ALLIANCE Marxist-Leninist (North America) Number 34: June 2000


 "MORE ON THE SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY OF THE UK"
BEING A DEBATE: UPON THE NATURE OF THE TACTICS OF ENTRYISM, THE UNITED FRONT, AND WHAT IS LIQUIDATIONISM?



INTRODUCTION:  THIS ISSUE OF ALLIANCE IS IN TWO PARTS.
PART ONE: PART TWO: ALLIANCE REPLIES TO HILLIER


PART ONE: A Message to "The International Struggle Marxist-Leninist (ISML) List From Jim Hillier, formerly of Communist Action Group (CAG), Now of Socialist Labour Party (SLP).
 
Tue May 30, 2000 12:57pm 
Subject: On the SLP
I have just read Bill Bland's document on the SLP. I would like to make a few comments, in the hope of stimulating a debate here on the correct attitude of Marxist-Leninists to this new party. 

The vast majority of Bill Bland's piece does not deal with the SLP at all, but is rather a historical discussion of the origins and development of the Labour Party. This section is generally very good, following on as it does from a number of good works from Marxists dealing with this topic (notably Harpal Brar's Social Democracy, and Robert Clough's The Labour Party - A Party Fit for Imperialism, both of which are extensively quoted by Bill Bland). 

The section which deals specifically with the SLP is much shorter, and deals with its topic in much less detail. This section is far less satisfactory in my view. 

Bill Bland questions the nature of the SLP, and concludes that it is a social democratic party, albeit a left one. Challenging Harpal Brar to demonstrate otherwise, Bill Bland correctly notes that the adoption by the SLP of the old LP Clause Four proves nothing either way. More to the point, Bill Bland argues, the SLP constitution and published materials contain no mention of the dictatorship of the proletariat; on the contrary, where it does mention the state, it calls for a state "... whose institutions represent and are democratically controlled by, and accountable to, the people as a whole." 

Bill Bland correctly points out that this idea of a state of the whole people was put forward by the revisionist Khrushchov in opposition to the Marxist-Leninist concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

On the basis of this, Bill Bland concludes (capitals in the original): 
"THE TASK OF MARXIST-LENINISTS IN RELATION TO THE SLP IS THEREFORE NOT TO SUPPORT IT, BUT TO WORK TO EXPOSE IT AS A PARTY WHICH SERVES CAPITAL, WHICH SERVES THE ENEMIES OF THE WORKING CLASS." 

There are a number of problems with this analysis, but first let me state where I agree with Bill Bland. 

In the first place, the SLP's programme and other documents certainly do not constitute Marxist-Leninist texts, and they put forward classically social democratic perspectives above all with respect to the state. There is no clear call for proletarian revolution, no mention even of the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

The difference with Khrushchov, though, is important. The CPSU under Khrushchov introduced the state of the whole people *against* the party's M-L positions. Scargill, on the other hand, is not emerging from a principled M-L party, but from the Labour Party. Furthermore, he is moving in a leftward trajectory. In this context, while the statement regarding the state demonstrates that his break with social democracy ideologically is by no means complete, it is not conclusive as to the likely future development of either comrade Scargill or his party. 

On this point, writing in the press of Communist Action when it existed, I stressed that though the SLP was not a Communist Party, nonetheless its formation was to be welcomed as it represented the tradition of what I called class struggle Labourism. In the present political situation, class struggle Labourism has some potential to give the lead to workers in struggle. 

This class struggle Labourism is the *starting point* of the SLP. How it will develop in the course of the class struggles that are developing in Britain depends on a number of factors. Even at the outset, though, we can point to a number of positive developments.  

Firstly, Scargill has stated publicly - both in mass meetings and on TV - that he is a Marxist. This already is a step to the left compared to the Bennite left in the Labour Party which he was formerly associated with.  

Secondly, the SLP and Scargill personally has adopted a very firm approach with respect to whether or not the 
law should be obeyed, answering a clear *no* if that law goes against working class interests, such as is the case with the trade union laws. This is something far more radical than traditional labourism.  
Thirdly, after a period in which all kind of Trotskyists joined the SLP with their own agendas and their own methods, Scargill and those who have stood with him have effectively driven them out.  

Fourthly, and related to this, a number of Marxist-Leninists, including of course Harpal Brar, have joined the SLP and have a perceptible influence within in. 

None of these is decisive. But to dismiss the SLP now, from the outset, as just another Labour Party is to ignore any possibility for transforming that party from within. 

On this point, to argue now, at this juncture, that we ought to expose the SLP as a party which serves capital is entirely wide of the mark.  

In what way has the SLP served capital? The few things it has done so far - for example the Liverpool Dockers - is to support workers struggles against capital. Perhaps Bill Bland knows of dark deeds by the SLP which I am unaware of, but as far as I can see the SLP has offered and carried out no services whatsoever for capital at this stage.
So far, then, there is nothing to expose at the level of its actions. What, then, of its ideology? It is not a communist party, that much is clear. But there are communists within it. Who is to say that those communists, who are able to express themselves openly both within the SLP press (for example the youth paper, Spark) and through independent organs (for example Lalkar), will not be able to win the party to a thoroughly M-L position in the future? 

They may win, they may lose, but the outcome is not pre-ordained. 

I would accept it if Bill Bland said that Marxist-Leninists ought to expose the present ideological positions of the SLP, but he says much more than this. What, then, should the attitude of M-L's outside of the SLP be to those who are fighting within to win it to Communism? 

I was formerly in the position of being an M-L outside the SLP. The view of the CAG when it existed was that the SLP was a potential ally, but that it was not a communist party and that it was not a substitute for a communist party. Harpal Brar's response was that it has the potential to become a communist party if we fight within it. 

Yet this point is not at all addressed by Bill Bland. Without even stating that there are those within the SLP who are fighting for precisely this, he dismisses the possibility of such transformation without even acknowledging it. This is not the correct way for M-L's to deal with a new phenomenon within the working class like the SLP. 

Finally, and fundamentally, Bill Bland sees the SLP as social democratic, pure and simple. He ignores the contradictions within it, and he ignores what makes Scargillism, for want of a better term, distinct within British Labourism: namely its commitment to wage the class struggle by whatever means necessary. Objectively, Scargill has been to the left of most of the self-styled revolutionaries in Britain just about every time he has been put to the test. No communist, true enough, but a damned good fighter for his class. 
Given his commitment to fight, and his ideological entrapment within left-reformism with regard to the state and revolution, something has to give with the SLP as it confronts its tasks. Either it will capitulate, or it will transform itself. It could go either way, in my view.  

I have decided to lend my forces *within* the SLP; others have chosen to stay outside. That is their choice. The danger, though, with the position taken up by Bill Bland is that it pits him and those who go down the same road *against* the communists within the SLP. The latter are fighting against social democratic ideas and policies within the SLP, while the former are denouncing the whole SLP project as serving the interests of capital. Once again, real life is throwing up barricades, as those who style themselves Marxist-Leninists are finding themselves on opposed sides. 

