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Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic and Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. V. I. Lenin

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No 1408 13th July 2012

Lalkar/Proletarian joins 58 more revisionist parties evading the revolutionary questions now sharply posed by the devastating and unstoppable world economic cataclysm and the drive to world war consciously being pursued by the ruling class to try and escape its humiliation and failure. The pretence continues that Lenin was "for reforms" and that revolution will emerge by the "qualitative accumulation" of "immediate demands". But it is single issue and partial demands which have blocked and diverted the working class from revolutionary grasp, the only escape from onrushing disaster. Leninism urgently required

The ever more strident fascist aggressiveness of US imperialism in the Middle East, direct and indirect (tearing Syria apart currently by provoked civil war), Washington-backed coups in Honduras and now Paraguay, the surfacing of even more pustulent corruption, cynicism and rank greed in the London banking, parliamentary and press scandals (and even the corporate Olympics), and the unstoppable slide of the whole world finance system generally into even greater catastrophic Slump collapse, all signal the epochal historic failure of profit-making class-rule exploitation.

The capitalist international order is rotten to the core, historically and actually bankrupt, and ready to be swept away, along with all the degenerate and corrupt repression, warmongering, and Goebbels lies that alone now keep it going.

World revolution grows more urgent every day.

Only revolutionary consciousness is missing.

The now obvious unstoppable and universal slide into the deepest economic and trade war catastrophe in all of history, and the deliberate war blitzing chaos being imposed by US imperialism led NATO to try and escape it (over a decade and a half), demands revolutionary perspectives and organisation for the working class.

It will emerge.

The ragged remnants of the "freedom and democracy" bullshit behind which the ruling class pursued its dictatorial world oppression and tyrannical exploitation for centuries, is now utterly discredited for tens and tens of millions, who are beginning the Great Debate to understand where the world is being driven.

Recent renewed attention on the assorted fake-"lefts" by the capitalist press in various articles, books and TV reports is a double indication of how desperately unnerved the ruling class is becoming as its ever degenerating crisis collapse triggers a ferment of discussion and revolt among the masses. The ground is ripe for revolutionary theory.

On the one hand the observation by petty bourgeois critical realist journalism of a rapidly growing renewed interest in communist theory – at its most basic in increased sales of Marx's Capital, the "Communist Manifesto", Lenin's works and other sound and useful volumes, and, alongside, growth in attendance of assorted "summer schools" and alleged "Marxist Universities" etc from the 101 varieties of pretend "revolutionary" groups (who are no such thing) – is a straightforward enough reflection of the disquiet and turmoil affecting more and more people as the reality of the unstoppable disintegration of world monopoly capitalism sinks home.

As Leninism has always understood, it is the capitalist crisis and warmongering that would be the earliest and most powerful teacher of the working class of the need for change.

The petty bourgeois press commentators are warning the "establishment" ruling class of how the old "democratic" and reformist illusions have lost their influence.

Alongside are increasingly desperate panic warnings to class collaborating Labourism and the old guard reactionary TUC by the Guardianista liberal types to "do something radical or lose it completely", another expression of the same collapse in the old "democracy" and peaceful improvement hokum.

But the hyping of the "left" revival is also a deliberate attempt to publicise and elevate the multiple layers of pseudo-"left"s to make sure their endless eclecticism and academicism – hopeless revisionist Stalinist pacifism or sour Trotskyist anti-workers-state treachery versions – fills the ideological vacuum with as much confusion and misleadership as possible.

Capitalism learned long ago that its best weapon against clear revolutionary understanding (Leninism) was to keep total silence, swamping every aspect of social culture with philistinism, celebrity chasing, consumer shallowness and deliberate anti-seriousness ("you've got 'ave a laugh haven't you?") and boosting out and out class collaborating "parliamentary" treachery.

It fosters scepticism, and contempt for any serious thought and theoretical understanding of the world, and inculcates a defeatist view that all such theoretical grasp will "never change anything anyway", a deep running legacy in the workers movement particularly in "practical" Britain.

The notion that revolutionary consciousness and correct perspectives could be the most potent weapon in history, to unify and motivate the enormous mass of the working class into the most powerful force on the planet has been deliberately dismissed as unrealistic and "too difficult to get across to ordinary people", and anyway suppressed at meetings and ridiculed (most of all by the 'realistic' fake-"lefts" themselves).

But as crisis bites into ordinary lives and serious workers start to ask more questions the next line of defence is to boost up this slew of pretenders-in-waiting, spawned by the shallowness of capitalism and its ideological bribery and pressure, to foster endless confusion with their parodies of Marxist leadership.

A more or less shaded spectrum of assorted "lefts" with varying levels of "communist" and "red" colourations and pretence is available, but all with one thing in common – a complete refusal to raise the question of revolution when it matters (now).

The trickiest of such fake-"left"ism postures mightily that it is "for revolution", lacing its publications with scattered phrases about "overturning capitalism" and "the crisis".

But in practice their play-acting phrase-making is increasingly shown up by the Crash to be as hollow as the rest of capitalist society's cultural and philosophical edifice, crumbling fast.

The stench of foul corruption, manipulation, and greed may now be insufferable at all levels of capitalist society, the hypocrisy and arrogance of warmongering bullying violence and torture intolerable, and the despair and penury being forced on the working class everywhere at unbearable levels (in the "rich" west and throughout the desperately exploited Third World).

But the fake-"lefts" of all shades refuse to explain that the working class needs and has no choice but to TAKE power, overturning the imperialist ruling class and imposing its own rigorous working class rule to build a new world of planned socialism.

In Greece, in Egypt, in Syria, in Africa, in Paraguay, in Honduras, in Spain, in Ireland, the sharpest of crisis contradictions have already been reached but still the "leftie" ranks who have spent decades telling the world that they would "be there when the time comes" say nothing in practice about the need to raise a revolutionary struggle as the only possible answer to the desperate Slump and war turmoil already here. Or if they do it is for tomorrow, for later, "eventually".

Failure to deliver any such grasp, shows up in a glaring light the uselessness, opportunist complacency, confusion and class collaborating treachery of all shades of pretend "lefts" from the careerist Labourite and other parliamentary "lefts", the anti-communist poison of the Trotskyists against the workers states or the "peace struggle" misleadership and opportunism of the Stalinists.

All their academic strutting about "revolution" is a total joke.

In practice at best they continue to tie the working class to ineffectual protests "against austerity" (and even that much is long overdue in Britain) and hopeless revisionist "No to War" pacifism, and at worst like the Trots, collaborate with and feed capitalism's demented brainwashing anti-communism and bogeyman "war on terror" and its Big Lie "human rights" scapegoating.

