more than an internet thing

Mayday 2022 saw a return to the streets in London, with assembly at Clerkenwell Green for now traditional march and rally in tourist town, Trafalgar Square. The London May Day organising Committee set the slogans

FOR TRADE UNION RIGHTS – HUMAN RIGHTS

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

FIGHT AUSTERITY – FIGHT RACISM

As the Morning Star describes it “the one day of the year that celebrates workers’ achievements and battles.”

Leading up to this Mayday, confined to isolated bed rest by Covid inflection – so much for it being the tailend of the pandemic – thoughts turned to what is needed for the future.

Research note:  More than an Internet thing

Ever since 2008, there has been attempts to stimulate interest in creating an appropriate UK Marxist Leninist Maoist organisation to move forward. This tenacious fifteen years of encouragement and support to re-spark organised Maoism in Britain has involved the same few activists, either veterans of the Maoist movement or new young converts, with the fraternal internationalist aid of likeminded co thinkers.

Back in December 2008, an evening meeting at Conway Hall London was convened to address the question of «The Present International and National situations and the tasks of creating a revolutionary communist party in Britain».

P.S.

Revolutionary Collective Britain (Formerly RVM) signed May Day Joint Declaration, Long Live Red May Day!

Without A People’s Army….

“When we look at most Irish socialist republican groups historically, the primary error has generally been left deviation, manifesting as single minded militarism and commandism. When republican organisations have sought to correct these errors they’ve tended to swing sharply in the other direction abandoning any militancy and radicalism and adopting a host of right opportunism errors, particularly tailism, economism and electoralism.”  – The Mass Line and Ireland. An Ghrian Dhearg (Issue 2 2021)

The argument of the Irish Socialist Republicans acknowledges that the revolutionary armed struggle undertaken since 1968 was not a protracted peoples’ war, it was a protracted guerrilla campaign and a war of the people, particularly the people in British occupied Ireland. However,

with the signing of the Good Friday Treaty of Surrender between British Imperialism and a revisionist former section of the Republican Movement, many people in Ireland were tricked into believing that the national question in Ireland had been solved. This was because that treaty split the Republican Movement, with the revisionist section claiming there was now a peaceful road to National Liberation and also led to a significant reduction in the revolutionary Armed Struggle in Ireland. 

 Subjects of an earlier post, Red and Green , an Irish Maoist Bloom?, the Irish Socialist Republicans (ISR) active in Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland (AIA) and based in an MLM perspective, engaging in open polemics, are lining up on current events around the world. Whilst the immediate perspective stresses

the need for Socialist Republicans to build an Anti Imperialist Broad Front as the vehicle for a successful struggle for National Liberation and Socialist Revolution

they conclude,

It is time for the International Communist Movement to unite behind People’s War and to constitute or reconstitute militarised Communist organisations to launch and lead them…. This is the universal truth that must be grasped and taken up by the International Communist Movement and implemented in all countries in accordance with the specific conditions of each country and of each revolution.

_________________________________________________________________________________

The position is laid out in the second edition of An Ghrian Dhearg (Autumn 2021) in the article “On the Universal Validity of Protracted People’s War: the Irish experience of revolutionary war establishes the proof” that argued in part that:

“While the Revolutionary Armed Struggle was able to develop base areas in rural counties such as South Armagh, Fermanagh and Tyrone, more importantly, through armed struggle revolutionary base areas were established in the urban centres, particularly in Belfast and Derry, the two key cities in British occupied Ireland. The establishment of such base areas proves the universal applicability of PPW to all countries, in accordance with the specific conditions.

These revolutionary base areas in the urban centres were established in the Working Class ghettos of Belfast and Derry, where the revolutionary army could operate openly by relying on the people and with their support, vast areas of working class Belfast and Derry became no-go areas for British Imperialism.

With regard to the Irish experience of revolutionary violence, the above quote from Chairman Gonzalo is more important than might be first realised. Chairman Gonzalo, from his deep understanding of Proletarian Revolutionary Science, accurately predicted that through the waging of revolutionary armed struggle, revolutionaries would ‘sum up lessons from their errors, as they are doing, they’ll advance, grasp Marxism- Leninism-Maoism, and form Parties and wage people’s war in accordance with the socialist character of their revolution and in accordance with their specific conditions

This grasping of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and a reappraising of the Irish Revolutionary Armed Struggle took place in Ireland at the height of the revolutionary violence. During the 1980s, while Chairman Gonzalo was first synthesising Marxism-Leninism-Maoism through the leading of the People’s War in Peru, IRA prisoners in British prisons in Ireland and Britain were taking up, studying and beginning to apply the teaching of Chairman Mao to the specific conditions of Ireland.

An important group of IRA commanders, operating mainly in the border areas, but with support from the guerrilla fighters in other areas, began to apply the military teachings of Chairman Mao and began to develop a strategy of moving revolutionary violence in Ireland from revolutionary armed struggle to PPW. This group of IRA cadre came to the conclusion that for their strategy to be successful, it would necessitate a break from the reformist leadership of the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein, and to establish new organisations to lead a People’s War.

These IRA cadre began to implement the move towards People’s War from around 1986, particularly in the border region but there was support in the urban bases too. The guerrilla warfare tactics chosen successfully drove British Crow forces from the countryside and towns into the barracks in bigger towns and cities. Both the reformist leadership of Sinn Fein and the British Imperialist government realised the threat posed by the PPW to their plans for a ‘peace process’ and British Imperialism moved to systematically assassinate the IRA Cadre between 1986-1988.

Despite the assassination of these cadre, the revolutionary armed struggle in Ireland continued at a height unknown in other European countries right into the 1990s when the reformist leadership of Sinn Fein entered into a pacification process in partnership with British Imperialism, which resulted in a major bend in the road for the revolutionary armed struggle. Yet despite this, British imperialism has still been unable to crush the national liberation struggle and revolutionary armed actions continue to this day, though at a much lower ebb.

On investigation of the Irish experience of revolutionary violence, even a brief investigation, such as the one above, it can be comprehensively established that PPW is the universally applicable

Proletarian Military Line.

A PPW in an industrial country can take the form of the revolutionary armed struggle in Ireland, establishing base areas in the urban working class communities and encircling the centres of power from there. Under this form of PPW, applied to the specific conditions of an industrial country, the urban war is primary and will be supported by rural base areas, instead of war in the countryside being primary as is the case in under-developed countries.

To conclude, a final note on the Irish experience of revolutionary violence. The revolutionary armed struggle in Ireland has continued to be unsuccessful because it is not a PPW. The armed struggle has continued to fail because it is not led by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or a Militarised Communist Party of the new type, waging a People’s War for the seizure of Power.

For the war for national liberation and socialist revolution in Ireland to be successful, it must be led by a militarised revolutionary organisation of the new type, one that upholds MLM and organises and mobilises the masses through People’s War.

Only then will Ireland’s long revolutionary struggle be successful.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________

The publishers can be contacted   irsmedia@protonmail.com

Research Note on Vanguard Books & Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist)

In Scotland at the start of the 1970s, two anti-revisionist groups operated: one a component group of the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the Glasgow Communist Movement and political rivals associated with Spanish Civil War veteran, and Edinburgh trade unionist Tom Murray organised in the Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist).

The WPS (ml) had its origins when the Scottish elements the Committee to Defeat Revisionism For Communist Unity. Arguing that the level of class antagonisms (and hence class consciousness) continued to remain higher in Scotland than in England, the decision in principle to form the WPS (ml) was taken in Edinburgh in May 1966 by anti-revisionist veteransThe Scottish Vanguard, paper of the WPS (ml), was launched in 1967 (published irregularly until 1979). The WPS (ml) soon embarked upon a propaganda offensive producing leaflets and the Red Clysider, and Dundee and Tayside Vanguard in 1971. Open about their Maoist orientation, the WPS (ml) took part in elections, including the 1969 Gorbals by-election, when they came last behind the Communist Party.

The WPS(ml) initially supplied literature from its Literature Dept.at its contact address  c/o 21, Castle Road, Newton Mearns, Glasgow (advertised in The Scottish Vanguard 1967).They sold, using an accommodation address [c/o The Bookstore,63, West Port, Edinburgh], duplicated pamphlets they republished by the late Michael McCreery, “Destroy the Old to Build the New”, “The Way Forward”, “Notes on the Lower Middle Class & the Semi-proletariat in Britain”, “Organise at the Place of Work” and “The Patriots”.

It boasted an extensive literature list with English language publications supplied from Chinese, Albanian and Vietnamese state publishing houses.

