From International Socialism (1st series), No.50, January-March 1972, pp.35-41.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
‘Contrary to the ideas spread by some Labour leaders it is not the aim of the Communist Party to undermine, weaken or split the Labour Party.’
The British Road to Socialism 
It is a platitude that the struggle for socialism requires the development of the broadest possible working class unity. The British Road repeats it many times. But unity on what basis, unity for what ends?
If unity as such is the most important consideration then clearly the Labour Party, as by far the biggest party of the ‘left’, is the organisation to unite around. And if the Communist Party does not aim to ‘undermine, weaken or split’ the Labour Party why is a Communist Party necessary at all?
We are told that ‘the struggle for the unity of the working class is no mere tactical question. It is a matter of principle.’  Why not then, in the interests of unity, dissolve the separate organisation and enter the Labour Party?
No very convincing answer is given or can be given. Certainly the Labour Party is attacked.
‘The Labour Party has been dominated by reformist ideas, spread by right wing leaders who have controlled it over the years. They reject the need for working people to win political power to bring about a revolutionary transformation of society. They seek only to maintain the existing capitalist order and administer it more efficiently. The policies of the governments they form do not differ in any fundamental way from those of the Tories and are in no sense socialist.’ 
All of which is incontestably true and would seem an excellent reason for trying to ‘undermine, weaken or split’ the Labour Party and replace it by a party dedicated to bringing about a ‘revolutionary transformation of society’. But this is not the perspective. The perspective is to reform the Labour Party.
‘As Communists we sincerely desire the strengthening of the left trends within the Labour Party. We believe that the struggle of the socialist forces to make it a party of action and socialism will grow and that the growth of the Communist Party will help this development. When the Labour Party rejects reformism, moves into the attack on capitalism, ends the bans and proscriptions against the left, it will ensure itself a vital role in the building of socialism.’ 
This is a very curious logic. If the Labour Party can reject reformism, indeed will reject it according to the British Road which speaks of when not if, then clearly the job of communists is to be inside the Labour Party helping the ‘strengthening of the left trends’. The existence of a separate party which necessarily implies ‘disunity’ can only be justified on the basis of a fundamentally different programme and perspective. That was indeed the basis on which the Communist Party was founded. That basis has been abandoned and, wriggle as they may, the leaders of the party cannot justify the existence of a second reformist party in British politics. That is the fundamental dilemma of the British Road.
‘The conquest of power by the proletariat is the violent overthrow of bourgeois power, the destruction of the capitalist state apparatus (bourgeois armies, police, bureaucratic hierarchy, the judiciary, parliaments etc.), and the substitution in its place of new organs of proletarian power.’
The Programme of the Communist International
At its founding conference in 1920 the Communist Party resolved that it ‘repudiates the reformist view that a social revolution can be achieved by the ordinary methods of parliamentary democracy’,  and that Communists ‘declare for the Soviet (or Workers’ Council) system as a means whereby the working class shall achieve power; declare for the dictatorship of the proletariat’.  It affiliated to the Communist International and accepted the ‘21 points’ that were condition of acceptance.
These decisions were not accidental or secondary. The foundation of the British Communist Party was part of the international split in the working class movement following the collapse of the Second International in 1914 and the October revolution. It was a split between those who had abandoned, in practice though not in words, the struggle for socialism in favour of reforms within the capitalist system and those who stood for the socialist revolution. The attitude to the capitalist state and the rejection of ‘parliamentary roadism’ marked the dividing line between the reformists and the revolutionaries.
Today, as will be shown, the Communist Party stands on the reformist side of that divide. Its existence as a separate organisation, then, has nothing to do with the aim it was founded to fight for.
‘Today socialism is a reality for all to see. Countries with populations of hundreds of millions are socialist states.’
The British Road to Socialism. 
‘Stalin’s dictatorial rule was terminated only by his death. The absolute power of Chairman Mao still continues. And in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland open revolt by the workers was necessary in order to secure urgent changes in the Party leadership.’
Pat Sloan in Comment 6.11.1971.
