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Problems with the movement in Britain

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 06 May 2009, 00:30
I'm aware that while countries such as France and Greece are seeing left-wing strikes and protests while Germany and Turkey saw demonstrations for May Day, the movement in Britain remains very much sidelined and, apart from a few recent strikes in power stations, almost invisible during this time of economic recession. There are currently a huge number of Communist parties in this country while others such as France seem to have larger main parties which have endured fewer splits over the years. I don't know much about it but I've read that even the old CPGB never achieved the membership heights that other main European parties did.

Is it something ingrained into British society? Economic factors? If anyone (particularly British members) could provide some insight that would be great.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 Apr 2008, 03:25
Embalmed
Post 06 May 2009, 00:31
Don't feel to bad. It's not like shit ever happens in the US of A.
Once capitalists know we can release the Kraken, they'll back down and obey our demands for sure.
_Comrade Gulper
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2007, 06:31
Embalmed
Post 06 May 2009, 00:33
No. Too many reagan-worshippers here.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Jun 2006, 15:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 06 May 2009, 01:39
At it's height the old CPGB had around 65,000 members in the immediate post-war period, its membership started to fade off and never recovered from teh sudden exodus of 1956 (the 20th congress of the CPSU combined withe the incident in Hungary, and the party's support for Warsaw Pact intervention, made sure of that). This is in contrast with the CP of Italy, which had just short of 2 million members at one point (its modern successor party still has 3/4 of a million but they are no longer revolutionary).

There are a few factors which have no doubt contributed to this:
1) In the early years the Party's growth was limited by the existance of the Labour Party (which was far more radical back then than it has been since Atlee). The Labour Party was created by the TUC's LRC, and was endorsed and affiliated to by almost all the major unions (and by extention a huge proportion of the workforce were automatically entitled to labour party membership). In France, by comparison, the Socialist Party never had this position, the unions movement being factionally and politically divided. The relative unity in the UK is a rare thing, one which I don't think should be thrown away opportunistically (but that's another story).

2) Britain never went fascist, and was never occupied by fascist armies (the very real struggle against fascism in Britain is a rather interesting topic to study in its own right). The prominent role of the Communist Parties in opposing fascism from the get go and the leading roles they played in the Resistance movements were what gave the parties in Italy, France, Spain etc their influence.

3) Following de-Stalinisation, the Parties in continental Western Europe were quick to position themselves in opposition to both sides in the cold war. Even with the gradual growth of influence of the Euro-communists, the CPGB officially supported the USSR until the 1980's, at which point the party fragmented completly into the current mass of organisations you are familiar with (and probably a bunch you've never heard of).

4) There's the issue of Britain's political stability. Complain as we do (and should) about police tactics in this country, they are no where near as repressive as the French police are, and I've heard that West Germany was also rather rough (and ofcourse the fascist governments. . .). The CP has also suffered minimal repression from the state (the one way to ensure a CP gains influence is to ban it). As a result of this there has never developed the semi-revolutionary us-vs-them attitude. In France and Greece police murder can lead to fortnight long uprisings, in Britain it leads to an IPCC investigation.


As a note, there seem to be far more "Parties" in Britain than they actually are in any menaingful sense. Many (RCPB-ML, CPB-ML etc) are tiny sects which have completly dried up in all but name (and even in their day they were really small). There are only four groups bearing the name "Communist party" which you are likely to encounter today:

The Communist Party of Britain [CPB]
The New Communist Party of Britain [NCP]
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) [CPGB(PCC)]
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) [CPGB(M-L)]

I can provide details on them and their differences if you like.
The moment one accepts the notion of 'totalitarianism', one is firmly locked within the liberal-democratic horizon. - Slavoj Žižek
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Jan 2009, 04:26
Unperson
Post 06 May 2009, 01:43
gRed Britain wrote:
Is it something ingrained into British society? Economic factors? If anyone (particularly British members) could provide some insight that would be great.


I have some insight, but I'll you don't want to hear it. Despite the fact that it actually explains your dilemma.

The fact is that there is not a British proletariat. The British, like amerikans, are not exploited. They are a Labor Aristocracy, payed off by imperial super-profits.

