Originally published in The Leninist No.12 September 1984. Available on our archive here
Second Conference of the Leninists of the CPGB
COMRADES forming the nucleus of The Leninist met last month for their Second Conference. Its decisions confirmed the growing potential for Leninism in Britain. Drawn from the ranks of the CPGB this Leninist core gave vent to the just and measured rebellion that is evident amongst members of our Party.
Never loth to accept the consequences of their actions, and indeed revelling in the challenge presented by The Leninist’s revolutionary politics, Conference participants topped off the deliberations by deciding to levy themselves substantially. In fact the decision arrived at in the resolution ‘On Finance’ was a deliberate break with the old centrist and right opportunist ideas of easy money. The Leninist has no source of finance other than its own supporters and sympathisers, consequently they have to dig deep if Leninism is to break new ground in the opportunist morass that passes for the Communist Party.
The verbiage of opportunism has in the past belched forth on ‘self sacrifice’. Even when this was a more ready phrase in our Party two or three decades ago the ‘self sacrifice’ might commonly be accepted to be missing out on an evening’s TV or the occasional Saturday or Sunday – as it still is amongst numerous Party militants today. There is, however, a great deal more to the self sacrifice demanded by Leninism.
No-one is going to bail us out; we are solely dependent on ourselves to sustain The Leninist and its organisation: those statements are now imprinted of the consciousness of those comrades who attended the Second Conference of supporters of The Leninist. The urgency of the tasks of The Leninist ensured that the question of finance was treated in a particularly serious manner at the conference. The degree of seriousness we Leninists have brought to bear on the finance question may best be judged from the method agreed as a new departure for raising money; the Summer Offensive.
The Summer Offensive
Faced with a voracious Tory government ready to attack every gain of the working class, communists in Britain have a heavy duty. This is not eased by the attitude to raising money prevalent in our Party. Many’s the time a new recruit to our Party has groaned at the round of jumble sales, draws, and bazaars. What is needed now, though, and will be needed in ever increasing quantities in the future is a degree of commitment to revolution that transcends mere dabbling. Leninists must expect that they sacrifice not only their whole lives to the revolution, but that financial sacrifice becomes the only way in which their politics can be put into effect.
To see the effect of such financial sacrifice we need only to turn to the experience of our comrades in the İşçinin Sesi wing of the Communist Party of Turkey. These comrades have for several years held a more and more successful annual Summer Attack in which individual comrades have found themselves capable of raising large amounts of cash. This has meant that their organisation has, through revolutionary self sacrifice, achieved what many derided them for: a re-established Leninist tradition within their Party. Whether faced with a revolutionary situation or a reactionary period in Turkey, these comrade have not allowed themselves to be hampered by lack of money in carrying out their revolutionary tasks.
In similar vein the Leninists of the CPGB cannot allow their political course to be determined by the problem of raising money for the tasks that beset them. All Leninists must expect to raise their level of self sacrifice to overcome the difficulties of obtaining the finance required for all that we must set out to achieve. It is for this reason that the Conference decided to institute our very own Summer Offensive in 1985. May Day 1985 has been set as the starting date for the Offensive, which will terminate at the end of that August. Its form will be the pledging of a certain sum by each comrade participating, with a minimum already decided by the Conference. That minimum was agreed as three weeks’ wages for those comrades who are working and two weeks’ income for those comrades who are unemployed or students. These minima were considered to be the absolute lower limit by the employed, unemployed, and students who took part in the Conference. Comrades not yet supporters of The Leninist will be more than welcome to participate on the same basis when the time comes.
Many ways of raising these sums spring readily to mind: working overtime, summer jobs, casual work, selling possessions. Our comrades’ inventiveness will no doubt suggest many more. And as a kind of dry run – though the expectation is that a regular stream of money will reach the coffers of The Leninist – there is now a mini-offensive going on amongst Leninists from the late summer into autumn. Practice makes perfect: so the means of achieving this mini-offensive’s total will be built on to ensure a successful conclusion to next year’s full scale offensive.
Our refusal to subordinate our politics to financial considerations is a sign of Leninism. Without this we would not achieve the expansion of The Leninist, further publications, or our intervention in the Party in an effective manner. All other decisions made so enthusiastically at the Conference hinged on the decision on finance, which was indeed agreed in a spirit of combativity and unanimity. Just what those decisions were that depend so heavily on the input of cash we shall now turn to.
Acutely aware of the burning need for a Leninist Communist Party and the profound crisis which our Party is currently embroiled in, the Second Conference of Supporters of The Leninist discussed at some length the nature of the counter attack on opportunism which we must initiate. The primary fact to be faced is that of the four trends within our Party only that around The Leninist is not opportunist: each of the other three trends is imbued with opportunism and is liquidationist to the core. The reformism of the Eurocommunist/McLennan factions, the trade union bureaucratic tailism of the Chater/Costello faction, and the crass Labourism of the Straight Leftists each in their own way is based on their own favoured edition of The British Road To Socialism.
