History CP early 50s early 60s

Daily Worker Friday June 22 1956


‘Now—end death penalty’

The Political Committee of the British Communist Party said yesterday that in the absence of a denial or an official text, the U.S. version of the Khrushchov report on Stalin must be taken as more or less authentic.

British Communists protested to the Soviet Communist Party nearly three months ago at the failure to publish the report. The evil practices disclosed in the report violated Socialist conceptions of democracy, said the Political Committee statement.

The time had come for all countries to abolish the death penalty in time of peace. The revised edition of the Party’s programme “The British Road to Socialism ” would pay special attention to personal and civil liberty.

All the conditions were present for a great united working class advance in Britain and throughout the world, said the statement, which is published in full below.

The Political Committee of the Communist Party has had under consideration the unofficial published version of Comrade Khrushchov to the Private Session of the 20th of the C.P.S.U., together with the discussion in our Party. At the private session of the 24th National Congress of our Party, on April 1, a resolution was passed, and conveyed to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, regretting that a the public statement on this question had not been made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which could have enabled members of all Communist Parties and staunch friends of the Soviet Union to have understood fully the seriousness of the issues, and helped  them to a better understanding of everything that is involved.   Our Party has not received any official version of the report of Comrade Khrushchov.

The continued absence of an official report has led to the publication of unofficial versions through gradual leakages and by sources hostile to socialism. This has made many Communists inside the Soviet Union dependent on such sources for information on these vital questions and this added unnecessarily difficulties for information and discussion of the facts.

In the light of the unofficial text now published, which, in the absence of official denial may be regarded as more or less authentic, we reaffirm the general lines of the resolution of our executive committee of May 13.

All deeply shocked

We consider that the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. was correct in condemning the cult of the individual and in endorsing the return to Leninist principles of collective leadership and inner Party democracy.

We consider that the 20th Congress was correct in frankly exposing all the evils which followed from the departure from Leninist principles, in order to put an end to these evils.

All Communists, in common with all demo¬cratic and progressive people, are deeply shocked by the injustices and crimes which, during the period under review, violated the essential principles of Socialist democracy and legality and dishonoured the noble cause of Communism. We repeat that such evil practices are totally alien to Socialism and Communism.

At the same time, we recognise that these evils arose not as a necessary accompaniment of working-class rule and Soviet democracy, as the enemies of Socialism pretend, but as a result of the violation of Socialist principles and during a specific period of abnormal strain between 1934 and 1953. This was the period of the rise of fascism abroad, the preparation of war, the Second World War and the cold war.

The Soviet leaders have exposed the evils and abuses of this period in order to correct them and make a decisive turn to the fulfil¬ment of the principles of Leninism, collective leadership, Socialist democracy and creative Marxist work in all the fields of science, literature and art.
Socialist superiority

We recognise that, in spite of the grave harm caused by these abuses, the Soviet people achieved very great and historic successes. In face of terrible difficulties they established Socialism, withstood and defeated the Nazi onslaught, and reconstructed their country after the unparalleled devastation of the war.
This achievement deserves the admiration of all and shows the superiority of the Social¬ist system over capitalism, and the creative possibilities it opens up for the people.

The 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. itself recorded the historic fact that Socialism had now become a world system. It made major contributions to Marxist theory, and helped the working-class movement in all countries by its declarations on the possibility of preventing world war, the peaceful transition to Socialism, and the new opportunities for developing working-class unity.

The discussion arising from the 20th Con¬gress and from the revelations regarding the 1934-1953 period of the Soviet Union is stimulating fresh and fruitful thought and endeavour in every field of Communist work and practice.

It is clear that further review and discussion is needed of the questions opened up by the report to the private session of the 20th Con¬gress of the C.P.S.U.

We agree with the observations of Comrade Togliatti and the French Communist Party that it will be necessary to make a profound Marxist analysis of the causes of the degenera¬tion in the functioning of Soviet democracy and Party democracy; that it is not enough to attribute these developments solely to the character of one individual; and that a more adequate estimate of the role of Stalin, both in its positive and negative aspects, will be necessary.

End death penalty

It is clear that the steps taken for strengthening the operation of Socialist legality and safeguarding the rights of citizens will lead to further examination of all the problems of the functioning of Socialist democracy and legality.

Those responsible for past violations of Socialist democracy and crimes against the people are being punished, and this is just and necessary. At the same time it is understandable that concern has been expressed at the application of the death penalty in a recent trial in the Soviet Union.

We express the view that in the light of the present world situation and the strengthened position of the Socialist camp it should now be possible to bring about the abolition of the death penalty in peace¬time in all countries, and we recognise that we have a special responsibility to work for the fulfilment of this aim in Britain and the Colonial countries under British rule.

Within our own Party we shall need to carry forward and encourage the widest and most thorough discussion, as already begun, of our political and organisational methods, the func¬tioning of Party democracy and the tackling of the problems before us, our relations with other sections of the Labour movement and the aims of unity, as indicated in the executive com-mittee resolution.

We shall also carry forward the work on a new edition of “The British Road to Social¬ism,” in which, among the many questions which will come up for review, we shall need to expand that section which shows how the democratic liberties won by the people can be maintained and extended, and how Socialist legality will be guaranteed.
The next steps
The enemies of our Party hope that this dis¬cussion will weaken the Party and open the way for attempts to smuggle anti-Marxist, anti-Communist bourgeois conceptions into the Party, striking at the roots of Communist principles and organisation.

On the contrary, our Party members and organisations will know how to conduct the dis¬cussion so as to strengthen every aspect of our Party’s work and activity.

The democracy of our Party is the widest democracy of any Party in Britain. The free¬dom of discussion and democratic function¬ing which is possible in our Party, and which the leaders of other parties fear to permit in theirs, is possible because of the essential unity of our Party’s Marxist outlook and our determination to reach, in the light of Marx¬ism, unity on the policy which is in the best interests of the British working class.

Let us never forget, throughout this discus¬sion, that the cause of Communism, of national independence, freedom and peace, is advancing with giant strides throughout the world.

All the conditions are present here in Britain for a great advance of the Labour movement. Given the correct policy and leadership, the British people will defeat Toryism and move forward to Socialism.

It is the mission of our Communist Party to help achieve these aims, and it is in this spirit that, while discussing the urgent and important    issues  raised  by  the  20th  Congress  of the C.P.S.U.,  we  work  to  develop  the  greatest united movement of the people for the policy put forward by our 24th National Congress.


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