Thesis on communist rapprochement

This thesis was agreed to by the Provisional Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Organising Committee of the Revolutionary Democratic Group (faction of the SWP) on August 10 1997

1. The aim of communist rapprochement is to unite the communists into a revolutionary democratic communist party, which contains within its ranks the advanced part of the working class.

2. Such a party must be organised around a revolutionary programme, on the basis of democratic centralism, including full faction rights for minority views.

3. Marx and Engels laid the ideological foundations for revolutionary working class politics, combining the ideas of revolutionary democracy with the aim of communism, and placing these ideas on a scientific basis.

4. The early CPGB was founded in 1920 through a process of communist rapprochement, including the British Socialist Party and the Socialist Labour Party. This process, inspired by the Russian Revolution, was the first party of this type within the working class of Britain. With the rise of Stalinism, the party came under the hegemony of opportunist politics veering between ultra-leftism and centrism.

5. The British road to socialism confirmed the CPGB as a party of radical reformism, committed to a parliamentary road to socialism (later to evolve into Eurocommunism). The epicentre of this programmatic degeneration - which affected every part of the world communist movement - was the Communist Party of the Soviet Union which was destroyed by the Stalinist bureaucracy.

6. Today the communist movement is fragmented into many different organisations, including the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party, Alliance for Workers Liberty, the Communist Party of Britain, Workers Power, Communist Party of Great Britain, the Workers Revolutionary Party, the Revolutionary Democratic Group, Red Action and others. There is no revolutionary democratic communist party.

7. The communist movement is dominated by the SWP and Socialist Party. Both these tendencies are economistic and veer towards syndicalism and Labourism. Neither of these organisations has the correct ideological or programmatic foundations for building a new communist party. A revolutionary democratic communist party cannot be built out of the growth in the membership of these tendencies.

8. The formation of the Socialist Labour Party has created new opportunities for communists to work together. The SLP is not a communist party. Its policies are mainly influenced by left Labour socialism. But communist ideas also have an impact.

9. The SLP has attracted to its ranks a small but significant number of communists, including ex-members of the Militant, CPB, CPGB, SWP, Fourth International Supporters (Fisc), Socialist Outlook, RDG, International Bolshevik Tendency (IBT) and Workers Power. The SLP presents new opportunities for communist rapprochement.

10. In Scotland the main focus for communist rapprochement has been the formation of the Scottish Socialist Alliance. The SSA was formed at the initiative of the Scottish Militant Labour and includes the CPGB, Republican Workers Tendency and the Edinburgh Republicans.

11. Without significant change in the political situation, there is no immediate prospect of launching a communist party in the UK. However, the process of communist rapprochement, which played such an important role in the foundation of the CPGB, is part of the process which can move us in that direction.

12. The process of communist rapprochement is as yet only in its earliest stage. Our task is to define each stage correctly in order to act effectively.

13. The initial stage of communist rapprochement is the establishment of comradely relations between communist organisations. This may lead to joint work and cooperation, to building a united front for communist unity and even the fusion of organisations.

14. A higher stage of communist rapprochement is the struggle to create a revolutionary democratic communist tendency.

15. A revolutionary democratic communist tendency will be organised around a draft programme on the basis of democratic centralism with the full freedom for factions to express their views internally and publicly.

16. One tendency, uniting as many factions as necessary, will define itself in terms of the theory and practice of revolutionary working class democracy and communism. It will not define itself in terms of adherence to any particular historic leader (eg, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin). Individual members or factions will be free to define themselves in whatever way they want.

17. This tendency would seek to actively engage with larger forces on the revolutionary left, as well as the class itself, where possible. Such a tendency would not be a communist party, whatever name it adopted. It would be or have the potential to become the main alternative to the other main tendencies within the communist movement.

18. The highest stage of communist rapprochement is the negotiation, preparation for, and the founding of, a revolutionary democratic communist party, which unifies the main tendencies and the majority of communists into a single party.

19. The founding conference should debate and agree a programme, from various drafts, which will serve as the basis for the party.

20. The new party seeks to become a mass party by linking its programme to the struggles of the advanced section of the working class. The party will seek to become a genuine political leadership of the advanced workers. The party seeks to fuse, to merge its conscious organisation with a real movement of the class.

21. The revolutionary democratic communist tendency will make the struggle for communist unity, for the unification of tendencies, into a single party a central part of its activity.

22. However, the fight for a united communist party should not be considered as some diplomatic truce with Labourite, syndicalist, centrist and ultra-left politics. On the contrary there can be no united communist party without a hard fight against all forms of bureaucratic and anarchistic ideology. Defeating these ideas will be an important element in creating a strong united communist party.