Thread: Communist parties in the UK?

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  1. #41
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    Hopefully by the new year there will be a mass line based organisation active in london
    Have you got any particular organisation in mind or are you just blindly hoping?
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    Hopefully by the new year there will be a mass line based organisation active in london
    sure, the one thing london needs is more leftist groups.
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    sure, the one thing london needs is more leftist groups.
    if there are any current groups which are directly acting on the concerns of the people and not just obsessing over stalin or unions or palestine or whatever then please let me know
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  5. #44
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    The SPGB might legitimately respond to some of the criticism by pointing to Engels preface to the Class Struggles in France (1895)
    The period for sudden onslaughts, of revolutions carried out by small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses, is past. Where the question involves the complete transformation of the social organisation, there the masses must be consulted, must themselves have already grasped what the struggle is about, and what they stand for.” “This is what the history of the last fifty years has taught us. But in order that the masses may understand what is to be done, long and persistent work is needed …
    That the SPGB haven't yet convinced a majority for socialism is less of an indictment of the SPGB, as it is, of organisations calling themselves socialist - who seek only a minority to carry out a revolution.
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  7. #45
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    if there are any current groups which are directly acting on the concerns of the people and not just obsessing over stalin or unions or palestine or whatever then please let me know
    what makes you think your group will be any different?
    who are 'the people'?
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  8. #46
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    The SPGB would be a terrific little party (in theoretical terms) if it wasn't for that disgusting entrance exam. Talk about hyper-elitist. It means that every time they talk about the mass of the working class empowering themselves, they are really just making massively hypocritical comments. I really cannot grasp how a party which advocated a line quite far to the left of Leninism can actually be so elitist.

    Gawds knows the SPGB is not perfect but, when all is said and done, an awful lot of crap is talked about the SPGB by critics who think they know , or certainly give the impression of knowing, what the SPGB is about but who dont really have much of a clue. The suggestion for example that has been made here that what the SPGB has published over the years is of little theoretical interest is a case in point. Only someone who has not taken the time and trouble to look into the matter seriously could make such an outrageous claim. I strongly recommend Dave Perrin's book on the SPGB, - Britains oldest socialist party - as a timely corrective to such dismissive one-sided comentary http://www.amazon.co.uk/Socialist-Pa.../dp/1872424805

    I have my disagreements with the SPGB. I do not support for example its absurd position on refusing membership to people with religious convictions, a position it apparently shares with the Anarchist Ferderation. I also think its preoccupation with abstract propaganda , necessary though this is, and on the democratic capture of state power to abolish capitalism, necessary though that also is, comes across as a little too naive and simplistic. But one thing many critics of the SPGB do not seem to be fully aware of, if at all, is that the SPGB is far from being a monolith. There are different currents of thought within it and in fact there has always been a culture of lively and even heated debate within the party itself. And you can't really fault the SPGB on its democratic nature. It is probably the most democratic political organisation in the UK. Everything is open to public scrutiny and the various administrative organs of the party are subject to rigorous control by the memebrship as a whole in a way that would be inconceivable in a capitalist party.

    Which brings me to the question of the membership questiionnaire. No El_Granma, I nont agree with you. The membership test is not elitist. Its not some kind of exam that you have to swot up for. It is not meant as some kind of deterrent to joining. Its simply a way of determining that you are in basic agreement with general standpoint of the organisation on such issues as what is capitalism, what is socialisn, and can socialismn be achieved democratically and so on. No big deal really but necessary all the same.

    Far from a membership questionnaire being elitist, I think the oppposite is the case. If anyone can join your organisation regardless of their political outlook this almost guarantees the emergence of a some sort of leadership to pull the organisation together and impose decisions on the membership that would otherwise not be made., In the case of the SPGB this cant happen. Every member is an equal and because being a member entails a set of clear expectations about what the organisation is about this means no one can pull the wool over someone else's eyes.

    I have to confess a certain fondness for the SPGB, warts and all. I think it has been the subject of some pretty unfair and misinformed criticism by sections of the Left. As a communist party in the real sense of the term, I still think it stands head and shoulders over any other. But dont take my word for it. Check it out for yourself at http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/
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  10. #47
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    The SPGB might legitimately respond to some of the criticism by pointing to Engels preface to the Class Struggles in France (1895)
    I see your Engels and raise you a Marx (emphasis added);
    "Both for the production on a mass scale of the communist consciousness, and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew."
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  11. #48
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    Yes, but as a comrade says in that debate with the CWO (which is excellent) they are not Marxists, they pick and choose when they use him. The SPGB comrade openly admits this. Obviously that's not to say all communists agree with every word of Marx but the SPGB comrade appears to not understand or not agree with Marx on consciousness. It's a bigger problem generally because the party seems to also reject Marx on this re: everyone needs to be a socialist before we can have socialism. They don't seem to recognise consciousness as a process entwined with action on the proletariats part.

