The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) held its fourth congress on Saturday 5 July. A landmark event in the life of our young party, the congress was characterised by a high level of unity, informed, impassioned and comradely debate, and a seriousness of purpose.
By overwhelming majorities, in fact in most cases unanimously, delegates adopted a wide range of resolutions on crucial issues of the class struggle at home and abroad. A number of them are reproduced in this issue of Proletarian.
Our unity is won and sustained through study and debate on the basis of inner-party democracy. For example, in the case of immigration (see cover article), discussion continued for over a year, with all comrades having the right to circulate their views throughout the party via the central committee. We consider, therefore, that our unity rests on solid foundations.
Alongside our political development, the fourth congress marked our steady organisational development, with both increased membership and activity. Comrades were present from many parts of Britain, including London, the Midlands, Yorkshire, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest England, as well as from Wales and Scotland.
Many of the lessons from this congress were encapsulated and summed up in the opening and closing remarks of our chairman, Comrade Harpal Brar. He quoted a letter from Engels, who wrote of the demoralising effect that the defeat of the Chartists had had on the working-class movement. However, whilst there were times when nothing much seemed to happen in years, there also came times when the events of years were compressed into single days.
We have to use the times when the movement is at a low ebb to prepare for the future, developing both theory and tactics for the revolutionary days to come. Socialism is a science and therefore needs to be studied as such. The working class needs to prepare itself to become the ruling class and has the responsibility to behave as the ruling class in waiting.
The job of our party is to bring theory to the working class. If we fail to do so, we will not meet the challenge when the time comes. In the words of Karl Marx, “There is no royal road to science and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summit.”
With the exception of our party, Comrade Harpal continued, practically all parties in Britain claiming to be socialist or communist say that the Labour party is a party of the working class. If they really mean it, then they should liquidate themselves into Labour. We must take the fight to the members of those parties, he said, extending a special welcome to those comrades who have recently left the revisionist Communist Party of Britain (CPB) to join us.
Summing up at the close of congress, Harpal said that, since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries, the bourgeoisie had spared no effort to malign or even outlaw communism.
We have to defend the socialist countries, he pointed out. The congress resolution on China had pointed out certain shortcomings that needed to be addressed, “but you would straight away know the difference if socialist China were to collapse. Imperialism would be given another 20-30 years lease of life.”
Harpal cited Lenin’s remark that the struggle against imperialism would be a sham and a humbug if it were not combined with the struggle against opportunism. When people find excuses not to support the resistance in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are capitulating to imperialism.
We cannot dictate to others how they conduct their revolution and we are very proud of the many people in our party who, over many years, long before the CPGB-ML was founded, have been engaged in active anti-imperialist solidarity work with the peoples of Indochina, Korea, Zimbabwe, Palestine, South Africa, Ireland and elsewhere.
Our chairman also said that he was proud to be in a party that does not suppress debate or make policy by diktat. As Stalin had said, iron unity presupposes the freedom of discussion and debate. We talk things through and then we take our policies out to the working class in a united way.
We will not bureaucratically prevent a minority becoming a majority, because it has been shown historically that minorities can sometimes be right. Comrade Harpal particularly congratulated those comrades who had argued for minority views during the congress for the serious and principled way in which they had done so.
Delegates, he said, must now leave united and determined to spread the ideas of the proletarian revolution, to call on the working class to take the road of the October revolution as the only road leading to the bright highway of communism, which alone can liberate humanity.