Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB)

British Road to Socialism

British Road to Socialism

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Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB)

The Communist Party of Great Britain was formed in 1920 when a number of smaller left socialist/communist groups came together at the behest of VI Lenin. In his pamphlet ‘Left Wing Communism – an infantile disorder‘ Lenin sought to encourage small groupings (in various countries of Europe) to put away their (oft times petty) differences aside and unite to take on the capitalism as the common enemy of the working class. Having led the Bolsheviks to state power in Russia Lenin’s words carried a great deal of weight and, in some senses, shamed these small groupings to come together.

However, that very process (especially in Britain) was probably one of the reasons the Party was never ideologically united around the theory of Marxism-Leninism.

Although the Party was successful for much of its first 30 years or so in achieving a foothold amongst the working class in the traditional heavy industries, winning and leading some important disputes that had wide ranging significance, they were never a really revolutionary Party and had little impact outside of the organised trade union movement.

An indication of this was the adoption of the (revisionist) British Road to Socialism (which positioned the Party as only slightly to the ‘left’ of the Labour Party and has nothing at all to say about the revolutionary achievement of state power) as the Party’s programme in April 1952 – at the Party’s 22nd Congress – which pre-dated Khrushchev’s renunciation of Marxism-Leninism in November 1956.

That act of betrayal to the principles of Marxism-Leninism – an opportunist move in an attempt to make itself attractive to a greater proportion of the population – led to the growing marginalisation of the Party and by following the lead of the Soviet Union in the International Polemic in the 1960s saw its attractiveness for those who wanted a revolutionary change of society wane considerably. The result was a fracturing of the movement – strangely similar to what had existed pre-1920.

It’s growing dependence upon the revisionist Soviet Union from the late 1950s onwards meant that when the Soviet Union itself fell apart in 1990 that crutch that had kept the CPGB afloat (following the earlier adoption of the strangely named ‘Eurocommunism’) was taken away and the collapse of the Party was as quick as that of the erstwhile Socialist state.

However, it did produce some good material – especially in the 1930s and 40s – and some of that is reproduced below, as well as documents which also show its internal disintegration and lack of Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Pamphlets and books

British Communist Party, a short history, Tom Bell, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1937, 201 pages.

Four Lesson Course, for the use of Communist Party Branches and Training Groups, Communist Theory Series, No 1, CPGB, London, 1937, 16 pages.

The Political and Social Doctrine of Communism, R Palme Dutt, Day to Day Pamphlets No 39, Hogarth Press, London, 1938, 44 pages.

Chamberlain helped Hitler, JR Campbell, CPGB, London, 1938, 16 pages.

The Chamberlain-Hitler collusion, Alvin Finkel and Clement Leibovitz, Merlin Press, Rendlesham, 1997, 325 pages. How the UK assisted the Nazis for their opposition to Soviet Communism – a continuation of the political stance since the first days following the 1917 October Revolution.

A textbook of industrial history in wartime, including a record of the Shop Stewards Movement, Wal Hannington, The Marxist Textbook Series, No 5, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1940, 119 pages.

Marxism, nationality and war, a textbook in two parts, Part 1, Nationalism and Imperialism, edited by Diana Torr, The Marxist Textbook Series, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1940, 128 pages.

War on the USSR, University Socialist Club, Cambridge, University Labour Federation, London, 1940, 16 pages.

Leninism, a syllabus based on Stalin’s ‘Foundations of Leninism’ together with an introductory lecture presented on March 23 1941, R Palme Dutt, Lawrence and Wishart (for the Marx Memorial Library and Workers School), London, 1941, 40 pages.

An Introduction to Political Economy, R Page Arnot, Marx House Syllabus No 3, Lawrence and Wishart (for the Marx Memorial Library and Workers School), London, n.d., 1941?, 28 pages.

Britain in the World Front, R Palme Dutt, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1942, 226 pages.

The Communist Party, its theory and practice, Outlines for use in classes, No 1, Dialectics as an aid to work, the Party of a new type, Problems of Factory Group Organisation, CPGB, London, 1942, 14 pages.

The Communist Party, its theory and practice, Outlines for use in classes, No 2, International Front and National Front, The Labour Movement, Propaganda: aims and methods, CPGB, London, 1942, 14 pages.

Soviet Leaders – Timoshenko, Ivor Montagu, CPGB, London, 1942, 15 pages.

Soviet Leaders – Voroshilov, Ivor Montagu, CPGB, London, 1942, 16 pages.

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Syllabus for six lectures on the history of the CPSU, with notes on reading, CPGB, London, 1942, 31 pages.

