History CP early 50s early 60s


May 5th / 6th 1956.

This meeting of the National University Staffs Committee believes it to be exceptionally important to the-success of its work at this strategy that the Executive Committee at its May meeting should issue a further statement on the lessons for our Party of the 20th Congress of the CPSU and call for the discussion of this statement by the whole membership. It notes that criticism, made at our 24th Congress of the inadequacy of the original EC resolution was answered by the claim that at the time when this resolution was formulated the E.C. had no knowledge of the private session of the 20th Congress. This situation no longer obtains and a second statement should therefore be made.

2. The N.U.S.C. urges that in the resolution the E.C. declares:-

(1) That the 20th Congress makes it necessary to undertake in the coming period a re-examination of many aspects of our socialist theory, to re-assess the past policies of our Party, especially over the last twenty years,  to disclose past mistakes frankly,  and to examine anew the tasks and problems, both short and long term, which confront our Party. To these discussions, every party member has the right to make his contribution.

(2) That leading committees at all levels should encourage the freest expression of opinion in these discussions. Attitudes which discourage .such expression are impermiss¬ible. Two such attitudes are, that which imputes anti-party motives to comrades who express fundamental criticisms, and the attitude of sectarian indifference to theory and anti-intellectualism which is to be found in some sections; of the active party cadres.

(3) That the E.C., on behalf of the Party, will itself initiate discussion by a frank self-critical examination of the reasons why the world Communist Movement and ourselves, as part  of  it, was unable to prevent the grave mistakes and even crimes which have been committed, will accept frankly its share of the responsibility for them,  will express its sincere regret for these mistakes, and tender apologies to those who, on the basis of false information, have been slandered in our press.

(4) That with a view to taking all possible measures to ensure that such things shall not happen again, the E.C. indicates a number of key questions on which discussion is needed. These questions to include the question of sectarianism, its roots, its main manifestations,  and concrete measures to eradicate  It;  the question of  labour unity,   including the question of our long term view of the relationship of  the  Communist Party and the  Labour Party;  the implications for  our  immediate policy of our perspective of building the broad  alliance;  a re-assessment  of our past policies, especially our policy on the war from 1939-41 and 1941-45, and our attitudes to the labour governments of 1945-51; the position of democratic liberties and  legal penalties under socialism; the strengthening of democracy in the Communist Party; the question of the relations between the fraternal Communist and workers parties (and especially our relations with the brother parties in the countries of socialism). In these discussions, Labour Party and non-party specialists should be encouraged to participate.

(5) That while insisting that our attitude to the Socialist countries is  not a neutral, but a partisan one,   it will strive to improve the treatment of the Socialist countries in our press. Our treatment should be more sober and realistic, and we should make fuller use of historical materialism in our study and explanation of developments in Socialist countries. Thus it is wrong to treat the question of Stalin’s position and policies in largely personal terms, and we should not repeat Soviet statements (such as that Beria was an agent of imperialism)   uncritically and without the necessary evidence. Rather than treating the advance to Communism as smooth progress not beset by major difficulties we should examine the problems which are being tackled at each stage in the advance and the solutions to them which are being found. This would enable us to show the way in which Socialist society develops by overcoming contradictions. This is the best way to win sympathy for the Socialist system, and the only way in which we can learn the lessons of the experience of the Socialist countries  in order to apply them in our own conditions.

(6) That the E.C. will regard these discussions as an essential preliminary to the modifylng and strengthening of our programme,  The British Road to Socialism,  and undertakes to prepare a revised draft programme for submission to the 25th Congress,  and to place this draft before the Party for full discussion by the whole membership not less than six months before the Congress assembles.

(7) That the E.C. will take similar measures with regard to the Party rules,  – i.e. will call for discussion and suggestions for the strengthening of inner-Party democracy and appoint a special commission to go into this question which shall report its conclusions in time for adequate pre-Congress discussion, i.e. at least six months before the 25th Congress.

3.  The N.U.S.C. welcomes the publication of the articles by Comrade Pollitt in Nos. 16 & 18 of Worlds News, but is strongly of the opinion that this must not be regarded as a substitute for a statement by the E.C.    We believe the E.C.  statement to be vitally important for the  Party as a whole and for the enhancing of its  prestige among the working class and among the whole British people,  including those sections with whom our committee  is especially concerned.

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