MEMORANDUM To Cmdes VS & JM (India)
From the Newly Formed Communist League
Following the Expulsion of Mike Baker & the
split in the then Marxist-Leninst Organisation Britain.
Date Sent: circa Autumn months
(First published by Alliance & Communist
League in 2002 on web)
When the Marxist-Leninist
Organisation of Britain (MLOB)
split leading to the formation of the Communist
League led by Bill Bland, many Marxist-Leninsts world wide
were perturbed about the reasons for the demise of the MLOB. This lengthy
memorandum was sent to comrades of a fledgling organisation in India, who
had while resident in the UK, been closely affiliated to the Marxist-Leninist
Organisation of Britain.
The MLOB had been led, for a historically produtive
and effective period, by the team of Bill Bland and Mike Baker.
The charismatic Mike Baker exercised quite a hold on various comrades,
while the more background plodding style of Bland usually led to an under-estimation
of him. What were the real, and political issues that underlay the split.
In broad terms they can be characterised as a tendency
to ultra-leftism and sectarianism
on the part of Baker and a tendency to prevent that on the part of Bland.
The concrete issues that these took
The nature of the anti-fascist front [i.e. the relationship
of the anti-fascist front to the broad socialist front- the Red Front];
the attitude to social democracy during the anti-fascist
struggle [the slogan "social-fascism"];
the degree to which the Communist Party Germany
in the 1930's should be a 'model' for current day Marxist-Leninist parties
[Baker saying it was among the highest expressions of proletarian organisations
yet, while Bland disagreed];
the nature of the People's Socialist Republic Albania
[i.e. Was it socialist or not?];
and the nature of a personal leadership versus democratic
After the split,
the adherents of Baker (the minority of the MLOB) in Britain, essentially
were no logner effectively active. But Mike went on to express the natural
outcome of his own positions - Baker became an open adherent of the Movement
for Workers Councils espousing the views of
Jan Appel (alias Max Hempel).
In the translation of the magnum opus written by the anti-Bolshevik
Council Communist Appel - "Fundamental Principles of Communist
Production & Distribution", Baker writes:
"In the literature of revolutionary theory... the historic document
now placed before the English speaking world.. may with some justice be
claimed as the highest theoretical achievement of the German and Dutch
revolutionary movement... (whose-ed) last dying embers were extinguish
d in the torture chambers and death camps of national Socialism or the
in the Gulags and liquidates of Stalin's "first land of victorious
socialism"....... the perpetrators of this act of historical and scientific
effacement were not Gen. Maercker's Freikorps, nor yet Ernst Rohm's brown-shirted
thugs but the leaders of the International Communist movement.............the
chosen ideological vehicle according to whose deceptive pseudo-proletarian
and pseudo-revolutionary slogans that bogus "vanguard party of the victorious
workers and peasnts" was erected was that peculiar vulgarization of the
scientific world outlook and method of Marxism which is indelibly associated
with the name of V.I.Lenin"; (Translators Foreword to Appel J; "Fundamental
Principles of Communist Production & Distribution" ; 1990 published
by the Movement for Workers Councils London; ISBN: 0-9516131-0-3;
Editorial Note: The Memorandum was sent in the name of "BC"
who had been elected into leadership position of the Communist League.
There is no doubt that the memorandum was written by Bill Bland however.
BC himself became politically inactive in about 1984. The memorandum has
received only one editorial amendment - the sections have been given numbers
to allow for ease of reading & to allow a table of contents to be listed.
In our opinion the items of most current general interest to the movement
are the sections up to number 10.
Alliance June 2002.
MEMORANDUM To Cmdes VS & JM (India)
1) Baker’s Theory of The Essence of Modern Revisionism
2) The Corporate State
3) Baker's concept of the "Corporate State"'
4) Baker's Theory of "The Third Stage".
5) The Role of the Communist Party of Germany
6) The Question of Strategy and Tactics
6 a) Strategy & Tactics accordign to Stalin
7) The Question of the Defence of "Parliamentary
6 b) The Question of the "Red" Trade Union Opposition
6 c) The Question of the "Red" Trade Unions
6 d) The Question of the Distinction between
"Parliamentary Democracy" and Fascism
6 e) The Question of the Anti-Fascist United
6 f) The Question of "Social-fascism"
6 g) The Question of Social-Democracy As "the
6 h) Conclusion
8) The Question of Albania
9) The question of the Allegation of the Indian
Comrades concerning Comrade WB
10) The Freezing of the "Red Front Movement"
11) The Question of the Spode Statement
MEMORANDUM To Cmdes VS & JM (India)
1) Baker’s Theory of The Essence of Modern
Baker holds that the essence of modern revisionism
is not abandonment of Marxist-Leninist principles to serve the needs the
capitalist class but "failure to bring Marxism-Leninism up-to-date":
"MODERN REVISIONISM . . is above all the failure to analyse and encompass
scientifically the new stage in the development of capitalism, the stage
of corporate state-mopopoly capitalism".
It is, of course, axiomatic that the world changes,
so that Marxist-Leninist tenets which were valid at one time may cease
to be valid at a later time and need to be replaced by new tenets – or,
in other words, that Marxism-Leninism needs constantly to be brought up-to-date
to conform with changing reality. An aspiring Marxist-Leninist who fails
to bring Marxism-Leninism up-to-date to conform with changed reality is
not a Marxist-Leninist, but a dogmatist.
(M. Baker: "Dialectical Materialism"; London; n.d.; p. iv).
Can it be said, however, that the essence of the
revisionism of, say, the Communist Party of Great Britain is dogmatism,
that it has clung to Marxist-Leninist tenets which have become no longer
valid as a result of changing reality in Britain and the world?
On the contrary, the essence of the revisionism of
the CPGB is that it has abandoned basic principles of Marxism-Leninism
-- the principle that the capitalist state is an organ of dictatorship
on the part of the Capitalist class, that the working class needs to smash
the capitalist state in order to abolish capitalism, that the working class
needs its dictatorship in order to construct socialism. The essence of
the revisionism of the CPGB is not that it has clung to the revolutionary
tenets on which it based itself in the 1920s, but that it has abandoned
Marxist-Leninist principles in order to revive what is essentially the
revisionism of Bernstein.
Clearly, Baker’s definition of revisionism has no
What, then, is its purpose?
As is obvious from the quotation given above, the
purpose of Bakers' erroneous definition of revisionism is to "justify"
him in classing as a "revisionist" anyone who rejects his theory
that capitalism is entering a "third stage" of development, beyond
imperialism. Its purpose is to "justify" him -in classing as a "revisionist"
anyone who continues to up-hold Lenin's analysis to the effect that imperialism
is the highest, i.e. the last stage of development of capitalism.
Baker’s concept of "corporate state monopoly capitalism"
is based on the concept of the "corporate state".
A corporate state is one which is based on "corporations",
these being organisations consisting of "representatives" of the employers
and "representatives" of the workers" within each sector of the economy.
The term was first widely used by sociologists linked with the Catholic
Church, who presented them as a revival of the mediaeval guilds
adapted the conditions of modern capitalism:
'Corporations are composed of delegates of the unions of workers and
employers of the same trade or profession".
The official aim of the campaign was to "abolish"
class struggle while retaining an essentially capitalist society:
(Pius 11: Encyclical Letter "Quadragesimo Anno"; London; 1960; p. 39).
"You are aware Venerable Brethren and Beloved Children, how strenuously
Our Predecessor of happy memory (Leo XIII -- BC) defended the teachings
of the socialists of his time, showing that the abolition of private ownership
would prove to be, not beneficial, but grievously harmful to the working-classes.
. . .
A corporate state is, therefore, one in which
the representative institutions are based, not on representatives
of political parties elected by geographical constituencies, but on representatives
of the corporations:
Capital cannot do without labour, nor labour without capital. . . .
The aim of social policy must therefore be the re-establishment of
vocational groups. Society today still remains in a strained, and therefore
unstable and uncertain state, because it is founded on classes with divergent
aims and hence opposed to each other, and consequently prone to enmity
and strife. . . .
As things are now, the wage-system divides men on what is called the
labour-market into two sections, resembling armies, and the disputes between
these sections transform this labour-market into an arena where the two
armies are engaged in fierce combat. To, this grave disorder, which is
leading society to ruin, a remedy must evidently be applied as speedily
as possible . . . vocational groups, namely claiming the allegiance, of
men not according to the position they occupy in the labour market, but
according to the diverse functions which they exercise in society".
(Pius XI:.ibid.; p. 22, 26, 35-6).
"The corporations are true and genuine organs and institutions of the
state. . .
The fully developed fascist dictatorship in Italy
took the form of a corporate state:
Strikes and lock-outs are forbidden . . .
Little reflection is required to perceive the advantages of the institution
thus summarily described, peaceful collaboration of various classes, repression
of socialist organisations and efforts".
(Pius XI.: ibid.; p.39).
"The associations of employers and associations of workers engaged
in the same industry are grouped together to form a corporation".
The reality behind the picture drawn by the above apologists
for fascism is that the corporate state is designed to provide a "democratic
facade" to the terroristic dictatorship of monopoly capital similar
to, although more restricted than, that which "parliamentary democracy"
provides for the dictatorship of monopoly capital in contemporary Britain:
(J. S. I Barnes: "A Survey of Fascism"; London; 1928; p. 93).
"Each corporation united the local and national organisations of the
three classes of producers -- employers, technicians, and employees."
(G. Volpe: 'Storia del Movimento Fascista (History of the Fascist Movement),
in:. B. Mussolini: 'La Dottrina del Fascismo" (The Doctrine of Fascism)
Treves, 1933; p. 120).
"The Corporate State, is a new type of constitutional system in which
the employers and employed, grouped into mixed national corporations, play
a predominant part in the government of the country."
(P.Einzig: "The Economic Foundations of Fascism"; London; 1933; p 25).
"The Corporate State . . . is ‘government by the people’, for under
the Corporate State they have a control of their own destinies, economic,
social and political, by the method of electing representatives, not for
their general popularity in geographical, constituencies, but for their
tried knowledge and experience in their particular trade or industry. It
is 'government of the whole people' since the State and nation are identified
without the intervention of political parties or the artificial division
(H. E. Goad & M.Currey: "The Working of the Corporate State" London;
"In practice the corporations remained part of the machinery of authoritarian
government. Their officers were not elected but appointed from above. Though
the employers' representatives retained a limited degree of independence,
those of the workers were merely bureaucratic agents of the state. The
corporations served chiefly to regiment the working-class and to facilitate,
the extension of state control over the economy. The addition of a corporative
facade did nothing to modify the structure of dictatorial power".
The role of the corporations as a "democratic facade"
for a fascist dictatorship is illustrated by the f act, that the dictatorship
itself was established in October l922, and the first the Bill to establish
these corporations was not enacted until February l934, and the first meeting
of any of these corporations took place in January 1935:
Baker uses the term "corporate state" extensively in
his writings, but , as with many of the scientific terms which flow from
his pen, he appears to have no clear understanding of its meaning.
(G. Seton-Watson: "Italy From Liberalism to Fascism: 1870-1925"; London;
1967; p. 6)
In one place he simply equates the term with a
Labour government within "parliamentary democracy", speaking of compromise
with the Labour Government (i.e., the corporate state (M Baker: 'Workers',
Control"; London; 1976; p.21).
In another place, he appears to define a corporate
state as one which imposes state control of wages:
"The imposition of state control over wages is the corner-stone
and economic raison d’etre of the corporate state".
Elsewhere again, he appears to define a corporate state
as one which imposes state control of wages and nationalises the key
sectors of the economy, speaking of the:
(M. Baker: ibid.; p. 15).
"State control over wages and other aspects of the living standards
of the working class can be said to constitute the essence of the corporate
(M. Baker: Theses on the Anti-Fascist United Front; London; 1974; p.
