Written: April 1945
Source: Socialist Appeal, vol. 7 no. 4 (Mid-April 1945)
Transcription: Harry 2007
Markup/Proofread: Emil 2007
The letter of the Executive Committee of the Communist Party on the Crimea Conference dated 21st February 1945 has aroused justified concern, apprehension and doubts among the rank and file members as to the correctness of the present, and above all the future, policy of the “Communist” Party leadership.
Nearly all class-conscious fighters in the ranks, who are worthy of their salt, regard with dismay the prospect of a continuation of the present party policy in the post-war period. And no wonder! The best fighters in the Communist Party were reconciled to the present policy of class collaboration because the leadership assured them that the struggle for socialism was only postponed till after the defeat of Hitler.
Now this statement of the Executive Committee has been issued on post-war policy, and it does not contain a single word about the struggle for socialism or the socialist revolution. On the contrary, the E.C. takes its stand, like Earl Browder and the American Communist Party, on the maintenance of capitalism and imperialism.
Comrades of the Communist Party, examine this statement and see what it really means.
The Crimea Conference has been described as opening out a period of permanent peace:
“…the pledge to so work as to remove the political, economic and social causes of war is of historic importance and significance, for to realise this would be to achieve an age-old dream of world humanity. The peoples want a lasting peace above all else in the world. They know that only through lasting peace can there be developed any real opportunities for establishing forms of international co-operation that will help in the speedy restoration of devastated Europe, meet the urgent needs of the peoples and help forward the backward colonial countries. Only through lasting peace can humanity forge ahead to new social victories over poverty, unemployment and insecurity and guarantee the same united use of the world’s productive forces in peacetime as has taken place during the war.”
This, at a time when the capitalists are preparing, in the midst of the bloodiest slaughter of the peoples, for a new world war.
Marx and Lenin never failed to explain that the only way in which the “political, economic and social causes of war” could be eliminated, was through the Socialist Revolution, and only by the Socialist Revolution. Lenin never tired of castigating those who argued that peace was possible under capitalism—especially in the age of imperialism.
Lenin showed, what should be elementary even to utopian socialists not claiming to be Marxist, that war was caused by the fundamental contradictions of capitalism through the struggle for markets, raw materials, colonies and strategic bases in preparation for new wars. That was the cause of this world war, as of the last. Far from the contradictions of capitalism being solved, or even reduced by the war or temporary agreement at Yalta, they have been aggravated and increased a hundred-fold by the war itself. The crisis of capitalism cannot be solved by paper agreements.
What are the pledges of perjured capitalist politicians worth in the face of stern reality? To unite fire and water would be far simpler than to gain peace and prosperity under capitalism. Pollitt and the other leaders know this only too well. This is not a complicated question, but the ABC of Marxism. How many times did Lenin sternly attack the lies and illusions of the Social Democrats, who after the last war put forward a policy of support for the League of Nations and “democracy” as a means of achieving peace and progress? The only difference between then and now is that the Communist Party policy is even more reactionary and utopian. The Social Democrats never dared to say what the C.P. leaders are saying today; at least they paid lip service to socialism.
The last world war ushered in a period of revolutionary storms and imperialist catastrophes. The decay of capitalism was reflected in hunger, unemployment, fascism and war. The consequences of this world war will be far worse. The period before us is one of permanent wars and revolutions.
Peace—let alone permanent peace—is impossible while capitalism continues. With the further decay of capitalism the so-called “peace” will be nothing less than an armed truce and the preparation for new and more terrible wars.
Under the heading “Alternative To Crimea” the letter paints a black picture if the policy of “Crimea” is not carried out:
“The emergence of new forms of reaction in Europe and Britain. Delay in recovery in Europe. No effective forms of international economic co-operation, because where there is an unstable peace, and serious social unrest, there can be no long-term planning to utilise the world’s resources in the interests of the peoples of the world. Political instability in Britain, and its effects at home and abroad.
This is why we shall fight with all our strength for the carrying out of the policy of the Crimea Conference. This is why we shall fight against all remnants of sectarianism both in our own Party and the Labour movement.”
In answering these statements of Pollitt and the C.P. leaders, we are compelled to argue the most elementary socialist propositions. These should be axiomatic for anyone claiming the most superficial knowledge of Marxism. Pollitt’s arguments are no better than the demagogy of the Tories that capitalism is alright, but a few “bad men” are the cause of all the trouble. We are compelled to discuss, not communist tactics, but whether capitalism is progressive or not!