Most of them denounce victims such as Libya and Syria as "totalitarian monsters" (by implication worse than the West) swallowing and reproducing every increasingly demented unproven, exaggerated and manipulated, unfilmed, unseen, story of supposed "cold-blooded massacres" lyingly poured out by the Western media (which reproduces under giant headlines, as if it were established fact, every lurid horror account and rumour the 'rebels' fabricate and other "unverified and impossible to confirm reports"), and backing as alleged "revolutionaries" the counter-revolutionary killers armed, financed and sponsored by the West from the first days of alleged "non-violent" upheavals (another lie) – racist, fascist and monarchist scum in Libya now in dozens of warlord type fragments squabbling for the spoils, and the bitter sectarian groupings in Syria, backed and stimulated by outside provocation almost certainly from next door Zionism, and other Western intelligence, NATO member Turkey and the most reactionary of Gulf sheikhdoms and feudal fragments.

Their philistine acceptance of capitalism's "democracy versus dictatorship" fraudulence leaves them swallowing every stunted-up anti-communist anti-working class trick dreamed up by Western subversion like the Pilsudkski-loving (i.e. fascist) Solidarnosc anti-communist movement against Poland's workers state (dressed up as a "trade union" to fool the petty bourgeois fake-"left"), the Hungarian and Czech "revolts" before it, and now these counter-revolutions triggered by the West to head off the Egyptian revolution (the genuine "Arab Spring"), and thereby helping US/NATO blitzings hurtle the world towards all out destruction.

The Stalinist left meanwhile confuses everyone by supporting the dire Ba'athists or Gaddafis outright, telling the working class this opportunism and weak-kneed confusion (like Gaddafi's bizarre Green Book "socialism") is the way forwards, instead of making clear that the issue is defeat for the imperialist onslaught without boosting such anti-Marxism in the slightest (as Lenin fought the Kornilov reaction alongside Kerensky while continuing to make sure the working class put no faith in Kerensky's petty bourgeois treachery).

Throughout the "boom" all this philistinism has hampered and held back the working class, keeping it chasing after the disastrous illusions of "changing things by voting", soft-headed illusions in "the democratic way" and "left pressure", and "Stop the War" pacifism, and sneeringly hostile to the allegedly "hysterical" and "old-hat" Leninist "catastrophist" warnings of imminent collapse for world capitalism, a now incontrovertible reality, which confronts the whole world with the urgent necessity to make revolution and completely tear up and destroy the old society, to make way for planned socialism in the only way possible, by building a new majority proletarian class rule, leading eventually to a classless society.

Revolution from the fake-"lefts" was for the back pages, academic arguments in long turgid "theoretical" articles (using the term "theory" in the most philistine sense of "not really relevant in practice" – the exact opposite of its real meaning), and for "later on".

Terms like "ultimately", "eventually" and "long-term aims" have long been used to put off, defer and, in reality, bury completely the struggle for a full revolutionary understanding of the world.

Overt reformism from the Labourites and other class collaborators has been bolstered by the in-practice reformism of the fake-"lefts" of all shades, capitulating to every kind of illusion about parliament, "democracy" and "slow steady change" for the better (perhaps with a bit of added "left" pressure).

The pivotal phrase to justify the great posturing and play-acting has always been "but what do we do in the meantime", giving away completely that none of these groups has got the remotest grasp of revolutionary change as the central question at all times.

The only possible answer has always been to say, "build the revolutionary party, its organisation and its living and developing polemical struggle for constantly advancing revolutionary theory because 'the meantime' is about to run out."

It has run out.

But despite the now four-year long confirmation of the intractable and spiralling cataclysmic meltdown of the profit making international finance system ("credit crunch" unstoppably rolling on) which has proven totally that there is no "meantime", nothing much has changed.

Typical are the museum-Stalinists like the Lalkar/Proletarian who have just made much of their leading guru figure Harpal Brar's appearance at the 21st International Communist Seminar held in Belgium in May.

The Proletarian paper of the CPGB-ML declares this to be a major gathering of "communists" from all over the world to "discuss the way forwards" essentially commending its outcome.

And what way is that way, does this group of 59 leading and official Stalinist parties tell us?

More of the same old reforms and pacifist protest hidden behind a pretence of revolutionary theory and mis-stated Leninist tactics.

The "general conclusions" start apparently soundly enough with the crisis:

1. The primary task of communists around the world at present is to clarify the nature of the crisis that has been afflicting the entire world capitalist system for four years. Promoting the Marxist analysis of the crisis is a first-rank ideological task. This means helping the workers and the peoples understand the root causes of the global economic cataclysm. It means making the link between the various attacks they are subjected to, and the barbaric nature of the system itself. It means addressing the root cause of partial issues like the food crisis, environmental problems, wars of conquest, polarization between wealth and poverty, and the crisis of the parliamentary system and bourgeois ideology.

But this is immediately flawed.

Leaving aside the pomposity and patronising "guru" smugness of handing down knowledge from above implied by the term "clarify" (which is doubly rich given the endless mistakes and errors covered up over decades by the Stalinists), rather than engaging in a living polemical battle in front of, and with the working class, it heads off immediately in the wrong direction with its description of imperialism's "wars of conquest", (or as the Lalkar/Proletarian-ites usually put it, "predatory wars"), declared to be in pursuit of oil or sometimes other "resources".

"Conquest" not only does not begin to explain the significance of the now generalised warmongering of capitalism, continuing non-stop from the NATO blitzkrieg of Serbia in 1998 and endlessly now into Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria by proxy (Turkey etc) and by western provoked and deliberately armed civil war but sets the wrong tone completely.

Imperialism was engaging in wars of "conquest" two hundred years ago turning to the battle for "spheres of influence" and a "place in the sun" colonialism which preceded the two world wars. But while its neo-colonialism continues post-war and controlling resources may be part of it, the overwhelmingly important thing to emphasise now is that the warmongering is part of a crisis and failure of all imperialism and particularly US world domination, desperately turning to ruthless Nazi "shock and awe" intimidation to suppress rising rebellion erupting throughout the Third World and, equally, to fire early shots across the bows any of major imperialist power rivals, warning them off even contemplating taking on American might as the crisis deepens inter-imperialist rivalries, or even just against refusing it the open-ended credit and vacuum cleaning of world wealth it demands to sustain its otherwise bankrupted economy.

Far from "clarifying" the crisis, the "predatory" view of capitalist war making, which misleadingly deals with each war (Afghanistan, Libya, Syria) as something separate and self-contained instead of as an interlocked part of a whole worldwide war agenda, puts the wrong emphasis completely.

It implies that the ruling class remains in control, calmly taking advantage of episodic world mayhem to expand its Empire's power and wealth, instead of underlining the desperation and fear of a ruling order panicking at the "barbarians at the gate" and at its own imploding economy, brewing domestic upheaval and rebellion.

These wars are the symptom of a ruling order losing its grip historically, all the more dangerous for it (as Hitlerism was) but weakened and split and brittle (as Hitlerism was) and vulnerable to determined challenge (as Hitlerism was, lasting only 12 of its vaunted 1000 year rule).

The alleged Belgian "communist" view of war is no deeper or clearer than the shallow "analysis" from anti-communist reformist "left" academics such as Naomi Klein, (the anti-communist darling of the liberals), with her philistine "shock doctrine" "discovery" that rapacious capitalism will piratically take advantage of crisis and collapse and confusion to tighten its monopoly grip where and when it can.

