Year 2001 No. 70, April 23, 2001
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Against the Third Way the Need for Practical Politics
Memorial Meeting Held for Bill Bland, April 28 1916 March 13 2001
Tribute to Comrade Bill Bland
Protest in Support of the Hunger Strike in Turkeys Prisons
Letter to Kim Jong Il on the Occasion of Suns Day, the Anniversary of the Birth of President Kim Il Sung, from the Central Committee of RCPB(ML)
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The 6th National Consultative Conference of RCPB(ML), held in Birmingham on March 31 April 1, discussed the work of the Party in intervening in the political life of the country.
The Conference was very timely, being held on the eve of an expected general election campaign. Its emphasis, in regard to intervening in practical politics, was on the "how" of how to participate in political life. However, the opening paper set out the background for the deliberations by elaborating how the need for practical politics presents itself at this juncture. We are reproducing the paper herewith, slightly edited for publication, which was entitled: "Against the Third Way the Need for Practical Politics".
There is a context for the present need for the Party to engage in practical politics, and to intervene in the political life of the country. This is the national and international context of the work, the objective situation. In particular, it is the reactionary programme of the "Third Way" that Tony Blair has developed and is imposing on the country and that is in harmony with the Bush agenda of communitarianism and faith-based programmes. There is a need to be reactive to that programme. In other words, there is a need for the Party to take a stand on it and respond to it in action.
This need comes within the whole proactive programme of the Party to prepare the subjective conditions for the revolutionary storms which lie ahead, and achieve the victory of a socialist Britain as the first stage of communist society. That is to say, the Party has set its line of march. It is proactive, it does not simply respond to events. It abides to the Leninist line of tactics as a plan.
But within that it cannot be aloof to the objective developments. In fact the opposite. It has to actually develop its programme within the context of what the bourgeoisie is planning and implementing its anti-social offensive, its anti-communist offensive, and so on. The essence of being reactive to the reactionary programme of the "Third Way" is the need to activate the working class as a proactive force, so that it is not just that the Party reacts and the class itself reacts, but it is necessary for the working class to work to put the bourgeoisie in a reactive position. In the end, the tables have to be turned on the bourgeoisie.
This context is also one of the retreat of revolution and within this the all-round retrogression represented by the "Third Way". The "Third Way" is not just a collection of policies, it is not just a phrase that does not mean anything, nor is it enough to say that there has always been a "middle way" put forward by the bourgeoisie and nothing has changed in this respect. The programme represented by the "Third Way" is being put forward in very definite conditions.
The "Third Way" is a present-day development of the illusions the bourgeoisie promotes about the capitalist and imperialist system, a "renewed" or "modernised" social democracy, and how it is integral to the whole course the bourgeoisie has set. As The Line of March to a New Society says, In concrete terms, the "Third Way" is the sowing of illusions in the conditions of an intensification of the anti-social offensive, of globalisation and impending world recession, where the working class is marginalised. It is an exhortation to the workers to abandon their rights and interests and pull together with their exploiters, the rich, so that the whole of society pays tribute to the rich. It is an ideological offensive to convince the working class and people that there is no alternative to the course on which the financial oligarchy is set and which the offensive of the governments policies and legislation is facilitating. It also incorporates the falsehood that communism means enslavement, is the twin brother of fascism, whereas so-called "Western" democracy is synonymous with freedom and progress. First and foremost, it is an offensive to convince the workers that they should on no account organise for a socialist Britain, that entering into social partnership and the stakeholder economy is the best they can get, and to ideologically and spiritually disarm them.
This all-round retrogression still continues to put the most brutal, inhuman and liquidationist pressure on the entire communist and workers movement, both in Britain and internationally.
Within this all-round retrogression and pressure, the bourgeoisie is spearheading its attack on communism, and trying to revitalise the anti-communist "left". The Party has to be aware of that in determining its own work, because the primary character of this work is to combat the wrecking activity of the bourgeoisie in this respect, and prevent the bourgeoisie from wrecking and keeping the communist party itself marginalised. It is important to emphasise that the activity of the Party and its circles is geared to ending this marginalisation that the bourgeoisie has imposed on the communist party, as well as combating the conciliation which is summed up in the slogan "unity of the left with the centre". The Partys starting point is the repudiation of this wrecking activity, which is taking on an even more reactionary turn as represented by the advent of the George W Bush administration, and it is necessary, furthermore, to put this repudiation into deeds.
