Red Voice Media
The British Road to Revisionism
“We must draw a clear line between ourselves and the enemy” – Mao Tse Tung
The Communist Party of Great Britain was founded in 1920, alongside many other historic parties following the soon to be victory of the Bolsheviks in the East. The CPGB made huge strides in the following decades, and it is this legacy which is currently being retarded by modern day Communist ‘Parties’, such as that of the Communist Party of Britain, or Communist Party Great Britain – Marxist-Leninist, amongst others.
Each organisation claims to be “The” Communists, the self appointed vanguard of the working class, whilst supporting no significant base amongst the masses, practising no mass line, and having no people’s army (or not even an intention of forming one). It is for these reasons we can not consider these organisations The Communist Party in anything other than name. It should be understood that it is the primary aim of British Communists to construct these three instruments of revolution.
We at RVM are not claiming to have constructed either of these, however it is important on the centenary of the founding of the CPGB to understand that this is the task set before us, as well as to firmly grasp the current political landscape, and how it emerged.
The Labour Party & Social Fascism
In the early years of the CPGB, there was huge debate on the role of the newly formed Labour Party, and what Communists relations to it ought to be, and should Communists participate in British parliament?
It was argued by figures such as Willie Gallacher and Suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, that Communists should not participate in the bourgeois parliament, and took a stance against the Labour Party, despite their strong links to many popular trade unions at the time. This was a position Lenin famously criticised in Left Wing Communism. Leading the CPGB to run their members in elections under the banner of the Labour Party, leading to the first communist MP, Saklavata. It is also important to stress that whilst Lenin did not retract his statements made in Left Wing Communism, he did acknowledge his mistakes in supporting certain elections. [See Stalin’s Speech delivered at a meeting called by the Moscow Committee, R.C.P. (B.) on the occasion of V. I. Lenin’s Fiftieth Birthday, April 23, 1920]
Whilst Marxist-Leninist-Maoists do not oppose contending in elections in principle, we do not consider this to be a worthwhile practice under current conditions, and the vast majority of western MLM organisations take a similar stance. We do not disagree with Lenin in principle, but it must be understood that a dogma has been formed around this position amongst many in the British left, that you must contend in elections. It is perhaps this reply from Lenin which sparked the conflation of reformists and revolutionaries in British politics.
This begs the question: How do revolutionaries view the Labour Party?
It should be made clear that the Labour Party is a capitalist party, or more specifically a social democratic one. This ideology is opposed to working class revolution in favour of gradual reforms, and is what we would call social fascism. Why do we call it this?
In short, it is simply because Labour can be described as socialist in name, fascist in nature. But we should make clear that social democracy and fascism are not one unified political block, quite the opposite. Fascism empowers corporations through privatisation, Social-Democracy empowers corporations through State-Capitalism under the Bourgeois State. They are twins which facilitate one another, serving the same purpose; the prevention of socialist revolution.
Why can social-democracy be considered fascisms twin? It is because social democracy acts as a path for the ruling class to inject their ideology into the working class movement, pacify it and consume it. This should be abundantly clear in how Labour dominates the trade union movement, and many grass root campaigns. Social democracy seeks out forced class collaborationism, which would be administered by reactionary trade unions (Unite, Unison etc), Labour activists seeking to pacify the anti fascist, anti war movements, or trying to dominate many COVID 19 aid groups and so on. These objectives are inseparable from that of corporatism, which in itself is often characteristic of fascism.
The Building of The British Road
Returning to the CPGB, in the years preceding World War II, Comintern encouraged Communist Parties to lead what was called the Popular Front. This policy encouraged parties to abandon their revolutionary programs (for example, our readers should study the CPGBs 1929 & 1935 programs Class Against Class and For Soviet Britain) in favour of broad collaboration with social democratic parties, which in turn served to defend bourgeois democracy.
At this point in time, Soviet industrialisation was still rapidly advancing, but they knew they were ultimately buying time until they would be invaded by Nazi Germany. Industrialization needed to be maintained for as long as possible to provide sufficient materials for war. It is often argued this policy was put in place to defend the Soviet Union, at the time the only socialist nation, rather than to forward socialist revolution across the globe.
This policy was ultimately continued throughout the war, and in fairness did lead to some growth in the CPGB. However, after the war was won, and the Soviet Union defended, there was no reason to defend the continuation of this policy. With the British state lying in ruin, a policy of revolutionary war should have been waged.
“Turn imperialist war into civil war” – Lenin
However, in 1951 the CPGB published the first of many editions of The British Road to Socialism.
