Centenaries Of Note, 1921-2021 The CPGB, The CCP - And Kronstadt

The year 2021 marks the centenary of some significant events. In January 1921, some British fans of the 1917 Russian Revolution signed up to the Comintern's blueprint and founded the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). In July 1921, with a Comintern representative present, the Communist Party of China (CCP) was founded. And in March 1921, faced with widespread discontent as Bolshevik rule was seen as simply a new tyranny, Lenin and Trotsky ruthlessly used armed force to crush the Kronstadt mutiny.

While these events had nothing to do with the Socialist cause, they have had a lasting impact, worldwide. That impact has been and still is an obstacle for the SPGB and others, as too many workers still believe that to argue for Communism / Socialism / Marxism is no better than wanting another Stalinist dictatorship.

But, almost from the start, the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) was sceptical about the claims that Lenin's Bolshevik minority were establishing Socialism, or that they could hold power as a minority except by force, i.e. as a dictatorship. Over time, more and more evidence came out showing how right we were.

Leninists claimed that Russian 'state Socialism' or state capitalism meant that Socialism had been achieved, even though Russian workers still had to work as wage-slaves. So we, the real Socialists, have had to waste time explaining the meaning of the words we use, with basic questions of definition having to be fought over.

Even now, many generations later, this still continues to be a never-ending, tiresome and sterile dispute.

Leninism's lying claim has been aided and abetted by powerful political voices utterly opposed to Marxism or Socialism, from Churchill onwards. That lie is still regularly reinforced by dictionary definitions which usually define socialism as being about state ownership or state control. It is supported by the Labour Party's nationalisation and 'welfare state' policies, always described as 'socialist' both by supporters and opponents. In the US, where any ideas about state support for workers' healthcare are widely denounced as 'socialist', a prominent Trump supporter has put out on social media a video showing herself armed with a semi-automatic gun, shooting at a vehicle painted with the word Socialism. The message was obvious.

Lessons from the Kronstadt Massacre

In 1917 sailors at the Baltic naval base, near Petersburg, had spearheaded Lenin's November coup. But, just years later, in March 1921, they mutinied, as they realised that Lenin's slogan "All Power to the Soviets" was mere rhetoric. Instead, Lenin had imposed a dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party in all spheres of society: "All power to the Party"!

Since 1902 (What Is To Be Done?), Lenin had argued for a 'vanguard' party, organised like an army with orders and instructions issued by the leader / leaders, out through the party ranks, and so on - down to the 'masses'. But there was nothing in his top-down scheme of things to allow for workers having their own independent organisations.

Whether these were Soviets or trade unions, the media, education, science and research, music and art, etc, all had to be under the control of this 'vanguard party'. In a one-party state, the 'leading role of the party' is a sure-fire recipe for dictatorship, not democracy.

The Kronstadt sailors argued that they had a just cause:

The Communist Party, master of the State, has detached itself from the masses, the Party has lost the confidence of the working masses... We stand for the power of the Soviets, not for that of the Party. We stand for freely elected representatives of the toiling masses. Deformed Soviets, dominated by the Party, have remained deaf to our pleas. Our appeals have been answered with bullets.
The Kronstadt Izvestya, 1921, quoted in Ida Mett THE KRONSTADT UPRISING

Those Kronstadt sailors who dared to protest and rebel against this betrayal of the revolution which they had helped achieve were massacred, and then officially denounced as 'counter-revolutionaries', anarchists, and 'enemies of the state'.

Among those responsible for this massacre, apart from Lenin, the most prominent was Trotsky, who later has been portrayed by his Western fans as a cuddlier sort of Bolshevik. Just because he himself became a victim of Stalin's murderous dictatorship does not mean he would not have done likewise if he had become Lenin's heir.

The bloody Kronstadt massacre was as significant in Russian history as the Peterloo massacre in Britain. Its ruthlessness pointed to the way the Bolsheviks acted towards workers and peasants, both then and later. And the Moscow-funded Left excused this: "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs"!

Kronstadt was a forerunner to many fratricidal party purges, and a series of Stalinist campaigns against so-called kulaks, saboteurs, writers, army officers, and the suspected Doctors' Plot, just before the ever-more paranoid Stalin died in 1953.

From 1921 on, the history of the CPSU, under both Lenin and Stalin, was to show how right the Kronstadt sailors were when they argued that the Party-dominated Soviets no longer represented the workers.