The situation is that all over the world, an arrogant and blatant atmosphere of medievalism is being developed in which the reality which is inherent to all countries and internationally is being ignored. What is most characteristic of this atmosphere is the medieval negation of the rights of all peoples by virtue of their being human. The medieval policy that "Might Makes Right" is being openly pursued by the ex-colonial and imperialist powers, especially by US imperialism, with Britain being its chief lackey and in many ways its chief apologist with its promotion of the "humanitarian" face which is represented by the "Third Way". As is clear for all to see, and is increasingly becoming obvious, the atmosphere is one of punishing those who do not abide by the US imperialist dictate, as well as that of the British government, while rewarding those who are their lackeys, and warning everyone else not to stray from US domination.
Within this situation, there is an atmosphere of national and class conciliation being fostered, an atmosphere of capitulation to imperialism and all reaction. The fostering of this atmosphere has the aim of trampling on the sovereign rights of peoples and of their collectives. If you look at the working class and how the bourgeoisie is trying to manipulate the working class, it is to support its own enemies and become the reserve of the imperialist countries and their expansionist policies, their intervention, their aggression and inter-imperialist wars and unjust armed aggression. At the same time, if you look at the middle strata, it is very much the case that it is being put under increasing pressure through the anti-social offensive, but it still by and large harbours the prejudices of the bourgeoisie.
While the overall character of this period remains one of retrogression, it nevertheless remains the case that the working class and people see and feel that their situation is getting worse under this system. As well as that, there is an increasing distrust of the politicians, political parties and the political process. Having said that, it is still the case that there are still many illusions about the system itself. What is not generally grasped is the need for renewal of the society itself in order to put a stop to this retrogression.
What happens is that social democracy and its apologists continue to mix up the programme of reforms which will strengthen the status quo with those reforms which would undermine it. It becomes very difficult in this situation for the workers to find their bearings. That means to say that the hallmark of this mixing up of reforms which actually strengthen the system with reforms which have the character of undermining it leads to the workers becoming ideologically disarmed. A broad illusion is put forward that the working class can serve its interests in this period of the anti-social offensive by abandoning or not taking up its own independent programme. This really is the crux of the matter, this independent programme of the working class. In this regard, the bourgeoisie and its apologists, those that conciliate with social democracy, put forward as a great wisdom that workers should set their course first and foremost with reference to their relation or links with the existing bourgeois parties. This is so whether these forces put forward a so-called alternative programme for the working class, a demand for combating the anti-social offensive or for the pro-social programme itself. In other words, at its best, it is seen as a demand to influence the Labour Party. In particular, the reactionary course of the "Third Way" is itself presented simply as a wrong turning of the Labour Party, which the workers should give all their efforts to changing. In this way, the workers are urged to play their part in maintaining the status quo. That is to say, they are urged to give up their own struggle and aspirations for their emancipation and for a new society. In todays situation, this is made all the worse by the fact that there is no other champion of the bourgeoisie in Britain to challenge Tony Blair. The greatest illusions are fostered within the workers movement, that, for instance, to get rid of Blairism is the beginning of the solution to their problems. But to take this stand only leaves the workers marginalised and depoliticised.
As regards political life itself, the false notion is presented that for any political party, the question of being effective in a political sense is merely a question of coming to power within the existing parliamentary system so this means that practical politics is then simply reduced to participating in this popularity contest, that one stands, even if one is supposed to be pro-social or pro-socialist, within this whole context of parties coming to power. Within these prevailing conditions, the eyes of the electorate are fixed on who is going to win the parliamentary elections. What represents the greatest assault on the people becoming themselves political and politicised and participating in political life is the way the bourgeoisie links the solving of the peoples problems and links their struggle against the anti-social offensive with the outcome of the parliamentary election itself.
So this is a contradictory situation which faces the Party when it looks at participating in elections. The question which presents itself is how to participate in this process while at the same time lifting the burden of this electoral illusion from the people. This whole electoral process this is one side of the contradiction is turning the people into enemies of politics, while on the other side it presents an opportunity for the Party and the progressive forces to affirm that the primary question to be put on the agenda is the question of they themselves attaining political power. How to resolve this contradictory situation is the central question of the "how" of how to participate in the general election.
The question which faces the Party right now on participating in the general election and overall to lift this illusion that an election is to bring parties to power which as a consequence depoliticises the people the central question facing the Party is how to develop its own work to transform this situation. Politically speaking, it has to work to convince the working class and people that the only way they themselves can come to power is if the political parties are blocked from coming to power, and it has to use arguments from life to show actually how bringing the political parties to power is blocking the working class and people from themselves attaining political power. In participating in the election, it is carrying out the work to convince and facilitate the working class and other sections of the people that it must be their own deed which is necessary to bring about modern arrangements in society, and these modern arrangements are necessary, are integral, part and parcel of what the political power of the working class means.
