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Critics claim that the program denies the independence of the colonies and oppressed nations of the British Empire and wants to preserve the British Empire.
This is not correct.
Program does not do this.
2.1: Independence of Britain and British People.
“This whole disastrous policy has already led to the loss of our political, military and economic independence.
The fight for peace and the national independence of the British people cannot be separated from the struggle of the colonial and dependent peoples of the British Empire for national liberation.
At the heart of the struggle for peace, so far as the British working class is concerned, is the fight to end American domination over British economic, trade, foreign and military policy;
Therefore, the independence of our own country is inseparably bound up with putting an end to “the present abnormal relations of colonial war and repression between the British people and the peoples of the Empire, by establishing durable friendship with them on the basis of equal rights”. (H. Pollitt. Twenty-Second Congress of the Communist Party -1952)
After the Second World War American imperialism has become the dominant imperial power. It clearly occupied and dominated the defeated imperialist countries: Germany, Italy and Japan. To occupy and dominate the Germans they have divided Germany and brought the Nazis back to power while hounding the communists! Only East Germany was free for it was liberated by the USSR.
France and Britain who were part of the victorious allies also ended up being dominated by America militarily, politically and economically. These countries needed America to be able to oppress their own workers, their own people. They also needed America to be able to preserve their colonies. Rulers of these countries, including the right wing social democrats, betrayed the nation, lost the national independence of the country to the Americans and became a subservient slave to America. This did not stop them engaging in most foul colonial wars and oppressions, and being most foul oppressors of nations!
Is the fact that, in 1952, Britain and British people had a national liberation problem of its own clear to the critics?
Of course not!
Is it at all clear to the critics that the only force capable of liberating Britain from America is the working class led by the communists, and thus the CPGB?
Of course not!
Is it at all clear to the critics that the British Road to Socialism is but a program that takes on board this duty of the communists?
Of course not!
Is this something new in the development of imperialism?
Yes it is.
Should it be considered and should our policies changed accordingly?
2.2: “A new situation faces us” in the fight for the liberation of the peoples of the British Empire:
“Durable friendship requires “the withdrawal of all armed forces from the colonial and dependent territories, and handing over of sovereignty to Governments freely chosen by the peoples”. This would give the basis for “a new, close, voluntary and fraternal association”, with mutually beneficial economic exchange and co-operation, and mutual defence against American imperialist aggression.
This is an extremely important new conception, for the first time clearly stated. It recognises the necessity not only to end all relations between the peoples of the present Empire which are based on political, economic and military enslavement, but also, in doing this, to take into account the economic needs of all the peoples concerned, and especially the American imperialist threat to any isolated country.” (H. Pollitt. Twenty-Second Congress of the Communist Party -1952)
After the First World War, after the October (November) Revolution, we have assumed power not only in Russia of Russian people but in the Tsarist Empire, in the Russian Empire. We have lost parts of it to Japan and Poland and Finland decided to separate, but the rest of the empire voluntarily stayed together as parts of the Soviet Union.
Did we as communists do our utmost to keep all these nations with us instead of separating from us?
Of course we did. It was clear that to fight imperialism, nations of the world must join forces. The more nations, the more countries unite, the more are our chances of fighting back against the military and other attempts of imperialists to defeat us: and attempt they do.
We have formed the Soviet Union not immediately after our victorious revolution but after a long civil war and defeating the intervention of 14 states instigated and led by Churchill and British Empire. During the revolution, during the civil war and during the war against intervention as well as during the building of socialism, a number of facts became clear to all: That bourgeoisie is not interested in the freedom of “its” nation, it either oppress other nations or permit the imperial power to oppress its “own” nation in order to exploit its own nation and other nations. That unity of nations against imperialism is the best means of defending each nation’s independence. That for a nation to be free and independent, it must overthrow its own bourgeoisie and establish the rule of the proletariat. That poorer nations can be free and skip the period of capitalist development if it is a part of the union of socialist countries and is led and supported by the country ruled by the proletariat and is industrially developed. That bourgeois nations should become nations ruled by the proletariat, nations building socialism-communism, becoming nations that do not have any bourgeoisie, that nations should be rebuilt as socialist nations without bourgeoisie. All nations should do all that is needed to defend Soviet Union as the defender of all nations, as the defender of independence of all the nations. The stronger the Soviet Union is the more is the support for the liberation of the nations and colonies, the surer is the defense of the independence of all countries and nations.