“The W.P.S. is in a position to offer a great variety of literature on Marxism, Leninism, The National Question, The Greet Ideological Controversy, Questions of Scottish Culture. Particularly important are the basic books written by Marx, Engels. Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Enver Hoxha. It included pamphlets and “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung” [at 3/6] and Enver Hoxha’s “The Role and Tasks of the Democratic Front for the Complete Triumph of Socialism in Albania”, “Some Aspects of the Problem of the Albanian Woman”, “Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania to 5th. Congress November 1966”.”

The constitution of the WPS (ml) was adopted in Edinburgh on December 5th 1970. The Party stated:

“our programme is one of action. We must secure the results which our workers have been striving to attain for whole generations and which are still outside their grasp: full employment and prosperity for all, a crash programme to solve the housing problem, justice for the veterans of labour and attractive prospects in Scotland for our youth.”

Agitational leaflets were available mail order, The Manifesto of WPS(ML) adopted in May, 1967 was available and Scottish Vanguard  specially recommended their own publication and printing of “POLITICAL POWER A CLASS ANALYSIS” By DR. S. W. TAYLOR. Price 7/6. Postage l/-

Scottish vanguard did note that in the Summer 1968 Clyde Books, at High street Glasgow were now stocking “Scottish Vanguard”.

In 1969 Vanguard announced, “Our New Literature Service

 Readers will be interested to learn that our Party expects soon to acquire its own centrally situated Bookshop in Glasgow and that facilities have already been secured for setting up a fully stocked agency for the sale of the widest possible range of Marxist, International and creative literature especially Chinese and Albanian publications, in the bookshop soon to be opened at 105-107 Morrison. Street, Edinburgh”. [Vol3 No.6]

The WPS (ML)’s support for Scottish nationalism and independence drew sharp criticism from other anti-revisionist groups. The WPS (ml) were instrumental in popularising the work of Scottish communist, John MacLean, partly through the founding of the John MacLean Society. While the Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist) published several pro-Gaelic articles in its paper Scottish Vanguard, in May 1969 it produced the first translation into GAELIC of the “Three Constantly Read Articles” by Mao Tsetung (“Serve the People”, “In Memory of Norman Bethune” and “The Foolish Old Man. Who Removed the Mountains”) Price 1/-. Postage 4d. And WPS (ml) Chairman, Tom Murray reported that an anonymous Gaelic scholar was considering undertaking the translation of ‘The Thoughts of Chairman Mao’ (The Times April 25, 1970).

The WPS (ml) expanded its retail presence, adding to its Edinburgh outlet by opening a shop, Vanguard Books at 270 Paisley Road West, Glasgow G51 1BJ, managed by Matt Lygate who worked onsite in the small printshop producing pamphlets, leaflets and posters promoting the workers’ revolution.

The WPS (ml) achieved notoriety in the spring of 1972 when two leading members founder and Gorbals electoral candidate Matt Lygate and fellow WPS(ml) member Colin Lawson were convicted (along with two non-members) for armed robbery of the Royal Bank of Scotland in the Glasgow suburb of Pollokshields, having been arrested the previous year following a tip off  a raid on the party’s Glasgow bookshop that discovered weapons and £10,000 cash. Lygate, MacPherson, Doran and Lawson were arrested.

  Lygate received the longest prison sentence in Scottish legal history for a non-violent crime, receiving 24 years and serving 11. They were originally to be prosecuted for treason, the first case since John Maclean, but the charges were later dropped to bank robbery. The trial saw the heaviest sentences recorded in a Scottish court for non-violent crime: 26 years imprisonment for McPherson; 25 for Doran; 24 for Lygate; and 6 for Lawson. An appeal brought a reduction of only two years for Lygate: in the words of one legal authority, he had received eight years for his crime and sixteen years for his politics. On being sentenced Lygate and McPherson had looked to the public gallery and with clenched fist shouted: “Long live the workers of Scotland”. A third WPS member, Alec Watt, handed himself in to police later and admitted complicity.

While protesting at the severity of the sentences, and noting the political function of the judiciary, the main thrust of a statement issued by the WPS’s Central Committee “A Crisis Met and Overcome” was to disassociate the Party from the “romantic adventurism” of Lygate and Lawson. It stated that Lygate’s group acted without authorisation.

Lygate embarked upon his sentence claiming status as a political prisoner and campaigned tirelessly for prisoners’ rights and welfare: eight years of his term were spent under the draconian Class A regulations and he was released having served over eleven years in 1983.

Limited opening times were advertised for the bookshop following the 1972 trial of party members: restricted to Saturday 12-4.30pm, and Scottish Vanguard goes to a bi-monthly publishing schedule.

Only the Paisley premises remained in 1973.

Alongside the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Enver Hoxha, Vanguard Books promoted the work of John MacLean and James Connolly. Also advertised was Red Star Press’ editions of Dimitrov’s Report to the 7th Congress of the Communist International, 1935 , “For The Unity of the Working Class Against Fascism”. It retains limited opening hours: Wednesdays 6-8 pm and Saturdays 10 am – 2 pm. But offered a mail order service and book-list of socialist literature. It acted as subscription agents for Scottish Vanguard – £1 sub. for 12 issues and Peking Review – an invaluable political weekly on Chinese & world affairs – £1.80 per year.

The Radical Bookshop Listing provides the dissolution date of 1981 for Vanguard Books.

Membership of the WPS (ml) had declined in the late 1970s and early 1980s down to a handful of activists. There was a brief burst of political engagement centred on international questions in the late 1970s over the issue of The Three-Worlds Theory that saw attendance at international conferences and the 1978 Consultative meeting of British Marxists-Leninists. However, the WPS (ml) adopted a marginal and minority position advocating ‘Democratic Defence’ that stated “Soviet social-imperialism is the main enemy of the peoples of the world at the present time”.

With the death of Tom Murray in February 1983, the Party came to an end.

However, after Lygate’s release from prison later that year, and a brief flirtation with the Scottish Republican Socialist Party, who had initiated a “Free Matt Lygate Campaign with the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee [GIFAC] and the Revolutionary Communist Group, Matt Lygate appeared in Glasgow to announce the relaunch of the party as the Workers Party of Scotland (without the ML) . He produced a publication, “The People’s Voice” in 1988 repeating the old WPS (ml) call for a Constitutional convention and advocated a Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Scotland.  Matt Lygate died January 10 2012.

1967- 1979 Scottish Vanguard (British Library has in General Reference Collection P.701/147)

Vol 1 Nos 1-2 (1967)

 Vol 2 Nos 1-9 (Jan.-Sept. 1968)

Vol 3 Nos 1-6 (1969)

Vol 4 Nos 1-4 (Jan. 1970-Feb. 1971)

Vol 5 Nos 1, 2 (1972)

Vol 6 Nos 2-12 (Oct./Nov. 1974 – Mar. 1978)

Vol 7 Nos 1-3, 5-6 (May 1978-1979)

APPENDIX:   Glasgow Communist Movement

Taken from: https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/uk-maoism.pdf

The politics of the WPS (ml) were politically challenged by another Maoist element, the Glasgow Communist Movement,  GCM comprised of activists that coalesced through anti-revisionist struggle in the Young Communist League and formed a component group of the Joint Committee of Communist, and Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

 The birth of the Glasgow Communist Movement, initially known as the Glasgow Marxist Group, was celebrated with the production and distribution on May Day, 1967, of a pamphlet introducing the non-aligned journal, The Marxist in Glasgow. It was around the journal that the participants of the first meeting of the group assembled together. Politically related in the mid-1970s was the Workers Bookshop, at 81 George Street, Glasgow G1 [Open daily 10-5 late night Wednesday 8.30] run by the Glasgow Group of the Communist Federation of Britain (ML).

They regarded the WPS (ML), as part of UK’s “petty-bourgeois nationalism” represented by the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Welsh Nationalist Party. GCM’s critical stance on the struggle for Scottish independence was informed by the position that any struggle which is not a part of class-struggle is a dangerous distraction from real issues and, therefore, has to be vigorously opposed.

The GCM argued: The bourgeois democratic revolution, as Lenin pointed out, was completed here ages ago and thus the democratic development of nations in Britain has long since ceased. Bourgeois democracy in this country is now in process of rapid decay and a corporate state is developing instead. All that can be achieved through bourgeois democracy has been achieved in Britain. So to proceed towards socialism there is no intermediate stage of ‘People’s Democracy’ or ‘National Democracy’ for Britain – here all problems of revolution are those of direct transition to socialism.”

