CPGB What really happenedMay 8 2012 at 1:47 PM
Response to Perestroika
No. It was the failure of the CPGB to come to terms with dramatic changes in the composition of the working class and society more generally since the end of WW2 which led to its increasing irrelevance and ultimate demise.
To be fair, the leading sections of the CPGB did attempt to do to transform the CPGB into a modern and responsive revolutionary democratic communist party this through Marxism Today, to re-engage the CPGB with the new and re-forming working class, reflective of and chiming with the modern consumer expectations and increasing aspirations of the reforming working class.
The analysis of Thatcherism and the Crisis in the Labour Movement was deadly accurate and was agreed by successive CPGB Congresses, but were obstructed, blocked and diverted by opposition by a rather large conservative timewarped minority, stuck in the triumphs and methods of working of the 1930s and the 1970s, and who, through their defiance of democratic centralism and indeed basic democratic norms, split, paralysed and ultimately destroyed the CPGB. Old men jangling their campaign medals and unable to face up to current reality.
The splitting of the Morning Star from the Party by this timewarped conservative minority was an absolute disgrace and in total contravention of communist party democracy and principles. The Party was denied its daily voice, which instead become the basis for a factional war against the Communist Party, based on lies and distortions, confusing its readers, and encouraging them to fall out with their Party, to split away, or in the case of the majority, simply to drop out.
People were only expelled after the most blatant and systematic defiance of basic democratic decisions. Most of the London disciplinary actions were down to blatant ballot rigging and falsification of membership in order to fiddle congress delegate allocations. After the London Congress was closed down, those who defied the General Secretary, could still have got away with a slap on the wrist i.e. censure. But leading figures like Hicks, Beavis, Trask and Durkin were determined to raise the stakes and ignite an open civil war in the Party. In doing so, they confirmed the worst fears of the CPGB EC that there were deep rooted factions within the Party determined to disrupt and oppose the modernising direction of the Party.
People at every stage were always given every opportunity to avoid expulsion. Very few were expelled as a first resort. Most were suspended for an initial period, given the opportunity to come back into line, suspended for a further period, another opportunity to come back in, and only then expelled.
And in 1987 Gordon McLennan gave a blanket offer for all expelled comrades to be re-admitted, providing they agreed to abide by democratic centralism. But, no, people WANTED to be expelled, they WANTED to be seen to be individually defiant, to see themselves as heroes, and to get rounds of applause at Morning Star and Communist Campaign Group meetings.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. Anyone re-reading Marxism Today on Thatcherism and the problems in the Labour Movement can now see what was being said was basic common sense. It was the views of the conservative minority who preached that Thatcherism was just the same as all previous forms of Tory rule and there were no fundamental problems in the Labour Movement who are now shown to have been completely barking.
18 years of continuous Tory Governments and the complete exclusion of the labour movement from any influence on government is further concrete proof, as was the subsequent emergence of Blairism. One reads the pronouncements of todays CPB on the Coalition Government as an especially dangerous and innovatively reactionary form of class rule will note the startling similarity between this and the CPGBs analysis of Thatcherism.
It was tragic the CPGB divided, split and fragmented, and very sad that a number of people were ultimately expelled for absolutely unacceptable political and personal behaviour. The whole party was traumatised by the experience, and that ultimately brought about its end.
But if people had behaved like communists and stayed in to change or challenge the party through normal democratic discussion, we might today have a much bigger Communist Party, one that has learned the lessons, and who knows in todays conditions, ready to become a mass party of the working class and labour movement. But, as I say, we always used the win the arguments, and we were shown to have been right. Thats what the timewarped minority couldnt handle.