In 1921, the Russian working class, in whose name the 1917 revolution had supposedly been made, were struggling to get by on wages far lower than they had been in 1913. Peasants found themselves trapped between the Scylla and Charybdis of famine or factory. Well before 1921, the Cheka was active, filling prisons and concentration camps, and with extra-judicial shooting of suspects.

In this so-called 'socialist' Russia, workers were utterly lacking in independent trade union organisation. Like the Soviets and other institutions, the 'official' trade unions were already "deformed", under the control of the Party. So long as the 'leading role of the party' was at the heart of the system, these 'official' unions were useless for the workers. From then on, their role was to act merely as a tool of management, urging workers to increase their productivity.

Also, to secure the 'leading role of the party', the CPSU had become the only political party - and thus a Party dictatorship.

In Putin's Russia, it seems that very little has changed as elections are again held without opposition candidates being allowed.

The CPGB and the Left

The Comintern's blueprint for new 'communist' parties was non-negotiable. The new party's name had to be the Communist Party of [insert name of country]. It must follow the Party line laid down by Moscow. It must operate with a centralised leadership and strict discipline. Any members who deviated from the Party line must be expelled and denounced. The official euphemism for this was 'democratic centralism', and the 'vanguard' role of the party was clear. John Callaghan, later editor of the DAILY WORKER, wrote:

A revolutionary party must... lead the workers... It must become the political leader of the working class... The Communist parties move in the light of Leninism. Unlike the parties of the Second International they are ideologically united. It must learn to move sharply in response to a Communist lead, and to move as a united body. This necessitates an iron discipline and a capable centralised leadership
('Leninism and the Party', 1925).

That "Communist lead" meant utter confusion. To start with, Lenin insisted that the British CP had to be thoroughly hostile to reformism but at the same time these new CPGB members were required to affiliate to the Labour Party. But the Labour Party was then, as now, thoroughly reformist.

So CPGB-ers were from the very start confused, and by the end of the 1930s there was even more muddle as these, anti-Fascist, British Bolsheviks loyally changed their tune.

They were suddenly heard praising the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact (DAILY WORKER 23 Aug. 1939), and denouncing the war as an "imperialist war".

But after the German invasion of the Soviet Union the wind changed again, and this 'advanced party' abruptly did yet another U-turn on Moscow's instructions. So the CP, like the Labour Party, supported the war and conscription, opposed workers who struck for better pay, and in a by-election even ordered CP supporters to vote for a Tory candidate. Such unscrupulous twists and turns disgusted even the CP's members and by the end of the war shedloads of them had quit the CPGB.

The post-war rump of a CP 'political vanguard' got itself into even more difficulties. In early 1956, Khrushchev denounced Stalin for his Party purges, his "crimes against the Party" and his "cult of the individual". Though the CPGB had dutifully portrayed Russia under Stalin's rule as free and democratic, it was yet again required to "move sharply in response to a Communist lead", as Campbell had written earlier.

Later that year, the already demoralised CP members were confronted with Soviet tanks on the streets of Budapest.

They had managed to swallow the Moscow line about Tito, and had loyally followed the party line on Trotsky and even on Stalin. But this time, many decided that this was a bridge too far.

As the Stalinist CPGB had lost any claim to be credible, a number of Trotskyist groups emerged. "Hope springs eternal"!

Swapping the cult of the Leninist Stalin for the cult of the Leninist Trotsky, those naive true believers in elitist vanguardism were still unable to admit to the essentially dictatorial nature of Bolshevism.

About the same time, the New Left with a variety of supporters - from campaigns about the A-bomb, apartheid and racism, or Women's Lib, plus a libertarian - "make peace not war" - fringe, were all competing for support. Such opportunist groups were and still are flitting from one issue to another - in support of the miners' strike (1984), on Right to Work marches, tenants' strikes, and on demos large and small.

What these groups all had and still have in common is rejection of the case for Socialism, the case for an end to the capitalist wages system and production for profit. Yet it is capitalism which is the root cause of the various problems they are trying to deal with. The Left became fragmented, abandoning any claim to be revolutionary.

Now, the only traces of their slavish loyalty to Moscow's Marxism-Leninism are found among the few surviving heirs of the Moscow-controlled Left. What's left of Western Leninism lingers on with writers like John Pilger, the opportunistic Stop the War Coalition, Le Monde Diplomatique, a medley of Trotskyist groups and 'Internationals', e.g. the so-called Socialist Party.