The GCM policy statement, Where We Stand, stated it “recognises that the degree of exploitation is different in England, Scotland and Wales. These places also have cultural differences and aspirations for independent development. Therefore, the Movement, while standing for immediate separate administrative bodies for each of these places and proclaiming their right to secede, will not advocate separate working-class organisations for these places at present. For, national aspirations for independence can only be satisfied after the replacement of the present system by a socialist one through unified struggle against the common enemy constituting a single class.”

The classic arguments on self-determination, complete with quotes from Stalin on the national question were reiterated by C K Maisels, writing in The Marxist, that the WPS (ML) was wrong; the only strategic remedy can only be the direct transition to socialism via the proletarian revolution. There is no intermediate stage in metropolitan imperialist countries.

“deepest condolences on the passing of Chairman Mao”

IN September 1976 around eighty Marxist-Leninist organisations sent messages or letters expressing deepest condolences on the passing of Chairman Mao Zedong (old style: Tsetung).

Reproduced in the political weekly, Peking Review, from the Red Banner of Dominica to the East London Marxist-Leninist Association and the Marxist-Leninist Organization of the Faroe Islands, organisations large and small, there were common themes and sentiments expressed that reflected the assessment (at that time) of Mao’s political legacy within the anti-revisionist movement.

  • the passing of Chairman Mao Tsetung, they say, was a great loss beyond measure not only to the Chinese people but also to the revolutionary people of the world. they point out that Chairman Mao was the greatest Marxist of the contemporary era and the great teacher of the proletariat and the oppressed people of the whole world
  • the messages and letters highly praise Chairman Mao for inheriting, defending and developing Marxism-Leninism.
  • that the magnificent contributions he made to the Chinese revolution and the world revolution are indelible.
  • Mao’s leadership of the anti-revisionist struggle, not surprisingly featured in the various evaluation. Inspiration from that rupture and the antidote of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, had seen the creation and revitalisation of revolutionary struggles throughout the world.
  • many organizations express determination to turn their grief into strength, study and disseminate Mao Tsetung Thought more assiduously and carry the cause of the proletarian revolution through to the end.

What was recognised was the practical Mao “masterly leadership” that acted upon the ideas and analysis – to apply the universal truth of the doctrine of the proletariat to the practice of the Chinese revolution.

Columbian Marxist-Leninists pointed out a common observation, that he led his Party in the armed struggle of peasants and the people in a prolonged and great revolutionary war and seized victory of the new-democratic revolution for the working class and the Chinese, people, thereby pointing out a brilliant road of victory for the revolution of colonial and semi-colonial countries. The identification of the success of the Chinese Revolution with Mao was a shared perspective of the Party he led, and those who studied its history. Hence, the magnificent contributions he made to the Chinese revolution and the world revolution are indelible.

The eulogies that poured forth from the international communist movement were on the positive side, noting his achievements, in a precise emphatic manner.  Afterall, Argentina communists noted:

With his experience in leading the Chinese revolution, he has contributed to the development of the revolution of the oppressed countries and peoples. The exposure before the whole world of the counter-revolutionary role played by imperialism and social-imperialism is another contribution made by the Chinese revolution led by Chairman Mao.

Mao would have been remembered for the revolutionary victory of 1949 alone. It was a world shaping event that has had reverberations ever since – the liberation of a third of the earth’s population should never be put into the shadows. Yet the subsequent contribution to the international communist movement in leading the anti-revisionist struggle (at home and abroad) was an action of equally significance.

Chilean communists noted,

Comrade Mao Tsetung made manifold contributions to the development of the Marxist-Leninist theories and enriched the theory of class struggle during the period of the socialist revolution and socialist construction and during the period of consolidating and developing the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a manifestation of this theory.

Although with hindsight the Cultural revolution proved to be a failed practice as it did not prevent the restoration of capitalism in China after Mao’s death, at the time, the Brazilian letter echoed many when it said, Mao

exposed the counter revolutionary essence of revisionism and pointed out that its principal representatives are members of the Soviet clique which is today “headed by the renegade Leonid Brezhnev. He stressed that under this new, tendency, the Soviet Union has turned from a ‘socialist’ country into a social-imperialist state.

The transition (that not all could make) from anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists to a more fully developed Maoist theory and practice involved a critical participation in the revolutionary struggle rather than a nostalgia for certainties and a vicarious historic past.

His thought has become Marxism-Leninism of our epoch

There was a recognition that his thought transcended what had gone before e.g. the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Honduras reaffirms that the theoretical basis guiding its activity is Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, under the victorious banner of which, our Party is carrying out its present political tasks and directing the struggle of the Honduran people for democratic rights, the achievement of national independence in opposition to U.S. imperialism, the elimination of feudal remnants and the building in future of a socialist society in Honduras.”

Maoism was not in the lexicon of its practioners. The continuity of the anti-revisionist movement had encompassed those who remained at the position associated with Enver Hoxha, the Albanian leader and those who embraced the developments and innovations of the Cultural Revolution period in going beyond the defensive anti-revisionism of the mid-fifties. That contradiction did not last and the emphasis given in the condolences letters sent provide some evidence of the fault lines within the international movement at Mao’s death. Whereas others would referred to Marxism-Leninism, parties like the Philippine party, engaged in substantial armed struggle, refounded in 1968, would openly proclaim, hold high the invincible banner of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.

There has been a consistency in the evaluation offered on the legacy of Mao. The Letter from Central Committee of Communist Party of the Philippines [on the death of Mao] stated:

Comrade Mao Tsetung was the most outstanding Marxist-Leninist of our time. In the course of more than 50 years of revolutionary practice, Comrade Mao Tsetung made immortal new contributions in every field of Marxist science. He propounded comprehensively the theory of the new-democratic revolution, the concept of protracted people’s war and the strategy of encircling the cities from the countryside, all of which have enormously enriched the Marxist theory of revolution in colonies and semi-colonies. In the course of socialist revolution, Comrade Mao Tsetung systematically summed up the historical experience of ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat, analysed and. drew lessons from the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, unequivocally pointed out for the first time in history that classes and class struggle still exist in socialist society after the socialist transformation of the ownership of the means of production has in the main been completed and that the bourgeoisie is right, in the Communist Party and put forth, the brilliant theory of continuing the revolution, under the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the course of unremitting struggle against the Right and “Left” opportunist lines and counter-revolutionary revisionist lines within the Party at various stages of the revolution, Comrade Mao Tsetung developed a series of principles which are of extreme, importance in the building of a correct Marxist-Leninist Party of the proletariat. By exposing and opposing the betrayal of communism, by the Khrushchev-Brezhnev revisionist renegade clique, Comrade Mao Tsetung developed greatly the Marxist-Leninist cause of uncompromising struggle against opportunism and revisionism.

The idea that Mao’s contributions were a qualitative development was clearly expressed in the contributions that came from the international communist movement; that this was not formally and substantially codified as ‘Maoism’ until two decades later should not detract from the recognition given at the time of Mao’s death. His inspirational practice and ideas stood out as a departure from the revision-riddled Soviet dominated movement which it criticised and challenged. Chairman Mao Tsetung inherited, defended and developed Marxism-Leninism. This shared judgement lay the foundation for recognition of the universality that was part of Mao’s legacy, in the words of Sri Lankan Marxist-Leninists that “The beacon of Mao Tsetung Thought will shine for ever more brilliantly and continue to inspire and guide all mankind”.

Whilst (Spanish Marxists-Leninists were) proclaiming, “His teachings and all his writings are of immense benefit to us Communists and a genuine guide to our revolutionary action”, within a few years they had totally reversed their evaluation under Albanian prompting.

Just as the pre-existing divisions surfaced in the late 1970s, echoed the content and emphasis in the letters of condolence sent from the variety of organisations and groups, self-defining Maoists have marked out their trenches today  reflecting the diversity in today’s movement. Adherents of Maoism remain world wide in scope and variable in number. There are competing claims to authenticity and legacy of Mao’s teachings even when wanting Maoists to unite. 

* * *

THE memorial meeting in Melbourne on September 19 was attended by more than 700 workers, farmers, students and personages from other circles. Speaking at the meeting, E.F. Hill, Chairman pf the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)’ recounted Chairman Mao’s exploits in leading the Chinese revolution and in the struggles against modern revisionism and the bourgeoisie within the Party. He said that Chairman Mao “was an outstanding teacher of the working class, working and oppressed people — a great proletarian internationalist just as he was a great patriot of China — the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our time.”

THE Belgium-China Association held a memorial meeting in Brussels on September 25. It was attended by about 1,000 people. A huge portrait of Chairman Mao hung in the centre of the rostrum and a streamer below the portrait read: “Mao Tsetung Thought is invincible.”

