A critique of the CPB’s ‘Britain’s Road to Socialism’ in the 21st century, pt 2

On every question of importance, the CPB has ditched Marxism in favour of servility to the imperialist Labour party.

Lalkar writers

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Lalkar writers

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Read part 1 of this article here.

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(Mis)understanding imperialism

The British Road to Socialism wisely informs us that “The chief characteristics of imperialism, therefore, are monopolisation, colonial or – in countries that have won formal political independence – neo-colonial superexploitation, interimperialist rivalry and war.”

VI Lenin defined the chief characteristics of capitalist economics in its monopolist, decadent and parasitic stage as being: (1) monopoly in manufacture; (2) monopoly in banking; (3) the merger of manufacture and banking to form finance capital; (4) the complete division of the world markets between the monopolist trusts, syndicates and cartels and an increase in the export of capital over the export of commodities; (5) the complete division of the world among the great imperialist powers.

That these economic phenomena remain the root cause of global inequality and strife today has been amply demonstrated elsewhere. (See Harpal Brar, Imperialism – Decadent, Parasitic, Moribund Capitalism, 1997)

Accordingly, the main contradictions of our monopoly capitalist world emerged: (1) between labour and capital; (2) between the imperialist countries and the exploited nations; and (3) between the major imperialist powers and groups of imperialist powers themselves.

Further, owing to the uneven development of capitalist states, there is a periodic drive for redivision of the world and its colonies, on the basis of the changed economic strengths of the leading imperialist nations and groups of nations, leading to wars to determine which of them are to gain possession of the richest territories and have access to the greatest share of the world’s colonial slaves, markets, avenues for investment and natural resources to exploit and plunder.

This process has been accelerating, particularly since Margaret Thatcher’s government made it an ideological principle to deindustrialise Britain in favour of the interests of finance capital, and that is why such a large section of the working population of Britain is involved in financial and other services – ie, in helping to administer the exploitation of workers overseas. That is also why our armed forces are constantly involved in invading nations abroad: to protect the financial investments and profits of the transnational corporations. Hence the preponderance of the financial magnates of the City of London.

“The decay of capitalism is manifested in the creation of a huge stratum of rentiers, capitalists who live by ‘clipping coupons’.” (VI Lenin, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, 1916)

The vast wealth and power of billionaires like Warren Buffett is based upon the value of their stock-market portfolios, which is based in turn upon the real work performed by real workers all over the globe, as well of course as on the speculative share-dealing that accompanies the global capitalist casino, particularly when the real economy is in a most profound crisis owing to mass impoverishment of humanity on a global scale – and hence contraction of markets and decreasing satisfaction of the wants and needs of the planet’s working population.

Moreover, said Lenin, it is a feature of monopoly capitalism that the imperialist nations, having secured vast avenues of loot in their colonies, bribe a section of their domestic working class in order to secure social peace at home, and the best possible conditions to continue their looting of the world.

“The opportunists (social-chauvinists) are working hand in glove with the imperialist bourgeoisie precisely towards creating an imperialist Europe on the backs of Asia and Africa … objectively, the opportunists are a section of the petty bourgeoisie and of a certain strata of the working class who have been bribed out of imperialist superprofits and converted to watchdogs of capitalism and corruptors of the labour movement.” (VI Lenin, Ibid)

They can do so on the basis of super-profits secured from heightened and intensified exploitation of the masses in the colonies and later the economically neocolonised ‘third world’, where wages and living conditions are so low that profit margins are dramatically increased. This is the meaning of the term ‘export of capital’ and the reason why Britain and the United States are increasingly ‘service economies’. It is why the gap in wealth between the rich and poor nations continues to increase despite all show of ‘charity’, ‘development aid’, United Nations charters, etc, etc. It is the reason that seven or eight of the world’s richest billionaires have between them more wealth than the poorest half of the planet’s working people (all 3.75 billion of them).

Thus ‘the Great War’ (the 1914-18 first world war) saw the wholesale betrayal of socialism by most European socialist parties, prominent among them the Labour party, which showed itself to be a party of imperialism. [1]

That is why Lenin said that in campaigning in elections communists should state clearly that “with my vote, I want to support Henderson in the same way as a rope supports a hanged man – that the impending establishment of a government of the Hendersons will prove that I am right, will bring the masses over to my side, and will hasten the political death of the Hendersons and the Snowdens”. (VI Lenin, ‘Left-Wing’ Communism: an Infantile Disorder, 1920)

But of this split in the working class, and the historical role of the Labour party, the CPB’s programme, reprinted in its ninth edition in the year 2020, fully 104 years after the conflagration of that terrible war, breathes not a word.

Class collaboration and social democracy

“In the leading capitalist economies, the prolonged period of post-war expansion [2] made possible by state intervention, the STR, the rebuilding of Germany and Japan and rising productivity – was based on a ruling-class strategy of promoting class collaboration. Workers would enjoy job security, social benefits, employment rights and ever-higher living standards, while their trade union and political representatives would seek only to reform capitalism, not to challenge or abolish it.” (Britain’s Road to Socialism, Programme of the Communist Party of Britain, 2020, p7)

For a brief period all workers benefited materially from this postwar boom in Britain, but a privileged minority received the lion’s share of those benefits, and their political representative was the Labour party. The ninth edition of the BRS breezes past the renewed colonial wars waged by Britain and the USA to retain their economic domination after WW2, without mentioning the key role played by the Labour party in setting up the aggressive Nato imperialist alliance, or Labour’s role in waging genocidal wars against the peoples’ popular, and often communist-led resistance in Malaya and Korea, its suppression of the national-liberation movement in Kenya, with its fascistic collective punishments and use of concentration camps, or Labour’s role in the partition of India.

On page 7, we read that “Interimperialist rivalry was moderated by the common drive to wage the cold war against the Soviet Union and its allies – hence the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) in 1949 – and ‘hot war’ in Korea and Vietnam,” yet not a word of criticism of the Labour government of Clement Attlee that was the leading force in building the anticommunist alliance of the imperialist forces, under the hegemony of the US and Britain, and persists in its terrorism today, with key roles in wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya in particular. Nor was this the only arena in which Labour pursued its bitterly anticommunist agenda on behalf of British imperialism.

On page 9 of the 2020 BRS, there is a reference to British imperialism’s drive to war and that “Consequently, bombing missions or full-scale military invasions have been launched against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Somalia.” Again, the elephant in the room is the fact that the Labour governments of Blair and Brown played the leading role in justifying, driving on, cheerleading and perpetrating fully five out of seven of those wars, and the Labour opposition under ‘red’ Ed Miliband actively supported and collaborated in the prosecution of the others, as in fact did Labour under the ‘leadership’ of the great left hope that was Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour, it must be admitted, is a fully fledged imperialist party. As such, it is the height of hypocrisy for the CPB to don ‘anti-imperialist’ garb while constantly driving the diminishing band of workers and intellectuals under its influence into the Labour imperialist fold.

