Originally published in The Leninist No.7 April 1984. Available on our archive here
The key to developing a real opposition to liquidationism within the Communist Party of Great Britain must be the struggle to lay a sound ideological basis. The Leninist has always been at the forefront of this struggle and already this year it supporters have carried pro-Partyism to a higher stage. Two days of intense and open debate marked the First Conference of Supporters of The Leninist in January, two days which were of historic importance for our Party.
The Leninist’s First Conference faced up to the heavy responsibilities confronting Leninists in this country. It was a conference in which no holds were barred in the way of political debate, which made it a distinctly different experience for those attending it in comparison with our Party’s 38th Congress.
Participants in the First Conference were leading supporters of The Leninist, who were in no way democratically elected but were appointed to attend. This particular weakness, whist not detracting from the correctness and validity of the decisions arrived at, is one which further growth of The Leninist will overcome. Those who directly participated in the First Conference did so with many decades of accumulated experience in communist politics. Nevertheless, the First Conference was certainly none the worse for its inclusion of comrades who have been but a comparatively short time in working class politics.
The arrangement of the First Conference contrasted strongly with the previous main Party event: the 38th (liquidationist) Congress in November. Every effort was made, and not just as a matter of formality, to enable every comrade present at the First Conference to express themselves freely and at length. Proposers of motions on either day were given sufficient time to make introductions; occasionally Conference granted extensions of time. Contributions could be made up to three times by any one floor speaker on each and every motion at the First Conference. Every request for a fourth contribution was granted by Conference. Each contribution was normally up to ten minutes though this limit was extended on request on several occasions. Thus no effort was spared, indeed Conference bent over backwards, in encouraging all present to participate. It was gratifying that most comrades present at the First Conference each spoke several times during debates.
Even before the First Conference, and indeed when it was sitting, no limit was placed on the number of amendments which comrades could submit. No amendments were omitted from consideration by Conference: a large majority were incorporated within the resolutions agreed.
The 38th (liquidationist) Congress of our Party does not compare at all favourably with the First Conference of Supporters of The Leninist, especially in the manner in which business was conducted (see The Leninist No.6, Editorial). Unlike the First Conference, the platform at the Congress in November stifled all debate and exchange of opinion, severely restricted floor speakers’ time, and generally set its seal on a Eurocommunist takeover. Whereas, as stated above, First Conference floor speakers were allowed ten minutes on each occasion they spoke and sometimes more by permission of Conference, the Congress closed session saw a farcical one minute limit imposed with swingeing restrictions on speech content within that time. Some delegates to Congress were prevented from speaking at all in the closed session.
In the manner of its preparation, its proceedings, and its decisions, the First Conference roundly answered the bludgeoning crudity of the Euro hijackers who ruled the roost at the 38th (liquidationist) Congress. The First Conference was a shining example of communist discussion, communist discipline and communist morality. It was a lighthouse to comrades about to be wrecked on the rocks of the Euro victory at the Congress. As the antithesis of liquidationism, the First Conference proclaimed that this is our Party, the party of Leninism, and that all pro-Party forces must shoulder the burden of reclaiming it.
In contrast to the upsurge surrounding the launch of The Leninist as a monthly paper following the decisive First Conference, a wave of disillusion has spread amongst the ranks of Party centrists since Congress. Such centrists are despondent because they have believed their own misleading propaganda. The centrists’ view that they would ‘win Congress’ has been sorely disappointed.
Even The Leninist has not been totally immune from the negative influences emanating from the Congress. At the First Conference, one comrade who had violated communist morality and exhibited serious political weakness had to be removed from our leadership; we eventually had to part company with this comrade and two others. Despite the weakness exhibited by this comrade and its effect on the beginning of the First Conference, by the second day there were very good grounds for expecting The Leninist to advance, with its comrades united like the fingers of a fist, rallying round the new leadership and being encouraged by its bold perspective of reforging the Communist Party.
Open discussion as the means of resolving difficulties was the great strength of the First Conference. In comparison with the manoeuvrings of opportunists at the Congress and the victory of the Euros, the First Conference provides a sounding board for the battles that lie before Leninists.
One decision of The Leninist First Conference which immediately promotes the fight against the liquidation of our Party confronts every reader of The Leninist. That decision is the one to produce The Leninist in this new format as a monthly paper. The Leninist has previously concentrated on theoretical questions and especially those affecting the inner-Party struggle. Its new form will still enable this role to be fulfilled by means of supplements. However, its extra thrust will now be toward filling the role of propagandist of Leninism as well as its ideologue.
The Leninist First Conference thus concretised the current paramount question of pro-Partyism. It was the debate on pro-Partyism at the First Conference that produced a concluding decision fully recognising what is daily more evident: The Leninist must become the motor of pro-Partyism. Nothing is immutable, especially in politics, however, and all pro-Party elements should realise that success for The Leninist spells for pro-Partyism. The crisis in our Party cries out for Leninism to be put squarely before it constantly. Thus The Leninist must be sustained at least as a monthly. This was the perspective of the First Conference, and that The Leninist participate ever more decisively as the Party crisis deepens. The courageous efforts of all supporters will be required to achieve even more frequent publication of The Leninist to match the requirements of the Party situation. As the First Conference underlined, The Leninist in its new form is set fair to make the urgent and crucial contribution essential to saving our party for Leninism.
The historic First Conference of Supporters of The Leninist makes a strong call to all communists, to all pro-Party forces, to unite to wage an ideological struggle against liquidationism and all forms of opportunism in order to develop our Party into a vanguard party.
Let us open up the fight against liquidationism on all fronts. And let the pro-Party forces stand together to save our Party.