Defending Social Democracy, Attacking Communism: The Communist Party of Britain's Rob Griffiths on the Daily Politics
The Shameful Footage
As part of the campaign for the UK 2015 general election, the Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths recently appeared on the BBC’s political daily, The Daily Politics.
In a short, largely substance-less interview Griffiths did manage to say two important things. 1) That he and his party would never do anything to harm the imperialist Labour Party. 2)That the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was a peculiarly Russian historical relic.
While his positions are not surprising for those loosely familiar with Griffiths’ party, those less familiar can get more information on the Labour Party and CPB and their un-Marxist position on the state.
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
This is one of the pillars of Marxism-Leninism. Indeed so vital, Lenin said
"Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat (Lenin 1917. ch II)."
Or as Marx himself said.
“Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat (Marx 1875: Ch IV, para 9).”
Clearly, a Marxist who does not recognize the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a Marxist.
Now fast-forward to Rob Griffiths on the Daily Politics. When asked by the sneering Andrew Neil about the dictatorship of the proletariat, how did Griffiths take this opportunity to defend communism and promote communist ideas?
“That's a term associated with a certain historical period and with particular countries. In Britain what we talk about is working class and popular power".
The BBC and Daily Politics do not hand out platforms to the left willy-nilly. It was quite a rare platform. When opportunities to promote the left in general and Marxism in particular, are rare, rather than defend a foundation of communism, Griffiths attacks it.
It is easy to see why such a spokesperson for the anti-capitalist left is chosen by the establishment. An apparent anti-capitalist, a communist who seeks to disarm the proletariat, blunting the sharp edge required for its historical mission. This is to deprive the workers of oxygen.
"We Would Not Wish to Jeopardise a Labour Victory"
In short, the CPB position is that Labour, not the communist party are the party of the working class, that Labour with communist support will lead the British workers to socialism, that this will happen peacefully through parliamentary elections. Although the CPB programme does refer to the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is rendered entirely meaningless in these terms.
So, in the interview Griffiths was asked why his party is standing candidates against incumbent Labour MP’s in certain constituencies. There are 2 implications to this question. The first, that CPB candidates could cost Labour seats, which could ultimately let the conservatives into power.
The second is an entirely unintentional implication. If Labour are the party of the working class, as endorsed in your party programme, why is the CPB running a sectarian policy against them? Clearly, if Labour are the party of the working class, the CPB should disband and join Labour, rather than stand candidates against them, splitting the vote on sectarian lines.
Here is Griffiths less-than inspired response.
“I think you’ll find in all of those seats, they’re fairly safe Labour seats. We do calculate this. We don’t want to have an intervention that would lose a Labour seat to the conservatives….We would not wish to jeopardise a Labour victory.”
Such a great response, Griffiths produced disbelieving laughter and derision from Neil’s co-host Jo Coburn. “You’re standing where you have no threat (laughter).”
Earlier in the show Griffiths made the oft-made, mantra-like claim that his party are the inheritors of the British communist tradition. This is true in one respect, at least: the British Road to Lost Deposits, as the party continues to throw its members money away at bourgeois elections in which it has no chance in.
While Griffiths sought to assure his party that they will not stand in areas that could lose a Labour seat to the Conservatives. He seemingly less fears potentially losing a seat to the Scottish nationalists in Glasgow.
This short appearance re-affirmed the CPB’s prevailing social-democratic ideology, it’s hostility to Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy and a slavish, yet contradictory position on the Labour Party.
What the Marxist-Leninists Say
"We must also note that Engels is most explicit in calling universal suffrage an instrument of bourgeois rule. Universal suffrage, he says, obviously taking account of the long experience of German Social-Democracy, is
“the gauge of the maturity of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the present-day state."
The petty-bourgeois democrats, such as our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and also their twin brothers, all the social-chauvinists and opportunists of Western Europe, expect just this “more” from universal suffrage. They themselves share, and instill into the minds of the people, the false notion that universal suffrage “in the present-day state" is really capable of revealing the will of the majority of the working people and of securing its realization." (Lenin)
What do Britain’s Marxist-Leninists say about the elections?
1 Lenin, V.I., 1917. The State and Revolution. Available at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/
2 Marx. K., 1875. Critique of the Gotha Programme. Available at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/