With the SLP, M-Ls have the opportunity to fuse with a fighting section of the working class, and to influence them within the same organisation. Bill Bland's position is to reject this as a waste of time, as doomed to failure, at the outset.  
For communism 

Jim Hillier  


PART 2: A Reply To Hillier; By Alliance Marxist-Leninist

Part 2. Introduction

Jim Hillier – formerly of the Communist Action Group – is now is a member of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP). In the main, Hillier offers a thoughtful position – one that is genuinely worthy of response. A trace does remain, of an older (hopefully by now almost fully deceased) sectarian, "small-minded-jibing" approach – such as this:

"The vast majority of Bill Bland's piece does not deal with the SLP at all, but is rather a historical discussion of the origins and development of the Labour Party. This section is generally very good, following on as it does from a number of good works from Marxists dealing with this topic (notably Harpal Brar's Social Democracy, and Robert Clough's The Labour Party - A Party Fit for Imperialism, both of which are extensively quoted by Bill Bland)."
Hillier; Ibid.
What on earth does Hillier imply by this comment? As Bland has pointed out, Brar’s work is "on the whole excellent" - Hillier notes that Bland cites Brar. Indeed where appropriate, Bland quotes him at length: "Harpal Brar, in his on-the-whole excellent study of social-democracy, is undoubtedly correct when he says:
"As to Clause Four an assortment of Trotskyite and revisionist organisations perceive it as an expression of Marxian socialism, which must be defended and which makes the Labour Party an anti-capitalist party deserving of working class and communist support... As a matter of fact, Clause Four has little to do with socialism. On the contrary, it was an anti-Communist provision born out of the historical circumstances ushered in by the October Revolution in the aftermath of the First Imperialist World War. The October Revolution . . . had set a rather infectious example to the working class the world over. . .
With force alone, the bourgeoisie could not hope to cope with this challenge. Labour needed much deceit and trickery to forestall such a development. Clause Four was the answer of the thoroughly imperialist and unashamedly racist leadership of the Labour Party".
(Harpal Brar (1995): op. cit.; p. 83-84). Cited  Bland "The SLP"; at NCMLU
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The National Committee For Marxist-Leninist Unity was previously called the National Committee for the Marxist-Leninist Party
Actually, the Communist League (Of which Bland is a Founding Member)– were among the first to positively review Brar’s work in their press. Is Hillier suggesting that Bland's work is a pastiche of Brar? If so – he should say so openly. He would be rather absurd to take this position, for Brar has no monopoly on what Engels and Lenin say about the Labour Party! Glancing at the references used by Bland and those by Brar reassures the un-biased person that Bland’s work is not a pastiche. We will leave this silly jibe of Hillier aside.

But, Hillier does make some valid, serious political comments that deserve attention.
Hillier agrees with Bland, that support of the infamous Clause 4 – is not a marker of a Communist identify. However the web site of the SLP (see http://www.socialist-labour-party.org.uk/) has a very nice picture of Arthur Scargill - but  scant information about what it is that the SLP represents.
Except, for one thing.
The SLP does highlight on its’ web-site –that very same much lamented and demised - Clause 4 of the Labour Party.
So we are grateful to Hillier for his clearly stated views of the SLP. In particular we feel Hillier has addressed:

Hillier replies to Bland’s article by laying out the present situation of the SLP and the development of the SLP. We  first summarise Hillier’s views below. We then analyse Hillier's views.


PART 2 (1). A REPRISE OF HILLIER'S VIEWS
Hillier's Viewpoint 1: What The SLP Is Currently:

Hillier does not dispute that a Clause 4 – does not make a Communist party. He is clear that on this, he agrees with Bland:

"Bill Bland correctly notes that the adoption by the SLP of the old LP Clause Four proves nothing either way. More to the point, Bill Bland argues, the SLP constitution and published materials contain no mention of the dictatorship of the proletariat; on the contrary, where it does mention the state, it calls for a state "... whose institutions represent and are democratically controlled by, and accountable to, the people as a whole." There is no disagreement then between Hillier and (we take it) Brar on the one hand - and Bland, the NCMLU, and Alliance – that the SLP is NOT a Communist party.

Bu it seems that for Hillier, precisely because the SLP is born of the Labour Party - and did not come out of a previous Communist Party –nothing conclusive can be determined about its’ status vis-à-vis social democracy:

"Scargill, on the other hand, is not emerging from a principled M-L party, but from the Labour Party. Furthermore, he is moving in a leftward trajectory. In this context, while the statement regarding the state demonstrates that his break with social democracy ideologically is by no means complete, it is not conclusive as to the likely future development of either comrade Scargill or his party." But really what Hillier is saying is simply: ‘Stay tuned’. Since Marxists-Leninists argue that ‘nothing is immutable’ – Hillier is of course right in this. But if the SLP is not a communist formation – but yet it is not a social democratic formation (since Hillier argues that this is not ‘conclusive’) what is it then according to Hillier? Hillier represents it as: "class struggle Labourism": "I stressed that though the SLP was not a Communist Party, nonetheless its formation was to be welcomed as it represented the tradition of what I called class struggle Labourism. In the present political situation, class struggle Labourism has some potential to give the lead to workers in struggle. This class struggle Labourism is the *starting point* of the SLP." So the starting point of the SLP is "class struggle Labourism". Where does Hillier feel this leads the SLP? This is the second main point of Hillier’s– the "trajectory" of the SLP.

Hillier’s Viewpoint 2: On The Potential Development Of The SLP

Hillier states that it is as yet, unclear, in which direction the SLP will develop. He states that the criteria that are ‘going for the SLP’ are these:

"Firstly, Scargill has stated publicly - both in mass meetings and on TV - that he is a Marxist."

"Secondly, the SLP and Scargill personally has adopted a very firm approach with respect to whether or not the
law should be obeyed, answering a clear *no* if that law goes against working class interests, such as is the case with the trade union laws. . . . .
Thirdly, after a period in which all kind of Trotskyists joined the SLP with their own agendas and their own methods, Scargill and those who have stood with him have effectively driven them out.

Fourthly, and related to this, a number of Marxist-Leninists, including of course Harpal Brar, have joined the SLP and have a perceptible influence within it."

These are the criteria that he enumerates as refuting Bland’s charge that the SLP are social democratic: "Finally, and fundamentally, Bill Bland sees the SLP as social democratic, pure and simple. He ignores the contradictions within it, and he ignores what makes Scargillism, for want of a better term, distinct within British Labourism: namely its commitment to wage the class struggle by whatever means necessary." Hillier’s Viewpoint 3: Hillier’s Strategy Regarding The SLP

If Hillier does not regard the SLP as communist, but as being in transition, what then is the strategy of those "who style themselves as Marxist-Leninists" as he terms it? He states that he came over to Brar’s viewpoint of transforming the SLP from within. And this is the point that he particularly appears to feel that Bland ignores:

"I was formerly in the position of being an M-L outside the SLP. The view of the CAG when it existed was that the SLP was a potential ally, but that it was not a communist party and that it was not a substitute for a communist party. Harpal Brar's response was that it has the potential to become a communist party if we fight within it.

Yet this point is not at all addressed by Bill Bland. Without even stating that there are those within the SLP who are fighting for precisely this, he dismisses the possibility of such transformation without even acknowledging it. This is not the correct way for M-L's to deal with a new phenomenon within the working class like the SLP."