It implies that the ruling class is all-powerful and knowing, calculating and orchestrating everything on the planet, (including its own disasters and crises!!!).

This is as topsy-turvy as the convoluted conspiracy theories around the 9/11 attacks which suggested the World Trade Centre and Pentagon outburst of frustrated rage and anger by the Third World against US imperialist tyranny were "really" all carried out by the CIA, or even loopier current extended versions, attributing the entire mass rebellion in Egypt and Tunisia, and the counter-attacks on Syria and Libya (which have been stirred up by Western intelligence in panicked response to a real upheaval), to some gigantic world manipulation by the monopoly capitalist order.

Ruling class conspiracy, manipulation, surveillance and interference is certainly constant behind the fraudulent and hypocritical façade of "democracy and the rule of law" but to set out a perspective of such over-arching string-pulling cleverness reflects only petty bourgeois awe at the ruling class, and a deep down inability to see the real historic scale of the greatest meltdown failure in eight hundred years of bourgeois influence and rule.

Far from clarifying the crisis it virtually makes it disappear, turning into a ruling class smoke-and-mirrors trick.

Deep down it reflects a stifling petty bourgeois narrowness that neither can see the profound shattering scale of the crisis, not wants to, out of wishful-thinking complacency and fear of the implications – the total destruction of the old order which is coming and the imposition of the firmest working class discipline.

This is not a crisis afflicting the world "for four years" but a crisis which has been unfolding for six decades (in fact even longer), periodically shaking huge sections of the monopoly capitalist world to the core, from taking the dollar off the gold standard in the early 1970s and subsequent "oil shocks", to numerous credit and finance failures in Latin America (wiping out tens of thousands of livelihoods); Asian currency meltdowns in the 1990s devastating Indonesia, Malaysia and others; the now 20 year long stagnation of Japanese capitalism, reducing the world's second biggest economy to near paralysis; regular and shattering corporate bankruptcies and failures in America and Europe (Enron, BCCI, Chrysler, General Motors, airlines etc etc), regular "Black Monday" Stock Exchange panics, the collapse and more.

It is a crisis on a gigantic, historic scale ripping through the profit making world and deferred year on year only by the endless printing of dollars by Washington for decades, which simply multiplied the ever-deepening cataclysm until its eventual eruption into the great pant-wetting panic of the credit crunch in 2008.

Again it has been desperately deferred since, with even more insane valueless money printing (Quantitative Easing – another £50bn just pumped in in the UK alone) which has not even stopped the disaster ripping through and bankrupting entire smaller nations like Greece, Spain and Portugal, and which simply inflates the greater universal collapse which will hit everything again at any moment, as endless Euro shock all-night international meetings presage.

The Belgian Stalinist comrades tepidly declare that their "four year" crisis opens up "new opportunities" for Communist parties to "conquer the masses for the perspective of socialism".

So why is it not even mentioning Egypt for example?

It does not say, the "perspective for revolution" and especially not with any hint of the titanic and ruthless struggle to impose the dictatorship of the proletariat which must be the heart of the great revolutionary battles to come.

What are to be the "suitable means to heighten consciousness" which communist parties are declared to be responsible for? Nothing but more reforms it turns out. Listen to this:

5 The crisis in all spheres of the capitalist system creates new opportunities for Communist and Workers' Parties to conquer the masses for the perspective of socialism. But the objective necessity of socialism does not spontaneously become a subjective conviction in people's minds. Each Party has the responsibility to look for suitable means to heighten consciousness, organize and mobilize the working class and the people, starting from an assessment of the level of organization and consciousness of the masses, the correlation of forces and the character of our era, above all within the framework of its own country. Moreover, the counterrevolution which overthrew socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe has sown much confusion among the masses and has been used by the world bourgeoisie to blacken the image of the socialist path. The generalized crisis of capitalism enables this anticommunist propaganda to be smashed into pieces.

6. Enabling large masses to acquire this consciousness can best be done through experience, through struggles of the working class and peoples of the world, through partial advances and defeats. It is therefore of the utmost importance for parties to lead the daily struggles of workers and peoples, to orient them in an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist direction and towards socialist revolution. Through class struggle the working class accumulates valuable experience that contributes, in combination with the political-ideological intervention of Communist and Workers' Parties, to the development of class consciousness.

7. Communists insist on the adoption of goals of struggle that respond to the contemporary needs of workers and their families (on employment, wages, social rights, public services, social services, education, health, retirement, housing, high living costs...). Communists struggle for the right to work, for better working conditions, for social security rights, for equal rights and equal treatment for women etc. in order to obtain better conditions for the sale of the workers' labor power and a better protection from excessive exploitation by employers. However, the position of the working class as wage slaves in the relations of production does not and cannot change, no matter how many gains it achieves through its struggle.

8. It is by means of their role in daily struggles that communists win the confidence of the toiling masses, proving that they are the best advocates of their general or long-term interests. It is by means of daily struggles that a better correlation of forces is built for the ultimate confrontation with the monopolies and the bourgeoisie. It is mainly by means of daily struggles, and not by means of elections, that the masses prepare for greater victories. Communist and Workers' Parties participate in elections and parliaments to extend their audience and create better conditions for class struggle. The masses are aware that under capitalism nothing is ever achieved definitively, even more so today, when capitalism does not make any concessions but on the contrary abolishes rights that have existed for decades.

But even if all concessions are partial, temporary and soon to be put into question, communists fight to obtain results, because partial victories are important to boost the people's morale.

9. Socialist revolution is the end result and the culminating point of a great number of partial struggles that converge in a qualitative step when "the 'lower classes' do not want to live in the old way and the 'upper classes' cannot carry on in the old way" (V.I. Lenin, Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder). As long as capitalism exists, the working class and the peoples will struggle for the improvement of their living and working conditions, for political, social and democratic rights to pave the way for people's sovereignty. Any struggle for the improvement of the conditions of the working class can go in two directions. If it

creates illusions in the system, it will end up consolidating the dictatorship of the monopolies. If, on the contrary, it arouses the consciousness of the masses, strengthens their organizations and gathers energy for future battles, it creates a better correlation of forces to advance towards socialism. This depends in the first place on the leadership that the communists are able to give to the struggle.

10. The communists fulfil their vanguard role during working class, people's and youth struggles and try to formulate the objectives of the struggles according to people's needs. If the masses are willing to mobilize for certain demands, communists have the duty to support them and to help them actively. But they also have the duty consciously to link tactics with strategy in such a way that the former serve the latter, and to ensure that the struggle for immediate demands serves the preparation of the working class for victory at the level of power, for the abolition of monopoly power and of exploitation of man by man.

What contemptible dissembling slyness and opportunism, which for all the preamble about "the crisis" continues to behave in the same old half-hearted moralising "steady change for the better" manner.

