Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Friday, May 11, 2007

Histomat exclusive: Gordon Brown's 'secret speech'

In an astonishing speech to Party activists, Gordon Brown, the Stalinist bureaucrat widely expected to replace Dear Leader Blair, today denounced what he called 'the cult of the individual' which had grown up within the Party and called for 'a new leadership' with 'new ideas' for a 'new time'. We have been fortunate enough to have seen the full transcript of this explosive speech, and now are proud to publish it for the first time on our blog:

'The cult of the individual' by Gordon Brown, delivered to the 200th Congress of the Labour Party of Great Britain, London, May 11 2007.

Comrades! In the meetings of the central committee of the Labour Party of Great Britain, quite a lot has been said about the cult of the individual and about its harmful consequences. After Blair's departure, the committee began to implement a policy of explaining concisely and consistently that it is impermissible and foreign to the spirit of Democratic Socialism to elevate one person, to transform him into a superman possessing supernatural characteristics, akin to those of a god. Such a man supposedly knows everything, sees everything, thinks for everyone, can do anything, is infallible in his behaviour.

Such a belief about a man, and specifically about Blair, was cultivated among us for many years. The objective of the present report is not a thorough evaluation of Blair's life and activity. Concerning Blair's merits, an entirely sufficient number of books, pamphlets and studies had already been written in his lifetime. Blair's role in the preparation and execution of the 'Blair Revolution' (as it was called), in the construction of the millennium dome, and in the fight for the construction of socialism in our country, is universally known. Everyone knows it well.

At present, we are concerned with a question which has immense importance for the party now and for the future - with how the cult of the person of Blair has been gradually growing, the cult which became at a certain specific stage the source of a whole series of exceedingly serious and grave perversions of party principles, of party democracy, of international legality regarding issues of war and peace.
[Commotion in the hall]

Because not all as yet realise fully the practical consequences resulting from the cult of the individual, the great harm caused by violation of the principle of collective party direction and by the accumulation of immense and limitless power in the hands of one person, the central committee considers it absolutely necessary to make material pertaining to this matter available to the 200th congress of the Labour Party of Great Britain.

We have to consider seriously and analyse correctly this matter in order that we may preclude any possibility of a repetition in any form whatever of what took place during the life of Blair, who absolutely did not tolerate collegiality in leadership and in work, and who practiced brutal violence, not only toward everything which opposed him, but also toward that which seemed, to his capricious and despotic character, contrary to his concepts.

Blair acted not through persuasion, explanation and patient cooperation with people, but by imposing his concepts and demanding absolute submission to his opinion. Whoever opposed these concepts or tried to prove his [own] viewpoint and the correctness of his [own] position was doomed to removal from the leadership collective and to subsequent moral and physical annihilation. This was especially true during the period following the 170th party congress, when many prominent party leaders and rank-and-file party workers, honest and dedicated to the cause of communism, fell victim to Blair's despotism. Remember Robin Cook, Mo Mowlem, Donald Dewar? All potential leadership rivals who at one time or another expressed doubt towards Blair. We all know what happened to them.

We must affirm that the party fought a serious fight against the Trotskyites, trade unionists and bourgeois nationalists, and that it disarmed ideologically all the enemies of Democratic Socialism. This ideological fight was carried on successfully, as a result of which the party became strengthened and tempered. Here Blair played a positive role, driving wreckers like George Galloway out into the wilderness, but not at that time actually murdering such 'enemies of the Party'.

But it was in particular when it came to spreading the revolution internationally, Blair abandoned the method of ideological struggle for that of administrative violence, mass repressions and terror, in Serbia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and, last but not least, Iraq. He acted on an increasingly larger scale and more stubbornly through punitive organs, at the same time often violating all existing norms of morality and of British and international laws.

Arbitrary behaviour by one person encouraged and permitted arbitrariness in others. Mass arrests and deportations of many thousands of people, execution without trial and without normal investigation created conditions of insecurity, fear and even desperation. And all this in the guise of fighting against 'terrorists'!

This, of course, did not contribute toward unity of the party ranks and of all strata of working people, but, on the contrary, brought about annihilation and the expulsion from the party of workers who were loyal but inconvenient to Blair.

Our party fought for the implementation of plans for the construction of socialism. This was an ideological fight. Had Socialist principles been observed during the course of this fight, had the party's devotion to principles been skillfully combined with a keen and solicitous concern for people, had they not been repelled and wasted but rather drawn to our side, we certainly would not have had such a brutal violation of revolutionary legality and many thousands of people would not have fallen victim to the method of terror. Extraordinary methods would then have been resorted to only against those people who had in fact committed criminal acts against the British system.