MORE than 10,000 Parisians staged a march and rally on September 11 in the deepest mourning for Chairman Mao-Tsetung. At 3 p.m., “workers, peasants, students, teachers and other working people, many of them women, began marching slowly and silently from The Republic Square. A big wreath at the head of the procession bore the inscription: “To Comrade Mao Tsetung, the greatest Marxist-Leninist.” Big streamers read: “Eternal glory to Comrade Mao Tsetung, the great teacher of the international proletariat!” “Long live socialist China!” “Long live Mao Tsetung Thought — Marxism-Leninism of our time!”

A MEMORIAL meeting held in Duesseldorf on September 18 by the Germany-China Friendship Society was attended by more than 3,500 people including the organization’s activists from more than 30 cities. The meeting heard addresses by Lois Snow, widow of American friend Mr. Edgar Snow, and other foreign friends who once worked in Yenan in the years of the War of Resistance Against Japan and during the Chinese Liberation War. … Similar memorial meetings were held in more than 20 other West German cities on September 14 and 15. West German Marxist-Leninist organizations in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Mannheim, Koeln, Munich, Hanover, Stuttgart and other cities held, torchlight marches or memorial meetings on September 16 and 17 in tribute to the memory, of Chairman Mao.

OVER 10,000 Italian people, carrying a portrait of Chairman Mao and torches, staged a solemn march in Rome on the evening of September 18 to express their deep mourning for Chairman Mao Tsetung.

OVER 2,300 people staged a torch march in Oslo on the evening of September 17 to deeply mourn Chairman Mao Tsetung. The march was sponsored by the National Norway-China Friendship Association. On the same evening, the Oslo branch of the National Norway-China Friendship Association held a memorial meeting attended by about 1,200 people.

SOME 1,200 members of the Swedish Communist Party and other Swedish people took part in a inarch and a memorial meeting in Stockholm on September 17.

Link to relevant pdf copies sourced from massline.org

Eternal Glory  [ Peking Review #38 September 13 1976  Announces the death of Mao Zedong.]

Peking Review #39 September 24 1976  mass memorial meeting in Beijing (undoctored photos)

Peking Review #40 September 30 1976

Peking Review #41 October 8 1976

Peking Review #42 October 15 1976

Peking Review #43 October 22 1976

Peking Review #44 October 29th 1976

Peking Review # 45 November 5th 1976

China Pictorial #11  November 1976 Memorial issue after the death of Mao Tsetung. (doctored photos)

Literature List: UK Anti-Revisionist Material

The pdf shared is not a catalogue of British-related material drawn from the online archive provided by the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line.

It contains other material produced around, and within the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist movement, and a listing or related material that provides background reference information to that movement without being an exhaustive bibliographical guide (or for bibliophiles, a checklist).

 However, even given those limitation it provides a signpost to the literature produced, and a springboard for any research on the origins and developments within Britain’s anti-revisionist movement from the 1960 to the new century.

Literature List

Sandra spies on the Women’s Liberation Front

The Undercover Policing Inquiry, UCPI, led by retired judge Sir John Mitting, has through the evidence put online inadvertently begun an archive on the Women’s Liberation Front, one of the infiltrated groups target for undercover police operations that also supplied British internal security agency MI5 with information. [i]

These previously secret police reports provide a partial account of the activities of the spied upon group, that could supplement other sources and accounts (such as leading member Diane Langford[ii] ) and as the spy in the midst reported:

“The WLF produced their own literature. I think it [“Women’s Liberation”] was printed at a bookshop that had a printing press, although I never visited it myself. It may have been “Banner Books”.“

The Women’s Liberation Front, was a small London-based feminist group with Maoist leanings. its meetings hosted at one of the member’s homes. Its leading members were closely associated with the Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League under the leadership of Abhimanyu Manchanda, previously known for activities in the British-Vietnam Solidarity Front, and subject to a separate undercover assignment.[iii]

Reports were file by an undisclosed Undercover Police officer given the designation HN 348, and active in the early 1970s.[iv]  While no full cover name is known, now in her 70s, she recalled using the cover name ‘Sandra’, and having seen some documents listing members of the Women’s Liberation Front that name ‘Sandra Davies’, she conceded this may well have been her. The evidence seems conclusive, yet she still wouldn’t completely confirm it was her.

She said it was “made clear that my role was just to observe and report back.” [v]

As part of her undercover profile, HN348 Sandra, established a cover address (a shared house in Paddington to which she went only occasionally) and pretended to be a Goldsmiths student.

Assessing her work infiltrating women’s rights groups in the 1970s, she does not believe her undercover work was worthwhile.

 “I stand by what I say – I could have been doing much more worthwhile things with my time than my work with the SDS.”

Some of those sceptical and critical of the undercover police deployment would agree with her:

“she appeared to have had about as minor a deployment as is possible for a spycop – long ago, not for long, deployed into one group that doesn’t appear to have warranted spying on even by the police’s standards.

As it turned out, this was the point; her testimony demonstrated the lack of guidance given to officers, and the seemingly total absence of any consideration of the impact of this intrusion on the lives of those targeted.”  [vi]

Indeed, that ’Sandra Davies’ was a full-time spy on them for near-on two years, producing no intelligence of any value demonstrated the generalised, hoover-up approach to information gathering, checking on people who pose no threat. The group had come to public attention for its role in the disruption of the Miss World event live on television in November 1970 – a year before Sandra HN348 joined it.

Sandra Davies’ own statement says the activists she spied on were not breaking any laws, just hosting meetings, leafleting and demonstrating – ‘all within the bounds of the law’ – and that she did not witness or participate in any public disorder during her entire deployment. So what was the point?

‘I was tasked to observe them because Special Branch did not know much about them’

The inquiry heard how women’s groups including Women’s Voice, Greenham Common, Spare Rib collective, Brixton Black Women’s movement and others were infiltrated – leading Philippa Kaufmann QC to ask “what possible justification could there be for infiltrating such organisations other than a deep hostility to women’s equality?”

In another report from November 18, 1969, officer HN336 filed, the subject of concern was a postgraduate who had begun “involving herself to some considerable extent” with the Tufnell Park Women’s Liberation Front.

“Aged about 23 years, height 5 foot 2 inches; long dark brown hair; oval face, attractive features; sometimes wears a fawn woollen dress, brown knee-length boots and a brown herring-bone patterned overcoat. It is understood she had just completed a degree course at [redacted] University.” [vii]

Sandra HN336’s target, the Women’s Liberation Front, which later became known as the Revolutionary Women’s Union [viii], campaigned for equal pay, access to contraception and paid maternity leave. The undercover officer, Sandra, claimed the group was of interest to Special Branch because of possible links with “more extreme groups” such as the Angry Brigade and “Irish extremists.”

The monitoring group ‘Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance’ noted in relation to

IRISH CONNECTIONS

The Inquiry was shown a report [UCPI0000026992] of a WLF study group on 11 March 1971, comprising of seven people meeting in someone’s home.

Davies reported that one woman present praised the recent actions of the IRA, which she described as ‘a good way to start a revolution’. She’d put the words in quote marks.

We should note that, at this time, the IRA was only attacking British military targets in Northern Ireland. It is extraordinary that this comment on current affairs, made in a private home with no intent for action of any kind, was deemed worthy of reporting and filing by Britain’s political secret police. So much for ‘you are free to express your opinions’.

There seemed to be little else in the way of Davies reporting on the Irish situation she’d suggested as one of her true targets.” [ix]

There was a pattern of weekly WLF meetings held in the evenings at people’s private homes. They were mostly study groups, reading political texts and discussing them. Some of Sandra Davies’s reports were on meetings of the six person WLF Executive Committee. Women’s Liberation Front AGM minutes 1972, records spycop ‘Sandra Davies’ elected as treasurer.

Reports were filed on a talk by Leila Hassan from the Black Unity and Freedom Party (BUFP), ‘general discussion’ of a ‘The East is Red’ –described as a ‘Chinese Revolutionary film’, meeting of the Friends of China, and document UCPI0000027026 was a report of a WLF meeting, dated 8 December 1971. The speaker had returned from a trip to China and ‘was clearly very impressed by the Chinese system’. This developed into a group discussion about all aspects of everyday life in China, including the use of acupuncture.

Other topics of reports to Special Branch were on the Black Unity and Freedom Party asking the WLF to contribute home-made sweets and cakes to a children’s Christmas party in 1971, a jumble sale being organised by the WLF, and idle personal gossip about individual circumstances or relationships. There were reports on a school strike organised by the Schools Action Union in May 1972, running to 13 separate numbered paragraphs of intelligence – with a lot of detail. It named several of the children who’d been arrested.