Capitalist crisis

Moving on to the general crisis of capitalism, the BRS notes, correctly, that “For much of the 20th century, communists referred to the all-round ‘general crisis of capitalism’. Its chief features were identified as:

“The sharpening of capitalism’s contradictions, the growth of monopoly, the dislocation in the distribution of the capitalist surplus, conflicts within the capitalist class, economic stagnation and instability, increasing state intervention in the economy and deepening class conflict.

“The degeneration of capitalist politics, ideology, morality and culture with their demagogy, careerism, corruption, egoism and callousness.

“The crisis and overthrow of imperialism’s colonial system [only to change its form into financial domination, the ‘cold’ war struggle to retain that financial domination, and then the re-emergence of open colonial wars after 1991].

“The emerging challenge from the forces of socialism led by the Soviet Union and the international socialist system.”

But capitalism ‘stabilised’ and socialism decayed, says the BRS. But this was not a question simply of ‘overestimating socialism’ and ‘underestimating capitalism’, but rather the fact that there was a life-and-death struggle played out across the politics and economics of the world. And, crucially, we must ask ourselves: where did Labour stand during these years?

The answer is that the Labour party sided firmly with its own imperialist class, and mounted a rearguard action to retain every possible privilege of capital. Is there any hint in the BRS that Labour acted as the real conductor of bourgeois influence into the working-class movement during this crucial period? That the Labour party has played a global counter-revolutionary role on behalf of British capitalism? Again, not a word.

Skip forward, and: “From 2008, mass unemployment returned to the record postwar levels of the early 1980s as living standards plummeted and public and social services were cut to the bone.”

“Across the developed capitalist world, governments and central banks then had to rescue the financial monopolies and their markets with the biggest bail-outs in history, using public money and public institutions to do so. In effect, they nationalised the debts and liabilities, forced the working class to pay for them through austerity policies and then restored the banks to the private sector once they had returned to profitability. Since then, the capitalist monopolies have reaped most of the benefits of recovery and expansion, while workers increasingly face precarious employment, worsening conditions, wage and pension cuts, housing problems and loss of services.” (p11)

So close to agreement we find ourselves – but who was the British prime minister who organised, not the “inroads into the wealth and power of the monopoly capitalists”, but the reverse, their bail-out and the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich that history had seen until that point – now dwarfed by Donald Trump‘s $3tn ‘Covid’ bail-out of Wall Street in 2020, and Joe Biden’s similar bail-out at the dawn of his office in 2021? None other than Labour prime minister Gordon Brown.

“In the sphere of politics, big business influence has nurtured naked careerism, hypocrisy and corruption.” (p14)

Yes, indeed. And we need look no further than any Labour MP (and particularly prime ministers Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, and minsters and front-benchers such as Alastair Campbell, Labour health secretaries Patricia Hewitt or Alan Milburn, implacably hawkish imperial warmongering ‘defence’ secretaries George Robertson or Geoff Hoon, David Blunkett, former Labour leader and wife Neil and Glenda Kinnock, who worked so assiduously to undermine the great miners’ strike of 1984, and then for decades were keen to pocket every euro from their cosy Brussels MEP salaries … the list is long and damning) to see that the rot in Labour social democracy runs deep. What paragons of ‘socialist’ careerist virtue!

Racism

“Popular disillusionment and anger can also find expression in support for the political forces of the far right and fascism. These propose false and nationalistic, xenophobic or racist remedies for people’s real or perceived problems.” (p14)

Fascism is not nearly so prevalent in Britain as Labour would have us believe. It’s an often-used bogey to call out their vote. What is far more prevalent are the illusions in British imperialism fostered by all our mainstream parties and in particular Labour social democracy – and all of these parties are prone to playing the race card, the anti-muslim card, the anti-immigrant card, to divide workers and ‘appeal’ to the ‘native’ (not only white, but any section who have been resident more than a generation, in fact) working class.

Labour’s racist policy of subjecting Asian women to virginity testing to ascertain whether they were really coming to Britain to marry their husbands must rank among the most unpleasant and xenophobic policies implemented by any British imperialist government.

And then of course there was the same Labour government of James Callaghan, which was perfectly happy to send the Special Patrol Group (now remodelled as the Territorial Support Group) of the British police to beat down an antiracist demonstration in Southall and support the right of the genuinely fascist thugs of the National Front to hold an ‘election rally’ in that town, with its large Indian population, during the general election of 1979.

The SPG, themselves thoroughly imbued with racist ideology, performed their role with such enthusiastic fervour that they beat to death the young New Zealand born antiracist campaigner and teacher, Blair Peach. He is remembered as a martyr of the anti-racist struggle by the people of Southall to this day.

We could talk of Gordon Brown’s, Clement Attlee’s or indeed Ramsay MacDonald’s misty-eyed nostalgia for the brutality and racist colonial apartheid that was the exploitative police regime of the British empire. Or, indeed, the racist imperialist wars waged by the Labour party on Iraq and Afghanistan, but enough. All this 20th century history recited by the BRS in general terms is airbrushed clean of any reference to the dirty anti-working class, racist and pro-imperialist servitude of the Labour party and its serial administrations.

Surely, the BRS 2020 is a most carefully selective “programme … based on the study, analysis and assessment of concrete realities, tendencies and trends” – carefully selected to sidestep the awkward question of the role of Labour party social democracy that the document is set out to paint as the liberator of the working class. This is not a case of evidence-based analysis, but analysis-based selection of ‘evidence’. The true method of scientific and historical analysis is turned upside down. Is it any wonder, then, that the conclusions of the BRS serve the practical activity of its adherents so ill?

Social democracy – ‘limits’

“Whichever parties are in office, the ruling capitalist class is always in power. This is as true in the case of Labour governments as of any others. Over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st, the limits of social democracy have become clear, demonstrating again and again that socialism remains the only real, fundamental alternative to capitalism.” (p16)

Hear, hear! But having paid lip-service to the Marxist principle that the bourgeois-democratic parliament is an institution of capitalist rule, and Labour is a government of the capitalists like any other, the matter is dropped, and nothing more is said of it, or of Labour’s role, until the opposite position is then taken:

“In pursuing its general strategy internationally and at home, it is clear that British state power remains integral to the interests of British monopoly capital. This same strategy was reflected in the programme for coalition government drawn up by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in 2010. The coalition was the preferred option of Britain’s financial oligarchy after the election, as Labour in government would have been more susceptible to popular and trade union pressure on important economic and social questions, despite the pro-monopoly, pro-imperialist orientation of the Labour party leadership at that time.” (p19)

Well, which is it? Either Labour is a party of imperialism or it is a workers’ party ‘susceptible to popular and trade union pressure’. In fact, Labour is very often less susceptible to such pressure than the Tories, so mindful is it of accommodating the concerns of the imperialist class. Even John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were keen to “meet with and reassure key players in the city”. In reality, Labour is a key player in controlling, subduing and diffusing working class pressure on the imperialist class.

