1960s >> 1968 >> no-769-september-1968

Socialism in one island

It is well-known that one of Stalin’s distortions of Marxism was to say that Socialism could be established in one country, thus rejecting the international nature of Socialism. Communist parties outside of Russia naturally fell into line with this and since 1935 have given their propaganda a patriotic flavour. The present programme of the Communist Party in Britain, for instance, is called the British Road to Socialism. In the .Channel Islands, the programme of the Jersey CP is called Jersey’s Way to Socialism. They have made a start, too. At the end of 1966 their leader, Norman Le Brocq, was elected to the States Assembly. Needless to say, he was elected not on a socialist, but on a capitalist reform programme. His party’s programme also is full of theoretical errors, the chief one being as to the nature of Socialism:

“As there is much confusion as to the real meaning of the word Socialism, we must define what the Communist Party, which works for Socialism, means by this system. To us, Socialism means simply that political power is held by the working people, and that all factories and workshops, transport, banks and the land are publicly owned and worked for the benefit of all.”

This is not Socialism, but state capitalism. Socialism is a system of society based on the common (not state or “public”) ownership and democratic control of the means of living by and in the interests of the whole community. The state, or political power, would be replaced by the administration of things and banks would disappear as the aim of production would be use, not sale with a view to profit (even state profit).

Socialism must be world-wide for the simple reason that capitalism, the system it will replace, already is. Frontiers and national boundaries are artificial and irrelevant. The Jersey CP is not so stupid as to think that “socialism” could exist in Jersey alone but they still think along national lines:

      “Socialism in Jersey would owe its existence to the inspiration and protection of a Socialist government in Britain. Linked with the other Channel Islands, it would form an autonomous unit of a British Socialist republic.”

The important part of the programme is a list of immediate demands — slum clearance, higher pensions, unemployment benefit, price controls, comprehensive education, etc, etc. — some perhaps useful but justified thus:

      “This fight for better housing, better social services, lower rents, and so on, becomes a fight to change the system that cannot give these things.”

But is this so? Do reform struggles lead to a desire to change society? Rather, they attract to the party with a reform programme those who only want reforms, not fundamental social change, and so ruin that party as an instrument for such change. This is confirmed by Le Brocq’s report-back meeting (Jersey Evening Post, 22 May 1968). His record has been a determined and persistent fight for the reforms he was elected to get. That is what those who voted for him are interested in, not Socialism.

The Jersey Communist Party, like similar parties everywhere, is a nationalist and reformist party that stands for state capitalism.