"transformation of traditionally structured state monopoly-capitalism
into corporate state monopoly capitalism, based on state control
of wages and state-capitalist ownership of the the commanding heights of
None of the above "definitions" bears the remotest resemblance
to the correct definition of a corporate state. All the functions which
Baker appears to imply are the prerogatives of a corporate state – the
placing in office of a 'social-democratic' government, state control of
wages, nationalisation of the key sectors of the economy -- can be, and
often are, practised by what Baker calls, "traditionally structured" monopoly
(M.Baker; "The Economics of Oil and the Falling Rate of profit"; London;
n.d.; p. 1).
'In another place, however, Baker comes closer to a correct definition
of a corporate state. He describes it as one in which the trade unions
are absorbed into state "corporate organs"; one which brings about:
Nevertheless, although this state is described by Baker
as one which has "eliminated the last vestiges of independent proletarian
organisation", although it comprises:
"the elimination of the last vestiges of independent proletarian
organisation through the incorporation of the fundamental base organs of
struggle of the working class into the state framework.. . .
The strategic aim underlying the construction of the corporate state
is . . the absorption . . within the state apparatus of the last vestiges
., of independent action, their absorption into corporate 'organs".
(M. Baker: "Workers Control"; London; 1976; p. 7, 9).
"....modifications to the existing traditional state super-structure
of monopoly capitalism . which embody intensified, integrated, ‘totalitarian'
forms of class dictatorship of monopoly capital over the working class
and the working people: the corporate state",
it is not a fascist dictatorship, -- nor, in
fact, a corporate state --- - since it preserves "parliamentary democracy".
For within this state, "at the appropriate tactical moment",
(M. Baker: "The Economics of Oil and the Falling Rate of Profit"; London;
n.d.; p. 7).
"disgruntled politicians will seek to end the parliamentary system
of rule and to replace it by a fully fledged corporate structure on to
which will be grafted, as its ultimate expression and completion, the organisations
and mass movements of political thuggery and brutality which constitute
the mass base of the ‘open brutal and terrorist dictatorship of monopoly
Which Baker defines a few lines before as:
(M. Baker. "Workers Control"; London; l976; p. 21).
". . fascism".
In other words, "at the appropriate tactical moment",
(M. Baker; ibid; p. 21).
"Monopoly capital finds it necessary to absorb into it (the "corporate
state" - Ed) not only the trade unions, but also the political parties
and other institutions of the monopoly capitalist constitutional framework".
According to Baker, monopoly capital aims to construct
this "not fully fledged corporate state", which is associated with "parliamentary
democracy", relatively peacefully -- that is, without the aid of the violence
of fascist organisations, through social-democracy:
(M. Baker: "Theses on the Anti-Fascist United Front"'; London; 1974;
"In the first instance, and to the degree that the organised working-class
movement permits this, the monopoly-capitalist ruling class seeks to achieve
this aim (of establishing a "not fully fledged corporate state"-- Ed) through
relatively "peaceful" constitutional means without resorting to the building
of a reactionary fascist mass movement and the ‘unleashing 'of it against
the organised working-class. . . .
Later, however, "at the appropriate tactical moment"
In the building of the corporate state, monopoly capital is compelled
to rely primarily on the social democratic and reformist labour leaders,
and the foundations of the corporate state are laid in the main by putting
forward, and winning, acceptance for measures and institutions which, whilst
being presented as reflecting inroads made by the working class into the
monopoly capitalist state machinery, as ‘extensions of working class democracy’,
as ‘steps towards socialism’, etc…… in reality represent a diametrically
(M. Baker: ibid.; p. 3).
"Only then does monopoly capital seek to extend the corporate
state edifice by the imposition of complete, fascist, terroristic forms
What is this "appropriate tactical" moment when, and
"only when", monopoly capital seeks to 'impose fascist dictatorship?
(M. Baker: ibid; p.. 7) .
It is reached when, and "only when", according to
Firstly, the socialist revolutionary movement threatens
to embrace a majority of the working class, in revolutionary struggle;
Secondly, a strong, steeled Marxist-Leninist Party
has gained the leadership of a majority of the working class, so that the
approach of socialist revolution is seen to be imminent:
"Only when the Red Front (i.e, the socialist revolutionary movement,
-Ed), has grown to the point at which it threatens to embrace a majority
of the working-class in one form of revolutionary or quasi-revolutionary
struggle or another, .. and, finally, when all these developments push
forward . . . . to the point of growth of a strong Marxist-Leninist vanguard
party as the effective leadership of the Red Front and the Anti-Fascist
United Front -- a steeled Leninist party so that the storm clouds of the
approaching socialist-revolution come to be recognised in the distance
--- only then does monopoly capital seek to extend the corporate
state edifice, by the imposition of complete fascist terroristic forms
The "not fully-fledged corporate state" envisaged by
Baker is one which is:
(M. Baker: Ibid; p. 7).
"designed effectively to deprive the working class and its mass organisations,
of their basic independence and the fundamental rights and liberties in
which . . . that independence has been formally embodied, the freedom to
engage in struggle on behalf of the most fundamental interests of the working
class, the right to organise for struggle independently of the state or
of organisations under the control of other classes, to withhold their
labour to express their solidarity with other sections of the Working class
engaged in struggle, etc."
So, as Baker appears to admit, his 'not fully-fledged
corporate state", is designed to effect , so far as the working class is
concerned, what is done by a "fully-fledged fascist dictatorship":
(M. Baker 'The Economics of Oil and the Falling Rate of Profit"; London;
"In this way (by constructing a "not fully fledged corporat state"
–Ed) …. The monopoly capitalist ruling class attempts to achieve, in the
early stages of the developing crisis . . . . . the same aim as that achieved
-- and ultimately only achievable --- by a fully-fledged fascist dictatorship".
In other words, so great is Baker's contempt for the
working class, so devoid of any semblance of class consciousness does he
regard it, that he puts forward the theory that it is likely to surrender
all the fundamental rights and liberties it has won by more than a hundred
years of struggle, without the slightest resistance, that it will meekly
assist social-democracy in destroying its trade-unions -- in gagging and
(M. Baker: Theses on the Anti-Fascist United Front; London; 1974; p.)
While the revisionist CPGB preaches the illusion
of "peaceful transition to socialism", Baker preaches the illusion of "peaceful
transition to fascism".
History, of course, proves the opposite. Both in
Italy and in Germany the "corporate state" was erected after the
violent destruction of the working class organisations by fascist bands,
after (in the case of Italy, long after) the establishment of the
Even Palmiro Togliatti is compelled to say:
"Corporativism is not conceivable, is inconceivable without the
fascist state; corporativism is inconceivable without the dismantling
of whole system of democratic liberties. You will find clear, forthright
affirmations on this point in the documents of fascism. . . .
Baker’s concept - is that monopoly capitalism
unleashes fascist violence "only when" social revolution appears imminent.
In Italy, when fascist violence was unleashed in 1920-22, the working-class
had suffered severe defeat in the sabotage of the occupation movement,
and had not recovered from its resultant demoralisation. The "appropriate
tactical moment" when monopoly capital unleashes fascist violence, strives
to replace parliamentary democracy, occurs
In Italy corporativism was organised only after all the democratic
liberties had been 1iquidated', when the workers had been deprived of all
representation, when all the political parties had been destroyed, when
trade union freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly had been
liquidated, when every possibility of expressing oneself had been eliminated.
This was the political premise of corporativism Corporativism is inconceivable
without the existence of fascism as a political dictatorship."
(P.Togliatti; "Lectures on Fascism"; London; 1976; p. 97).
for any reason ---and not merely because of the imminence of socialist
revolutiion – "parliamentary democracy" has become, at least temporarily
unworkable in the interests of monopoly capital.
What, then, is the political effect of Baker's erroneous
concepts concerning the "corporate state"?
The political policy which must logically follow
from these erroneous concepts is
1) that it is unnecessary for the working class to build up an effective
movement to resist fascism until the movement for socialist revolution
has become well advanced;
Baker’s erroneous concept of the "corporate state" thus
serves as a new "theoretical framework" that seeks to justify a policy
of sabotage in the building of a genuine anti-fascist united front at the
earliest possible moment.
2) that until this stage is reached the main blows of the working class
must be orientated against social-democracy ("social-fascism") since it
is social-democracy which is allotted the task of building the "semi-fascist
not fully-fledged corporate state" envisaged by Baker.
Baker presents the advent of a "corporate state" --
whether in its "earlier" form of the semi-fascist "not fully-fledged corporate
state", or in its "later" form of the full fascist dictatorship – as:
4) Baker's Theory of "The Third Stage"
"the emergence of the new stage in the development of capitalism
which we have termed corporate state-monopoly capitalism".
Lenin, on the other hand, characterises two
stages in the development of capitalism: firstly, the stage of competitive
(M.Baker: "Dialectical Materialism"; London 1975; p.iii)
Secondly; the stage of monopoly capitalism
or imperialism, which he characterises as:
"the highest historical stage of development";
of capitalism, that is, as its last stage of
(V.I.Lenin: "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism", In "Selected
Works"; Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 11)
"Imperialism is the eve of the proletarian social revolution".
In putting his "theory" of a "third stage" in the development
of capitalism, a 'stage
(V. I. Lenin; ibid; p. 12).
beyond imperialism’, Baker is magnanimously prepared to excuse:
"the subsequently established scientific inaccuracy!' '
of Lenin’s definition, the result of his
(M.Baker: ibid.; p. iii).
Now, of course, Marxist-Leninists do not regard the
writings of Marx, Lenin, etc. as some kind of "holy writ". As has been
said, they accept that as the world changes certain tenets of Marxism-Leninism
lose their validity - and must be replaced by new tenets.
(M.Baker: ibid.; p. iv).
Nevertheless, Marxist-Leninists do not discard long-established
tenets of Marxism-Leninism without incontrovertible evidence that they
are not – or are no longer -- valid.
In analysing the relationship of different forms
of state to society, Marxists-Leninists distinguish the economic basis
of society, which is primary, from the superstructure of society,
which is secondary and determined from the requirements of the economic
"the economic society always furnishes the real basis, starting from
which we can alone work out the ultimate explanation of the whole superstructure
of juridical and political institutions as well as of the religious, philosophical
and other ideas of a given historical period".
Now, the transition from the first stage of capitalism,
that of competitive capitalism, to the second stage of monopoly capitalism,
represents a change in the economic basis of society.
(F.Engels: "Herr Eugen Duhring's Revolution in Science" Moscow; l959;
"The basis is the economic structure of society at the given stage of
development..: The superstructure is the political, religious, artistic,
philosophical views of society and political and other institutions corresponding
to them. Every basis has its ' own corresponding superstructure . . . .
The superstructure is created by the basis precisely in order to serve
it, to actively help it to take shape and consolidate itself".
(J.V.Stalin: "Concerning Marxism and Linguistics"; London; 1968; p.
But a change in the form of the state within capitalism,
represents a change not in the economic basis of capitalism, but of its
superstructure, as Baker admits when he refers to:
".. modifications to the existing traditional superstructures of monopoly
capitalism corporate state".
But such a change of the state superstructure, unlike
a change in the economic basis, does not represent not represent
the transition to a new stage in the development of capitalism.
(M. Baker: "The Economics of Oil and the Falling Rate of Profit; London;
n.d. p. 7).
Of course, the development of the economic basis
of capitalism from the stage of competitive capitalism to that of monopoly
capitalism brings about a modification of the state superstructure. Lenin
analysed state-monopoly capitalism as an inevitable development
of capitalism, a stage of development of imperialism, characterised
by the facts that:
Firstly, the state had ceased to be the machinery of rule of the capitalist
class as a whole and had become, that of the most powerful monopoly capitalist
True, Lenin speaks of "the transformation of monopoly
capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism"? Could it be that he means that
state monopoly capitalism is a stage in the "development of capitalism
beyond monopoly capitalism?
"The monstrous oppression of the masses of the toilers by the state
-- which is becoming more and more merged with the all powerful capitalist
combines -- is becoming ever more monstrous".