After the Second World War, the imperialist camp had only the Americans as the dominant power, all becoming subservient to America. Imperial countries, even Britain, in order to preserve their own colonies have turned their own country into a colony and together with France, surrendered their colonies to America in order to preserve some semblance of colonial ownership. The strongest, the most powerful colony of Britain, India, has been divided and ended up with a semblance of independence but totally dependent on British Imperialism. Any colony that fought for more, a real independence, did end up having to fight Britain, and America always stood in reserve-and did pounce if Britain was forced to pull back: such was the case in Greece, and always shared the spoils as part of their support for the defeat of colonial peoples: such was the case with Cyprus! We all know not only of the American bases in Britain, but also many an American basis in so called British colonies: Diego Garcia is well known these days!
Bolsheviks had to fight for the unity of the peoples of the Russian empire as a voluntary union of these peoples, and prove to the whole world that this is the best way forward for the nations to be free from imperial oppression, for national independence, and is the fastest way of development for nations.
British communists had to clearly formulate this mode of gaining freedom and independence for colonial peoples not only because it is the best way forward for all the nations of the British Empire, including British people, but also and in the conditions created after the second world war, as the only real way forward for the liberation of colonial peoples-as well as the liberation of British people: one by one they would end up being taken over by America, thus not being able to be free and independent, but together, they would establish equal relations and together they would be free, British people and the peoples of the empire.
Program clearly formulates that British people and colonial peoples must work together and must unite against American imperialism and British Imperialism to achieve independence for British people and peoples of the colonies and dependent territories.
This is right and must be done.
Does the program deny the right to separate?
No it does not! It simply makes it clear that separation is not the way forward, it will not give real freedom. Unity, a united front and victory in Britain and thus in all colonial countries is the best and fastest way to achieve liberation for all.
Does the program deny the right to separate?
No it does not. The fact of the matter is that in the same congress, Britain is asked to agree to separation of Cyprus (and Cyprus uniting with Greece). What is needed by the world movement at that moment is concretely formulated by the program, written into resolutions and applied by the British Communists.
They were true supporters of colonial peoples, and true patriots of Britain, they were true internationalists, true participants and supporters of the world revolution!
2.3: The Evil Empire.
Is “British Road to Socialism” a Defender of the British Empire and Oppressors of the Nations of the Empire?
Critics think so?
But it is not so.
Why do the critics think this?
Simple really. They think so not just about British Communists and the British Road to Socialism. It is same with the Soviet communists. They, the Soviet people, the Soviet communists, Stalin, did not liberate the nations of the Eastern Europe (or the world for that matter). Oh no. They have expanded the “evil empire”! They are the occupiers of other nations’ lands, they are the expansionists. On the same score when the British communists declare in 1952 that they shall establish equal trade and equal relations with the nations of the empire, and will form a common wealth of nations (of the British empire) they are acting just like the Soviet Communists, in an imperial manner, to expand their sphere of influence, to occupy other nations, to enslave other nations, to preserve the British Empire!
To the critics it matters not that British communists are declaring that a people’s democracy will be established in Britain-that is the British Empire of the British financial oligarchs will end! It is this government of peoples democracy (not the government of the financial oligarchs) that will establish equal relations between the nations of the empire, support the less developed nations of the empire so that they can develop faster (just as the Soviets did with the Russian Empire and its oppressed nations and peoples), and do not let these nations be overtaken by other imperialists -specifically by USA in collaboration with the local collaborationist bourgeois, feudals and others).