What is all this idiocy about "obtaining better conditions for the sale of workers labour" at a point where the world is sliding into a maelstrom-scale whirlpool of financial collapse in which the ruling class everywhere is stepping up the most vicious class war to strip away not only the "gains" of the post-war reformist period but every shred of workers living standards, intent of driving them as far back down into slave level exploitation as can be managed, and all the way to the desperation of the Third World pittance payments if possible (using all the new tools of labour export, call centre contracts, "outsourcing" and so forth to undercut them as much as possible, draconian workhouse imposition of unemployment fear and despair, and stepping up all the mechanisms of police and state repression and violence to break up and destroy all resistance and potential organised fightback).

What advocacy of "long-term interests" would fail to warn the working class that not only are their "gains" being torn up but that warmongering destruction is on the way, of a scale and horror which will be far worse than even the Great War and blitzkrieging Second World Wars of the twentieth century (and for many in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere, already has been)?

What utter gobshite is this tailending witter about "adopting the goals of struggle that respond to the contemporary needs of workers".

The only "contemporary need" is to end capitalism but not a word of explanation is given about how such struggle will emerge or rather is already emerging across the world.

How are things going for the British working class with "the improvement of their living and working conditions" at present which it is supposed will "strengthen their organizations and gather energy for future battles"???

There is no "improvement", just the most savage cuts, welfare collapse and "austerity" Slump deprivation, unemployment and homelessness being imposed everywhere and even that hardly yet started, as warning after warning makes clear.

What matters in any battles which stir the working class into action is precisely that they will not of their own accord "strengthen" anything.

Only introducing the fight for revolutionary understanding can begin to strengthen the working class, precisely by exposing to them the fraudulence and criminally disarming nonsense of all kinds of fake-"lefts" in conscious open polemic, to work through all the past errors and flaws of the great struggles so far and most of all of course the liquidation of the Soviet Union.

It is this overriding revolutionary development within all the battles that the working class is forced into that gives strength, whether or not particular reform demands or, currently, "defence of conditions" struggles succeed or fail in themselves.

It was not the great setback of the miners strike failure in 1984 which was the historic significance of that heroic and titanic struggle but the historic working through of the greatest ever reformist trade union battle (after a century of such battles), demonstrating for all time that old-style class collaborating trade unionism had reached its limits.

Pinning the working class's hopes on pushing the ruling class into granting "concessions" - the subsidising of, and investment in, the coal industry under the "Plan for Coal" which Scargillism insisted could be forced out of a Labour government, was the failure, when the miners were up against a civil war minded ruling class that already knew it had to break the old reformist compromises if it was to survive the coming trade war and slump collapses of the capitalist crisis, brewing up strongly by the 1980s and particularly threatening the moribund and incompetent British ruling class, up against much more efficient capitalist rivals worldwide, like Germany and Japan.

What was needed then was the exposure of such reformist limitations to the struggle, as the "Plan for Coal" was, and a revolutionary perspective that would have developed an entire militant working class section (from the most militant and coherent section of a determined and historically experienced working class) with a growing revolutionary understanding, potentially the cadre core of the crucial Leninist party perhaps, which is more and more urgently needed as the crisis has lurched much further downwards since.

That would have been a huge gain for working class strength despite the eventual loss of the particular strike in itself.

Drawing those revolutionary lessons even now, 30 years later, is still a way to give strength to the working class, namely scientific revolutionary understanding applied to the inevitable great battles-to-survive that must soon emerge (even against the best efforts of the craven class-collaborating TUC and Labourism to put it off.)

Even sharper lessons can emerge from the live titanic upheavals now sweeping the world, but these go unmentioned.

Especially crucial would be to take up the vital and urgent question of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the crucial defence that the working class will need to defend against vicious and violent counter-revolutionary warmongering and overt state suppression that the ruling class is turning to, and will turn to with ever greater Nazi depravity as its historic class rule is shaken more and more by the crisis and the revolts it is causing. Instead this entire Belgian perspective is one of justification and excuse-making for NOT explaining revolution, camouflaged with the odd formalised allusion to revolution which is nothing but sly tricksiness around giveaway obscurantist phrases about "goals of struggle" and "long-term interests" to be "aimed at" "ultimately" as the "end result and the culminating point" etc.

But not right now it seems even when the world has exploded into crisis and the evidence for Marxism's grasp of the impossibility of changing anything by reformism overwhelming.

Where is the understanding and significance of the astonishing great Egyptian revolt?? The bitter turmoil of Greece?

Where is the leadership?

The 59 parties in Belgium are not getting close to such battles. The compatriot KKE Greek communists still do not organise for revolution even though the intractability of the crisis is glaring in Greece.

Apart from some woolly phrasing about linking the "strategic aims of socialism" to the tactical issues of daily struggles, there is not the remotest emphasis on the overriding priority in all situations to explain to the working class that the cause of all the misery imposed on the world, and the racist, squabbling bitterness and desperation, is capitalism, especially in slump.

This Belgian nonsense abandons the open struggle for revolution with the tailending excuse that the "masses are not ready".

The necessity for Marxism-Leninism to build revolutionary understanding and organisation – which is obviously the vital immediate step for the world - is turned from a direct battle for such perspectives into a reason not to put this forwards.

Communists should fight for reforms in other words, say these conclusions.

Out of this will emerge revolutionary development allegedly, virtually of its own accord.

In spite of the preamble about the "objective necessity of socialism does not spontaneously become a subjective conviction", the masses are then declared to be able to draw their own conclusions about the need for revolution apparently, "by means of daily struggles" in which they are already "aware that under capitalism nothing is ever achieved definitively."

This is a complete nonsense – if they are already "aware" why can they not be capable of being "aware" of the need for revolution?

What Marxism has always understood, and the whole of Lenin's writings were about is that such spontaneous awareness does not grow out of daily (limited economic) struggle, and that the task of revolutionary leadership is to fight for such awareness, precisely because it does NOT exist, but comes about through the deliberate scientific study and struggle for theory (through polemical battling to sort out conflicts and differences).

Such glimmers of spontaneous understanding that might appear, are headed off anyway and swamped in the hoodwinking lies and opportunism of the reformist "left" which have to be exposed in continuous and vigorous struggle.

But these "communists" in Belgium are part of just that swamp, themselves fostering all the old illusions.

Typical giveaway notions are those such as "start from an assessment of the level of organization and consciousness of the masses", when the whole of Lenin's understanding from the beginning was of the need to fight for the highest revolutionary perspectives, lifting consciousness with a constant fight to take understanding way beyond "daily struggles", the limiting and consciousness hampering methodology of the entire Economist trend which the Bolsheviks battled with in the earliest days.

Communists do not "insist on the adoption of goals of struggle that respond to the contemporary needs of workers" but on the entire broad world wide and long view historic perspective of the need for revolution.

What a miserable excuse it is to declare "If the masses are willing to mobilize for certain demands, communists have the duty to support them" covering this with the woolly phrase that they have a "duty to link tactics with strategy in such a way that the former serve the latter".

In fact sometimes working class demands need to be opposed including for example racist anti-immigration demands and plenty of other Little Englander "British jobs for British workers" chauvinism.

