitalism – this is why I have purchased a daily copy since 1978, became a shareholder of the PPPS and why I have sought at every opportunity to sell and to promote the Morning Star despite periods of financial hardship and, sometimes, open hostility from not only the main class enemy but from members of the labour movement, too. So I am dissatisfied with your reply.
Please explain how publication of the proposed birthday commemoration advertisement would, in your opinion and based upon what evidence, ‘fundamentally undermine the paper’s strategic objective of reflecting and assisting the development of the strategy highlighted in the BRS and the paper’s aim of forging a popular democratic anti-monopoly alliance’ and how, precisely, it ‘does not pass this test’.
I am also curious to know why, when a date for insertion and fee had been agreed with your advertising department in early October, you only decided to ban its publication in early December (before immediately departing on holiday).
From: Richard Bagley To: N Hill Date: 13 December 2013 16:47:45 GMT Subject: Re: Fw: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
I find it incredible that you are unable to see how the advert submitted would conflict with the paper’s primary goal of forging a popular anti-monopoly alliance. I have said all I am going to say on the matter.
With regards your second point, the advert was rejected when it was brought to my attention. It would appear highly unusual for a fee to be agreed three months early – and indeed, as I understand it, there was an attempt to secure space for the advert at a 30 per cent discount. I can see no reason why the paper would agree to offer such a large discount.
I can only assume that the individual approaching our advertising department was misled, or they have misled you.
From: N Hill
To: R Bagley
Two tragic bereavements in as many months have left me with little stomach for a war of words with you so I simply ask (for the third time), can you please explain why you were of the opinion that publication of the proposed half page advertisement commemorating the birthday of Josef Stalin would have ‘brought the paper into disrepute’ and subsequently prevented it from being printed? On what evidence did you base your opinion? And why was a commemorative advertisement accepted last year without any problem? If you were so concerned about upsetting the perceived fragile sensibilities of a section of the readership why could you not have printed a disclaimer to cover your own back?
These are straightforward questions and ones which I believe deserve a straight forward response. For example, it is not necessary for me to know that the question causes you astonishment or to be presented with the ethos of the Morning Star – which I have known for half my lifetime – or to read the Work Description of the editor of the paper; I just want non-pompous answers to my questions so I may confidently return to subscribing to, funding, and promoting the Morning Star in the knowledge that it is not being steered in a history-denying bourgeois direction.
From: Richard Bagley To: N Hill Date: 25 December 2013 13:58:23 GMT Subject: RE: Stalin Birthday Ad – Morning Star
I am sorry to hear about your recent bereavements and I hope this reply will not distress you further.
I have however no intention of engaging with your detailed interrogation on this issue.
If you choose to define your support for the paper in relation to this advert’s acceptance or not then that is your choice.
It appears, Norman, that you have made up your mind that the paper is a ‘history-denying’ and ‘bourgeois’ publication based on the non-publication of one advert related to a single, divisive individual from Soviet history who died 60 years ago. (Emphasis added by Second Wave)
I have explained why this decision was taken in the light of the very real class challenges that we face in the present, and our party’s strategic policy which requires maximum unity in the face of the worst onslaught on working-class people in 80 years and with no end in sight.
Assessment of Stalin’s legacy and contribution to Soviet history belongs in Communist Review not the pages of the Morning Star, a non-theoretical journal which has enough of the current to focus on without engaging in diversionary and abstract debates on events 60 years ago because it is some people’s peculiar obsession or at the heart of a few individuals’ political compass. (Emphasis added by Second Wave)
I don’t see how anything other than the advert’s publication would put your mind at rest.