Revisionists appraise the year ahead

brsRobert Griffiths, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, has outlined the revisionists’ perspectives on the international and domestic political situation at the start of 2017. We recommend all readers take ten minutes to read it in full ( The report succinctly demonstrates the total subservience of the CPB to Labour Party politics, their emotional response to the developing international situation and the total lack of faith in the ability of the CPB to build up its own independent forces in the fight for socialism and proletarian revolution.

The report was, as usual, kept within the ideological straitjacket imposed by the long-discredited programme The British Road to Socialism. Regular readers will know that this is a programme which tells Communists that the party of the working class which will usher in socialism is the Labour Party – it doesn’t take a genius to work out what that means for the prospects of the CPB – just ask those stubborn few who fail to grasp the logic of the British Road to Socialism and remain in the CPB whilst everyone else leaves for Labour.

The BRS is, therefore, a programme of self-annihilation. Should anybody be in any doubt about this self-evident truth one need only look at the CPB today, which only recently lost one of its most able and politically coherent members in Andrew Murray to the Labour Party, with reportedly many others jumping ship over the last year to serve at the table of Jeremy Corbyn. Such CPB comrades as Murray cannot be criticised for leaving a pretend ‘mover and shaker’ for a real one – indeed they are most faithfully fulfilling the behests of the British Road to Socialism and are in many respects model CPB’ers.

Despite these constraints put upon comrade Griffiths, his report managed to contain a number of solid anti-imperialist proposals such as the withdrawal of US military bases from Britain and our complete exit from Nato. LALKAR and the CPGB-ML would most definitely associate ourselves with such objectives. If only the CPB could be persuaded to ditch the BRS they might even have members left to fight for such demands, and who knows, if they ditched the BRS they may well find that they have far more influence outside the Labour Party than they ever had inside it.

Obama and Trump

Look though we did through all the tirade directed against Trump, we could find no mention of Obama in the report. No analysis is made of the Obama government’s chief strategists, only Trump’s. No analysis of the legacy of Obama, only an appraisal of this brand new world which has been made in the image of Donald.

It is apparent that for the CPB, like many of those on the ‘left’ in Britain, Obama will forever be remembered positively, and chief amongst his virtues is Obamacare, the health insurance scheme which made treatment available to 24 million Americans in 2016 (alas the scheme doesn’t extend to those who were permanently maimed by one of the 26,171 bombs which Obama dropped in the same year). Obama in office (and now out of office) can do no wrong; suited, well spoken, middle class, he was an incorrigible hypocrite, and an asset to US imperialism and finance capital. When contrasted with the spectre of Donald Trump, Obama takes on a new, saintly glow. Trump is the diametrical opposite of the kind of US President modern finance capital wanted.

In order to carry out its work with as little outcry as possible from the populations in the imperialist centres, imperialism needed another Obama – unfortunately none was forthcoming. Trump wears his elitism (sometimes his racism) with pride, and treats female workers in much the same way as Bill and Hillary Clinton did when they last occupied the Oval office. But more alarming than anything else, Trump is said by the CPB to have “…had taken down web pages proclaiming LGBT, BME and civil rights and the need to combat global warming” in his first hours at the White House. According to the CPB we face “the words and deeds of the 45th – and possible most dangerous – US President…we can be sure that we live not only in interesting times, but in dangerous times as well.” Indeed.

Donald’s patriotism

“His ‘America First’ appeal has been a nationalist one to the insecurity, despair and racism of different sections of the American people. This nationalism – rather like that of UKIP and the Tory right – is not a progressive patriotism of the kind identified by Lenin, which takes pride in the struggles and achievements of one’s compatriots against exploitation and oppression. Rather, it’s a perversion of patriotism, appealing to the most backward and reactionary of national feelings and traditions.”

If Trump appeals for ‘America First’ it’s a “perversion of patriotism, appealing to the most backward and reactionary of national feelings and traditions.”, but when Gordon Brown appealed for “British jobs for British workers” it’s ‘all out to win the election of a Labour government committed to progressive policies’. Such is the hypocritical logic of the British Road to Socialism which can find every excuse to support the imperialist Labour Party. Every thinking worker knows very well that a US President will whip up the same reactionary nationalism as Trump and can be matched for such jingoism by our own British Labour leaders. So long as Presidents and Prime Ministers serve capitalism, why would anyone expect their nationalism to be of the kind exhibited by Lenin and revolutionary Russia?

