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Tags: AntiCapitalist Initiative, cpgb, the left
Categories : cpgb, the left
Guest post by Chris Strafford on how communists should relate to mass movements, and his experience of the CPGB
The capitalist crisis has opened up a new period and instigated the intensification of class warfare on every continent. Movements such as Occupy, the uprisings in the Middle East, the student movement in Quebec and the popular protests in the Russian Federation represent an acceleration of the class struggle. After listening to two electricians speak in Manchester about their struggle against BESNA I was struck by how these movements have transcended national boundaries and how the language of Occupy and Los Indignados in Spain have embedded themselves in a layer of working class activists. This is also evident in the affinity many people have with the 99% slogans adopted by Occupy. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: cpgb, raymond challinor, the commune
Categories : cpgb
by Chris Ford
This year marks the 90th Anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Part of Great Britain, which existed until its disbandment in 1991. Without a doubt the foundation of the CPGB in 1920 was an event of great importance in the history of the workers’ movement in the UK.
Arthur McManus, Jack Murphy, Albert Inkpin and Willie Gallacher
Its creation was directly linked to the revolutionary upsurge which followed the First World War, this brought about a recomposition of the communist movement which crystallised in the Third, Communist International centred in Soviet Russia. This period and the unity process which took place is not only of historical interest but holds many lessons for our own generation in our efforts to bring about a new recomposition of the communist movement.
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Tags: cpgb, jack sprung, obituary
Categories : 1970s, cpgb, the left, trade unions
by Dave Spencer
Jack Sprung was one of those militant shop stewards who were a feature in The Commune’s uncaptive minds series of meetings on the 1970s. He was a steward for many years at the Standard Triumph plant in Coventry, part of British Leyland. He was also a political activist, as a member of the Coventry Workers Association, a breakaway from the Communist Party.
Jack always claimed that shop stewards were a step on the way to workers’ control of the workplace. He was a fan of Mike Cooley, the initiator of the “Lucas Workers’ Corporate Plan”. The Lucas workers were threatened with the closure of their factory and worked out a plan where their skills and the machinery at Lucas could be used to build 150 socially useful products like kidney dialysis machines and a road-rail bus. They published their plan in 1976.
Unfortunately the capitalists decided that the shop stewards movement was too strong and decided to destroy it. In 1976 Jack was victimised during a bitter dispute where, according to the local paper, the workers were actually running the factory. He went to College and became a tutor in Industrial Relations throughout the West Midlands.After retiring he became the General Secretary of the British Pensioners and Trade Union Activist Association (BPTUAA). He was a supporter of Coventry Radical Network and attended our meetings right up to his final illness. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: hopi, iran
Categories : 2008 financial crisis, cpgb, events, imperialism, iran, iraq, mcdonnell
by David Broder
On Saturday 13th December I attended the conference of Hands Off the People of Iran, a solidarity campaign not only opposed to military attacks, “surgical strikes” and sanctions against Iran, but also supporting struggles against the régime waged by the workers’ movement, women’s and student organisations.
Just over sixty people attended, which was slightly down on last year, no doubt largely because the threat of a US or Israeli military attack on Iran seems lesser now that the US government and its allies are making deals with Islamist élites in order to extricate themselves from Iraq.
After a report on the last year’s activities, there was a general discussion on the current situation, led by Torab Saleth. This particularly focussed on the seemingly more “pragmatic” attitudes to foreign policy now held by the American ruling class, as symptomised by their majority support for Barack Obama in the recent presidential election and the weakening of the neo-conservative voice on Capitol Hill. Torab and several speakers from the floor warned that the situation could change suddenly, particularly given the continuity shown by Obama’s appointments, the risk of the US ruling class lashing out under pressure from the recession, and even the possibility of an Israeli “surgical strike” without Obama’s approval. A further consideration is, of course, the weakening of the Iranian economy with the collapse in world oil prices.