(V. I. Lenin: Preface to the First Edition of "The State and Revolution",
in: "Selected Works", Volume 7; London; 1946; p. 5).
Secondly, by the fact that there had been a great expansion of the apparatus
and role of the state:
"Imperialism – the era of the transformation of monopoly capitalism
into state-monopoly capitalism has particularly witnessed an unprecedented
strengthening of the 'state machine’, and an unprecedented growth of its
bureaucratic and military apparatus".
(V.I.Lenin: 'The State and Revolution,' in: ibid; p.32).
This interpretation is not possible, since Lenin
describes imperialism as "the era of the transformation of monopoly
capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism", and uses everywhere "imperialism"
as a synonym for monopoly capitalism:
"Imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism".
Clearly, Lenin's meaning is not that state monopoly
capitalism is a new stage in the development of capitalism beyond monopoly
capitalism, beyond imperialism, but that within monopoly
capitalism, within imperialism, "free enterprise" monopoly-capitalism
develops into state-monopoly capitalism.
(V. I. Lenin: "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism"; in: "Selected
Works" Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 80-1)
Does Baker's concept of "corporate state-monopoly
capitalism", with its modified state superstructure, -- whether in its
imaginary "not full-fledged" form, or in its real form of a fascist-dictatorship
– contain qualitatively new features in its economic basis which
distinguishes it from the state-monopoly-capitalism analysed by Lenin?
Clearly, it does not.
Baker's concept of "corporate state monopoly capitalism"
as a new "third stage" in the development of capitalism – a concept, which
has real meaning only as a fascist dictatorship -- involves such absurdities
as requiring one to believe that, with the imposition of fascist dictatorship
in Italy in 1922, and in Germany in 1933, those monopoly capitalist societies
advanced to a new "third stage" in the development of capitalism – only
to revert to the "second stage" with the restoration of to "parliamentary
democracy" in these countries following World War II.
It would, however, be a mistake to dismiss
Baker's anti-Leninist concept of the "third" stage as a pathetic, and unsuccessful
attempt to establish himself as "a greater Marxist-Leninist than Lenin".
For what are the conclusions which logically and
incontrovertibly, flow from Baker’s "theory" that "corporative state-monopoly
capitalism" represents a new "third stage" in the development of capitalism,
so that it (i.e. the fascist dictatorship) and not imperialism (monopoly
capitalist) is the "last" stage in the development of imperialism and even
of "the eve of the socialist revolution"?
The conclusions which flow from it --- conclusions
which Baker has not dared, at least as yet, to put on paper, although he
has implied them verbally in discussions within the MLOB --- are that the
replacement of "parliamentary democracy" by fascism is historically progressive,
since it advances capitalist society to its "final" stage, to "the eve
of the socialist revolution", and consequently, resistance to fascism is
One recalls the words of the German revisionist Wilhelm
Pieck at the 13th. Plenum of the ECCI in December 1933, in the
days when he was still following a "leftist" course:
In discussions within the MLOB, Baker not infrequently
expressed the view that the strategy and tactics of the Communist Party
of Germany in 1929-33 should be adopted as the model for Marxist-Leninist
Parties in developed capitalist countries.
It is of significance that, although the CPG had
in 1933 250,000 members (five times the membership of the Bolshevik Party
at the time of the socialist revolution in Russia), a para-military organisation
of 100,000, and more than 5 million supporters, there was virtually no
resistance to the imposition of the fascist dictatorship in January of
"With only the revolutionary vanguard, without the mass following of
the decisive-proletarian strata, it was impossible for the CPG to take
up a hopeless struggle against the fascist dictatorship, condemned in advance
To Marxist-Leninists, who hold that the imposition of
a fascist-dictatorship represents a serious setback for the working class
and the revolutionary socialist movement, it might seem from this that
the strategy and/or critics of the CPG in 1929-33 were seriously defective.
(CC, CPG:, Resolution of May,1933, in: J. Degras (Ed..): "'The Communist
International: 1919-1943: Documents"; Volume 3; Oxford; 1965; p.254-5).
But to those who, like Baker, may regard the imposition
of a fascist dictatorship as a historically progressive development, it
is natural that the strategy, and tactics of the CPG in 1929-33 should
be regarded as highly successful, as the model which should be adopted
by Marxist-Leninists in developed capitalist country.
In examining the strategy and tactics of the CPG in
1929-33, it is mainly with tactics that we are concerned. Not all
the tactics adopted by the CPG in this period were originated in this period,
some dating from an early period when socialist-revolution in Europe was
regarded as imminent. But by 1925 it had become clear, that the post-World
War I revolutionary tide had subsided in Europe and that capitalism was
entering a period of stabilisation:
6) The Question of Strategy and Tactics
"Instead of the period of flow of the revolutionary tide that we observed
in Europe in the years of the-post-war crisis, we now see a period of ebb.
This means that the question of taking power is not now on the order of
the day in Europe."
And of course, tactical principles which may be perfectly
correct in a period of revolutionary upsurge, may cease to be correct at
a later period. Indeed, in introducing united front tactics in 1921, the
Communist International made precisely this point.
(J. V. Stalin: Political Report of the Central Committee, 14th
Congress CPSU, December 1925, in: "Works", Volume, 7; Moscow; 1954; p.
It was long Baker's contention within the MLOB that
so long as fundamental strategy was correct, tactics – even incorrect tactics
were of minor importance.
But the science of socialist revolution is made up
of two parts: strategy and tactics:
"Strategy and tactics (is) the science of leadership in the class struggle
of the proletariat."
(J. V. Stalin: "The Foundations of Leninism", in: "Works", Volume 6,
Moscow; 1953; p. 155).
"the determination of the direction of the main blow of the proletariat
at a given stage of the revolution, the revolution, the elaboration of
a corresponding plan for the disposition of the revolutionary forces (main
and secondary reserves), the fight to carry out this plan throughout the
given stage of the revolution".
(J. V.Stalin; Ibid; p.157).
"remains basically unchanged throughout a given stage".
(J. V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 159).
"Are the determination of the line of conduct of the proletariat in
the comparatively short period of the flow or ebb of the movement. . .
While the object of strategy is to win the war . ., tactics pursue less
important objects, for their aim is not the winning of the war as a whole,
but the winning of some particular engagements or some particular battles,"
(J. V. Stalin: ibid,; p.159).
"change according to flow and ebb. . . . During a given stage of the
revolution tactics may change several tines, depending on the flow or ebb,
the rise or, decline, of the revolution". (J.V. Stalin: ibid; p. 160, 161).
"are a part of strategy, subordinate to it & serving it".
Correct tactics can only be determined on the basis
of accurate knowledge of, and scientific analysis of, the concrete objective
conditions especially the relation of class forces -- existing at the particular
time in the particular country:
(J.V.Stalin: ibid; p.160).
"In determining its line of tactics each Communist Party must take
into account the concrete internal and external situation, the correlation
of class forces, the degree of stability and strength of the bourgeoisie,
the degree of preparedness of the proletariat, the position taken up by
the various intermediary strata etc., in its country".
It will be noted that Stalin states that tactics "pursue
less important objects" than strategy. Does this mean that, as Baker holds,
tactics are of less importance than strategy so that Marxist-Leninists
need play less attention to tactics than to strategy?
(Programme of the Communist International; London; 1932; p. 61).
In one sense tactics may be regarded as of less importance
than strategy -- in the sense that an individual battle (such as a strike)
may be lost through the adoption of incorrect tactics without affecting
the outcome of the war as a whole.
But strategy is put into operation during each phase
of the war through tactics, so that if a whole series of battles are lost
as a result of the continued adoption of incorrect tactics, a correct strategy
may be rendered null and void.
Furthermore, certain battles in a war between states
must be regarded as "decisive" in that their outcome affects the
history of the war at least for a long time to come. If, as a result of
the adoption of incorrect tactics by the General Staff of one state involved
in such a battle, the army of that state is smashed to pieces, its soldiers
disarmed and taken prisoner, then these incorrect tactics have clearly
affected the history of the war for a long period.
If the establishment of a fascist dictatorship
in a developed capitalist country results in the smashing of the army of
.the working class, then this will clearly affect the history of the class
war for a long period. If this is so, then the struggle against fascism
represents a decisive battle in the class war, and it is supremely
important that the General Staff of the working class -- the Marxist-Leninist
Party should have elaborated the correct tactics for the struggle against
6 b) The Question of the "Red" Trade Union
A task of cardinal importance for the Marxist-Leninist
Party is to win the support of a majority of trade unionists to a progressive
and ultimately a revolutionary -- policy.
This requires that every member of the Party should
work actively within his appropriate trade union in accordance with the
strategy and tactics laid down by the Party.
It requires that two or more Party members within
the same union should form an organised fraction for this purpose.
It requires that a Party fraction should strive to
win non-Party progressive trade unionists to collaborate with the fraction,
so that they may participate in broader, non-disciplined progressive groups
-- led, if possible by the Party fraction -- with the aim of winning them
to support within the trade union the strategy and tactics laid down by
the Party, in their own interest.
Such proggressive trade unionists can then be invited
to study classes organised by the Party, they can be sold appropriate Party
literature, etc. with the aim of winning them into membership of the Party
-- and so into membership of the narrower, disciplined Party fraction within
the trade union.
The name by which such "progressive groups" within
the trade unions are called is not of great importance. Nevertheless, a
trade unionist who is prepared to struggle for higher wages and better
living conditions and who recognises that this can only be done from below
against the existing leadership of his union, may be yet far from being
a revolutionary socialist. To insist that such "progressive" groups
within the trade-unions be called "red" or "revolutionary"
is to place a barrier against participation in them by such trade unionists,
to hold back the struggle to transform the reformist-led trade unions into
real organs of working class struggle, to retard the recruiting of progressive
trade unionists to the Party.
The insistence on calling such 'progressive groups"
within trade unions by the name of Red Trade Union Opposition or,
Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition was thus a "leftist" tactical
The transformation of reformist-led trade unions into
real organs of struggle can be accomplished only from within these trade
unions by correct fractional struggle which exposes the role of the right-wing
bureaucratic leaders to the rank-and-file:
6 c) The Question of the "Red" Trade Unions
"The struggle must be waged ruthlessly to the very end until all the
incorrigible leaders of opportunism and social-chauvinism have been completely
discredited and expelled from the trade unions".
In some unions the bureaucracy will succeed in using
the union machinery to prevent their expulsion by the will of the majority
of the membership. In such cases it is correct, provided certain conditions
pertain, to break away from the old union machinery and establish new "independent
unions" (independent, that is, of the right-wing bureaucracy).
(V. I. Lenin:""Left-wing' Communism, an Infantile. Disorder", in Selected
Works"; Volume 10; London; 1946; p. 92).
The pamphlet "What is to be Done Now?" was written
and published by Baker in collusion with Scott in 1973, without it having
been approved by the MLOB. The promise extracted from Baker that this would
not recur proved one of the "fetters" which Baker found intolerable in
relation to the MLOB. However, in the circumstances in which it appeared,
it must be presumed to express Baker's views on the conditions under which
it is correct to form such new "independent trade unions". Marxist-Leninists,
writes Baker, must take care to avoid:
"the sectarian error of setting up independent organisations before
the task of exposing the labour lieutenants before sufficient workers to
generate the new embryo organisations has been fulfilled, that is: a) when
the great majority of the members have been convinced by their own experience
of the need to have an independent unions; and b) when they are convinced
by their own experience that the bureaucratic machinery of the existing
union cannot be used to transform the existing union along the lines required".
We are in agreement with this formulation, which is
in line with Lenin's scathing criticism of the moves to set up minority
"red unions" in Germany in 1919-20:
(M. Baker: "What is to be Done Now?"; London; 1973; P. 19).
