Editorial from the May 1991 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Communist Party of Great Britain is dead—officially. The old Leninist house of illusions is closed for business. Throughout Europe the absurd myth of “the socialist countries” has been seen to be a fraud. The Russian Empire—“the socialist motherland” to those naive pseudo-communists—stands in ruins and rushes in panic towards the full embrace of the so- called free market. What point was there for the weary old CP to stay alive? Its principal illusion is exposed; its seventy-year purpose of proclaiming the existence of socialism in the state-capitalist countries of Eastern Europe has disappeared.
In the heady days after the Bolshevik coup of 1917 the CP was formed to propagate the elitist and undemocratic cause of Lenin's policy. The apparent success of the Bolsheviks and the huge claims about what was being done in Russia made the CP's appeal strong and intoxicating for the enthusiasts. Here at last, it seemed, was a party which not only talked about socialist revolution, but could point to one which had succeeded. All the British workers needed to do was to copy down the Leninist recipe.
In the excitement of those early days one thing stood out against the folly of Leninist faith. This was the voice of the Socialist Party. From day one we pointed out that the Bolshevik policy could not lead to socialism but to state capitalism. It could not lead to democracy but to the dictatorship of the vanguard. The Socialist Party did not need to wait until the years of Stalin when it was acceptable for Leftists to criticise the crimes of the Russian dictatorship—although even then the CP refused to say a word against “Comrade Stalin”, accusing the Socialist Party of being “fascists” for stating our hostility to him and his regime.
Over the years many sincere and dedicated workers’ lives have been thrown behind the CP cause. We do not deride or mock the sincerity and dedication of such workers—they thought that they had an answer. What remains of such militancy should not be allowed to evaporate into despair. Socialism has not been tried and failed. The truth is, as it always was, that socialism has yet to be tried. It is a vision of a new social system which the workers have yet to take up. The task of all socialists is to win over our fellow workers, of all lands, to the true cause of socialism: a world-wide community based on the common ownership and democratic control of everything in and on the Earth by all the inhabitants of the Earth.
The CP decided last month to fold up its tents. It is to continue as a pressure group called the Democratic Left. The shelf life of this new brand name is unlikely to be a long one. Several of the old-time Leninists refused to give up the ghost. They will continue to exist in some form or other, mouthing their Leninist cliches like monks reciting the Roman Catholic catechism.They will be the museum keepers of a dead ideology. Leninism R. I. P? No Leninism—the Red Fraud of the Twentieth Century.
The Socialist Party continues, continues its work, our principles as clear as ever. With the wars, the mass hunger, the environmental destruction and the urban decay of the profit system as our backing track, we are still singing the same tune.