And further: “preventing the election of a left-led Labour government was the political priority of Britain’s ruling class in the period up to the 2019 general election. Labour’s domestic manifesto for an extension of public ownership, trade union rights, collective bargaining and a significant redistribution of income and wealth threatened monopoly capital’s material and ideological interests to an extent not seen since the early 1980s. Despite differences over Brexit, therefore, the ruling capitalist class united behind Boris Johnson to secure a Tory victory.”

There are a great many lessons to be learnt from the entryism of the left into the Labour party, under the shock leadership of Corbyn, which we have explored extensively elsewhere, but cannot be repeated here. The conclusions to be drawn from that episode are not that Labour is ‘susceptible to pressure’ from the left, however, but the reverse – that it is entirely immune to such pressure. (See The Rise and Fall of Project Corbyn, CPGB-ML, 2020)

Even if led by a genuine socialist individual or group, and we are not of the opinion that Corbyn was such a figure, the entire structural apparatus of the Labour party is so dominated by the interests of an aristocracy of labour, tied hand and foot to British imperialism, that it will self-destruct rather than advance any “reforms [that] go further and conflict not just with the immediate drive to profits but with the fundamental conditions of reproduction of capitalism”.

This was amply demonstrated by the activities of Chukka Umunna, MP and his creation of the ‘Change UK’ split from Corbyn’s Labour, and by the Labour leaked report into ‘antisemitism’.

The ‘New’ Labour government

“The 1997-2010 New Labour governments failed to repeal most of these measures. But they did fulfil manifesto commitments to set up a Scottish parliament and a Welsh assembly and to re-establish an elected authority for Greater London. Without charting a clear course for the reunification of Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement helped bring peace and a power-sharing assembly to the north.” (p21)

“New Labour introduced limited reforms to expand trade union rights but refused to repeal the vicious anti-union laws of the Thatcher-Major period.

“The New Labour governments introduced repressive new laws to suppress the growing opposition to government policies. Particular groups of people (immigrants, benefit claimants, travellers, young people) were made the scapegoats for mass unemployment, rising crime, social unrest and other failures of government policy and of capitalism itself …

“The powers of the police and security and immigration services were increased to unprecedented levels. Asylum seekers and refugees were blamed unfairly for government failures to invest fully in health, education and housing. Muslims were demonised as part of the so-called ‘war on terror’ which cynically used the barbaric 9/11 attacks as the pretext for curtailing civil liberties at home and bombing and invading other countries, thereby stimulating the spread of sectarian terrorism …

“Like previous Labour governments, New Labour also embraced the use of military state power to promote monopoly capitalist interests abroad. It strengthened British imperialism’s subservient alliance with US imperialism, participated in wars of aggression, supported repressive regimes in Colombia, Israel and the middle east, offered facilities to the US Star Wars programme and colluded in the illegal kidnapping, transportation and torture of detainees from around the world, including from Britain itself.” (p22)

Is this not Labour party anti-working-class and pro-imperialist policy – including racism – implemented on behalf of the ruling class, which they faithfully serve?

The environment and capitalism

“The urgency grows to lift people out of hunger, poverty, sickness and ignorance. Our planet’s ecosystem must be rescued before it deteriorates beyond the point of no return. Even under wasteful and destructive capitalism, the productive forces exist that could, if planned and utilised to meet human need instead of maximising capitalist profit, ensure sufficient food, nutrition, healthcare and education for all.” (p23)

Indeed. But they are not ours. The masses have been disinherited. In Britain, 25,000 landowners – just 0.05 percent of the population – own more than half of the land area. The pandemic has shown that ‘we’ in the capitalist world are unable to use our nation’s ample resources (land, capital, labour-power, buildings, industries) to meet the urgent and pressing needs of our working population, even in a time of most dire emergency and crisis.

The urgent political question for workers, therefore – and all self-professed communists should surely be systematically and consciously grappling with this question – is how the working class is to “win the battle of democracy”; to win political power and use it “to wrest by degree all capital for the ruling class”. (K Marx and F Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848)

The ‘merits’ of social democracy: the Keynesian consensus

Returning to the supposed merits of Labour, the BRS continues: “In Britain, the post-1945 welfare state helped masses of people to escape destitution and avoidable ill-health. Progressive taxation – based on people’s ability to pay – has at times provided extra funds for public services and achieved some redistribution of wealth.” (p23)

This was the Keynesian consensus. It was a concession made by imperialism in the face of the positions won by the international communist movement, particularly the extension of the people’s democracies beyond the territory of the USSR, owing to the victories of the Red armies of the Soviet Union and China, and the coming of revolution to China, Korea, French southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), to Indonesia, central and eastern Europe, and later Cuba, Grenada, etc. The anti-colonial movement, the real ally of the revolutionary proletariat, spread like wildfire, with a prominent part played by the international communist movement.

The welfare state was not – most definitely not – a concession ‘won by the Labour party’. That this is so is shown by the fact that with the collapse of the USSR those concessions have been attacked and rolled back, and today British wealth is more concentrated, in fewer hands, and the nation more polarised than ever before.

“Out of the opposition to social-democratic support for imperialist war came the splits and divisions that gave birth to the communist parties. [This is the entire attention devoted to WW1, the betrayal of workers by social democracy, and the split in the working class that it revealed most starkly.] In the second phase, after 1945, social-democratic governments administered, reformed and strengthened state-monopoly capitalism in return for abandoning the aim of socialism.” (p24)

This is ‘history’ written to gloss over the class character of the Labour party.

With its ‘bold communist vision for the future’, the 2020 BRS reiterates its condemnation of the USSR’s “bureaucratic-command system of economic and political rule”, ironically denouncing the increased role in a workers’ state of trade unions: “The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and the trade unions became integrated into the apparatus of the state, eroding working-class and popular democracy”!

And the CPB has the nerve to accuse the USSR of dogmatism, while stating that an increased role of workers’ trade unions in governance of the nation’s politics and economy “erodes working class and popular democracy”. Have its luminaries taken a leaf from the Tory party play book here?