Socialists against the Left

In one important issue the CPGB utterly failed. That was in their lying claim to be the only real Marxist party for the workers of this country to support.

In spite of their many determined and often thuggish efforts, they could never close down SPGB meetings and activity. That they tried cannot be doubted.

In small ways they even achieved some petty triumphs, for instance in systematically removing any reference to the SPGB's existence from the historical record. Examples? That otherwise useful book THE COMMON PEOPLE 1746-1946 by G D H Cole and Raymond Postgate, and any modern histories by Tony Cliff or Eric Hobsbawm, just for starters. Also, in academic histories, e.g. BRITISH COMMUNISM - A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY, part of the Manchester University Press series Documents in Modern History. It's as if this Party had never existed, never opposed the two world wars, never attacked Fascism, never opposed racism, never contested elections...

The Left had a special hatred for the SPGB. As a Marxist party, ours was the only party to expose the dangerous fraud that Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, aided by their collaborators in other countries, a number of CPs and fellow-travellers, were pushing out as gospel truth.

The SPGB position was already clear within a few months of the 1917 revolution, unlike Trotsky who was still part of the Bolshevik leadership group for quite some time. The SPGB writers and speakers argued that this was not a socialist revolution, quoting Lenin himself who wrote that, in backward Russia, German-style 'state capitalism' was necessary.

The SPGB maintained that Socialism was not possible in Russia in the wartime conditions of 1917 since:-

* Russia was economically too backward, a largely peasant country;
* The workers and peasants were not class-conscious;
* They were dominated by the Orthodox Church, with its superstitious beliefs;
* Many had supported the war and were nationalistic;
* And, as Lenin's Bolsheviks were only a tiny minority lacking majority support, they could only hold power by force, as a dictatorship.

There were two other central issues: Lenin's vanguard party organisation, and his mistaken claim that a 'transition' stage was essential which he called 'state socialism'. On both these issues, Lenin undermined the Marxism he claimed to espouse.

Revolution and the class struggle

Lenin's idea of a top-down elitist vanguard' party, leading and instructing the ignorant masses, was poles apart from Marx's argument.

In their best-known work, the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, Marx and Engels argued that the working class is:

"...the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands ... The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority."

Marx argued:

"... to conquer political power is the great duty of the working classes...
What was new in the International was that it was established by the working men themselves and for themselves.
Documents of the First International 1871-2, Marx - THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL AND AFTER, Penguin, pp269-271

Years later, in his 1888 Preface to the MANIFESTO, Engels again argued that: "the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself".

So, for decades, Marx and Engels had consistently argued that the working class - as a class - would be the agent of the Socialist revolution, that it was "a revolutionary class", the class "that holds the future in its hands". And the SPGB's DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES, drafted in 1904, echoes Engels, saying clearly: "this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself".

In fact, the vanguard theory of organisation was actually not derived from Lenin's reading or misreading of Marx but was taken from ideas common among other Russian radicals, especially Tkachev.

This point was openly stated in 1923, in a Soviet journal, PROLETARSKAYA REVOLTSYIA:

It is an irrefutable fact that the Russian Revolution proceeded to a significant degree according to the ideas of Tkachev, with the seizure of power made at a time determined in advance by a revolutionary party which was organized on the principle of strict centralization and discipline. And this party having seized power is working in many respects as Tkachev advised.
Albert L Weeks THE FIRST BOLSHEVIK, 1968, n. p.viii

Lenin's other damaging legacy was his theory that, after the overthrow of capitalism but before Communism was established, a 'transition stage' was essential, one which he chose to call 'state socialism'. He set this theory out in THE STATE AND REVOLUTION, a book written mainly from earlier notes, and published in the late summer of 1917.

Even now, there are still some who hold a strangely high opinion of that work. In his book about Lenin and the Russian revolution, John Medhurst describes it as Lenin's "supreme example of revolutionary theory" (NO LESS THAN MYSTIC, 2017, p16).

Later, however, he points out that Lenins theory and practice were often worlds apart:

All Lenin's actions post-October, and his own unequivocal statements about the paramount need for authority, control, direction from the top and one-person management, demonstrate that the revolution he actually led (as opposed to the one he wrote about in The State and Revolution) was about the arrival of a new master (Medhurst, p27).