Trump’s economic, social and foreign policy programme also includes more tax cuts for the rich and big business, scrapping the Obama-care health insurance scheme, massively extending drilling rights for oil and shale gas, a crack-down on inner-city crime, the mass deportation of illegal immigrants, a wall to keep out Mexicans, blatant discrimination to keep out Muslims, measures to limit imports that could lead to a trade war with China, and a major expansion of US military power…”

Other than lamenting over Obamacare, how such a list differs fundamentally from the policy aims of the Obama administration is beyond us. It was under Obama that the US launched its military strategy of a ‘pivot to Asia; under Obama, wealth inequality increased in favour of the rich; under Obama, cities were put under martial law and racist police killed with impunity on the streets. The measures used to restrict muslim immigration were also used by the Obama administration, who additionally rejected many thousands of visa applications and immigration appeals from people of various religious backgrounds, many of whom were the direct victims of US terror in their countries. The furore over the so-called ‘Muslim ban’ has led to a campaign to block the visit of Donald Trump to the UK, gathering 1.8 million signatures and leading to a debate in parliament and claims that his visit will embarrass the Queen! For our part we rejoice in the open hostilities amongst the ruling class, but, as Rod Liddle pointed out in The Spectator, the visit of Trump is little different from the visit of countless fascistic heads of state to our country each year,

“… in the last decade Brenda [the Queen] has been forced to entertain India’s Narendra Modi, whose attitude towards Muslims is, I would argue, slightly to the right of Donald’s. Oh, and also leaders from Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia… those bastions of democracy and human rights. Do you remember petitions on those occasions? Why didn’t the autocrats from those homophobic, oppressive, sectarian Arab slave states face the righteous wrath of the wood-burning stove people? [Ed., Wood-burning stove people is a euphemism for the liberal middle classes]” (‘Protest and petition all you like. I won’t bother listening’, 4 February 2017).

Threats to peace and the environment

In the section entitled “threats to peace and the environment”, Griffiths makes his most profound contribution on the developing relationship between Trump and Putin, he says,

President Trump seeks a rapprochement with Russia, perhaps seeing in President Putin a kindred spirit – ruthless and authoritarian – with whom he can ‘do business’.”

To characterise Putin as “ruthless and authoritarian” is language the CPB must have picked up from their time working so closely with the Trotskyites who have an inveterate hatred of all things Russian, except of course for Leon Trotsky. This mockery of political analysis may go down well with the Trotskyites but works directly in the service of British imperialism, reinforces the hypocrisy peddled by the British state (and the corporate media who are themselves complicit in British war crimes) which aims to hide the fact that the most ruthless and authoritarian leaders are the leaders of the most ruthless and authoritarian states, that the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Japan are the most ruthless and authoritarian states on the planet, even if their leaders read smartly from an autocue with honey on their lips and murder in their hearts.

The shameless pandering to prejudice which the CPB and many others are engaging in with regards to Presidents Putin and Trump is extremely dangerous for the British working class. It misleads workers and helps to form views about both Putin and Trump that plainly do not correspond to the truth. Putin has done more than any other head of state to promote peace, avoid war, and alleviate the victims of imperialist terror, and Donald Trump is merely a month into the job (!) regardless of how successful a US imperialist he might well be remembered as in years to come. Put simply, Trump cannot be blamed for the crimes of his predecessor or accused of crimes he hasn’t yet committed. The CPB are now following the negative example which is currently in vogue amongst the ‘left’ with PSC, VSC and many other groups thinking to jump on the ‘anti-Trump’ bandwagon in the hope of pulling into their events a few more well-intentioned but misled activists. More Israeli settlements and attempts to remove Maduro from power were quite clearly policy objectives of the last US President and will continue to be so for any future US President. Pretending it’s all a result of Trump covers over the nature of imperialism as an economic system with fixed interests despite the changing of the guard at the top of the tree. Trump, whose immediate cancellation of TPP brought about a great victory in carrying out a demand of hundreds of labour organisations must be judged, like all others, on his actual policies and actions rather than those he is yet to take. And when he cancels TTIP it would be better to comprehend his reasons for this and to welcome them than to ignore them and think that workers will have missed the news.