The imperialist struggle for a new redivision of the world, E Varga, Director of the Institute of World Economy and Politics in Moscow, reprinted from Volume 22, No 11 of Labour Monthly, Trinity Trust, London, n.d., 1943?, 11 pages.

Soviet Jews at War, Professor H Levy, Russia Today, April 1943, London, 1943, 31 pages.

Take over the mines, the case for nationalisation, Harry Pollitt, CPGB, London, 1944, 24 pages.

The Colonies, The Way Forward, a memorandum issued by the Executive Committee of the Communist Party, CPGB, London, 1944, 68 pages.

Political Economy and Capitalism, some essays in economic tradition, Maurice Herbert Dobb, George Routledge and Sons, London, 1946, 357 pages.

Looking Ahead, Harry Pollitt, CPGB, London, 1947, 132 pages.

Soviet Foreign Policy 1917-1947, British Soviet Society, London, 1947, 36 pages.

The Soviet Transition from Socialism to Communism, Emile Burns, CPGB, London, 1950, 16 pages.

The British Road to Socialism, Programme adopted by the Executive Committee of the Communist Party by Communist Party of Great Britain, January 1951, Communist Party, London, 1951, 22 pages.

Readers Guide to Marxist Classics, prepared and edited by Maurice Cornforth, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1952, 132 pages.

Inner Party Democracy, CPGB, London, 1957, 32 pages.

Published in accordance with the Resolution adopted by the 25th Congress of the Communist Party, April 19-22, 1957.

26th Congress Report, March 27-30 1959, CPGB, London, 1959, 74 pages.

Wages, Maurice Dobb, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1959, 201 pages.

Socialism in Britain, AL Morton, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1963, 80 pages.

The Rise and Fall of the Daily Herald, R Palme Dutt, CPGB, London, 1964, 20 pages.

Keep out of the Common Market, CPGB, London, 1967, 16 pages.

British Road to Socialism, 3rd revised edition, CPGB, London, 1968, 72 pages. Although a later, revised, edition this is substantially the same document that was adopted in 1951. It got even worse, if that was at all possible, when it was re-drafted in 1977/8.

Aeschylus and Athens, a study in the social origins of drama, George Thomson, Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1968, 385 pages.

People Before Profits – Election Manifesto 1970, CPGB, London, 1970, 16 pages.

Incomes Policy, The Great Wage Freeze Trick, Bert Ramelson, CPGB, London, 1971, 21 pages.

The future of man, a Socialist Library No. 2, James Klugman, CPGB, London, 1971, 44 pages.

UCS – The Fight for the Right to Work, Alex Murray, Secretary, Scottish Committee of Communist Party, CPGB, London, 1971, 20 pages.

Britain and the Socialist Revolution, a Socialist Library, No. 1, Betty Matthews, CPGB, London, 1972, 24 pages.

Cogito, the Theoretical and Discussion journal of the YCL, Trotsky and the World Revolution, a critique by Monty Johnstone, CPGB, London, 1976, 16 pages.

The British Road to Socialism (Draft) – for discussion, CPGB, London, 1977, 40 pages.

‘Congress instructs the executive committee to initiate and facilitate the widest possible debate within the party and the labour movement with a view to the adoption of a revised edition of The British Road to Socialism at the 35th national congress.’ From a Resolution at the 34th Congress, November 1975.

The British Road to Socialism, Programme of the CPGB, adopted at the 35th Congress, November 1977, CPGB, London, 1978, 68 pages.

Leo McCree, What a man, what a fighter, an account of Leo McCree’s part in the working class struggles in Liverpool, Jim Arnison, Union of Construction, Allies Trades and Technicians (UCATT), London, 1980, 118 pages.

When the People Arose, The Peasants Revolt of 1381, AL Morton, a Communist Party pamphlet, published to mark the 600th anniversary of the great peasant uprising in south-east England, CPGB, London, May 1981, 40 pages.

Police, accountable to whom, Merseyside CPGB, Liverpool, 1983, 24 pages.

Who Cares? – Bulletin of Merseyside Communist Party Health Group, Liverpool, CPGB, Liverpool, Summer 1984, 14 pages.

Liverpool’s State of Health, edited by Katy Gardner and Steve Munby, Merseyside Communist Party, Liverpool, 1985?, 38 pages.

Marxism Today

The Party’s Theoretical and Discussion Journal, published monthly, from 1957 to 1991.

Marxism Today, Volume 14, No. 10, CPGB, London, October 1970, 40 pages.