"We cannot but consider the ponderous, very learned, and frightfully
revolutionary disquisitions of the German Lefts on why Communists cannot
and should not work in reactionary trade unions, why it is permissible
to refuse to do such work, why it is necessary to leave the trade unions
and to create in their stead brand-new, clean little ‘workers' unions’
invented by exceedingly nice, (and, for the most part, probably very youthful)
Communists, etc., to be equally ridiculous and childish nonsense. . .
In flagrant contradiction with this sound principle
of Marxist-Leninist tactics, Solomon Lozovsky,
the leader of the Red International of Labour Unions,
was telling the ECCI Trade Union Commission in 1929:
The German 'Left,' Communists . . jump to the conclusion that ..it
is necessary to . . . . create new, artificial forms of labour organisations!!
This is an unpardonable blunder equivalent to the greatest, service the
Communists could render the bourgeoisie. . . . . It is imperatively necessary
to work wherever the masses are to be found."
(V. I. Lenin; ibid.; p.90, 93, 94).
"Where is the most backward, the most reactionary part of the working
class today? That part of the working class which is organised in the reformist
trade unions. . . . .
Already, in line with this policy, the 4th. Congress
of the RILU in March/April 1928, had adopted a resolution calling for the
transformation of the Communist fractions in the trade unions into new
Our comrades put forward the slogan: ‘Join the reformist unions’. .
. . I consider that that slogan is unsound. . . . . I propose to unite
the vanguard it mutual aid societies . . . . . ‘Conquer the Trade Unons!’
…. That is an empty scheme, and nothing will come of it"
(S. Lozovsky: Speech to ECCI Trade Union-Commission, in. "Communist
International". Volume 6, No. 17; July l5th.; 1929; p. 659, 661, 662).
The 5th, Congress of the RILU ratified:
"…. the decision of the revolutionary trade union opposition in Germany
and Poland to drop the slogan of ‘into the reformist unions'".
As a result of this pernicious 'leftist" policy, by
the end of 1932 the Red Trade Unions had a membership of 95,000, against
a membership of the reformist-led trade unions of more than 5 million.
(5th. Congress RILU: Resolution, in: J. Degras (Ed.): "The Communist
International: 1919-1943: Documents", Volume 3; Oxford; 1965, p. 142).
Already by the middle of.1932, however, voices were
being raised in condemnation of this policy:
"It was a grave mistake to have liquidated the Red opposition groups
in the mines after the formation of the Red Union of Miners, . . . .
At the 13th Plenum of the ECCI in December
1933, B.A.Vasiliev pointed out
Had active groups existed within the reformist miners’ unions during
the preparations for the actual strike, we would have been able to capture
a number of union meetings called to disrupt the struggle. . . .
The absence of work within the reformist union facilitates the trade
union bureaucracy in all their manoeuvres".
(S. Perevoznikov: "Lessons,
of the Miners' Strike Struggle in the Ruhr in: "Communist International"
, Volume 11; July 1st; 1932; p.407).
"…if the CPG had had good fractions in mass organisations, they would
have survived the destruction of the legal apparatus of those organisations".
The "Materials" published by the ECCI for the 7th, World
Congress of the CI in July/August 1935 were designed to turn the international
communist movement on to a right revisionist course and so were blunt about
the effects of the former "leftist" policy in relation to the trade-unions,
pointing out that the Party had:
(B. A. Vasiliev: Speech at 13th. Plenum ECCI in:. J. Degras (Ed.) ibid.;
"…in many places created new unions artificially and without mass support,
instead of working within the reformist unions, and as a result, found
itself isolated from the great mass of members of the reformist unions".
And at the congress itself, Wilhelm
Pieck, reporting on behalf of the ECCI, said:
(ECCI: Materials for the 7th World Congress of the CI, in: J. Degras
(Ed.); ibid. p. 53).
"Again a sectarian mistake was committed; the revolutionary trade union
opposition was transformed into new unions and as a result found itself
isolated from the great mass of members of the reformist unions".
On March 5th., 1933 the CPG appealed for a general strike
against the fascist coup. As Ossip Piatnitsky
told the ECCI President in July 1934, there was a:
(W. Pieck: Report at 7th. World Congress CI in J. Degras (Ed. ibid.;
"failure of the workers to respond".
The policy of the ECCI and the CPG towards the trade
union movement in 1929-33 was clearly a most harmful "leftist" one.
(O.Piatnitsky: Speech at ECCI .'Presidium, July 1934, in: J. Degras;
ibid; p-. 251).
Furthermore, the same objections already considered
to calling "progressive groups" within trade unions by the name of "Red"
also apply equally
to insistence on calling "independent trade unions"
by the name "Red" or "Revolutionary".
This places a barrier against membership of
them by trade unionists who recognise the need for an "independent trade
union" to struggle for their day-to-day interests, but may ye be far from
being revolutionary socialists.
This, too, is a "leftist" error.
6 d) The Question of the Distinction between
"Parliamentary Democracy" and Fascism
Marxist-Leninists recognise that "parliamentary democracy"
is a false facade which conceals the dictatorship of the capitalist class.
It is their aim to replace "parliamentary democracy" by the more
democratic dictatorship of the working class.
Nevertheless, Marxist-Leninists understand that the
"parliamentary democratic", form of capitalist state, as distinct from
the fascist corporate state, is associated with possession by the working
people of certain democratic rights and liberties which are valuable
to them in their day-to-day struggles, and which facilitate the building
of a movement of socialist revolution.
It is clearly of benefit to the development of the
movement of socialist revolution that workers should be able legally to
form independent organs of struggle, that a Marxist-Leninist Party should
be able to operate legally, to publish literature legally, to hold meetings
and demonstrations legally, to stand candidates for election legally, so
that they may use the positions to which they are elected to raise the
political level of the working people.
Thus, the replacement of "parliamentary democracy"
by a fascist dictatorship is detrimental to the interests of the working-class,
is detrimental to the building of the movement for socialist revolution.
If this analysis is correct, then it is clearly
vitally important in the interests of the working-class, in the interests
of the socialist revolutionary movement, to construct an effective resistance
force against fascism.
If, on the other hand, this analysis is rejected
and it is held that there is no qualitative distinction between a "parliamentary
democratic" state and a fascist state; then the construction of an effective
resistance to fascism is held to be of little or no importance, and "anti-fascism"
is regarded merely as an aspect, a slogan, of the socialist-revolutionary
The "leftist" leadership of the CI held in 1929-43,
that there was no qualitative distinction between a ''parliamentary
democratic" state and a fascist state, and this line was loyally followed
by the Communist Party of Germany:
At the 11th Plenum of the ECCI in March/April 1931,
Dmitri Manuilsky said;
"Mistakes in our midst which occur in the direction of opposing in
principle fascism to bourgeois democracy, constitute the most pernicious
and destructive mistakes for the Communist movement. At this moment this
represents our chief danger. . ......
A resolution of the Central Committee of the CPG in
March 1932 called for the overcoming of:
The Social-Democrats deliberately proclaim that the chief enemy of
the working class is fascism. . . .. to create the impression among the
workers, that they must struggle for the ‘democratic’ forms of their exploitation
and against the fascist form".
(D. Z. Manuilsky; "The Communist Parties & the Crisis of Capitalism";
London; 1931; p.111; 112).
"There have been revealed in our ranks tendencies to draw a contrast
between fascism and bourgeois democracy . . . That is the worst danger
for the Communist Party".
(E.Thalmann: "Some Mistakes
in the Theoretical and Practical Work of the CP of Germany and the Way
to Overcome Them"., in: "'International Press Correspondence", Volume 11
No.63; December l0th; 1931; p.1137).
".. every tendency to draw a liberal contrast between bourgeois democracy
and fascist dictatorship".
This "leftist" misrepresentation was associated with
the claim that the restrictions imposed by "parliamentary democracy" –
even though the CPG remained legal, was able to hold meetings and demonstrations
legally, was able to contest elections at all levels - - amounted to
(CC, CPG: Resolution, March 1932, in: J. Degras (Ed.) ibid.; p.215).
As early as January 1931, Thalmann
was telling the CC of the CPG:
"The Bruning government can ..."be characterised as the government
for the carrying out of the fascist dictatorship".
In June 1932, the CC of the CPG was describing the Papen
(E.Thaelmann: Report to Meeting of CC, CGB, January 1931, in: "International
Press Correspondence"; Volume 11 No. 3; January 22nd; 1931;
"..a government of the blackest fascist reaction".
At a conference of Party functionaries in August 1932,
Thalmann was declaring:
(CC, CPG, Appeal, in; "International Press Correspondence"; Volume
12, No. 26; June 9th, 1932; p. 527).
"The further policy of the Papen government, as the government of the
fascist dictatorship is directing towards accomplishing and rearming the
In December 1932 the CI journal was saying:
(E. Thalmann: "The Results of the 31st. July and the Next Tasks of
the CPG", in "International Press Correspondence"; Volume12; No 35; August
l1th; 1932; p.726).
"Schleicher’s fascist government is trying to camouflage its actually
intensified fascist regime by a few ‘social’ gestures".
This "leftist" political misrepresentation continued
right through the period to the actual imposition of the fascist dictatorship
from December 1930, when the CPG paper, declared:
If the replacement of "parliamentary democracy" by a
fascist dictatorship is detrimental to the interests of the working class,
is detrimental to the building of the movement for a socialist revolution,
then it is clearly, vitally important to construct an effective resistance
("International Press Correspondence", Volume 12, December 15th., 1932;
Baker's "Theses on the Anti-Fascist United Front",
published in November 1974, are an eclectic melange of some of Baker’s
own views with some which were adopted by a majority of members. With Baker's
principal thesis the Communist League entirely agrees:
'In order to defeat the attempt of monopoly capital to impose a fascist
dictatorship, .. it is necessary for the Red Front (the socialist revolutionary
movement -- Ed) and the Marxist-Leninist Party to take the initiative in
building . . . a broader front of resistance to fascism . . . . an Anti-Fascist
United Front. . . .
If, on the other hand, this analysis is rejected,
and it is held that there is no qualitative difference between a "parliamentary
democratic" state and a fascist state then the construction of an effective
resistance to fascism, in the form of a broad anti-fascist united front,
is held to be of little or no importance, and "anti- fascism"
is regarded merely as an aspect, a slogan, of the socialist revolutionary
It is vitally necessary.. . that its ranks should be open
to all organisations and individuals which, irrespective of their current
attitude to the socialist revolution or, indeed, to any other question
-- are prepared to participate actively in resistance to fascism".
(M. Baker "Theses on the Anti-Fascist United Front"; London, 1974;
This latter was, logically enough on the basis of
the false premise that the position of the CPG. In the earlier part of
the period under consideration: that the fight against fascism is the
fight for socialist revolution:
"The Communist Party sets itself the task of frustrating the maturing
of the fascist dictatorship by advocating the strategy of the proletarian
Later however, as the pressure for a united front against
fascism rose among the working class, including the rank-and-file of the
CPG, this slogan "for the building of a united front against fascism" ---
was adopted by the Party, but, in line with the political position described
in the previous paragraph, was termed a "red" or "revolutionary" united
front against fascism, thus presenting a barrier to participation in it
of anyone who did not already support socialist revolution:
(CC, CPG: Resolution, January 1931, in: "International-Press Correspondence".,
Volume 11, No. 3; January 22nd., 1931; p. 81).
"In Germany it is necessary to direct the blow against the bourgeois
dictatorship in the form of the Bruning Government. . . .
The whole theory of the 'lesser evil' rests on the presupposition that
fascism of the Hitler type represents the chief enemy".
(D. Z. Manuilsky: "The Communist Parties and the Crisis of Capitalism";
London; 1931; p. 112).
"The chief slogan which the CPG must put forward to offset the slogan
of the fascist dictatorship. . . . is the slogan of the workers’ and peasants’
republic, i.e., Socialist Soviet Germany".
(12th; Plenum ECCI. Theses on the International Situation
and the Tasks of the Comintern Sections, in; J. Degras (.Ed.): ibid.; p.
"For a revolutionary united front against the reaction from Severing
to Hitler!. . . Vote for a Free Socialist Soviet Germany!"