The median income in the UK is 462 pounds/week. Which puts them in the richest 2% of the worlds population. link

The fact that British workers are so rich means they have no need for socialist revolution.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Jun 2006, 15:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 06 May 2009, 01:47
We're not going to go through every reason why that's wrong in this thread, but it doesn't even answer his question. He was asking what's so different between Britain and continental countries like France.
The moment one accepts the notion of 'totalitarianism', one is firmly locked within the liberal-democratic horizon. - Slavoj Žižek
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Jun 2006, 15:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 06 May 2009, 01:59
I noticed you ask this on the CPGB(PCC) thread.:

Quote:
Also does anyone know what the deal is with Harpal Brar? I heard somewhere on the internet that he is a millionaire and owns a business somewhere.


He is a British-Indian capitalist who owns a number of sweatshops in occupied Kashmir, producing textile products which he imports to the UK to sell to the South Asian community for unbelievably marked up prices. This guy makes Nike and GAP executives look like Che by comparison, at least they don't call themselves Communists and anti-imperialists.
The moment one accepts the notion of 'totalitarianism', one is firmly locked within the liberal-democratic horizon. - Slavoj Žižek
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 06 May 2009, 20:33
Thanks for the info Whitten. If you could provide some info on differences between those parties that would be great. Also, what are your views on the Socialist Party?

As to the Labour Party, I think it will be interesting to see what happens if they lose the next election. It can't really go much further towards the centre in my opinion. Do you think it will revert left somewhat again? Will it lose its union links?

Finally, what can be done to change the situation here re the communist movement?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Jun 2006, 15:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 06 May 2009, 22:08
The Communist Party of Britain
Formed in 1988 following the purge of Marxist-Leninists from the CPGB by the right-wing leadership (the CPGB dissolved shortly thereafter).
Usually accepted as the successor party to the CPGB.
Significantly larger than all the other CPs put together.
Views Marxism-Leninism non-dogmatically. It opposes Trotskyism and Euro-communism while avoiding the Stalin-worship which has traditionally passed itself off as "anti-revisionism".
It is a pluralistic and rather accepting party which encourages internal debate. It has people who could be called "Stalinist" and those who firmly oppose his memory.
Despite this, internal factions are prohibited in favour of democratic-centalism.
The party has influence in the trade union movement, including many members of TU executives.
The party is active and influencial in the various issue campaigns, with the chairs of the two largest (CND and StWC) being party members.
The party lacks a strong presence in the Student Movement although it has made correcting this a preiority recently.
The party has strong fraternal relations with parties from around the world, and works closely with international CPs within their domiciled communities (they allow the Indian party to organise in Indian-British communities, and they cooperate with the CPB's electoral strategy).
The party has international ties with both ruling and non-ruling Communist Parties.
The Morning Star newspaper is tied to its party line, and the CPB make the promoting of the Star a priority.


The New Communist party of Britain
Formed in the 1970s accusing the CPGB of being 'revisionist'.
They believed the CPGB's programme was "Kruschevite" (despite recent revelations that it was personally approved by Stalin) and reformist (despite the fact that they have a "vote labour always" policy.
The party was stongly supported the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (which the CPGB opposed).
Despite their opposition to Krushev and their 'anti-revisionist' stance, they never endoresed Maoism and remained a pro-Soviet party.
Traditionally seen as the second biggest "CP", I suspect this may no longer be true.
It is the only other CP to have international recognition, attending the international communist conference as parters with the CPB.
It has close ties with the Korean Workers' Party.
It has limited presence left within broader campaigns, practically no young members and its last few trade unionists are dying out.
Its "newspaper" (read: newsletter) is irregular at best.


The Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee
A strange bunch. Originate as a split from the NCP, they infiltrated the dying CPGB and then laid claim to the name when the leadership disbanded the party.
They seem to have flip flopped ideologicall all over the place, having eventually settled at a wierd kind of ultra-leftist pseudo-trotskyism.
They are extremly hostile to all other left groups and practically no one takes them seriously (its a major achievement to be more disliked than the SWP)
They publish a paper the "Weekly Worker" (weedy wanker), which concerns itself with absurd sectarian attacks on other left groups instead of actually providing a newspaper which workers might be interested in. (For example, there latest issue, right after May Day, the front cover made no mention of May Day marches, no mention of an important international or national incident, it was a character assasination of a relatively fringe member of the CPB's Executive Committee.)
They were accused by the Ken Livingstone of collaborating with Special Branch.
They routinely show up to inter-party cooperations in order to sabbotage them. They refuse to participate in groups which don't share their exact views and then lecture us on the need for unity (you know the types).