Tom Ford noted, Sandra’s report included the “subversive” activity of wanting better child-care:

“Members would also be visiting Chapel Street Market each Saturday and Sunday, 840 signatures had been collected. It was hoped eventually to deliver the petition to Islington council with a demand for a nursery in the area.”

A copy of the petition, included in the police report, said: “We demand that day nurseries be set up wherever there is a need. They should be cheap, open all year round and staff should be fully trained and well paid.”

Sandra HN348 did not see any of the WLF members she spied on acting violently or committing crimes. Instead the purpose of spying on the group was to know whether it was “worthwhile” to infiltrate it, she said. She described the group as vocal but aspirational only and taking part in demonstrations with placards and banners. Its membership was “No more than 12” was her count.

One of the meetings HN348 Sandra spied on that concerned the possibility of setting up a national movement of socialist women was only attended by two activists. She reported that attendees of one such meeting in Guildford, Surrey, in June 1972 were “a group of fairly moderate women with no particular political motivation who have recently been campaigning for nurseries in the Guildford area”.

It is not surprising that her own assessment of her deployment was, “I do not think my work really yielded any good intelligence, she said in self-defence in her written evidence, “but I eliminated the WLF from public-order concerns,” [x]

Diane Langford, who is named in relation to various reports on the WLF, raised the issue of homophobic, sexist and racist language in reports from the SDS, which included “racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and judgemental descriptions of people’s appearances that fill police officer’s notebooks”.

Diane Langford told the inquiry how “discovering the groups I was involved in and the Women’s Liberation Movement as a whole were secretly surveilled has been a traumatising experience”.

She explained how it was “harrowing to find out about the pernicious attitudes of officers, masquerading as comrades and friends and sisters, who inveigled their way into our homes, meetings, families and lives” and that “the betrayal of trust is unforgivable”.

Describing the intrusion, Langford noted how the SDS “hoovered-up our data”, with reports providing individuals’ names, ages, physical appearance, family relationships, social security status – “even a sample of a woman’s handwriting”. [xi]

She told the inquiry how in the reports “we find the work of people working in good faith in the hope of creating a future free of oppression, distorted by the grubby lens of officers who cannot understand what they are spying on”.

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

Sandra’s testimony to the Inquiry, on events of 50 years previous, stated, [xii]

“the women’s movement was really growing. The Angry Brigade were linked to the women’s movement and so were lots of other left-wing extremist groups that were latching onto it. This was before the Equal Pay Act 1970 had come into force. There were certain jobs even then where you had to leave when you got married. I did not understand the logic of that: it seemed unfair. Even in the police service, women had the same powers as men but I was only paid 90% of what the men were paid. I was interested in women’s issues, such as contraception and nurseries. I was genuinely interested when those topics were discussed in the bigger meetings, but not the extremist activities.”  

 “The activities the groups I infiltrated were involved in were hosting meetings, leafleting and demonstrations. They were all within the bounds of the law. The political ideology they were promoting did not spill over into what they were doing. They were just very vocal. Of course. the MPS were concerned about whether it would spill over. The Irish situation was very bad at the time and there were links between Ireland and some of the groups we were infiltrating.”

I considered one of the main aims of the SDS to gather intelligence to draw links between different groups and individuals.

Reported on what the WLF were saying and the literature they were distributing, focused on what they were going to do. I would also pick up leaflets and report on the Chinese revolutionary films that were shown.

I simply reported the location of any meetings, the numbers at that meeting, the start and finish times, and what was discussed. I reported any future plans and the likely numbers if there was a demonstration. For example, I reported that “a rally would commence at 1 pm in Trafalgar Square and four RWU members would attend” in the Special Report dated 28 September 1972 (Doc 7, Tab 56 UCPI0000011758.) which would help with police preparation.

“At the time, I felt quite detached from the activists and that I was not in any particular danger, especially at the public meetings which were open to anyone. But it was always in the back of my mind that someone would point a finger at me and accuse me of being a UCO, which would have been embarrassing at the least.”

Frequently when asked about specific reports, Sandra’s standard reply was “I do not specifically recall writing this report and so I cannot fully explain why this information is included”.

“I have seen the Special Report dated 22 January 1971 written by HN45 (Doc 9, UCPI0000011740) I note that, at paragraph 3, HN45 states the meeting was to plan activities for the WLF, British Vietnam Solidarity Front and Friends of China. This makes it look like a much bigger movement, but there were only fourteen people present at that meeting and very often these groups had an overlap of the same people. I note also that, at paragraph 5, he refers to the start of a new branch of the WLF in North London being run by <retracted> and <retracted> I was not aware that intelligence from HN45 prompted my recruitment to join this group, although this possibly could have happened.

I agree that the WLF/RWU was revolutionary in terms of their Maoist ideology, which was opposed to democratic values. The way they talked suggested they would have liked to have overthrown Parliamentary democracy, but “overthrow” is a huge word and this was a small group, so it was not something that they could have done in reality. I was not even aware of the WLF being involved in any criminal activity apart from putting up posters (if that would be considered criminal) and there is no record in the reports of any WLF member committing any act of public disorder or being arrested at any demonstrations.

I did not say much at these meetings. This did not arouse suspicion as many of them were very vocal and glad to have a passive ear sitting there listening to them.

The WLF was much more talk than action. I was tasked to observe them because Special Branch did not know much about them and wanted to find out what was really happening.

Her judgement was that the Police “did not really know very much about the smaller groups and wanted to know more to see if they were of significance to state security or any real threat to our democracy. It was not until the SDS got involved that we knew if it was worthwhile to infiltrate a group. I do not think my work really yielded any good intelligence, but I eliminated the WLF from public order concerns.”

I have been asked why I thought Special Branch needed to know the sums of contributions being made by members present at the meeting held on 25 November 1971, as stated in the Special Report dated 1 December 1971 (Doc 1 7, UCPI0000010923 1). I have found this document very difficult to read as it is of poor quality. It is not clear to me what the contributions related to except that they may have been to cover running costs for a Centre in Leamington Spa. It may have been for the Nurseries Campaign, which is mentioned a few lines above. The availability of free nurseries in the community and attached to places of work was a key issue for the women’s liberation movement at that time. I do not specifically recall writing this report and so I cannot fully explain why this information is included. As far as I recall, my reports covered as much as was necessary so my senior officers and others could understand the tone of the meeting and the types of things they were discussing. The activists were talking about nurseries at the larger meetings as well, so it was a prominent issue and relevant to the right for women to work as the nurseries would support that right.

 I have been asked why I thought Special Branch needed to know that some of the group would be making homemade sweets and cakes for the Children’s Christmas Party on 18 December 1971, as stated in the Special Report dated 13 December 1971 (Doc 18, UCPI0000010932 I). I note that paragraph 5 of that report states that the Children’s Christmas Party was being run by the Black Unity and Freedom Party (“BUFP”), who had asked the WLF members for contributions. I do not specifically recall writing this report and so I cannot fully explain why this information is included. But as stated above, I think some of the main things the senior officers were interested in were the links between groups. With this in mind, the information might have been included to support the link between the BUFP and the WLF.

This report also refers to an Irish woman coming from Dublin at a time of troubles in Northern Ireland and being arrested for her links to the Angry Brigade. I knew very little about the Angry Brigade, even at the time, except that alarm bells rang if they were mentioned as they were very active and had links with the IRA. The report states that this information had come from <<retracted>>   via <<retracted>>  I do not recall the connection between  <<retracted>>   <<retracted>>  . or <<retracted>>   and the Angry Brigade. I assume it was mentioned in the hope that somebody would have been able to make a connection somewhere along the line. This is another example of how the reporting could attempt to draw links between these people. In the 1970s, direct action in Ireland was affecting so many people’s lives.

I have been asked why I thought Special Branch needed to know that one of the members had been accused of having an affair with the husband of another member, as stated in the Special Report dated 4 January 1972 (Doc 14). The report refers to this accusation being made by <<retracted>>  “of Banner Books” and prompted <<retracted>>   to end her employment at that bookshop. I do not specifically recall writing this report and so I cannot fully explain why this information is included. But I recall that this bookshop was quite significant: there was another Maoist group involved with them and they had a printing press there. I do not recall if they were printing “Women’s Liberation” at Banner Books, but they may have been. This information once again shows the links between organisations, in this case the breakdown in the relationship between the WLF and Banner Books. It also gives a flavour of the meetings and the level of things that were discussed. The accusation of an affair would also have been a potentially major event in the history of the WLF. The Maoist philosophy is quite purist and they would frown upon things such as affairs. In Maoist China, they even had a lot of strict rules about their style of dress and how they presented themselves because the clothes they wore depended on their status.

