Spying on the CPEml

Infiltration by the state in the workers’ movement has a long pedigree, and within living memory there are numerous examples of the surveillance, manipulation and disruption of independent political organising that challenges the status quo regardless of its political allegiance. The flowering of protest in the late 1960s and 70s in Britain saw a vibrant and varied opposition that attracted the concealed attention of state agents. One element of the security apparatus, Special Branch, has had the lens focused upon its practices when spying on the Left, including the newly emergent forces of the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists in Sixties’ Britain through infiltration by field officers.  The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was a covert unit under Special Branch supervision that existed within the Metropolitan Police Service between 1968 and 2008.  So far the cover names of 45 out of a total of at least 144 undercover officers have been disclosed during the official Undercover Policing Inquiry.  The tale of one anonymous clandestine spy, assigned the designation HN13, is an incomplete record through reports submitted on the marginal Far Left Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist). [i]

DC HN13 was an experienced office. He joined the Police Force in the late1960s and the Branch in the early1970s, then approached in 1974 to join the Special Demonstration Squad. Married with young children, there were no disclosures of improprieties involving, as with other undercover SDS field officers, seducing and fathering children of targeted activists. Prior to his deployment the CPEml had a name for headlong rushes into confrontations; whether Barry/ Desmond Loader was acting as ‘agent provocateurs’ is unknown however he was twice prosecuted for public order offences in his false cover name and convicted once. Despite this, the Undercover Policing Inquiry   Chair, John Mitting, stated that there is no known allegation of misconduct during the deployment.

 His widow confirmed in a very brief statement that he stole his cover surname from a deceased child from Wiltshire, and that he had told her of the surname during his deployment into the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) from 1975 to 1978. [ii]

Active in the East London Branch, Loader was also an active member of the Party’s cultural activities offshoot, the Progressive Cultural Association (PCA), and the East London Peoples Front, and the Outer East London Anti-Fascist Anti-Racist Committee. DC HN13’s reports provide a flavour of the activity and demands placed upon the activists of the CPEml in the period he was spying on them. Evidence of hype-activism that brunt out cadre evident in the singular account of attending a social, going back afterwards for a meeting that lasts into the early hours of next morning and then volunteering to provide the materials for a morning leafletting session!

He also filed reports on the activities of the Communist Unity Association (Marxist-Leninist).

Pictured below PCA leader, and CPEml Central Committee member , the composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981).

Confrontations with the Police

In the 1970s, members of the CPE had a reputation for rushing at police lines in demonstrations, seemingly without strategic consideration, that served to raise the group’s profile in relation to the police – and the CPEml became a target for Special Branch.

Party comrades who were leafleting were ‘brutally attacked’ whilst by the police at a demonstration in East Street market in South East London in 1972. Several received prison sentences.

The CPEml placed the confrontations and violence within an environment of a decaying capitalism:

Whilst increasing fascist legislation, the monopoly capitalists are also stepping up their harassment of working people and progressive organisations. In the last couple of years, large numbers of progressive people have been harassed, intimidated and attacked by the British police. Last December, some supporters of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) were attacked by the London police and planted with drugs, ammunition, explosives and have been committed to trial at the Old Bailey on concocted charges. Comrade Lindsay Hutchinson, an active supporter of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), is at present serving a five year sentence on concocted charges of “malicious wounding” and “assault”. Many other progressive people and Irish patriots living in England have been given jail sentences of up to 30 years on concocted charges. Many workers pickets have been fascistically attacked by the police who encourage strike breakers to break the picket lines and attack striking workers: and working people have been murdered by the police. Is this not violence and terror of the highest order? [iii]

Following a police raid on a ‘house used by comrades and fabricated evidence’, in January 1974, four members of the party were found guilty of possession of petrol bombs and assaulting police. They received 12-month sentences for possession of petrol bombs and were fined for assaulting police.

Also in 1973/74, several party members were arrested for the (again, fabricated) charge of the theft of roof lead, after their car was stopped on Queens Town Road, Battersea.

Given the confrontational experience of members that saw members arrested (and identified) it comes as no surprise that Barry Loader’s reports are peppered with references on proposals by the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) to launch a campaign on behalf of its members on bail for offences arising from various demonstrations, and to organise pickets outside courts such as Redbridge Magistrates’ Court. This defence of democratic rights campaigning prove both time-consuming and energy sapping, with ramifications on the lives of members. Commenting in July 1978 on arrests at an Irish demonstration in Birmingham the previous May, Loader reported CPEml policy was that “although imprisonment is to be seen as a means of taking the political line into prisons, leading members should remain free to carry on their function within the Party.” Adding, “It is also likely that the cost of her appeal will be met from Central Party funds.”

No Platform and Anti-Fascism

In the 1970s across higher education campuses, students launched a number of protests at right-wing and fascist speakers. These incidents in the early 1970s were a ‘prelude’ to what became known as ‘No Platforming’ such speakers.

One well-publicised incident allegedly involved student members of the CPE from Birmingham and elsewhere:

On 8 May 1973, the psychologist Hans Eysenck, whose theories were rooted in the controversial theory of eugenics, attempted to deliver a lecture at the London School of Economics, but faced heavy protests from students. A group of Maoists stormed the stage and assaulted Eysenck.

The CPE (M-L) was also vocal and active in broader anti-fascist politics during the 1970s and early 1980s at a time when National Front was a rising force on the street and sometimes at the ballot box. During this time the NF was successfully challenged on the street by a variety of anti-fascist groups.

In 1974, the CPEml were also present at the Red Lion Square counter-fascist demo during clashes between anti-fascists and the police took place. During this violent confrontation, one protester Kevin Gately received severe head injuries from which he died. Members of the party also gave evidence at the subsequent public inquiry into the incident – which was chaired by Lord Scarman.