Within this situation of combating the all-round retrogression represented by the "Third Way", work must also be carried out, having raised the question of political parties, to encourage discussion around the question of what type of political party is therefore needed by society at this juncture at the commencement of the 21st century. At this juncture, it has become very clear that the forms which came into being at previous times become anachronistic at times such as today at the beginning of the 21st century when crucial changes are the order of the day. At the end of the 19th century, it had become very clear that political parties of the old type had become anachronistic. It was around that time, the beginning of the 20th century, that in 1906 the Labour Party was formed and before that the Labour Representation Committee, from which the Labour Party grew, in 1900. This Labour Party was established, it was founded with the aim, of being a party of the workers and their trade unions seeking representation in parliament. As such, at that time when a party of a new type was being put on the agenda, it represented a compromise between the broad trade unions who worked to defend the workers interests and a revolutionary party whose aim is to organise the working class for socialism. As it represented this compromise and was founded as a party of the old type, it was bound in the long run, as long as it continued in existence, to become a party which actually stands against the workers capturing political power.
Then the issue presents itself, what form is suitable for the 21st century, what form of political party? The answer is being given by the Partys work to consolidate itself on the New Historical Basis, as a Mass Communist Party. The Party is working to bring into being a new form, a Party which society requires right at this time, which has both a revolutionary as well as a mass character. This form has to be consolidated in the course of the development of the revolutionary movement of the working class itself. This also is at the forefront of the Partys concerns as it intervenes in the political life of the country. The liquidationist pressure of the bourgeoisie that we have referred to, also exerts itself in trying to eliminate the creation of such a new form, such a Party which society needs which has both a mass character and a revolutionary character.
The bourgeoisie has its manifesto one of wrecking the whole proletarian movement for emancipation. This is manifested in the programmes of all the bourgeois parties, all the big parliamentary parties. It is a manifesto which puts forward demands for ideological and political pluralism, a demand for a free market economy, a multi-party system, and the defence of human rights according to the imperialist definition. It is attempting to bring the whole world under the submission of such a system, and anyone who does not take up this task is condemned and attacked. A whole world is organised to take action to this end, with NATO expansion, the World Trade Organisation, the building of the European Union as a superpower, military, political and economic, including its Rapid Reaction Force, and its attack on the sovereignty of the peoples, and so on all are organised to ensure that the whole world comes under this manifesto of the imperialists.
Despite this whole great onslaught, it is very much the case that the workers movement is rising in defence of its interests and against the type of trade unionism which the bourgeoisie puts forward as necessary for the whole scheme of things, the scheme of the status quo, social partnership and so on. This being the case, the bourgeoisie is very afraid of what might happen should it lose control of the workers movement and is therefore desperate to keep it in its own hands and contain it within acceptable bounds.
The bourgeoisie desperately requires to give this whole system legitimacy, the system with its manifesto of ideological and political pluralism, a free market economy, and "human rights" based on capitalist private property. This system with its imperialist manifesto is represented in the Paris Charter, the programme of NATO expansion, the plans to impose a Free Trade Area of the Americas where the US is seeking to bring the whole of the Americas, except Cuba, under this manifesto. The FTAA is similar to what was defeated with the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, and it is similar to what is put forward through the European Union, except that in the European Union you have the capitalist powers contending for domination it is that the sovereign laws of the country should be totally subject to the needs and demands of the international financial oligarchy, the military-industrial complex, to penetrate and dominate whole swathes of the world, and that the whole of the Americas should come under this imperialist definition of democracy. It is to give this whole system legitimacy, as well as to deprive the workers movement of its initiative, as well as to sort out its own champions, the contradictions among the bourgeoisies ranks, that the bourgeoisie actually organises the elections. This is why they are organised. It has established a whole package called "free and fair elections", so that where this package is adopted, elections are given the stamp of approval, whereas if not, then a hue and cry is made about "irregularities".
The point is, the crux of the whole matter for the working class is whether the working class is made to take up the programme of the bourgeoisie or not, or whether on the other hand it will take up its own independent programme or not. The fact is that the bourgeoisie has all the tools of state power at its disposal to try and ensure that the working class takes up the programme of the bourgeoisie. This is where the liquidationist pressure comes from. It suggests that there is such a thing as democracy in general and "universal values". All the bourgeoisie parties put forward their programmes within this framework.
