server problems?

server problems?

Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

September 30th, 2008, 12:43 pm #1

Some postings / threads seem to have disappeared - or have I started to dream? Has the network54 become the notwork54 for a brief period?
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Guy Burgess
Guy Burgess

September 30th, 2008, 1:00 pm #2

It's happened before. The whole network was down this morning.


Guy
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F division
F division

September 30th, 2008, 1:34 pm #3

The missing post gave a figure for the membership of the NCP. But don't worry - the boys at the Branch noted its contents and are checking it against our data now.
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PC Plod
PC Plod

September 30th, 2008, 2:59 pm #4

I wonder what could have happened to that post, must be some gremlins in the system... I can't imagine it was deleted... why would anyone do that?
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

September 30th, 2008, 4:31 pm #5

As the missing post claimed that the current national membership of the NCP was 70, perhaps the same person who keeps unediting the Wikipedia entry on the NCP. In a missing response to the missing post I asked if anyone had a record of Sid French's (?) foundational speech on the formation of the NCP, about building a mass or even massive party of the working class, or something like that. But as has been said, surely no-one would do that . . .

Let's see if this post disappears too. It all reminds me of Galileo's comment that even if the Inquisition refused to look through the telescope, the earth still went round the sun ("And yet it moves").
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Kim Philby
Kim Philby

September 30th, 2008, 5:28 pm #6

Not sure what speech you're talking about Jeremy. Do you mean at the public meeting in Merton in the summer of 1977, the one at the decision to form the NCP in July 1977,the speech he gave at first provisional congress or the opening of the first Congress of the NCP later that year?

I don't suppose there's any record of the Merton speech and the meeting in London which went for the formation of a new party was closed and no records were kept. The records of the first congress of the NCP were published as a supplement in the New Worker at the time and a copy is available at the Marx Memorial Library.

But I doubt whether Sid ever talked about a "mass" party then because by the time of the first Congress he would have known that what he'd got was all that he was going to get in the wake of the CPGB Congress.

Sid French, as I recall, was not prone to exaggeration and he never held out any hope of building a "mass" party at the "factional" discussions held in the spring run up to the 1977 Congress. I don't know what district you belonged to in those days but you may recall that the Surrey District which was his base was the smallest in the country with a paper membership of circa 650. I guess half went into the NCP. A small band of loyalists (literally about a score or so) remained in the CPGB and the rest didn't recard at the end of the year. The rest of the NCP's membership initially came mainly from groups in Sussex, Yorkshire, North East and the Black Country. In London (District) there was only a handful, mainly from Hackney, as Fergus Nicholson retained the support of most of the anti-BRS opposition in the capital.

Originally the proposal was for a "mass" walk-out of delegates at Congress when the revised BRS draft was passed. This changed, as I recall, when Sid French discovered that was that he was going to be expelled prior to the 1977 Congress anyway and that in any case the revised BRS would be passed whatever happened because the combined number of delegates that Nicholson's proto-Straight Left and the Surrey District could mobilise would easily be defeated even if the Congress wasn't rigged.

He was interviewed in the Guardian in the summer of 1977 soon after or just prior to the split in the CPGB and that may be what you're thinking of. I haven't got a copy and I doubt whether it's on the Web. What I do recall is that Sid talked about some five thousand leaving the CPGB. In one way he was proved right as I believe the CPGB's membership fell by some six to seven thousand in 1977 but most of them did not join the NCP.

pip,pip,

H A R Philby
(Col.ret'd)
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 7:50 am

September 30th, 2008, 5:50 pm #7

I don't have a clear memory of where and when the speech took place. But it was soon after the NCP was formed, and I was then in the Sunderland branch of the CPGB. What did stick in my mind was a form of words that struck me at the time as grossly unrealistic, suggesting that the NCP would quickly become a large and powerful party. As it was, those I knew who joined the NCP went on being what they were before - the active ones active, the inactive ones inactive. I know that by about 1980 one of the active ones was overheard complaining the the local CPGB branch was more active than the NCP one, measured in public activity. And that was true. What it was like elsewhere in the UK I don't know.

