Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘YCL

Radical Left Battles Over the Communist Party of Britain’s Young Communist League.

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Edinburgh YCL (@YCLEdinburgh) / Twitter

“Visually striking assertions of communist identity”.

Lawrence Parker is probably best known on the left as the gumshoe who uncovered the funding of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee). It turned out to be that they owned the copyright on the much-loved Wurzels’ hit,  ‘I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester’. (The CPGB-PCC, The Wurzels and me). (1)

in recent times, that is October, there was this spat this year with Gerry Downing in the pages of the Weekly Worker,

Gerry writes: “Comrade Parker is clearly nostalgic for Uncle Joe, as the title in his piece of October 16 – ‘The Communist Party of Britain disappears comrade Stalin’ – shows. In challenging the view of former CPB member Andrew Murray that ‘violations of socialist democracy during the Stalin period’, which were ‘a shameful blot on the proud history of the communist movement’, he points out that this ‘existed alongside a contradiction: the Soviet Union, despite these abuses of democracy, was still adjudged to be a socialist society and one where the ‘positive features of the socialist experience would far outweigh the negative ones’.”

There a longer intervention, of sufficient importance to get even more widely noticed than what they are already calling the Downing-Parker debate, was this, part of a series of interesting articles:

Young Communist League general secretary denounces critics as ‘saboteurs’ (November the 17th).

Correspondence – the Communist Party of Britain, the YCL and Stalin (October the 11th).

Now Cde Parker returns to the fray with a post that may succeed in its intention, to piss off other groups, largely the AWL, though also the (back to its birth name) Workers’ Power (WP).

British Trotskyists take notice of the Young Communist League

The British Trotskyist left has been forced to sit up and take notice of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and its associated Young Communist League (YCL). I guessed this would happen sooner or later because the sight of hundreds of young people marching under red banners, shouting revolutionary slogans and being sympathetic to the historical legacy of Stalin strikes at the existential heart of Trotskyism’s current crisis. If Trotskyists think about this then, surely, in their eyes, they should have won such forces after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the concurrent, although incomplete, disintegration of the ‘official’ communist movement? Who can forget Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party and his truly gormless idea of the ‘red ‘90s’? But much of the Trotskyist left shared versions of this ‘us next’ mentality and I have documented such matters on this blog in relation to the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). The whole idea of a revitalised YCL, which most Trotskyists understand under a pejorative and simplistic rubric of ‘Stalinism’, will be sending shivers of horror through various factional centres in relation to what such happenings reveal about the attractiveness, or otherwise, of various Trot sects and groupuscules.

I shall leave it to Cdes Sacha and Jim to respond, if they see fit, to the measured criticisms made in this, long, aesthetical post, “all the residual appeal of Jim Davidson reciting Macbeth. “social-imperialist AWL”, “such hysteria”.

But this, on Workers’ Power (WP), part of the League for a Fifth International is intriguing:

While the YCL comrades refer to their ‘party of a new type’, WP has historically referred to itself as a ‘fighting propaganda group’, which has a set of, ahem, remarkable similarities with the CPB/YCL variant. In both organisations, open factions are banned, public debates between comrades are rare and the membership is generally expected to parrot the group’s line. The rider here is that the CPB has a slightly better culture of open debate between its members than WP in that it at least publishes its low-level congress discussion every couple of years; unlike in WP where any attempt by members to debate publicly would be treated as an act of treason. If the “splits between Stalinists usually lead nowhere” where have recent splits from WP led other than to weaken and demoralise a much-diminished mothership, form a useless and defunct group such as Permanent Revolution and fritter away other cadres into ‘good causes’? This then is the depressing balance sheet of the bureaucratic centralism that has infected both Trotskyists and ‘official’ communists in brutal contradiction to the democratic and open traditions of our movement.  

The Weekly Worker, for which Cde Parker used to write, is again behind the curve: there is nothing on this row in the latest issue.

The YCL claims a massive 450 members.

(1) “there has been much discussion on the left about the financing of the CPGB, with many dubious explanations being advanced. In order to scotch these rumours I can reveal that, many years ago, Mark Fischer bought out all the copyright on songs by The Wurzels. This has been a constant source of finance for the CPGB over the years, and cider is indeed now obligatory at their many social gatherings. So the next time you’re reading some tedious diatribe from Jack Conrad, think about “I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester” and raise your glass with me. I hope that clears it up.”