Loader reported on people involved in actions against the National Front (NF), such as the organisation of demonstrations, pickets, and leafletting and confronting the NF directly. Barry Loader attended the counter-NF demonstration, the Battle of Lewisham on 13 August 1977. He was injured during the event, receiving a blow to the head – the first of the two times he was assaulted by uniformed police.

Internal Special Branch documents show that Loader met to share his experience and provide recommendations for methods of policing future demonstrations with Deputy Assistant Commissioner along with Peter Collins (HN303), DCI Pryde and DI Willingale following the Lewisham demonstration. [iv]


Loader was arrested twice while in his cover identity. The first occasion, in late 1977, was for ‘insulting or threatening behaviour’ following a clash with the NF outside Barking police station. Chief Inspector Craft of the SDS recorded that Loader was ‘somewhat battered by police prior to his arrest’ [v]

Seven other individuals from Loader’s group were also arrested. Superintendent Pryde maintained contact with a court official during the proceedings in April 1978. He informed them that one of the defendants was a police informant who they would be ‘anxious to safeguard from any prison sentence’ [vi]

Ultimately, the charges against Loader were dismissed. Three of the other seven individuals were found guilty and fined on 12 April 1978 [vii]


Just three days after his court appearance, Loader was arrested a second time during trouble at a National Front meeting held at Loughborough School, Brixton on 15 April 1978.

He was again charged with threatening behaviour under s.5 of the Public Order Act 1936, along with three others [viii]

At the hearing, an application was made to hear all the defendants’ cases together. However, the Magistrates decided to hear Loader’s case alone. This was, allegedly, because Loader had been involved in a separate incident to the other defendants, who had infiltrated an NF meeting while Loader stayed outside.

In fact, records reveal that Superintendent Pryde established contact with a court official during the proceedings and told them that one of the defendants was:

a valuable informant in the public order field whom we would wish to safeguard from a prison sentence should the occasion arise’.

Unlike the previous arrest, however, it is noted that Loader’s cover name was specifically given to the official [ix]

All the defendants, in this case, were found guilty, with Loader being fined and given a one-year bind-over of £100. It is noted in the Minute Sheet that this sentence was considered ‘very useful’ as it would allow Loader to keep a low profile for the remainder of his deployment [x]

It was not all confrontations on days out in the CPEml. Other activities included in loader’s reports map out the activists’ busy schedule of meetings and commitments. From supplying accounts of private meetings of the East London Branch of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) held at Barking Polytechnic, various  planning meetings to small social gatherings, the files of Special Branch were filled with minutiae of undercover intelligence gathering, including the gossip about individuals from CPEml and Indian Workers Movement living together thought worthy of inclusion in Special Branch’s intelligence files, along with reports on individual “comrades”, an active member of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) who failed to attend court on charges of assault, and his efforts to avoid arrest moving to Canada and changing his name. Loader providing a description of his current appearance for the files.

A National Conference of the CPE(ML) on the anniversary of the October Revolution to be held in Birmingham at the YMCA, late October 1977 drew the attention of SDS coordinating with West Midlands Special Branch even though they acknowledged, “There is no public order issue involved”. Photographic surveillance was arranged, it was “hoped that a good identification of national membership and information on the future policies of the C.P.E. -M.L. will result.” [xi]

The attendance was estimated at around 200 and included SDS Field Officer, HN 13 “Desmond /Barry Loader” who was well-practiced on reporting on the CPE (ML).

Among the SDS reports put into the public domain when released by the Public Inquiry included those on open public events, of both the CPEml and its associated organisations (like the Progressive Cultural Association, PCA) when Loader took the opportunity to purloined the contact sheet from PCA events and names were cross referenced with existing Special Branch files [xii]

There were also internal PCA evening meetings, such as that held 15th May 1977 in Belsize Park NW3 attended by 30. Others covered a meeting of the Progressive Cultural Association to discuss its activities in a proposed anti-monarchy campaign.

In July 1977  a report submitted on a meeting of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) held under the broad front-group name of Outer East London Anti-Fascist Anti-Racist with Indian Defence Committee in Ilford. When that faltered CPEml broad front activities were consolidated in a new organisation, entitled the People’s Front.

By February 1978 Loader reported the CPEml was engaged in a “rigorous self-examination” with the leadership conscious of drift within the organisation.

 The previous Christmas 1977, as an “alternative to the feudal, bourgeois Christian festival”, a national meeting of CPEml had been arranged December 23rd to January 1st. (A not uncommon gesture as another group arranged a Standing Committee meeting for Christmas Day morning!).

Some 60 persons were present in Birmingham (referred to as new centre of CPEml). However, the context of the systematic shift in political allegiance and political identification with the positions of the Party of Labour of Albania are missing from the Special Branch reports. Its historic First Congress was held in 1978. [xiii]

Much of the main address given by Carol Reakes was published as an extract in issue 63 of Workers Weekly. At the previous October 1977 Birmingham conference on Trostskyism, she told members that what was needed was “considerable improvements needed” in the regularly, distribution and study of the paper, Workers’ Weekly. A familiar exhortation on the Left.

 The emphasis on building an industrial base, the organisation of the masses around one party (them), developing a leading role in the anti-fascist/anti-racist struggle and the ‘Bolshevization’ of the CPEml especially in relation to its internal discipline. All these themes occurred at this time across the spectrum of anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist groups in Britain. In London the CPEml’s emphasis was Ford’s at Dagenham.  The more industrially established Communist Party of Britain (ML) was identified as the organisation’s main Left opponent in this period.