“At times, and particularly in the late 1930s following the rise of fascism, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred in the fight against external threats and internal subversion. Large numbers of innocent people were persecuted, imprisoned and executed.” (p25)

“New socialist states achieved the same in the war-torn countries of eastern Europe, where the Soviet model of society was promoted in both its positive and negative aspects.” (p26)

“But under pressure from the arms race launched by the US and Nato, the Soviet bureaucratic-command system was unable to utilise the full fruits of the STR [3] beyond the military, space and medical fields. From the mid-1970s, economic growth in the Soviet Union declined from previous levels, while continuing to outstrip that of western Europe until the mid-1980s; the planned economies of eastern Europe actually grew faster during the 1970s than those of West Germany, Britain, France and the US.

“Nonetheless, problems of resource allocation, waste, incentive and productivity were not resolved. The ruling communist parties failed to counter the appeal of capitalist ‘consumerism’ materially and ideologically, as their own citizens made unfavourable comparisons that took no account of imperialism’s superexploitation of the third world.”

Of course, no account is taken of the contribution of Khrushchev’s triumphant revisionism and the introduction of capitalist norms of production that led to the degeneration and collapse of the USSR. Rather, the CPB’s BRS recites the trite but entirely false claim that ‘problems of resource allocation, waste, incentive and productivity were not resolved’ by socialist economics – indicating the ideological capitulation to the idea that the market is the only way of allocating production rationally without such ‘problems of resource allocation, waste, incentive and productivity’.

This is somewhat ironic given the fact that much of the BRS ‘programme’ is given over to reciting well-known facts of the global capitalist economy: poverty, unemployment, inequality, poor health, lack of drinking water and medicine for not hundreds of millions but billions of workers and small farmers in today’s ‘high-tech’ imperialist world – a world in which the child mortality of 14 million a year from malnutrition and treatable infections and diseases (diarrhoea and vomiting, malaria, TB) is accepted as ‘normal’ and where six multibillionaires (of whom one, Jeff Bezos, is now a trillionaire) own more between them than half the planet’s population.

Is this, then, market efficiency in ‘resource allocation, waste, incentive and productivity’? And what of the global economic depression that will wipe out all benefits of human civilisation for hundreds of millions more?

Still, our brave communists, having failed to get to grips with their own history of renegacy and collapse, or that of the international revisionist movement, go on to cite “the weaknesses and failures of the Soviet model of socialism”, claiming it failed to solve the problem of women’s discrimination, of mobilising the workers, etc. There is in this ‘summary’ a deliberate and conscious confusion of the heroic act of creation and building socialism in the USSR, and all its many economic, social, political and military achievements, with the vandalism and destruction of Khrushchev and his followers.

There is more than ample reason for this, if one considers that the CPB is but another daughter splinter party of this catastrophic sabotage of the working-class movement. What, one might ask, have our CPB ‘communists’ been doing for the last 50 years, if they cannot answer the most basic, fundamental and urgent political and organisational questions of the working class? Oh, yes – campaigning for a Labour party ‘anti-monopoly’ social-democratic government! One might as well campaign for the moon to be made out of blue cheese!

China and the market economy

Moving on to China (in their British election manifesto, it should be noted), the BRS states: “Determined not to experience counter-revolution and its consequences, China’s communists have placed great emphasis on economic and social development [have not all socialist governments and societies?]. State power is used to combine economic planning and public ownership with private capital and market mechanisms.”

We do not intend to get sidetracked into this glib ‘summary’ of China’s history and urge serious students of socialism to obtain and study Harpal Brar’s recent book Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. It is enough to note for the present that the CPB has essentially cleft to the position of advocating market socialism, or economic capitalism, with an enhanced role for planning and the state. Thus People’s Vietnam is cited approvingly as “pursuing a similar path based on planning, a mixed economy, market mechanisms and the leading role of the Communist party”.

British exceptionalism: the labour ‘movement’ and the left

But which forces in society can be mobilised to resist the policies of state-monopoly capitalism? Which can be won for far-reaching change and socialism? The question is left hanging over pages of rambling and superfluous justification of the fact that classes exist in Britain (although their nature and relations are not analysed), and a plea that trade unions should campaign for the rights of workers and for equality (but silence on the question: why do so few do so already?)

Excerpts from the generally anodyne and meandering programme are clearly set out to embellish the erroneous idea that British workers should get behind the Labour party as being the chief electoral force ‘for the working class’.

“Each country must find its own path to socialism, applying general principles to specific national conditions in their international context. Each will develop its own model of socialism in tune with the culture and aspirations of its people …

“In Britain and its constituent nations, taking the road to socialism can only be done successfully by taking those differing national conditions fully into account.” (p27)

“In Britain, the electoral system is mostly rigged against small, new or left-wing parties, while elected parliaments can be marginalised or dissolved …

“The essence of popular sovereignty, on the other hand, is that the democratic will of the people should prevail over the vested interests of a powerful minority and their state apparatus.” (p31)

“Through the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and together with socialist organisations, trade unions established the Labour party at the beginning of the 20th century, not only to represent working-class interests in Parliament but to strive for a socialist society.” (p36)

This is actually not the case. The Labour party was explicitly set up by the trade unions as an ideological continuation of the prevailing Liberal-Labour politics, as a party to “represent the interests of the working class in parliament”, and it explicitly rejected the fight for socialism, or revolutionary action, against the will of a significant minority of its organising body. The Social Democratic Federation (SDF), for example, left the organisation over the issue (arguably at that time inadvisedly in that it helped to cement the interests of the labour aristocracy over the organisation from its outset). (See Harpal Brar, Social Democracy – the Enemy Within, 1995)

“The most politically advanced elements of the working class founded the Communist party in 1920 to fight not only for reform, but for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and for socialism.” That is undoubtedly true, but that Communist party was the CPGB, under the influence of the Third International – not the CPB, which was a much-diminished organisation founded in 1988, as one of the groups that came out of the dissolution of the revisionist postwar CPGB, as noted above.

The CPB preserved itself in party form, but did not overcome the political mistakes that led to the inexorable decline of the CPGB, which formally dissolved itself in 1991. We understand why the CPB seeks to gloss over that inglorious episode in its history, but cannot condone what amounts not only to fraudulence, but more importantly a failure to come to terms with the root causes of the collapse of the USSR and of the entire revisionist project. (See Harpal Brar’s seminal work Perestroika, The Complete Collapse of Revisionism, 1992)

“Honesty is the sign of strength in politics, hypocrisy the sign of weakness,” in the apt words of Vladimir Lenin.

“Almost since its formation, the Labour party has been the mass party of the organised working class. It continues to enjoy the electoral support of large sections of workers. But its politics and ideology have been those of social democracy, seeking to manage and reform capitalism in response to the immediate temporary interests of the labour movement, instead of abolishing it in the fundamental interests of the working class and humanity. [This then is not socialism, after all, but a bourgeois Labour party.]