CPGB – The Final Countdown?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2021 at 3:45 pm

Communist Party of Britain Congress hears warning against “External anti-communist forces and saboteur elements”.

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CP 56th Congress – Communist Party of Britain

“Not for a minute can we afford to suffer the seeds of division!”

The World Congress of the International Marxist Tendency, whose best known member is the British Socialist Appeal, took place in July this year. The clear-eyed spotted that present were comrades from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Leningrad (no this is not made up, that’s the names they used). Delegates heard of a “brewing mood of revolutionary anger”. Adding yeast to this fermentation “On a world scale, the IMT has grown by 43% since the beginning of 2020 alone. In some sections, such as the US section, we have grown by as much as 87%; and in Indonesia, in the same period, the section has grown by as much as 150%!” The current looked to the future, “In one corner of the world after another – whilst the other tendencies are in crisis and drip with pessimism – the International Marxist Tendency is advancing, confident of the future and firmly dedicated to the struggle for socialist revolution.” (Marxism on the march worldwide: IMT Congress 2021)

The gloom-mongering drips did not fail to notice the delegates from countries that no longer exist and a city now called St Petersburg. It was the occasion for a few chuckles and nothing more.

We misunderstood. It has been suggested that the IMT were pioneers of a new form of revolutionary theorising, uchronia, “how history might have been” if things had turned out differently. The genre is cherished in France. In Napoléon et la Conquête du monde / Napoléon apocryphe (1836) Louis Geoffroy recounted how Napoléon won the battle of Moscow and went on to conquer the world. The Felixstowe born Roy Lewis wrote The Extraordinary Reign of King Ludd: An Historical Tease (1990) – popular amongst French leftists under the name of La Véritable Histoire du dernier roi socialiste  ‘The true history of the last Socialist king’ (1994). This story begins in the 19th century where the 1848 revolutions had won and monarchies had been saved by socialist Luddites.

The Communist Party of Britain (CPB) is a party built around a uchronia.

As their own Congress, or Conference, took place they were tweeting this:

In their alternative time-line China is still shining socialist state:

The Young Communist League are rising!

Alas, there’s always those out to thwart the revolutionary forces. Back to the alternate reality of the Communists bravely fighting wreckers and saboteurs out to bring down socialism…

Young Communist League general secretary denounces critics as ‘saboteurs’. (read the full article, which explains this in depth).

Speaking to the CPB’s conference this weekend (6-7 November 2021) in Croydon, Johnnie Hunter, general secretary of the YCL, was keen to quell any offence that those remarks may have given to those CPB members who can still remember Crossroads and Wimpy restaurants. Hunter drew attention to CPB members in the 1980s and 1990s as “those comrades who fought liquidationism, those comrades who fought to maintain a Communist Party in our country”. Hunter “wanted to make very clear” that this generation were “held in the highest esteem by the young comrades joining the YCL today”.[3] Later in his speech, he boldly asserted in relation to the YCL and CPB: “We are you; you are us.”[4] The latter statement was clearly a case of wishful thinking.

Hunter moved on to deliver a colourful passage that addressed the internal divisions that have presumably taken up a lot of his recent time: “Comrades, as we heard today we’ve also endured this year… something that will become increasingly common as we make new successes and increase our influence: forces that seek to divide us. They’ve attempted to and will keep working, with increasing gall and determination, to drive a wedge between the [CPB] and its youth. They don’t do so for earnest reasons; they don’t do so from a dedication to socialism. They do so to attack and undermine the exciting progress that we’re making; to undermine and destroy the [CPB] and the YCL itself. So, we must be on guard against these external anti-communist forces and saboteur elements. Not for a minute can we afford to suffer the seeds of division. We have to be vigorous in the defence of our organisational independence and also couple this with our unity in action, our common programme and our unbreakable link [with the CPB]. We’ve seen the devastating consequences in a number of European countries just this year where the link between the party and the youth is broken. We say: never here.”[5]

(One of the leaders of the British Young Communist League brings greetings to the 56th Congress of the Communist Party of Britain.)

Cde Parker suggests that “external anti-communist forces and saboteur elements” may refer to his good self and possibly the Weekly Worker.

Alas, there are other hard-bitten enemies at work.

Chin up pardners, that Congress “sure lived up to expectations”. Indeedy.

Note, this Blog condemns the kettling of the YCL by the Glasgow Polis.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2021 at 1:19 pm