The Party ceased to be a revolutionary socialist organisation long ago but for several decades it was able to maintain an internal cohesion and sense of purpose as a Stalinist party. It functioned as pan of a monolithic world movement which more or less successful sought to dominate and exploit working class struggles in the interests of the foreign policies of the bureaucratic rulers of the Russian state. During that period—roughly from 1928 to the early sixties—the party’s basic allegiance was not to the British ruling class, (i.e., it was not reformist in the classic sense) but rather to the rulers of the ‘Socialist Camp’. True, the British Road was first adopted in Stalin’s lifetime and, it is said, with his personal approval, but this was quite within the tradition of Stalinist politics. It made no difference at all to the party’s line during the cold war.
The mythology of the ‘Workers’ Fatherland’, the ‘Socialist Camp’ and so on was a great source of strength to the party. It was at the same time its Achilles heel. The party had no great difficulty in explaining away the great purges, the Moscow Trials and the extermination of the old Bolshevik leaders. The Stalin-Tito split and the East German workers rising of 1953 made little impact on its militants. Yet there was a limit to their immunity. In 1956 Khruschev’s ‘secret speech’, the semi-insurrection in Poland and finally the Hungarian revolution and its suppression dealt the party heavy blows. It was in no shape to resist the still heavier blow of open and bitter conflict between Khruschev and Mao. It was not the relatively tiny loss of militants to Maoism that mattered. It was the final loss of the certainties of Stalinism.
Much of the party’s basic cadre, including most of the top leadership, ceased in reality to be Stalinist. The transition to wholehearted reformism was no longer a tactic. It was the reality. The party’s open criticism of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was the decisive public demonstration of this fact.
Yet the leadership cannot wholly throw overboard the ‘Socialist Camp’ without losing what is, in it’s own eyes, the real justification for the party. In their conflict with the neo-Stalinist minority they are hamstrung. As a member complained in the 1971 pre-conference discussion, many workers ‘have a deep-rooted fear that whatever we say, we really stand for one party rule and the ending of their democratic rights ...’  The Stalinist heritage is a millstone round the party’s neck; it is also the hoop that holds the crumbling organisation together.
‘A programme, by the position it takes, must make it possible to understand all the major facts of the struggle of the proletariat ...’
Trotsky Strategy and Tactics in the Imperialist Epoch
The essential ingredient for any Marxist programme is the feel for the class struggle in progress, the smell of class warfare should exude from its pages, it should be the most accurate reflection of the strengths and weaknesses of the working class in the most recent period.
Marxists also have to appreciate the objective conditions governing the state of the economy and the ability of the ruling class to offer concessions or its inability to avoid conflicts. A Marxist programme must offer a Marxist explanation of modern capitalism, not rely upon popular liberal versions which perpetuate the myth that the State is now capable of ironing-out all major economic upsets. This Marxist political economy (e.g. Western Capitalism Since The War by M. Kidron) must serve the labour movement by highlighting the most vulnerable areas open to class struggle. As Lenin put it
‘Usually for a revolution to break out, it is enough for the “lower classes to refuse” to live in the old way; it is necessary also that the upper classes should be unable to live in the old way:’ 
A Marxist programme should also identify the organisational forms through which the class struggle is best carried on, and the concrete ways in which these organisations can be built up and strengthened. In Britain under conditions of legality prime examples are the shop stewards committees, action committees, rank and file papers, trade union fractions, etc. The types of struggle which face these groups should be clearly laid out.
Slogans around which to rally advanced workers and which correspond to the prevailing levels of consciousness need to be put. The selection of slogans must be on the basis of the acknowledged needs of the working class which will mobilise people into active agitation around issues on which the ruling class cannot give major concessions without severely weakening itself. Actually, in such campaigns the greatest reforms are won, which gives greater confidence to those newly drawn into struggle and also the true limitations and class nature of the State are exposed.