What was announced was the formation of the ‘Little Red Guards’, despite the misgivings of a minority, Barry Loader reported to Special Branch that “their inaugural ceremony involved the receiving of a red scarf (to be worn when meeting) an address from Carol REAKES on the significance of their role and the singing of revolutionary children’s songs”. Some 12 children are “believed to be involved” age range 4-10 years.  They will meet on a Saturday “to be given a ‘low key’ political talk in the morning on basic issues, such as evolution and the history of labour in the morning, and in the afternoon taken on an outing to places of interests, such as the docks or a ferry crossing.”

January 1978 saw a joint Indian Workers Movement/CPEml East London branch meeting to “denounce the sham of India’s Republic Day” (January 28th), and after the mobilisation for the “Bloody Sunday Commemoration march, an evening concert organised by PCA at the Trinity Community Centre, East Avenue E12 under the slogan “British Imperialism Out of Ireland!”

Commensurate with significant anti-fascist activity, there was a probable fascist attack on the election headquarters of the South London People’s Front in the 1978 Lambeth Central by-election. Coincidentally, going against the documentary evidence of Barry Loader’s infiltration, the recollection of Michael Chant, the current party General Secretary, was that Loader did not appear until 1978 at election hustings in for the constituency of central Lambeth where Stuart Monro stood under ‘South London People’s Front’. Michael Chant recalled that:

“In the Lambeth Central by-election of 1978, Stuart Monro stood as a candidate representing the South London People’s Front, supported by CPE(ML). A campaign centre was set up in a private house in Stockwell, where mailing out of election leaflets, organising of canvassers, and other activities took place. It was only at this time that Barry Loader […] appeared and offered to help. Given he had no known links to any progressive activity and his general bearing, he was immediately suspected of being an undercover policeman. However, following Lenin’s dictum to put suspected spies to useful, but not compromising work, he was assigned to washing-up duties in the kitchen, large-scale cooking being required to feed the election volunteers. Loader carried out his duties diligently, but was not invited to any discussions or to participate in any planning activities. When the election period ended, he disappeared, and a visit to the address he had given revealed only an empty bed-sit.”


A post-script to Loader’s career was that a note made of a meeting with Commander Buchanan in 2013 suggests that Loader had difficulty reintegrating with the police following his deployment [xiv]

The successor party to the CPE, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) were later infiltrated by another SDS officer Malcolm Shearing (alias) between 1981 and 1985. [xv]


[i] These notes on HN13 – known as ‘Barry’ rather than ‘Desmond’ by former CPEml members –  and his activities draws heavily from the work undertaken by  the Undercover Research Portal at Powerbase – investigating corporate and police spying on activists.

Undercover Policing Inquiry released Special branch documents in May 2021 related to the activity of HN13 cover names “Desmond Loader/Barry loader”, an active member of the Special Demonstration Squad (1975-19778) assigned to infiltrate and spy upon the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) .

Indispensable is the ongoing independent work produced by both Dónal O’Driscoll of Undercover Research Group and journalist Rob Evans on the Spycops.

[ii] Released file  MPS-0740967

[iii] Worker’s England Daily News Release, September 4, 1973 https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.hightide/real-terror.htm

[iv] Released file MPS-0732886

[v] Released file MPS-0722618

[vi] Released file MPS-0526784

[vii] Released file UCPI0000011984

[viii] Released file UCPI0000011356

[ix] Released file MPS-0526784

[x] Released file MPS-0526784

[xi] Special Branch memorandum 28th October 1977. Released file MPS-0730696

[xii] Special Branch 8th September 1977 ref:400/76/166

[xiii] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.hightide/cpe-historic.pdf

[xiv] Released file MPS-0738057

[xv] https://powerbase.info/index.php/Malcolm_Shearing_(alias)

Referendum spots from London’s Far Left scene

Belated but for the record……

There was an anti-European Union campaign group dubbed Lexit set up following a meeting in London in April 2016. According to a Morning Star report among those involved were “rail union RMT, Trade Unionists Against the EU, the Communist Party of Britain, the Indian Workers Association (GB), the Bangladeshi Workers Council of Britain, Scottish Left Leave, Counterfire and the Socialist Workers Party.”  http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-eabf-Left-allies-in-Lexit-for-EU-Leave-vote#.VykQ2jH66So

And further on the fringes of the Far Left the British Spartacists are Brexit (or if you prefer the euphemism Lexit) too  :  http://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/1087/britain.html

Headed by Robert Griffiths of the Communist Party of Britain, Lexit promised to promote what it called the “working class, left-wing and internationalist case” for exit. They were united around five key arguments for a left exit — against the EU’s neoliberal agenda, its undemocratic nature, and the horrors of Fortress Europe; and for a defence of workers’ rights through collective organisation and union strength, and for exploiting the crisis for the Tories that a leave vote would provoke. The Left Leave Campaign had a website and posted a leaflet and on 18 May, arranged a meeting with speakers from Ireland, Greece, Catalonia and the UK at Friends Meeting House, London NW1 2BG . http://www.leftleave.org/

While making a comment that the “debate” for exit was dominated by the language of the Right, the RCPB ML called forlornly that “The Debate on the EU Referendum Must Not Be Framed in a Chauvinist Manner”.  It sided with a “Workers Opposition” to call for a “Leave” vote.

The RCPB ML argue that “ the issue workers face is how can they throw a spoke in the wheel of this Europe of the monopolies and the European powers, Britain, France, and Germany who exploit the countries of Europe for huge profits, wrecking their economies and privatising their public services, as they are doing at home in Britain as well.”

Commentary: The Debate on the EU Referendum Must Not Be Framed in a Chauvinist Manner

Elsewhere on the fringes, the CPGB-ML position on the June referendum is that “British workers need a Brexit!” in part because “Britain outside the EU be less able to bully other countries, but the EU’s power would also diminish, and US imperialism would be weakened by the weakening of its ally. Without the presence of Britain in the EU, the US-EU imperialist alliance would probably become much more fragile – which would only be a good thing for workers and oppressed people everywhere.”