Lenin's transition theory has meant for us a legacy of endless confusion as to what we mean by Socialism, or what we mean by Communism. Lenin's own confusion on the question of the system being set up in Russia was clear when he sometimes slipped and referred to it as 'state capitalism', while the official line was that it was 'state socialism'.

To Socialists, what was being established in Russia was simply a form of capitalism, and we quoted Lenin’s own words when he called it "state capitalism".

We also argued that this must be a step backwards for Western workers, not a transition to Socialism.

Like Marx and Engels we saw no point in differentiating between Socialism and Communism. After all, what counts is not the name but the reality.

The SPGB argues that there is no form of Socialism which could possibly require the existence of the state. As Socialism means a classless society and an end to class exploitation, there can be no place for the state since it is essentially an instrument of class domination. Once the system of class exploitation is ended, there can be no need for the state as its core function is to defend the interests of an exploiting class.

But Lenin's 'transition stage' and minority Bolshevik rule depended, from the start, on the terrifying power of the Cheka and the Red Army, both being aspects of the coercive power of the state.

These forces were used ruthlessly, as at Kronstadt in 1921 and against numerous peasant risings (e.g. in Tambov), to crush and silence workers and peasants in whose name the November 1917 revolution had happened. The Kronstadt massacre foreshadowed the Stalinist mass liquidations and the Gulag Archipelago.

Bolshevik rule was a dictatorship, as the SPGB had argued it must be; the Bolsheviks knew themselves to be a minority, clearly lacking in mass working-class support, and opposed by the peasants.

A dictatorship held in power by ruthless purges and mass murder is no way to 'transition' towards socialism. As we argue: Socialism is democratic or it is not Socialism.

Lenin's coup meant that a top-down party organisation with its policy decided by the centralised 'leadership', an elitist 'vanguard party', had seized power. But as it was a minority lacking mass support, the only possible outcome had to be a dictatorship. And in early 1918, since they had only a few delegates. the Bolsheviks forcibly shut down the Constituent Assembly. From then on, Russia was a one-party state.

But Socialism, as the outcome of the class struggle, achieved by the revolutionary class-conscious, politically organised working class, cannot be other than democratic. Socialism properly understood means the "common ownership of the means of production and distribution", and that requires "democratic control by and in the interests of the whole community". Only such a democratic system could make a system based on common ownership actually function.

Lenin's Bolshevik revolution was clearly unable or unwilling to go further than electrification or modernisation, along the lines of the state capitalism which had been successful in Bismarck's Germany.

Socialism has not yet been achieved, anywhere.

Lenin's Chinese heirs - from Mao to Xi

Lenin's Comintern was very active in 1920-21 and, a few months after the CPGB had been created in 1921, on 4 July 1921 some scattered radicals, student groups, etc. came together to form the Communist Party of China (CCP). A left-wing journal chose to mark the CCP's centenary with an article by a Harvard academic, headed: "What's left of communism in China? (Jerome Doyon, LE MONDE DIPLOMATIQUE, no. 2109, Sept. 2021).

His argument was that, in modern China, the CCP welcomes capitalists "with open arms", so that now the CCP has more 'Iprofessionals and managers' (50%) than workers and peasants (35%).

Doyon argued that those joining the CCP mostly do not see this as joining a party "working for communism" but simply as a pragmatic way of furthering their own careers and business interests. Cynical, yes - but realistic too: powerful connections could be useful in a crisis, for protection.

Similarly, for decades before the fall of the Soviet Union, membership of the CPSU or its youth wing, the Komsomol, was also seen as a vital way to open doors, obtain influence (blat), get housing, etc. Interests counted, not ideology.

From the earliest days of the 1917 Russian revolution there was corruption, with privileges for the well-connected. There are obvious parallels with the CCP today.

Modern China is emphatically a capitalist economy, producing 18% of global GDP with fast growth, only slowing down in recent years. But income inequality has grown exponentially, by 15% between 1990 and 2015. While the well-off have had mansions built for themselves, many city workers have had to squeeze into tiny mini-rooms, mere cupboards, often lacking windows or separate cooking and washing facilities.

Typically for a capitalist business, the vast Chinese real estate developer, Evergrande, had borrowed too much from banks, and as a result looks likely to go belly-up.

If so, billions will be lost - owed to banks and leaving investors and suppliers in the lurch. As for workers who had paid advance deposits on flats, some part-built, some just architects' sketches: all those painfully saved up deposits could be lost.