Central to a Marxist programme must be a serious assessment of the dangers facing those in struggle. These dangers lie both within and without the Labour movement. The historical domination of social democratic (i.e: reformist) ideas in the trade unions and Labour Party, and the treacherous role of the right-wing trade union leaders must, of course, be stressed. But because they are dangers well recognised by militant socialists it is equally important to stress the weaknesses of the left-social democrats and left-wing trade union leaders, reliance on whom will be fatal for any aspiring revolutionary movement. The class nature of the State apparatus (not just a few top bureaucrats but the whole structure) which will oppose ultimately by the use of the armed forces, any major advances to socialism must be explained. Not just a theoretically armed working class is, therefore, necessary for revolutionary change, but also an armed militia under disciplined working class organisation. These basic lessons of history must be incorporated into any Marxist programme.
Finally, of course, the basic arguments for a non-exploitative socialist society should be presented. It is no use trying to produce ‘sensible’ blueprints, although practical problems of democratic control have to be answered. Two critical points must, however, be made. Firstly, that socialism is the rule of the working class and not for the working class. Socialism is not simply about more efficient economic planning, but about what type of planning, by whom and for whom. Secondly, that the absolutely essential precondition for the survival of a socialist state is the spread of the socialist revolution internationally. The idea of socialism in one country is as false as crisis free capitalism.
‘In the domain of politics, revisionism did really try to revise the foundation of Marxism, namely: the doctrine of the class struggle.’
Lenin Marxism and Revisionism.
The lack of reference to class struggle in The British Road To Socialism is almost incredible. There are plenty of references to the ‘great monopoly groups’ which control society and numerous references to the working class —but always in the abstract. A brief glance down the contents page reveals no section concerned with actual experiences of the class struggle in Britain today (or 1968). There appears not one jot about productivity dealing, unemployment campaigns, tenants activities, student occupations, and so on. The nearest thing to a summary of recent developments is the following from section 2.
‘Resistance to the right-wing domination of the Labour Party, both on the political wing and in the trade unions, is developing. The protest of the Labour left deepens against policies which betray socialist principles. Former automatic votes from trade unions for right-wing policies are being broken. The interest in Marxism is increasing. This in turn reflects growing understanding in wider fields of the need to take a new road.’ 
A little further on two specific groups are mentioned in equally unilluminating paragraphs.
‘The white collar workers – office workers, scientists, technologists, teachers and other professional workers whose interests are bound up with those of the working class and the labour movement as a whole, are increasingly important. They have developed powerful organisations to protect and advance their interests. 
‘The youth and students have been active in every form of radical protest against the Establishment ... the labour movement should seek to draw the youth and students towards it ‘. 
We are told nothing of the issues, why students have changed over the last 25 years from the bastions of a privileged elite to radical protestors, and nothing to combat the view of some so-called new-left theoreticians who see student radicals rather than the working class the vanguard in the struggle for socialism. All we have are vague protestations of faith in the class struggle without any content. Clearly the rich experience of the many militant workers in the CP has nowhere found its way into the British Road to Socialism.
‘The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself.’
To the extent that the British Road contains any political economy beyond a purely descriptive commentary on the growth of monopolies, it is certainly not Marxist. First, monopoly capitalism is seen as a threat to ‘democracy’ – but no attempt is made to distinguish bourgeois ‘democracy’ (legal ‘rights’ based on the interests of private property) from socialist ‘democracy’. For Marxists the fight for one negates the other. The British Road to Socialism sees in the developing crisis for capitalism not the opportunities for the struggle for socialist democracy but a danger for traditional bourgeois democracy!
‘The growth of monopoly is now incompatible with democracy.’ 
‘The very concept of Parliamentary democracy is under fire as the call is made for coalition government or rule by businessmen.’ 
Secondly, the cris2is which the economy periodically faces ‘arise from the imperialist basis of the economy.’ 
The argument runs:
‘The high rate of overseas investment and the heavy expenditure on overseas bases and troops are formidable obstacles preventing the country securing a favourable balance of payments and building up monetary reserves. These are factors in the every recurring balance of payments crises, aggravated by speculation on the part of home and foreign holders of sterling. This is why deflationary policies – credit squeeze, high interest rates, wage freeze, unemployment – are declared necessary to safeguard the pound, and devaluation carried through; why the economy is continually thrown into recession, bringing in its turn a fall in investment which holds back development on all sides.’ 