“The Labour party has never fundamentally challenged the ruling class. At best, it has only reflected and represented the ‘trade union consciousness’ of the working class in political life. The reformist outlook that dominates Labour confines the party to an exclusively parliamentary role within the capitalist system. It sees its campaigning work almost entirely in terms of participation in elections and carries out little or no socialist education.

“Yet the Labour party in Britain is different from social-democratic parties in other countries in one crucial respect. It was formed as a federal party with mass trade union affiliations.” (p36)

The Labour party is not now a federal party, but a monolithic structure that eschews all cooperation with ‘communists’ and expels them if they are found. But even when it was such a party, politically it was formed and dominated by an upper, privileged section of the working class, an aristocracy of labour.

The composition of that privileged section has changed over time, but the leading officials of big unions, with few exceptions (Arthur Scargill, Bob Crow) wielding huge salaries and crucially failing to pursue the interests of their members even in the sphere of industrial struggle, have been a part of that section of ‘bourgeoisified’ workers, people who have not radicalised the Labour party, but rather have been one of the mainstays of conservative influence upon it.

The CPB – claiming to be the inheritor of the CPGB (it is not, other than having appropriated Marx House, and a handful of remaining assets won for the party by loyal working-class former members) – would do well to reflect upon the activity, history and meaning of the Minority Movement of trade unions, which was necessary precisely to circumvent and overcome the reactionary leadership of the general council of the TUC. It would do well to contemplate the history of the 1926 general strike, or, more recently, of the great miners’ strike of 1984-5. [4]

Instead, the programme moves on to assert that “the unique structure and composition of the Labour party has helped ensure the continuation of a significant socialist trend within it”. Really? Where and what is that trend?

“These socialists have at times won major advances in the battle of ideas within and beyond the party. They have supported policies for democratic public ownership, progressive taxation, capital controls, trade union rights and nuclear disarmament that challenge monopoly capital in the interests of working people.” (p36)

Who has supported this agenda – an agenda which is very far from “challenging the ability of capital to reproduce itself” – in Labour? Corbyn? And what came of his loyalty to those ideas when he ascended to leadership? All were jettisoned in the interest of office – and still the Labour party itself sabotaged its own election campaign in 2017 and again in 2019, in full coordination with the entire capitalist state apparatus, rather than risk this ‘fringe lunatic’ from gaining administrative power over the capitalist state machine, which he would anyway have wielded in a quite conventional way, as did all previous Labour administrations.

Where was the “mass struggle for democracy” in the face of this sabotage? Nowhere! All amounted simply to begging – unsuccessfully, given Corbyn’s weak leadership and the anti-worker Labour party vehicle that he led in form at best.

“But the Labour party left is not a cohesive and united force.” No, it is a fiction, destined to waste the time and energy of any worker who is misled into engaging with it, whether by Labour party activists, by various shades of Trotskyites, or indeed by the CPB revisionists with their misnamed programme Britain’s Road to Socialism.

The 2020 BRS makes a great deal of the ‘transformation’ of the Labour party apparatus under Blair, who in reality cut the ‘Labour’ cloth to suit the modern needs of imperialism, just as all previous leaders had done. But the era was that of post-Soviet collapse and the garb of ‘socialist’ clause IV could safely be jettisoned. It had anyway always been studiously ignored.

Democracy in Labour was curtailed by Blair, says the CPB

“To make sure of the Labour party’s acquiescence in its own political and ideological transformation from the mid-1990s, a series of measures were adopted by agreement with misguided trade union leaders to dismantle democratic processes within the party. The resulting centralisation challenged the Labour party’s federal character, concentrating power in the hands of a small clique at the top. The rights and participation of affiliated organisations were severely restricted at every level of the party.”

Yet there was nothing fundamentally new in this. The very structure of the parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) was the frustration of Labour party democracy, together with the block votes of the trade union affiliates and the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

“Subsequently, however, the party’s right wing miscalculated when opening the Labour leadership ballot to all individual members and affiliated and registered supporters, with the intention of weakening the collective voice of the trade unions. No account was taken of the potential for recruitment from within the anti-austerity and antiwar mass campaigns, in which the Communist party and the daily socialist Morning Star newspaper have played a significant part. The combined forces of the extra-parliamentary mass movements, the trade unions and the Labour left then propelled left MP Jeremy Corbyn to victory in the 2015 and 2016 party leadership ballots.” (p37)

Can you believe it, dear reader? The CPB not only claims responsibility for Corbyn’s ascent in the Labour party, it continues to see it as some sort of ‘victory’ and as a credit to its entire strategy of blindly and subserviently tolling the bell for Labour party social democracy. It would be funny if it were not so deeply tragic!

And what of Keir Starmer and the firm control of the Blairites within Labour?

“Following Labour’s 2019 general election defeat and Corbyn’s resignation, it remains to be determined whether the left trend in the party can – with enough trade union support – win the struggle not only for leadership, but also for policies that challenge British state-monopoly capitalism and imperialism.” (p37)

It remains to be seen … whether tomorrow the sun will indeed rise again in the east, traverse the heavens and sink below the horizon in the west! But all experience strongly suggests that it will. So with Labour, one might very well cast about for some sign of hope, that one prop or another of the social-democratic elite, one body or another of the bourgeois aristocracy of Labour – the leading trade unions, the PLP, the Labour party branches – might transform themselves into the saviours who will ‘respond to mass pressure’ and champion the fight for socialism.

All experience suggests that each of these bodies, and most of all the Labour party, will continue faithfully to represent and champion the interests of the monopoly-capitalist billionaire class, irrespective of the ragged and hopeless bands of entryist Trotskyites and revisionist communists who cling to its coattails and imagine that their careerism will somehow (but how?!) sweep the workers to victory and a very British socialist revolution!

“The election showed that left leadership alone may not be enough to win elections [!]; the development of mass struggle and educated class-consciousness are also fundamentally possible. This will require a major shift to the left in ward and constituency party organisations as well as in the parliamentary Labour party, where pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist views are strongly entrenched.”

All is contingent upon winning the Labour party to socialism! The constituency parties and the PLP, no less! Why not the central party apparatus and the British state? Why not win the police and army leadership to revolution? Surely the Tory party can be won? Or the imperialist ruling billionaire class itself?

Are these not all reasonable strategies to “foment mass democracy and come to real socialism”, which will anyway be a “mixed market economy” with a role for state planning. Perhaps like the pandemic response of Rishi Sunak, which has certainly involved a huge amount of state spending – far in excess of the planned Corbyn budget, in fact!

