Revolutionary Communist Party

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Preparing for Power: The Programme of the Revolutionary Communist Party, London: Junius Publications, first published July 1983
LM network resources
The cover of the RCP's The Red Front: A platform for working class unity, their 1987 election manifesto.

The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) was the forerunner of the libertarian LM network. Led by University of Kent sociologist Frank Furedi, it was created in 1977 after a sizeable minority were expelled from the Revolutionary Communist Group in 1976 and formed a grouping called the Revolutionary Communist Tendency. The RCG itself was formed after a split from the International Socialists (the forerunner of the Socialist Workers' Party). The RCT was renamed the RCP in 1981 and disbanded in 1996. Its activities were continued through its main publication Living Marxism, which in early 1997 changed its name to LM. When it was shut down by a libel action in 2000 many of those associated with the RCP/LM created a range of new organisations centred around Spiked and the Institute of Ideas, which form a continuing network described here as the LM network. Though the class politics have gone, much of the position taking, tone and tactics of the deeply sectarian RCP remain.

Cover of Poland's black December, by Frank Richards published for the Revolutionary Communist Party by Junius Publications, January 1982.

Activities

Mike Freeman, Malvinas Are Argentina's Junius Publications (June 1982)
Cover of Kate Marshall, Real freedom, 1982
Frank Richards, The miners' next step, 1984, Junius Publications
Mick Hume, After the Brighton bomb, RCP, Junius Publications, November 1984


1977-1981 - Revolutionary Communist Tendency

See main article Revolutionary Communist Tendency

The RCT changed its name to the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1981. Before this it had mainly been active in relation to the conflict in Ireland, racism and state violence and in attacking the Labour Party.

1979-1982 - Smash the Prevention of Terrorism Act Campaign

See main article Smash the Prevention of Terrorism Act Campaign

The Smash the Prevention of Terrorism Act Campaign was created in late 1979 by the Revolutionary Communist Tendency. According to their own account: 'Towards the end of 1979 we decided to focus our activity in the labour movement on opposition to the PTA. We organised a national demonstration in November and the Smash the PTA Campaign was launched shortly afterwards.'[1]

1979 Workers Against Racism

See main article: Workers Against Racism

Created in 1979, according to leading activist Keith Teare (using his party name Keith Tompson).[2]

1982-1994 Irish Freedom Movement

See main article Irish Freedom Movement

1983 - Preparing for Power

See main article Preparing for Power

Preparing for Power was the RCP manifesto produced for the 1983 election and subsequently reprinted over the following months.

1986-1990 - Confrontation - the 'theoretical journal'

See main article: Confrontation

The RCP only started publishing a 'theoretical journal' in 1986 some five years after it changed its name from the Revolutionary Communist Tendency. The journal was short-lived apparently only continuing until 1989, by which time Living Marxism had started publication and seems to have absorbed much of the effort of the Party.

1987 - The Red Front

See main article The Red Front

1988 - Living Marxism

See main article Living Marxism

1989 - Preparing for Power conference

See main article Preparing for Power 1989

1990 - Preparing for Power conference

See main article Preparing for Power 1990

April 1992 - General Election

See main article Break out of the grey: Election manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Party

The last General Election for which the RCP put up candidates was in April 1992. In 1983 and 1987 the RCP manifestos was published as pamphlets by Junius Publications the party publishing company. In 1983 Preparing for Power ran to 53 pages and in 1987 the manifesto of The Red Front was 65 pages. By contrast the 1992 manifesto - Break out of the grey - was printed on a double sided A3 sheet with one side a poster featuring the candidates. When folded it formed eight pages of which the actual manifesto took up one and a half pages. It concluded by advising 'we make no promises to our voters'.[3] Eight candidates were offered for election including two in London and one each in Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford, Manchester and Sheffield. Those still close to the LM Network included Kenan Malik, Theresa Clifford, Keith Tompson and Helene Gold, the latter two of which were cadre names for Keith Teare and Helene Guldberg respectively.[3]

1992/3-1998 - Campaign Against Militarism

See main article Campaign Against Militarism

1994-1995 - No More Hiroshima's

See main article No More Hiroshima's

No More Hiroshima's was a 'year of action' launched by the RCP in August 1994 in the run up to the fiftieth anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Japan. It was launched under the banner of the Campaign Against Militarism.[4]

1996 - Dissolution

Mike Freeman, Our day will come, published after the end of the Miners' Strike in 1985
Workers Against Racism pamphlet published after what they describe as 'riots' in Handsworth, Brixton and Tottenham in October 1985.
Charles Longford South Africa: Black blood on British hands, 1985.
The RCP campaigns in the Knowsley North by-election in November 1986.
The logo of LM Magazine after it changed its name from Living Marxism at issue 97 in February 1997.[5]
Joan Phillips, Social control in Thatcher's Britain, 1988.
The announcement of the end of the RCP which apparently happened in 1996, but was only announced in LM magazine in March 1998 [6]
RCP badge circa 1984. [7]
Mike Freeman, The empire strikes back, 1993, a call to build an 'new' anti-war movement via the Campaign Against Militarism. One of the RCP's least successful ventures.