The sad truth is that the euros thought that the CPGB would explode into growth and activity once the stalinists were got rid of, while those who left to join the NCP thought much the same in mirror terms. And so on through every split. In fact every split meant a reduction in active cadres, not the opposite. And each time there would be someone to quote Lenin to the effect that "better smaller, than better", until it actually just meant "better smaller". Well, it's pretty good now, isn't it?
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Kim Philby
Kim Philby

September 30th, 2008, 7:08 pm #8

Jeremy,

While it's true that the CPGB had circa 30,000 members in 1977 and now the total number of organised communists in Britain in four or five parties can't be more than a couple of thousand (with say half in the CPB) you can't conclude that this is solely done to the splits in the movement. I'm not saying you do but that seems to be your drift.

I can, of course, recognise the attitude of cadres in all four camps in 1977 that you describe. Euros who told me they would take off once the "tankies" were gone; NCPers who believed that "recognition" from the Sovs would lead to a tidal wave in their favour; Straight Lefters with their not-so-secret faction thinking that it would end in triumph and the King Street crowd calculating that the party would go on forever on the wave of roubles via Messrs Mathews and Falber.

Other factors have to be taken into account like the collapse of the Soviet Union (which accounted for a big slide in the membership of the CPB and to a lesser degree in the NCP) and the liquidation of the CPGB which at the death still had 6,000 plus members on the book. We can see the collapse of the millions-strong French and Italian parties (which were not hit by the ruptures of the old CPGB on the same scale) over the same period.

This isn't an argument for the "joys of sects" as one Trotskyist satirist put it but simply a pointer to the broader question of why the British communist movement has declined over the past thirty years.

pip,pip,

H A R Philby
(Col.ret'd)


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Challenger
Challenger

September 30th, 2008, 8:44 pm #9

"now the total number of organised communists in Britain in four or five parties can't be more than a couple of thousand (with say half in the CPB)"

Let's be realistic please.

1,000 for the CPB leaving another 1,000 for the ranks of the NCP, RCPB(ML) and CPGB(ML)?

Being generous - the NCP circa 60, CPGB(ML) maybe the same and the RCPB(ML) half that. No more than 200 combined and certainly no-where near 1,000 plus.
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NM
NM

September 30th, 2008, 9:55 pm #10

I don't have a clear memory of where and when the speech took place. But it was soon after the NCP was formed, and I was then in the Sunderland branch of the CPGB. What did stick in my mind was a form of words that struck me at the time as grossly unrealistic, suggesting that the NCP would quickly become a large and powerful party. As it was, those I knew who joined the NCP went on being what they were before - the active ones active, the inactive ones inactive. I know that by about 1980 one of the active ones was overheard complaining the the local CPGB branch was more active than the NCP one, measured in public activity. And that was true. What it was like elsewhere in the UK I don't know.

The sad truth is that the euros thought that the CPGB would explode into growth and activity once the stalinists were got rid of, while those who left to join the NCP thought much the same in mirror terms. And so on through every split. In fact every split meant a reduction in active cadres, not the opposite. And each time there would be someone to quote Lenin to the effect that "better smaller, than better", until it actually just meant "better smaller". Well, it's pretty good now, isn't it?
The fundamental misconception at the NCP's foundation was that the CPSU was remotely concerned about "revisionism" and would therefore recognise the NCP's virtue in that regard. The CPSU had long given up caring about the niceties of a party's internal politics, within reason. It liked size, it liked newspapers it could allow language students within the USSR to read, and it wanted to preserve the outward pretence of a united international communist movement and avoid unnecessary conflicts with fraternal parties. The CPGB had over 20000 members at the end of 1977, a daily paper, a degree of influence within the left, and a line which, although not uncritical, was quite friendly enough to the USSR. The NCP, with no more than 500 members at the outset, had nothing to offer except a sycophantic loyalty the CPSU did not need. It therefore never stood a chance of winning the Moscow franchise, and without it, the party never quite managed to find its raison d'etre.
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