All our yesterdays...September 30 2008 at 8:08 PM
|Kim Philby |
Response to memory
While it's true that the CPGB had circa 30,000 members in 1977 and now the total number of organised communists in Britain in four or five parties can't be more than a couple of thousand (with say half in the CPB) you can't conclude that this is solely done to the splits in the movement. I'm not saying you do but that seems to be your drift.
I can, of course, recognise the attitude of cadres in all four camps in 1977 that you describe. Euros who told me they would take off once the "tankies" were gone; NCPers who believed that "recognition" from the Sovs would lead to a tidal wave in their favour; Straight Lefters with their not-so-secret faction thinking that it would end in triumph and the King Street crowd calculating that the party would go on forever on the wave of roubles via Messrs Mathews and Falber.
Other factors have to be taken into account like the collapse of the Soviet Union (which accounted for a big slide in the membership of the CPB and to a lesser degree in the NCP) and the liquidation of the CPGB which at the death still had 6,000 plus members on the book. We can see the collapse of the millions-strong French and Italian parties (which were not hit by the ruptures of the old CPGB on the same scale) over the same period.
This isn't an argument for the "joys of sects" as one Trotskyist satirist put it but simply a pointer to the broader question of why the British communist movement has declined over the past thirty years.
H A R Philby