Whilst the leadership gerrymanders the Congress in their wish to go gaily down the bourgeois path of ‘think tank of the left’ and the Straight Leftists revise Lenin and proclaim the Labour Party a genuine workers’ party, Chater/Costello and their centrist sheep bleat on about the Morning Star as a labour movement paper as if its divorce from the Party which gave it birth is its final salvation. On the other hand, the Second Conference considered that the urgent necessity of saving the CPGB from these liquidationist currents means we underline ever more strongly the absolute need for a Leninist-led Party.
Pro-Partyism dictates that there must inevitably be a lengthy process of struggle on the ideological plane. Accompanying this, the Second Conference declared an immediate aim of joining this to agitation within the working class and the resultant embedding of Leninists within our class. After all, a thorough cleansing of our Party of the disease of opportunism is most likely to be achieved through an influx of new members influenced by Leninism. Such an influx can squeeze out the opportunist pus.
The current miners’ strike provides an example to Leninists: if we want to start producing revolutionaries who are cadres in the field of communist endeavour then the struggle of the miners is the primary focus of our resources and energies. Here much of our propaganda must emphasise ever more questions we have already touched on. Questions of how pickets are to be protected from the thugs in blue – those crackers of skulls so bold when faced with unarmed men and women. Questions of how to mobilise other workers around the call for a general strike not only in support of the miners but also as a blow against the gutting anti-trade union laws beloved of our rulers. And questions of forming Councils of Action as in the 1926 general strike from the already existing Miners’ Support Committees that are beginning to prove their worth in solidarity with the miners. On all these and other current questions facing our working class movement we must endeavour to bring about a united workers’ offensive which, given revolutionary perspectives, will be an important preparation for the struggle for state power.
The Leninists’ Second Conference agreed to build on the advances for pro-Partyism exhibited at the recent PPPS AGM and by developing supporters through an educational programme. Both provide opportunities to maximise our potential.
Wider distribution of The Leninist is essential. Although a series of pamphlets will be produced as a result of the Second Conference, The Leninist is presently the sole and will continue to be the main vehicle for our propaganda and theoretical attack on the bastions of opportunism and for Leninism. Its importance in the fight to reforge our Party leads us to the conclusion that a wider readership is urgent, and must be a priority. Part of our work in the coming months will ensure that this plan becomes a reality.
Morning Star and Straight Left
The June PPPS meetings must surely have dispelled any doubt on the score of Chater’s attitude to Party disputes: when in Rome do as the Romans must be his view when he is top dog, if only for the day. He and his group are determined to push the Morning Star into the embrace of reformism as manifested by the trade union bureaucracy, and in the process trample all hope of the paper becoming a vehicle for the pro-Party fightback. Where in its pages has it campaigned for recruits to our Party from the ranks of the striking miners? This was one clear demand made from the Second Conference.
Thorough dishonesty is the hallmark of Straight Left. As a paper it pretends to be of the ‘broad left’ when in fact it is produced by the most highly organised opportunist faction in the Party. As an organisation Straight Left is having its ups and downs, though mostly downs at the moment as is evident from the meanderings of what passes for its policy line. Stumbling from varied position to position we are shown a typically centrist current: flying wildly from revolutionary rhetoric one day in ‘Woods’ to disgusting Labourism in Andrew Murray’s columns in the Morning Star the next. Its sham ‘pro-Sovietism’ is matched in gall only by its position on the nature of the Labour Party, on which it disagrees with Lenin’s assessments of it as a bourgeois workers’ party.
The Leninist will seek to intervene in the cosy centrist debate between the pro-Chater/Costello grouping and Straight Left. Both need to be shown up as the liquidationists that they truly are, neither is pro-Party, and neither is principled. The trade union bureaucracy may be the true love of Chater/Costello but it is not a patch on the Labourphilia of Straight Left. Neither faction is capable of saving our Party. Nonetheless, we will continue to oppose the expulsion from the Party of centrists, including those from Straight Left.
The effect of the Party’s decline has been more than mirrored in the Young Communist League for it has all but ceased to exist. Leninist comrades within it therefore have a heavy responsibly. The Second Conference concerned itself with this serious situation at some length and decided that the salvation of the YCL lay in the current situation faced by the working class.
Measures which the Conference agreed were detailed. In general, however, the approach to YCL decline was considered to be recruitment of young militants on the basis of Leninism (especially young miners) and the propagation of our ideas through wider sales amongst other youth movements, some ostensibly revolutionary, of The Leninist. A revolutionary wing of the YCL is a crying need.
Conduct of Conference
As with our First Conference earlier this year, the Second Conference of Supporters of The Leninist was held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. All comrades who attended could put whatever point they wished without let or hindrance, subject only to the constraints imposed by the duration of the Conference. This meant that (as reported in the April 1984 The Leninist on the First Conference) each speaker in discussion had three interventions of ten minutes on each motion, with extensions beyond this with the consent of Conference. A comradely atmosphere was generated throughout the Conference that augurs well for the future of The Leninist, for Leninism, and for the fight to reforge our Communist Party for which we are determined to struggle to the utmost of our strength and ability.