Again and again: “The working class and peoples of Britain need a mass political party, based on the labour movement, [this is always the favoured euphemism that our CPB comrades, who have forgotten that their heads are more than convenient places to rest their hats and could also be used also for rational thought, use when they wish to disguise their conflation of the working class with the Labour party, of which they have become the financial and ideological serfs] that can win general elections, form a government and implement substantial reforms in their interests.” (p37)

Repetition is the key to learning, they say, and Labour is the only realistic option, don’t you see? Was not Tony Blair right when he noted that clause IV could happily be abolished without decreasing support from ‘the labour left’ – as they have “nowhere else to go”!? The political dogmatism of the revisionist CPB knows no bounds, and reading this 2020 version of Britain’s Road to Socialism reminds one of the saying: ‘To the mouse, no beast is stronger than the cat’!

The CPB worthies have been gazing with a mix of admiration and foreboding upon the posterior of the Labour party ‘social imperialists’ for so long, that no reading of Marx or Lenin, and certainly not Stalin or Mao, could persuade them otherwise than that “in the special case of Britain” social democracy is the only ‘realistic’ road to socialism! All else is (don’t laugh!) “ultra-leftism”.

Labour has been a dominant force in the working-class movement for too long. But like all phenomena under heaven, it had its inception, its ascendency, and now it is assuredly witnessing its decay. Our job, to ease the suffering of workers of all countries, must be to hasten its demise, and the imperialist socioeconomic system of which it is a part.

Why does the CPB persist with its unrequited love for Labour?

No explicit mention is made in the 2020 BRS of Lenin’s advice to British communists to seek affiliation to Labour (he in fact did not give that advice, as outlined previously), but it is the private justification given out personally by word of mouth.

“For as long as many of the biggest trade unions are affiliated to the Labour party, the potential exists to wage a broad-based fight to secure the party for the labour movement and left-wing policies. Certainly, this is the most direct route to ensuring the continued existence of a mass party of labour in Britain and is a goal that every communist and non-sectarian socialist should support.”

Is there a crime that Labour could commit that would lead the CPB to reevaluate its unrequited love for labour? Apparently not. For its leaders would never wish to sink so low as becoming ‘sectarian socialists’ – again a term they would have had to apply to the founders of their avowed political trend, notably Marx, Engels and most assuredly Lenin.

They now generally disavow other great Marxist-Leninist leaders, so we will not even bring them into the equation. It seems that Lenin’s excoriating critique of social democracy, which runs as a theme throughout tens of volumes of his writings, is of far less value in making their assessment of the Labour party as a force for socialism than the financial relationship existing between the dwindling band of social-democratic ‘communists’, and the trade unions that support the Morning Star, or their ‘leading’ activists.

The fact is that the few paid organisers that the CPB have, and their ideological output, is all supported by mechanisms that support the aristocracy of labour; that the way to finding a cosy place in the sun, sheltering from the really intense and demanding class struggle that is the only way to achieve socialism, is to adopt parliamentary cretinism and Labour social democracy. This is all justified by and falls within the acceptable bounds of bourgeois politics.

No wonder that the real representatives of capital feel so confident as to to lampoon our British Trotskyites and revisionists as the ‘loony left’! No wonder that the revisionists of the CPB find it so easy to work with the Trotskyites in Stop the War, along with the left wing of Labour social democracy, but take every opportunity to frustrate the rise of any really revolutionary split with social democracy, whether that was the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) of Arthur Scargill or the Workers party led by George Galloway and Joti Brar.

“The Communist party and the Morning Star have an important contribution to make to the struggle within the labour movement.

“Part of the Communist party’s role is to provide a vision of socialism and a practical strategy for achieving it. Communists therefore seek to work with left trends that have a real, sustained base in the labour movement, urging them to unite around policies and in actions which raise the combativeness, confidence and political consciousness of the working class. This would lay the basis for their convergence in a mass party of labour, one federally organised to permit the affiliation of socialist and communist parties and committed to the fight for socialism.”

The CPB will only work with (or more accurately, for) the Labour party. That is all. That is the strategy. That is it. And this despite the entire history of Labour’s rejection of the affiliation of other groups, parties and organisations felt to have a communist bearing, influence or membership, including the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement, the Anti-Imperialist League, the International Brigades, the Soviet Friendship Society, China solidarity groups, the militant trade union ‘Minority Movement’, accounting for some ten percent of organised trade unionism in the 1920s and 30s, and of course the original CPGB, which initially did contest seats on the basis of an electoral pact with Labour, producing Britain’s greatest parliamentary spokesmen of the working class, Shapurji Saklatvala (comrade Sak), Phil Piratin and Willie Gallagher.

The point here is that the Labour party learnt its lesson: in the strict anticommunist fight it waged, it was prepared to sabotage its own electoral fortunes and the interests of the working class in order ruthlessly to pursue the class struggle on behalf of the employing British imperialist class. When attempted affiliation to Labour became the CPGB’s policy, its attempts were repeatedly rebuffed, and this is not a decision that is subject to negotiation, even were the CPB an organisation with the kind of working-class support that the CPGB could muster in 1920, which it most assuredly is not.

It is the communists of the CPB who have given up their communism in putting this line forward, fully one century after it was comprehensively defeated in practice. The Labour party has not changed its spots. Yet throughout every twist and turn of modern history (and keeping all the brilliant theoretical works of Marxism safely locked up in the Marx Memorial Library and strictly isolated from the deliberations of the policy committee of their central committee) the gurus of the CPB keep banging their heads against the same unfeeling Labour party brick wall.

Nationalism and separatism

“Socialist and progressive forces and left parliamentary and assembly representatives in the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and other organisations can also play an important part in the battles for reforms, peace and fundamental social change.” (p38)

Bourgeois nationalists, capitalists, separatists, imperialist lackeys and greenwashers of the exploiters of the working class (‘Tories on bikes’, as an anarchist leaflet aptly characterised them!): all are welcome in the ‘non-sectarian socialist’ camp of the CPB. Anyone, in fact, other than militant class-conscious working-class fighters.

It is precisely the failures of the Labour party over a century that have led to their desertion in the former heartlands of Labourism and indeed of communism in Scotland and Wales, and now the ‘red wall’ in the north and midlands of England, and it is the persistence in the revisionist communists’ support for the Labour party that is also dragging them down.

Identity politics

“The actual oppression of women is maintained by the ideology of gender, with its social expectations and norms of masculinity and femininity which are reproduced through state institutions, education, the media and popular culture. These limit the potential of women and men and are a root cause of violence and abuse against women, children, lesbians, gays and transgender people.” (p39)

Gender, of course, is not an ideological construct, ‘manufactured’ “through state institutions, education, the media and popular culture”, but a material fact, reflected in all spheres of social activity and life. Humanity is divided into men and women. “Norms of masculinity and femininity” may change with society, but masculine (male, men) and feminine (female, women) have and will continue to exist in all societies. Therefore, addressing the concept of sex (gender) as the ‘root cause’ of a negative social phenomenon that itself needs to be addressed, indeed ‘eradicated’, is entirely erroneous.