Finally, Hillier ends by saying: "With the SLP, M-Ls have the opportunity to fuse with a fighting section of the working class, and to influence them within the same organisation". He then goes on to characterise Bland’s position on this trajectory, as defeatist: "Bill Bland's position is to reject this as a waste of time, as doomed to failure, at the outset." It is to Hillier’s credit that he does not automatically label Bland’s divergent viewpoint as "revisionist", or counter-revolutionary". This betokens a maturity that was not present at an earlier time. Instead Hillier states that "once again…. those who style themselves Marxist-Leninists are finding themselves on opposed sides": "I have decided to lend my forces *within* the SLP; others have chosen to stay outside. That is their choice. The danger, though, with the position taken up by Bill Bland is that it pits him and those who go down the same road *against* the communists within the SLP. The latter are fighting against social democratic ideas and policies within the SLP, while the former are denouncing the whole SLP project as serving the interests of capital. Once again, real life is throwing up barricades, as those who style themselves Marxist-Leninists are finding themselves on opposed sides." To Conclude
Bland and Hillier are opposed.
In "real life", of two such differing viewpoints – one is in the main right, and one is usually in the main, wrong.
"Dialectical" discussions, that invoke an ‘inter-penetration of opposites’ would be an evasion here. After all, the issue at contention, concerns a specific organisational-party format. In this particular instance it comes at a specific historical juncture in a specific society. One formulation is right and is wrong.
Two other possibilities - either that both are wrong – or that both are right – seem most unlikely.
What is the evidence, and what do our theoretical forerunners advise us?
After all – there are precedents in history. What can we learn from the past?


PART 2 (2). OUR VIEWS ON HILLIER’S REPLY TO BLAND:
(i)  Some Definitions: What Constitutes A Social-Democratic Party?

We feel it best to start with several operational definitions. What is Social-Democracy and reformism?
Originally the term Social-Democracy stood for truly Marxist parties:

"A Social-Democratic Party was, originally, a labour party in a country where the bourgeois-democratic revolution has not been accomplished. Already, in late 1897, Lenin stressed the significance of the term 'Social-Democratic' in relation to the name of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP):
"The object of the practical activities of the Social-Democrats is ... socialist . . . and democratic. . . . Russian Social-Democracy has always emphasised ... the inseparable connection between its socialist and democratic tasks -- a connection which is strikingly expressed in the name which it has adopted".
" Bland W.B. " Historical Background To The Formation Of The Socialist Labour Party": Citing: Vladimir I. Lenin: 'The Tasks of Russian Social-Democrats', in: 'Selected Works', Volume 1; London; 1944; p. 496-97).
But as Lenin implies (see below), this terminology became discredited, and had to be changed. This was because the revisionists (ie "One who advocates revision"- Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) of Marx, had taken over and subverted (from within) the Second International: "Opportunism and social-chauvinism have the same political content, namely, class collaboration, repudiation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, repudiation of revolutionary action, unconditional acceptance of bourgeois legality, confidence in the bourgeoisie and lack of confidence in the proletariat. Social-chauvinism is the direct continuation and consummation of British liberal-labour politics, of Millerandism and Bernsteinism. (An opportunist trend in German and International Social-Democracy hostile to Marxism. It emerged in Germany at the end of the 19th century, and got its name from Eduard Bernstein, a German Social-Democrat, who tried to revise Marx's revolutionary theory on the lines of bourgeois liberalism. Among its supporters in Russia were the legal Marxists, the Economists, the Bund and the Mensheviks)."
V. I. Lenin: 1916 "Opportunism And The Collapse Of The Second International"; Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964; Vol. 22, pp. 108-120; or at http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/OCSI15b.html#p112
It was this that led the Third Communist International to insist that all the proletarian parties that wished to affiliate to the Third international, that  "Communist" should be included in their names: "18. In view of the foregoing, parties wishing to join the Communist International must change their name. Any party seeking affiliation must call itself the Communist Party of the country in question (Section of the Third, Communist International). The question of a party's name is not merely a formality, but a matter of major political importance. The Communist International has declared a resolute war on the bourgeois world and all yellow Social-Democratic parties. The difference between the Communist parties and the old and official "Social-Democratic", or "socialist", parties, which have betrayed the banner of the working class, must be made absolutely clear to every rank-and-file worker."
V. I. Lenin: "The Terms Of Admission Into the Communist International" 1920; V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966; Vol. 31, pp. 206-11.
 http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/TACI20.html
So the term Social-democrat, has come to mean one who "repudiates the dictatorship of the proletariat". It is one who is a reformist. What do we mean by the term "reformist"? The Communist League and then the NCMLP have adopted the following definition: "1. WHAT IS REFORMISM? The trend in the labour movement which seeks to limit the aims of the working class to securing piecemeal social reforms within the framework of capitalism. In practice, reformism rejects the concept of class antagonism between the working class and the capitalist class, and preaches that social reform can be brought about gradually by a policy of class collaboration of the working class with the capitalist class. The great majority of the leaders of the British labour movement have long been reformist. Their practice of class collaboration has led them to become unprincipled opponents of any militant action on the part of the workers. Taken in conjunction with their aim of bringing about social reforms only within capitalist society, it necessarily leads them to support such policies as may be necessary to make capitalism function profitably. Their resultant role as lieutenants of the capitalist class within the labour movement is demonstrated daily."
The NCMLU: Classes in Marxism-Leninism- at Courses.
In the British context, Fabianism is intimately tied to reformism in the labour movement. Engels ties it to "municipal socialism". This following passage was cited by Bland: "As Engels expressed it in a letter to Friedrich Sorge in January 1893:
"The Fabians are an ambitious group here in London who have understood enough to realise the inevitability of the social revolution, but who could not possibly entrust this gigantic task to the rough proletariat alone and are therefore kind enough to set themselves at the head. Fear of the revolution is their fundamental principle. They are educated par excellence. Their socialism is municipal socialism; not the nation but the municipality is to become the owner of the means of production". This socialism of theirs is then represented as an extreme but inevitable consequence of bourgeois Liberalism, and hence follow their tactics of not decisively opposing the Liberals as adversaries but of intriguing with them, of permeating Liberalism with Socialism.
"With great industry they have produced amid all sorts of rubbish some good propagandist writings. . . But as soon as they get on to their specific tactics of hushing up the class struggle it all turns putrid. Hence too their fanatical hatred of Marx and all of us -- because of the class struggle."
Bland W.B; "Historical Background To The Formation Of The Socialist Labour Party"
Citing: Friedrich Engels: Letter to Friedrich Sorge, 18 January 1893; in: 'Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: 'Selected Correspondence: 1846-1895: With Commentary and Notes'; London; 1943;  p. 505.
Definition of Marxists

We call ourselves "Marxist-Leninists". But what does the ‘Marxist’ in that phrase mean?
Notice that Hillier argues that one of the criteria supporting Scargill, is that Scargill considers himself: "a Marxist.":