This sounds all very plausible, and is, in fact, a fair representation of the appearance of things. But it locates the crisis mechanism of capitalism not where Marx located it, that is within the system of labour-exploitation, the system of profit-production itself, but rather in the external problems arising from overseas investment. The balance of payments is pushed into the red because of large capital outflows abroad. But what is important is what necessitates these capital outflows abroad. Clearly the search for greater profit. And why such a high rate of expenditure upon military hardware which serves no productive function? Is it just for the protection of investments? No, actually the spending upon arms, and other non-productive areas of State involvement is necessary to offset the tendency for the rate of profit to fall. In other words, although non-productive expenditures are inflationary (create incomes without goods to match them) and lead to a balance of payments crisis, they are equally necessary if the profitability of investment is to be maintained. All that in fact happens in a crisis, therefore, is that profit rates fall, this reduces the value of existing investments until stability is restored (at the expense of some capitalists and many workers) and the expansion begins again. Each crisis has within it the preconditions for revival. Each revival has within it the preconditions for crisis. The tendency (assuming no wars) is for the revivals to get more difficult and the crisis deeper. Hence in Marxist political economy there are no economic formulas for crisis-free development in capitalism.
Any Marxist programme therefore must attack clearly and unequivocally all and any liberal or left-social democratic formulas for ‘controlled’ capitalism (as, for example, put forward by Tribune groups). It must also show that because post-war stability and expansion have given way to new pressures, the whole level of the class struggle climbs to a new plain. Of this there is nothing in The British Road to Socialism. No criticisms of the reformist left-social democrats and their spurious argumerits in favour of greater growth leading to larger shares for all. No consideration of a new phase in the development of British capitalism but a mere restatement of the continuing growth of State intervention into the existing monopoly capitalist structure. No special reorientation of energies and concentration of activities to argue for, no lessons, nothing new but the repetition of 25 years of barren electioneering.
But worst still, there is no internationalism in The British Road to Socialism. For example pages 31-3 discuss nationalisation of ‘the most important sections of industry and finance’ without ever mentioning international capitalist reaction! What about foreign-owned international companies? Pathetically we get a slogan ‘no foreign-owned or controlled monopoly in Britain’ and that is all. And yet in some miraculous way, after British socialism has declared war upon a passive international capitalism,
‘International currency co-operation would be strengthened by giving the underdeveloped states a place in the controlling bodies of the international monetary authorities.’ 
The lack of internationalism inevitably leads the Communist Party into the most dangerous anti-socialist emphasis upon the loss of ‘national independence’. This is the fear of small shopkeepers and capitalists who cannot compete. Of Enoch Powell’s and right-wing nationalist fanatics. It has nothing to do with Marxism. ‘The endeavour to preserve ... the imperial framework’ is condemned because it ‘has weakened Britain step by step, and led to her dependence on the strongest and most aggressive imperialist state, the United States of America’. 
The Communist Party opposes the Common Market, not on grounds of international working class solidarity, but on the basis of ‘acceding to the demand of the monopolies and joining the Common Market would undermine British independence still further.’  With this the Daily Express would be hard put to disagree.
‘For almost forty years we have stressed the class struggle as the immediate driving power of history, and in particular the class struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat as the great lever of modern social revolution; it is, therefore, impossible for us to co-operate with people who wish to expunge the class struggle from the movement.’
Marx Circular letter (1879).
The shop stewards committees, strike committees, tenant action committees, and such like have been in the forefront of major class conflicts in recent years. These are organisations in which rank and file control is most nearly realised. Marxists must be acutely aware of the potentialities of these bodies, and must have a strategy for their growth, local and national coordination and see in them the most politicised basis on which to struggle for democratic control of the trade unions and other working-class organisations. Marxists must seek to spread the influence of these bodies and make such activity the basis for calls to unity. Unity is strength, but for Marxists unity can be either defensive or offensive. In the defensive case emphasis is on the preservation of hard-won rights and ultimately the preservation of organisation itself. But in times of advance -the emphasis must be on fighting for the right demands and unequivocal rejection of irrelevant, misleading or reformist positions. Defensive and offensive struggles go on side by side, and escalate as the problems of the ruling class deepen. Political economy is our guide to such periods of crisis, but whether the defensive or offensive mentality dominates the labour movement depends upon the political leadership offered by organised militants. What dos The British Road to Socialism say on these issues?
