17 March 2020

6. The Communist Party

The Communist Party of Great Britain is the voluntary union of communists. It is guided by the theory established by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and organised according to the principles of democratic centralism.

The Communist Party is the highest form of class organisation of the proletariat. The Communist Party is a class party, the advanced part of the working class. The Communist Party is formed and built by the self-selection of the most dedicated, most courageous and most far-sighted workers. Because of this it can fulfil the role of the theoretical, political and organisational vanguard of the proletariat.

The Communist Party has no interest other than that of the proletariat as a whole. The Communist Party differs from the rest of the working class only in that it has the advantage of a theory which enables it to understand the historical path and results of proletarian class struggle. Hence at every stage and turn of events it champions the general interests of the movement.

Consequently, as advanced workers and true partisans of the working class, the communists understand the necessity of coming together in the CPGB.

6.1. Party of all workers

Communists always support the organisation of the working class in the largest, most powerful and most centralised units. In the absence of objective conditions compelling separate organisation, the proletariat organises as a single party. This is a requirement of proletarian internationalism.

The vanguard of the working class organises in a single party based on the existing borders of the bourgeois state that is to be overthrown. Those who fail to fight for such organisational unity of the workers have not broken their links with nationalism.

Objective conditions in Britain require the workers of all nationalities to organise in a single Communist Party.

6.2. CPGB is internationalist

The CPGB stands on the principles of proletarian internationalism. It is a proletarian-internationalist duty for communists to make revolution in their own country. However, the struggle for socialism in Britain is subordinated to the struggle for world revolution. Proletarian internationalism renders it compulsory for the interests of the workers’ struggle in one country to be subordinated to the interests of that struggle on a world scale.

Understanding the unity of the interests and aims of the world working class does not arise spontaneously within the national workers’ movement. The CPGB has to conscientiously imbue the working class struggle with the ideas of proletarian internationalism and uncompromisingly fight against nationalism. The CPGB sees it as its duty to fight against any trend which harms the unity of the world’s working class around communism. We are well aware of the connection between nationalism and opportunism and revisionism.

The CPGB believes that the world proletariat needs a world strategy and world organisation. Without a world communist party the working class is weakened and lacks coordination. The CPGB will do all in its power to rectify this situation.

6.3. Principles of organisation

The foremost and unchanging task of communists is to conduct systematic, all-sided and principled agitation and propaganda. In our conditions this means combating all manifestations of bourgeois ideology and winning the masses to the idea of revolution.

6.3.1. Central publication

The party conducts propaganda and agitation on the basis of its central publication. The central publication is not only a collective propagandist and collective agitator. It is also a collective organiser.

Organisation around the distribution network of the central publication and education on the basis of the central publication constitute the basis for the continuous action of our party.

6.3.2. The basic unit

The basic organisational unit of the Communist Party is the cell. The cell is the only unit of the party in which all members must participate. Established on the basis of task, workplace or locality, the basic unit facilitates the closest and broadest relations with the masses.

Cells have autonomy within their sphere of responsibility and should be self-sustaining and constantly striving to take initiatives. Cells work to train their members as professional revolutionaries who have educated themselves, learnt the skills of the revolutionary struggle and dedicated their whole life to the cause.

6.3.3. Criticism and self-criticism

Criticism and self-criticism, including in public, on an individual and collective level are the first condition for the unity, development and growth of the Communist Party. The aim is to continually strengthen the party’s ability to serve the working class and humanity.

Criticism in no way implies the undermining of the individual or collective concerned, but improving their contribution to the party and party discipline. It shows the individual or collective being criticised why their attitude accords with neither the interests of the class nor the party.

Bourgeois and petty bourgeois influences constantly manifest themselves in the party. The party too lives in a world dominated by the spontaneously generated ideas of capitalism. Hence if the mistakes of individuals or collectives are not corrected they can become a deviation or even embedded amongst the majority of members. Criticism and self-criticism is one of the most effective weapons against such dangers.

6.3.4. Men and women

There must be no discrimination between men and women in the Communist Party. Male communists must practise equality and female communists must insist on it.

However, given the male-dominated culture we operate in and the need to win women to follow the lead and join the ranks of the Communist Party, every effort should be made to promote women comrades in the party. In this way, the party develops its culture and extends its strength for the struggle.

6.3.5. Legality and illegality

Communists make no mechanical division between legality and illegality under the conditions of bourgeois rule. They are not opposites, but different moments in the development of the class struggle.

Democratic rights under capitalism are not granted by the generosity of the ruling class. Nor are they inherent in the system. They have been won by struggle in the face of fierce opposition by generation after generation of working people.

The scope of legal work is determined by the balance of forces between the ruling and working class. Even when bourgeois rule is masked in a democratic form, state terror is always held in reserve.