We will not address further the poison of identity politics that has seeped into the CPB’s ‘programme’, but simply refer comrades of the CPB to Engels’ truly revolutionary work The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. If they can’t understand its relation to the topic at hand, we can further recommend Joti Brar’s excellent seminar on Proletarian TV, or they may like to pick up the CPGB-ML pamphlet on the nightmare of gender fluidity, Identity Politics and the Transgender Trend.

We note in passing a strange rearguard action in the next few lines of the pamphlet, in which the CPB appears to acknowledge its surrender on this point: “Analysis of structural inequality is being replaced by some with reactionary identity politics which emphasise the individual over collective experience.” (!)

Presumably, having capitulated on so many key points of Marxism (imperialism, the state, social democracy, the Soviet Union, economics of the market, the national question, etc), the comrades of the ‘old guard’, tired and beleaguered as they must be, have not really the stomach for the fight against just one more pernicious bourgeois ideological trend that is torpedoing their party and rendering it totally unseaworthy.

Organising among national minorities in Britain

“Organisation among the black and minority ethnic communities, exemplified by the Indian Workers Association (GB) and the Bangladeshi Workers Council (UK), provides an important basis for challenging the prejudice and discrimination that emanate from empire, colonialism and imperialism. Anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigning by a range of other organisations also plays an important role.

“However, much more needs to be done to mobilise black, minority ethnic and other working-class communities, together with the labour movement at every level. This is essential if government policies are to be changed and racist and fascist organisations halted in their tracks.” (p39)

These two paragraphs are interesting. As this article is destined to appear in Lalkar, the journal founded by the Indian Workers Association (GB), and edited for 40 years by Harpal Brar, one of its leading members and a British worker of Indian origin, we will note in passing that the major role in fighting racism and separatism in the British working class should not and cannot fall to individual groups based upon their victimisation. Racism is not the problem of ‘blacks’ alone. Rather, this must be part of the British working class’s struggle for unity, to free itself from division in order to become an effective fighting force for meaningful social and political change.

This was indeed the position of the Indian Workers Association, and of the Indian Workers Front, both led by Comrades Jagmohan Joshi, Teja Singh Sahota, Hardev Dhillon, Avtar Johul and Harpal Brar, among others. That they maintained a fierce struggle against the concept of black separatism, characterising it as a form of ‘bourgeois nationalism’, a stance demanding that the wider working-class movement take up the anti-racist struggle in earnest, but also fighting against the separatism and isolationism of ‘black nationalism’, can be seen by the writings of Lalkar itself, a paper that served a real mass organisation of the Indian working class, capable of calling demonstrations attended by tens of thousands. These writings are brought together in Harpal Brar’s excellent book Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?

Suffice to say, the ‘IWA’ to which the CPB belatedly refers (at least 20 years after the IWA ceased to be a leading force in British working-class politics) is a shadow of that organisation, and of marginal significance.

A word for all, but a programme for none

The BRS goes on to give an approving pat on the head to many sections of the working class, and mentions campaigns in which the CPB is ‘involved’. Young people, students, teachers, trade unions, old people, pensioners, peace campaigners, the CND and StW, environmentalists, the nationalist movements in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall …

“The SNP and Plaid Cymru remain committed to state-monopoly capitalism’s European Union project, which is itself wedded to the dominant principles and outlook of neoliberalism. Nonetheless, these elements can be won to the fight for measures which favour the working class and challenge at least some of the interests of British imperialism.”

Every shade of renegade and neoliberal is welcome in the CPBs ‘broad anti-monopoly movement’, it seems! The same might very well be said of the Green party, Liberal party, and Tory party. Why are these parties, too, not fertile ground for targeting ‘elements [that] can be won to the fight for measures which favour the working class and challenge at least some of the interests of British imperialism’?

“In Britain and its constituent nations, there is a long tradition of international solidarity.” And yet in this time of reaction, when imperialism is immersed in its most profound crisis and indeed worldwide economic depression, neoliberalism really is trouncing the working conditions of the majority of the working class.

Particularly hard hit are the poorest and most economically deprived workers. And at such a time, each section of the British working class is being invited to desert the concept of a broad national (British working-class) fight against capitalism, instead seeking to head to their own national tent – even if a totally spurious national tent has to be erected for the purpose of beating this hopeless retreat (Cornish, Welsh, Scottish, Manx … why not Yorkshire, Lancashire, Liverpool, Manchester, Southall ..?)

British workers have lost faith in the British working-class movement because it is dominated everywhere by Labour party social democracy, which has proven to be an abject servant of neoliberalism, as typified by its Brexit stance and betrayal. That is the real meaning of the failed Corbyn project, if the re-drafters of the CPB’s BRS would just look up from their exercise, and glance out of the windows of Marx House into the environs of Clerkenwell and beyond.

Sitting so near the centre of finance capital, and surrounded by the works of Marx, it is a shame that they have ventured to study and apprehend neither.

The attempt to preserve the key elements of a programme that has failed so comprehensively, while making passing references to all the elements of that abject failure, is like wishing mourners at a funeral ‘Many happy returns of the day’! One cannot help but feel that the poor souls of the CPB ‘leadership’ cannot see the wood for the trees, or perhaps, if they can, they are dimly aware that to change their line would mean to threaten the material basis of the organisation itself, resting as it does upon the few well-paid union jobs of its remaining organisers on the one hand, and crumbs thrown to them by the Labour unions on the other.

The days when the CPGB was a vibrant leader of the working class, deriving its strength from the vitality of the British workers in struggle, is a faded memory. The CPB was never such a party.

“Today, there are active movements in solidarity with peoples facing imperialist-backed subversion, foreign occupation or state repression. Such campaigns have won wide support among the trades unions, thereby enhancing solidarity and developing greater understanding of the nature of imperialism.

“Working-class people make up a substantial proportion – in most cases the vast majority – of the members and supporters of all these movements.” (p42)

The CPB has lost sight even of a class analysis of Britain, and what constitutes the economic basis of class. Who are the key elements of the working class who can and should be targeted by a really militant party of the working class? The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Stop the War (StW), the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Extinction Rebellion? Again, we will refer them to the excellent CPGB-ML pamphlet A Class Analysis of Britain in the 21st Century.

The Communist party and revolutionary leadership

“The aim of the Communist party is to replace capitalism with socialism, as the prelude to achieving a fully communist society.”