The capitalists are fond of shouting about equality of sacrifice and the united endeavours of the whole population in the war. Every class conscious member of the Communist Party knows what a hollow lie this is. What “united use of the world’s productive resources” has taken place during the war? The bosses have grown richer while the workers have made all the sacrifices. The “united use” of productive resources benefited only the capitalists and not the working class. The “unity” was a unity of horse and rider—the capitalists riding on the backs of the workers.
Yet the C.P. faithfully echoes this capitalist propaganda.
And if capitalism could not prevent war, far less can it abolish poverty, insecurity and unemployment. On the contrary, the ruling class of Britain and America are preparing for unprecedented unemployment in the years following the war—5 to 7 millions in Britain, 20 to 30 millions in America are their estimates. If capitalism could accomplish what Pollitt and co. claim for it, then the whole basis of the teachings of Marx and Lenin is false.
The capitalists themselves have no such illusions as are put forward by the leaders of the C.P. “By their deeds shall ye know them” is the only sure method by which the workers can arrive at correct conclusions. The capitalists have already commenced their attacks upon the workers’ conditions under the guise of “redundancy.” No real attempt has been made to solve the housing problem or any other of the serious and urgent problems confronting the workers. Here we see the real plans of capitalism.
The next section of the document dealing with the position in Britain is an indictment of the cynicism by which the leaders are endeavouring to deceive their own members and the working class.
“No country in the world needs the adoption of the Crimea policy more than Britain. Its six years of war and all that this has meant, its backward economy in comparison, for example, to that of America, carry with them most serious consequences if we are to enter into post-war struggle for markets with America and other countries. Consider the terrible prospects of attacks on wages, mass unemployment, curtailment of social services, and the grim future that would face the British people as a consequence of such a policy. This can be avoided only if the Crimea policy is carried through.”
As if the race for markets has not already begun! As if America has not already stripped Britain of her investments abroad! As if the phrases of the Crimea Conference are not intended to conceal the real situation and the aims of the victorious imperialists.
America has announced her programme of trebling her pre-war exports. Britain is trying to double hers. The competition between Britain and America will be far greater than the competition between Britain and Germany which led to the present war. To ask that the competition should cease is to behave like King Canute and demand that the tide should recede at command.
But now the C.P. leaders are demanding that the Labour movement should continue “national unity” and the coalition in the post-war period. They talk of “the new conception of democracy that has grown up with the grim experiences in fighting fascism” … the experience of the Greeks at the hands of Churchill and the ruling class perhaps?
The real position of the C.P. is best indicated by their pretence that the Tories have changed their policy:
“It [Crimea] represents a victory for the anti-fascist forces over the pro-fascist policy which hitherto dominated the Tory Party, revealed in the leading role adopted by Churchill and Eden, as the two present dominating personalities in the Tory Party in the whole course of the war against fascism.”
Churchill, the implacable enemy of the working class; Churchill who supported Franco, Mussolini and Hitler; Churchill who bared his fangs in Greece; Churchill who has always been a die-hard supporter of Big Business—is presented as a “progressive”. In Greece with the fatal policy of supporting “progressive” capitalists, the Greek and British CPs called for Damaskinos to be made Regent. The British imperialists obliged them, and almost immediately afterwards Damaskinos publicly attacked the Greek CP and has been a bulwark of reaction ever since his appointment.
In Britain the CP supported Grigg as a “progressive” in the Cardiff by-election. This was followed by the same people shouting “Grigg must go”! As Grigg is a supporter of Churchill and the Crimea policy of British imperialism, presumably the slogan should be altered to “Grigg must stay”!
To support Churchill is to support monopoly capitalism. To support the capitalists, the interests of the working class must be betrayed. It has taken the advanced British workers the experience of 50 years to realise that the Liberal and Tory Parties are parties of capitalism. From many bitter lessons they have learned the necessity for the independent struggle of the masses for Socialism. Now, in preparation for the greatest crisis of British capitalism in the whole of its existence, the Communist Party wishes to put the clock back in cringing capitulation to British imperialism.
Shamefacedly, the C.P. leaders dare not say openly and unequivocally to the workers that they want an agreement with the Tory and the Liberal capitalists; they try to cover up by the innocuous formula: “Labour and Progressive Government.”
The laws of capitalist development, given a capitalist basis, can no more be circumvented than the law of gravitation. But the role of the CP is to act like a bell-wether leading the sheep to destruction.
