Organisational questions?

Below we reprint recent exchanges between the Provisional Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Revolutionary Democratic Group on the question of communist rapprochement

Clearly, the RDG’s hesitancy expresses internal differences over the prospect of unity. These differences should be debated openly. Also, the key problem appears to be “the methods of work and organisation” of the CPGB - our relatively high levels of discipline and activity. This should also be stated openly. We have already made clear that our ‘methods of work’ should aspire to Bolshevism - the details are a matter for any new fused organisation.

To: Revolutionary Democratic Group, faction of the SWP
From: Provisional Central Committee, Communist Party of Great Britain
August 27 1996

We are writing to you to suggest a timetable for the further development of the process of communist rapprochement between our two organisations.

Concretely, we believe that we should stage a joint conference of members of the RDG and CPGB on Saturday November 2. This conference would be open to all those who agree to be bound by its decisions. A resolution can be presented to this meeting proposing the immediate fusion of our organisations. The details of this resolution can be negotiated between now and the conference between representatives of our groups. This will give subsequent meetings between our reps a more structured and purposeful format.

We look forward to your prompt reply and to concrete suggestions for such a conference.

Yours with communist greetings,

Mark Fischer
On behalf of the Provisional Central Committee

From: RDG
September 10 1996

Progress on rapprochement

Thank you for your letter. The RDG has discussed this matter extensively because we think this is a vitally important question. We have also discussed the problems that arose with Open Polemic. Our basic attitude remains cautious. We do not intend to act in haste in order to repent at leisure.

If our organisations are to fuse, we intend to do so in a way which best ensures its maximum long term success. The RDG aggregate has laid down preconditions before we can seriously plan a fusion meeting:

i) Not prior to Marxism ’96 and the SWP conference of November 1996.
ii) Not until we have agreement, or clarity on our differences, on certain ideological questions.
iii) Not prior to debate, clarification and agreement on organisational matters.
iv) Not without the ISG and the RWT.

Of these some progress has been made on informing SWP members via Marxism ’96. We have made some progress on ii) but not yet enough. We have outstanding issues on:

a) national question
b) permanent revolution
c) the rapprochement process
d) we also want further work by programme commission.

We have done nothing about iii).

Some progress has been made on iv). We should add of course that the fourth condition is not absolute. We prefer to fuse with them, but have the right to fuse without them. It is a matter of judgement.

Despite the undoubted progress that has been made in the year since we began, recently progress in terms of negotiations has come to a halt. This has mainly been due to the impact of the SLP.

We think the most productive way to move forward is for representatives of our organisations to meet to decide how best to progress outstanding matters

Yours in comradeship,


From: CPGB
October 7

Thank you for your letter of September 10. We believe that you are correct to seek clarity on a number of important questions.

However, this is obviously an ongoing process. We believe you are wrong to lay down agreement on these as a “precondition” for our fusion. We must underline that we are not looking for ideological fusion, despite our closeness on many issues.

We believe that comrades are also being a little disingenuous. Regular attention to our paper and debates would inform comrades perfectly adequately of our ‘ideological views on most matters.

Painstaking haggling over particular documents is hopeless. Comrades should actively engage in the pages of our press to clarify matters. This is living and ongoing that in no way precludes unity in the here and now.

We are advocating that the RDG address the question of organisational unity immediately. Given the nature of this period of palpable disintegration and defeat of the workers’ movement, there is an urgency about this task. We should not be involved in intractable negotiations in a year’s time, comrades. Politics and the workers’ movement flow on posing new tasks, new alignments and priorities. Our two organisations have the opportunity now to strike a blow for Partyism and against the narrow sectarianism of the left. We have the chance to point a finger towards the answer. We should take it now.

Also, we cannot wait for other organisations, despite the fact that the door remains open. This is particularly true of the two organisations you mention - the International Socialist Group and the Republican Workers Tendency.

We will wait for ever for these organisations, comrades. In our view they do not even exist anymore: making our future perspectives contingent on the whims of phantom grouplets is a recipe for paralysis.

What you call “organisational matters” obviously loom large amongst your worries. Again, we think you are well aware of our form of organisation and methods of work.

As for the future, we cannot lay down in advance the precise organisational forms, levels of dues and so on for the Party of the future. All we can say is that the Provisional Central Committee and those it influences will fight for a level of discipline commensurate with building a serious national organisation, undertaking serious political tasks.

We look forward to further exchanges.

Yours on behalf of the PCC,

Mark Fischer

From: RDG
November 28

Thank you for your letter of October 7 1996. At our recent meeting we had a full discussion on the process of rapprochement. In response to your letter, the aggregate decided that we are not about to join the CPGB.

We are however committed to the rapprochement process and continuing the work to create a new organisation. We have now received your responses to our document on rapprochement, the national question and permanent revolution. We will be looking at your responses and discussing them with your representatives in order to clarify some important questions.

We would like to receive from you, as a starting point, the methods of work and organisation that you propose for any new fused organisation. Yours in comradeship,