1920: The Communist Party - Provisional Resolutions towards a Programme

Pankhurst's programme for the new British Communist Party was expressive of the "ultra-left" tendency that criticised working within the existing bourgeois structures of trade union bureaucracies and parliamentary parties. Lenin, in his counter-revolutionary manual "Left Wing Communism - An Infantile Disorder", defended such reformist policies as he criticised Pankhurst and other "ultra-lefts".

Submitted by libcom on January 13, 2006

[size=16]Communist Party

(British section of the Third International)[/size]

Provisional resolutions towards a programme

(As outlined at the conference of June 19th and 20th, 1920, for the consideration of branches and individual members, pending the National Conference to be held in September. Amendments and additions should be sent to the Secretary for the conference agenda.)

* * *

The Communist Party is based on the historic Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels.

The Communist Party bases its conditions of membership on the acceptance of the following cardinal principles:

1. The complete overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of Communism.
2. The class struggle.
3. The dictatorship of the proletariat.
4. The Soviet or Revolutionary Workers' Council system.
5. Affiliation to the Third International.
6. Refusal to engage in Parliamentary action.
7. Non-affiliation to the Labour Party.


Principal aims

Capitalism to be replaced by communism

The Communist Party aims at the complete overthrow of Capitalism; the abolition of private property; the socialisation of the land, the means of production and distribution; and the establishment of Communism, a classless order of free human beings living on terms of economic and political equality, safeguarded from material want and assured of ample means of subsistence.

Substitution of the Soviets for the parliamentary system

The abolition of Parliament and of the existing local governing bodies and the substitution of this form of capitalist representation and control by a Soviet system of national and local councils.

Abolition of wages system

The abolition of wages system, and the establishment of the right of all human beings to the free satisfaction of their personal needs from the natural resources of the country.

The abolition of social classes

The abolition of social classes and all titles of rank, the sharing by all able-bodied adults in the necessary labour to the community.

The breaking up of empires

The breaking up of all empires, since these are instruments of capitalist oppression and exploitation, and to the establishment of a world federation of communist republics, and the consequent abolition of all racial and national barriers. Whose over lives and works in a Soviet republic is entitled to all the rights of citizenship.

The workers' revolution and dictatorship

The Communist Party recognizes that the capitalists will not allow themselves to be deposed except by force, and that capitalism can only be overthrown by workers' revolution. It also believes that the revolution will be accomplished by industrial mass action, leading to armed insurrection.

Therefore the Communist Party believes that the dictatorship of the proletariat must be vigorously applied until the transition period from Capitalism to Communism has been safely passed and the counter-revolution completely suppressed.

The Party aims therefore at the disarming of the Army, Navy and police force created under capitalism, and the creation of a workers' Red Army and Navy, and the arming of all trusted workers. All workers shall be trained to flight in defence of the workers' revolution. The military instruction of the Red Army shall be accompanied by the teaching of Communism and class solidarity. Trusted Communists, elected by Soviets, shall work in conjunction with the Military experts.

When the transition period is entirely over, and the world federation of Soviets republics is established, the need for Red Armies and navies will have disappeared.

The proletarian dictatorship will not misinterpret the principle of the freedom of the press into allowing newspapers and other publications to advocate the return of a state of society that was based upon class exploitation. With this limitation only, the discussion of ethical and economic ideals and principles of administration and social organisation will be unrestricted, and the press will be entirely free.

The proletarian dictatorship will deprive of political power all those who attempt to perpetuate or re-introduce capitalist exploitation, and who refuse to do socially useful work.


The workers must be prepared not merely to "down tools", but to seize the power of governments, to carry on production, and to defend their conquests by force. With this end in view, the Party will organize:

a. to seize control of production;
b. to win the allegiance of the Army and Navy to the cause of the workers, as opposed to that of the Capitalist State, in preparation for the revolutionary struggle, and the creation of a Red Army.

Industrial organisation

In the countries of bourgeois democracy and long-standing Trade Unionism, a tendency is evident towards Trade Union bureaucracy, which becomes more and more an adjunct and support to the capitalist system. The Communist Party will therefore stimulate the growth of the rank and file organization, in order to undermine the influence of reactionary Trade Union leaders over the rank and file, so that the masses may learn to act in unison, that they may be ready to set up Soviets, and to seize control of production in the moments of crisis.

The old Trade Unionism is already in process of transformation. In some industries existing organisations are being adapted towards Sovietism by the force of rank and file effort, in others new industrial organizations are formed, in others unofficial rank and file organisms challenge the official institutions. When the revolutionary seizure of power has been accomplished, this process will be accelerated. The existing organisations will either be socialised with comparative rapidity or they will be superseded altogether.

After the crisis is passed, the existing unions may be converted for Communist administration, but experience teaches that in the hour of crisis no official revolutionary action can be expected from the general body of Trade Unions. The policy of the Communist Party will therefore be:

a. To form a revolutionary Communist group in every workshop and Trade Union branch.
b. To promote the organization of unofficial industrial organizations.
c. To support all strikes, and to endeavour to give them a revolutionary trend, exposing the futility of efforts to secure mere increases of land-workers is an urgent necessity.

The propagation of Communist ideas amongst the land-workers is an important part of Communist work.

Co-operative workers

The Communist Party desires that the Co-operative employees shall form part of the revolutionary proletariat, and assist in organizing the industries in which they work. The Co-operative stores and factories will be socialised like all others.