The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
Despite its name it formed out of the Socialist Labour Party, not the CPGB, most of its members having never been involved in the organised Communist movement.
It holds to an extremly disturbing type of ultra-stalinism
It believes Kruschev to have been a bourgeois agent and Deng Xiaoping to be a revisionist, but Hu Jintao is apparently neither.
It is run by a capitalist who owns a chain of sweatshops in the third world.
They are unquestioning supporters of Kim Jung Il.
They oppose the labour movement in Zimbabwe because it opposes their darling Mugabe.
They believe the 9/11 attacks were a justified heroic strike against US imperialism (!)
I could go on but you get the picture.


The Socialist Party (England and Wales)
The modern incarnation of the Militant Tendency, a Trotskyist entryist project within the Labour Party.
They are ironically now firmly opposed to seeking to regain the Labour Party, instead encouraging unions to split from it.
They are probably about twice the size of the CPB, although its impossible to be sure.
They have influence in the trade union movement and people on TU executives.
They lack influence in the broader campaign movements for a Party of their size.
They have a reasonable Student presence although this seems to have been shrinking recently, although I'm not sure why.
They are mostly orthodox Trotskyists, rejecting the state-capitalist interpretation of the USSR.
They oppose Scotish speratism despite the party not officially organising in Scotland.



Quote:
As to the Labour Party, I think it will be interesting to see what happens if they lose the next election. It can't really go much further towards the centre in my opinion. Do you think it will revert left somewhat again? Will it lose its union links?


They can move more towards the centre because at this point it would constitute a move to the left. . .
The problem is if they lose the next election and get rid of Brown they will likely end up with yet another New Labour politician as leader (probably Miliband), as the PLP will never give the left-wing candidate the nomination he needs to stand for election (in which it is by no means impossible that he would win). It will be no easy task to take back the LP. The LP has been using union links (along with over half its membership) since 1997. We will almost certainly see the Post privatised, and the CWU have promised to leave the party if this happens.

The Labour Party is screwed short term. Looking more long term the question is as to whether the right wing finally give in and accept that Labour needs a left wing programme to get accepted again, or it will die and be replaced. The real problem at the moment is the risk of splitting the Labour movement by having half the unions backing a newer party and half backing the current LP. I think any move to found a new party needs to be made by convincing the major Trade Unions that they need to do so (its really just Unite, UNISON and GMB at the moment, the NUM, FBU and RMT would easily be convinced).


I think at this point we just have to accept there is no miracle cure for the Communist movement. Unity between tiny groups isn't really a huge achievment anyway. I think we just need to throw everything we have into building whichever party we are in up again, utimatly the party with the right line will be the one which is sucessful. I think we've become to used to defeat that many of us are afraid to engage with the public on the issue. We must hold talks, debates, public meetings and distribute literature which actually appeals to people. Even if each of us only ever manage to convince one other person, we've double the size of our movement. Account for exponential growth and the revolution is just around the corner.
The moment one accepts the notion of 'totalitarianism', one is firmly locked within the liberal-democratic horizon. - Slavoj Žižek
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 07 May 2009, 23:24
Thanks a lot Whitten, very informative. I had my suspicions about Harpal Brar and the fact the CPGB-ML website didn't ask for donations. To be honest, I never got the impression the CPB, CPGB (PCC) or CPGB-ML had much impact on the movement today. Just yet more parties to distract people and further divide the movement. As to the CPB, do they get on well with other left wing parties in Britain? Do they still hope to "regain" the Labour Party? Do they get on well with the SP?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Jun 2006, 15:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 08 May 2009, 00:09
The CPB get on fairly well with most of the reasonable left. We're generally rather non-sectarian and often work with members of the Labour left wing. We're in coalitions with the SP in a number of trade unions and are currently a part of the No2EU - Yes to Democracy coalition and are campaigning along side the SP, AGS and some non-party trade unionists in the elections as a front against both the xenophobic parties and the Lisbonites. We also work with the SWP when they're willing but their rule-or-ruin tactics often make that rather difficult. All in all if the CPB have faults, sectarianism isn't one of them.

