Return of the Anti-Monopoly Alliance

Submitted by AWL on 9 February, 2021 - 7:49 Author: Jim Denham
Communist Party pro-Brexit banner

The “Recapitulation Theory” in biology claims that the human embryo in the womb passes through every evolutionary stage from amoeba to fish to invertebrate, etc. etc., up to primitive human form. As a biological theory “recapitulation” is long discredited, but theMorning Star does seem to do something like “recapitulation” of Stalinism.

“Third Period” Stalinism of 1928-34 was an ultra-left line that held that social democracy and liberalism were the last obstacles in the way of socialist revolution and that their destruction by fascism might even hasten the revolution.

All proportions guarded, some version of that was a strand in the paper’s coverage of Brexit: despite Brexit being a project of the most right wing elements of the Tory party, by its disruption of mainstream EU neoliberalism it would somehow benefit the working class. Pro-Europeans are still regularly denounced (as “liberals”, “centrists”, etc.) with a venom never directed at Boris Johnson, whose Brexit strategy had the paper’s de facto support.

Similarly, contributors like Zoltan Zigedy, (the pen name of the US Stalinist Greg Godels), defended Trump against “the liberal establishment”. Zigedy (like Nick Wright — another regular contributor) denounced “the big lie of Russiagate” and strongly hinted that Trump was preferable to the Democrats because he supposedly took working-class concerns seriously and had a less interventionist foreign policy.

The real “Third Period” lasted from 1928 to 1934 and then in 1935 Stalin’s “Communist International” did a 180% turn and introduced “The People’s Front Against Fascism and War” (better known as the Popular Front). Communist Parties were now instructed to form broad alliances with all “anti-fascist” forces, including not just the formerly reviled social democrats but also openly capitalist forces — especially representatives of small businesses, which were regarded as somehow more progressive than big businesses.

When fascist movements faded (for a while), we then had the “Anti-Monopoly Alliance”, a key part of the British Communist Party’s programmeThe British Road to Socialism, written by or at least approved by Stalin in 1951. It included an appeal to “Small shopkeepers and business men, as well as small landowners and farmers in the countryside, [who] will be freed from restrictions imposed by the monopolists, and will benefit from the rising turnover resulting from the new conditions.”

“Third Period” ultra-leftism had coexisted with strands prefiguring popular-frontism, like Willi Münzenberg’s “Anti-War Congresses”; and in its 1950s heyday the “Anti-Monopoly Alliance” coexisted with episodic “Third Period” type essays, like the French CP’s deliberate courting of clashes with the police (two dead, hundreds injured) on its May 1952 “Ridgeway” demonstration.

It has been noticeable that over the past year or so the Anti-Monopoly Alliance has been making more frequent reappearances in the Morning Star. Most recently (2 Feb 2021) the paper carried article entitled “Communists call for unity in struggle against capitalism” reporting upon a presentation made by Bill Greenshields to the CP’s executive. The article concludes:

“The committee endorsed his call for an alliance of labour movement bodies, the People’s Assembly and other campaigning organisations to oppose monopoly domination of government policies and the economy.

“‘We need an anti-monopoly people’s convention to highlight the negative role played by big business in our society and to highlight an alternative strategy,’ Mr Greenshields said.”

Although the Morning Star and the CPB rarely point it out these days, the entire concept of the “anti-monopoly alliance” only makes sense if it involves an alliance between the labour movement and small capitalists. The then-editor Richard Bagley was at least frank about this in a 2014 interview: “The broad thrust is that there needs to be an anti-monopoly alliance involving small shopkeepers, labour communities and trades unions, encountering the weight of the corporations and global pressures. That’s a comfortable place to be for a newspaper.” (East End Review, 13 August 2014).

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