But bankruptcy is a regular and ruthless feature of capitalism, culling the less successful businesses, however big. If Evergrande goes broke, it is probable there will soon be other bankruptcies, and this crisis could give modern China its first real taste of a capitalist recession with mass unemployment.

The LMD article claimed that, with 30% of the economy in the public sector, China is "a textbook case of state capitalism". That may be partly due to so much being spent on the vast state military and security apparatus which keeps this repressive dictatorship in power. Also, with 70% of the economy in the private sector, that would look just like a "textbook case" of capitalism. Either way, the wages system means the working class are exploited, and someone or other profits from that.

As the LMD article makes clear, the CCP under President Xi continues along Leninist lines as a party with a 'leading role':

The Partys charter was amended in 2017 to emphasise that "in government, the army, society and schools - in the east, west, north and south - the Party leads on all fronts".

The modern CCP is a typically Leninist / Maoist organisation, with strong internal discipline geared to ensure allegiance to the leader, 'party spirit', and nationalism.

Also, so as to further control the culture and close off any openness to outside influences, at all levels of education the use and teaching of English is now being actively discouraged. The Xi regime now sees this as a sign of "suspicious foreign influence (NEW YORK TIMES - The Week, 18 Sept. 2021). Just as an earlier generation were expected to study the Little Red Book, the 'thoughts' of Chairman Mao, the schools are now required to teach even very young schoolchildren 'Xi Jinping thought'.

In China, as in neighbouring North Korea, the all-powerful ruler dominates. While Kim inherited his role from his father and grandfather, Xi has enhanced his own role by making himself 'President-for-life', rather like one of China's Emperors or Russia's Tsars.

Like Lenin's Cheka, the Party's Discipline and Inspection Committee "is able to hand out extra-judicial punishments to members". Under Xi, the CCP's internal discipline has got tougher, even reverting to the cruel Maoist practice of punitive, humiliating, public criticism and self-criticism sessions, known as 'democratic life meetings'. Under Mao such sessions often led to suicides. Examples are made of wealthy or influential Chinese individuals or celebrities, punished for being 'corrupt' or whose lifestyles are not 'moral'.

In addition to this vast party-state organisational apparatus, with its 95 million members (est. 6.5% of the population), the authorities now use newly developed technological wizardry. Along with the Chinese state's control of Internet access with a digital firewall, the state now uses a digital database of the whole population linked to facial recognition software, to track individuals and all their activities and contacts, whether in the street or on-line. As if in George Orwell's 1984 or some weird Behaviourist experiment, the whole population is constantly being monitored, and punished or rewarded for their daily doings. No doubt the CIA and other Western security and police organisations are doing likewise, possibly using the Israeli spyware system on people's mobile phones.

Western politicians wring their hands in horror at the persecution of minorities by the Chinese state. The Uighurs - a Muslim minority - are being wiped out by a cruel genocide. But, just as when China took over Tibet, the West governments stand by and, apart from speechifying and protesting, do nothing.

With the suppression of any in Hong Kong who dare to demonstrate (e.g. to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre) and who have been stripped of any political freedoms, any chance to choose political candidates other than those approved of by the CCP: still the UK's 'democratic' government simply stands by.

There is a simple and obvious explanation. For many decades as Western governments ran policies of deficit funding, they borrowed from China. And now these Chinese bonds are a powerful economic tool, China's form of 'soft power'.

In recent decades, as the Chinese economy grew and Chinese exports flooded world markets, Western states were unable to compete with the products of Chinese cheap labour - and slave labour - and consumers in Western countries became dependent on China's cheap exports. As a result, these Western governments are unwilling to oppose China, however totalitarian its dictatorship.

Since Mao's time, China has come of age as a powerful capitalist state, and has even created an empire. For instance, to ensure future food supplies, Chinese firms have bought up some of East Africa's more fertile land. A side-effect of this is that local farmers have lost water so their crops fail. Facing starvation, many desperately migrate to try to find a better life elsewhere. In some African states, reports come out that the Chinese treat local workers as the racist British used to treat 'the natives' - as coolies.

China's 'Belt and Road' initiative is building critical infrastructure in many former Western colonies (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, etc). So, along with economic development, China has been building a powerful global network of political control.