Long time anti-EU advocates , the CPB (ML) have used the ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ slogan in recent years and argue that  “The EU is aided and abetted by quislings in our class who would rather supplicate in Brussels than struggle in Britain.” Its website is filled with arguments for a Leave vote in the referendum. It produced its own glossy pamphlet, “Out Of The EU” campaigning “to reclaim sovereignty over Britain and deliver a hammer blow to the dictatorial ambitions of the deeply undemocratic EU.”


The Maoists of “Democracy and Class Struggle” came out with a leave argument:

Combat Liberalism – No to the Neo Liberal European Union

 Nickglais April 23, 2016

“People who are liberals look upon the principles of Marxism as abstract dogma.
 They approve of Marxism, but are not prepared to practice it or to practice it in full; they are not prepared to replace their liberalism by Marxism. 
These people have their Marxism, but they have their liberalism as well–they talk Marxism but practice liberalism “

Mao Zedong – Combat Liberalism

The debate In UK over the European Union and Brexit reveals a profound gulf between Liberal Social Democrats and Revolutionary Marxists over both the class and national questions that arise over the question of UK Brexit.
The entire European Union Project from its inception was based upon a commitment to free market liberalism and of late neo liberalism.
The EU  had a slight detour a few decades ago when Jacques Delors talked of a Social Europe but that has ended as quickly as it started with Delors being responsible for introducing neo liberal privatisation into French political life.
Socialism as an idea is inimical to the common market and market ideology which is central to the European Project whether the ideology is expressed in the European Commission, The European Court of Justice or the European Central Bank.
International Labour rights were established by working class militant struggle and codified by the United Nations International Labour Organisation.
The European Union has found its recent anti working class labour rights judgements pronounced in the European Court of Justice in conflict with the United Nations International Labour  Organisation
The European Court of Human Rights which is not an EU organisation but organised by the Council of Europe  is also  in conflict with the neo liberal  EU European Court of Court of Justice on human  rights
It is clear even to the blind which class the EU institutions represent after years of liberal and neo liberal practice…

It is not a reformable institution and only liberals would spread that big reformist lie about the European Union.
It is a highly structured bureaucracy where the European Commission decides what is legislated not the European Parliament It is a bureaucracy not a democracy….
From a class point of view we need to smash the neo liberal European Union and the class it represents in Europe and free our class from its austerity and legal constraints.

Now we come to the National Question and the European Union.

We should not support British Nationalists like Nigel Farage, George Galloway and the Tories Brexit scum of Boris the Bastard and Ian Duncan Smith.

We should expose British Nationalism and stand up for democracy for all the nations of the British Isles, Scotland, England,Wales, Kernow and Manxx, we should call for democratic self determination upto and including separation from the British State.
It should also be noted that the Tory opposition does not represent a British national bourgeoisie that we can ally with – it is a faction of the Finance Capitalists that want less regulation on the Banks and City of London represented by City Slicker Boris the Bastard.
The contradictions within the finance capitalist class in the City of London with Osborne representing one faction along with Cameron and Boris the Bastard and City scum Farage representing another should be welcomed – we should study and expose their internecine fighting.
There can be no joint platform with our class and national enemy in the UK or left cover being given to Boris and Farage’s anti EU positions which is precisely what Galloway is providing – even saying Farage is no racist.

Therefore in summary
(a) Our class position is not to just oppose the neoliberal European State but to smash it.
(b) Our position on the national question is to expose British Nationalism and support self determination and democracy for the all the nations of these islands.
(c) Given that the capitalist class in British Isles and particularly its finance capitalists are divided on this Brexit issue we should exploit the divisions and not unite with them under any circumstances.

Both factions are our enemies and are inimical to the interests of the working people of these islands.
We must call for the smashing of the British State just like we call for the smashing of the European superstate as both  represent our class enemies.

Given that we have just celebrated Lenin’s Birthday on 22nd April let us look at the Question posed in 1915 by Lenin in his polemic with Trotsky who supported the United States of Europe slogan and its relevance today.
Lenin wrote
“Of course, temporary agreements are possible between capitalists and between states. In this sense a United States of Europe is possible as an agreement between the European capitalists … but to what end?”
Lenin’s answer was
” Only for the purpose of jointly suppressing socialism in Europe, of jointly protecting colonial booty against Japan and America, who have been badly done out of their share by the present partition of colonies”

Trotsky disagreed with Lenin in 1915 and and again in 1923 repeats
“The United States of Europe”, is a slogan in every respect corresponding with the slogan “A Workers’, (or Workers’, and Peasants’, Government”. ( shades of Varoufakis and Owen Jones)

History has a way of clarifying the past as well as the present – the road of Lenin and anti imperialist revolution or the road of Trotsky and the revisionist swamp and liberalism,





Elsewhere, at an open meeting in a North London pub on 23rd June, organised under the rubic of the Maoist RED BLOCK, the New Communist Party’s Daphne Liddle and David Ayrton contributed to the debate on the European Referendum.
Daphne argued out. Ayrton, a former member of the North London CPB, a member of the London District Committee, and a past candidate for the EC, said: the issue (EU Referendum) is a sham, “the workers have no dog in this fight. Working class unity would be better served by following the Labour Leadership and the majority of the big trade unions in supporting the Remain campaign.” Dave Ayrton had resigned from the CPB in March over the EU issue and he joined the Labour Party.

The organisers of the meeting, Revol­ut­ionary Praxis group –  a component of the RED BLOCK –  opposed the referendum and bel­ieve to ‘leave’ vote was quite react­ionary step backwards in regard to con­sc­ious­ness.