The Labour Party question is an ongoing debate within the party. The Party's executive committee (central committee) voted 50/50 for and against joining the respect coalition back when it was first formed, but the extraodinary congress voted not to join. Today there are those who feel that reclaiming the LP is the best strategy, while others want to support a new party project (presumably the CNWP, in coalition with the SP). The last Party congress adopted the following as part of a resolution:

Quote:
In order to be successful, reclaiming the Labour Party or re-establishing a mass party of labour would need to emerge from—and be sustained by—the trade union movement.


Which I think reflects my view rather well. Ultimately the whether we reclaim the Labour Party of found a new one is only a tactical detail. The task at hand remains the same, convincing the broader labour movement to take action. Starting a new party before we've done with will just end up going the same way as Respect. And dividing the union movement would be a bad thing.

If your interested in getting involved in a party I suggest contacting both the CPB and SP in your area and asking if you can attend a few meetings. If your in an area with a very active branch they will hold regular public meetings, if not they usually have no problem with outsiders coming along. Where abouts are ye?
The moment one accepts the notion of 'totalitarianism', one is firmly locked within the liberal-democratic horizon. - Slavoj Žižek
Soviet cogitations: 1128
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 08 May 2009, 23:35
The Labour Party needs time out of power to have any chance of turning left. I just don't see how the New Labourites will have much success getting the party back into power. Also if the Tories swing right after getting into power then it could push the public to look for a more left wing alternative (though it didn't happen in the 80s).

As for me I'm in Hertfordshire. A pretty conservative county and not one that I associate with left wing politics! However, access to London is pretty easy and I know there's an SP branch in Stevenage. I expect there might be in some of the other new towns such as Hemel Hempstead and Harlow though I've yet to find out.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Oct 2006, 23:10
Politburo
Post 12 May 2009, 21:33
Whitten, about your allegations against the CPGB (M-L), what is your source?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Sep 2008, 17:13
Pioneer
Post 14 May 2009, 00:56
I salute the short and correct analyse of the workers movement in Britain and the four mentioned CP`s. The analyse f the four CPs are the analyse that is pre-dominant in the marxist-leninist International Communist Movement which my party - CP of Norway - is and integrated member of.

The newspaper of the CP of Norway have published severeal articles by f.ex comrade John Foster, and from the CP of Britain, especially with very good analysis of state-monopoly capitalism - highly valued by the norwegian party.

Also we have realtions with NCPB and have also published some articles from their organ New Worker.

The 3 other mentioned parties - every country got the likes of them around, more or less.

The CPB is the party of the working-class in my regard -with a lot more influence maybe than their membership-number would say. That is a proof of the working-class respecting, accepting, appreciated the view of the communist party. And a sign of workers looking for revolutionary options.
"For us there is no valid definition of socialism other than the abolition of the exploitation of one human being by another."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Jun 2006, 15:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Bureaucrat
Post 14 May 2009, 01:26
Fitzy, it seems I can't get an impartial source for the working conditions in Harpal's factories, however here is a link to his business: http://www.trehearneandbrar.com/

Now there may be a legitimate question to be raised regarding the role of bourgeois class traitors joining the CP (although leading one is too far in my opinion) however I certainly think the fact deserves to be taken into consideration, especially when they use cheap third world labour while accusing the CPB of not taking a strong enough stance against imperialism (a single member of the CPB (acting under mandate while serving in a completly unrelated capacity as the Chair of CND) condemned both NATO/Japan and Kim Jung Il for their conduct over the DPRK's nuclear programme. . . the nerve).

Their web-only newspaper published every 2 months accused the CPB of being imperialist AND pacifist in the same article. . . so much for consistency.