I have been asked about reports recording meetings in the homes of private individuals. The WLF meetings I attended were often in the homes of <<retracted>>  I was just invited to the meetings, I told my senior officers, and there was no suggestion that I should not attend because the meetings were held in people’s homes.

An event like a jumble sale might reveal links between different people and different groups that attended, all under the auspices of a fundraising sale. It was something the WLF was doing, as opposed to ideology and rhetoric, which I would not have recorded. This report would put a flag in the diary on that date so someone could be directed to attend. I cannot recall the sale itself, but it might have been something I attended.

My recollection is that the Marxists hated the Trotskyists and the Trotskyists hated the Marxists, but everyone hated the Maoists.

ENDNOTES


[i] https://www.ucpi.org.uk/infiltrated_group/womens-liberation-front/

[ii] a more rounded political memoir of the WLF comes in ‘The Manchanda Connection’
by Diane Langford, Manu’s partner from 1968 till 1982.

http://abhimanyumanchandaremembered.weebly.com/the-manchanda-connection.html

Also see her Opening Statement to the Undercover Policing Inquiry at

https://dianelangford.wordpress.com/author/dianelangford/

[iii] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/index.htm#bvsf

[iv] https://powerbase.info/index.php/HN348

[v] https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/MPS-0741698.pdf

[vi] http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/2020/11/19/ucpi-daily-report-18-nov-2020/

[vii] Tom Ford, Revolutionaries? Undercover cops spied on mums calling for better day care. Islington Tribune November 20, 2020

[viii]  The Women’s Liberation Front held their AGM on 6 February 1972. They agreed to adopt a new constitution (that meant only women could be members) and new aims and a change of name, The Revolutionary Women’s Union.

Its new list of aims said it sought:

  • ‘To organise women in general, working class women in particular, to fight for the elimination of all exploitation and oppression and for a socialist society.
  • ‘To expose the oppression suffered by women and to relate this to capitalist society and to oppose those who confuse the effects of women’s oppression for the real cause, ie the private ownership of the means of production.’

The group wanted to achieve these things as a path towards things that sound largely moderate and desirable to modern ears:

  • To demand equal opportunities in employment and education.
  • To fight for equal pay for work of equal value.
  • In order that women have real opportunities to take part in social production, we demand that crèches and nurseries are installed at the place of work, education and in the community, wherever there is a need.
  • All women should have the right to have children or not. In order to make this right effective, alongside child-care facilities, adequate contraceptive and abortion information and facilities should be made available free on the NHS.
  • To demand maternity leave for a definite period with no loss of pay, in the pre-natal and post-natal periods, and the right to return to the same job, guaranteed by law.
  • To fight against all discrimination and injustice suffered by women in all realms of society, in laws as regards marriage and divorce, in the superstructure; customs and culture.
  • To fight against the discrimination suffered by unmarried mothers and their children.
  • To wage a consistent struggle against male chauvinism and to strive to educate and encourage men to participate in all our activities.
  • To take our full part in the struggles against the growing attacks on our standard of living and our democratic rights and against the growing racism and fascist policies of the ruling class.
  • To mobilise women to support the anti-imperialist struggles of all oppressed peoples for the realisation of our common aim, the ending of the system of exploitation and oppression.’

 [ix] http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/2020/11/19/ucpi-daily-report-18-nov-2020/

[x] https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/MPS-0741698.pdf

[xi] Sian Norris, ‘A Deep Hostility to Women’s Equality’ More Accusations of Police Misogyny in the Spy Cops Inquiry. April 23rd 2021

[xii] Scoured out from https://www.ucpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/MPS-0741698.pdf

Ivor Kenna (1931-2021)

In a one line acknowledgement, The Actuary  noted, Mr Ivor Kenna, an Associate based in the UK, passed away aged 89.

The Oxford graduate (St Catherine’s 1949) had a richer life to tell as a veteran activist as his partner in life and politics describes it:

 “He always said he did not want to seek idle fame. He never wanted to be famous. But he attended meetings and spoke up for issues he believed in. He was so good at remembering all the facts. He worked all his life for emancipation for the working class.”  — Flo Kenna, Islington Tribune 25 June, 2021 

They were the first to start a union at the Prudential Assurance Building in Holborn where he worked as an actuary. Called the Guild of Insurance Officials, it was later absorbed into Unite. While a Trojan like expenditure of energy and effort could be said to mark his life, and any historical account of the anti-revisionist movement in London would be peppered by references to Kenna’s presence, the actual legacy is harder to discern.

If you live long enough there is an emblematic respond to you: early on, heart-felt sighs would greet the sight of Ivor rising to his feet in a public meeting; a tolerated sectarian irritant would be the most charitable attitude. Forever on the periphery of the political fringe, temporary alignment and relationship were always being made ever since he broke with the Communist Party of Great Britain in the early 1960s when Secretary of the Finsbury branch. Ironically The New Worker, weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain, reported “This week’s postbag brought in £608 including £200 in memory of Ivor Kenna which pushed the running total up to £2,851.”[Week commencing 25th June 2021]. In the past their politics were polar opposites.

The CPGB(ML), associated with fellow veteran, and past sparring partner, Harpal Brar, were overly generous in their assessment that “Ivor did everything he could to halt the decline of the movement caused by Khrushchevite revisionism.” Ivor and Flo was there at the beginning of the struggle initiated by Michael McCreery, who issued a statement denouncing both Khrushchev and the revisionist leadership of the CPGB. The Kennas were involved in the Committee to Defeat Revisionism , for Communist Unity (CDRCU) and were expelled from the Communist Party in 1964. His disruptive, anti-leadership stance within CDRCU was duplicated throughout his attendance of other ML group meetings. (Research Note: Fracturing of the CDRCU). Despite its longevity the two=person Finsbury Communist Association was described years later by the Communist Workers’ Movement as not being

”a serious ML organisation; it has never offered much constructive criticism, has concentrated on circulating gossip and producing articles which discredit Marxism-Leninism (struggle against the Albanian line is not helped, for example, by silly remarks about how dusty Albanian bookshops are).” (CWM, Letter to Marxist Industrial Group in 1979)

The FCA survived around a fractured anti-revisionist movement populated by more notable outliers and small groups who equally failed to move beyond their petty-bourgeois obsession and seriously engage in the party-building commitment.

For their part, Ivor and Flo pride themselves on looking “unpleasant facts in the face with a view to finding a solution …it is necessary not only to tell the truth oneself but to attack those who are peddling lies and deceit.” (Finsbury Communist 49 Feb 1969)

FCA’s main charge, consistently maintained regardless of who they were criticising, is that ultra-leftism had held back the ML movement. To prove their point they were contend to emphasis what they characterise as much of the irrelevance of ML activity in Britain.

In 1978, the FCA judged that “the British ML movement has two outstanding features at present (1) substantial ignorance of, and disagreement about the actual situation in Britain (2) almost compete ignorance of what to do about that situation.” (Finsbury Communist 161 June 1978)

Time had jaded that enthusiasm of the FCA. In 1966 it had been of the opinion that” There are now organised ML groups in most parts of the country and some degree of unity in action has been reached.

All that is holding us back from forming a party is the lack of theoretical unity.”

In that year, FCA did contribute to the theoretical struggle over what constituted a class analysis of Britain. There were some criticisms of McCreey’s “Notes on the Lower Middle Class and the Semi-Proletariat in Britain!’ and Peter Seltman’s more substantial “Classes in Modern Imperialist Britain”. But it was the production of a 17-paged duplicated contribution, “Class and Party in Britain” that gave the true flavour of the FCA.

Coming from the revisionist CPGB, the FCA had constituted part of the District Committee so spoke of the “past 20 years of revisionist betrayal”. There was also involvement in the CDRCU and Ivor was thrown out of McCreery’s flat after one argument. However the FCA did correctly identified the need for and anti-imperialist and internationalist perspective within the anti-revisionist movement by calling for “complete identification with the cause of the workers and peasants in the colonies and neo-colonies”.

The hostility towards the Labour Party and the revisionist CP had not lessened, nor the conviction that higher prices had to be paid for Third World products. Self-determination for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall had been, adopted as FCA policy. Individually both Ivor and Flo were involved with the Celtic League. And self-determination for the Celtic nations, including Cornwall and the Isle of Man has been a basic principle of the FCA.

However its analysis of classes in Britain, the FCA talked of “a peasantry and a pretty well-subsidised peasantry it is”‘ as existing in Britain seemingly oblivious to the conditions of farm labourers and land ownership patterns in rural Britain. There were references to “non-imperialist capital” which was questionable given the nature of monopoly capitalism and the actual operation of British Capital.