In any case the situation is in many ways unpredictable because (i) the Obama administration and the Iranian régime are not utterly irreconcilable and could easily reach accommodation: the latter supports the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and aggressively implements IMF neo-liberal reforms (ii) nor are their relations purely “rational” or reflective of greater economic or strategic dynamics. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: brian pearce, communism, cpgb, obituary, stalinism, the commune, trotskyism
Categories : cpgb, stalinism, the left, trotsky, ussr
by Terry Brotherstone, from The Guardian
Brian Pearce, who has died aged 93, was one of the most acute scholars of Russian history and British communism never to have held an academic post. Of the historians who broke with the Communist party of Great Britain (CPGB) after the Khrushchev “secret speech” and the suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956, he was the most insistent on the need for historical analysis of the party’s record.
A prodigious translator from both Russian and French, Pearce won the Scott-Moncrieff prize three times – in 1976 for Marcel Liebman’s Leninism Under Lenin, in 1980 for Roland Mousnier’s The Institutions of French Monarchy Under Absolutism, and in 1991 for Paul Veyne’s Bread and Circuses. Literary translation was his main source of income after he stopped working for the CPGB, for which he did various journalistic, cultural relations and translation jobs after leaving the civil service in 1950.
Expelled from the party in 1957, he had continued to work as a teacher of English at the Soviet Embassy, but the next year Harry Pollitt, the CPGB’s former general secretary, saw him there. “Soon my pupils … very embarrassed, made excuses for terminating their lessons,” Pearce recalled. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: clydeside, occupation, strike, the commune, the unions, uncaptive minds, work-in
Categories : 1970s, cpgb, events, organising for class struggle, stalinism, strikes, trade unions, uncaptiveminds, videos
The latest of our ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on class struggle in the 1970s was held last night (Monday 10th November), featuring discussion of the 1971-72 work-in at the Upper Clydeside shipyards, occupied by the workforce in response to the mass redundancies threatened by the Tory government.
Chris Kane gave a talk outlining the dispute, with particular reference to the contradictory role of the Communist Party both in mobilising via its shop-stewards and in terms of keeping the struggle ‘respectable’ and wedded to the conservatism of the TUC leadership and Labour Party. Rather than attempting to spread the struggle and build solidarity with other workers and other shipyards, the leaders of the strike hoped to win over public opinion through continuing to work in a ‘disciplined’ fashion while the yards were occupied. Chris said this was in many ways parallel to the feeble Communist strategy in the west of Scotland during the 1984-85 miners’ strike.
The discussion amongst participants in the meeting raised several points relevant to today’s struggles, including rank-and-file control of disputes; the value of the occupation tactic and need to pose the question of ownership; and the need to find solidarity from other workers, particularly in an age of global capital where production can easily be moved around the world.
We also watched two films about the struggle, both produced by the activist film team of Cinema Action. They are available to watch online, but only in educational establishments and libraries. For the 1971 film UCS 1 click here, and for clips of the 1977 film Class struggle: film from the Clyde click here.
The next forum will take place on Monday 24th November, a film showing and discussion on the Grunwick strike, with Pete Firmin from Brent Trades Council. The venue is in central London: email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
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Tags: bolsheviks, chávez, communism, cpgb, mao, revolution, the commune, trotsky
Categories : book reviews, cpgb, cuba, hungary 1956, marx, organising for class struggle, paris commune, strikes, ussr, workers' councils
on friday 29th david broder posted a review of revolutionary strategy, a new book by the cpgb’s mike macnair. this provoked more than seventy comments, and mike himself has written a response, which we reproduce here. Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: chávez, communism, cpgb, democracy, mao, revolution, the commune
Categories : book reviews, cpgb, hal draper, state capitalism, trotsky, ussr, workers' councils
david broder reviews revolutionary strategy, a new book by the cpgb’s mike macnair
There is much of value in any serious attempt to talk about the tasks of the left today, and what exactly the purpose of its existence is: Mike Macnair’s new book, which carries the subtitle “Marxism and the challenge of left unity” is certainly this. The left sects are crying out for some ideas and some definition for their project: what we have at the moment is a maelstrom of sectarian and internally undemocratic groups, with philistine hostility towards discussion and utter disdain for ideas other than those quoted from the holy texts of Lenin and Trotsky. Read the rest of this entry »