It is clear that here Blair showed in a whole series of cases his intolerance, his brutality and his abuse of power. Instead of proving his political correctness and mobilising the masses, he often chose the path of repression and physical annihilation, not only against actual enemies, but also against individuals who had not committed any crimes against the party and the British Government. Here we see no wisdom but only a demonstration of the brutal force which had once so alarmed his predecessors.

Blair, using his unlimited power, allowed himself many abuses, acting in the name of the central committee, not asking for the opinion of the committee members nor even of the members of the central committee's civil service; often he did not inform them about his personal decisions concerning very important party and government matters.

Considering the question of the cult of an individual, we must first of all show everyone what harm this caused to the interests of our party. In practice, Blair ignored the norms of party life and trampled on the Socialist principle of collective party leadership.

There is no clearer example of this than war on Iraq which resulted in the deaths of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 innocent people, who were branded 'enemies'. This was the result of the abuse of power by Blair, who began to use mass terror against ordinary people. What is the reason that mass repressions against innocent people increased more and more after the war on Serbia and then the war on Afghanistan? It was because at that time Blair had so elevated himself above the party and above the nation that he ceased to consider either the central committee or the party.

Blair still reckoned with the opinion of the collective before achieving full power in 1997. After the complete political liquidation of the Trotskyites and other trade unionist wreckers from the Party, however, when the party had achieved unity, Blair to an ever greater degree stopped considering the members of the party's central committee. Blair thought that now he could decide all things alone and that all he needed were statisticians. He treated all others in such a way that they could only listen to him and praise him.

When he passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act, this directive became the basis for mass acts of abuse against all legality. During many of the fabricated court cases, the accused were charged with "the preparation" of terroristic acts; this deprived them of any possibility that their cases might be re-examined, even when they stated before the court that their "confessions" were secured by force, and when, in a convincing manner, they disproved the accusations against them.

Mass repressions had a negative influence on the moral-political condition of the party, created a situation of uncertainty, contributed to the spreading of unhealthy suspicion, and sowed distrust among socialists. All sorts of slanderers and careerists were active in the Party.

The power accumulated in the hands of one person, Blair, led to serious consequences during the Terror War on the people of Iraq.

When we look at many of our novels, films and historical-scientific studies, the role of Blair in the Terror War appears to be entirely improbable. Blair had foreseen everything, including the danger of Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. When Saddam was removed from power and it was declared 'mission accomplished' in Iraq, this was seen as being completely due to the strategic genius of Blair.

We have to analyse this matter carefully because it has a tremendous significance not only from the historical, but especially from the political, educational and practical points of view. What are the facts of this matter?

Before the war, our press and all our political-educational work was characterised by its bragging tone: When an enemy violates the holy American soil, then for every blow of the enemy we will answer with three wars, and we will battle the enemy on his soil and we will win without much harm to ourselves. But these positive statements were not based in all areas on concrete facts, which would actually guarantee the immunity of our borders.

We now know however that all the experts were telling Blair: 'Saddam has no Weapons of Mass Destruction - Attacking Iraq will create more terrorists as it will create only more hatred towards the West'. As we see now, everything was ignored by Blair: warnings of certain army commanders, declarations of deserters from the enemy army, and even the open hostility of the enemy. Is this an example of the alertness of the chief of the party and of the state at this particularly significant historical moment?

And what were the results of this carefree attitude, this disregard of clear facts? The result was that now the enemy in Iraq has destroyed a large part of our air force, our artillery and other military equipment, and killed well over 100 British soldiers into the bargain. Therefore, the threatening danger which now hangs over our country in the initial period of the war was largely due to Blair's very own faulty methods of directing the nation and the party.

In the same vein, let us take for instance our historical and military films and some [of our] literary creations. They make us feel sick. Their true objective is propagating the theme of praising Blair as a military genius. Everything is shown to the people in this false light. Why? To surround Blair with glory - contrary to the facts and contrary to historical truth.

We must state that, after the war, the situation became even more complicated. Blair became even more capricious, irritable and brutal. In particular, his suspicion grew. His persecution mania reached unbelievable dimensions. Many workers became enemies before his very eyes. After the war, Blair separated himself from the collective even more. Everything was decided by him alone without any consideration for anyone or anything.

Comrades! The cult of the individual caused the employment of faulty principles in party work and in economic activity. It brought about rude violation of internal party and British democracy, sterile administration, deviations of all sorts, cover-ups of shortcomings, and varnishings of reality. Our nation bore forth many flatterers and specialists in false optimism and deceit.

We should also not forget that, due to the numerous arrests of party, political and economic leaders, many workers began to work uncertainly, showed overcautiousness, feared all which was new, feared their own shadows, and began to show less initiative in their work.