Even when, on the initiative of the CPG, the "anti-fascist
united front" was given organisational form in May 1932 as "Anti-Fascist
Action", this was described as,
(CPG: "Appeal Concerning the Presidential Election"; "International
Press Correspondence", Volume 12, No. 2; January 14th., 1932; p. 23).
"Only the red united front of the militant working class can repel fascism.
. . . For the red united front!".
(CC, CPG: Appeal to Social-Democratic Workers, in: "International Press
Correspondence"; Volume 12, No.18; April 21st. , 1932; p. 350).
"a revolutionary united front against fascism".
and workers were urged to join:
(E.Thalmann: Report to CC, CPG, in: "International Press Correspondence";
Volume 12.; No.24; June 2nd; 1932; p.499).
"under the slogan of the Anti-Fascist Act ion, the fighting Red-United
Front against the class enemy".
And, answering questions from social-democratic workers
in mid-July 1932, Thalmann made it clear that the aim of Anti-Fascist Action
(CC, CPG: "The Overthrow of the Bruning Government", in: "International
Press Correspondence", Volume 12, No. 24; June 2nd., 1932; p. 480).
"the smashing of the capitalist state".
Furthermore, it was made quite clear that organisations
and functionaries of the Social-Democratic Party would be refused participation
in the "anti-fascist united front":
(E.Thalmann: "Answers to 21 Questions from Social-Democratic Workers,".
Berlin; 1932; p.14).
"The Communists cannot enter into any bloc or agreement with social-democracy".
This "leftist" formulation enabled the SPG leaders
to make offers of participation in a united front against fascism to the
CPG, knowing in advance that they would be rejected. Thus, instead of exposing
the opposition of the SPG leaders to organising a genuine anti-fascist
united front, it was the CPG leaders who were exposed:
(W. Florin: "Fascism, Social-Democracy and Communism", in: "International
Press Correspondence", in: Volume 12, No.18; April 21st, 1932; p.349).
"Is an alliance of the CPG and the SPG possible in the struggle against
the Papen government and against fascism?
An alliance between the CPG and the SPG is impossible. . . .
We Communists reject any accord with the SPG leaders".
(E. Thalmann: "Answers to 21 Questions from Social-Democratic Workers";
Berlin; 1932; p.17).
"How great is the danger is to be seen at the present time from the
latest manoeuvre of the social fascists (the SPG leaders -- Ed) who 'threaten'
to make a united front with the Communist Party. The CP of Germany has
not created all the prerequisites in order to be easily able to thwart
such attempts to mislead the masses".
The tactics of the CPG in relation to the building of
a broad anti-fascist united front were clearly harmfully "leftist".
(E. Thalmann.''Some Mistakes in the Theoretical and Practical Work
of the CP of Germany and the Way to Overcome Them"; in: "International
Press Correspondence"; Volume 11, No. 63; December 10th. 1931; p 1137).
Up to the time of World War 1, parties representing
the interests of the working class were generally known as "social-democratic"
parties, and the systematised views of these parties as "social-democracy".
6 f) The Question of "Social-fascism"
With the degeneration of these parties into political
instruments of the monopoly capitalists of the various countries, Lenin
coined a number of terms such as "social-imperialists" "social-chauvinist";
etc.; to denote an imperialist posing as a social-democrat, a chauvinist
posing as a social-democrat etc.
The crypto-revisionist leadership of the Communist
International in 1930-33, coined the term "social-fascist", meaning
by analogy with the terminology developed by Lenin, a fascist posing
as a social-democrat.
It is true that social-democracy, to the extent that
it exerts mass influence over the working class, assists in the
development of fascism. It is equally true that social-democracy, in office,
is capable of severe repressive measures against the working class and
the socialist revolutionary movement. But is it true that the only difference
between a fascist and a social-democrat, is that the latter is a fascist
posing as a social-democrat, is a crypto-fascist?
If, this latter statement were true, then with the
establishment of a fascist dictatorship social-democrats could throw off
their masks and reveal themselves as fascists. But history shows that this
is a rare phenomenon.
We understand that it is the contention of one of
your leading members that with the imposition of fascism in Germany, the
so-called democratic leaders were simply "pensioned off.". This is contrary
to historical fact. Even Baker a strong proponent of the term "social-fascism",
"the massacre of the leaders of German Social-democracy which followed
the very day after they turned out on parade before Hitler on May Day 1933
could well be repeated here in Britain".
The application of the term "social-fascism" to social-democracy
equates social-democracy with fascism. This is untrue. Social-democracy
assists in the development of fascism, but it professes anti-fascism;
a fascist dictatorship is established directly, not by social-democracy
but by the violence of the fascist gangs. There is a certain real
competition between social-democracy and fascism for the service of monopoly
(M. Baker: "Workers' Control"; London; 1976; p.21),.
But where there is any contradiction between enemies
of the working class, no matter how small these may be, it is the task
of Marxist-Leninists, to strive in their tactics to utilise such a contradiction
for the benefit of the working class:
"It is possible to conquer the more powerful enemy, only by exerting
the utmost effort, and by necessarily, thoroughly, carefully, attentively
and skilfully taking advantage of every, even the smallest ‘fissure' among
And where the working class is faced at a particular
time, with two enemies, between which there is some contradiction,
the task of the Marxist-Leninist Party is to direct the struggle of the
working class against the principal, most immediately dangerous enemy
and to strive to take advantage --of the contradiction between the
principal and the secondary enemies in order to expose the latter to
the working class. These were the tactics developed by Lenin when,
in September 1917, the working class was faced with direct attack by Whiteguard
troops under Lavr Kornilov while
the social-democratic government of Aleksandr
Kerensky mouthed words of resistance:
(V. I. Lenin: " 'Left-wing' Communism, an Infantile Disorder" , in:
"Selected Works"; Volume 10; London; 1946 p.112).
"We will fight and are fighting Kornilov . . . . . But, we do not support
Kerensky; on the contrary, we expose his weakness.. . . We shall point
out to the people (who are fighting Kornilov) the weakness and vacillation
In Germany in 1930-33, the fascist party was
being armed and financed by the monopoly capitalists with the aim of the
establishment, through this party, of a terroristic dictatorship over the
working people, while the social-democratic party although mouthing
"anti-fascism", was in practice sabotaging the building of an effective
resistance to fascism.
(V. I. Lenin: "To the Central Committee of the RSDLP", September 12th.,
l9l7; in: "Selected Works"; Volume 6; London; 1946 p.205, 206).
Clearly, in those circumstances the fascist party
was the principal most immediately dangerous enemy of the working class,
against which the principal struggle of the working class should
have been directed, while the social-democratic party was a secondary,
less immediately dangerous, enemy which required primarily to be exposed
-- not least because of its sabotage in practice of the anti-fascist movement.
The use of the term "social-fascism" by the CPG in
this period had the effect of equating fascism and social-democracy, of
directing the struggle with equal emphasis against the principal enemy
– fascism and the secondary enemy social-democracy – and so - both weakening
the struggle against the principal enemy, and failing adequately to expose
the secondary enemy.
On the latter point, it must be said that our experience
in the anti-fascist movement in Britain today completely confirms this
conclusion: the use of the term "social-fascist" to describe not only social-democracy,
but revisionism and trotskyism:
"The 'CPGB' and the trotskyite parties and organisations may be considered
as the parties of social-fascism."
--- not only fails to expose the leaders of these political
trends to the rank-and-file, but tends to rally the rank-and-file
behind these leaders in indignation at what they consider to be
mere unjustified insulting abuse.
(M. Baker: "The Economics of Oil and the The Rate of Profit"; London;
Nevertheless, in the period 1930-33 the CI had the
CPG made constant use of the terms "social-fascist" and "social-fascist",
making it clear that they rejected any practical, distinction between
social-democracy and fascism:
"There have been revealed in our ranks tendencies to draw a contrast
between the Hitler party and social fascism. . .
The use of the term "social-fascism" by the CPG in 1930-33
was a "leftist" tactical error.
That is the worst danger for the Communist Party".
(E. Thalmann: "Some Mistakes in the theoretical and Practical Work
of the CP of Germany and the Way to Overcome Them", in: "International
Press Correspondence"; Volume 11; No.63; December 10th., 1931; p.1137).
"The masses must come to realise in the actual fights led by the CPG
that it is not a question of contrasting the national socialists with social-democracy,
but that it is a question of either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie
or the dictatorship of the proletariat."
(Editorial, "Pravda", March l7th; l932, in "International Press Correspondence",
Volume 12, No:14; March 24th l932; p. 276).
It is true that the leadership of both the CI and the
CPG in this period sometimes spoke against the equation of social-democracy
with fascism. But this was not done in order to present fascism as the
principal most immediately dangerous enemy of the working class, but to
present as the principal enemy of the working class, against which the
main struggle of the working class should be directed, social-democracy:
6 g) The Question of Social-Democracy As
"the Principal Enemy"
"Social-fascism . . was the chief force making for the establishment
of fascist dictatorship".
This line was continued not only right up to the fascist
coup of January 1933:
(E. Thalmann: Report to CC CPG, October 1929, in: J. Degras (Ed.):
ibid.; p. 100).
"Only by directing the main blows against social-democracy will it be
possible to strike and defeat the chief class enemy of the proletariat
--- the bourgeoisie".
(ECCI: Theses on the International Situation and the Tasks of the Sections
of the CI, in: "International Press Correspondence", Volume 12, No. 44;
October 6th., 1932; p. 941).
"The 11th Plenum of the ECCI clearly stated that social-democracy
represents the main social bulwarkof the bourgeoisie and that we must direct
our main fire against it in order to capture the majority of the working
("The Ideological Mistakes and Shortcomings in the Fulfilment of the
Decisions of the 11th Plenum of the ECCI", in: "Communist International."'
Volume 9, No. 4/5; March 15th., 1932; p. 149).
"The intensification of the fascist terror ... compelled the revolutionary
party of the proletariat to launch its main blow with even greater energy
(E. Thalmann: Report to Conference of CPG Functionaries, in: "International
Press Correspondence", Volume 12, No. 27; June 16th., 1932; p.544).
"The task of the Communist Party of Germany remains as before -- to
direct the chief blow at the present stage against social-democracy".
but even after it:
("The CPG takes the Offensive", in: "Communist-International", Volume
9; no.20 December 15th., 1932; p. 700).
"Social-democracy continues to play the role of the main social prop
of the bourgeoisie also in the countries of open fascist dictatorship".
Far from being a model for the Marxist-Leninist Parties
in developed capitalist countries, the strategy and tactics of the Communist
Party of Germany in 1929-33 were examples of harmful "leftism" in
many important respects, a strategy and tactics which objectively assisted
German monopoly capital to impose its fascist dictatorship.
(13th Plenum, ECCI: December 1933, in: J. Degras (Ed): ibid.;
"The SPG remains, as before, the chief social-pillar of the capitalist
(CC, CPG: 'Resolution, May 1933, in: J. Degras (ibid.):,ibid..; p.
6 h) Conclusion
7) The Question of the Defence of "Parliamentary
Baker declares that the Anti-Fascist United Front should
"for the preservation and ultimate enhancement of those actual concrete
democratic rights and liberties of the working class and working people,
including those associated with the parliamentary facade,. . . .
At the same time, he insists:
which fascism seeks to destroy altogether: the right to freedom of
speech of assembly of organisation, the right to strike, and the right
to contest for parliament and the local councils independently of the corporatist
or fascist parties --- including active defence of those democratic rights
and liberties associated with the parliamentary democratic facade".
(M. Baker: "Theses on the Anti-Fascist United Front"; London; 1974;
"Under no circumstances is it tactically admissible to seek to win
the lower and lowest levels of consciousness in the broad working class
to active anti-fascist united struggle by appealing to any to any influence
exerted ideologically by bourgeois democracy".
