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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


What does it mean to be a Communist?

by Dermot Hudson

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

I BECAME a communist back in the 1970s when I was a teenager. I joined the Young Communist League (YCL) when I was 14-years-old in 1975, I was the only YCL member in the town. Later, in 1980 I joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), at the time I was unaware just how revisionist this party was but that is another story. People can find accounts of my time in the CPGB in my writings.

I became a communist in the 1970s because of the deepening capitalist crisis, because of the contradictions of capitalism and because of deep social injustice. In those days inflation was 30 per cent and I can remember that every week the prices went up, and once or twice when I was sent on shopping errands, I found I did not have enough money to pay for the shopping. It was really terrible. Today high inflation is making a comeback. The rich had an easy life, a very privileged life never having to go without, never having to scrimp and save. Social democratic reforms made absolutely no real difference, in those days you still had private health care and private schools. Class privilege was rampant.

My mother used to have a book by an American sociologist about Russia. Once or twice she bought the old Soviet Weekly when she visited London. I also read a kids’ science fiction story about an American boy and a Soviet boy being sent into space. As I remember from the story, the Soviet boy came across much better and it seemed to me that the USSR was a much more efficient, ordered and disciplined society than the Western countries.

The idea formed in my mind that communism, or strictly speaking socialism (because no socialist country had reached the higher stage of socialism), was and is a superior form of society to capitalism.

I remember reading how the USSR and many other socialist countries had zero inflation and zero unemployment in contrast to the capitalist countries. Socialism was definitely a much more efficient society. As a teenager it was obvious to me that socialism would solve all problems.

Socialism and communism represent a higher form of morality, it was and is morally superior to capitalism. Some people all too often lose sight of the fact that being a communist is a moral choice. These days the decadence of the likes of Boris Johnson and Prince Andrew is being exposed all the time, but many communists and left-wing people are silent and lose the opportunity to use this to their own advantage. Communists should always oppose within their own ranks any form of immoral behaviour.

Of course we should always hate the class enemies of the people and fight against them without compromise or mercy. We should campaign on issues affecting the working people such as rising prices and high energy bills.

To me, communism is about faith. Of course some people make comparisons with religion – but this is false because religion promises people a good life when they are dead rather than when they are living. Communists aim to create a good life for the masses when they are actually alive by eliminating exploitation and oppression and by building a new socialist world. Harry Pollitt used to speak of the gleam of the socialist future.

Communists should always reject even the slightest hint of cynicism. Comrade Kim Jong Il, speaking to officials on the 20th December 1967, said the following about revolutionary faith: “Faith is an immutable belief. In life, a person who does not give up what he believes is right and pursues it no matter what others may say, is called a person of firm faith; and a person on the contrary, who wavers this way and that in accordance with the circumstances with no independent view of his own and no firm standpoint, is branded a person of devoid of faith. A person devoid of faith will end up like a wanderer, like a floating balloon. A person must have faith in order to live a life worthy of a human being and emerge victorious in the revolution. Faith is the criterion for a true person and the lifeblood decisive of the value and destiny of a revolutionary. If a revolutionary discards his faith, his political integrity is dead, even though he is physically alive.”

I think the above quotation sums up very well the question of revolutionary faith.

Korean revolutionaries have shown great examples of communist faith. For example, Ri In Mo, a journalist attached to the Korean People’s Army, was captured in south Korea during the Fatherland Liberation War and was imprisoned for many years in south Korea. He was later released and kept under virtual house arrest, until finally he was repatriated to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in March 1993 after nearly 41 years in south Korea.

During his time in prison the south Korean authorities tried to force him to ‘convert’, to renounce his views. If he had done so he would have been released from prison, but he refused to do so. Even when he was outside of prison in south Korea, the south Korean puppets tried to ply him with propaganda about the collapse of socialism in the USSR but Ri In Mo remained firm and asked to be sent back to the DPRK.

Ri In Mo and is an exemplary communist and revolutionary, and indeed his life story can be said to provide the answer to the question ‘what does it mean to be a communist?’.