These are all excuses for reformism, justified by the incorrect statement that "Socialist revolution is the end result and the culminating point of a great number of partial struggles that converge in a qualitative step".

Revolution, in this CPs' statement, is just a kind of super-reformism, when enough "gains" have been steadily piled up which will gently tip over into a "qualitative step" of virtually automatic "revolution" with just a bit of "linking" needed to "strategic aims".

And meanwhile "as long as capitalism exists" we "struggle for improvement".

Reforms again in other words, the same old opportunist pretence that has tied the working class down for 150 years and headed them away from the crucial understanding that only revolution is going to get them out from underneath the non-stop tyranny and exploitation of the profit-making system, and its constant return to collapse, Slump and "ultimately" devastating world war.

The same pretence has fostered and developed decades of the worst illusions and confusions about "democracy" and the possibilities of "peaceful road" progress, disarming the working class over and over again and leading it to the slaughter when capitalism's counter-revolution seized the opportunity to violently and brutally suppress the possibility of such "qualitative change".

The only qualitative change the workers in Chile saw in 1973 after three years of Salvador Allende-led CP "participation in elections and parliaments to extend their audience and create better conditions for class struggle" was the counter-revolution, an overnight change to savage fascist oppression, and disappearances.

The perspective of taking up the "daily struggles" and accumulating changes until they tipped over to socialism completely disarmed the proletariat (as it is doing all over again in Latin America, where the Honduras coup and now the Paraguay toppling of yet another "progressive reforms" president prove the constant subversion and counter-revolutionary plotting - over 400 wars, coups and assassinations etc in the 20th century - continues non-stop).

Thousands of Chileans were dragged off to suffer torture and mass killings because they had been convinced that "steady progress" could be made by an "elected" socialist government, left completely and deliberately unarmed to protect themselves not only physically but more importantly not armed with the understanding that only the dictatorship of the proletariat will ever suffice to stop the capitalists using every brutal fascist dirty trick and violence going to restore their privilege and power.

Just "linking" the struggle for current demands to some far off hazy notion of revolution (which these parties never do in practice at support meetings and debates anyway) is complete evasion of the battle to understand that revolution alone confronts them, and especially now the crisis is tearing millions of lives to pieces everywhere.

This "accumulating gains" theory is guaranteed to do just the opposite of "linking" understanding to revolution, by fostering the conclusion that if step-by-step improvement can be made, then the entire need for revolution has gone away anyway.

It originates in the nonsense of "containment" of an allegedly hamstrung imperialism, advanced by Stalin in 1952, which would see a vibrant communism gradually out-produce and out-compete imperialism, gradually overcoming it, with only "peace struggle" needed to stop its aggressive tendencies sporadically causing isolated war problems (see EPSR 1190-96 for full polemic on this).

The CPs justify all this capitulation with the notion that the working class is "not ready".

What – in Egypt for example??? This is an astonishing, gigantic, sudden and explosively revolutionary mass rebellion that only Leninism has been predicting and identifying (pointing for over a decade at the rising Third World struggle - including all kinds of confusions, "terrorism" and insurgency, as the world revolution in embryo) which has got nothing to do with slow accumulation of reforms and everything to do with the accumulation of revolutionary contradictions suddenly erupting which Leninism alone describes and analyses.

It cries out for a revolutionary Marxist leadership.

Communists have a duty to battle for the highest level of consciousness, drawing in as the much-mocked term has it, the vanguard, the frontrunner advanced workers in unity and conflict with them, battling their illusions and exposing the false and opportunist ideologies which confuse and divert them, who then in turn will able to draw the more slowly developing grasp of the masses along by explaining and fighting for revolutionary consciousness and exposing everything which hampers it.

This whole "conclusions" document is pure excuse making, the exact opposite of the "duty to heighten consciousness" so airily declaimed in the early paragraphs.

It nothing but a cleaned-up polite version of "blaming the workers" for "not getting it" which Lenin spat contempt for.

Whether or not the workers are willing to mobilise for "certain demands" is not the main determinant of what Marxism and Leninism has to do, which is to constantly struggle to grasp and articulate the highest level of understanding of the revolutionary nature of the world, the stage that the accumulating contradictions of capitalism's class struggle has reached and the necessities this imposes on everyone to change the world entirely.

Lenin and the Bolsheviks' great struggle against economism (a trend declaring the workers should limit themselves to day to day demands) against reformism and opportunism, the split with the Second International which tore open the workers movement in 1914 and most of 45 volumes of polemic and struggle against liquidationism, and class-collaboration in the workers movement, might just as well never have been fought and written.

"Oh" reply the 59 "but we say workers's demands should be 'linked' to the demand for socialism." It is utter humbug, a cover up for what in practice is not more than tailending non-revolutionary consciousness and pursuing "reforms", including the misleading, disarming and fatuous notions of "peace struggle" and all the single issue petty bourgeois individualist distractions (feminism, "gay rights", black nationalism, eco-struggle, global warming etc etc) that capitalism uses to head understanding AWAY from the core issue of revolution.

The 59 CP party comrades make no bones about it, further into their statement:

11. Under capitalism, communists struggle for reforms to improve the situation and further the rights of the working class. As Lenin said, reforms have two sides. On one side, a reform is a conquest from the perspective of the working class. On the other side, reforms can be a tool for keeping the working class within the capitalist system : "The reformists try to divide and deceive the workers, to divert them from the class struggle by petty concessions. But the workers, having seen through the falsity of reformism, utilize reforms to develop and broaden their class struggle." (Lenin, Marxism and Reformism)

12. While communists fight right-wing opportunism, they have to be vigilant in face of the danger of left-wing opportunism. It is wrong to treat daily struggles for immediate demands with contempt. Communists place themselves in the tradition of Marx, Lenin and the First and Third International.

This attempts to mobilise Lenin (with the usual misunderstood and limited quote references to "Left Wing Communism") in a pretence that the Bolsheviks were actually for reforms.

Up to a point Lord Copper, and only with a very specific understanding that the purpose of participating in any the struggle for reforms was only ever done in order to further revolutionary understanding, directly and consciously.

Just so there can be no confusion, here is just some more of what Lenin said as quoted previously in a never-answered polemic against Lalkar in EPSR 1170:

§ 12. We neither can nor will help "in every way" to improve the conditions of the workers under the present circumstances. For instance, we cannot help in the Zubatov fashion, and even if Zubatov corruption is involved we shall not do that. We fight only for such improvement of the workers' conditions as will raise their capacity to wage the class struggle, i.e., when the improvement of conditions is not bound up with corruption of political consciousness, with police tutelage, with being tied down to a given locality, with subjugation to a "benefactor", with a lowering of human dignity, etc. etc. Precisely in Russia, where the autocracy is so much inclined (and is becoming more and more inclined) to buy itself off from revolution with various hand-outs and sham reforms, it is our duty to draw a clear line of demarcation between ourselves and all sorts of "reformers." We also fight for reforms, but by no means "in every way"; we fight for reforms only in Social-Democratic fashion, only in a revolutionary way.