Many people who are prepared to participate actively
in an anti-fascist united front will have illusions about "'parliamentary
democracy", will not recognise that it is a facade which conceals the dictatorship
of the capitalist class. In appealing to them to join in the defence of
democratic rights and liberties associated with "parliamentary democracy",
how does the Anti-Fascist United Front avoid appealing to those illusions?
Only, it would seem, by proclaiming that "parliamentary democracy" is the
dictatorship of the capitalist class, a truth which is recognised only
by those who have come to accept the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
(M. Baker: ibid.; p. 11).
Again Baker says:
"Under no circumstance is it permissible to win the lower and lowest
levels of consciousness in the broad working class to active anti-fascist
united struggle by appealing. . . . . to a 'classless' freedom in the abstract".
Many people who are prepared to participate actively
in an anti-fascist united front will not recognise that the concrete freedoms
of the working class can be retained and extended only by forcibly restricting
the concrete freedoms of the capitalist class, and ultimately secured,
only by the establishment of the dictatorship of the working class. In
appealing to them to join in the defence of freedom of speech, freedom
of assembly, etc., how does the Anti-Fascist United Front avoid appealing
to these illusions? Only, it would, seen by proclaiming that ''it favours
such freedoms only for the working class, a position which is accepted
only by those who have come to accept the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
(M. Baker: ibid.; p. 11).
But for the Anti-Fascist United Front to take up
such positions on "parliamentary democracy" and class freedom is equivalent
to restricting membership to anti-fascists who have come to accept the
principles of Marxism-Leninism.
Thus, while saying in one place that the ranks of
the Anti-Fascist United Front:
"should be open to all organisations and individuals which, irrespective
of their current attitude to the socialist revolution or, indeed to any
other question --- are prepared to participate actively in resistance to
(Baker; Ibid; p.8)
"The aims of the Anti-Fascist United Front must be confined to the
struggle against fascism and there must be no confusion between the constitutional
aims and propaganda of the Anti-Fascist United Front and those of the RED
FRONT (the socialist revolutionary movement -- Ed)".
By saying that the propaganda of the Anti-Fascist
United Front on the questions of "parliamentary democracy" and
"freedom" must be based on Marxist-Leninist principles,
(M. Baker; ibid.; p. 9).
Baker is thereby in effect restricting participation in it to those
who have come to
accept those principles. But it is, of course, the task
of the Marxist-Leninist Party and the socialist revolutionary movement
to put forward Marxist-Leninist principles; it is the task of the
Anti-Fascist United Front to resist fascism.
Thus the Anti-Fascist Movement says that it stands
for the defence of the democratic rights and liberties associated with
"parliamentary democracy", including the freedoms of speech, of assembly,
etc. against the attempts of the fascists to destroy them.
The Marxist-Leninist Party and the socialist revolutionary movement, does
not take a position in contradiction with that of the Anti-Fascist
United Front. But it adds to the presentation of the position of
the Anti-Fascist United Front, the view that "parliamentary democracy"
is in reality the dictatorship of the capitalist class and needs
to be replaced by the dictatorship of the working class in order that a
new socialist society may be constructed; and it adds that the concrete
freedoms of the working class can be secured only by ultimate suppression
of the concrete freedom of the capitalist-class.
Baker’s pretext for insisting that the anti-Fascist
United Front adopt a Marxist-Leninist position on the questions of "parliamentary
democracy" and "freedom" is that unless this is done, it:
"would lead to the retention and political development of such elements
(who have illusions about "parliamentary democracy" and "freedom" -Ed)
within the Anti-Fascist United Front but, on the contrary, to their progressive,
alienation, to their falling increasingly under the influence of the fascist
organisations, as the truth about the role of parliamentary democracy becomes,
ever more glaring".
The picture which Baker draws is of course, nonsense.
It is the picture of workers joining the Anti-Fascist United Front because
they wish to participate in resistance to fascism but still retaining illusions
about "parliamentary democracy"; in the Anti-Fascist United Front they
come into contact
(M. Baker; ibid; p.11).
with members of the Marxist-Leninist Party and the socialist revolutionary
movement who play the leading role in the Front, and who have long ago
shed their illusions about "parliamentary democracy"; it is the picture
of these workers shedding their illusions about "parliamentary democracy"
both as a result of its degeneration and as a result of the influence of
Marxist-Leninists, of realising that not only fascism but even the dictatorship
of the capitalist class – and then joining the fascists!
And if as Baker demands, the Anti-Fascist United
Front had put forward a Marxist-Leninist position on "parliamentary democracy",
then these workers, retaining their illusions about it, would not have
participated in the Anti-Fascist United Front. This would then have not
become a broad organisation, and the destruction of the socialist revolutionary
movement would have been inevitable.
To sum up, what does the Anti-Fascist United Front
say to a worker who approaches them, saying: "I believe in 'parliamentary
democracy’, which the fascists want to destroy, which the fascists denounce
as ‘useless’. Does the Anti-Fascist United Front believe in defending "parliamentary
democracy" against fascist attempts to destroy it?"
According to Baker, the reply of the Anti-Fascist
United Front to such a worker should be: "Certainly not! We are not in
favour of defending "parliamentary democracy" against fascist attempts
to defend in destroy it. We think it is useless too".
This can hardly be called an encouragement for such
a worker to join the Anti-Fascist United Front!
Furthermore, it implies that, while the fascists
may be bad in wanting to destroy freedoms of the working class,
their attempts to destroy "parliamentary democracy" are good and
are favoured by the Anti-Fascist United Front. Such a formulation would
be, of course, completely in line with Baker’s thesis of "The Third Stage"'
– that transition from "parliamentary democratic" monopoly capitalism to
fascist monopoly capitalism represents a "historically progressive" development,
one which bring the working class nearer to socialist revolution.
In concusion, insistence that the Anti-Fascist United-Front,
should dissociate itself from the defence of "parliamentary democracy"
and the democratic rights and liberties associated with it against fascist
attempts to destroy them is a harmful "leftist" mistake.
The position of the CL on Albania has been made clear
in a number of documents, including the appendix to the China report. The
section of the CL Manifesto dealing with Albania says:
8) The Question of Albania
"Of the states in which socialism had been or was being, constructed
after World War II, there remains only the People's
Republic of Albania. Here the working class remains in power
and is continuing the socialist transformation at a remarkable pace.
The character of the economic basis of a particular
society is determined by the relations of production which exist
there, not by the foreign policy of its ruling party.
The Albanian Party of
Labour (APL) has remained faithful to Marxist-Leninist principles
in relation to the internal economic development of the country, and played
a notable role in the exposure of revisionism in the Soviet Union and the
international communist movement.
Nevertheless, the cardinal error of the leadership
of the APL in presenting China as a "socialist" state and in supporting
maoist groups in various countries
as 'Marxist-Leninist' has seriously retarded the urgent task of building
a new Marxist-Leninist International and, if not corrected, must lead to
the internal degeneration of Albania’s socialist society".
(CL Manifesto, in: "COMbat; February 1977; p.49-5)
The process by which a socialist society may converted
into a capitalist society is presented in documented detail in our forthcoming
book: 'The Restoration of Capitalism In the Soviet Union": the elimination
of centralised economic planning; the ending of the practice of free allocation
of means of production to enterprises; the transformation of means of production
into commodities; the introduction of profit as the motive and regulator
of production; the determination of production "plans", prices etc., by
each enterprise; the introduction of bonus schemes drawn from the profits
of each enterprise and distributed so that the lion's share - surplus value,
accrues to the management personnel, the new Soviet capitalists; and so
None of these developments have occurred -- to date
-- in the PRA.
On the contrary the former differentials between
the incomes of directors and top officials on the one hand and ordinary
workers on the other have been greatly reduced as a result of a conscious
attack on what the APL correctly diagnoses as a principal economic basis
of revisionism with a socialist society.
At the same time, the pro-Chinese propaganda of ten
years ago has been greatly reduced. Despite the recent death of Mao,
Hoxha in his Report to the 7th.
Congress of the APL in November 1976 refers, to China and Mao in a formal
couple of paragraphs for the first time on page 200. The Communist Party
of China has refrained from sending a delegate to the last two congresses
of the APL, and the Albanian government has significantly refused to follow
the Peking line of supporting NATO as a "force for peace". The extensive
purges of last year indicate that there is an intense political struggle
proceeding within the AFL.
In other words, the final position of the
APL has not yet been determined. So long as Albanian society remains
proletarian socialist in character, the possibility remains that Albania,
will not only remain a socialist enclave in a capitalist world, but that
the APL will eventually play a leading role in the establishment of a new
genuine, Marxist-Leninist International -- for the correction of its foreign
policy in relation to China would be bound to lead to repudiation, by it
of the maoist groups (as well as of Albania by the latter).
In these circumstances, we maintain that it is the
cardinal duty of every Marxist-Leninist group to do its utmost to foster
solidarity with socialist Albania.
Baker's position has for some years been that, because
the APL has an incorrect policy in relation to China and the maoist groups,
"its economic basis cannot be socialist".
The discussions which were held within the MLOB on
Albania were "unsatisfactory" to Bakerm not as he says because Comrade
"was most reluctant to reveal the contents of this (material received
by Comrade WB from Albania – Ed) to the MLOB meetings".
In fact, the Albanian Society published regular accounts
of the social system in Albania, and of the policies adopted by the Albanian
government, which Baker received as a member of the society. Further, the
unpublished material from Albania was available 'to Baker as member of
the committee of the Albanian Society from1968 until he allowed his membership
to lapse in l975.
(M. Baker: Letter to Indian Comrades. March l0th; 1975).
Baker’s dissatisfaction with the MLOB discussions
on Albania, was due to the fact that no-one including himself, was able
to present any evidence to justify speaking of the revisionist degeneration
of Albanian society, and so justify Baker’s wish to end the policy of working
for solidarity with socialist Albania.
Nevertheless, this did not prevent Baker from securing
the passing of a resolution in 1974 instructing Conrade WB to withdraw
from the position of Secretary of the Albanian Society -- a decision which
has placed the operation of the society in grave difficulties since the
new secretary has proved unreliable and has resigned in less than a year.
Far from supporting solidarity with socialist Albania,
Baker has now descended to the depths of the gutter capitalist press in
suggesting that such solidarity is linked with "foreign espionage", as
when he denounces Comrade WB’s association with Albania" (M. Baker:. ibid.;
p. 4), as having:
" deeper and more sinister aspects .. . . . which we cannot, go into
Baker's hostility to the Albanian Society however, goes
back much further than his hostility to socialist Albania. Even when he
favoured solidarity with Albania, he objected strongly to the Constitution
of the society, maintaining that if it was not to be an "opportunist organisation"
it must adopt a Marxist-Leninist position on the facets of Albanian
Policy which it reported factually – that it must praise those facets which
were in accordance with Marxist-Leninist principles and denounce those
which were not. This is clear from his demand that the society should adopt
(M. Baker: ibid; p. 4).
"A working class and socialist orientation",
that is, a Marxist-Leninist orientation.
(M.Baker ibid.; p.4).
The majority of members of the MLOB opposed this
viewpoint, as "left-sectarian" in character, one which would have
effectively alienated from it all those who while favouring solidarity
with Albania and desirous of receiving factual information about it, had
not yet reached a Marxist-Leninist position. Had this policy been adopted,
it would have transformed the Albanian Society from a
Broad front with correct if limited aims, into the MLOB under another
Marxist-Leninists distinguish between the aims of
the Marxist-Leninist Party and the more limited aims of broad front organisations,
which aim to secure the allegiance of persons who support those more limited
aims without necessarily accepting those of the Party.
The task of supporting those facets of Albanian policy
which are in accordance with Marxism-Leninism, and of criticising those
which are not is the task of the Marxist-Leninist Party (or its
nucleus). The MLOB fulfilled this role (e.g. in its critical letter to
the APL) and this task has been continued by the CL.
Baker's position in relation to Albania has now become
an anti-socialist policy, one in clear breach of all the principles
of proletarian internationalism, one akin to that of the trotskyites
in relation to the Soviet Union in the days when Soviet society was also
socialist in its economic basis.