The Communist Party therefore – even in the most democratic of periods – maintains and endeavours to constantly improve its illegal work. Our party must be a combat organisation of the working class.

Thus, we do not build an illegal apparatus for its own sake. We do it to win the freedom to make revolution, an act that no bourgeois state tolerates. A Communist Party is only as free as the struggle it wages for revolution is free from the restrictions of bourgeois legality.

The ultimate guarantee of the freedom of the party to make revolution is the correctness of its scientific world view and its ability to merge with the broad masses of the class. We guard against state provocation and infiltration primarily through the open fight for correct politics.

6.3.6. Leadership

If the working class is to defeat the bourgeoisie, it must train leaders from among its ranks who are not inferior to those of the bourgeoisie. No class can function without leaders. Even anarchist groups have leaders, though they are often autocratic, hidden and unaccountable.

Instead of promoting personality cults communists emphasise committees and collective responsibility. We seek to demystify and democratise leadership through open debate, regular elections, recallability and actively promoting the aim of making all members into potential leaders – judged by theoretical knowledge, revolutionary energy and political instinct and experience. That allows individuals to be easily replaced, enhances institutional continuity and provides the means for members to correct errors: that is, to lead.

6.3.7. No ready-made blueprints

The CPGB applies the Leninist principle of organisation. There are no ready made blueprints for communist organisation. Timeless recipes for the structure and relationship between the various bodies that make up the Communist Party are the result of formal, not dialectical, thinking.

We proceed from the fact that the Communist Party is a living organism. It evolves and constantly changes according to objective circumstances and the struggle to put the revolutionary programme into practice. The CPGB will therefore constantly modify itself organisationally.

6.3.8. CPGB is democratic centralist

The CPGB is organised on the basis of democratic centralism. Democratic centralism is a form of organisation and a political principle.

Democratic centralism entails the subordination of the minority to the majority when it comes to the actions of the party. That does not mean that the minority should be gagged. Minorities must have the possibility of becoming the majority. As long as they accept in practice the decisions of the majority, groups of comrades have the right to support alternative platforms and form themselves into temporary or permanent factions and express their views publicly.

Democratic centralism therefore represents a dialectical unity entailing the fullest, most open and frank debate, along with the most determined, selfless, revolutionary action.

Democratic centralism allows the members of the Communist Party to unitedly carry out actions, elect and be elected, criticise the mistakes of the party and self-criticise their own failings without fear or favour. In essence then, democratic centralism is a process whereby communists are united around correct aims and principles.

6.3.9. Communist discipline

Party discipline consists of the duty to voice differences, complete fulfilment of assigned tasks and not withholding financial resources.

Communist discipline develops on the basis of positively resolving differences and successfully developing ties with the masses. Mutual respect and the strength of the working class increases the level of communist discipline.

6.4. Communists and trade unions

Trade unions are basic organisations of working class defence. The Communist Party is the highest form of working class organisation. The party and the trade unions are therefore different organisations of the same class.

Communists do not seek to blur the different roles of the party and the trade unions. When trade unionists attempt to assume the functions of the Communist Party, they weaken the trade unions and the party. When the Communist Party attempts to assume the functions of the trade unions, it likewise weakens the trade unions and the party.

Communists defend the organisational independence of the unions, but seek to win them to accept the political leadership of the Communist Party.

Communists fight for internal democracy in the unions and against all forms of bureaucracy.

Communists are confident that sooner or later the trade unions will be won to their views and be made into schools for communism. Communists put forward a consistent perspective which unites, not divides, the trade unions. Communists fight both sectionalism and splits along economic or political lines in the trade union movement and bring to the fore the common interest. In this way, communists show that they are the best fighters for the day-to-day interests of the proletariat, as well as those who look after the interests of the future.

Communists tirelessly work in the trade unions to fight bourgeois ideology. We explain that no trade union demand can be made permanent while wage-slavery lasts. All economic, trade union and political demands must be connected with the task of putting society as a whole into the hands of the working class.

6.5. Communists and religion

The Communist Party says that the state should consider religion a private matter. However, from the point of view of the party itself, religion – whether it be an established cult or a residual belief in the supernatural – is not a private matter. Our party cannot be indifferent to the ignorance, gullibility and irrationality religion engenders in the minds of the masses. The CPGB therefore conducts atheist propaganda.

Unless the working class is educated through its own struggle against capitalism, atheist propaganda will only have limited effect. That is why the CPGB leads the struggle of the masses against every form of capitalist ideology and connects its atheist propaganda to the class struggle against capitalism and its state.

The holding of individual religious belief is no obstacle to membership of the CPGB. All religious people who are committed to the cause of the working class and the liberation of humanity should join the communists.

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