Marxism Today, Volume 14, No. 11, CPGB, London, November 1970, 36 pages.

Marxism Today, Volume 25, No. 10, CPGB, London, October 1981, 52 pages.

Labour Monthly

A journal published from 1921-1981 and associated with the CPGB. It was edited from its beginning until his death in 1974 by R. Palme Dutt.

Volume 32 No 7, The Trinity Trust, London, July 1950, 48 pages.

Marxist Study Course – Political Economy

01 – Marxist Theory of Value, Martin Lawrence, London, 1932, 52 pages.

02 – Capital and Surplus Value – Part 1, Martin Lawrence, London, 1932?, 52 pages.

03 – Capital and Surplus Value – Part 2, Martin Lawrence, London, 1932?, 46 pages.

04 – Wages and Accumulation of Capital – Part 1, Martin Lawrence, London, 1932?, 48 pages.

05 – Wages and Accumulation of Capital – Part 2, Martin Lawrence, London, 1932?, 48 pages.

06 – The Distribution of Surplus Value – Part 1, Martin Lawrence, London, 1932?, 52 pages.

07 – The Distribution of Surplus Value – Part 2, Martin Lawrence, London, 1933, 56 pages.

08 – Economic Crises – Part 1, Martin Lawrence, London, 1933, 52 pages.

09 – Economic Crises – Part 2, Martin Lawrence, London, 1933?, 64 pages.

10 – Imperialism – Part 1, Martin Lawrence, London, 1933, 64 pages.

10A – Imperialism, Supplementary Illustrative Material, Martin Lawrence, London, 1933, 47 pages.

11 – Imperialism – Part 2, Martin Lawrence, London, 1933?, 52 pages.

Marxist Study Course – Working Class History

01 – The Great French Revolution, International Publishers, New York, 1931, 52 pages.

02 – Industrial Revolution – Chartism, Martin Lawrence, London, 1932, 50 pages.

03 – The Revolution of 1848, International Publishers, New York, 1931?, 49 pages.

04 – First International and Paris Commune, International Publishers, New York, 1931?, 47 pages.

The Modern Quarterly

A journal published from 1945-1953 and associated with the CPGB. It was edited by John Lewis.

Volume 1 No 1, December 1945, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1945, 95 pages.

Volume 2 No 1, Winter 1946-7, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1946, 95 pages.

Volume 2 No 2, Spring 1947, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1947, 92 pages.

Volume 2 No 3, Summer 1947, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1947, 94 pages.

Volume 3 No 1, Winter 1947-8, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1947, 96 pages.

Volume 3 No 3, Summer 1948, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1948, 93 pages.

Volume 3 No 4, Autumn 1948, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1948, 96 pages.

Volume 4 No 3, Summer 1949, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1949, 94 pages.

Volume 4 No 4, Autumn 1949, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1949, 92 pages.

Volume 5 No 1, Winter 1949-50, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1949, 95 pages.

Volume 5 No 1, Winter 1949-50, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1949, 95 pages.

Volume 5 No 2, Spring 1950, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1950, 94 pages.

Volume 5 No 3, Summer 1950, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1950, 95 pages.

Volume 5 No 4, Autumn 1950, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1950, 95 pages.

Volume 6 No 3, Summer 1951, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1951, 91 pages.

Volume 6, 1951, index, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1951, 4 pages.

Volume 7 No 2, Spring 1952, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1952, 58 pages.

Volume 7 No 3, Summer 1952, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1952, 61 pages.

Volume 8 No 1, Winter 1952-3, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1952, 61 pages.

Philosophy

A Text Book of Dialectical Materialism, David Guest, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1939, 110 pages.

Science and Idealism, Maurice Cornforth, International Publishers, New York, 1946, 267 pages.

Dialectical Materialism and Science, Maurice Cornforth, Marxism Today Series No. 7, Lawrence and Wishart, 1949, 63 pages.

Marx and Science, JD Bernal, International Publishers, New York, 1952, 48 pages.

Socialism in the Nuclear Age, John Eaton, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1961, 191 pages.

Historical Materialism, Maurice Cornforth, International Publishers, New York, 2nd edition, 1962, 148 pages. Volume 2 of the 3-volume ‘ Dialectical Materialism; an introduction’.

Marxism and the Linguistic Philosophy, Maurice Cornforth, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1967, 384 pages.

The Open Philosophy and the Open Society, Reply to Dr Karl Popper’s Refutations of Marxism, Maurice Cornforth, International Publishers, New York, 1968, 396 pages.

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