“The left in gen­eral supp­orted ‘Lexit’ not only pander­ing to anti migrant worker rhe­t­oric but also sewing ill­us­ions in elector­alism. The ‘Lexit’ groups procl­aimed British pol­itics would shift to the left as a result. This has not been the case. The British cab­inet is now one of the most right wing ever, des­p­ite the pret­ence in Ther­esa May’s maiden spe­ech as Prem­ier. The revis­ionist left have also began to play ident­ity pol­itics in the form of por­traying the working class as all white, socially conservat­ive and ‘British’, directly bor­rowed from react­ionary com­m­enta­t­ors. Also showing cont­empt for the Irish people having the decis­ion imposed on them and cre­at­ing fur­ther divis­ion in their coun­try. Some leftists have attemp­ted to blame migrants for driving down wages and not cap­italism.”


Stat­em­ent by Revol­ut­ionary Praxis shortly before the referendum http://www.revolutionarypraxis.org/?p=229

EU Referendum: In or Out Monopoly Capitalism Reigns

Referendum second time around

The divisions within the British ruling class over European integration have reached a head with the EU referendum on June 23rd 2016.

This will be the second referendum on British membership of the European Union (formerly the European Economic Community), the first being in 1975 when similar divisions in the ruling class were inescapable as a result of the further development of the centralisation and concentration of capital. The referendum has also caused a great division among the British left, and indeed a great distraction from the development of the class struggle in Britain.

Divided ruling class

There is no point in regurgitating in detail the already familiar history of the EU’s development from 1946 onwards. Briefly the decline of European imperialism after World War 2 meant the European ruling class was faced with the challenge of US imperialism on the upturn, the strengthened Socialist bloc in the east and national liberation movements in the colonies and semi colonies. For the French, British, German, Dutch and Belgian imperialists the future was bleak. Their survival depended on more free trade between them, greater concentration and centralisation of productive forces ( the beginning of the EU was the European Coal and Steel Community) and finance capital. As the decades have moved on we have seen the introduction of bourgeois institutions such as the European Parliament, European Bank and plans for a European Army and Police Force.

The development of capitalism always tends towards the development of monopoly and centralisation. This trend was observed over a century and a half ago by Marx and Engels:

‘In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency we have intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations.’1

This has been the realisation of monopoly capitalism in the 20th century. The contradiction in this process is the partial erosion of the bourgeois ideology of nationalism based on the traditional nation state. In the process of the free flow of capital it is inevitable that there will be a freer flow of labour and less restrictive borders between traditional national boundaries. The superstructure therefore has to be bought into line with the creation of big capital and thus the old ideological straight jacket of nationalism based on the feudal state foundations needed to be abandoned. These contradictory developments can only be progressive in terms of the greater integration of workers of different nationalities and the eroding of the poisonous bourgeois nationalism of the past which has been used to divide the working class of nations and whipped up to encourage workers to fight for the ruling class against workers of another nation’s ruling class.

The decline of the European powers and the new rivalries they faced pushed them to further integration and centralisation. British imperialism was not keen to be involved at first and sought to preserve its independence and ‘special relationship’ with US imperialism as the junior partner. However in 1973 Britain joined and remained after the referendum voted to stay in 1975. The capitalist class in any nation is not homogeneous however and a section of the British ruling class has always wanted to attempt an independent existence from the European bloc. In recent years there has been tension between European imperialists and US imperialism over such issues as invading Iraq and the strategy towards dominating the Ukraine.

Britain has firmly supported the US and clearly some of the more reactionary sections of the capitalist class would like to be closer to the US and integrate further with US imperialism rather than the EU. The leading reactionaries in the US know that Britain would be useless today as an independent imperialist and this was expressed by Obama in his call for Britain to remain in the EU. The section of the British capitalists who wish to leave the EU of course believe British imperialism can carve out an independent role in dominating the oppressed countries without other European nations and in this sense they want to go backwards and appeal also to backward nationalist ideas and fears of migrants. The leader of UKIP (and independent frontage for disaffected Tory right wingers) Nigel Farage recently claimed the question of women’s safety would be central to the referendum on the basis that the EU allows peoples of different cultures to enter and then claims that these people will abuse women:

‘Frankly, if we are prepared to accept, or if Germany and Sweden are prepared to accept, unlimited numbers of young males, from countries and cultures where women are at best second-class citizens then, frankly, what do you expect? None of this is going to get better because the EU now is in negotiations with Turkey and [Turkish president] Mr Erdoğan plays a clever game, doesn’t he?’2

Clearly stooping to the most reactionary colonial stereotypes and prejudices. This section of the capitalist class wishes to keep the flames of nationalism burning into the 21st century! Although nationalist and racist sentiments are not as strong as in the past they are far from being a spent force and the right-wing out campaigns are blatantly trading on these reactionary ideologies.

British left stoops to a new low

The divisions among the ruling class will of course be reflected in the whole of society through their control of culture and media and this is also reflected in the majority of the British left. We have the Lexit campaign (the Left leave campaign group) and Another Europe is Possible (a leftist campaign to remain in the EU). Both these campaigns are devoid of any class content and sing to the tune of the two sections of Britain’s ruling class.

The Lexit campaign consists mainly of the rump of British revisionism in the CPB associated with the Morning Star newspaper, the Troto-Syndicalist SWP and its splinter group Counterfire, and the RMT union. This campaign correctly condemns the racist official Brexit campaign dominated by the Tories and UKIP. It is however a platform for reformism and Wedgwood Benn protectionism appealing to Little Englander mentality. The roots of this reformist agenda can be traced back to the revisionist document The British Road to Socialism which was the official abandonment of revolutionary politics by the CPGB in 1951 and the capitulation to Labourite reformism. The SWP/Counterfire’s devotion to Leon Trotsky would obviously lead them to the same Menshevik reformist position as their dead master.

