Letter: Communist Party membership

Proletarian writers

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Proletarian writers

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People who consider joining the Communist Party should and do see it as an incredibly important personal step. They have usually considered the question of seeking to join in great depth and maybe with some heart searching, knowing as they do that membership of a Communist Party in one of the imperialist heartlands carries all sorts of risks and costs. They should also and do see acceptance of membership into the Communist Party as a great personal achievement and as an honour.

One of the most vivid, striking and inspiring expressions of this sense of pride, honour and commitment was the speech given by J V Stalin to the Second All-Union Congress of Soviets on 26 January 1924, to commemorate the death of V I Lenin. I was shown this when I first joined the original CPGB. I find it as powerful now as it was then. I reproduce extracts below:

“Comrades! We communists are people of a special kind. We have been cut from special material. We are the ones who form the army of the great proletarian strategist, the army of Comrade Lenin.

“There is nothing higher than the honour of belonging to this army. There is nothing higher than the title of membership of the party of which Comrade Lenin was the founder and leader.

“Not everyone is given the honour of being a member of such a party. Not to everyone is it given to endure the adversities and tempests involved in membership of such a party.

“Sons of the working class, sons of deprivation and struggle, sons of incredible hardships and heroic endeavours – these above all others must be members of such a party.

“Going from us, Comrade Lenin bequeathed to us the duty of holding high and keeping pure the great title of member of the party. Going from us, Comrade Lenin bequeathed to us the duty of maintaining the unity of our party as the apple of our eye. Going from us, Comrade Lenin bequeathed to us the duty of preserving and strengthening the dictatorship of the proletariat. We swear to thee, Comrade Lenin, that we will not spare our strength in order to fulfil with honour thy command!”

Quoted in Stalin, Man of History by Ian Grey, 1979

Yours in comradeship