Under the name of economic development, the Chinese state is looting resources. Tibet got roads and a railway, which were then used to transport Tibet's timber to China, for construction purposes, and Han Chinese workers to Tibet, for settlement. In Africa (and now Afghanistan), China's interest is in mineral resources, especially those 'rare earths' so essential for batteries in the climate change economy.

Colonies, empires and racism

Looking at capitalism's history, you can see it as a series of empires. The 19th century wars over colonies ultimately led to the world wars of the 20th century, and to the Korean and Vietnam wars, with the British Empire being succeeded by the global dominance of the US. Now it is China's turn.

Tsarist Russia fought a series of wars to control the Caucasus. Turkey's Ottoman Empire once ruled Egypt, many Arab countries, and part of the Balkans. The Belgian king owned much of the Congo. basin, treating its people cruelly. The French state as a colonial power held onto Algeria till the 1950s, using torture and censorship against the Algerian movement for liberation. After the French retreat from Indo-China, the US continued the Vietnam War. And so on, and on.

Each empire in turn looted resources to enrich its heartland and boost its industrial muscle. All relied ruthlessly on military force, the power of the boot, to retain their power even against fierce opposition. The modern Chinese empire does likewise.

Orwell - once part of the British colonial police in Burma - was well aware that, there is a cultural and ideological price to pay for empire, as Socialists have argued for decades. Empire has been used to legitimate a culture of racism, with a lasting legacy in states which historically profited from slavery and the infamous slave trade.

Such empire-building left another legacy in endless wars fought disputing artificially created borders. No amount of UN charters or resolutions stops this never-ending bloodshed, the strutting of serried ranks of uniformed thugs and warlords, the fratricidal enmities that lead even to genocide.

Among the British empire's legacies ware many - still ongoing - disputes: e.g. over Kashmir's unresolved situation, the equally unresolved Israel-Palestine dispute, another such border dispute in the island of Cyprus, not to mention the status of Northern Ireland. Other empires too have left their scars on mother earth. And now the new Chinese empire-builders are following suit.

The Chinese state, now a powerful economic player in world trade, with increasing inequality between rich and poor within China, is clearly a capitalist state. Surely that makes the CCP's claims to be a 'communist' party utterly ludicrous!

Like Lenin's Bolshevism, Maoism had little if anything in common with Marxism. The legacy of Leninism has been nothing but harmful to the cause of Socialism, and has made 'Marxism' synonymous with state tyranny.

This was the real Big Lie of the 20th century, still plaguing us in the 21st century. Even now, we still have to explain why we say that Socialism does not exist and has as yet never been brought into being. We still meet people who insist that state capitalism is the same as Socialism. Or that between capitalism and Communism there has to be a transition stage.

They tell us that to create a revolutionary party means to organise a small elite of professional revolutionaries who alone have an "advanced theory, and workers can only aspire to "trade union consciousness". What patronising tripe! More than anything, that explains why Bolshevism and its Chinese version ended up not with communism but capitalism.

Our own experience as Socialists tells us this is rubbish. The fact is that our party was founded back in 1904, by class-conscious workers, all of them having a clear understanding of Marxism. And these workers were quickly able to see through the pretence of Leninism and the Bolsheviks' false claims of a 'socialist' revolution in backward Russia.

The SPGB then as now holds, like Marx and Engels, that the emancipation of the working class will be and can only be "the work of the working class itself". And, as ever, we insist on the need for our organisation to be democratic, as "Socialism is democratic or it is not Socialism".

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Object and Declaration of Principles


The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Declaration of Principles


1. That society as at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of living (ie land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master class, and the consequent enslavement of the working class, by whose labour alone wealth is produced.

2. That in society, therefore, there is an antagonism of interests, manifesting itself as a class struggle, between those who possess but do not produce and those who produce but do not possess.

3.That this antagonism can be abolished only by the emancipation of the working class from the domination of the master class, by the conversion into common property of society of the means of production and distribution, and their democratic control by the whole people.

4. That as in the order of social evolution the working class is the last class to achieve its freedom, the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex.

5. That this emancipation must be the work of the working class itself.

6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organise consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic.

7. That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party seeking working class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.

8. The Socialist Party of Great Britain, therefore, enters the field of political action determined to wage war against all other political parties, whether alleged labour or avowedly capitalist, and calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner to the end that a speedy termination may be wrought to the system which deprives them of the fruits of their labour, and that poverty may give place to comfort, privilege to equality, and slavery to freedom.