Our Party, however, is convinced that it is only the independent programme of the working class which is capable of opposing this manifesto of the bourgeoisie and its offensive against the communist and workers movement. It is sticking to the Partys plan, its decisions, its line of march, that will ensure that the appropriate forms are built and defended, and that this takes place within the movement of the working class and people itself. It is this which will give confidence to the communist and workers movement in their movement of resistance to the bourgeoisies onslaught, and which will enable the Mass Communist Party to be consolidated on the New Historical Basis. Without the Party sticking to its own line of march and the independent programme of the class, the working class movement itself will be subverted. The situation will prevail whereby parties exist which call themselves communist which in actual fact have nothing to do with communism, just as the Labour Party now exists without having anything to do with the workers. It all begins within this question of desertion from the initially set plan of work, that this situation comes about where you have a label for one thing and its content is the exact opposite.
In taking up the work to intervene in the political life of the country, this is not a desertion of the Party from its plan. The very opposite. It is an integral and absolutely essential part of implementing, developing and elaborating the plan. In taking up this work, it aims to provide the working class and other sections of the people with their own class consciousness and organisation. In the absence of this work to implement the plan, the working class will have no consciousness and organisation. Its absence is the essence of bourgeois politics on the basis of which depoliticisation takes place.
The bourgeoisie wages an ideological struggle against communism, it makes sure that everything is presented in the working class in a manner favourable to the bourgeoisie. It is said that the main content of democracy is ideological and political pluralism, a free market economy, a multi-party system, defence of human rights based on private property. In saying this and insisting on this, this itself is an assault on modern society and on enlightenment.
The communists are at the head of all the movements for democracy, enlightenment, and national and social liberation. By launching its attack on the communists and the communist party and the modern form, the bourgeoisie is not primarily concerned with simply the issue of marginalising the communist party, but wants to completely retreat from the conception of a modern society, which is responsible for the well-being of its members, where the rights of human beings are recognised simply by virtue of their being human. This is the meaning of the attack on enlightenment, modern society and communism. This is precisely the content of the "Third Way" of Tony Blair who champions it, elaborates it and puts it into operation on behalf of the bourgeoisie, not only of this country but also the international financial oligarchy.
The Partys participation in the political life of the country, the need for practical politics, has the aim of opposing this attack, this all-round reactionary programme of the "Third Way", full on. It has the aim of breaking the working class from the programme of the bourgeoisie to instead adopt their own independent programme, and to participating in politics on their own account. It is an essential front in consolidating the Party on the new historical basis, so as to sweep away the blocks to the progress of society and bring about the renewal of the political process and establish a new socialist society.
A Memorial Meeting was held at Conway Hall on Sunday, April 22, for Bill Bland. The meeting was organised by the Stalin Society. Bill Bland was for many years, up to 1990, Secretary of the Albanian Society. He was one of the first communists to break from the CPGB in the early sixties over the programme of the "British Road to Socialism" and over the revisionist betrayal.
The Memorial Meeting was chaired by Harpal Brar, Chair of the Stalin Society. Members of his family, including his two daughters, Eve and Ellen, and his wife, were present, as well as many friends and associates made in the course of a long and active life militating in the Marxist-Leninist movement.
After an introduction from the Chair, the meeting stood in silence in his memory.
An address was delivered by Norberto Steinmayr, a close comrade, in which he reviewed Bill Blands life and work. The speaker pointed out that from 1937 when at the age of 21 he had paid a visit to the Soviet Union, Bill Bland had dedicated his entire life and activity to the advancement of socialism and communism. The speaker paid tribute to Bill Blands wide-ranging knowledge and abilities, and pointed out that he was never afraid of voicing an unpopular view if he believed his researches bore out the truth of such conclusions. In his capacity as Secretary of the Albanian Society, he untiringly supported socialist Albania, and his defence of J.V. Stalin was legendary. His lack of egoism and his modesty were reflected in a simple way of life and in the very modest circumstances in which he lived.
Following moving and amusing personal reminiscences by his two daughters, Eric Trevett, President of the New Communist Party, and Steve Calder of RCPB(ML) spoke from the platform.
Eric Trevett pointed out that when we celebrate the life of a fallen comrade, we incorporate what is best in that life in carrying on the work. He emphasised the positive opportunities for the future which such an approach opens up. Steve Calders tribute is reproduced below.
A letter of tribute was read from Professor Emeritus Martin Smith, who had been President of the Albanian Society for a number of years following the death of A. L. Lloyd. A number of other participants in the Memorial Meeting then spoke of Bill Blands qualities and his work.
The Chair concluded the meeting with a call that Bill Blands lifes work goes on. Light refreshments were served, and the participants continued to reminisce over Bill Blands legacy and its attendant controversies, as well as look at some of the photos of Bill Bland which captured his personality.