Effectively, nothing. Nowhere is there to be found mention ot these rank and file bodies; only vague collectives such as trade unions, the Labour and Co-operative parties are listed.
‘Unity demands common action, without reservations, between the various sections of the labour movement – trade unions, cooperatives, the left in the Labour Party and the Communist Party.’ 
Where the shopfloor is mentioned, again nothing specific, and the emphasis is entirely on the defensive.
‘Of key importance is unity in the factories and the trade unions, where working-class strength is concentrated and organised, and the tradition of struggle and solidarity is strongest. The daily battle conducted by the trade unions for the defence of living standards and workers’ rights is a decisive part of the opposition to capitalism, and must be seen and openly conducted as such.’ 
It warns against right-wing leaders, but no word about internal trade union democracy and the bureaucratic structures and right-wing constitutions.
‘To work for the unity of the labour movement it is necessary to combat the reformist ideas spread by right wing leaders.’ 
There is no mention of the equally reformist ideas of the ‘left’ leaders.
‘The stronger the unity of the working-class the greater will be the possibility of uniting around it all other sections of the working people, of building a broad popular alliance of the people against monopoly capitalism.’ 
In practice of course this tends to take the form of signing petitions, or political window-dressing by representing trade union conference resolutions as concrete advances actively involving tens of thousands of workers.
There is then a complete lack of any concrete working-class organisational strategy. There is, for example, no discussion of the role of the rank and file newspaper. What does The British Road to Socialism say instead?
‘To win working class unity and build a broad popular alliance against the monopolies, the people must be informed from day to day of what is happening, be won for struggle, inspired.’ 
And what is this inspiration? None other than the Morning Star. Any reading of this paper will show that its reportage actually differs from the bourgeois press in no fundamental way. It is ‘factual’ reporting with a radical twist in what it highlights. Its editorial comment and special articles are its only committed sections. And nowhere is it stated how such a paper can be used as an organiser-a fundamental role for any Leninist.
So how does the Communist Party see ‘unity’ in relation to its claim to be Marxist?
‘The Communist Party is an integral part of the labour movement, and has always working for the most widely based popular action, for working class unity.’ 
This no doubt explains the official Communist Party refusal to support the Vietnam slogan ‘Victory to the NLF’ (undoubtedly a minority, Marxist position) in favour of the more ‘widely ... popular’ one of ‘Peace in Vietnam’ (Christians and Liberals unite!). Marxism has to do with leadership and struggle, not spurious ‘popular’ unity at any one moment which merely perpetuates the credibility of reformist social-democratic ideology. Marxists unite for specific concrete issues, have to prove themselves the most consistent and capable fighters in the class struggle, and must insist upon the right to criticise. This, The British Road to Socialism not only fails to say, but the Communist Party fail to do.
Because The British Road to Socialism contains no real element of class struggle it also fails to raise slogans appropriate to the present level of that struggle. Instead it offers ‘practical’ suggestions as to what could be achieved now. The struggle between capital and labour has been superseded by that between ‘monopolies’ and ‘the people’. Thus,
‘It is necessary and possible to build a broad popular alliance around the leadership of the working class, fighting every aspect of the policies of monopolies.’ 
Quite how this ‘great popular movement can pave the way for the transition to socialism’ is not clear because nowhere does The British Road to Socialism try to relate the consciousness of those in struggle to the weak links in the capitalist chain. In fact struggle is presented in a reformist way consistent with capitalist growth. Instead of presenting struggle in terms of conflict, e.g., against productivity deals, The British Road to Socialism presents it as a way of getting a ‘fair deal’ out of capitalism. On the trade union struggle it states:
‘In order to ensure that all increases in productivity bring increases in wages and salaries, shorter working hours, longer holidays and improved fringe benefits, the unions will have to win negotiating rights over all working conditions ‘. 
