On the English Labour Party

By the second half of the 1920s, Stalin’s attention turned to the unfolding revolution in China. He is quite clear that it should be as much, if not centrally, an agrarian revolution of peasants, along with the relatively small working class (the idea of turning to the peasants was not merely Mao’s original idea). In the midst of one of his pieces on China, Stalin offers an insightful assessment of the English (he uses the strange term ‘British’) Labour Party:

Let us, for the sake of greater clarity, take the “Workers’ Party” in Britain (the “Labour Party”). We know that there is in Britain a special party of the workers that is based on the trade unions of the factory and office workers. No one hesitates to call it a workers’ party. It is called that not only in British, but in all other Marxist literature. But can it be said that this party is a real workers’ party, a class party of the workers, standing in opposition to the bourgeoisie? Can it be said that it is actually the party of one class, the working class, and not a party, say, of two classes? No, it cannot. Actually, the Labour Party in Britain is the party of a bloc of the workers and the urban petty bourgeoisie. Actually, it is the party of a bloc of two classes. And if it is asked whose influence is stronger in this party, that of the workers, who stand in opposition to the bourgeoisie, or that of the petty bourgeoisie, it must be said that the influence of the petty bourgeoisie predominates in this party. That indeed explains why the British Labour Party is actually an appendage of the bourgeois liberal party. (Works, volume 9, pages 253-54)


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