    To answer the OP, the groups in the UK don't have good reputations in fact they don't have reputations full stop. They are virtually irrelevant to the class at the moment. There is only reputation to speak of amongst leftists, communists and anarchists. And basically it comes across as they all hate each other.

    More generally, I think the CPGB (PCC) are by far the best of the leftists. Although small and not upto much they are at least thought provoking, offer criticism of existing organisations and existing conditions with a level of respect and sincerity. I think it's a misunderstanding to think they are purely gossipping about people etc if you actually read their paper, listen to their podcasts or watch their videos (which I think are their best output) you get a sense they might actually want to debate within the left. Something which most other groups certianly do not want to do.
    There's plenty more to say about them but I can't be arsed, maybe others can contribute. Suffice to say although I find them of some value I disagree with plenty and actually subscibe to Left Communist press.

    On the Stalinists I actually find it quite worrying that apparently the Stalinist Society has a wopping 500 members. And the CPGB-ML is steadily growing in small numbers. Although the former sounds like complete and utter bollocks. I'm actually quite surprised and disappointed communists and anarchists give them the time of day on here but that's for another thread and I'm trying not to flame.

    EDIT: I forgot to ask about the MI5 thing, is this accusation rooted in any evidence. For one I wouldn't trust ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone (on anything)! Although not unthinkable (the state keeps an eye on even very small groups etc) it would be much more likely MI5 or whoever infiltrated the original CPGB of the 1920s onwards. Does anyone know the exact accusations, or 'proof'? I have a hunch it's all nonsense or merely political wrangling.
    Last edited by SHORAS; 11th July 2011 at 00:26. Reason: MI5 etc
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  13. #49
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    If those are the questions from the membership test I would think that anyone who had read the Manifesto or spent two weeks on Revleft could answer those questions accurately.
    I see your Engels and raise you a Marx (emphasis added);
    "Both for the production on a mass scale of the communist consciousness, and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew."
    Yeah, and, so, what? The SPGB advocate a revolutionary change in the means of production. Far more quickly than any bolshevik group would. But the point of the SPGB is not to act as a party which swells to massive numbers to sieze power for the enlightened few. But as a party which aims to educate the whole of the working class so as they can take power for themselves.

    But as Blake's Baby said OP is a Leninist so yeah he's not going to be interested in the SPGB and tbh I don't think they'd be interested in him either.
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    But the point of the SPGB is not to act as a party which swells to massive numbers to sieze power for the enlightened few. But as a party which aims to educate the whole of the working class so as they can take power for themselves.

    But surely the point is that socialism doesn't happen cos the majority thinks it's merely a good idea. And besides the SPGB do not tell workers what to do or how to do it, so what exactly are they educating them in?

    I also agree with the comrade who dismissed the Socialist Standard, I looked forward to reading their publication a while ago but found it lacking any depth and quite patronising. The various SPGB debates are good though and worth a listen.
    Last edited by SHORAS; 11th July 2011 at 00:35. Reason: fucked up the quote
  15. #51
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    SPGB? Lot of issues here. The entrance 'exam' (where did that word come from?) consists of a informal chat about someone's political views and background, usually at a branch meeting with anyone who wants to join. We use a very basic 12 question format for people who cannot get along to a branch meeting.

    Elitist? Membership is open to anyone - so long as they can demonstrate to us that they are a socialist. Once they are a member they have equal voting rights with anyone else, so we need members who are with the party on its fundamental aim and principles. All party policy is made democratically by the entire membership.

    We are not precious about our identity since we are not seeking any kind of political control. We would seek to merge with any organisation that demonstrated a commitment to mass working class socialism, that was aiming for a global, stateless, classless, moneyless society and was not engaged in reformist activity.

    Reformism is a big and tricky issue for us, and our position generally misunderstood on the left. We do not object to reforms if they genuinely benefit the working class - how could we? But our sole role as we see it is to promote socialism. The history of socialist movements shows that any organisation that tries to combine both a revolutionary and a reformist agenda, inevitably loses its revolutionary character over time. We want to avoid that. So yes, our aim is to promote socialist consciousness and we are fundamentally a propagandist organisation.

    Our "parliamentary road"? That is also usually misunderstood. Our view is that only the working class as a mass class can bring about socialism. To be successful they must organise at all levels - including politically. We don't believe in a "parliamentary road" to socialism in the labourist sense. We take the view that the working class needs to capture the state to prevent it from being used against them. The only socialist thing they should do with it is abolish it.