Take, for instance, party and parliamentary resolutions. They were prepared in a routine manner, often without considering the concrete situation. This went so far that Party MPs, even during the smallest sessions of Parliament, read [prepared] speeches. All this produced the danger of formalising the party and political work and of bureaucratising the whole apparatus.

We have seen how Blair, abusing his power more and more, began to fight eminent party and government leaders and to use terrorist methods against honest Iraqi people.

Comrades! So as not to repeat errors of the past, the central committee has declared itself resolutely against the cult of the individual. We consider that Blair was extolled to excess. However, in the past Blair undoubtedly performed great services to the party, to the working class and to the international workers' movement.

This question is complicated by the fact that all this which we have just discussed was done during Blair's life under his leadership and with his concurrence; here Blair was convinced that this was necessary for the defence of the interests of the working classes against the plotting of enemies and against the attack of the terrorist camp.

He saw this from the position of the interest of the working class, of the interest of the labouring people, of the interest of the victory of socialism and communism. We cannot say that these were the deeds of a giddy despot. He considered that his wars should be done in the interest of the party, of the working masses, in the name of the defence of the revolution's gains. In this lies the whole tragedy!

Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all; we must draw the proper conclusions concerning both ideological-theoretical and practical work. It is necessary for this purpose, in a Democratic Socialist manner, to condemn and to eradicate the cult of the individual as alien to Democratic Socialism and not consonant with the principles of party leadership and the norms of party life, and to fight inexorably all attempts at bringing back this practice in one form or another.

We must return to and actually practice in all our ideological work the most important theses of Democratic Socialist science about the people as the creator of history and as the creator of all material and spiritual good of humanity, about the decisive role of the Labour party in the revolutionary fight for the transformation of society, about the victory of communism.

In this connection we will be first forced to do much work in order to examine critically from the Democratic Socialist viewpoint and to correct the widely spread erroneous views connected with the cult of the individual in the spheres of history, philosophy, economy and of other sciences, as well as in literature and the fine arts. It is especially necessary that in the immediate future we compile a serious textbook of the history of our party which will be edited in accordance with scientific Socialist objectivism, a textbook of the history of British society, a book pertaining to the events of the Great Terror War.

Second, to continue systematically and consistently the work done by the party's central committee during the last years, a work characterised by minute observation in all party organisations, from the bottom to the top, of the Socialist principles of party leadership, characterised, above all, by the main principle of collective leadership, characterised by the observance of the norms of party life described in the statutes of our party, and, finally, characterised by the wide practice of criticism and self-criticism.

Third, to restore completely the Democratic principles of British Socialist democracy, expressed in the constitution of Great Britain, to fight wilfulness of individuals abusing their power. The evil caused by acts violating revolutionary socialist legality which have accumulated during a long time as a result of the negative influence of the cult of the individual has to be completely corrected.

Comrades! The 200th congress of the Labour party of Great Britain has manifested with a new strength the unshakable unity of our party, its cohesiveness around the central committee, its resolute will to accomplish the great task of building Socialism.

(Tumultuous applause.)

And the fact that we present in all their ramifications the basic problems of overcoming the cult of the individual which is alien to Democratic-Socialism, as well as the problem of liquidating its burdensome consequences, is evidence of the great moral and political strength of our party.

(Prolonged applause.)

We are absolutely certain that our party, armed with the historical resolutions of the 200th Congress, will lead the British people along the Socialist path to new successes, to new victories.

(Tumultuous, prolonged applause.)

Long live the victorious banner of our party - Democratic Socialism!

(Tumultuous, prolonged applause ending in ovation. All rise.)

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At 6:46 am, Blogger Libertad Combativa said...

My name's Libertad. I'm a trotskist militant on Argentina.

I was know your blog when i was find "trosky" word in google blogs search.
I was read many writes of SWP and Respect. In my country, the Lefts parties where write much articles about your policy and ideology. I don't know many about marxism on england but i want know.
ok, i want your answer.It's my blog in english (sorry, my practice isn't good) http://marx-notes.blogspot.com andmy other blog (in spanish) http://libertadalosqueluchan.blogspot.com

At 11:42 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Hiya Libertad, thanks for this.

Your blog looks interesting and I will link to it - your English is much better than my Spanish.

The Socialist Workers Party is part of the International Socialist Tendency - a copy of a recent analysis on the current international situation is available in Spanish here

What the IST stands for is here We stand in the revolutionary Communist tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Left Opposition under Trotsky but we are not orthodox Trotskyists.

We do not have a group in Argentina as you probably know but we have a group in Uruguay - Socialismo Internacional - see

Chris Harman wrote an article in English on Argentina back in 2002 which may be of interest here where he also is critical of the existing Left in the country as you seem to be - and has written more recently on Latin America and 'popular power' in International Socialism Journal - for example here.

Hope some of that is of help to you. Please feel free to ask if you have any questions etc.


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