§ 14 formulates the content and the tasks of economic agitation in too narrow a way. The latter is not confined to strikes alone. We need "better conditions," not only for the cultural development of the proletariat, but particularly for its revolutionary development. The "active role" of Social-Democrats in strikes does not end with encouraging the struggle for improvements in economic conditions. Strikes (like economic agitation in general) should always be used to encourage the revolutionary struggle for freedom and for socialism as well. Strikes should be used for political agitation also.

§ 15 is also most unsatisfactory. Strikes are not the "best" means of struggle, but only one of the means, and not always necessarily one of the best means. We must recognise the importance of strikes, make use of them and lead them at all times - but it would be all the more dangerous to exaggerate their importance, the more this has been done by the "economists."

What is said further about strikes is redundant: it has already been stated in § 14. A reference to leadership of the economic struggle in general would have been sufficient. This leadership may sometimes consist in deterring from strike action. The programme expresses itself in too absolute a fashion, and for this very reason too restrictedly. The programme should have spoken about the task in general, that of leading the economic struggle of the proletariat, of making it more organised and conscious, of organising workers' trade unions and endeavouring to develop them into all-Russian organisations, of utilising every strike, every manifestation of economic oppression, etc., for the most widespread socialist and revolutionary propaganda and agitation.

The end of § 15 limits the tasks of this agitation, making the use of political  agitation depend, as it were, on action by the police, etc. Actually, however, we must try to use political agitation (and this is quite possible if the leaders are at all capable) before action by these "archangels", and irrespective of that action. It should have been formulated more generally: "to take advantage of all and every opportunity for political agitation," etc.

The end of § 15 is also incorrect. It is the less fitting for us to speak of "general strikes," the less opportunity we in Russia have of preparing them. And, in general, there is no reason for speaking specially about "general" strikes in programmes (remember the absurd "general strike" in the pamphlet, Who Will Carry Out the Political Revolution?" After all, such misunderstandings are also possible). To declare that strikes are "the best means of developing class-consciousness" is also absolutely incorrect.

As a whole, a serious revision of the programme would be highly desirable. In general it would also be desirable for the Northern League to take an active part both in the unification of revolutionary Social-Democracy in a party and in the preparation of the, Party programme.


"We must choose" - this is the argument the opportunists have always used to justify themselves, and they are using it now. Big things cannot be achieved at one stroke. We must fight for small but achievable things. How do we know whether they are achievable? They are achievable if the majority of the political parties, or of the most "influential" politicians, agree with them. The larger the number of politicians who agree with some tiny improvement, the easier it is to achieve it. We must not be utopians and strive after big things. We must be practical politicians; we must join in the demand for small things, and these small things will facilitate the fight for the big ones. We regard the small things as the surest stage in the struggle for big things.

That is how all the opportunists, all the reformists, argue; unlike the revolutionaries. That is how the Rightwing Social-Democrats argue about a Duma Cabinet. The demand for a constituent assembly is a big demand. It cannot be achieved immediately. By no means everyone is consciously in favour of this demand.* But the whole State Duma, that is to say, the vast majority of politicians - that is to say "the whole people" - is in favour of a Duma Cabinet. We must choose - between the existing evil and a very small rectification of it, because the largest number of those who are in general dissatisfied with the existing evil are in favour of this "very small" rectification. And by achieving the small thing, we shall facilitate our struggle for the big one.

We repeat: this is the fundamental, the typical argument of all opportunists all over the world. To what conclusion does this argument inevitably lead? To the conclusion that we need no revolutionary programme, no revolutionary party, and no revolutionary tactics. What we need are reforms, nothing more. We do not need a revolutionary Social-Democratic Party. What we need is a party of democratic and socialist reforms. Indeed, is it not clear that there will always be people who admit that the existing state of affairs is unsatisfactory? Of course, always. Is it not also clear that the largest number of discontented people will always be in favour of the smallest rectification of this unsatisfactory situation? Of course, always. Consequently, it is our duty, the duty of advanced and "class conscious" people, always to support the smallest demands for the rectification of an evil. This is the surest and most practical  policy to pursue; and all talk about "fundamental" demands, and so forth, is  merely the talk of "utopians", merely "revolutionary phrasemongering". We must choose - and we must always choose between the existing evil and the most moderate of the schemes in vogue for its rectification.

That is exactly how the German opportunist Social-Democrats argued. They said, in effect: There is a social-liberal trend which demands the repeal of the anti-socialist laws, a reduction of the working day, insurance against illness, and so on. A fairly large section of the bourgeoisie supports these demands. Do not repel it by tactless conduct, offer it a friendly hand, support it, and then you will be practical politicians, you will achieve small, but real benefits for the working class, and the only thing that will suffer from your tactics will be the empty words about "revolution". You cannot make a revolution now, in any case. One must choose between reaction and reform.

The French ministerial socialists argued exactly like the Bernsteinians.'" They said in effect: We must choose between reaction and the bourgeois radicals, who promise a number of practical reforms. We must support these radicals, support their Cabinets; phrases about social revolution are merely the chatter of "Blanquists", "anarchists", "utopians", and so forth.

What is the main flaw in' all these opportunist 'arguments? It is that in fact they substitute the bourgeois theory of "united", "social" progress for the socialist theory of the class struggle as the only real driving force of history. According to the theory of socialism, i.e., of Marxism (non-Marxist socialism is not worth serious discussion nowadays), the real driving force of history is the revolutionary class struggle; reforms are a subsidiary product of this struggle, subsidiary because they express unsuccessful attempts to weaken, to blunt this struggle, etc. According to the theory of bourgeois philosophers, the driving force of progress is the unity of all elements in society who realise the "imperfections" of certain of its institutions. The first theory is materialist; the second is idealist. The first is revolutionary; the second is reformist. The first serves as the basis for the tactics of the proletariat in modern capitalist countries. The second serves as the basis of the tactics of the bourgeoisie.

A logical deduction from the second theory is the tactics of ordinary bourgeois progressives: always and everywhere support "what is better"; choose between reaction and the extreme Right of the forces that are opposed to reaction. A logical deduction from the first theory is that the advanced class must pursue independent revolutionary tactics. We shall never reduce our tasks to that of supporting the slogans of the reformist bourgeoisie that are most in vogue. We pursue an independent policy and put forward only such reforms as are undoubtedly favourable to the interests of the revolutionary struggle, that undoubtedly enhance the independence, class-consciousness and fighting efficiency of the proletariat. Only by such tactics can reforms from above, which are always halfhearted, always hypocritical, and always conceal some bourgeois or police snare, be made innocuous.