The folly of his "leftist" attitude towards broad
front organisations is shown when he maintains that, although the Albanian
society spread factual information about socialism in Albania, encouraged
travel to it, fostered campaigns for the establishment of diplomatic relations,
assisted in the organisation of official Albanian exhibitions in Britain,
etc.. , the failure to adopt Baker’s "left-sectarian" Constitution resulted
"the subordination of the Society and its work to the interests of
The question of the Allegation of the Indian Comrades concerning Comrade
(M. Baker:, ibid; p.3) .
I have raised with Comrade WB the allegation which,
we understand two of your leading Comrades have made to the effect that
Comrade WB "lied" to them during his discussions with them in India in
1975. His (WBB"s - ed) reply is as follows:
We understand that two of your leading comrades are
under the impression that the majority of the MLOB voted to "dissolve"
the so-called "Red Front Movement". This impression is not
in accordance with the facts.
The resolution under which the MLOB set up the Red
Front Movement called for it to be an organisation of sympathisers
of the MLOB for the purpose of providing an organised stepping-stone for
individuals who were prepared to associate themselves loosely with the
MLOB, to undertake certain forms of political activity, etc., but were
not as yet prepared to undertake the obligations of
membership of a party.
In principle, we favour the formation of such
an organisation by a Marxist-Leninist organisation or Party when its organisational
strength has reached the stage where this can be done effectively.
However, when the Constitution of the Red Front Movement
was drawn up on the inspiration of Baker, its first aim was declared to
"to function as the inceptive nucleus of the future revolutionary,
mass front of the British working class".
This is the main point of controversy which arose
concerning the Red Front Movement, for the above aim is based on the "leftist"
anti-Marxist-Leninist principle that the revolutionary movement can be
built up from above, that is, from outside the existing mass
organisations of the working class.
(RFM: Announcement by Provisional Committee, in: "Red.Front", July/August,
It is of course, axiomatic that the Marxist-Leninist
Party must be built "from above", so that the MLOB/CL may be
regarded as the "inceptive nucleus" of the British Marxist-Leninist Party.
Lenin was speaking specifically of the Party when he wrote:
"The opportunists of Social-Democracy want to proceed from the bottom
upward. .... The former (the revolutionary Social Democrats -- Ed) proceed
from the top, and and advocate the extension of the rights and powers of
the centre in respect of the parts".
But when referring to the building of the socialist
revolutionary movement, as distinct from its vanguard, Lenin on countless
occasions denounced and ridiculed the attempts of "leftists" to
build this "from above’ that is from outside the existing
mass organisations of the working class, by the creation of new, artificial
organisations (as has been shown earlier, in the section on the trade
(V.I. Lenin: "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back", in: "Selected Works"
, Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 447-8).
"In order to be able to win the sympathy, confidence and support of
the "masses" it is imperatively necessary to work wherever the masses
are to be found".
In violation of this Marxist-Leninist principle, Baker
during the whole period in which he held the position of Secretary of the
MLOB, attempted to put into, practice the notion of building the socialist
revolutionary movement "from above", that is from outside the existing
mass organisations of the working class by the creation of new, artificial
(V.I.Lenin: "’Left-wing’ Comunism, an Infantile Disorder", in: "Selected
Works", Volume 10; London; 1946; p. 93-4).
"In all organisations without exception. . . . groups or nuclei of Communists
should be formed. . . . and these nuclei must systematically train themselves
and the Party, and the class, and the masses, by means of this diversified
(V. I. Lenin: Theses on the Fundamental Tasks of the Second Congress
of the CI, in: ibid; p.169-70).
"Every party that desires to affiliate to the Communist International
must carry on systematic and persistent Communist work in the trade unions,
the cooperative societies and other mass workers' organisations. In the
trade unions it is necessary to form Communist nuclei which, by means of
prolonged and persistent work, must win the trade unions for the cause
(V. I. Lenin: "The Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International",
in:. ibid.; 203).
At the same time, a minority of Comrades consistently
opposed this notion and practice, in accordance with the principles
of democratic centralism and the Constitution of the MLOB -- as the following
extracts submitted to the Political Bureau in 1969 show:
" The achievement of socialist revolution in Britain requires the building
of an anti-capitalist mass movement based on the working class.
That Baker continues to put forward the first line of
tactics criticised in the above memorandum, now that the "restraints" of
democratic-centralism have been removed from him, is shown by his statement:
At the last PB meeting two different lines of tactics were put forward
for the building of this anti-capitalist mass movement.
The first line of tactics, which is the present line of tactics
of the MLOB and is supported by a majority of PB members, is to establish
so-called 'Action Councils'. . as 'leading nuclei', the aim
of which is to build up sections of this mass movement by winning masses
of workers to their banners.
The second line of tactics put forward is to establish groups
. . . . . to operate within the mass organisations of the working class.
Such groups would participate in the activities of the organisation of
which their personnel were members, would put forward an agreed line of
action based on the principle of enabling the masses to raise their political
consciousness stage by stage as a result of their experience in struggle.
They would work to win the best elements in these organisations to participate
in the planned activity of the groups, and the best of these in turn to
membership of the MLOB. . . .
Under the first line of tactics . . . . these groups --- 'Action Councils'
-- regard themselves as ‘independent leading nuclei’ of mass movements
to be built around them; they seek to win the support of the working masses
by approachign the working class as bodies outside the working class .
.. . . primarily by means of propaganda from outside the mass organisations
of the working class.
But a cardinal principle of Marxism-Leninism is that the masses cannot
be convinced; their political level cannot be raised by propaganda alone,
but only as a result of experience gained in struggle:
"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, never is it brought about by propaganda alone.
The first line of tactics, the present line of tactics of the MLOB, involves
the repudiation of the cardinal Marxist-Leninist principle that it is essential
to work within the mass organisations of the working class in such a way
as to assist the working masses to raise their political level stage by
stage as a result of their experience in day-to-day struggle. It is, in
fact, analagous to the line of tactics adopted by the German "Left' Communists
in the late 1910s. . . . a line of tactics which Lenin denounced as ‘ridiculous
and childish nonsense'.
In order that . . . . actually the broad masses of toiler and those
oppressed by capital may take up such a position, propaganda and agitation
are not sufficient.. For this the masses must have their own political
(V.I.Lenin, "Left-wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder"; in: 'Selected
Works', Volume 10; London; 1946; p.126, 136).
The so-called ‘East London Action Council' is just such an artificial
monstrosity as the clean, little 'workers' unions set up on the initiative
of the German 'Leftists’ It is a ‘leading nucleus’ which leads nobody.
Of course, to work for the setting up of Action Councils for the defence
of working class rights and liberty, for the coordination of the workers'
struggles on all fronts, etc. is correct in principle. But to set up "Action
Councils' completely artificially, before the membership of a single worker’s
organisation has been convinced of the need for such bodies, is rank "leftism".
When correct Marxist-Leninist work has been carried on within the working
class movement so that at least a number of workers' organisations have
become convinced by their own experience of the need for such bodies, then
indeed Action Councils will come into being. They will come into being
as a result of the conscious desire of the masses. They will be genuine
Action Councils and not sham bodies, such as the present "East London Action
The supporters of the first line of tactics claim that the second line
of tactics is ‘too difficult’, while the first line of "tactics is much
easier". Of course, it is always much easier to set up artificial committees,
to retreat from reality into a cloud-cuckoo-land of illusion, than to undertake
arduous revolutionary work among the working masses, over a considerable
period. But there is no short-cut to revolution which can avoid this work
of leading the working masses stage by stage conviction that revolution
is necessary.. . . .
The depths of self-delusion to which the supporters of the first line
of tactics have already sunk is instanced by the change of name of the
'East London Action Council’, without change of content, to that of the
'Greater London Action Council’. One would not, indeed be surprised to
read that it has now called itself an 'All-Britain Soviet', to which all
political power in Britain belongs. Children’s games of ‘Let's pretend'
are, as the supporters of the first line of tactics correctly say, ‘much
easier' than Marxist-Leninist revolutionary work.
The repudiation in practice of Marxist-Leninist work within the mass
organisations of the working-class is associated with the ideological view
that has been put forward within the MLOB that the mass anti-capitalist
movement must be built from above downwards. . . . Such a
conception is fundamentally anti-Marxist-Leninist. The first line of tactics
involves the sectarian isolation of the most politically conscious workers
from the masses. . . .
The supporters of the first line of tactics claim that our forces are
inadequate to adopt the second line of tactics. In fact, it is the formation
of a number of ‘independent nuclei’, each of which must prepare, publish,
and distribute its own propaganda. etc. which requires a number of cadres
in excess of those available. . . . The second line of tactics, on the
other hand, can be adopted with any number of forces. . . .
If the MLOB is to fulfil its role in beginning to build a mass anti-capitalist
movement based on the working class, it is essential that it repudiate
the anti-Marxist-Leninist first line of tactics and replace it by the second
(Document to the Politburo 1969)
"A leading member of the Bland Group (sic!) has openly declared that
he is prepared to work purely within revisionist and Trotskyite dominated,
organisations without any perspective of forming an independent organisation,
a concept which he considers 'leftist'."
It is, of course, quite incorrect to say that the CL
does not have a perspective of the formation of "independent organisations"
outside the existing mass organisations (this is already been dealt with
in the section on the CPG) but we are satisfied that this can only be brought
'about, not by the creation of artificial "independent organisations" outside
the existing mass organisations, but as a result of correct work in those
existing mass organisations (which, of course, are necessarily dominated
at the moment by social-democrats, revisionists, trotskyites, etc.)
(M. Baker: Letter to Indian Comrades March 0th., 1975; p.1).
Returning now to the Red Front Movement by
the summer of 1974, this consisted of three members, all members of the
MLOB, with no prospective members within range of vision. Naturally, these
comrades felt it somewhat of a futile waste of time to meet solemnly as
the "RFM" in addition to attending MLOB meetings, and it was in these circumstances
that a discussion on the future of the organisation took place.
Some comrades favoured the dissolution of
the RFM, but a majority -- a majority which incidentally, contrary
to Baker’s assertion, included Comrade WB – held that the RFM had performed
a useful function in the previous period in bringing sympathisers closer
to, and into, the MLOB and, favoured
1) "freezing" the RFM until a new batch of sympathisers had been won
who might be willing to participate in it, without being prepared as yet
to join the MLOB;
In the discussion on the second point above Baker made
a self-criticism of his role in framing the Constitution of the RFM, admitting
that its primary aim had been an incorrect "leftist" deviation from Marxist-Leninist
2) at this time, amending the Constitution of the RM to make it clear
that it was no more than a sympathisers’ organisation;
3) to retain the name of the RFM "under patent", so to speak, by transforming
it in the interim period into a publishing house for pamphlets along the
lines of that already published by the RFM on Chile.
These proposals were supported by Baker. The statement
"RFM was sought to be ‘put on ice’. . . . although we (presumably Baker
& Scott – Ed) opposed this".
is contrary to fact.
(M.Baker: Letter t Indian Comrades March 10th.; 1975; p.3).
Baker opposed not the temporary freezing
of RFM, but its dissolution.
His statement in the next sentence, that Comrade
WB put forward
"the demand to drop the organisation and the name",
is also contrary to fact .Comrade WB along with
Baker, supported the proposals referred to above, which included retention
of the name of the RFM.
(M. Baker: ibid; p. 3)
And since the RFM was placed "on ..ice", it carried
out no activities between the time of its freezing and November 1974, so
that Baker's statement that, following its freezing, it:
"Threw overboard all the principles of the MLOB's policy on the RFM
by going ahead with opportunist manoeuvres with trotskyite and revisionist
elements". (M. Baker: ibid.; p. 3)
is no more than the product of Baker's fevered imagination.
As I said earlier, the CL favours the formation
of an organisation of sympathisers who are prepared to cooperate
with the CL in certain fields of activity but not yet to join it, and it
is our intention to form such an organisation when the CL's organisational
strength permits. This will not, however, be regarded as the "inceptive
nucleus" of the socialist revolutionary movement.