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  17. #52
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    More generally, I think the CPGB (PCC) are by far the best of the leftists. Although small and not upto much they are at least thought provoking, offer criticism of existing organisations and existing conditions with a level of respect and sincerity. I think it's a misunderstanding to think they are purely gossipping about people etc if you actually read their paper, listen to their podcasts or watch their videos (which I think are their best output) you get a sense they might actually want to debate within the left. Something which most other groups certianly do not want to do.
    Regarding the "gossip": It is a common criticism of them that I hear on an off Revleft. I think this stems from a distinct lack of a debating culture. Most leftist groups leaderships live on their own little isle of knowledge that is not to be disturbed by "the sects" and other ultra-left influences. It is unsurprising that this is the stance also from most members of such groups around as this is their political education.

    I believe this particular culture stems from, among other things, the ban on faction instated in the RCP(b) in 1921. Before that, it was considered normal, important even, to have a culture of dissent. Important because dissenting comrades can offer a mirror for critical self-reflection on any number of topics, thus being a motor of political development. Such (sometimes hefty) debates happened openly. It was also normal to have a multitude of publications - the RSDLP featuring dozens of papers even under the hardest state repression.

    The reason for this was the idea that to educate the working class movement in programme, strategy, tactics and theory; agitate for workers causes in all its diversity and organise the class as a class for itself, the debates had to happen openly so workers could not only read all sides of the argument, they could also participate in the press. From mere followers of this or that political brand, they were encouraged to start thinking for themselves.

    I'm sure that for most revolutionists today that may sound like a scary and "gossippy" idea, but that just tells their sectarian politics though.
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  19. #53
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    Regarding the "gossip": It is a common criticism of them that I hear on an off Revleft. I think this stems from a distinct lack of a debating culture. Most leftist groups leaderships live on their own little isle of knowledge that is not to be disturbed by "the sects" and other ultra-left influences. It is unsurprising that this is the stance also from most members of such groups around as this is their political education.

    I believe this particular culture stems from, among other things, the ban on faction instated in the RCP(b) in 1921. Before that, it was considered normal, important even, to have a culture of dissent. Important because dissenting comrades can offer a mirror for critical self-reflection on any number of topics, thus being a motor of political development. Such (sometimes hefty) debates happened openly. It was also normal to have a multitude of publications - the RSDLP featuring dozens of papers even under the hardest state repression.

    The reason for this was the idea that to educate the working class movement in programme, strategy, tactics and theory; agitate for workers causes in all its diversity and organise the class as a class for itself, the debates had to happen openly so workers could not only read all sides of the argument, they could also participate in the press. From mere followers of this or that political brand, they were encouraged to start thinking for themselves.

    I'm sure that for most revolutionists today that may sound like a scary and "gossippy" idea, but that just tells their sectarian politics though.

    I agree with a lot of what you've said and think it speaks for itself. It's obviously true. Furthermore, it is clear that various sects think along the lines of making 'their' revolution and not the class. It's all very myopic. But you're not getting any fucking bitcoin. There was a very good letter in the Weekly Worker a few weeks ago about the importance of Marxist education. I was going to get in touch actually but I forgot. I'm not sure if there have been any replies since.

    EDIT: It wasn't a letter in the Weekly Worker, it was actually an article which can be read on the CPGB website, previous issues number 869 Making Marxist education a priority.
    Last edited by SHORAS; 11th July 2011 at 01:47. Reason: mistake
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  21. #54
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    But you're not getting any fucking bitcoin.
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    Yes, but as a comrade says in that debate with the CWO (which is excellent) they are not Marxists, they pick and choose when they use him. The SPGB comrade openly admits this. Obviously that's not to say all communists agree with every word of Marx but the SPGB comrade appears to not understand or not agree with Marx on consciousness. It's a bigger problem generally because the party seems to also reject Marx on this re: everyone needs to be a socialist before we can have socialism. They don't seem to recognise consciousness as a process entwined with action on the proletariats part..
    I would disagree with this analysis. The SPGB are not marxist because they "pick and chose when they use him"? Well why not? Not everything Marx wrote was right. He made quite a few blunders. We are all human after all. The SPGB has always maintained that its arguments stand on it own two feet without or without Marx's blessing. That said, I think the SPGB is a lot closer to being an authentic Marxian organisation than a lot of others (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view)