And note. Program clearly declares the right of nations to separation if they so wish! Critics criticize in spite of this; critics declare the imperial desires of the program and of the British communists in spite of this!
Where there is a will, there, there is a way!
It is as one can see a matter of choice, of comprehension of the situation during and after the Second World War. If the Soviets and British communists are not doing all they can do for the liberation of other nations but to enslave them-as the critics would say, they are right. But if the Soviet and British communists were proposing what they proposed to win the liberty of nations, to achieve the fastest rate of development of backward nations and of the world revolution, of world communism, than they are wrong!
It is a matter of comprehension of the time and space of 1952! Of the conditions of 1952!
It is a matter of comprehension of internationalism which is the same thing as the strategy of world proletarian revolution.
2.3.1: Engels on the ruling of “the empire” by the British workers:
“Thinking men of all classes begin to see that a new line must be struck out, and that this line can only be in the direction of democracy. But in England, where the industrial and agricultural working class forms the immense majority of the people, democracy means the dominion of the working class, neither more nor less. Let, then, that working class prepare itself for the task in store for it, - the ruling of this great empire; let them understand the responsibilities which inevitably will fall to their share.
(A Working Men's Party; Articles by Engels in the Labour Standard; Written: mid-July 1881; Published: No. 12, July 23, 1881, as a leading article. )
Clearly, it is not the comprehension of the Empire by the oppressor classes throughout the history that matters, clearly, it is not the comprehension of the Empire as a means of oppression of other nations by the oppressor classes throughout the history that matters; what matters is what one needs to do under the given historical conditions to free all the peoples of that Empire, what matters is what one needs to do under the given historical conditions to progress the development of all the peoples of that Empire, and thus the peoples of the world. Clearly, it is a matter of the most developed section of the workers doing its duty towards all other sections of the Empire. It is a matter of the comprehension of the strategy of the world revolution.
Critics do not have the slightest idea of the proletarian, communist world revolution.
Critics do not have the slightest idea of the proletarian, communist internationalism.
2.4: Nation and National Liberation. Democracy and the people’s democracy!
All are conditioned by time. All have a history. Nations have a history and the very content of nations change in time, and therefore their definition change in time. The same goes for national independence and national liberation.
What makes a nation?
Critics seem to know only one kind of nation: bourgeois nation. And if they are lucky they will define a nation as Stalin defined a bourgeois nation in 1913.
They do not realize that the world has already seen socialist nations, and these nations have no bourgeoisie, they are without any bourgeoisie, they are not bourgeois nations but socialist nations! They do not know of such nations. They cannot see the changes nations have gone through.
Which are independent nations and which are dependent nations?
Critics seem to know only of imperialist nations that oppress and colonies that are oppressed. If he is lucky he will define his oppressor and oppressed nations using Lenin’s Imperialism. They cannot see that one imperialist nation can oppress yet another imperialist nation, and indeed world wars are fought to achieve this result.
What is a national liberation struggle, what signifies and guarantees a nation’s independence?
Critics do not realize that in the Second World War such nations as French, Dutch, etc. were occupied and had to fight for their national liberation, for their national independence and that after Second World war such nations as Germans were divided and its Western part occupied and oppressed; that Italians and Japanese were occupied and oppressed, that even the victor Britain (and France, and Dutch etc.) had surrendered its national independence to the USA. Critics do not realize that national question has further spread and that now we have to tackle national independence issues in previously imperialist, independent countries (in some of these, such as Britain and France- they carry on being imperialist at the same time)
Critics know that colonial, dependent nations are oppressed by big imperial powers but since they are bourgeois nations, critics think that the fight for national liberation is a bourgeois fight led by the local bourgeoisie. They do not realize that in the colonies and dependent nations local bourgeois and feudals surrendered to the imperialists, joined the camp of imperialists and totally betrayed the nation and the national independence. Bourgeoisie is in no position to lead the nation to independence. It cannot lead the national liberation struggle.