The objections to the EU raised by the Lexiters present us with some of the most vomit inducing defences of bourgeois parliamentarianism; ‘Why the EU is a Negation of Parliamentary Sovereignty and Democracy’ screams the Morning Star of the 12th May. So we have a defence of the British capitalists right to exploit and oppress British workers exclusively through ‘Parliamentary Sovereignty’ based on the old feudal state boundaries rather than with their European counterparts. There is no difference for the working class either way! Many workers and the poor in Britain have no interest in defending the British Parliament’s sovereignty as they know it does not represent them and they have no illusions in this institution. Similar reformist sentiment is promoted by TUSC a front for the Trotskyite Socialist Party who have long jumped on the latest populist band wagon and appealed to racist sentiment as they did in the Lindsey Oil Refinery dispute.

The main argument from the Lexiters and those around them is that a British Parliament free from the EU constraints can allow the people of Britain to elect a left wing government which will take lots of utilities into state control and introduce economic protectionism to defend ‘British jobs’ and ‘British industry’. This is nothing but a reactionary dream which leads to nothing. The working class experienced this form of capitalist rule from the 1940s onwards. Exploitation and oppression were still the norm as were colonial wars and oppression of other nations. The conditions for this type of capitalist rule have long gone. British withdrawal from the EU would only strengthen British nationalism, restrict the movement of people and thus intensify racism, and an even more right wing Tory government led by Johnson would probably be installed. It is likely that many migrants from Eastern Europe would have to leave and any form of trade protectionism would lead to unemployment abroad. It would be turning the wheel of history backwards. We cannot let nationalism revive and divide workers. However the Lexit campaign tries to sell it, their pandering to the ‘leave’ vote revives anti-migrant rhetoric and nationalism.

It is unfortunate that some revolutionaries have also been affected by these outmoded ideological structures appealing to the sentimentality of petty bourgeois public opinion. The CPGB(M-L) has adopted a ‘leave’ line separate from the Lexit campaign. They quote Lenin’s opposition to the slogan of a United States of Europe among revolutionaries 100 years ago.

Lenin’s view on this must be looked at in the context it was written and not simply parroted and thrown around to justify a line of British sovereignty today.

The Remain camp of the British left is no better consisting of Trotskyites and reformists and if not openly liberals at first hand. The ‘Another Europe is Possible’ campaign calls for the EU to be reformed. This is to be done by every EU state electing left wing representatives and governments, but this is highly unlikely to happen all at once! As Marxists we reject any such delusional fairy tales as the EU being transformed into a ‘social Europe’. It is a capitalist organisation of nations and will not change! The ‘stay in’ campaign also promotes the institutions of the European Parliament which can only divert class anger into useless leftist electoral populism. They are sewing illusions in Bills of Rights and other legislation which mean nothing to the people of Greece for example who struggle to put food on the table. The only means of changing Europe as any other continent is social revolution.

Lenin on the ‘United States of Europe’

What did Lenin actually say and in what context?

‘From the standpoint of the economic conditions of imperialism—i.e., the export of capital and the division of the world by the “advanced” and “civilised” colonial powers—a United States of Europe, under capitalism, is either impossible or reactionary.’3

Lenin was correct, and he wrote this is 1915 when the European powers were engaged up to then in the most bloody war in human history to re-divide the world between them. Therefore it was impossible to call for a united Europe under such circumstances. An attempt to unite Europe under German imperialism by force was indeed reactionary and led to destruction on an unprecedented scale and the eventual defeat of German fascism by the heroic efforts of the USSR. This attempt to elevate Germano-European imperialism to a new global hegemonic empire and redivide the world died with Hitler in his imperial chancellery.

Since Lenin wrote those quoted lines the European powers have been long eclipsed by US imperialism and later also Soviet Social Imperialism, (the result of the USSR’s transformation after the revisionists seized power), which compelled them to have more than a temporary agreement and create a voluntary union of bourgeois democracies and the EEC was their answer to this challenge.

We should have no interest in preserving the old nation states of the imperialists like Britain. Their integration into a European state is a sign of their decline. We do not wish to involve ourselves in what is an impossible attempt at British imperialism‘s revival by the right wing Tory section of the ruling class.

The world situation has changed in the last century and today US imperialism is developing into a global state with increasing hegemony over the planet. The imperialists of Europe require a union to preserve their interests in the world in the face of the US. They are currently the junior partners to the US but there have been tensions and the future is not yet decided on which way the EU will turn. Hence the split in Britain‘s ruling class.

Capitalist monopoly sews the seeds of its own downfall

The constant development of capitalism towards monopoly forms creates the objective basis for socialism through the disappearance of national frameworks and the barriers between the old European nations have now gone. This also creates better conditions for the solidarity between Europe‘s working class. There have already been campaigns across Europe to oppose TTIP to name just one example. Workers in Europe will increasingly become conscious of a common and central enemy, European capitalism. Even non-member European states like Norway have to adhere to EU regulations and trading laws. Strong globalisation trends determine that integration is now impossible to resist anyway. Trying to reverse globalisation is a futile fantasy.