Given by Steve Calder, RCPB(ML), at the Memorial Meeting at Conway Hall, Sunday April 22
Our Party, RCPB(ML), is deeply grateful to the Stalin Society for its invitation to us to participate in this Memorial Meeting to Comrade Bill Bland.
We were very sad when we heard of Comrade Bills passing away. We had worked together with him over the years, most notably when he was Secretary of the Albanian Society. Recently, we had met him in connection with his research in writing a history of the anti-revisionist movement in Britain, and on other matters.
We have many affectionate memories of Comrade Bill and his indefatigable character in all the work he took up. His presence, in his characteristic open knecked shirt and his sandals, wherever circumstances demanded that a communist should be present to do their duty, seemed never changing.
Comrade Bill and our Party shared many preoccupations. There was the defence of socialist Albania before its collapse, the defence of the purity of Marxism-Leninism, the necessity for the unity of the Marxist-Leninists these were some of the areas in which our interests converged.
Our association with Comrade Bill goes back to the time when the 1970s were turning into the 1980s, at a time when the international communist movement was indebted to Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania for their contribution to the struggle against Khrushchevite revisionism and the exposure of Mao Tsetung Thought. Many cadres of our Party were active in the Albanian Society throughout the 1980s, working with Comrade Bill, in building friendship and understanding in Britain with socialist Albania. I myself had the honour of being London Regional Secretary of the Albanian Society in the early 80s and working on its magazine, Albanian Life, with Bill Bland.
More recently, when the retreat of revolution and the historic turning point in the worlds affairs have put on the agenda the necessity for the unity of Marxist-Leninists on a new historical basis, Comrade Bill Bland has been part of the forces who had appreciated that such a unity is necessary and has to be worked for. Our Party had exchanged views with Comrade Bill on a number of occasions on this important work.
It seems to us that Comrade Bill was one of those rare human beings of whom it can be said that they have devoted their whole life to high ideals, and have not been swayed from their task. Comrade Bill was optimistic to the last that socialism remains the future of humankind, and we are only too happy to declare that we join with him in this optimism.
A salute to you, Comrade Bill! May the causes to which you dedicated your life come to fruition in the not too distant future!
Eight members of "Families and Friends of Political Prisoners in Turkey" occupied the offices the Educational Councillor at the Turkish Embassy in London on the morning of Friday, April 20, to protest against the deaths and the ill treatment of political prisoners in Turkey and the F-type isolation policy of the Turkish state.
The peaceful occupation was carried out to draw attention to the situation of political prisoners in Turkey and to condemn the isolation policy of the Turkish state and the extreme levels of human rights violations by the Turkish authorities.
Currently there are 2,000 hunger strikers, and a further 500 on the Death Fast. The hunger strike began on October 20 last year to oppose the transfer of political prisoners to F-type isolation cells. In December, following the attacks against 20 prisons, the authorities killed 32 political prisoners in their attempt to transfer them to purpose-built isolation prisons. To date, 14 hunger strikers have died and within the next few days the number of such deaths is expected to rise.
The action was also taken in protest against the force-feeding and involuntary medical intervention by the authorities, which only results in extreme physical damage to the hunger strikers.
April 15, 2001 (Juche 90)
Kim Jong Il
General Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of
the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea
Dear Comrade Kim Jong Il,
On behalf of our Central Committee and entire Party, I should like to convey to you the warmest congratulations and good wishes on the celebration of Sun's Day, the birth date of the great leader Kim Il Sung.
President Kim Il Sung was indeed as the sun for the Korean people, not to speak of the entire progressive humanity, giving light, direction and inspiration to their struggles for their liberation, for their independence and sovereignty, and for socialism. And this sun has continued and will continue to shine even with his passing.
At the time of this Sun's Day the Korean people once again face a great challenge and great dangers. Having achieved last year the remarkable victory of the Historic North-South Summit and other advances towards the sacred goal of reunification of the homeland, they now face in the reactionary stands of the new US President, with the shameful connivance of other imperialist powers including Britain, a renewed threat of increased tension, provocation and even war on the Korean peninsula. We are confident that, following the path laid down by Kim Il Sung and under your wise leadership, the Korean people will weather this storm as they have done those in the past.
Some advances, it would seem, will not be easily reversed, such as the establishment of diplomatic relations between Britain and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Our Party will join with all other progressive forces in demanding that the British government meet all its commitments on this score and put its words into deeds. We shall fight that such relations be those of true friendship and mutual interest, not those of interference and the attempt to impose neo-liberal globalisation on the peoples of the entire world.
Please allow us to use this occasion to wish you continued good health and all success in your sacred work. As ever we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the struggle for socialism, the future of humankind.
With warmest regards,
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