Critics do not want to know that there is such a force as USSR, now joined by People’s Democracies that champion the national liberation of all nations.
Critics do not want to know that the only way to liberate one's own nation is to join and support the camp of peace and democracy led by the USSR; the only way to liberate one's own nation is to form a united front against the world imperialism led by the USA which united front is the camp of peace and democracy led by the USSR; critics do not want to know that the only way to liberate one's own nation passes through the defence of USSR and that means the defence of the building of communism in the USSR, for the achievement of the liberation of one's own nation and keeping the independence of one's own nation depends on it!
All these led to changes in the strategy and tactics of national liberation struggles, as well as in the fight for democracy and socialism!
All these changes do not make the life more difficult for the workers’ and communists’ movement, but easier, for it widens the swoop of the movement; it widens its allies while leaving the national traitor bourgeoisie without allies in the nation. It brings the national struggle closer to the socialist struggle of the proletariat.
In developed countries proletariats’ socialist struggle merges with the struggle for national independence, national struggle becomes a struggle that needs to be waged in developed, imperialist countries against the local national bourgeoisie and under the leadership of the working class, under the leadership of the communists, and closely merged by socialist struggle: this situation widens the allies of the proletariat, of communists and strengthens the socialist struggle.!
In the colonies and dependent countries national independence has to be won against the native bourgeoisie that has deserted to the imperialist camp, struggle for independence has to be led by the workers, by the communists. Here, although there are very many bourgeois democratic issues that need to be resolved before one can start socialist construction per se, the very leadership of the movement by the workers and communists, connects the national liberation struggle of each nation to the struggle for the liberation of all nations led by the USSR and to the struggle for democratic rights, and to socialism.
Formulations of British Road to Socialism that calls for unity of nations of the British Empire, of commonwealth of nations to fight back against USA and its allies is formulated to progress the world revolution and liberation of nations in the fastest way and in a least painful way, in concrete conditions of 1952. These formulations are in line with the strategy of world revolution.
Those who object to these formulations want us, the communists, to abrogate our duty to the world revolution and to our own nations and to the nations of the world!
What has been said about the nations above can be said about democracy too!
The moment when one mentions democracy, all the critics can talk of is bourgeois democracy.
They know not of the proletarian democracy. But the fact of the matter is that we have established a proletarian democracy in the USSR and in the East European People’s Democracies. A democracy of the people and for the people, a democracy without the bourgeoisie: democracy becomes perfected by getting rid of the bourgeoisie. If one wants to talk of democracy one should talk of proletarian democracy. Bourgeois democracy was such a narrow and backward form of democracy compared to our democracy-it still is!
In the meantime the big bourgeoisie all around the world has given up on democracy! The only force that was able and capable of establishing democracy (the rule of the people) was the people themselves led by the workers.
In the developed countries, such as Britain, we will establish people’s democracy that will set us on the road to socialism, a people's democracy that will build socialism.
In the colonies and dependent countries with a heavy burden of bourgeois democratic issues, we shall establish people’s democracies that will set us on the road to socialism that will overcome the feudal remnants and will build socialism by overcoming the resistance of the bourgeoisie!
Democracy is not bourgeois democracy, democracy is people’s democracy!
Could sections of the bourgeois take part in this democracy? Of course they could, they would be (and are) more than welcome. They would have to know and see and be happy about the fact that the nation led by the workers, minus the traitorous bourgeois, is fighting to save the nation and give people the democracy. They would then be able to see that this democracy cannot be restricted within the bounds of narrow bourgeois democracy, that this democracy is a people’s democracy and will grow and grow until the limits of democracy of the people itself is reached-until the political state, democracy itself comes to an end, - there is no other way forward for a democracy led by the workers and applied by the people! If they cannot handle it, they would have to join the traitors to the nation, if they cannot handle it they would have to rebel against the people, rebel against the nation. They are more than welcome to that too!