Correspondence – the Communist Party of Britain, the YCL and Stalin

I received this interesting response in relation to my short article on The Communist Party of Britain’s (CPB’s) recent social-media protocol that members should not indulge in adulation of Stalin. The letter below is perfectly self-explanatory. I would only note that my correspondent’s arguments line up with other responses to the original piece: the CPB’s leadership seems to be mainly concerned at the policing of militant pro-Stalin voices in its Young Communist League.

I thought you might be interested in knowing about the friction being caused between the Young Communist League (YCL) and the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) by the policy that your article addresses. I’m a YCL and CPB member. Obviously, I can’t tell you who I am, or which branch I’m in or anything like that, but having had a look at your blog I thought that you might be interested in the impacts of this [CPB social-media protocol].

When it was first distributed to members a few weeks ago, it caused a massive amount of upheaval, particularly within the YCL, where multiple members in most of the large branches had to be convinced not to leave. I also know that the majority of the newly elected YCL Central Committee is dead opposed to it. The CPB and the YCL are experiencing a bit of a membership boom at the moment, with the YCL in particular attracting loads of people – hundreds, across the country – who have a very anti-revisionist, pro-Stalin, position.

This policy of no talking about Stalin – which is what this is, in practice – is the knee-jerk reaction of the older generation of the CPB leadership. They’re seeing a new generation of educated Marxist-Leninists come into the party and are laying the ground for expelling the ones they think might show them up. Part of this is rational and understandable – they want to avoid becoming a strange, cultish sideshow like the CPGB-ML – but most of it is simply fear of change. They’re terrified that they may have to accommodate a new generation of Marxist-Leninists who won’t be content with circular branch meetings and acting as unpaid labour for the Morning Star.

This is just the latest in a building tension between the CPB and the YCL. Many in the YCL see the party’s model as stale and not in line with proper communist organisation. I’ve heard the same joke dozens of times about the older generation of the CPB being “Trots without Trotsky”: buy the books, sell the paper, attend branch meetings, repeat.

And there are also growing policy differences between the league and the party too. The YCL recently voted at its congress to change the position on Palestinian liberation from a two-state solution to a single-state solution. That motion specifically attacked the CPB line: “Congress notes that the state of Israel’s continuing aggression towards the people of Palestine is creating a new wave of politicised young people in Britain, who are engaging in anti-imperialist politics for the first time. Congress notes that the vast majority of these new pro-Palestinian activists support a single-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Congress recognises that the currently held position of the Communist Party supports a two-state solution (but that the YCL technically has no position). Congress acknowledges the unique strategic significance of Israel to imperialist interests in the region, and notes that this significance dictates the nature of Israel’s domestic political landscape. Congress recognises that because of this imperialist interest, the international community will never be able to force the Israeli state to accept the existence of a sovereign nation of Palestine. Congress also acknowledges that the Israeli state will never accept the existence of a sovereign Palestine of its own accord, and that the conditions that would enable it to do not exist, and could not exist. Congress rejects the argument that a two-state solution is the only practically achievable outcome of the conflict as a defeatist and inaccurate assessment that fails to properly consider the role of Imperialism.

“Congress notes that the current Communist Party policy is not only out of step with the current mass of pro-Palestinian youth, but that it is also out of step with the material realities of the conflict and its likely resolution. Congress therefore calls on the incoming Committee to develop a League policy supporting a single-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that endorses a single multi-ethnic, socialist state of Palestine in the territories currently occupied by Israeli and Palestinian authorities.”

And there’s more of that kind of thing in the pipeline too.