Originally published in The Leninist No.100 January 30 1990. Available on our archive here
The 100th edition of The Leninist is of the greatest symbolic importance. Around this paper – now the central organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain – our organisation has taken shape and grown in ideological maturity and political effect.
Although the papers of ‘official communism’ had entire states behind them, they all face extinction, many have already fallen. Yet, in spite of the odds, in spite of often adverse conditions, in spite of losing a few faint hearts, The Leninist has always gone ever onwards, ever upwards.
The reason for its success is simple. Fighting single-mindedly for communism, facing up to what is needed and striving to tell the truth brings forth those with the necessary dedication. The greatest cause – the liberation of humanity – produces the greatest devotion.
Our paper had a long gestation period. Due to their youth, their origins in ‘official communism’, their resulting political inexperience, the comrades who financed, wrote and produced the first edition of The Leninist had to devote a whole year to ideological preparation, clarification and debate before venturing to print. This was rightly considered vital. They did not want anything half-baked about their statements.
Before and after that year of preparation, the development of our comrades owed a great deal to the practical and ideological cooperation with the comrades from turkey exiled in Britain. The struggle of the Leninist comrades of the Communist Party of Turkey paralleled and advanced the struggle of the Leninist comrades of the Communist Party of Great Britain. We remember comrade Mevlut – Turkey’s Sverdlov! We salute comrade Yürükoğlu – Turkey’s leading communist! Thanks to the help and example of our comrades from Turkey we now think for ourselves.
In November 1981 The Leninist No.1 came off the presses. Our quarterly 40 page journal located the crisis of the CPGB as being a crisis of opportunism. It stated that the logic of opportunism was “to liquidate the party organisationally”.
Publication of The Leninist raised the banner of disciplined communist revolt against bureaucratic centralism. It was the beginning of a relentless open ideological struggle for the unity of communists around the principles of Marxism-Leninism and against all forms of opportunism. Far from this being sectarian, a side issue for the working class, without such a struggle a successful revolution is impossible. That is why the founding statement of The Leninist insisted that the ideological struggle must be “unremitting and ruthless”. That is why The Leninist from the very beginning argued against Eurocommunism, ‘official communist’ centrism and Labourism.
From the very first The Leninist located the central importance of the national liberation struggle in Ireland. “We place no conditions on our support for the Irish republican movement”, “We demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Britain and British troops from Irish soil, leaving the Irish people as a whole free to realise their united republic”. Our theoretical understanding of the Irish question was greatly deepened with the publication of three supplements starting in October 1984 with The Leninist No.13, something that was given practical expression in September 1988 with the formation of the Hands off Ireland! campaign.
Great emphasis was placed on the need to return to Marx’s method of political economy. Nos 1-4 of The Leninist contained articles dealing with capitalist crisis and the nature of the epoch. We showed that the tendency for the rate of profit to decline would again bring capitalism to the point of general crisis, and that far from the socialist countries being the dominant force on the planet, imperialist hegemony remained and could only be ended through revolutions in the advanced capitalist countries.
This work went hand in hand with a developing critique of bureaucratic socialism. In the spring of 1982 The Leninist No.2 dealt with the crisis in Poland. Naturally we came out against Lech Walesa and Solidarnosc. But we also attacked those centrists who believed Jaruzelski’s martial law put an end to the danger of counterrevolution. It could only be a holding operation.
We warned that Poland’s crisis was far from unique and that without the full flowering of democracy, socialism would stagnate economically and that there would thus been a threat of counterrevolution from above and below. In step with events, we have steadily broadened this analysis. In The Leninist No.55 we stated that unless Gorbachev was overthrown through a proletarian political revolution there was a danger of a peaceful, democratic counterrevolution. Even now, many left groups refuse to admit this is exactly what happened throughout most of Eastern Europe during the close of 1989.
There have been many milestones in the development of The Leninist. These have been milestones in the struggle to reforge our Communist party, and fully reflected the struggle of our working class. Perhaps the most crucial milestone was the miners’ Great Strike of 1984-5. As The Leninist had gone from a quarterly to a monthly it was able to develop its politics as a result of and to some extent in step with a great movement of the masses. The Leninist was able to show how the masses make history and how they have staggering powers of creativity once social peace is disturbed. The Great Strike was a taste of things to come; within it and its hit squads, support groups and women’s movement, there were elements of what the future proletarian state in Britain will look like.
The essence of The Leninist’s struggle has always been to reforge our Party and equip it with a Marxist-Leninist programme. That is why the critique of the British Road to Socialism in The Leninist No.4, published in April 1983, was so important – a critique which laid the basis for the seven Which Road? Supplements by Jack Conrad and the work now in progress to produce a draft programme of the CPGB.
The Leninist has as its model Lenin’s Iskra, a polemical paper around which the working class vanguard can be won to the Party and trained. Its aim has always been to build a movement to reforge the Communist Party. That is why the history of The Leninist is much more than a history of a paper, why it is also the history of an organisation.
Conferences of the Leninists of the CPGB have charted the way forward. The 1st Conference, in early 1984, took the decision to launch The Leninist as a monthly and thus put our organisation in a far stronger position to intervene in the miners’ Great Strike. It was in order to meet our responsibilities to the working class posed by the Great Strike that the 2nd Conference, in August 1984, initiated the annual Summer Offensive, which last year raised a magnificent £25,385.
In June 1985 the 3rd Conference met and, among other things, discussed the need for a fortnightly paper, something which came to fruition on May 1 1986, a year which also saw the launch of the Unemployed Workers Charter. Taking account of our progress, the existence of a 1914 type crisis in ‘official communism’ and the complete treachery of the Euros, the 4th Conference in December 1989 decided to form a distinct Leninist wing of the party – the CPGB (The Leninist). It agreed a whole series of measures in line with this, most significantly the need for a draft programme. The 4th Conference declared that The Leninist was now the central organ of the Party. Detailed resolutions on our principles, aims and structure were also agreed.
A new stage was reached in November 1990 with the 5th Conference. It had one purpose, in light of the Euro leadership’s unanimous vote to rename their organisation, we took the name CPGB. Nevertheless, as we emphasised: “Our main task remains reforging the CPGB. Although we have the name of the party, the Party itself has been liquidated”.
Because of The Leninist, a broad outline of the theoretical foundations which we need to reforge our Party has been laid. And from the smallest organisational beginnings with no.1, by No.100 our paper now has around it a confident body of comrades, who constitute the nucleus of our reforged Party, a nucleus which is able to offer a practical lead to our working class on the crucial issues of the day: the poll tax, wages, South Africa, Ireland, unemployment, the Gulf War.
Hail The Leninist!
Provisional Central Committee,