Not parliament but the Soviets

The Communist Party, believing that instruments of capitalist organization and domination cannot be used for revolutionary ends, refrains from participation in Parliament and in the Bourgeois Local Government system. It will ceaselessly impress upon the workers that their salvation lies not in the organ of the bourgeois "democracy", but through the Workers' Soviets.

The Communist Party refuses all compromise with Right and Centrist Socialism. The British Labour Party is dominated by Opportunist Reformists, Social Patriots, and Trade Union Bureaucrats, who have already allied themselves with capitalism against the workers' revolution at home and abroad. The construction and constitution of the British Labour Party is such that the working masses cannot express themselves through it. It is affiliated and will remain affiliated to the Second International, so long as that so-called International shall exist.

No affiliation with opportunists

The first essential of revolutionary propaganda and action is the existence of a Party with clear and uncompromising doctrine and policy, which will persistently unmask and discredit the parties of opportunism and compromise. A unity that is a unity in name only, is a source of weakness, and not of strength. The spirit of self-discipline and sacrifice which will animate all members of the Communist Party is a guarantee that in the coming struggle the Party will be faithful to the proletariat.

The Third International

The Third, or Red International, is organized for the binding together of the workers throughout the world to fight the forces of International Capitalism and Imperialism.

The Soviets

The Soviets are built up mainly on an occupational basis, and are at once the instrument of the dictatorship of the working class and the means of organizing the Communist Society. To them will fall the political direction of the Republic, its foreign and home policy, and the management of the land and the socialized industries; on them will rest the judicial power of the community. The Soviets appoint delegates to Soviets covering wider areas, which Soviets in turn elect delegates to National and International Soviets.

The Soviet delegate must be instructed by, and report to, those whom they represent, and shall be subject to recall at any time.

No person may vote, or be elected to the Soviet who refuses to work for the community, who employes others for private gain, engages private trading, or lives on accumulated wealth. In the Soviet community such person will soon cease to exist.

The liberation of mothers and socialisation of houses

Communism and Soviets will liberate mothers from their present economic enslavement and drudgery. They will share like others in the wealth of the community, elect their own representatives to the Soviet. The introduction of communal housekeeping will open them opportunities for leisure, recreation, and education hitherto unknown. They, especially, will benefit by the socialisation of houses, with the abolition of rent and the free and ample provision of furniture, fuel, light, and all household implements.

The Soviets will also make arrangements for the maintenance by the whole community, of the old and the sick, and assure to them the unquestioned right to the full satisfaction of their needs. Hospitals, maternity and convalescent homes, and sanatoria shall be socialised.

There will be generous provision of free schools of elementary, secondary, higher and vocational education, universities and colleges of arts and sciences Books and apparatus for study and wide opportunities of recreation will be at the disposal of all.

The period of universal education and freedom from productive work, unless such work be undertaken with a purely educational motive, shall extend to at least 20 years of age. All educational institutions for people of all ages shall be free.

Education will be co-ordinated by the establishment of teachers' Soviets, pupils' Soviets, parents' and teachers' Soviets, and councils of education formed of delegates from these bodies and from the Soviets. The maintenance of children and young persons shall be entirely free.

The administration of justice

The judges in the Communist courts shall be men and women elected by the Soviets, and shall be subject to recall at any time. As far as possible, imprisonment shall be replaced by compulsory labour and all places of detention shall be educational institutions.

Under Communism, courts of Justice will speedily become unnecessary, since most of what is called crime has its origin in economic need and in the evils and conventions of capitalist society.

The transition period

All those who are in possession of private property shall be called upon to surrender it, and to work on equal terms with the rest of the population.

Landlords and capitalists whose property has been socialised shall receive no special compensation; they will be offered work or maintenance on the same level as the rest of the community.

The introduction of machinery, the spread of scientific knowledge, the growth of large-scale production, make possible the emancipation of labour, and the establishment of a Communist Society in which there shall be no need to maintain either rationing or the wages system, to limit the free use by the workers of the products of the community. But there will be a transition period between Capitalism and Communism, during which wages and other survivals of Capitalism will gradually disappear. Throughout the transition period the Communist Party will be guided by the determination to secure complete political and economic equality for all workers.

When the working class seize power, banks must be confiscated and all private banking stopped. For the period in which money and trading still continue, local and national Soviet banks shall be set up and shall be the only banks.

Until the wage system has been altogether abolished, wages shall be equal for all industries and professions, and for all adults men and women in each industry and profession, from the principal manager downwards. Managers, foremen and other occupying organizing and directive posts shall be elected by the workers under them, or by the Soviets. All Soviet officials and delegates shall receive the standard wage during the time they are employed on Soviet work.

The standard wage shall be paid during illness, and unemployment. Mothers who are wage-earners shall also be paid the standard wage when incapacitated from following their employment. Moreover, they shall be provided with skilled household help during illness, or if they are employed outside the home.

Even before the wages system is abolished the people shall be spared from all fear of want by the free provision of all staple necessaries, essential food, clothing, housing accomodation, furniture, fuel, transport, light, and medical aid; whilst education and full maintenance shall be free to the children. Scarce commodities shall be equally rationed, and housing provided on the principle that before anyone may have two rooms everyone must have one.

The members of the Communist Party (British Section of the Third International), will constitute a body of volunteers, disciplined now for the coming struggle; a body of men and women who have made up their minds to achieve the revolution by working through self-discipline to freedom.

Down with capitalist tyranny and corruption!

Hail the Workers Communist Party!