More than that. Only by such tactics can real progress be achieved in the matter of important reforms. This may sound paradoxical, but its truth is confirmed by the whole history of the international Social-Democratic movement. Reformist tactics are the least likely to secure real reforms. The most effective way to secure real reforms is to pursue the tactics of the revolutionary class struggle. Actually, reforms are won as a result of the revolutionary class struggle, as a result of its independence, mass force and steadfastness. Reforms are always false, ambiguous and permeated with the spirit of Zubatovism31; they are real only in proportion to the intensity of the  class struggle. By merging our slogans with those of the reformist bourgeoisie  we weaken the cause of revolution and, consequently, the cause of reform as well, because we thereby diminish the independence, fortitude and strength of the revolutionary classes.

To forget the real significance of such a reform, as an attempt on the part of the Cadets to strike a bargain with the autocracy, means substituting the liberal-bourgeois philosophy of progress for Marxism. By supporting such a reform, by including it among our slogans, we dim the revolutionary consciousness of the proletariat and weaken its independence and fighting capacity. By upholding our old revolutionary slogans in their entirety, we

Strengthen the actual struggle, and thereby increase the probability of reforms and the possibility of turning them to the advantage of the revolution, and not of reaction.


The aim of the proletarian party is not to do deals or haggle with the powers that be, not to engage in the hopeless patching-up of the regime of the feudalist-bourgeois dictatorship of counter-revolution, but to develop in every way the class-consciousness, the socialist clarity of thought, the revolutionary determination and all-round organisation of the mass of the workers. Every step in the activity of the Duma group must serve this fundamental aim. Therefore more attention must be paid to promoting the aims of socialist revolution from the Duma rostrum. Efforts must be made to ensure that speeches should more often be heard from the Duma rostrum propagandising the fundamental conceptions and aims of socialism, namely, of scientific socialism.


We cannot know beforehand how soon we shall achieve success, how soon the objective conditions will make the rise of this revolution possible. We should support every improvement, every real economic and political improvement in the position of the masses. The difference between us and the reformists (i.e., the Grütlians in Switzerland) is not that we oppose reforms while they favour them. Nothing of the kind. They confine themselves to reforms and as a result stoop - in the apt expression of one (rare!) revolutionary writer in the Schweizerische Metallarbeiter-Zeitung (No. 40) - to the role of "hospital orderly for capitalism". We tell the workers: vote for proportional representation, etc., but don't stop at that. Make it your prime duty systematically to spread the idea of immediate socialist revolution, prepare for this revolution and radically reconstruct every aspect of party activity. The conditions of bourgeois democracy very often compel us to take a certain stand on a multitude of small and petty reforms, but we must be able, or learn, to take such a position on these reforms (in such a manner) that - to oversimplify the matter for the sake of clarity - five minutes of every half-hour speech are devoted to reforms and twenty-five minutes to the coming revolution.


(e) Socialists must centre their activity on the struggle against reformism, which has always corrupted the revolutionary-labour movement by injecting bourgeois ideas, and has now assumed a somewhat special form, namely, "reliance" on the reforms the bourgeoisie is supposed to carry out after the war! Reformists argue that in urging, popularising and preparing the socialist revolution of the proletariat, we are "losing sight" of the "practical" aspect, "forfeiting" our chances to win reforms.

That argument, customary both to social-chauvinists and supporters of Kautsky, who has even denounced street demonstrations as "adventuristic", is thoroughly unscientific, fundamentally false, a bourgeois lie.

In the course of the war world capitalism has taken a forward step not only towards concentration in general, but also towards transition from monopoly in general to state capitalism on a much broader scale than before. Economic reforms in this direction are inevitable.

However, it does not follow from this that Social-Democrats can, without betraying their cause, "vote" for or support such imperialist "reforms".

Only bourgeois reformism, which in substance is the position of Kautsky, Turati and Merrheim, poses the question thus: either renunciation of revolution and that means reforms. or no reforms at all.

Yet all the experience of world history, like the experience of the 1905 Russian Revolution, teaches us the very opposite: either revolutionary class struggle, of which reforms are always a by-product (when the revolution is not completely successful), or no reforms at all.

For the only effective force that compels change is popular revolutionary energy, providing it does not remain on paper, as has been the case in the Second International, but finds expression in comprehensive mass revolutionary propaganda, agitation and organisation conducted by parties marching at the head of the revolution, not limping along in its tail.

Only by openly proclaiming revolution, by purging the workers' parties of all who oppose revolution or "sceptically" accept it - only by giving every aspect of party activity a revolutionary content, can Social-Democracy, in such "critical" eras of world history as the present one, guarantee the masses either complete success of their cause if the revolution is supported by very broad masses, or reforms, i.e., concessions by the bourgeoisie, if the revolution is only partially successful.


The pretence that these CPs "link" reformist struggle to revolution is an outright lie.

Declaring that "by means of daily struggles a better correlation of forces is built for the ultimate confrontation with the monopolies and the bourgeoisie" is a sick evasion, because in such daily struggles there is not even 5% of the time in speeches devoted to the issue of revolution, let alone the 95% called for by Lenin.

Of course Leninists need to be involved with, and alongside, most the issues that bring the working class out into struggle but there is no argument about that.

The issue is the implication that Lenin was essentially for the struggle for reformism and would have supported a perspective of "waging the fight for social progress, democratic rights, proletarian internationalism etc" piece by piece.

Even the tactical use of reform struggle was highly specific to the immediate context Lenin said, used when revolutionary conditions were not immediately on the agenda, and in a situation in which there were still widespread illusions in parliament and various "left" parliamentary parties, including Labourism.

But the crisis is devastating already and parliament universally derided.

Tactically, election participation remains valid, but only with Lenin's understanding that the only reason to participate is to expose the whole hoodwinking game, using parliamentary platforms because they give an opportunity to speak out – for revolution.

But 1920s levels of illusion in parliament are long gone. Over a dozen governmental experiences of Labour in power have taught most of the working class widespread if not yet complete contempt, not just for such Labourite reformist "politicians", but for all bourgeois parliamentary democracy and much of the Establishment society as well.

Even petty bourgeois academicism makes these points:

A study into the state of democracy in Britain over the last decade warns it is in "long-term terminal decline" as the power of corporations keeps growing, politicians become less representative of their constituencies and disillusioned citizens stop voting or even discussing current affairs.

The report by Democratic Audit shared exclusively with the Guardian notes there have been many positive advances over the last 10 years: stronger select committees of MPs holding ministers and civil servants to account; devolution of power to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and publication of much more information about politicians' expenses and party donors. But it found evidence of many other areas where Britain appeared to have moved further away from its two benchmarks of representative democracy: control over political decision-making, and how fairly the system reflects the population it represents – a principle most powerfully embedded in the concept of one person, one vote.

Among its concerns, identified from databases of official statistics and public surveys, were that Britain's constitutional arrangements are "increasingly unstable" owing to changes such as devolution; public faith in democratic institutions "decaying"; a widening gap in the participation rates of different social classes of voters; and an "unprecedented" growth in corporate power, which the study's authors warn "threatens to undermine some of the most basic principles of democratic decision-making".

In an interview with the Guardian, Stuart Wilks-Heeg, the report's lead author, warned that Britons could soon have to ask themselves "whether it's really representative democracy any more?"