“Founded in Britain in 1920 as a party of a new type,” – again we must note that the CPB is not the CPGB of 1920, and should in reality be ashamed to make this false assertion. The CPB is a fraction of a splinter of the original CPGB, and in its make-up and vitality, in its size, scope and relevance, is as far removed from the prewar CPGB as the earth from the heavens.

“The Communist party bases itself on the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin about the class character of capitalist society, the exploitation of labour-power, the role of the state, the development of imperialism and the need for a revolutionary party to make sure that the working class and its allies take political power and use it to overthrow capitalism and its state.” (p43)

Would that this were so! Lenin’s analysis of imperialism went so far as to note the reason for the desertion of social democracy: ie, the fact that a split has emerged in the working-class movement of the richest imperialist nations; that there is a real privileged section of the working class, an ‘aristocracy of labour’; that the bourgeoisie in each imperialist nation has secured a ‘bourgeois labour party’ to conduct its influence to the workers. Lenin emphasised that social democracy proved its renegacy and capitulation during WW1, when opportunism became consummated, became ‘a man’, became fully-fledged social-chauvinism and social-imperialism, calling for support of war credits and defence of the fatherland, becoming an aggressive recruiter, supporter and agent of the mass slaughter of that interimperialist war.

Since that day, social democracy has been an agent of imperialism. These are the teachings of Lenin. Let us see how the CPB follow’s Lenin’s teachings.

“The Communist party’s class basis, historical experience and Marxist-Leninist outlook also distinguish it from many Trotskyist, Maoist or anarchist groups. These are usually notable for their ‘ultra-left’ slogans and adventurist tactics, combined with a sectarian approach that puts the interests of their own organisation above those of the labour movement.”

The CPB, of course, uses ‘Labour movement’ here as a synonym for the Labour party, thus hollowing out the high-sounding phrases and bringing them into practical play as justification for abjectly kowtowing before the Labour party social democrats, who in turn ridicule or ignore them.

“But this does not make the Communist party immune from criticism and mistakes. Indeed, the party had to be re-established in 1988 after revisionist and anti-democratic trends, especially in the leadership, threatened to destroy it.” In fact, the eurocommunist trend, as the consummation of revisionism, did destroy the CPGB. The few splinters that for a time maintained some sort of independent life and political existence – of which the 1988 CPB is but one – hobbled on for a time, but have been so saturated with the ills of revisionism and opportunism that every single splinter group succumbed to the malady.

The proof of this runs like the letters in a stick of Brighton rock throughout the defunct programme of the BRS, which has taken the main streams of Khrushchevite revisionism and embodied them at the heart of the revisionist CPB’s practice. Namely:

1. Revisionist history devaluing the revolutionary experience of the USSR.

2. Failure to understand the role of Khrushchevism in the demise of the USSR, so confusing the victories and defeats of socialism in a hopeless jumble.

3. Abandoning Marx’s teachings on the economics of socialism and capitulation to the bourgeois economics of the free market.

4. Revision of Lenin’s thesis of imperialism, in particular eradicating his observations on the split in the working-class movement.

5. British exceptionalism: whereas every other nation needs to undergo a revolutionary process, Britain does not and can vote out its ruling class by supporting some kind of left Labour entryism. Excusing Labour’s imperialist history, economics and politics on that basis, indeed overlooking the entire working-class history of Britain!

6. Equating the working class with the labour aristocracy, and therefore failing to conduct a serious class analysis in Britain.

7. Succumbing to, rather than combatting, bourgeois nationalism; in so doing abandoning a genuine standpoint of proletarian internationalism.

8. Abandoning the link with the lowest and deepest sections of the working class in favour of the link with social democracy.

9. Embracing identity politics and intersectional theory.

The CPB works hand in glove with counter-revolutionary Trotskyites

And all of this in the belief, hope, perhaps prayer that “Within the Labour party and some far-left parties there are many socialists who make a vital contribution to the working-class and progressive movements, and with whom the Communist party works closely on the basis of common aims and policies.” (p43)

This is an allusion to the fact that in addition to the Labour party, and on the basis of its capitulation to Labour social democracy as the core of its programme and practice, the ‘non-sectarian’ CPB has also made common cause with the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and its daughter split Counterfire (Lindsay German and John Rees), with all the pernicious influence of the Trotskyite petty-bourgeois left social democracy that these embody (eg, the ultra-left criticism of the Libyan leadership for not fitting their prescribed political dogmas that might qualify for its support during the aggressive Nato bombardment, plunder, robbery and division of the sovereign state).

Stop the War under the CPB and Counterfire, it will be remembered, staged anti-Libyan demonstrations, outside the Libyan embassy, even as the Nato bombers were preparing their payloads of death for the Libyan people, and Nato’s wahhabist rats were lynching and ethnically cleansing the black population of Tawergha, making way for the reintroduction of chattel slavery in the newly ‘liberated’ territories.

“In order to play its vital role in every stage of the revolutionary process, the Communist party [CPB revisionists] constantly seeks to strengthen its organisation and improve its membership in both quantity and quality, especially through the systematic study and application of the basic principles of dialectical and historical materialism, the philosophy of Marxism.”

“This does not preclude affiliation to the Labour party or other bodies on a genuinely federal basis, where communists retain their separate organisation and the capacity to act independently.”

What a sorry contradiction, and not a dialectical one. For dialectics requires, above all, detailed study and analysis of the subject under consideration. The CPB instead glosses over the real history both of Labour since its inception, and of the record of attempted affiliation of the old CPGB to the Labour party in the 1920s and 30s. The programme’s authors do not even pause to examine the methods used to push out ‘left infiltrators’ and ‘entryists’, whether of the Militant Trotskyite tendency, the Socialist party or a myriad of others who flocked to Corbyn’s banner so ineffectually in 2015-19.

No, this reference to ‘dialectical’ processes, to the ‘quantity and quality’ of their membership, to ‘historical materialism’ is just so much eyewash. A brief genuflection toward the icon, before getting on with the dirty business of class-collaboration and servitude to the Labour party social democrats.

To be continued …

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Notes

1. With respect to the Labour party, most of the members of the organisation’s executive as well as 40 Labour MPs in Parliament lent their support to the recruiting campaign for WW1. Only one section held aloof – the Independent Labour Party.

2. This refers to World War 2.

3. STR is used in the BRS as shorthand for the “scientific and technological revolution” – innovations in technology which the BRS attributes to capitalism, and being another reason for the ‘failure’ of the ‘bureaucratic command system’.

4. See The British general strike by Godfrey Cremer, Proletarian, 2006; Harpal Brar, The 1926 British General Strike, 2009; Lessons of the great miners’ strike of 1984-85, Lalkar, September 2004.