We should not forget that Marx and Engels frequently had to dissociate themselves in their lifetimes from ‘Marxists’. Such as, for example, in this letter from Engels to Bloch discussing the error of many 'Marxists' upon the matter of the economic base, and the ideological super-structure. Engels says this: "Marx & I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side that is due to it…. I cannot exempt many of the more recent "Marxists" from this reproach."
Engels to Joseph Bloch; September 1890; In Selected Correspondence"; 1982 edition; Moscow; p.396;
Arthur Scargill is not the first from the belly of the Labour Party, to have "discovered Marxism".
In recent years alone, without even invoking the history of the 1920 and the 1930’s, Tony Benn for instance also identifies himself with Marx: "If he had kept his head down he might well in due course have been elected Leader of the Labour party. He didn’t. Instead as a result of his own experiences in office he became convinced that sweeping changes were required if a fairer and more just society was to be established. In March 1973 he remarked that ‘.. the Party without Karl Marx lacks a basic analytic core’ – though more than three years later a first reading of the Communist Manifesto prompted him to write in his diary...’.. I found that without having read any Communist text, I had come to Marx's view."
A.J.Davies; "To Build a New Jerusalem- The Labour Movement from the 1880’s to the 1990’s"; London 1992; p.262.
What about Ken Livingstone who sees clearly the role of the US and British imperialists in a manner that approaches Marxism:
"It is important to realize that US dominance (post First world war –Ed) was not confined to the conservative and liberal parties – nor could it afford to be. The immediate post-war period saw a shift to the left in the political map of Europe. A critical; role in heading off the possibility of any socialist solution to the problems facing Europe was played by the right wing of the Socialist parties – and the United States Central Intelligence Agency played a decisive role in ensuring that they did so."
Livingstone K; "Livingstone’s labour – A Programme for the Nineties"; London 1989; p.182.
"(Following) the May 1981 Greater London Council (GLC) elections...There is no doubt that Livingstone put forward policies which were very different from Mrs. Thatcher's. He introduced cheap fares on public transport... turned down an invitation to attend the royal wedding in 1981, and more controversially, he called for British troops to be withdrawn from Ireland.... funded several minority groups, by the end of the 1983 the GLC had given grants to more than 1,000 voluntary organisations."
A.J.Davies; "To Build a New Jerusalem- The Labour Movement from the 1880’s to the 1990’s"; London 1992; p.269.
Hillier offered four criteria for support by Marxists-Leninists to Scargill, of which the first two were:
"Firstly, Scargill has stated publicly - both in mass meetings and on TV - that he is a Marxist.
Secondly, the SLP and Scargill personally has adopted a very firm approach with respect to whether or not the law should be obeyed, answering a clear *no* if that law goes against working class interests, such as is the case with the trade union laws. . . . . " Hillier Ibid.
To these two criteria (we return later to the third and fourth) – we think it can be argued that both Benn and Livingstone have shown similar attitudes to those of Scargill. What differences are there then, between the three? It is for Hillier to elucidate any fundamental differences - if there truly are any.

We argue, that over-riding any "differences" between them - is the fundamental similarity between all three of these individuals is their allegiance to "reformism" and to "social-democracy". The self-designation of "Marxist" is neither here nor there!
Lenin puts this bluntly:

"And is there such a great difference between Lloyd George and the Scheidemanns, Legiens, Hendersons and Hyndmans, Plekhanovs, Renaudels and Co.? Of the latter, it may be objected, some will return to the revolutionary socialism of Marx. This is possible, but it is an insignificant difference in degree, if the question is regarded from its political, i. e., its mass aspect. Certain individuals among the present social-chauvinist leaders may return to the proletariat. But the social-chauvinist or (what is the same thing) opportunist trend can neither disappear nor "return" to
the revolutionary proletariat. Wherever Marxism is popular among the workers, this political trend, this "bourgeois labour party", will swear by the name of Marx. It cannot be prohibited from doing this, just as a trading firm cannot be prohibited from using any particular label, sign or  advertisement. It has always been the case in history that after the death of revolutionary leaders who were popular among the oppressed classes, their enemies have attempted to appropriate their names so as to deceive the oppressed classes."
V.I.Lenin, Imperialism & The Split In Socialism"; 1916 ; Collected Works, Moscow, 1964, Vol. 23, pp. 105-20. OR at: http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/ISS16.html
We note that Brar is apparently fond of this quote as well (See p.133 of Brar's text). The moral from Lenin might be paraphrased as:  "anyone can call themselves a Marxist. Where's the proof?"

This returns us to the same question: "What makes the Marxist in the term Marxist-Leninist?"
We suggest a definite attitude to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
It is in this LACK- that a commonality between Scargill, Benn and Livingstone appears:
None of the three of them (at least to our current knowledge) acknowledge that primacy.

We should substantiate our view on the primacy of the attitude to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In this regard, Lenin points out what Marx himself, identifies as the essence of what Marx had contributed. It is drawn from a letter of Marx to Wedemeyer. Lenin writes in State & Revolution" the following:

"A letter from Marx to Weydemeyer dated March 5, 1852. .. among other things, contains the following remarkable observation: ". . . And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society, nor yet the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle of the classes and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production (historische Entwicklung sphasen der Produktion);
2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat;
3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society."
V. I. Lenin 1917: "The State & Revolution"; In 'Chapter 2 part 3. The Presentation Of The Question By Marx in 1852'; Moscow; 1980; Volume 25; pp. 381492; Or at:
http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/SR17.html#c3
In fact Lenin goes on in same passage to talk of how even "recognition of the class struggle" - is not enough to be a real Marxist: "It is often said and written that the main point in Marx's teachings is the class struggle; but this is not true. And from this untruth very often springs the opportunist distortion of Marxism, its falsification in such a way as to make it acceptable to the bourgeoisie. For the doctrine of the class struggle was created not by Marx, but by the bourgeoisie before Marx, and generally speaking it is acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Those who recognize only the class struggle are not yet Marxists; they may be found to be still within the boundaries of bourgeois thinking and bourgeois politics. To      confine Marxism to the doctrine of the class struggle means curtailing Marxism, distorting it, reducing it to something which is acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what constitutes the most profound difference between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. And it is not surprising that when the history of Europe brought the working class face to face with this question as a practical issue, not only all the opportunists and reformists, but all the "Kautskyites" (people who vacillate between reformism and Marxism) proved to be  miserable philistines and petty-bourgeois democrats who repudiate the dictatorship of the proletariat."
V. I. Lenin 1917: "The State & Revolution"; In 'Chapter 2 part 3. The Presentation Of The Question By Marx in 1852'; Moscow; 1980; Volume 25; pp. 381492; Or at:
http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/SR17.html#c3
Thus to Hillier's view that Scargill smells of the  class struggle (our paraphrase) - we answer: What does Scargill  take the class struggle to in the final analysis?

Thus – it is perfectly legitimate that we ask of Hillier –
What attitude does Scargill take to the dictatorship of the Proletariat?
Furthermore: How is that woven into the SLP’s election platforms?

Before we leave this section we should ensure that we have not been misunderstood. Pre-emptively we must emphasise - that nowhere have we talked about "pure" and "unsullied" revolutionary tactics. We follow and agree with the need to unite with the best of the working class. (NOTE: We will discuss in what manner to unite - in the next section). But no Marxist-Leninist would eschew "reforms, compromises or agreements". As Stalin emphasises (himself citing Lenin's "Left Wing Communism")  in this would be senseless:

" What is the difference between revolutionary tactics and reformist tactics? Some think that Leninism is opposed to reforms, opposed to compromises and agreements in general. This is absolutely wrong. Bolsheviks know as well as anybody else that in a certain sense "every little helps," that under certain conditions reforms in general, and compromises and agreements in particular, are necessary and useful. "To carry on a war for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie," says Lenin, "a war which is a hundred times more difficult, protracted and complicated than the most stubborn of ordinary wars between states, and to refuse beforehand to maneuver, to utilize the conflict of interests (even though temporary) among one's enemies, to reject agreements and compromises with possible (even though temporary, unstable, vacillating and conditional) allies -- is not this ridiculous in the extreme? Is it not as though, when making a difficult ascent of an unexplored and hitherto inaccessible mountain, we were to refuse beforehand ever to move in zigzags, ever to retrace our steps, ever to abandon the course once selected and to try others?" [(See Vol. XXV, p. 210.) 'Left-Wing' Communism, an Infantile Disorder] Obviously, therefore, it is not a matter of reforms or of compromises and agreements, but of the use people make of reforms and agreements. To a reformist, reforms are everything, while revolutionary work is something incidental, something just to talk about, mere eyewash. That is why, with reformist tactics under the conditions of bourgeois rule, reforms are inevitably transformed into an instrument for strengthening that rule, an instrument for disintegrating the revolution.
To a revolutionary, on the contrary, the main thing is revolutionary work and not reforms; to him reforms are a by- product of the revolution. That is why, with revolutionary tactics under the conditions of bourgeois rule, reforms are naturally transformed into an instrument for disintegrating that rule, into an instrument for strengthening the revolution, into a strongpoint for the further development of the revolutionary movement.
The revolutionary will accept a reform in order to use it as an aid in combining legal work with illegal work and to intensify, under its cover, the illegal work for the revolutionary preparation of the masses for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie.
That is the essence of making revolutionary use of reforms and agreements under the conditions of imperialism. The reformist, on the contrary, will accept reforms in order to renounce all illegal work, to thwart the preparation of the masses for the revolution and to rest in the shade of "bestowed" reforms. That is the essence of reformist tactics."
J. V. Stalin THE FOUNDATIONS OF LENINISM"; Lectures Delivered at the Sverdlov University; 1924 ; J. V. Stalin, Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953; Vol. 6, pp.71-196. OR AT: http://gate.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Stalin/FL24.html#c7
Conclusion
That Scargill and the SLP have accepted the need for a dictatorship of the proletariat must be shown before it is clear that they are not social-democratic.
But Hillier has not yet adduced sufficient evidence for us to accept his viewpoint.

3. Lenin's Advice To The Communist Party Regarding the Labour Party.

Even if the grouping of the SLP were social-democrats - and this was accepted by Hillier and the other advocates of SLP "Entryism" - their tactic of  entryism might not be an incorrect tactic.
After all, Lenin had advocated this to the then youthful Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).
So perhaps - irrespective of the adjudication of whether or not the SLP are social-democrats - the tactic adopted by the Communist Action Group and the erst-while Association of Communist Workers to dissolve and join the SLP is correct?

To evaluate this question, we examine Lenin's concrete advice to the then CPGB.
We are well aware that Brar also deals with these matters. Here we cite the original source.

We will make the case that Lenin argued:
Firstly that the matter of Parliamentarism was not a principle but a matter of a tactic that was best used at times when it was necessary to further expose the role of bourgeois social democrats and the inability of the parliamentary process to effect change by waging an enhanced propaganda during the elections against "parliamentary cretinism";

Secondly: That in any block with a social-democratic formation, it was essential that the Communist Party retain its total independence and freedom of criticism and press; he argued that this was the case within the Labour Party against the arguments of Sylvia Pankhurst and Willie Gallacher;

Thirdly: That a single Communist party in any country, was essential for success of the revolutionary cause;

Fourthly: That the questions discussed herein were not unique to British comrades- they were a general and international question.

The situation in the British labour movement, as Lenin was leading the Russian revolution, was galvanised by events in Russia. At that stage there was no hegemonic workers’ Party – and no party that even called itself "Communist". Lenin described the situation, as four revolutionary minded groups came together, in order to form the Communist Party.

In this movement Sylvia Pankhurst of the Workers Socialist Federation (publishing the Workers Dreadnought weekly organ) was prominent. Lenin noted that an obstructing factor to unity was the attitude to be taken to parliamentarism:

"There is no Communist Party in Great Britain yet, but there is a fresh, broad, powerful and rapidly growing communist movement among the workers which justifies the brightest hopes. There are several political parties and organizations (the British Socialist Party, the Socialist Labour Party, the South Wales Socialist Society, the Workers' Socialist Federation which desire to form a Communist Party and are already negotiating among themselves to this end. The Workers' Dreadnought, in its issue of February 21, 1920,. . contains an article by the editor, Comrade Sylvia Pankhurst, entitled "Towards a Communist Party." The article outlines the progress of the negotiations between the four organizations mentioned for the formation of a united Communist Party, on the basis of affiliation to the Third International, the recognition of the Soviet system instead of parliamentarism, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. It appears that one of the greatest obstacles to the immediate formation of a united Communist Party is the disagreement over the question of participation in parliament and over the question whether the new Communist Party should affiliate to the old, trade unionist, opportunist and social-chauvinist Labour Party, which consists mostly of trade unions. The Workers' Socialist Federation and the Socialist Labour Party are opposed to taking part in parliamentary elections and in parliament, and they are opposed to affiliation to the Labour Party; and in this they disagree with all, or with the majority, of the members of the British Socialist Party, which they regard as the "Right wing of the Communist Parties" in Great Britain."
V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9
The view of the anti-Parliamentarians was that the labour party was totally corrupt and the strategy of Parliament was completely opportunist. Lenin recognised that those like Willie Gallacher of the Scottish Workers Council – were made of the "right stuff" - but were still politically immature: "W.Gallagher: "Any support given to parliamentarism is simply assisting to put power into the hands of our British Scheidemanns and Noskes. Henderson, Clynes and Co. are hopelessly reactionary . . . The official I.L.P. is bitterly hostile to the Third International, the rank and file is for it. Any support to the parliamentary opportunists is simply playing into the hands of the former. The B.S.P. doesn't count at all here. . . . What is wanted here is a sound revolutionary industrial organization, and a Communist Party working along clear, well-defined, scientific lines.". . . . This letter, in my opinion, excellently expresses the temper and point of view of the young Communists, or of rank-and file workers who are only just coming to Communism. This temper is highly gratifying and valuable; we must learn to value it and to support it, for without it, it would be hopeless to expect the victory of the proletarian revolution in Great Britain. . And at the same time we must openly and frankly tell them that temper alone is not enough to lead the masses in a great revolutionary struggle, and that such and such mistakes that very loyal adherents of the cause of the revolution are about to commit, or are committing, may damage the cause of the revolution. Comrade Gallacher's letter undoubtedly betrays the germs of all the mistakes that are being committed by the German "Left" Communists and that were committed by the Russian "Left" Bolsheviks in 1908 and 1918."
V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9
There was no question of course that the leaders of the labour Party were "hopelessly reactionary" (such as Arthur Henderson, J.R.Clynes, Ramsay MacDonald, Philip Snowden) It was precisely because of this that they should be exposed: "That the Hendersons, the Clynes, the MacDonalds and the Snowdens are hopelessly reactionary is true. It is equally true that they want to take power in their own hands (though they prefer a coalition with the bourgeoisie), that they want to "rule" on the old bourgeois lines, and that when they do get into power they will unfailingly behave like the Scheidemanns and Noskes. All that is true. But it by no means follows that to support them is treachery to the revolution, but rather that in the interests of the revolution the working-class revolutionaries should give these gentlemen a certain amount of parliamentary support.. … "
V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9
Lenin patiently argued against Pankhurst’s "non-compromising" stance: "The Left Communists believe that the transfer of power to the Labour Party is inevitable and admit that at present it has the support of the majority of the workers. From this they draw the strange conclusion which Comrade Sylvia Pankhurst formulates as follows: "The Communist Party must not compromise. . . . The Communist Party must keep its doctrine pure, and its independence of reformism inviolate; its mission is to lead the way, without stopping or turning, by the direct road to the communist revolution." On the contrary, from the fact that the majority of the workers in Great Britain still follow the lead of the British Kerenskys or Scheidemanns and have not yet had the experience of a government composed of these people, which experience was required in Russia and Germany to secure the mass passage of the workers to Communism, it un-doubtedly follows that the British Communists should participate in parliamentary action, that they should, from within parliament, help the masses of the workers to see the results of a Henderson and Snowden government in practice, that they should help the Hendersons and Snowdens to defeat the united forces of Lloyd George and Churchill. To act otherwise would mean placing difficulties in the way of the revolution; for revolution is impossible without a change in the views of the majority of the working class, and this change is brought about by the political experience of the masses, and never by propaganda alone. " V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9 The reasoning behind Lenin’s persistence on the matter of revolutionary flexibility was simple:
the British masses had not yet seen through the state of affairs and were not thus willing nor ready to undertake the hazards of revolution: It was precisely because conditions were rapidly maturing that Lenin insisted that the best strategy to expose British social-democracy was to join forces and combine into one Communist Party, which should then offer the Labour Party an electoral and practical block: "If we are the party of the revolutionary class, and not a revolutionary group, if we want the masses to follow us (and unless we do, we stand the risk of remaining mere windbags), we must, firstly, help Henderson or Snowden to beat Lloyd George and Churchill (or, rather, compel the former to beat the latter, because the former are afraid of their victory !); secondly, we must help the majority of the working class to convince themselves by their own experience that we are right, that is, that the Hendersons and Snowdens are absolutely unsuitable, that they are petty bourgeois and treacherous by nature, and that their bankruptcy is inevitable; thirdly, we must bring nearer the moment when, on the basis of the disappointment of the majority of the workers in the Hendersons, it will be possible with serious chances of success to overthrow the government of the Hendersons at once. . . . . . In my opinion, the British Communists should unite their four (all very weak, and some very, very weak) parties and groups into a single Communist Party on the basis of the principles of the Third International and of obligatory participation in parliament. The Communist Party should propose a "compromise" to the Hendersons and Snowdens, an election agreement: let us together fight the alliance of Lloyd George and the Conservatives, let us divide the parliamentary seats in proportion to the number of votes cast by the workers for the Labour Party and for the Communist Party (not at the elections, but in a special vote),"
V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9
The Block was to be a "compromise" that would divide seats in parliamentary elections on the basis of numbers of votes cast; and would fight the Conservative-Liberal alliance then being brewed by that ‘fox’ Lloyd George: . It is important to note that Lenin insisted that it was essential for this tactic – that "the Communist Party .. retain complete liberty of agitation, propaganda and political activity. Without this latter condition, of course, we cannot agree to a bloc, for it would be treachery" : "The Communist Party should propose a "compromise" to the Hendersons and Snowdens, an election agreement: let us together fight the alliance of Lloyd George and the Conservatives, let us divide the parliamentary seats in proportion to the number of votes cast by the workers for the Labour Party and for the Communist Party (not at the elections, but in a special vote), and let us retain complete liberty of agitation, propaganda and political activity. Without this latter condition, of course, we cannot agree to a bloc, for it would be treachery; the British Communists must absolutely insist on and secure complete liberty to expose the Hendersons and the Snowdens in the same way as (for fifteen years, 1903-17) the Russian Bolsheviks insisted on and secured it in relation to the Russian Hendersons and Snowdens, i.e., the Mensheviks."
V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9
Under these circumstances, the Communist Party could not lose whether or not the Social-Democrats accepted: "If the Hendersons and the Snowdens accept a bloc on these terms, we shall be the gainers, because the number of parliamentary seats is of no importance to us; we are not out for seats…….. we shall carry our agitation among the masses .. . . . . . . If the Hendersons and the Snowdens reject a bloc with the Communists, the Communists will gain immediately as regards winning the sympathy of the masses and discrediting the Hendersons and Snowdens; and if as a result we do lose a few parliamentary seats, it is a matter of no importance to us. We would put up our candidates in a very few but absolutely safe constituencies, namely, constituencies where putting up our candidate would not give the seat to the Liberal and lose it for the Labour candidate. We would take part in the election campaign, distribute leaflets in favour of Communism, and, in all constituencies where we have no candidates, we would urge the electors to vote for the Labour candidate and against the bourgeois candidate. Comrades Sylvia Pankhurst and Gallacher are mistaken in thinking that this is a betrayal of Communism, or a renunciation of the struggle against the social traitors. On the contrary, the cause of communist revolution would undoubtedly gain by it. "
V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9
Even though Lenin suggested that he could not correctly advise on the further matter of a formal affiliation with the Labour party, he did insist that there was no point of principle involved here: "I cannot deal here with the second point of disagreement among the British Communists -- the question of affiliating or not affiliating to the Labour Party. I have too little material at my disposal on this question, which is a particularly complex one in view of the quite unique character of the British Labour Party, the very structure of which is so unlike the political parties common to the Continent. It is beyond doubt, however, first, that on this question, too, those who try to deduce the tactics of the revolutionary proletariat from principles like: "The Communist Party must keep its doctrine pure, and its independence of reformism inviolate; its mission is to lead the way, without stopping or turning, by the direct road to the communist revolution" -- will inevitably fall into error. For such principles are merely a repetition of the mistakes committed by the French Blanquist Communards, who, in 1874, "repudiated" all compromises and all intermediate stations. Secondly, it is beyond doubt that in this question too, as always, the task is to learn to apply the general and basic principles of Communism to the peculiar relations between classes and parties, to the peculiar features of the objective development towards Communism which are characteristic of each country and which must be studied, discovered, divined."
V. I. Lenin: "Left-Wing" Communism, An Infantile Disorder"; IX "Left-Wing" Communism In Great Britain"; Collected Works; Moscow 1980; 17-117; Volume 31; http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/LWC20.html#c9
And very shortly afterwards, at the Second Comintern Congress, Lenin argued that the conditions of membership within the Labour Party as an affiliate were indeed favorable to the Communists. BUT only if they retained free right of criticism. He pointed out that in fact the British Socialist Party was taking advantage of that to expose the labour Party in its’ own party press: " the British Labour Party is in a very special position: it is a highly original type of party, or rather, it is not at all a party in the ordinary sense of the word. It is made up of members of all trade unions, and has a membership of about four million, and allows sufficient freedom to all affiliated political parties. It thus includes a vast number of British workers who follow the lead of the worst bourgeois elements, the social-traitors, who are even worse than Scheidemann, Noske and similar people. At the same time, however, the Labour Party has let the British Socialist Party into its ranks, permitting it to have its own press organs, in which members of the selfsame Labour Party can freely and openly declare that the party leaders are social-traitors. Comrade McLaine has cited quotations from such statements by the British Socialist Party. I, too, can certify that I have seen in The Call, organ of the British Socialist Party, statements that the Labour Party leaders are social-patriots and social-traitors. This shows that a party affiliated to the Labour Party is able, not only to severely criticise but openly and specifically to mention the old leaders by name, and call them social-traitors. This is a very original situation: a party which unites enormous masses of workers, so that it might seem a political party, is nevertheless obliged to grant its members complete latitude. Comrade McLaine has told us here that, at the Labour Party Conference, the British Scheidemanns were obliged to openly raise the question of affiliation to the Third International, and that all party branches and sections were obliged to discuss the matter. In such circumstances, it would be a mistake not to join this party. "
V. I. Lenin: The Second Congress Of The Communist International, ‘Speech On Affiliation To The British Labour Party;‘ July 19-August 7, 1920; Moscow, 1966; Vol. 31, pp. 213-63. http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/SCCI20.html#s6
And Lenin insisted against Gallacher that these various advice were drawn from the world experience of the proletariat: "Comrade Gallacher has said ironically that in the present instance we are under the influence of the British Socialist Party. That is not true; it is the experience of all revolutions in all countries that has convinced us. We think that we must say that to the masses. The British Communist Party must retain the freedom necessary to expose and criticise the betrayers of the working class, who are much more powerful in Britain than in any other country. That is readily understandable."
V. I. Lenin: The Second Congress Of The Communist International, ‘Speech On Affiliation To The British Labour Party;‘ July 19-August 7, 1920; Moscow, 1966; Vol. 31, pp. 213-63. http://www.cruzio.com/~marx2mao/Lenin/SCCI20.html#s6
That all this was of international significance and not just of British relevance can be seen from advice to the American party. As Alliance has already pointed out in 1996, a similar discussion took place regarding the USA: We believe that we have shown Lenin's views.