The revisionists and Trots who call for withdrawal wish to turn back the wheel of history. This is impossible. Only revolution can solve the contradictions. For these reasons Marx supported the development of free trade agreements between capitalist nations in Europe in the 19th century. He participated in the Free Trade Congress in Brussels in 1847. It did not mean he supported capitalism but saw that its further development would objectively bring closer the basis for heightened class struggles and socialism. Engels in his preface to the 1888 English edition of the pamphlet On the Question of Free Trade had this to say about Marx‘s support for the Free Trade campaign:

‘To him, Free Trade is the normal condition of modern capitalist production. Only under Free Trade can the immense productive powers of steam, of electricity, of machinery, be full developed; and the quicker the pace of this development, the sooner and the more fully will be realized its inevitable results; society splits up into two classes, capitalists here, wage-labourers there; hereditary wealth on one side, hereditary poverty on the other; supply outstripping demand, the markets being unable to absorb the ever growing mass of the production of industry; an ever recurring cycle of prosperity, glut, crisis, panic, chronic depression, and gradual revival of trade, the harbinger not of permanent improvement but of renewed overproduction and crisis; in short, productive forces expanding to such a degree that they rebel, as against unbearable fetters, against the social institutions under which they are put in motion; the only possible solution: a social revolution, freeing the social productive forces from the fetters of an antiquated social order, and the actual producers, the great mass of the people, from wage slavery. And because Free Trade is the natural, the normal atmosphere for this historical evolution, the economic medium in which the conditions for the inevitable social revolution will be the soonest created — for this reason, and for this alone, did Marx declare in favour of Free Trade.’4

Socialism will be achieved as an outcome of the forces inherent in historical development. This does not mean it is inevitable. With a scientific understanding of society through Marxism-Leninism-Maoism we can apply our subjective conscious understanding of the need for socialism upon the objective material conditions. Further integration of European superstructure and economy will further this task, it is an inherent contradiction of monopoly capitalism. Social being determines consciousness. The conditions are there for united European wide class struggles and these would enhance the political consciousness of British workers. For a start, they can learn from the current actions of French workers, if we can deconstruct the old national chauvinist attitudes towards the French all the better.

Nationalism is no answer

Attempts to reconstruct the outmoded ideology of national autonomy is backward and promotes reformist illusions. Communists must fight for the greatest unity of workers and oppressed peoples across the whole planet. When the objective conditions of capitalism‘s development facilitate this process we should intervene to support it. This is even more paramount with the rapid development of information technology and its affect on shrinking the world and making it even easier to unify. Along side this development is the US imperialist‘s global state which will face unprecedented resistance as the world situation develops further. The contradictions will also develop between the US, EU and the BRICS and we must always exploit these contradictions to the advantage of the working class and oppressed. The only way of transforming the world is social revolution, as through People‘s War being engaged in today in India by the vanguard of the oppressed people.

As Chairman Mao Tse-tung said the imperialists are paper Tigers, they may look scary and powerful but they are not. The decisive factor is not their power and weaponry but the people.

Whether Britain is in or out of the EU the same fundamental economic and political contradictions will continue to determine the character of British capitalism and thus perpetuate the oppression and exploitation of the great majority of the people in Britain. Voting either way in the EU Referendum will not alter this basic fact. In or out we need to focus on and develop struggles to defend living standards, to alleviate housing shortages, defend public services and combat racism.


1            Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels Basic Writings in Philosophy and Politics, Feuer, Lewis (Ed), P33, Fontana (1976)

2            Nigel Farage: Migrant sex attacks to be ‘nuclear bomb’ of EU referendum, The Guardian, June 5th2016

3            Sotsial-Demokrat No. 44, August 23, 1915. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demokrat. Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [197[4]], Moscow, Volume 21, pages 339-343.

4            On the Question of Free Trade, marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1888/free-trade/index.htm


Tirana builds an Internationale (2)

The Albanian Intervention

In light of the previously expressed judgement that “the Socialist camp had ceased to exist” (at the 10th CPC Congress in 1973), China’s inauguration of ‘Three World Theory’ was less a reconceptualisation of foreign policy on less ideologically based categories (i.e. class nature), and more a reapplication of tried and tested alliance-building strategies regardless of ideological affinity.

The genealogy of ‘The Three Worlds Theory’ suggests continuity in Communist China’s multi-polar conceptualisation of the world. There was a revival of the category of ‘intermediate zone’: the emphasis on Europe was not simply as an arena of confrontation, between the two superpowers with European states as accomplices of US imperialism, but subject to superpower domination. With the Soviet Union identified as an imperialist state, then the state-to-state relations with its “satellites” could be “cultivating outposts of resistance in the Soviet background” mirroring relations with Western European states in their alliance with the USA (Xiaoyuan 2004).

Mao’s comments to President Kaunda of Zambia saw a world system comprising of two superpowers (First World) developed industrialized nations forming a Second World, who exploited the developing countries but were also in turn exploited and bullied by the two superpowers. The Third World, consisting of the developing nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America, was exploited and oppressed by both.


Tirana builds an International2

Tirana builds an Internationale (1)

This article –posted in four parts- outlines the attitudes, developments and reasons why the early anti-revisionist expectation of a Marxist-Leninist international was not forth coming.

It is far from comprehensive in its coverage of all the factors involved – especially in terms of Albanian relationship with neighbouring Yugoslav – but concentrates on the newly emerged communist movement that looked to the anti-revisionist centres of Tirana and Beijing in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

Internet Sources can be exhaustive but these four provide an excellent beginning: without a hint of irony, one of the premier websites to maintain the work of Enver Hoxha is the Russian site, www.enverhoxha.ru. There is a Hoxha library maintained at the Marxist Internet Archive https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hoxha/works-index.htm that is far easier to navigate,   while the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line provides access to an extensive range of Albanian anti-revisionist material in the English language https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/albania/index.htm. Well worth a trawl is the website of Michael Harrison http://michaelharrison.org.uk/albania-pamphlets-and-magazines/  providing an archive of documents, speeches, magazines and general articles that were produced in (and about) Albania during its attempts at socialist construction.

Many of the articles and sources used throughout the article now have a web presence, so google them if further reading is so desired.



The struggle against modern revisionism

“Marxism-Leninism gives us the right to say our word and this law can take nobody away from us neither by political and economic pressure nor by threats or etiquettes which one fastens to us.”

