As the working class continues to abandon the Labour Party, and Conservative members of the House cross the floor to bulk up the numbers, the Communist Party of Britain is at its reformist best, issuing the war cry, “Communists urge Labour victory but no vote for war cabinet leaders”!
The CPB issued its statement on 17 January after a meeting of its ostensibly most class-conscious leaders, the ‘executive committee’. “A Labour victory [cue: rubbing of hands, look of excitement] will keep New Labour in our sights and provide fresh opportunities to unite the left and the labour movement around a left-wing programme opposed to New Labour’s pro-big business, pro-imperialist agenda.” (‘Statement of Executive’, www.communist-party.org.uk)
The CPB has really excelled itself this time. Knowing that such a cretinous policy as this has to attempt to mask itself with some form of opposition to the carnage and calamity in Iraq, the statement continues: “At the same time, we cannot call for support for those members of the war cabinet most closely associated with the brutal, unprovoked attack on the sovereign people of Iraq”!
No doubt this statement brought forth not long stormy applause, but rather sighs of regret. The CPB would follow their revisionist ideology to the ends of the earth (which they most probably believe in). It seems the CPB’s love for the British Labour Party, the labour aristocracy and indeed the bourgeoisie knows no bounds. It plans to oppose only Blair, Prescott, Brown, Straw, Hoon, Blunkett and Reid, instead supporting ‘alternative’ candidates in those constituencies.
No real communist could possibly endorse the election of a single Labour MP, let alone another government of them! Labour has always been an imperialist party and this is not about to change if Blair and co are defeated. All that will happen is that a new crop of imperialists will take their place. The CPB is following its decrepit, anti-Marxist programme The British Road To Socialism into utter obscurity. Rather than being the ‘vanguard’ it claims to be, it is trailing years behind large numbers of workers who will never vote Labour again.
Labour: an imperialist party
The Labour Party was long ago shown up for what it is. In January 1928, Rajani Palme Dutt declared: “The Labour Party stands revealed as a party of cooperation with capitalism and suppression of the workers … This is the inevitable working out of present-day social democracy, so called … [developing] from the abstract and impotent opposition into the ‘third party of the bourgeoisie.'” (‘Notes of the month’, Labour Monthly, January 1928)
The Labour Party pays no attention to the calls of the ‘left’, including the CPB, and why should it? The trade union movement is finally starting to pull the plug on its financing of the party, and has this had any effect? Is the ‘party of the workers’ struggling without the financial support of the workers? It certainly is not! Instead, the capitalists are digging a little deeper. According to the Sunday Times of 23 January 2005, Lord Sainsbury is again giving £2m (of his family’s estimated £1.7bn fortune) for the forthcoming election campaign, and many more imperialists will happily donate so long as Blair and the Labour Party continue to operate as their loyal executive.
In 1928, the Executive Committee of the Communist International unanimously passed a resolution that is strikingly relevant today, declaring that British labour organisations were being converted “into auxiliary apparatuses of the bourgeois state and employers’ organisations … The Labour Party is becoming … an ordinary social-democratic party.” (Discussion of ‘The English Question’ at the Ninth Plenum of ECCI, February 1928) More than 70 years have passed since then and still the most basic lessons have not been learnt. There is nothing ‘unique’ about the Labour Party – its federalism, its phoney ‘left-wing’ MPs, the former Clause IV or any of the other tired old excuses. It is an appendage of the bourgeois state, no longer an auxiliary apparatus, but an integral part of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
The CPB and The British Road To Socialism are so utterly at odds with historical materialism that one wonders whether the comrades are familiar with the concept at all. No doubt the CPB will say we are dogmatists; that we are living in a by-gone era; that the days of revolution are over and a new strategy is needed to lead the working classes to victory. Perhaps they think the bourgeois dictatorship can be overcome peacefully once the Labour Party takes heed of the CPB! We need a 21st century strategy perhaps? Revolutions and violence are in the past ..?
This brings to mind the anti-Marxist philosophy of another very well known ‘socialist’, Mr J Ramsey MacDonald: “Revolution is pre-democratic … I am not going back. Our communist friends are going back [cheers!]. The reason why they believe in revolution is because they are still living in the 18th century. I am in the 20th, and I am in the 21st in my head, and that is where you ought to be.” (Speech at luncheon of the Liverpool Rotary Club, Labour Party Conference, October 1925)
Well, comrades, however often the pious hopes of imperialist flunkeys like J Ramsey MacDonald are parroted by the CPB, it cannot turn lead into gold or nonsense into truth. The CPB think a new government of Labour without a few ‘bad eggs’ from the present cabinet will solve all. This can only be because they absolutely refuse to look at the underlying class interests – currently those of ‘our’ imperialist bourgeoisie fighting to maintain itself in a time of deep economic crisis at the expense of the exploited and oppressed people of Britain and the world. They prefer wilfully to close their eyes to the historical process. They prefer to believe history is the work of a few individuals. No fascism without Hitler and Mussolini perhaps? No more Iraq war without Bush and Blair?
While the working-class movement remains tied to the leadership of the Labour aristocracy and a host of anti-Marxian parties it will never be able to fulfil its historic liberating mission. The CPGB-ML must raise high the banner of Marxism Leninism! We must apply this scientific knowledge with fervour to advance working-class understanding and not hinder it with calls to ‘Vote Labour’.
As Lenin put it: “The whole point lies in knowing how to apply these tactics in such a way as to raise and not lower the general level of proletarian class consciousness, revolutionary spirit, and ability to fight and conquer.” (Lenin, Speaking on ‘compromises’ in particular, Marxism in practice in general, Selected Works, Vol 10, p116)