15 May 2004
After a hiatus of six months, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) met on 8 May for the sole purpose, it would appear, of expelling five members of the NEC and the entire Executive Committee of the Yorkshire Region. What, you would be wondering, made the NEC majority resort to such a drastic and unconstitutional measure? The answer to this lies in the social democratic politics of Arthur Scargill and his cronies.
In 1996, Scargill took the initiative in founding the SLP. We have always given him credit for effecting this historic organisational break with the imperialist Labour Party. Important though this organisational breach was, it was by no means sufficient. For the SLP to be forged into a revolutionary party capable of leading the British working class in the latter’s struggle to overthrow British imperialism and establish socialism, the party needed to make an ideological breach with the philosophy of class collaboration, which is the hallmark of social democracy.
It was precisely our insistence on making this ideological break with social democracy (‘old’ as well as ‘new’ Labour), and our insistence on integrating the science of Marxism Leninism with the practice of the working-class movement in Britain, and Scargill’s misplaced, even reactionary, opposition to such attempts on our part, which constituted the crux of the differences between Arthur Scargill and those in the SLP who support him, on the one hand, and ourselves, on the other.
Over the years we have consistently argued that “without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement”, and that “… the role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory”. (Lenin) Instead of accepting this, the only revolutionary stance for a working-class party, which claims to lead the working class in the latter’s struggle for socialism through the overthrow of imperialism (monopoly capitalism), our opponents have confined themselves to the philistine preaching of opportunism hand in hand with “an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity” – that is when occasionally they involve themselves in any activity at all.
With a zeal worthy of a better cause, our opportunists in the SLP led by Arthur Scargill, saturated through and through with the politics of trade unionism (ie, bourgeois politics), have been busy trying to rid the SLP of all serious theoretical thought and turn it into yet another outfit completely characterised by eclecticism and lack of principle.
Disdain and contempt for theory has been the curse of the British working-class movement for a very long time. This “indifference towards all theory”, as Engels noted a whole 130 years ago, is “… one of the main reasons why the English working-class movement crawls along so slowly”. Unlike our opportunist opponents, Engels insisted on three forms of the historic struggle of the proletariat, placing theoretical struggle on a par with the other two forms – political and practical-economic (resistance to the daily encroachments of capital).
Unlike our opportunists, Engels demanded of working-class leaders that they “gain an ever clearer insight into all theoretical questions, to free themselves … from the influence of traditional phrases inherited from the old world outlook, and constantly to keep in mind that socialism, since it has become a science, demands that it be pursued as a science, ie, that it be studied”. (Preface to The Peasant War in Germany)
Scargill’s total ignorance of scientific socialism, his utter contempt for theory in the worst traditions of British trade unionism, his proclivity for Christian petty-bourgeois pacifism, his complete devotion to the bourgeois politics of trade unionism, his inability to get rid of the baggage of shallow lib-lab politics, which he acquired through his membership of the imperialist Labour Party over a period of four decades, combined with his insufferable vanity, have served to prevent him from taking the above sensible advice of Engels and effecting an ideological break with social democracy. Hence his constant hankering after ‘old’ Labour and the confinement of his denunciation to ‘new’ Labour alone.
Needless to say that Arthur Scargill did not confront our position by an open and honest debate. Instead, he resorted to procedural manoeuvres, unconstitutional practices, abuse of authority, bluster, manipulation, threats and attempts at intimidation – the only weapons known to him – in a desperate attempt to stifle all discussion of these most important issues, in the process making himself look more and more ridiculous and impotent. Scargill did not, and could not, confront us with any arguments, for he had none – bereft as he is of even a modicum of knowledge of the science of revolution – Marxism Leninism.
In the most difficult of situations, we continued with our theoretical and – yes – practical work in the interests of the party in the face of every possible obstruction. Like all opportunists, being a coward, Scargill did not have the guts to openly oppose our attempts at introducing Marxian theory into our party work. Nor could he find any constitutional breaches on our part. Driven to desperation by this state of affairs, he and his fellow social democrats resorted to expulsions in total violation of the SLP’s constitution, the decisions of our Party Congress, and in flagrant breach of the norms governing relations among members of a proletarian party.
On 8 May 2004, we had to confront a small group of mindless youths learning to be thugs, new opportunist recruits to Scargill’s social democratic clique, who unsuccessfully attempted to bar us from reaching the venue of the NEC meeting. The meeting itself was a farce. Scargill read a statement, falsely accusing us of acting unconstitutionally and recommending our expulsion. Without being given the opportunity to say a single word in our defence (something that even the most kangaroo of bourgeois courts are not usually guilty of), the majority of the NEC raised their hands in favour of our expulsion. In doing so, the majority of the NEC, far from acting in a revolutionary way and safeguarding the tenets of proletarian justice, acted as flunkeys pure and simple. In doing so, these placemen have covered themselves with eternal shame and shall forever be correctly characterised as flunkeys.
We ask you to carefully study the correspondence enclosed herewith [see the CPGB-ML website]. This correspondence demonstrates beyond a shred of doubt that while accusing us of violating the SLP constitution and the decisions of the Party Congress, it is Arthur Scargill and his flunkeys who are guilty precisely of such violations.
Having been expelled, we have no alternative left to us except to regroup and reorganise ourselves. Scargill may have had the votes of his flunkeys on the NEC to expel us from the SLP, but he is powerless to expel us from the working-class movement. What is more, the majority of the really active, thinking and honest members of the SLP – as opposed to the fictitious battalions that Scargill claims to have as trade union affiliates – are with us.
The battle is on for building a truly revolutionary party through the thorough exposure of opportunism. We invite you to join us in this difficult, but highly rewarding and noble, task, the fulfilment of which is a necessary condition precedent for the social emancipation of the British working class.
Harpal Brar, Zane Carpenter, Robert Morris, Ella Rule, Carlos Rule.
Since the illegal expulsions of 8 May, scores of comrades have resigned membership of the Socialist Labour Party. These two groups – those expelled and those who have resigned – have now regrouped to form the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).