1970s >> 1979 >> no-894-february-1979

Party News: A French CPer on the SPGB

Our attention has been drawn to the fact that a book published in French in 1977 entitled L’extreme gauche en Grande-Bretagne (The Extreme Left in Great Britain) devotes a couple of pages to the Socialist Party of Great Britain. The author, Claude Journés, is a member of the French “Communist” Party and most of the book is an unashamed eulogy of the British CP. But, oddly enough, it gives an accurate enough account of our history and views derived from a reading of the Socialist Standard and our pamphlets rather than from what he would have been told by the CP hacks, Betty Reid and James Klugmann, he mentions.

Journés quotes from our Object and Declaration of Principles, notes that we oppose the Labour Party and are not interested in reforms, that we regard Russia as state capitalism and are “thoroughly committed to a peaceful conquest of power by way of parliament once a majority of the population has been won to socialism”. He omits to mention our opposition to the First World War, though, and makes a couple of tendentious comments about us being a legacy from the past, one of which (“The Socialist Party of Great Britain is an outdated survival from the past which has not absorbed Lenin’s contribution to Marxism”) is really an unconscious compliment since Lenin contributed absolutely nothing to Marxism but distorted it to try to justify the State capitalism dictatorship the Bolsheviks had set up in Russia under his leadership.

Journés also contradicts himself when he calls us (p.197) “reformist” like the Labour Party whereas earlier (p. 127) he had got our position more or less correct:

  The SPGB is generally hostile to reforms and committed only to revolution. According to it, socialists who want to achieve reforms within the framework of capitalism arc caught in a trap which leads them to fight the working class.

On the whole, being an apology for the latest CP line, the book is not up to much but if it introduces some people in France to the ideas of the SPGB it will not have been completely useless.