Further ‘theoretical insights’ resulted from the occasional public meetings held at the Sekforde Arms (London EC1) in late 1972. These were on the subject of Marx’s Labour theory attended by Arthur Evans, Mike Earle and Harpal Brar. Evans and Earle excused themselves from a follow-up meeting at which a transcript was produced concluding that everyone in Britain including the working class benefited from imperialism. The FCA claimed this as their contribution to the ML movement:

” Our chief claim to fame was in showing 1) that the British people benefit from imperialism 2) just how exactly they benefit 3) And therefore the British workers much less the Middle Class, are not revolutionary.” (Finsbury Communist 121 Feb 1975)

The FCA were never on the wagon-train of ‘revolution is just around the corner’. They maintained the plodding pace of churning out the Finsbury Communist, attending other people’s meetings, making interventions and keeping up their correspondence file.

The attitude to China was complete agreement with whatever China’s policies was at that time, as he was reported to have explain it : “ I don’t think the Communist Party of China can be said to have ever made a mistake because whatever it did seemed like the best thing to do at the time.”

The FCA always qualified as a small group in ML terms: an organisation with fewer members than initials in its name. There was once an attempt in 1976 to join with various local people in, Finsbury in setting up the grandly named’ Working Class Party ‘ but complaints that FCA maintained a separate existence led to a break-up in the project. Later they persisted and worked with the local Islington branch Independent Working Class Association, set up by people from Red Action, but again the working relationship broke down.

  The view that they were a flea-like irritant for most of the ML movement,  Chairman of the RCLB describing their politics as ” a bourgeois game. They have contempt for the revolutionary struggle of the working class and their organisation is a mere excuse for the most self-indulgent individualism …Their stand is an insult to and an attack on the cause of building the Revolutionary Party of the working class.”  (Letter to Cde Hickey  (CWM) dated 22.2.1979)

There were attempts at joint work by the FCA in the late 197Os on the subject of building a movement to oppose Soviet Social-Imperialism. FCA co-operated with the Marxist Industrial Group in a number of meetings, participating for a while in the Interim Committee but such ad hoc enterprises wilted in the face of reality.

It was not until January 1989, twenty-five years after it came into existence that Finsbury Communist contained a reader’s letter asking “what do you stand for?”

As far as the ML movement was concerned the FCA favoured “some form of unity between the FCA, the Marxist Industrial Group and the Revolutionary Communist League and various individuals who appear to have a lot in common.” (Finsbury Communist 288  Jan 1989)

Unfortunately for the Kennas, the RCLB simply failed to acknowledge the existence of the FCA.

But the FCA remained’ steadfast and true’ as the old Boy Brigade motto has it. They organised Sunday evening discussion sessions at 72 Compton Street (near Farringdon Underground) as another ritual to the FCA’s existence.

The self-assessment the FCA gave of the ML movement applied as much to themselves,

“Briefly, the Marxist Leninists did not succeed in working out how they should function in imperialist society; a society which, for all its inner contradictions, seems likely to continue for many years yet.

The results is that the movement is now obviously reduced to a few small groups and individuals, generally without roots anywhere and with not the slightest ideas where they are going. Unity conferences programmes and manifestos become redundant within: a few months, when faced with reality. At times like this it is useful to remember one’s achievements. But these achievements are only in the realm of ideas. Ideas cannot survive outside the human brain. And so the movement has a duty to consider how best it is to survive and grow.” (Finsbury Communist May 1981)

In all of its existence, the FCA did not contribute to the growth of that movement. In: 1970 the FCA claimed that they owed “its existence partly to the correct criticism levelled at the Western Communist Parties by the CPC in 1963” (Finsbury Communist 66  July 197O) unfortunately the FCA never took those criticisms to heart, and remained largely irrelevant, on the fringes of the ML movement, opportunistically tolerated by some sections, shunned by others.

The FCA found new opportunities and associates were made of old opponents ,when it became active in the political conglomerate that united self-described Stalinist, Marxist-Leninists, pro-Soviets and the odd maoist in the  Stalin Society.

Organisationally, Ivor kept busy as London Branch secretary of Celtic League and the friendship organisation Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding – SACU, and the anti-revisionist Finsbury Communist Association. In later years he was a stalwart of the Stalin Society and spoke at the CPGB (ML) meetings. Compiler of online China Eye’s “Sinophile by Flo and Ivor Kenna”, he maintain a record of postal contributions going back to SACU’s foundation and SACU News in the 1960s. Ivor was a constant letter writer, his name attached to many missals to a wide range of publications from the local Islington Gazette, Camden New Journal, to less mainstream outlets like Morning Star and Weekly Worker.

And over the years, he would churn out the Twitter equivalent The Finsbury Communist and maintained the production of this four-paged duplicated monthly since February 1965, as the vehicle for a running commentary on life and politics in Islington’s Finsbury ward, the Left movement and the world.

Ivor Kenna died aged 89 on June 3 2021

Samples of his contributions……

Letter to What Next? No.14 1999

Police Spies and Madmen

THERE ARE probably police spies and certainly mad people in the left movement. However, calling a comrade a police spy or a madman effectively blocks discussion. May I offer an alternative explanation? Some of us believe that the objective situation is ripe for revolution or, at least, for radical change. These I term the instant revolutionaries. Others on the left believe that it will be a long haul.

The instant revolutionaries keep themselves in a state of continuous alert. But still revolution or radical change does not happen. They try every means that they can think of to convince people to rise up. Still nothing happens.

The first explanation that occurs to them is that people are being misled. It is but a short step from there to a belief that they are being deliberately misled. Who would deliberately mislead people? Agents of the ruling class, of course.

I was in an organisation once where one of the members was convinced that the leadership was a ruling class fifth column and circularised all and sundry accordingly. The leadership over-reacted and the comrade was expelled. The real explanation for the comrade’s conduct is that he is an instant revolutionary who was disappointed with the organisation’s progress. This does not just happen with those of us who are, like John Maclean, on the left of the left. When the Socialist Labour Party was formed, Ken Livingstone as much as asserted that Arthur Scargill had been put up to it by MI5. Ken Livingstone has plans for the Labour Party which entail keeping the left within the party.

So, please, let’s stop throwing round labels such as police spy, madman, or even stalinist, trotskyist or maoist, etc, in order to avoid reasoned analysis of other comrades’ arguments and of the objective situation.

Ivor Kenna

Letter to Labour Affairs , part of the former B&ICO stable of publications

JULY 9, 2021

Ivor Kenna’s Last Letter

It is with great regret that we learn of the death in London of Ivor Kenna, an Anti-Revisionist and campaigner for national rights. He died on Thursday, 3rd June. As Flo Kenna has told us: “He really enjoyed your publications”. Ivor was born on 28th July 1931, so he just missed his 90th birthday. Flo and her husband were true comrades: they were married for sixty years. A sad loss.

The Anglo-Saxons

I was very interested to read Brendan Clifford’s quotation from Sir Charles Dilke: “The Anglo-Saxon is the only extirpating race on earth” . The Anglo-Saxons extirpated the Maoris, until the Maoris stopped them, the Australian aborigines to some extent, the Tasmanians complete, the North American nations, to some extent.

New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania and North America are in temperate climes, suitable for Anglo-Saxon settlement.

Nearer home there were white Christian nations to deal with. If the inhabitants were prepared to become English-speaking they would play a useful role in the British Armed Forces alongside Englishmen in conquering as much of the world as possible.

The Cornish were to be treated as English (see John Angarrack’s book Our Future Is History).

The Scottish and Welsh languages were banged out of their speakers by such devices as the Welsh Not.

Ireland was more of a problem. Seventeenth century English population experts such as Petty seriously discussed getting rid of the Irish out of Ireland by any means necessary and settling English people there.

Later on in the 1840s, potato blight spread remarkably quickly to Ireland and North-West Scotland, leaving England untouched.

The Penal Laws did have some success in turning Catholics into Protestants.

Henry of Navarre, who turned Catholic to become King of France said “Paris is worth a mass”.

Irish people who turned Protestant were of the opinion that material possessions and higher social status are worth not having a mass.