Is this seriously the way to present a perspective for socialist advance? Again it reflects the abstract level (i.e., lack of class struggle) in the programme. This inevitably leaves the door open to reformism, of which section three abounds. A few examples will suffice. The section on Industrial Democracy begins with a plea for workers’ participation! The good old Liberal demands are even justified in an apologetic tone:
‘These are justifiable demands. The right of the workers to be involved in policy making and control in industry is essential for economic advance and to safeguard the interests of the working people.’ 
What about the nationalised industries? Even here no talk of workers’ control or management:
‘In nationalised industries the trade unions should be directly represented on national boards and at all levels of management.’  (not even powers of veto are suggested!) – ‘and at workshop and plant level the workers should have rights of consultation and participation in all management decisions.’
And what is essential to the fight against monopolies? It ‘must include the demand to bring the Monopolies Commission under close Parliamentary control.’ 
What about fighting inflation? ‘New machinery is needed for rapidly collecting information about price increases and ensuring enforcement of price control.’ 
No concrete slogans which relate to people’s day to day experience and deal with issues over which they can have some direct influence. But ‘these problems concern the widest circle of people, and form one of the decisive fronts on which the broad popular alliance can be built.’ 
How this could be done actively involving ‘millions of people’ is, of course, not stated. In fact these are the type of campaign issues that Heath and Wilson revel in. A war of words in which the ordinary working people participate in through their ‘ elected representatives’. None of the parts of section three raise slogans ‘for actively mobilising working people on their own behalf. For example, under Democratic Rights there is no mention of internal trade union democracy, tenant’s control of estates or other ‘specific’ democracies, instead the following, red-herring promoting the Parliamentary myth of democracy: ‘Popular representation, the effectiveness of democracy would be greatly increased by introducing the principle of proportional representation in local and national elections.’  Another nostrum borrowed from the Liberal Party!
These are programmes not for advance, but for frustration, and that means disillusionment. The British Road to Socialism proudly proclaims:
‘The programme which we put forward unites the interests of the working class with those of virtually all sections of the people outside big business.’ 
In fact it is a dangerous hotch-potch with no clear principles or socialist strategy to guide it, but rather a completely bankrupt reliance upon constitutional and Parliamentary roads.
‘For the success of the cause itself, the alteration of man on a mass scale is necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, in a revolution; this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and becoming fitted to found society anew.’
Marx and Engels, The German. Ideology.
The total lack of any criticism of the left-social democrats (Scanlon, Jones, Tribunites, etc.) has already been noted. However The British Road to Socialism is equally at fault when the nature of the State itself is being considered. Labour Governments are criticised because: ‘They have accepted lock, stock and barrel the existing state machine. They have worked within it, become its prisoner’. 
But The British Road to Socialism nowhere argues that the whole structure of the capitalist state, from its armed forces and police to its social welfare organisations, its complete civil service structure needs to be destroyed and replaced by other structures which reflect working class power. No, apparently the existing structure is good enough (presumably because it’s already there), e.g. Parliament. Only its personnel will change. And then only the top personnel.
‘Persisting through every change of government are the heads of the armed forces, the police, the security network, the top civil servants in the main ministries, the judges, the controllers of the nationalised industries.’ 
If, but only if, removal of these top men either proves impossible or fails to undermine opposition, the working class will then be ‘called upon’ to exert armed force.
‘The aim would be to carry out these changes peacefully as part of a programme planned to promote the welfare and assure the future of the British people. Only against illegal opposition would the force of law be invoked; only in the case of violence against the socialist government would forceful measures be taken by the state and the people.’ 
No discussion anywhere of a disciplined working class militia under direct control of workers’ councils. No discussion of workers’ councils! Lenin, quoting Marx, almost took this for granted.
‘“The first decree of the Paris Commune was the abolition of the standing army and its replacement by the nation in arms.” This demand now figures in the programme of every party calling itself socialist.’. 
Against this we are offered:
‘The leading positions in the Ministries and departments, the armed forces and the police, the nationalised industries and other authorities must, therefore be filled by men and women loyal to socialism ... this ensures that the socialist policies determined on by Parliament are fully implemented.’ 