It is, we understand, the view of at least two of your
Comrades that the CL should publish a detailed reply to the statement
issued under the name of K.Spode.
11) The Question of the Spode Statement
Before dealing with this, we should like to summarise
the events leading up to Baker’s expulsion from the MLOB:
Comrade PT criticises Baker for "leftist" tactics' and, on the sub-committee
drafting the Theses on the Anti-fascist United Front, opposes Baker's formulations.
Baker ceases to call meetings of the sub-committee.
Oct. 28th., 1974:
Spode presents to Chairman, Comrade WB, "charges" against Comrade PT
admitting that they have been inspired and drafted by Baker.
Spode, Baker and Comrade PT agree to "charges" being investigated by
Chairman, Comrade WB.
C. Spode informs Chairman "too busy" to be interviewed by him on matter
until Nov. 5th., when appointment arranged.
Nov. 2nd., 1974:
Chairman interviews Comrade PT.
Nov 5th., 1974:,
Spode cancels appointment with Chairman, having failed to send him
written statement of "charges" agreed.
Nov. 6th., 1974:
Spode is found to have disappeared from her home. Baker professes ignorance
of her whereabouts.
Nov. 8th. 1974:
Spode found to have been concealed in Baker’s flat for the past few
days. Baker found to have, without authority, taken possession of printing
press, MLOB documents; liteature where they had been stored by decision
of the MLOB.
Nov. 13th., 1974:
Chairman, Comrade WB, issues his report, concluding that the charges
of breaches of the Constitution by Comrade PT were false, and that Spode
had acted as tool of Baker in presenting them. Recommends removal of Baker
from post of Secretary and demotion to status of Candidate Member.
As Baker refuses to set date for meeting, of MLOB (the last meeting
having been arbitrarily cancelled by him on Oct. 28th.), Chairman, Comrade
WB, at request of a number of Comrades, calls meeting for Nov. 13th.
Spode telephones Chairman saying she will have to be late for meeting
and asks that starting time be delayed 30 minutes to enable her to be present.
Request agreed to.
Nov. 14th., 1974;
Baker telephones Chairman asking that meeting be postponed to give
him more time to prepare his case. Chairman promises to place request before
Meeting held. Neither Spode nor Baker attend. Baker’s request rejected.
After discussion, meeting endorses Chairman's report and adopts recommendations.
Comrade BC appointed Secretary in place of Baker. Baker and Spode informed.of
Baker, writing as "Secretary of the MLOB" , calls meeting for Nov.
16th. Agenda: "Disciplinary action against Comrade PT and, now, two other
Comrades, including Chairman, Comrade WB."
Nov. 16th, 1974:
Chairman and new Secretary validate meeting on Nov. 16th.
At meeting, Baker contends meeting of Nov. 13th invalid. Meeting confirms
decision of that on Nov 13th. Baker declares his refusal, to accept any
resolution removing him from Secretaryship.
Nov. 24th 1974:
Motion to expel Baker from MLOB for "gross violation of discipline"
Baker holds meeting which he claims to be a "meeting of the MLOB",
despite his expulsion and despite fact that majority of members of MLOB
not informed of meeting. Meeting resolves "to expel Comrades PT, BC and
WB from the MLOB".
A recital of these events alone should be sufficient
to convince any objective observer of the worthlessness of Spode's statement,
which, prepared in collusion with Baker, was intended to provide "evidence"
to support Baker's allegation that some at least of those members who had
voted for his dismissal as Secretary had beep engaged in "factional activity".
Now anyone can allege anything against anybody. Such
allegations are worthy of attention only if the "witness" is prepared to
be cross-examined on the "evidence" on which the allegations, are said
to be based. Indeed the right to cross-examine a witness for the "prosectuion"
must be considered as one of the democratic rights which the working class
should struggle to retain. Not only was Spode manifestly unwilling to be
cross-examined on either of her two statements, but in the case of her
first statement she was unwilling even to be examined by the Comrade whom
she had then accepted as an impartial investigator. This is understandable
since, as those of our Comrades who were members of the MLOB, at the time
know, the alleged "factional meetings" referred to in Spode's statement
never took place.
The value of Spode’s alleged concern that the majority
of Comrades in the MLOB were, 'moving towards revisionism' may be judged
from the fact that she is now a member of the revisionist Communist Party
of Great Britain.
The MLOB before its change of name to that of the
Communist League, did issue a reply to Spode's statement:
"The completely self-contradictory, spurious nature of this
new manoeuvre (Spode’s second statement – ED) was revealed even at a quick
reading of the statement which accompanied the new "charges":
We maintain that this reply is more than sufficient
to convince any objective observer of the worthlessness of Spode's
statement, and that anyone who is not so convinced does not wish to be
convinced. In our view, the publication of a further detailed reply – which
could merely state that this alleged meeting and that alleged telephone
conversation did not take place, would be unlikely to convince such prejudiced
observers, and would therefore, be a waste of time.
1) by the fact that Comrade WB, accused of 'breaches
of the the constitution", was described as always moving in a constitutional
manner" (p. 6);
2) by the fact that Comrade WB, accusing of forming a
'faction’ against Baker, was in the same document accused of seeking
to form a ‘faction with Baker’ (p. 5);
3) by the fact that (as the minutes of the meeting show)
Comrade WB, accused of forming a 'faction' with other comrades to bring
about the winding-up of the Red Front Movement
(p. 5), spoke and voted against the motion to wind up the Red Front
Movement, which was defeated ,
4) by the fact that the deposition of ‘charges’ dated
November 16th.; alleged that ‘evidence’ that Comrade WB had been "engaged,
in disruptive factional activity";
had been known "over a period of twelve months since, in fact, October
yet on October 28th., 1974 Comrade WB was asked by Baker and Spode
to carry out an investigation of identical charges against Comrade PT,
and was accepted by both as competent to carry out this investigation.
CLEARLY, THE EXTENDED ‘CHARGES’ INSPIRED BY BAKER WERE BROUGHT NOT
BECAUSE OF ANY FACTIONAL ACTIVITY – WHICH INCLUDED COMRADE WB, BUT BECAUSE
BAKER HAD BEEN MADE AWARE THAT THE REPORT OF COMRADE WB, AS CHAIRMAN, HAD
FOUND THAT THE ORIGINAL CHARGES (against Comrade PT), WHICH HE (BAKER)
HAD INSPIRED AND DRFTED, WERE SPURIOUS".
(MLOB: Statement on the Expulsion of Mike Baker"; p.3-4).
In various documents issued by Baker during the past
eighteen months, Baker has admitted that the basic cause of the
events which led up to his expulsion from the MLOB was the political
fact that a group of members of the MLOB – in fact the majority --- did
not accept as valid his thesis of the "third stage":
"Two theoretical and programmatic tasks, to wit,
Since there was never the slightest disagreement within
the MLOB on the importance of point b above, Baker is admitting that the
"split" in the MLOB was brought about as a result of the opposition which
he came up against in relation to point a -- his thesis of the "third stage'.
a) the analysis of the new stage in the development of capitalism which
we have termed corporate state-monopoly capitalism; and
b) the elaboration of the principles of the strategy and tactics of
socialist revolution in developed capitalist countries, constitute the
most fundamental basis and precondition for the building of the Marxist-Leninist
vanguard party. . . .
It was on account of their systematic and planned opposition to these
most fundamental tasks of revolutionary theory and practice . . . that
the liquidationist faction centred around W. B . (sic!) was expelled (sic!)
from the MLOB".
(M. Baker: "Workers' Control"; London; 1976; p. 22, 23).
This point is clarified in Baker's letter of March
"The overall assessment of Plekhanov-Bland is that he he fulfilled,
up to a certain point in his development, a vitally important positive
role in and through his contribution to the theoretical critique of modern
revisionism. As this task, however, approached completion the significance
of the analysis of the new age of capitalism, corporatism and the
elaboration on that basis of the strategy and tactics of the proletarian-socialist
revolution . . . began to assume a correspondingly greater significance.
Bland was never able to accept this, since his theoretical apparatus was
never able to develop beyond the formulations developed by classical Leninism".
Thus, point b in the first quotation above has relevance
to the "split" in that, as he admits in the second quotation, he wished
that the strategy and tactics of the socialist revolution should be orientated
on the basis of his thesis of the "third stage".
(M. Baker: Letter to Indian Comrades, March 10th., 1975; p.5) (my emphasis
We reject, of course the attempt to individualise
the political principles involved in this controversy. Were Baker's thesis,
in fact, a "creative development of Marxism-Leninism", then the description
of the MLOB majority as "dogmatists" would be justified. But revisionists'
habitually refer to their abandonment of Marxist-Leninist principles as
"the creative development of Marxism-Leninism", and to those who remain
loyal to Marxist-Leninist principles as "dogmatists" --- and we are completely
satisfied that Baker's thesis of the "third stage" is a revisionist
distortion of Marxism-Leninism which is objectively pro-fascist.
Baker’s descriptions of the MLOB majority as "Plehanovists",
"empirio-criticists", "liquidationists", etc. - merely illustrate his predilection
for using long terms as imprecations, without the slightest concern for
their scientific meaning, in an effort to deceive political children as
to his erudition. Anyone who is deceived by this kind of high-flown bluster
is, indeed, far from being a Marxist-Leninist.
The events of November 1974 in the MLOB came about
simply because --- as a result of the 'experience' gained by Comrades,
assisted by internal documents submitted entirely in accordance with the
principles of democratic centralism and the Constitution of the MLOB --
the minority which had long opposed Baker's "leftist" theory and practice
grew to a majority, which was unacceptable to Baker.
It may well be that Baker saw this change from a
minority to a majority as having been brought about as the result of a
factional conspiracy; but if so, this view reflects, not reality but Baker’s
own psychological make-up.
Had Baker declared openly that he regarded the "failure"
of the majority to accept his theory and practice as "unacceptable", and
that he intended to leave the MLOB in order to found a new organisation
which would accept his theory and practice, we should, while disagreeing
with his action, at least have retained some respect for his integrity.
But, instead of adopting this course, Baker chose that of seeking to reduce
the majority to a minority once more by disciplinary action against one
or more members of the majority on the basis of "charges" which had no
foundation whatsoever in fact.
The infantile egotism of the spoiled child who declares:
"I must be Leader, or I won't play with you", is manifested in Baker's
But, in fact, Baker’s actions of November 1974 -- which
amounted to a coup against the MLOB -- have the most serious political
"To oust Maureen (Scott BC) and myself from leading positions is tantamount
to forcing us out of the MLOB altogether".
(M. Baker Letter to Indian Comrades, March 10th., 1975; p. 2).
They reveal that, not only is his theory and practice
objectively pro-fascist, but, that his concept of the Marxist-Leninist
Party is a fascist concept -- that of an organisation composed of an irremovable
"Leader" and of "followers" whose duty it is to accept without question
"infallible" pronouncements of the "Leader" and to put them into effect.
I must apologise for the length of this memorandum --
which length is due solely to our wish to deal with the political questions
raised during Comrade HK’s visit to India as fully as possible.
It is naturally, a matter of great concern to us
that some Comrades for whom we have the highest respect should have adopted
what we believe to be a harmful "leftist" and, that your organisation should
have broken off relations with the Marxist-Leninist Organisation Of Britain,
now the Communist League, in order to establish such relations with an
individual who is prepared to trample underfoot every principle of Marxist-Leninist
organisation. In our view, this course can only lead to your organisation
becomingmerely another "leftist" sect objectively serving the interests
of the enemies of the working class, instead of the genuine Marxist-Leninist
revolutionary party which the working class of India so urgenlty needs.
We request therefore that this memorandum be circulated
to your membership, and be discussed, within your organisation.
With warmest fraternal greetings, I am,
BC, Secretary, THE COMMUNIST LEAGUE, Britain.