We for our part celebrate such ‘ruthlessness’ when it confronts imperialism. War is a human catastrophe which can only be erased with the defeat of imperialism and the abolition of class society. Wishing the Syrian conflict would go away by sitting on the fence or by ‘even headedly’ berating all involved obscures the class content of war. The fact that the conflict in Syria was orchestrated by the Western imperialist powers is one which needs to be spread. The Russian and Syrian armies have been engaged in a liberating war, freeing millions from the grip of imperialist terror. The ‘ruthless’ exposure of the Turkish state’s interference in Syrian affairs by Putin has also contributed greatly to the high esteem Russia is once again held in by millions of working people around the world. For the first time since the collapse of the USSR, oppressed people feel that little bit safer from US, British and French bombs, and Putin’s popularity and appeal have never been greater. Whilst some may dream that the Soviet Union is reborn, our job must be to give a proper appraisal of the role of both Putin and Russia at this time and not fall into the lazy camp of so-called Marxists who state that as Russia is capitalist it automatically means that they are no different from the US-British imperialists. A gulf divides the economic power and political intentions of the imperialist countries and those of Putin and Russia. As LALKAR put forward in last month’s paper,

The Russian ruling class understands that the imperialists view Russia’s strength and independence with hostility. During the years of national development in the post-Yeltsin era, Russia’s leaders have done everything possible to stay out of direct conflict with the USA.

The idea that Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin has been in any way aggressive or has courted conflict (as is so often asserted by western media pundits) is laughable. If anything, it has bent over backwards in its efforts to avoid conflict.

“…Russia and China, for all their diplomatic talk about ‘partnership’, and for all their desire not to antagonise the imperialists and invite the devastation of an aggressive imperialist war onto the heads of their own peoples, are actually the principal cornerstones of today’s axis of anti-imperialist resistance. The spread of imperialist-backed terrorism around the globe affects them both directly (as in the case of Chechnya and Xinjiang) and indirectly (by undermining many of their key allies such as Syria, Iran, etc).

“Libya serves as a powerful warning as to the dangers of appeasement. Imperialism in crisis is like a rabid dog; you cannot reason with it, and you cannot expect it to be satisfied with anything less than total hegemony. For its own long-term survival, Russia has had to draw a line in the sand and say ‘no further’.

“In this context, where it is a question of defending the world’s people from the kind of brutal all-out wars that have devastated Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Iraq, progressive people should be truly thankful that both China and Russia have been working hard to raise their level of military preparedness and to catch up with and even overtake the US in terms of their technological capabilities.

“Imperialism ultimately respects only one thing: force of arms. As even tiny socialist Korea, with a very small stock of nuclear weapons, has clearly demonstrated over the last 20 years, the best deterrent against an all-out war between Russia and the US is if Russia can convince the imperialists that the price would simply be too high.”

A People’s Brexit

Outlining the CPB’s total servitude to Labour the CPB report puts forward as the solution to our economic and social woes support for the proposals of Corbyn with an added bit of federalism but no mention of socialism:

Jeremy Corbyn’s important speech in Peterborough on January 10 displayed some of the signposts towards such a ‘People’s Exit’ from the EU.

“A future Labour government in Britain must be free of EU rules and any TTIP-style agreements with the EU, USA or anyone else, so that it can intervene decisively to rebalance, rebuild and modernise the economy. Together with the Scottish and Welsh governments in a federal Britain, it must have the powers and resources to:

• take strategic industries and services into public ownership;

• direct regional economic development;

• limit the export of capital and the import of particular commodities;

• set the terms of public sector contracts;

• enforce fairer pay and prevent the super-exploitation of imported labour; and to end Britain’s racist immigration controls which discriminate against non-Europeans.”

The Labour Party has absolutely no intention of following through on any of these economic proposals which are so much hot air. If it did then it would soon find that they are completely unworkable anyway. Whilst it is to be expected that the imperialists who are behind the Labour Party will hoodwink workers and offer all kinds of unworkable solutions, it cannot be accepted that a ‘Communist’ Party raise such demands as their own and advocate them without even raising the question of socialism, state power and the dictatorship of finance capital.

What next

Workers must be extremely wary of the knee-jerk emotional hyperbole currently doing the rounds in the corporate media over the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump. The corporate media know very well how to manipulate sentiments in such a way as to strengthen and not weaken the position of imperialism which is facing crisis. Only socialism offers a way out from the current crisis. The propaganda machine is working night and day to provoke hostilities with Russia, in order psychologically to prepare British and US citizens for war with Russia and to accept that liberal democracy and social democratic parties offer some solution to what is a systemic crisis of capitalism. This nightmare scenario can only be overcome by an armed intervention by working people striking out for their political freedoms and economic emancipation.

Fight jingoism and anti-Russian propaganda in the anti-war movement.

Fight the myth that Trump is the major threat to world peace with the truth that imperialism means crisis, racism and war.

Build the influence of Marxism-Leninism amongst the working class.