The quotation from Harry Pollitt’s “How to win the Peace” reproduced in the letter is an indication of this:
“After the war the whole nation must unite against reactionary sections of capitalism who, for whatever motives, oppose the use of the nation’s resources to meet the nation’s needs. The people who have been strong enough to defeat Hitler will always be strong enough to defeat those who are prepared to go back to the old sterile policy of wage cuts, victimization and unemployment; those who organise scarcity because they profit from it; those who are willing to plunge the nations back into the turmoil and menace of imperialist rivalries and war.”
No matter how they may try to disguise it, the CP leaders want a Government in which Churchill, Eden and other reactionary Tories will play a prominent part. Their description of a “progressive” is one who supports Churchill and Eden. The only difference between the present Government and the Government they want, is one of a reshuffling of posts!
The leaders of the C.P. are too cowardly to declare this openly because of the disgust it would arouse within the ranks of the working class.
“Collaboration” between bosses and workers has nothing in common with a communist policy. All his life Lenin taught that the interests of the workers and the interests of the capitalists were fundamentally opposed. Lenin castigated the treachery of the reformists in entering capitalist Cabinets with plans for reforms, which, he said, remained plans on paper only. In “Revolution of 1917”, Lenin wrote:
“… what empty phrases these: ‘There is no place in the Government of Democratic Russia [the Popular Front Government of Kerensky] for a champion of interests of International Capital!’ Is it not a shame that educated people should write such piffle?
“The entire Provisional Government [of Liberals and Labour leaders] is a Government of the Capitalist class. The main thing is the class, not the individual. To attack Miliukov [Liberal leader] personally, to demand, directly or indirectly, his dismissal—is silly, for no removal of individuals will change anything, until different classes are put in power.
“It is pardonable for ignorant peasants to exact from the capitalist ‘promises’ to ‘live righteously’ and not capitalistically; to demand that the capitalists cease ‘championing the interests of capital’. But for the leaders… to adopt such methods, means to nourish the illusory hopes placed by the people in the capitalists, hopes that are most harmful and ruinous to the cause of freedom, to the cause of the Revolution.” (pages 240-241)
“To hope that the capitalist class would ‘mend its ways’, would cease being a capitalist class, would give up its profits, is a fatuous hope, an empty dream, and in practice a deception of the people.” (page 248)
Never in the whole history of the working class has the ground been so favourable for a bold and decisive lead. All over Europe, all over the world, the working class is showing its desire to change the system which is responsible for the miseries of the war, for unemployment and insecurity, for fascism and reaction. The letter proudly claims:
“The Communist Parties, the world war over, are in a stronger position than ever before with many leading Communists in positions of responsibility in European Governments.”
The workers in great numbers have swung over from reformism to what they believe is Communism in the shape of the Stalinist Communist Parties. But instead of giving a revolutionary communist lead, the C.P. leadership in all countries, including Britain, is pursuing a policy to the right of the old reformist organisations.
Comrades: Remember the results of the Labour Governments of 1924, and 1929-31 when they depended on Liberal toleration. Not a single major measure in the interests of the workers was carried out. And the C.P. now proposes that coalition not only with the Liberals, but with the Tories, can serve the interests of the working class.
In 1924 and 1929, the British Communist Party, still echoing some of the teachings of Lenin, correctly pointed out that even a majority Labour Government could not carry out a programme in the interests of the working class. In order to educate the workers, Lenin taught us, it was necessary to advocate the pushing into power of the Labour Party, as the best means of convincing the rank and file Labour workers, through their own experience, of the futility of even a majority Reformist Government. But while advocating that Labour should take power independently of the capitalist parties, Lenin warned the Communists against sowing any illusions among the workers that their problems could be solved, or the capitalist class threatened in any way, by their reformist leadership. Our Party has consistently carried out Lenin’s policy of warning the workers that they can rely only on their own forces, their own organisations, their own solidarity and strength against their class enemies, to achieve their emancipation. We repeat: Only by taking power into the hands of the working class and expropriating the capitalist class, will peace and plenty come to the workers of Britain and the world. This is the policy of Bolshevism.
We can help the workers of Europe, we can help the Soviet Union, we can serve the interests of the British workers, only by waging an uncompromising struggle against British Capitalism, only by fighting for a Socialist Britain.
We appeal to all those members of the Communist Party who wish to remain true to their class, to study the teachings of Marx and Lenin. Compare their teachings with the teachings of the Communist Party. We are confident that you can only arrive at one conclusion: The policy of the Communist Party is entirely opposed to the interests of the workers of the world; it has nothing in common with Communism. Our policy is the policy of Marx and Lenin, the policy of real Revolutionary Communism.