Ivor Kenna

Spycop providing details of the principal contact of the RCLB

“Michael James” was the cover name used to protect Covert Human Intelligence Sources, an undercover police operative designated HN96 by the official Undercover Policing Enquiry [UCPI]. Towards the end of a five year deployment (1978-1983) that targeted the East London Troops Out Movement and IS/SWP, James filed a report providing details of the principal contact of the Maoist RCLB. Like most of the information and gossip supplied by these “spy cops” it was mostly in the public domain as the organisation’s contact was a north London bookshop address freely given out, and printed in its paper, Struggle/Class Struggle since 1974!  Perhaps the added value element was the observation that the name individual [JB] was also a member of East London TOM where no doubt “Michael” had conversed with JB. (see UCPI0000018423 dated 13th July 1982)

 ‘Michael James‘ (HN96, 1978-83) infiltration record:

Newspaper organiser, SWP Clapton branch
SWP Hackney District Committee
Membership & Affiliation Secretary, Troops Out Movement
Chair of Steering Committee, Troops Out Movement

That spy cops have been infiltrating political organisations, activist groups and trade unions is not news. That these spies have reported on campaigning activities as well as on the personal lives of group members and their contacts has been frequently disclosed.  Michael James was part of a wider domestic spying operation targeted at democratic participation in politics as the UCPI disclosed in 2017 that more than 1000 groups were targeted by spycops . The inquiry gives a glimpse of scale of state infiltration examining the activities of over 130 undercover officers, who spied on more than 1,000 mostly left-wing political groups over more than 40 years. Not just radical left-wing groups engaged in legal protest, infiltration targets included social justice campaign groups, anti-racists groups, environmental campaigns and animal rights activists.  There are hundreds of victims who become friends with undercover officers. They have trusted them, let them into their homes, and allowed them to spend time with their families. And there are more than thirty women who have been deceived into romantic relationships with undercover cops, some fathered children and then abruptly disappeared. Other unsavoury incidents saw reports on children sent to Special Branch, and individuals reported on at specific requests from Box 500 [MI5].

The spy cops hovered up information: personal names, addresses, relationships, commitment to mental health institutions – basically any gossip going along with the mundane organisational tasks involved in the mechanics of protest or arranging a conference. They would copy the attendance sheet, and pass on speculation about speakers, and other administrative detail hardly being secret when blazoned on posters and adverts to get people along!   The quality of what was gathered was supposed to create a picture and understanding of the activist’s concerns, and “potential threat”. Actually, the British Left were exercising their democratic legal rights; it was the unethical, unregulated and unadvertised activities of the state’s agents that has been exposed by the evidence submitted to UCPI. Generally, the evidence illustrates undercover officers as engaging in behaviours and practices including:

• Dishonesty;
• Unauthorised accessing of records;
• Emotional manipulation;
• Abusing positions of trust;
• Sexual offences;
• Other conduct related issues.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI) was established in 2015 in response to evidence brought to light through the Ellison Review of “appalling practices in undercover policing” during the investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Allegations made by former-spy, Peter Francis, included that he had been told to find information that could be used to smear the Lawrence family. The current abuses were disclosed in the spring of 2021 when the “independent, judge-led” UCPI examined the activities of the Metropolitan Police’s secret political unit, the Special Demonstration Squad, from 1973-82.

The inquiry announced that the next set of hearings, which will continue to cover the period of 1968-1982, won’t take place until 2022. For the victims who were spied upon in the 2000s, this means it will be 2025 before they give their evidence: a full decade after the inquiry began.

Mainstream coverage of the Inquiry has been sporadic. Proceedings are monitored by civil activists concerned at the abusive practices of the Metropolitan Police Special Branch since 1968, and by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPIOU) controlled by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). They record and publicise and examine police infiltration into political and activist groups over a period of four decades. 

Undercover Policing Inquiry: Official Website

https://undercoverresearch.net/

http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/28/secrets-and-lies-untangling-the-uk-spy-cops-scandal

https://www.thecanary.co/uk/analysis/2021/05/16/spycops-testimony-and-other-evidence-expose-the-dark-underbelly-of-uk-political-policing/

https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/publications/spycops-in-context

https://www.ier.org.uk/an-easy-guide-to-the-undercover-policing-spycops-inquiry/

Blue Pencil Politics

David Brandenberger and Mikhail Zelenov. Stalin’s Master Narrative: A Critical Edition of the HISTORY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION (BOLSHEVIKS): SHORT COURSE. New Haven: Yale University Press 2019

Published in 1938, the CPSU (B) party history was officially attributed to an anonymous central committee editing commission. A new edition of what was universally referred to as the Short Course comes from Yale University Press. Edited by the historians David Brandenberger and Mikhail Zelenov, initially under the suggestive title Stalin’s Catechism, to provide “A Critical Edition of the Short Course on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”.

Brandenberger and Zelenov have worked in the archives to reconstruct the original draft of the most widely disseminated communist text in Stalin’s time and compares the draft with the edited text published as the authoritative history of the Party. It illustrates the deletions and marginalia additions contributed in Stalin’s true role as editor. Such editorial intervention that were included in the final printed edition are discussed more fully in the introduction by David Brandenberger and Mikhail Zelenov. It substantiates the attribution of Stalin as “author”, a judgement that saw the Short Course included as a volume in the series of Stalin’s Works.


The Passing of Chairman Gonzalo

  READINGS    The Passing of Chairman Gonzalo 
  

 The death of Chairman Gonzalo in the high security centre of the Callao Naval Base was always the intended outcome of the Peruvian state. His imprisonment, and three separate trials, for 29 years was envisioned both to diminish his influence and serve as a warning to any who took up arms in resistance with the intention of creating a better society. In a real sense, both objectives failed. The death of a revolutionary doesn’t kill the revolution, and the drive for a just society is created in the lived experience of those striving for change.

The response to the announcement of his death saw the usual life story obituaries in the mainstream media and different narratives from the communist press. There were contrasting perspective of the revolutionary achievements of Chairman Gonzalo among the tributes and homage paid to the leader of the decade long People’s War that begun in the countryside and swept into the capital before it strength diminished with his capture in 1992.

He was more than just a provincial academic, a Professor of Philosophy, who initiated an armed revolutionary struggle, a protracted people’s war, which he later saw as launched at the ebbing of the global revolutionary wave. The conduct of that struggle divides opinion over some of it features and the emphasis drawn by others seeking to establish the lessons of the revolution. His arrest did materially affect the course of the struggle, in the complexity of revolution remaining a symbol for some and an inspiration for a new tact for others. There is an opinion, voiced in the Kites journal, that

“Since Gonzalo was held in isolation in Peruvian prisons and denied contact with the outside world, it is impossible to know for certain what his political views and state of mind were since his capture. His death now means that we will likely never know. Moreover, while revolutions can take great inspiration and even strategic guidance from revolutionary leaders who have been imprisoned, revolutions can never be led from inside a prison cell for obvious reasons.”

 Regardless of the judgement on his place in history, Chairman Gonzalo – party name of Abimael Guzmán, (1934-2021) Maoist guerrilla leader – contributed to the new democratic revolution of Peru, the revolutionary internationalist movement and in holding high the banner of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

These readings from across the spectrum of reaction to the passing of Chairman Gonzalo reflects the contentions that is less about the person and more about the political actor, thinker and leader.

El Pueblo newspaper ,Chile:

September 24 – International Day of Actions in honor of Chairman Gonzalo

People of the world are not taking Chairman Gonzalo’s death lying down (Harsh Thakor)

Multi-party statement: Eternal Glory to President Gonzalo!

Editorial Note: Gonzalo Thought Development of Maoism

Ecuador: Honor and Eternal Glory to President Gonzalo

Declaration of Red Aid International regarding the Death of Chairman Gonzalo

Statement on The Death Of Dr Abimael Guzman Reynoso  | Marco Valbuena | Chief Information Officer | Communist Party Of The Philippines. September 12, 2021

Red Homage to Comrade Abimael Guzman (Gonzalo), Founder Leader and Former Chairman of Communist Party of Peru!

Issued by Abhay, Spokesperson for Central Committee Communist Party of India (Maoist)

Chairman Gonzalo’s Legacy of Steadfast Revolutionary Principle and Strategic Innovations

Posted by the North American Kites Journal September 17, 2021

Declaration of Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan (CMPA) On occasion of death of chairman Gonzalo the Peruvian Communist Party’s leader

M-L-M MAYHEM! Marxist-Leninist-Maoist reflections

Obituary: Chairman Gonzalo September 12, 2021

Belgium MLM Center, PCF (mlm): Gonzalo, the great commentator of Maoism

American blogger S J Otto provided links to contributions gleaned from the internet

A disreputable article about the death of Chairman Gonzalo

View of Simon Strong author of Shining Path: Terror and Revolution in Peru

The Confessions of a British Senderologist

Bitácora Team (ML). The outcome of Chairman Gonzalo and Sendero Luminoso; another Maoist myth hitting rock bottom