The RCP was dissolved in 1996, though this seems not to have been announced at the time. In an email written in December 1997 leading RCP member James Heartfield gave the following account of the demise of the party:

The RCP was disbanded over a fairly long period. The last time we stood in an election was 1992. The last public campaign we were involved in was the Campaign Against Militarism (which again was set up in 1992, but carried on until around 1995). The RCP sold LM to Helene Guldberg at the end of 1996.
Since the end of the Cold War, we were involved in discussions about the appropriateness of a democratic centralist organisation in today's conditions. The decision to wind down the party is not a ruse or subterfuge, it is the practical outcome of those discussions. If you follow the articles in LM, such as the one you posted on Pen-L, you can see the debate we had, re-presented for public consumption. I'm sure I have already argued on these lists that the Leninist style of organisation just is not appropriate when there is no substantial struggle for working class leadership.
I'm involved in LM, as you know, which seems to me the best way to promote critical and progressive ideas today.[8]
The RCP suicide note: Living Marxism, The point is to change it, Junius Publications, 1996.

The first public announcement of the end seems to have been in LM in March 1998. Editor Mick Hume noted almost in passing that LM had developed from the review of 'the (now wound-up) Revolutionary Communist Party.'[6]

1997- the present - Life after death

After the demise of the Party Living Marxism became LM, and many of the core cadre of the Party continued to work together. LM launched itself in January 1997 with the cover story that would three years later provide its nemesis, the allegations that ITN and other mainstream media outlets had 'fooled the world' in their reporting of Bosnian Muslims apparently imprisoned behind Serb barbed wire. After LM was closed the same network of people associated with the Party continued to work together in a series of organisations which can be termed the LM network, the nucleus of which are Spiked and the Institute of Ideas. In 2011 both still operate from the same offices occupied back in the 1980s and 1990s by the RCP, Living Marxism and then LM: Signet House, 49-51 Farringdon Road, London, EC1M 3JP.

Resources and Publications

Publications

Almost all RCP publications were published with the party publishing company set up in late 1977, Junius Publications. The 'Theoretical journal' of the RCT seems not to have continued and it was not until Summer 1986 that the RCP began producing the short lived Confrontation, described as the Party 'theoretical journal'. In addition to a range of pamphlets the principal publications of the RCP were The next step, its monthly 'review' (later a weekly paper) and later (from November 1988) Living Marxism (later renamed LM magazine). The RCP also produced numerous leaflets, posters, newsletters and other materials for its front groups and election literature. The party also produced an internal bulletin for members titled Our Tasks and Methods. This was named after the founding document of the Revolutionary Communist Group from which the grouping which later formed the RCP was expelled in 1976.[9][10]

Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets

This series began with the creation of the Revolutionary Communist Tendency and continued for a short while under the RCP banner. Soon, however, the pamphlets continued without any labelling as part of a series.

1982
  • Frank Richards, Poland's black December /​ [Revolutionary Communist Party]. Revolutionary Communist Party (Great Britain) London (BCM, JPLTD, WC1N 3XX) : Junius, January 1982. 27 p. : ill. ; 22cm. Revolutionary Communist pamphlets ; no.12
  • Mike Freeman, Malvinas Are Argentina's (Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets No. 13) [Paperback] Revolutionary Communist Party (Author) Paperback: 32 pages Junius (June 1982)
RCP pamphlets
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1990

Jenny Graham The end of apartheid? Revolutionary Communist Party (Great Britain), 39 Pages, Published 1990 ISBN: 0948392126 / 0‑948392‑12‑6, ISBN‑13: 9780948392122 / 978‑0‑948392‑12‑2

1993
  • Mike Freeman, The Empire Strikes Back: Why we need a new Anti-War Movement, London, Junius, April 1993.
1996
  • The Point is to Change It: A Manifesto for a World Fit for People, London: Junius (1996), x-xiii.

Books

Resources

For a full list of reading and resources see LM network: Bibliography

Notes

  1. Mike Freeman Ireland's Victory Means Britain's Defeat: the Role of the Labour Movement (Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets) Revolutionary Communist Tendency Association June 1980 Junius Publications Ltd, p. 7
  2. Keith Tompson, Under Siege: Racism and Violence in Britain Today., with a foreword from John Pilger, Penguin, 1988, p. i
  3. 3.0 3.1 Revolutionary Communist Party Break out of the grey: Election manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Party, 1992.
  4. Living Marxism, No. 70, August 1994, p. 15.
  5. 'Welcome to the new-look LM', LM, February 1997, retrieved from the Internet Archive of 18 February 1998, accessed 27 October 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mick Hume 'The return of Marx (and Spencer)', LM, March 1998 No. 108, p. 5.
  7. Image taken from Noise Heat Power,Pinning down the past - part two, accessed 21 October 2010
  8. James Heartfield M-TH: RCP from list marxism-thaxis at lists.village.virginia.edu, Tue Dec 23 03:25:59 MST 1997
  9. Public Statement on the split within the Revolutionary Communist Group 25 November 1976
  10. Revolutionary Communist Group 'Our Tasks and Methods: The founding document of the RCG' Revolutionary Communist No.1, January 1975