And, although the declared aim ‘is to make the socialist state machine the servant of the people and their needs’ it is not intentions but the physical relationship between the working class and the state which determines who the servant will be. On pages 48-9 we get the following reversal of socialist relationship:
‘When a socialist majority in Parliament is won it will need the support of the mass movement outside Parliament to uphold the decisions it has taken inside Parliament. Conversely the Parliamentary decisions will give legal endorsement to popular aims and popular struggles.’
This is completely contrary to the Marxist view of the State and revolutionary change. The working people must take power for themselves. In taking power they must destroy the state apparatus as it exists. An armed workers’ militia is a necessity. A working class state is one that operates against capitalist interests – it is not neutral. The type of apparatus to do this will of necessity differ from the type necessary to promote capitalist policies (in fact it will be more ‘primitive’ in the sense of being less complicated). Furthermore the purpose of a working class state machine, once socialism is secured, is to diminish rather than expand.
No programme for revolutionary change based upon the self-emancipation of the working class can claim to be scientific (i.e. Marxist) if it ignores, as Lenin puts it, that
‘Today, both in England and America, the preliminary condition of any real people’s revolution is the break-up, the shattering of the “available ready machinery of the State”.’ 
The failure of The British Road to Socialism then lies in its reformist view, of the relation between class and state in socialism.
‘A socialist government which bases its policies on popular interests and aspirations, and consults and informs the people at every stage, can be confident of retaining the popular support won for its programme. Such a government sees its task both to lead and accept the guidance of the people.’ 
We have here nothing more than a democratic bourgeois Parliamentary system.
‘The House of Commons would be a real national forum as well as a decision-making body, debating statements of policy as well as voting upon Bills ... it would have standing committees to enable individual members to learn about and influence administrative policies, so that these were constantly brought under public scrutiny.’ 
Compare Marx on the Paris Commune:
‘The Commune was to have been not a parliamentary, but a working corporation, legislative and executive at one and the same time. Instead of deciding once in every three or six years which member of the ruling class was to ‘represent’ and repress the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, organised in communes, as a means of securing the necessary workers, controllers, clerks and so forth for its business in the same way as individual suffrage serves an individual employer in his.’ 
Here Parliament operates as an executive – i.e. real power resides in it – and it is constituted on a quite different basis to present-day ‘constituencies’. It is based upon workers organised as workers or consumers. It is a council of councils. It is an historical form which workers’ states have assumed in the past. The British Road to Socialism sees the present historical forms of bourgeois democracy as immutable. In this it does not differ fundamentally from the Labour Party. It is the programme of a reformist sect.
1. The British Road to Socialism, p.24. All references are to the third revised edition (1968).
2. Ibid., p.21.
3. Ibid., p.19.
4. Ibid., p.24.
5. Communist Unity Convention : Official Report, p.9.
7. BRS, p.17.
8. Comment, 6 November, 1971, p.410.
9. Collected Works, Vol.XIX, p.49.
10. BRS (Note 10 is missing in the printed version – ETOL).
11. Ibid., p.26.
12. Ibid., p.26.
13. Ibid., p.10.
14. Ibid., p.10.
15. Ibid., p.12.
16. Ibid., pp.13-14.
17. Ibid., p.33.
18. Ibid., p.14.
19. Ibid., p.14.
20. Ibid., p.22.
21. Ibid., pp.21-22.
22. Ibid., p.22.
23. Ibid., p.23.
24. Ibid., pp.24-25.
25. Ibid., pp.23-24.
26. Ibid., p.28.
27. Ibid., p.31.
28. Ibid., p.33.
29. Ibid., p.33.
30. Ibid., p.34.
31. Ibid., p.34.
32. Ibid., p.36.
33. Ibid., p.33.
34. Ibid., p.46.
35. Ibid., p.20.
36. Ibid., p.10.
37. Ibid., p.36.
38. Lenin, State and Revolution.
39. BRS, p.38.
40. Lenin, State and Revolution.
41. BRS, p.52.
42. Ibid., p.52.
43. Marx, Civil War in France.
Last updated on 22.6.2008