Alliances, democracy and internationalism

Submitted by martin on 27 July, 2021 - 5:37 Author: Luke Hardy
CPB programme

Click here for the ongoing debate to which this is a contribution


Much of what Andrew Northall argues in his reply to my letter about the "Anti-Monopoly Alliance", no socialist with any sense of the reality of the world we live in would disagree with.

He advocates "a comprehensive range of economic, social, political and democratic demands which proceed from what working people actually need and deserve in the here and now, not what capitalism or its media says is 'realistic', 'credible' or 'affordable'. In many cases they proceed from demands made by workers in struggle and by progressive movements for democracy, equality and justice and point to the need to challenge the capitalist system itself in order to make real progress".

However, if the "Anti-Monopoly Alliance" meant that, then it would be a puzzle why its advocates have called it "anti-monopoly" rather than "anti-capitalist". In fact, I think I've shown that all the versions of the Communist Party's "anti-monopoly" or "broad democratic" policy since 1951 (at least) have been quite different.

Working-class consciousness is at a low ebb. Our programmes today must flow from an analysis of why our socialist movement is in such a state and what demands can counter this and help renew our movement.

On at least three levels "Britain's Road to Socialism" and the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) approach in general fail that test.

Firstly, there is little reckoning with the horrific record of the police states that call themselves socialist, and which represent what many people think of when they hear the word "socialist". We must be clear that the kind of socialism we advocate is about working-class democracy.

The CPB still sows illusions in states like Cuba and China. Instead, we need to be advocating a deeply democratic workers government utterly removed from the murderous tradition of Stalin.

Secondly there is the issue of democracy with the movement. Many of the defeats we have had since the 1980s have been somewhat self-inflicted, wounds due to the bureaucratic leadership. One example is the demobilising of the 2011 public sector strikes just as momentum began to build.

Our demands need to include calls to transform our movement so the rank and file membership are in charge. By contrast the CPB's approach to politics is based around alliances with more "leftish" top officials. Where we should be encouraging criticism and open discussion of the actions of the leadership of our movement, the CPB's approach is to promote "unity" on the basis of not levelling such criticism.

And, thirdly, demands need to point to the international nature of the working class. The overthrow of capitalism will not be completed in one country, but demands an international revolutionary movement.

The British Road to Socialism was a left nationalist document from the start, and deliberately so. Even today the CPB was enthusiastic backers of Brexit, push an autarkic view of the socialist economy, and are for immigration controls and against the free movement of labour.

That approach breeds in our movement and among the most advanced parts of the working class, not internationalism, but a very nationalistic view of the world, undermining the working-class solidarity between nations and between settled workers and migrant workers vital for socialist advance.

We need to be honest with the most advanced workers and fellow socialists. To transform the world, we also need to utterly transform our own labour movement, and that means moving decisively away from much of what passes for socialist common sense. The politics of Britain's Road to Socialism hinder and trap our movement, not advance it.

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