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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

What it means to be a communist in 2022

by Theo Russell

A contribution to the joint NCP–RCPB-ML seminar held recently in London

A thorough understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory and philosophy – of dialectics, which is a materialist, scientific and multi-faceted view of the world. This includes a thorough knowledge of the contributions of Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and other revolutionary thinkers.

Applying correct Marxist-Leninist positions to real day to day problems, understanding the errors of right and left revisionism, and of anarchism, and their relationship with bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology.

Understanding the different trends within bourgeois ideology, liberal and reactionary bourgeois ideology (eg in different periods the bourgeoisie moves from one to the other), and that in normal times, they are not the same as fascists (a common ultra-leftist error).

Thus our fight with both Tories and right-wing Labour is against their upholding neo-liberal capitalism at home and imperialism abroad, but at the same time we still enjoy extensive democratic rights that have been won in battles from the English Revolution onwards. The same can be said of most advanced capitalist states. It’s important to remember that the Bolsheviks had to work secretly underground under the brutal Czarist dictatorship.

Understanding that even under bourgeois rule, and when there is no possibility of revolutionary change, the working class can still be mobilised to make enormous gains, as in the period of the 1945–51 post-war Labour government, that such reforms can strengthen the morale of the organised working class, but never losing sight of the need to educate the vanguard and to take up the fight to achieve socialism when the time comes.

A thorough understanding of the bourgeois, capitalist state in the epoch of imperialism and monopoly finance capital, which rides roughshod over the rights of workers and the small bourgeoisie alike. Knowing our enemy well and understanding that bourgeois democracy is only genuine democracy for the bourgeoisie. This explains why in the same breath as telling socialist countries to adopt multi-party “democracy” and the “rule of law”, the dominant capitalist states also back violent subversion and corrupt and undemocratic regimes.

Understanding that the handful of rich capitalist states still enjoy overwhelming dominance over the world economy, allowing them to use sanctions and financial subversion as powerful weapons, but also that this domination – especially in the fields of science and technology – is on the wane.

The ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood and to search out truth from all sources, especially communist and honest, progressive sources. This may seem obvious to communists, but it distinguishes us from those who pose as leftist or revolutionary, but who have not left behind bourgeois/petty-bourgeois thinking and are still infected with the lies of the capitalist censored mass media.

Understanding the need to work in alliances, first and foremost with communists and socialists, including a non-sectarian approach and working with organisations on vitally important issues whilst disagreeing on other issues.

Understanding that we can ideologically side with all sorts of strange bedfellows, such as during the Brexit referendum, and right now we would agree with both Sadiq Khan and Priti Patel that the Met Police have to clean out the racist and sexist pigs from their animal farm. This is something which ultra-Leftists get into huge theoretical twists about, but which also shows the world that we share the basic norms of democracy and civilised life with the masses.

Likewise, understanding that if and when socialism is achieved, there is no magic wand that turns the masses into revolutionaries, but that you have to work with and bring with you a very wide alliance of forces to continue the revolution.

The ability to work in all working-class and progressive organisations democratically and collectively, not imposing our ideas on others but putting forward correct positions and proposals and accepting the decision of the collective without question. Never claiming to be better than the collective or the leadership.

Setting an example of hard work, dedication and upholding an organisation’s principles. For example: in a trade union working to recruit members, build branches, inform and educate members, support strike action, and never fail to join picket lines – the coal-face of working-class struggle. If working with the Labour Party, always turn out for canvassing and any other tasks the local branch sets.

Never to expect too much, to be prepared to continue working for months, years and decades with possibly little or no result, but when the class is ready to move and take up the fight, to be in position where you are known and trusted by many who are not in our party, are not communists, but who know that we fight for the same goals as they do.

There are no easy solutions to the difficult and complex problems that life throws up.