(Enver Hoxha at the Meeting of 81 Communist and Workers’ parties in Moscow on November 16, 1960 )

In the early 1960s the dominant established, and largely pro-Soviet leadership expelled communists like Jacques Grippa in Belgium who sought to build a movement around the perception of Soviet Union’s rejection of Marxism’s main ideological tenets. The majority of organisations were small and isolated formed by members opposed to the ‘revisionism’ of the Communist Parties: exemplified in Britain by Michael McCreery’s Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity and the Kommunistisk Arbjdskrets- Communist Working Circle – led by Gottfred Appel in Denmark. Communists such as these identified with the Sino-Albanian side of the polemic largely because the arguments reflected their own concerns and criticisms of their own party leadership as well as in reaction to the anti-Stalin criticism of the CPSU under Khrushchev.

The initial wave of activists were anti-revisionists, defending an orthodoxy of Leninism and initially characterised by pro-Stalin sentiments, regarding criticism of Stalin, such as Khrushchev’s 1956 ‘Secret Speech’, as an attack on the experience of building socialism in the Soviet Union. In opposing the Soviet notion of a party and state “of the whole people”, opponents were wary of anything that diluted a “Leninist” party focused on factory-based workers in domestic politics. They looked to Albania and China and saw their own concerns reflected in the criticism made of the Soviet Union’s leadership and its policies.

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Tirana builds an International1

Sounds from the Ether : Radio Tirana

Hear Skanderbeg in a conversation and it probably reveals a youthful passion because before the Internet was widespread, short-wave radio was the most immediate way to get first-hand reports from all over the world. And Skanderberg would have been the subject of many talks on Radio Tirana, the English-speaking Albanian equivalent of the BBC World Service. Enter into correspondences, and in return postcards, books, tourist information,  personally written letters , the programme schedule and Badge

Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) (Albanian Radio and Television) had been established on 28 November 1938. Under the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, Radio Tirana belonged to the group of the world’s most powerful radio stations submitted abroad in foreign languages- even though Albania is a small country with only 2 million inhabitants at that time. At the time, Radio Tirana had the most powerful medium wave transmitter in Europe (1000kW). The transmitter based at in Lushnjë – in Central-West Albania near the Adriatic was built by her Chinese comrades in the 1960s. Radio Tirana also had quite a powerful signal on shortwave at 9480 kHz. Radio tirana

From November 1964 there were regular and sustained foreign language programs presenting the Albania uncompromising Marxist-Leninist worldview. Foreign-language external radio services were—and inevitably still are—sources of propaganda. Radio Tirana had its own delights through the crackles and fade in and outs of sound from the radio, with exhortations to write in with reception reports. This plea can still be occasional heard on World Radio Network , the digital channel providing a selection of current international short-wave radio broadcasts from throughout the world .

Amidst the calls for militant class struggle against US Imperialism and Soviet Social Imperialism, extracts from the works of Comrade Enver Hoxha were read out. In pre-internet days the distribution of English-material from the various foreign language publishing houses were largely restricted to embassies, friendship organisation and small Marxists groups. The programme What We Saw in Socialist Albania offered interviews with foreign visitors to Albania. The Albanian authorities through invitations for delegations to visit the country and attend party congresses and supply of literature from the <8 Nentori> Publishing House, supported and cultivated the young Marxist-Leninist organisation. Listening to Radio Tirana was a reliable channel of information about Albanian policies and positions. As Enver Hoxha
“Our confidence and determination in the victory of world proletarian revolution become strong and we rejoice when we see the formation and consolidation everywhere of the new communist Marxist-Leninist parties. It is a great experience which we gain from the joint experience of all the communist Marxist-Leninists parties, big or small, old and young…. The great Marxist-Leninist unity between Marxist-Leninist revolutionary parties is being tempered in struggle and in revolution.”
Besides ‘Zeri I Popullit’ editorials, Radio Tirana would broadcast “A Review of the Marxist-Leninist Movements Across the World”. In the section Leafing Through the Marxist-Leninist Press there were roundups of the activities of the all the pro-Albanian M-L parties including quoting from “Workers’ Weekly” newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). It received more press coverage from the Albanian media than it ever did in Britain. [Although its spokesperson was once interviewed briefly on BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour, January 4, 2004 ].
They also had the occasional programme of revolutionary music from aKPD_advertround the world, included some pieces by the musicians of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). There were in different languages the promotion of the need for revolution beit in the German language broadcasts, and Polish Communist Kazimierz Mijal had his anti-regime opinions broadcast in Polish from 1966 to 1978.
The Albanian revolutionary song With a Pickaxe in One Hand and a Rifle in the Other served as the signature tune of Radio Tirana’s foreign language broadcasts. The pickaxe and rifle were part of the logo of Albanian Radio-Television during this period, and there was the practice of playing “The Internationale” at the end of each broadcast. It was a reciprocal relationship as the newspapers carried promotions for the radio broadcast service.
Now, employing the Isobel Oakeshott defence around the fictious Cameron pig story, I don’t recall the accent of the radio announcer, it may have well been a New Zealand accent – the Communist Party of New Zealand had sided with Albania in the 1960s during the ideological break with the revisionists in the Soviet Union, and again in the late 1970s when Albania condemned as “anti-Marxist” its former Chinese allies. However Blogsphere gossip names the woman with ‘the interesting accent’ who worked as a Radio Tirana announcer as June Taylor (her married name being June Prifti). She accompanied her father (a New Zealand dentist) to Albania in the early 1970s and got a job at the radio station as one of the main English language female presenter of Radio Tirana during the 1970s. She stayed there for around 20 years. Gossip has June and her husband returning to New Zealand in the 1980s.
Now this might have as much substance as the story of Cameron’s encounter with a pig and what adds to the confusion is that leading Albanian supporter Bill Bland was a dentist who had lived in New Zealand. Maybe the mash up narrative illustrates the surreal wonder that came over the airwaves from 1970s Radio Tirana.