"The reality is that representative democracy, at the core, has to be about people voting, has to be about people engaging in political parties, has to be about people having contact with elected representatives, and having faith and trust in elected representatives, as well as those representatives demonstrating they can exercise political power effectively and make decisions that tend to be approved of," said Wilks-Heeg.

"All of that is pretty catastrophically in decline. How low would turnout have to be before we question whether it's really representative democracy at all?" The UK's democratic institutions were strong enough to keep operating with low public input, but the longer people avoided voting and remained disillusioned, the worse the problem would get, said Wilks-Heeg.

"Over time, disengagement skews the political process yet further towards those who are already more advantaged by virtue of their wealth, education or professional connections. And without mass political participation, the sense of disconnection between citizens and their representatives will inevitably grow."

Membership of political parties and election turnout has fallen significantly in the last decade, with only 1% of the electorate belonging to a party, and just over six out of 10 eligible voters going to the ballot box in the 2010 general election and barely one in three in European and local elections. But the depth of public disillusionment and the range of ways voters are turning away from politics revealed by the latest study could shock even those involved.

...For its fourth report in a series dating back to 1996, Democratic Audit examined dozens of data sets from Britain and other countries with democratic governments, legislation, public opinion surveys and research from other academics.

The report, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, found 74 "areas of improvement", ranging from the increasing use of the 1998 Human Rights Act to growing membership of smaller parties such as the Scottish Nationalist party and the Greens, which gained its first MP, Caroline Lucas, in 2010.

However, there were 92 areas in which the authors had "continuing concerns", such as the uncertainty over England's constitutional settlement as powers were increasingly devolved to the other three parts of the UK, and increasing evidence of press harassment; and a further 62 "new or emerging concerns", including electoral fraud and declining newspaper sales and audiences for TV news.

Britain also ranked below average compared with other wealthy democracies in the OECD and the EU, and even worse when measured against Nordic countries for issues from party membership and turnout to corruption, press freedom, income inequality and trade union membership.

...Recent attempts to rejuvenate democracy had not had much success: last year only 42% voted in a rare referendum on changing the voting system for general elections, and in May [2012] eight out of nine cities rejected the chance to have directly elected mayors like London. Among the changes that could stem or reverse the democratic drift would be stronger powers for MPs to hold ministers to account, and a written constitution to ensure institutions such as the Electoral Commission were not vulnerable to being abolished by future governments, said Wilks-Heeg.


One of the clearest plotlines of the Democratic Audit report – a study into the state of democracy in Britain over the last decade – is bound up with the huge decline in party membership, and in traditional political activism. Despite minor growth spurts, the last 50 years have seen the Conservatives come down from about 2 million members to 177,000, and Labour from almost 1 million to 194,000. In 1964, the then Liberal party claimed 280,000 members; the current figure for the Lib Dems is near 65,000.

The share of the British electorate who carry a party card was 10% in the 1960s, but is now a mere 1.1%, among the lowest figures in Europe. Even among those who are still members, rates of activism have come down. And other grim statistics abound: Labour mislaid over half its membership while it was in power, and since David Cameron became Tory leader the Conservatives have lost 81,000 members. Meanwhile, campaign machines have been centralised – and, as the report puts it, "The three main parties have become increasingly reliant on forms of corporate support as membership dues wither away."

...on a national level, Labour membership remains 4,000 lower than it was at the time of the Iraq war, and under a fifth of the size it was in the glory days of the first Wilson government. Here, though, they think they may have some kind of answer: the local party has led the charge away from the old model of Labour party meetings, at which the procedural equivalent of cabaret was provided by the obligatory monthly resolution (for the details, read John O'Farrell's Labour party memoir Things Can Only Get Better, set in the Battersea constituency). Each month, there's a discussion-based event often addressed by a member of the shadow cabinet, and party business seems informal, open, and prevailingly social, a bit like the Tories do it.

...For some people, this will not do at all. As the Labour party became hollowed out, a smattering of veteran activists tried to reverse the decline, and stop the squashing of Labour's last traces of internal democracy. But it's telling that their fate seems to be a microcosm of the wider decline of the party's membership. Six years ago, I can remember writing about a group called Save the Labour Party; but aptly enough, they could apparently not even save themselves: one of their founders, Peter Kenyon, describes their campaign as "languishing", and now dedicates his efforts to something called the Labour Democratic Network.

...When I ask them why they think parties have so shrunk, they mention the MPs' expenses crisis, and the modern deluge of information, from which people seem simply to switch off.

In fact cynicism and contempt runs even deeper than that – and worldwide (as the latest low turnout and presidential lection fixing scandal in Mexico underlines).

Limited consciousness and temporary world rejection of communism is the result now (among many other factors admittedly of capitalist boom culture described above) of the total failure of Stalinist revisionist philosophy over decades as these 59 parties confirm all over again.

Their stifling blockading of living polemical struggle for understanding, (despite a side hypocritical reference to "frank and open debate") has seen layer upon layer of cover-ups and evasions and constantly avoided debate about past mistakes and failures.

The glaring absence above of any serious look at the disintegration and liquidation of the Soviet Union, brushed quickly under the carpet as an unexplained "counter-revolution" is one, the tangles currently being made over capitalism's warmongering in the Middle East another - continuing to treat Putin's anti-communist bonapartism as if it were still part of anti-imperialism one element, covering up the craven revisionist capitulations of Beijing in joining the anti-Gaddafi condemnations over Libya another.

Past EPSR's have polemicised on a multitude of issues - such as the disastrous support by Lalkar/Proletarian, like all Stalinism, for the historically impossible and humiliating "two-state solution" compromise (retreat in fact) in Palestine and the support they gave for the class collaborating stooge Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority after the petty bourgeois opportunist Arafat died, a position swiftly abandoned without a word of explanation once it was revealed how dire the PA's class collaborating stoogery had become, (accepting CIA and Zionist money and training for PA security forces suppressing the continuing anti-Zionist revolt and going along with stealing the Hamas election in 2006 because Washington and Zionism refused to accept the democratic result).

Lalkar/Proletarian's sly switch to backing Hamas was done without a word of explanation or analysis – more dishonesty compounded with the even more anti-Marxist anti-dialectical confusion of all-out "support" for a backward religious ideology (Hamas Islamism) instead of following a Leninist understanding of calling for total defeat for Zionism and its imperialist backers against the Palestinians but without implying that Hamas was, at this stage, the future way forwards, which requires Marxism.)

Further tangles over Islamism follow in Libya and elsewhere with Lalkar/Proletarian supporting Gaddafi, but condemning Al-qaida islamism, - and yet supporting Taliban islamism in Afghanistan.

Utter confusion!!!

Even as the crisis drives tens of thousands of workers onto the streets throughout the world, and into numerous rebellions and struggles worldwide (some labelled "piracy" or "terrorism" or "insurgency" or "totalitarianism" for existing workers states and nationalist anti-imperialism) Revisionism continues to declare that "the workers are not ready"

That's why the need is ever more urgent to build Leninist understanding.

Don Hoskins


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