The Passing of the Communist Party
My membership of the Communist Party was in the days when it claimed loyalty to the teachings of Lenin and a Marxian attitude to all social questions. In those days the C.P. attracted many an honest and energetic member of the working class to its ranks. In the main they were studious people who believed that the road to Socialism could only be made, by insurrection, led and fostered by an intelligent minority.
They rejected the position that the workers must understand, and that Socialism could only be achieved by a majority capturing the powers of government legally. They argued that the capitalist class would never permit itself to be voted out of power, that Parliament would be closed down if it were threatened by a determined working class bent on its capture. They taught that the workers should build up extra legal organisations to effect the taking of power. Such in brief was the basic attitude of many of us in those days, when cynicism had not bitten into the membership by glaring changes of policy.
Time has had its revenge on the C.P. Contrast the beliefs and hopes of twenty years ago and the position to-day.
How we then propagated the Lenin injunction: turn an imperialist war into a revolutionary civil war. We would, out of the conflict of boss-class, lead the war-weary workers to revolution and Socialism. Moreover, many of us quietly hoped that war would come soon to deliver us from the fetters of capitalism.
To-day, instead of exploiting the violent quarrels of the master-class, the communists are committed to the preservation of capitalism in one form or another, using every device to prove their loyalty to the concept of patriotism.
Civil war or revolution is farthest from their mind.
The membership of the C.P. has changed often in the course of its history; a change of policy has meant generally a change in personnel. Over the past few years the nationalistic and patriotic line of the party has found reflection in the membership.
Revolutionaries of yesterday are now found outside, forming groups such as the Trotskyists.
Others just drifted out of the political scene completely.
Minor changes of policy could be explained by the usual method—i.e., that changing conditions required changing tactics.
But complete abandonment of the class struggle, that day-to-day struggle so beloved by the C.P.? Read Mr. Arthur Homer, at a conference of mine-owners, managers and workers at Cardiff:
The common danger facing owners, managers and workers is the magnet that draws all together.
—“World News and Views,” October 11th, 1941.
In international affairs the Communists stand for British capitalism. To quote Mr. Maisky, it will be “based on close collaboration during and after the war” (Daily Chronicle, November 22nd). Now not one communist living twenty or even five years ago would have dared to prophesy what has come to pass.
It would be easy to gloat, to sneer over the dismal end of the much bruited Third International and its affiliated bodies, for events have finally disposed of the claim to be socialist that that organisation pressed in its early days.
Socialists have pointed out, year in, year out, to the Communists that their tie-up with Russia’s foreign policy precluded a clear understanding of the nature of capitalism.
The State capitalism of that country may have distinguishing features from orthodox capitalism, but it was not Socialism.
The road to Socialism is a long one, and unremitting propaganda must make an intelligent working-class fit for Socialism.