To apply them to this debate it is necessary to ask about whether the Marxist-Leninists have retained "Full independence of criticism" - which Lenin pointed out was "essential" in order not "further deceive" the working class?

We find it disturbing that it appears that Lalkar puts only "positive spins" on the inner reality of the SLP - whose recent congress repudiated even a motion put to recognise "achievements of the workers' states".

As the NCMLU makes clear: We are forcibly reminded of the definition offered by Lenin of "opportunism": Let us return for a moment to the third and fourth criteria that Hillier lays out in justification of the Entryism: Given the events of the Third Congress, we wonder about the validity of the third and fourth criteria offered by Hillier.
In light of all this we feel it is perfectly legitimate to pose some questions to Hillier and Brar:
If Hillier and other Marxist-Leninists are right in their current "Entryism" policy to join the SLP - even if the question of its precise determination as "social democratic" - is accepted as unclear as yet - then: CONCLUSIONS:
The manner of affiliation to the SLP advocated by Hillier - does not follow the pattern of principled affiliations recommended by Lenin.
This suggests that the current approach suggested by Hillier and Brar, is an opportunist one.
The alternative to an immediate "large scale" mass grouping - is one of a patient slower and principled work in defining the divisions amongst definite Marxist-Leninists - and working in a ML manner ot resolve them on the basis of ML science - in order to recreate the new party. It seems that this is too laborious for those who have chosen the path of dissolving openly communist groupings in order to lurk in the pools of the SLP.
 

PART 2 (4). What Is The Relevance of The United Front Debate ?
Of course as noted above, we do not disagree with HIllier that it is essential to create links with the best elements of the class; and as we noted above - this means flexible tactics.
What is the correct balance then - between avoiding liquidationism of the Marxist-Leninist party, and avoiding narrow insularity and isolation?
The tactics of  the United Front are crucial to a proper resolution of this discussion in our view.
Of course the originators of our Communist movement - Marx and Engels - had views on party formation. They expressly insisted that it was crucial to separate out from the bourgeois parties. Their clarion call came very early in their career, in the famous Communist Manifesto - whose opening lines contained the call to Party formation: Marx and Engels insisted that the United Front (a term they did not use- although the essence of their tactic is embodied in this phrase) was NOT to be confused with liquidationism.
Hillier knows of a previous work where Alliance, Communist League and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (Turkey) jointly pointed out the views of Marx and Engels on the importance of clarity and forthrightness in the programme of a communist party - a point upon which they advocated NOT bending upon principles. Engels concluded by pointing out the way in which a party is judged - even though the programme was by no means the be all and end all: And yet, despite their insistence on the principles of the party, they were flexible. In just one other example, as an instance, correct non-sectarian "United Front" tactics were displayed by Marx and Engels.
In yet another step towards dilution of the Communist Programme, August 1879, Karl Hochberg, Eduard Bernstein, and Carl August Schramm wrote "Retrospects on the Socialist Movement in Germany’, in which they suggested that the German Social-Democratic party should be switched from a revolutionary to a reformist platform. In the "Circular Letter", Marx and Engels were scathing about the proposal. They argued that to widen the movement there was a risk of dilution of the proletarian principles. These other people should form their own "petit bourgeois" type of party. But they pointed out that when they had done that, it might be possible for the communists to "negotiate with them, conclude agreements, etc., according to circumstances. Again - Alliance, Communist League and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (Turkey) have written before on what basis it is, that a principled unity can be created, and how this relates to concrete practical unity. This analysis was drawn from Marx Engels, and Lenin. We feel that it is directly pertinent to the questions raised in Hillier's note to the ISML, and we here simply abstract a portion of that original paper  - which came from three different countries, from three organisations: Our view that the resolution of the tension avoiding liquidationism of the Marxist-Leninist party, and avoiding narrow insularity and isolation - lies in the principled approach to the United Front - is not of course, a novel view.

Nor is it novel, that recently, attention has been drawn within the British movement to this question.

We have previously re-printed the Communist League analysis of 1994, at our web-site. This article explains the open declaration by the Comintern during Lenin's lifetime, that the Tactics of the United Front were vital. Lenin called the tactics a "Model political step". (See Communist League: The Marxist-Leninist Tactics Of The United Front No.111: United Front Tactics” at: http://www.geocities.com/hari6kumar/united-front.html

It was in January 1921 that the Central Committee of the United Communist Party of Germany published an Open Letter which clearly adopted the tactic of a United Front. It was a tactic derived from an obvious necessity. The Open Letter:

     "Called on all workers, trade unions and socialist organisations to unite their forces in
     combating reaction and the capitalists' offensive against the working people's vital rights".
     (Central Committee, United Communist Party of Germany: Open letter, in: 'Die Rote Fahne'
     (The Red Flag), 8 January 1921, in: Note to: Vladimir I. Lenin Collected Works', Volume 32;
     Moscow; 1965; p. 32).

At the 3rd Congress of the Communist International in June/July 1921, Lenin expressed strong
support for the tactics embodied in the Open Letter. Of course this is hardly surprising since we have seen that at the prior 2nd Congress, congress he had argued for something very similar - in opposition to Sylvia Pankhurst and Willie Gallacher. Now Lenin said:

     "The Open Letter' is a model political step. This is stated in our theses and we must certainly
     stand by it".
     (Vladimir I. Lenin: Speech in Defence of the Tactics of the Communist International, 3rd
     Congress of Communist International, (July 1921), in: 'Collected Works', Volume 32;
     Moscow; 1965; p. 470).

And in a letter to Grigory Zinoviev, he said:

     "The tactic of the Open Letter should definitely be applied everywhere. . All those who have
     failed to grasp the necessity of the Open Letter tactic should be expelled from the
     Communist International within a month after its Third Congress".
     (Vladimir I. Lenin: Letter to Grigory Y. Zinoviev (10 July 1921), in: 'Collected Works',
     Volume 42; Moscow; 1969; p. 321).

