The Communist Party Handbook

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Communist Party Handbook

  1. How is the CP organised? 
  2. Why a Communist Party? 
  3. Finance & Fundraising 
  4. Party Life 
  5. Campaigning 
  6. Fighting Elections 
  7. Media & Communications 
  8. The Morning Star 
  9. Recruitment & Cadre Development 
  10. Marxist-Leninist Education 
  11. Build the CP - Build the Future 

Throughout its history of more than 90 years, the Communist Party's achievements have been built by the work of disciplined, capable and knowledgeable party members (or cadres).

They have been most effective when working collectively, whether in the workplace, their trade union, their local community or a broad campaigning body.

While different periods of struggle have thrown up fresh challenges, the Party's most successful structures, cadres and activities have been those guided by the organisational and political principles of Marxism-Leninism.

Because the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin should not become a dogma, we have sought to apply them in keeping with realities on the ground, taking proper account of conditions as they have developed.

Moreover, there is a dialectical relationship between theory and practice: one informs the other and vice versa. To put it another way, the collective intervention of communists in the political class struggle must be based on the application of Marxist-Leninist theory, while the development of Marxist-Leninist theory must be shaped by the collective experience of communists in the class struggle.

Striving to combine theory with practice is one of the characteristics of a communist. As Lenin once put it: 'Practice without theory is blind; theory without practice is sterile'.

Theory, strategy and tactics have to be constantly reviewed, revised or developed. In recent years this has produced such initiatives as:

  • A new edition of our party's programme, Britain's Road to Socialism.
  • More cadre school and Communist University events in the different nations and regions of Britain.
  • The promotion of 21st Century Marxism as a major annual event.
  • Enhanced propaganda and political education materials.
  • Regular and more frequent publication – and wider circulation – of our theoretical and discussion journal, Communist Review.
  • Increased use of the internet as a means of informing, involving and mobilising party members and supporters.
  • Reorganisation through the re-establishment of districts and commissions.

Our approach has long enabled the CP to exercise an influence way beyond the its numbers in terms of membership. In all this work, we have been – and continue to be – driven by our party's aims as set out in Rule 2 of the Party's constitution:

“The aim of the Communist Party is to achieve a socialist Britain in which the means of production, distribution and exchange will be socially owned and utilised in a planned way for the benefit of all. This necessitates a revolutionary transformation of society, ending the existing capitalist system of exploitation and replacing it with a socialist society in which each will contribute according to ability and receive according to work done. Socialist society creates the conditions for the advance to a fully communist form of society in which each will receive according to need.”

However, words alone do not a party make.

Our effectiveness as an agent for revolutionary change depends on the discipline, expertise and effectiveness of our members; on their ability to respond to developments and turn ideas into action.

Yet we still have a great deal to do to rebuild the Party’s strength and influence. We have to overcome a range of problems, including our small size and our limited central resources and finances. Our membership does not fully represent the diversity of the working class and society in Britain today. Changes in the nature and patterns of employment make collective organisation more difficult.

Then there remains the hostility towards communism fostered by decades of Cold War propaganda, not least the work of anti-communist historians.

All of this makes it more important than ever that the political work that communists do – the ways in which we organise, agitate and educate – is subjected to continual critical analysis. Just as our theory must be a living, organic and evolving set of ideas, so too our practice should be dynamic and innovative while rooted in the reality that we seek to change.

Now more than ever, the working class of Britain needs a bigger and more powerful Communist Party; one which exercises mass influence among working people. The offensive unleashed by our ruling class in response to capitalist crisis makes it more urgent than ever that we win recruits, expand our presence in every trade union and mass organisation, develop new cadres and spread Marxist ideas and understanding across the labour movement.

The purpose of this Communist Party Activists' Handbook is to provide cadres and Party organisations with the theory behind the practice, as well as practical guidelines to help inform and shape our activities. Some of its practical proposals will not be applicable in all circumstances and everywhere, but its chief objective is to provide comrades with the necessary tools to equip and build the Communist Party, so that we can play a more effective role in the political class struggle.

Additional and more detailed resources can be found on our website. The work of providing Party members with the most effective means and resources for organising is an ongoing one which cannot be done solely from the top down. Any resources, solutions and successes that Party organisations develop locally should be shared with comrades at all levels. That is one of the strengths of having and working in a collective, disciplined and democratic Communist Party.

Organisation Committee April 2013