For communist unity

May Day is a workers’ celebration of international solidarity and organisation. The May Day march in London for a number of years has been dominated by revolutionaries in exile from Turkey and Kurdistan. This very fact is testimony to the important lessons their history of struggle holds for revolutionaries in Britain. That is why today we have published the draft programme discussion document in Turkish. This document, written by Jack Conrad as a result of a year’s discussion in our organisation, was published in the Weekly Worker (September 21 1995). Today we call on all revolutionaries in the UK to unite in the struggle for Party

On International Workers’ Day we are pleased to publish this draft programme in Turkish. We welcome comments and criticisms from comrades of the revolutionary movement of Turkey.

Although this document appears under the name of a leading individual comrade in our Party, it is the result of a great deal of collective study and - crucially - the practice of our organisation. We have placed the question of programme at the centre of our struggle for a reforged Communist Party of Great Britain - a genuinely mass combat Party of advanced workers in Britain.

The opportunists attempted to formally liquidate our Party in 1991- but fundamentally the death of the CPGB as a revolutionary organisation had been a process of ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

That is, its liquidation was a failure of opportunist programme, a course that took many decades to complete. The struggle of the Leninists of the Party is a struggle to re-equip the vanguard of the class in Britain with a revolutionary programme once again. In this sense, the programme will make the Party rather than the other way round. The struggle for programmatic clarity - a process that encompasses both theoretical clash and practice - is at the same time the struggle to build the Party.

We have taken the decision to publish in Turkish because of the unique position that workers from Turkey and their revolutionary organisations occupy within the working class in this country. In London - particularly the boroughs of Hackney and Haringey - workers of Turkish or Kurdish origin constitute distinct, relatively large populations.

Like other migrant sections of the working class in this country, the Turkish and Kurdish populations are subject to repression and exploitation. As Jack Conrad writes in the draft, the ruling class “uses migrant workers as worst paid labour and keeps them in that position by criminalising them through immigration laws, police raids and deportation orders”.

Yet it is not their numerical strength in some areas of London or the daily reality of state repression they face that makes these workers unique. It is the fact that this section of the class supports revolutionary and communist politics in greater numbers than any other part of the proletariat in this country. Within this community, communist politics have been a mass phenomenon.

Yet few comrades from these communities find themselves in the ranks of the revolutionary movement in Britain. This is a weakness which must be overcome.

The principle

It is important to re-state the Communist International’s principle of revolutionary organisation - ‘One state: one Party’. For communists this unity within a single organisation to fight the state that rules them is not a luxury; it is a vital necessity.

In the struggle against the bourgeoisie, the working class has no weapons other than its theory and its organisation. It takes the field against an enemy with centuries of expertise in ruling and suppressing opposition to its rule, overtly and covertly. In this life or death struggle against its enemy, the proletariat must fight for the maximum degree of unity within its own ranks and with other popular classes who are prepared to fight in a revolutionary way.

Thus, the fact that a section of our class in Britain - a segment with a proud and living revolutionary tradition - is not organically integrated into the revolutionary movement is a big failing we must fight to overcome.

American parallel

We call for all communists who live and work under the British state to organise together in the same Communist Party. Some may raise the objection that - in the concrete conditions pertaining in today’s Britain - this would cause a huge imbalance in the ethnic make-up of the party. That is, the CPGB would not be particularly ‘British’.

There is a parallel here with the early years of the communist movement in the United States.

In 1919 the Socialist Party of Eugene Debs attracted large numbers of radicalised workers as the international wave of revolutionary struggle peaked. A large number of these workers were of foreign - often east European - extraction. Naturally, these workers were among the ones most affected by the revolutionary events in Europe.

Communist organisation was formed in America in September 1919 when a minority of the pro-Bolshevik wing of the Socialist Party split. There were bitter divisions within the infant communist movement, however.

The Communist Party of America (CPA) of Luis Fraina was dominated by seven large but insular east European foreign-language federations, while the Communist Labour Party (CLP) of John Reed was more concerned with US conditions. This continuing tension coloured many of the debates when the fractious communist movement was unified in May 1920 with the help of Comintern.

For instance, in Theses on the Party factional situation from May 1927, party leaders wrote that

“The language sections of the Party, in their daily activities, their propaganda and press, must, to a much greater degree than heretofore, react to the class struggle in America. The tendencies towards isolation of the members of the 1anguage sections of the Party from the general Party work and the limitation of their activity to workers and organisations of their own nationality alone must be overcome by systematic educational efforts of the leading organs of the Party ...

“The ‘home country’ ideology must be replaced by planful working out of American revolutionary class consciousness penetrating into all sections of the American working class” (From James P Cannon and the early years of American communism, p43l).

Today, there is no authoritative Communist International to guide the work of communists. In Britain, the division between British revolutionaries and revolutionaries from different countries exiled here is due primarily to the weaknesses of the indigenous communist movement. Yet foreign-born revolutionaries can potentially play an important role in revitalising communism here.

The working class Turkish and Kurdish community is assimilating into the indigenous British population. This is an inevitable and progressive phenomenon. The key question is - will this assimilation be a revolutionary process, or will this rich proletarian heritage simply be dissipated and lost?


On occasion, comrades in the Turkish revolutionary movement have told us that while they agree with the principle of ‘One state: one Party’, the problem is one of what they call “ideology”.

They believe - along with many in the revolutionary movement in Britain - that it is impossible for comrades who come from different traditions to unite. For us, the key question is one of programme.

Within the broad parameters of the type of programme we have published, it could be possible for a number of different interpretations of, for example, the nature of the Soviet Union, to coexist. This in no way implies agnosticism about the major questions that have cleaved the workers’ movement. Far from it.

Unity within a single party could actually heighten the theoretical struggle between different tendencies. Yet communist unity is not something that is premised on one historical interpretation of the history of the Soviet Union and the factional battles of the 1920s and 30s.

Communist unity is essentially unity around the revolutionary programme, and a programme.

Communist programmatic unity symbolises the unity of revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice. It is the duty of all communists who live and work under the British imperialist state to fight for that voluntary revolutionary union.

Mark Fischer