This document suggests that socialism can be legislated into existence. To quote “[…] to bring about decisive change in Britain, the millions of workers in trade unions, cooperatives, and individual members’ sections of The Labour Party will have to use their political and industrial strength to make it impossible for the right-wing Labour leaders or the Tories to carry on their present pernicious policy […] It is through this struggle that the unity of all the workers by hand and brain, by professional people and farmers can develop a movement strong enough to defeat the rich and their defenders in the Labour Party, to ensure peace and a future for all working people. […] Only by united action between all sections of the labour movement can the working class rally all its forces and all its allies for decisive action to win a parliamentary majority and form a People’s Government.”
Readers should note that, along the very blatant reformism in this passage, the suggestion that we should only use our “political and industrial strength” negates the need for a People’s Army, and negates the universal principle that political power grows out the barrel of the gun. Reducing the role of the Communist Party from a militant force into a faction of the Labour Party.
Following the original 1950 version, the British Road to Socialism (BRS) was updated again in 1958 following Khrushchev’s Secret Speech, and claimed that “A transition to socialism is possible without armed conflict in many countries” and that this was without doubt applicable in Britain where there was a “strong tradition of democratic institutions”. Not only is this a slap in the face to the workers movement, but a slap in the face to the Irish Republican movement, or other British colonies, who for decades had been facing the wrath of said “democratic institutions”.
This should highlight again the role of social-fascism. This time not only is it Labour, but it is coming from the once socialist base itself, that is Khrushchev’s Soviet Union. The BRS tows both Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful coexistence with the capitalist world, and the “dictatorship of the whole people”, under which the newly emerged Soviet bourgeois was enforced under a corporatist model. For this reason, alongside the slander of revolutionary leadership and the pacification of militant parties is why when we quote Mao saying “The Soviet Union is a dictatorship of the Hitlerite variety”, it is not phrase mongering for shock value, it is the correct historical evaluation.
However, it would be ahistorical to blame all this on Khrushchev. Many proponents of the BRS will often point out how Stalin endorsed the BRS, and aided it’s creation. However, we are not dogmatists. We are pragmatists. We do not wish to follow a policy which has caused the demise of multiple Communist “Parties”. It should also be of note, that Stalin criticised the leadership of the CPGB under Harry Pollitt that they were “too soft” on the Labour Party and needed to maintain that Labour was, and always will be a bourgeois party. Alongside this, we should note that the only information Stalin had regarding the state of the CPGB, came from the CPGB itself, and can not be deemed wholly accurate, as it was likely they would big up their influence as to appear more like the mass parties in France and Italy.
This policy was continued, and briefly updated over the years, getting worse with each edition, until the CPGB dissolved itself after the coup in the USSR in 1991. However a handful of years prior to this, in 1988 a large section of the CPGB which rallied around the Morning Star newspaper, split to form the Communist Party of Britain, who claimed that the later editions of the BRS were eurocommunist, and to this day follow a version of the BRS which is wholly unchanged since the 1951 edition.
Like the demise of the CPGB, we see the same thing repeated with the CPB. With the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2016, they saw huge swaths of their members leave to join Labour, and it does not appear that they have returned following the election of Keir Starmer. Those familiar with internal Labour politics should see how Corbyn’s leadership and the attempted purge of Blairites, was very much in line with the BRS. In fact, Corbyn was everything they could have wanted in the Labour Party. And it failed. It fell flat on its face. Yet they still adhere to the rat race of reformism, yet to properly answer to the failures of Corbyn, and that it’ll all be fine if we just try harder next time…
This is also the case with the Trotskyist group Militant Tendency, who attempted to weave their way into Labour councils, especially in North West England during the 1970s, going onto control large amounts of Labour’s youth organisation, leading to much of them to be expelled from Labour in this ultimately futile exercise.
People’s War for People’s Peace
It is for these reasons, we put forward the slogan “People’s war for people’s peace” . It is essential that we recognise the never ending roundabout that’s presented by the BRS, and similar programs such as the entryism of the IMT or the betrayal of the Irish revolution by Sinn Fein, and grasp the necessity of revolutionary violence, and the universality of people’s war. Today peoples war is beginning to be waged across the globe. From Peru, to India, to Turkey, to the Philippines, to Palestine, to Brazil in the latest revolutionary wave. That is the revolutionary wave presented by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
We would also like to make it clear that, whilst we are proud to openly demarcate ourselves from Labour, we do not hold people who hold passive support for figures like Corbyn in contempt, we would like to work with these people in the hope of winning them over from their rightist positions.
It should be recognised that the principal aim for communists in Great Britain should be the reconstitution of the Communist Party of Great Britain, as both a militant and Maoist force. This may be significantly more challenging than simply tailing the Labour party, and we would like to stress that war is not a desirable proposition, we do not want to go to war however we are forced to. it is the only way in which a dictatorship of the proletariat is to be established in Britain.
“No significant revolution in history has come about without a civil war. No serious Marxist would conceive the transition from capitalism to socialism without civil war.” – Lenin