    On the question of consciousness, it is simply not true that the SPGB says everyone has to be be a socialist before you can have socialism. I specifcally recall them saying this in one of their publications - I think Questions of the Day. What they do assert and absolutely correctly in my view is that socialism has be brought about democratically by a majority of workers who want and understand socialism. It cannot be imposed from above. This may be at odds with leninist vanguardism but it is actually very close to the position taken by Marx and Engels:

    All previous historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority[FONT=Times New Roman] ([/FONT]Chapter 1. "Bourgeois and Proletarians" Manifesto of the Communist Party 1848)

    As for for the claim that the SPGB "don't seem to recognise consciousness as a process entwined with action on the proletariats part" I think this is yet another myth about the SPGB that seems to have found currency amongst certain circles within the left. While I am critical of the kind of scenario of revolutoinary transformation wittingly or otherwise projected by the mainstream SPGB, which I think is somewhat simplistic, I would be the first to admit that the SPGB certainly does lay heavy emphasis on consciousness arising out of material struggles of workers in capitalism. Even a cursory glnace at its literature will confirm this to be the case.

    This bears out my earlier point that a lot of criticism that hasd been leveled against the SPGB is actually more often than not pretty much misinformed
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    If those are the questions from the membership test I would think that anyone who had read the Manifesto or spent two weeks on Revleft could answer those questions accurately.
    Yeah but the problem is you'd probably end up giving different answers to the SPGB.

    Yeah, and, so, what?
    The Idler was just throwing quotes about to prove his point (which is a weak line of argument so I thought I'd play ball.
    The SPGB may 'advocate a revolutionary change in the means of production' but if they wait until they have 'educate[d] the whole of the working class' then this is simply a pipe dream. The point of the Marx quote was to show that he saw the vast majority of people becoming socialists not as the result of proselytizing in the here and now and accumulating individuals one by one until some kind of critical mass has been reached, but that he saw this coming as a result of material conditions forced into being by the act of revolution. If you keep on waiting you will wait for ever.

    But as Blake's Baby said OP is a Leninist
    Well not entirely;
    Originally Posted by Mac
    I recently joined, so I decided to make an introduction of myself. I am a marxist/ leninist, living in Colorado, U.S.A. I became a communist through my fascination with the soviet union. I used to be very authoritarian, but more recently (after my vacation to budapest seeing the "Terror Museum"), I have become much less authoritarian. I greatly dislike stalinists and other dictator worshipers, and while I am not quite an anarcho-communist, I believe it would be great under certain circumstances (although I don't think it would do well in the U.S.) Anyway, that is all.
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    I would be the first to admit that the SPGB certainly does lay heavy emphasis on consciousness arising out of material struggles of workers in capitalism. Even a cursory glnace at its literature will confirm this to be the case.
    Do you have any links for this?
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    Do you have any links for this?
    Read some of the stuff produced by the SPGB on the materialist conception of history and you will see for yourelf that emphaiss is placed on the material conditions of class struggle as the seedbed of social revolution. I did a random search on the their website and came up with a few examples. Here's one - an article on the ICC http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/aug04/icc.html Check out the section on "consciousness"
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    Gonna wade in and be partisan (but hey, who isn't?) and suggest you check out the RCG. We're heavily involved in anti-cuts street organising, Palestine and Cuba solidarity work, and also anti-deportation/racism campaigns across the country. If you know your US left then we're politically very similar to the PSL/WWP, so that's probably a good indicator.
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    I would disagree with this analysis. The SPGB are not marxist because they "pick and chose when they use him"? Well why not? Not everything Marx wrote was right.

    I should have made it clear, I was paraphrasing a SPGB Comrade. I think he also said "we aren't Marxists" or maybe a CWO comrade did. Or I might be just adding confusion where there isn't any.

    On the question of consciousness, it is simply not true that the SPGB says everyone has to be be a socialist before you can have socialism.

    What they do assert and absolutely correctly in my view is that socialism has be brought about democratically by a majority of workers who want and understand socialism.
    If that's the view why don't the SPGB lobby for Scientific Socialism in the school curriculum?

    I think this is where a lot of confusion arises, between these two statements. As an aside the text you link to is far better than the argument given against the CWO. But generally I am finding the SPGB positions get muddled in their delivery. I mean it's not just me who seems to find it hard to understand what their positions boil down to. One lingering thought is that I worry (in all seriousness) that if there is a revolutionary situation the SPGB will take state power and (though I don't think they actually will ever be in a position or circumstance to do this) introduce totalitarian state rule. Despite what they say, it seems to me a real possibilty. Or am I misunderstanding the positions again? I know in theory the SPGB wants to get rid of the state but it's the manner in which it is done that's important. Of course there are any number of possibilites that could and might occur.

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