Around the left: Separate and distinctive?
The Socialist Labour Party increasingly resembles the old CPGB - albeit at a lower and more eccentric level. With no democratic structure or culture allowing for the open expression of contending ideas, political struggle is driven underground. Bureaucratic ‘unity’ becomes a surrogate for genuine unity.
But, in the SLP, monstrous hypocrisy rules. The Scargill ‘constitution’ forbids membership or support of any political organisation other than the SLP. Yet certain favoured individuals seem perfectly at liberty to actively promote non-SLP publications and organisations to which they belong.
This brings us to Lalkar, organ of the Indian Workers Association (Great Britain). It is not exactly a secret that the editor of this solidly Stalinite journal is prominent Ealing Southall SLP member Harpal Brar.
Comrade Brar’s name had disappeared from Lalkar recently. However, the latest issue dispenses with all such diplomatic formalities. Thus we read: “Harpal Brar, the editor of Lalkar, was invited by Labour Russia and its newspaper Molnia to attend their congress on the first and second November, as well as to address the rally organised by them to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the October Revolution” (November/December).
According to the rules of Arthur Scargill’s imposed ‘constitution’, Harpal Brar has clearly made himself ineligible for membership of the SLP. For instance, Clause II (3) states: “Individuals and organisations other than bona fide trade union which have their own programme, principles and policies, distinctive and separate propaganda, or which are engaged in the promotion of policies in opposition to those of the party shall be ineligible for affiliation to the party” (my emphasis).
Surely the IWA(GB) fall fouls of the ‘constitution’? Or are Arthur Scargill and Harpal Brar seriously going to argue that Lalkar is not in its own right “distinctive and separate propaganda”?
Lalkar reprints the speech Brar gave at an open-air rally at Vasilevsky Square in Russia to celebrate the October Revolution: “I am privileged and proud to be here in the land of Lenin and Stalin, in the land which was quite correctly regarded in those days as the motherland of the international proletariat …
“Under the banner of Marxism-Leninism, and the leadership of the CPSU(B), the Soviet proletariat marched confidently forward with giant strides, achieving world-historic successes in one field after another. It built a giant Soviet industry, which was the envy of the world; it led the successful fight for the collectivisation of agriculture, thus rescuing the peasantry from a life of ignorance and poverty, while at the same time laying firm economic foundations for socialism and thus securing for the working class ‘real and durable following of the vast masses of the peasantry’ (Lenin); it created the mighty USSR, in which people belonging to diverse nationalities, having different cultures and languages, lived in fraternal harmony, free from racist bigotry and national chauvinism …” He promised in conclusion: “Once again the flag of Marx and Engels, the flag of Lenin and Stalin, shall fly not only in the former Soviet Union, but all over the world.”
It is also worth noting that Viktor Anpilov of the Communist Workers Party of Russia is interviewed in Lalkar by Brar. Anpilov is quoted as saying: “Since the collapse of the Soviet Union started with the collapse of the CPSU, our duty is to restore it with a view to restoring what has been lost … After the Revolution, the person who was most opposed to the idea of the proletariat as the main force of the revolution was Trotsky…”
Harpal Brar remarks at the end: “Thanks for giving this interview to Lalkar, which will be of great interest to our readers. We wish you a successful outcome to your endeavours to build a united party, restoring the glory of the former CPSU, in its revolutionary heyday.”
How long will it be before comrade Brar attempts to foist his vision of ‘socialism’ on the SLP - at the expense of Patrick Sikorski, Brian Heron, Carolyn Sikorski and other Trotskyists of various hues? And will the new Stalinite Scargill go along with such a purge at the top?
Harpal Brar is perfectly entitled to hold his views, of course. But what really sticks in the gullet is that he is given full license and blessing from the Scargill SLP leadership to openly espouse them - while democrats, communists and other leftwingers are silenced, removed or voided.