Interestingly, it was only in December 1921, that the name of 'United Front Tactics' was applied to these Marxist-Leninist tactics.
The tactics were in essence to work for the formation of united fronts of all workers around specific limited objectives. As noted above, the same spirit of the United Front was embodied in the work of Marx and Engels - without the use of this specific term. All workers, and organisations composed predominantly of workers, were encouraged to take an active part in a united front with the aims of which they were in agreement, irrespective of their views and policies on other questions:

     "The interests of the communist movement generally require the communist parties and the
     Communist International as a whole to support the slogan of the united front of the workers
     and to take the initiative in this matter.
     The united front of the workers means the united front of all workers who want to fight
     against capitalism, which includes those who still follow the anarchists, syndicalists, etc".
     (Executive Committee of the Communist International: Directives on the United Front of the
     Workers (December 1921), in: Jane Degras (Ed.): 'The Communist International: 1919-1943:
     Documents' (listed henceforward as (Jane Degras (Ed.) (1971)'), Volume 1; London; 1971; p.
     311, 316).

     "The world situation and the situation of the international proletariat . . demands . . . the
     establishment of a united front of all parties supported by the proletariat, regardless of the
     differences separating them, so long as they are anxious to wage a common fight for the
     immediate and urgent needs of the proletariat. . . . It calls on the proletarians of all parties to
     do everything they can to see that their parties are also ready for joint action.
     Tear down the barriers erected between you and come into the ranks, whether communist or
     social-democrat, anarchist or syndicalist, to fight for the needs of the hour.
     Proletarians of all countries, unite!"
     (Executive Committee of the Communist International and Red International of Labour
     Unions: Manifesto on the United Front (January 1922), in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1971): ibid.,
     Volume 1; p. 317, 318, 319).

United front tactics were not only supported by Lenin - who moved in the Politburo of the Russian
Communist Party:

     "That the line of joint action with workers of the Second International proposed by a
     number of communist parties of the Communist International . . . be approved".
     (Vladimir I. Lenin: Draft Decision of the Politburo of the CC, RCP (B) on the Tactics of the
     United Front (December 1921), in: 'Collected Works', Volume 42; Moscow; 1969; p. 367).

But morever, the Tactics were elaborated under his direction:

     "These theses on the united front . . . were elaborated under Lenin's direction".
     (Nicos Poulantzas: 'Fascism and Dictatorship: The Third International and the Problem of
     Fascism'; London; 1974 p. 157).

The tactics recognised that some organisations and parties composed predominantly of workers
and claiming to represent their interests in fact served the interests of capital.
Indeed, the fundamental aim of united front tactics was:

     "To convince the socialist rank and file that 'their leaders do not want to fight, not even for a
     piece of bread"'.
     (Franz Borkenau: 'World Communism: A History of the Communist International' (herafter
     listed as 'Franz Borkenau (1971)'); Ann Arbor (USA): 1971; p. 224).

For this reason, the emphasis of united front tactics was laid on building the united front from
below, by appealing to workers over the heads of their leaders:

     "The united front is not and should not be merely a fraternisation of party leaders. . . . The
     united front means the association of all workers, whether communist, anarchist,
     social-democrat, independent or non-party or even Christian workers, against the
     bourgeoisie. With the leaders if they want it so, without the leaders if they remain
     indifferently aside, and in defiance of the leaders and against the leader if they sabotage the
     workers united front. . .
     Build the united front locally too, without waiting for the permission of the leaders of the
     Second International . . . in every factory, in every mine, in every district, in every town. . . .
     The communist party is ready to fight shoulder to shoulder with any workers against the
     capitalists".
     (ECCI Statement in the Results of the Berlin Conference (April 1922), in: Jane Degras (Ed.)
     (1971): op. cit., Volume 1; p. 341, 342).

     "The resistance of the leaders of the Second International has frustrated the attempt to
     organise the proletarian united front from above. That makes it a duty to rally all forces to
     organise the proletariat for the common struggle in opposition to the leaders of the Second
     International.
     Build the united front from below!"
     (ECCI Statement on the Meeting of the Committee of Nine (May 1922), in: Jane Degras
     (Ed.)(1971): ibid., Volume 1; p. 351).

Nevertheless, the Communist International at this stage firmly rejected a policy of accepting a
united front only from below, since such a policy would have hindered the exposure of
organisations and parties which were in fact opposed to united front tactics:

     "Our congresses . . . instructed our executives to use every favourable opportunity to
     approach Amsterdam and the social-democrats with the demand for a common fight against
     capitalist attack. . . . And if they stand out stubbornly against it, to bring about a united
     front over their heads'".
     (Appeal from the ECCI and RILU to All Workers on the United Front (January 1923), in:
     Jane Degras (Ed.) (1971): ibid., Volume 2; London; 1971; p. 2).

     "Once more we propose to the leaders of the Second and the Amsterdam Internationals a
     united front with the communists. We are ready to negotiate with the social-democratic and
     trade union leaders, although our opinion of them has been again confirmed, and most
     strikingly, by recent events".
     (ECCI. Letter to the Franco-German Workers' Conference at Frankfurt (March 1923), in:
     Jane Degras (Ed.) (1971): ibid., Volume 2; p. 15).

This was, indeed, Lenin's policy:

     "The purpose and sense of the tactics of the united front consist in drawing more and more
     masses of the workers into the struggle against capital, even if it means making repeated
     offers to the leaders of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals to wage this struggle
     together".
     (Vladimir I. Lenin: Draft Resolution on the Report of the RCP Delegation in the Comintern
     (March/April 1922), in: 'Collected Works', Volume 42; p. 411)

We believe that the haste to throw away specifically Communist organisations is always wrong, and ultimately devolves into "Liquidationism";
We believe that the imperative of drawing workers and progressives to the Marxist-Leninist movement - can only be achieved successfully in the long term by a two-fold policy:
Unite and build a principled Marxist-Leninist party on the principled lines of Lenin and the line of Iskra in identifying and resolving "Lines of demarcation";
and a correct implementation of a United Front policy with organisation and persons of progressive stripe who are not yet at the level of Marxist-Leninist belief.


OVERALL CONCLUDING REMARKS
We believe that the comrades who have endorsed "Entryism" into the Socialist Labour Party - under the current terms of entry into the SLP (apparently forfeiting their organised and vocal independence) - have made an error.
Hillier says : We agree that "almost" nothing is pre-ordained - but we argue that unless we learn from history one thing does becomes "pre-ordained". That is - that the struggle to overthrow capital will take much much longer and be even more bitter than necesssary - if one does not listen to our Marxist-Leninist history.

Our answer to Hillier's question stated above then,
is that "Marxist-Leninists outside of the SLP" should remind those "who are fighting within to win it to Communism" - of a two-fold lesson from our Marxist-Leninist history:
1. Form the single Communist - the Marxist-Leninist Party in each country;
2. Engage in United Front Tactics with the best elements of the class who are not yet at the level of Marxism-Leninism.

We know that Hillier had once considered the goals of the NCMLU desirable enough that the CAG participated in its discussions. The CAG obviously then went into the SLP.
We await future events.
We emphasise that we do appreciate that Hillier explained in clear and un-emotive terms, to the debate on this matter.
Finally, we feel this is an international question  - and we trust that the British comrades of all British organisations concerned - do not find our comments intrusive.
June 11th 2000


 

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