The Communist Party of Great Britain was founded on July 31 1920. Our CPGB was the British section of the Communist International and resulted from a process of communist rapprochement directly inspired by the October 1917 revolution in Russia and the example of Lenin’s Bolsheviks.
Despite its early limitations and later failures, as an organisation the CPGB is undoubtedly the highest achievement of the workers’ movement in Britain.
This is the draft third programme. The first programme, For Soviet Britain, was adopted in February 1935 at the CPGB’s 13th Congress. Within the year, this left sectarian mishmash was officially deemed outdated. In 1939 a Draft programme was produced. Suffice to say, the outbreak of inter-imperialist war that year made it irrelevant.
The British road to socialism, the second programme, was published in draft form in 1951 and was officially adopted at the 22nd Congress in April 1952. Its underlying claim was that socialism would be achieved through transforming parliament and via a series of Labour governments.
Both previous programmes and their various revisions and editions marked successive shifts to the right by the class collaborationist factions then dominating the leadership of the CPGB. As a result Marxism was effectively replaced by Fabianism. The conclusion of this process of liquidationism was reached when between 1988 and 1991 they organisationally liquidated the Communist Party.
In 1981 the Leninists of the CPGB publicly announced their open, disciplined and principled struggle to reforge the Party. By its very nature a rebellion bound up with equipping the working class with a revolutionary programme. The CPGB we are seeking to build will organise the advanced part of the working class in Britain. It will not be a confessional sect. Nor will it be a pseudo-socialist extension of trade unionism. Informed by this understanding, the 4th Conference of the Leninists of the CPGB, meeting in December 1989, agreed to prepare a draft programme for the consideration of all workers, all left activists and all communists, which in due course would be presented to the refoundation congress of the CPGB.
Genuine communists never accepted the right of opportunists to deprive them of their Party membership nor their Party duties. The wrecking activity of the class collaborationists actually greatly increased the responsibilities of the revolutionary wing. Hence the 5th Conference of the Leninists of the CPGB, meeting in 1991, elected the Provisional Central Committee in order to revive Party work and rally new, healthy forces. A draft third programme was published in 1995. Subsequently, meeting in January 2011, the CPGB’s Special Conference agreed this amended draft third programme – another milestone in the struggle to reforge the CPGB.
The CPGB’s draft third programme is made up of six distinct but logically connected sections.
The first section outlines the main features of the epoch, the epoch of the transition from capitalism to communism. Then comes the nature of capitalism in Britain and the consequences of its development. Following on from here are the immediate political, social and economic measures required for winning the battle for democracy and ensuring that the market and the principle of capitalist profit is subordinated to the principle of human need. Such a minimum programme is, admittedly, technically feasible under capitalism. However, it can only be fully realised through the working class taking power, not only in Britain, but on a continental European scale.
From these radical foundations the character of the revolution and the position of the various classes and strata are presented. Next, again logically, comes the tasks of the CPGB in terms of the worldwide transition to communism. Here is the maximum programme. Finally the inescapable need for all partisans of the working class to unite in the Communist Party itself is dealt with. Our essential organisational principles are presented and show in no uncertain terms why the Communist Party is the most powerful weapon available to the working class.
All who accept this programme as a guide to action are urged to join us in this fight.