4.Nov, I appreciate your support but I fear you are being too hasty in calling the CPB the party of the working class, that title will be ours when the working class adopt us as their principle party. All in good time, I hope.
The moment one accepts the notion of 'totalitarianism', one is firmly locked within the liberal-democratic horizon. - Slavoj Žižek
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Sep 2008, 17:13
Pioneer
Post 26 May 2009, 15:41
I agree.
"For us there is no valid definition of socialism other than the abolition of the exploitation of one human being by another."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Jun 2009, 04:00
Pioneer
Post 04 Jun 2009, 18:32
Of those four groups, based on my limited understanding, the CPGB-ML tends to have the most solid ideological foundation.
Study Marxism through the concrete analysis of past and contemporary national liberation struggles and class struggles: http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Mar 2008, 02:36
Komsomol
Post 04 Jun 2009, 19:19
Quote:
Of those four groups, based on my limited understanding, the CPGB-ML tends to have the most solid ideological foundation.


Nah, they're mental.

Crazy Stalinists. However, I love their main contradiction the most: China under Deng Xiaoping was revisionist and capitalist, China under Hu Juntao is socialist. Lulz.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Jun 2009, 04:00
Pioneer
Post 04 Jun 2009, 19:29
I don't live in Britain, so I don't know very much about the British ML movement. So I don't think it really my place to jump into the fray on this. I just wanted to put in my two cents. But I guess I'll explain myself a little better, since there are some disagreements.

First, I have to say that I don't know what a "Stalinist" is. I thought Comrade Stalin was a Marxist-Leninist... Somehow I doubt there is much point in our arguing about it.

Sholokhov wrote:
However, I love their main contradiction the most: China under Deng Xiaoping was revisionist and capitalist, China under Hu Juntao is socialist.


You can build up straw-man arguments if you want, but this document from 1989 seems to argue that the PRC under Deng Xiaoping was socialist:
http://www.lalkar.org/issues/contents/m ... anmen.html

At the end of the document from 1989 they say:

Quote:
One thing is certain, i.e., if the counter-revolutionary rebellion in China had succeeded, it would have been followed by an unprecedented massacre that would have been considered by imperialism and its hangers-on as a small price to pay for the restoration of “democracy” - i.e., the overthrow of socialism and the reinstatement of the basic “human” right, i.e., the exploitation of man by man - capitalism - in China.

It is for this reason, and being guided solely by the interests of the proletariat, that we unhesitatingly support the suppression by the PLA of the counter-revolutionary rebellion in Tienanmen Square. It is for this reason that we denounce and oppose the sanctions and pressure being sought to be put on the Chinese government by US Imperialism and its junior partners.

One last question that we must raise is: how could this counter- revolutionary rebellion have arisen in the first place? In their effort to modernise China, the Chinese leadership has been trying for nearly a decade to break into the monopoly over technology held by Western and Japanese imperialism, by offering them special economic zones and joint ventures. This, accompanied by the loosening of the centralised economic planning, the dissolution of the communes, wider pay differentials between the masses and managers and intellectuals, have disrupted the socialist economy and led to inflation, unemployment and dislocation of vast numbers of workers and peasants. These economic factors have been accompanied by an ideological relaxation and a lessening of emphasis on the teachings of Marxism-Leninism at a time when an increasing number of Chinese students studying in America and other Western countries were not simply acquiring technical and scientific expertise, but also having their heads stuffed with bourgeois ideology. (At present there are 73,000 Chinese students in America and another 250,000 visitors).

The CPC must take a hard look at these economic and ideological factors, which together contributed much to produce the counter-revolutionary rebellion. It must learn the necessary lessons and put an end to those practices - economic and ideological - which led to the present crisis. We wish the Chinese working class every success in tackling these problems.


Clear enough, one would think.

I guess they are consistent Marxist-Leninists after all, though maybe they don't take as one-sided of a view of Chinese socialism as you would like.

By the way, I tend to think of the NCPB as an overall good organization as well, but I don't know as much about them.
Study Marxism through the concrete analysis of past and contemporary national liberation struggles and class struggles: http://marxistleninist.wordpress.com/
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Mar 2008, 02:36
Komsomol
Post 05 Jun 2009, 02:17
Quote:
First, I have to say that I don't know what a "Stalinist" is


Stalin existed, and was effective in his leadership role. However, Stalinism would refer to comrades with an inability to tolerate opposing views, and comrades with a contempt for proletarian or even elementary democracy.

RE China, that document does seem to elaborate their position better, but I've spoken to a few MLers who have given me the position I described above.
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