An address made to the Stalin Society at the Meeting in Commemoration of Bill Bland.
Bill Bland died in March 2001 after a short illness. Bill will be remembered for his life's work in opposing revisionism and exposing its history to the communist movement. But for Bill, the other side of the coin in opposing revisionism was the struggle for communist unity.
These two related struggles, against revisionism and for Marxist-Leninist unity, were the twin forces that brought our organisation, the National Committee for Marxist-Leninist Unity, into being. Bill Bland, for the Communist League, became a founding member of the NCMLU and Bill never missed a single meeting.
As Bill reported in Compass in June 1999, the aim of the NCMLU is to work for the unification of the Marxist-Leninist anti-revisionist forces in Britain and towards the eventual formation of a single communist party.
All too often, communists loyal to Marxism-Leninism, especially those new to the movement, defend the separate principles of our science without knowing how to apply them or understanding how these principles relate to each other. But this kind of defence of principles was impossible for Bill. The communist principles Bill defended were not for him abstract tenets in textbooks, they had been upheld by him in practice during a lifetime of struggle, they were part of his personal history.
Bill Bland was a scholar, but also a man of action. He was not content with forming a correct view and then defending it in argument: he took decisive, practical steps in the light of his conclusions. It is therefore no accident that he was instrumental in the foundation as you know both of the anti-revisionist organisation we are attending today (the Stalin Society), but also of the National Committee for Marxist-Leninist Unity. For Bill, a clear understanding of theory led decisively to a course of action.
Bill was to have presented a talk to the Society today on the anti-revisionist movement in Britain. In his draft notes for this work, Bill shows how revisionism disguises itself as Marxism, how the revisionists are nominally Marxists. Bill shows how revisionism works either to liquidate the Communist Party altogether or to turn it into a party that in practice renders service to the bourgeoisie.
But before he related all this history, Bill first defined the principles the revisionists attack, that is, the Marxist concept of the State, the transition to Socialism and Revolution, and the inevitability of war under imperialism (based on Lenin's law of uneven development).
It is this clarity and structure of thought, this ability to define the essential, that enabled Bill to work with other communists whose views might differ substantially in various ways but who defended these same principles.
And Bill did not stop short at opposing revisionism. Bill's views on unity, and his opposition to revisionism, were carved from a single block. He was concerned not only with opposing revisionism, but also with finding practical ways for Marxist-Leninists to rebuild the communist movement, and to build a single party of the working class, free of all revisionist trends, and prevent the conscious and unconscious representatives of the bourgeoisie from destroying it.
As has been stated, in the draft conclusion to his talk, Bill writes that it is possible for the communist organisation to co-operate, not only with anti-revisionists with whom we may disagree, but even with the revisionists themselves, through the united front tactic. He recommends the formation of united fronts as a fundamental facet of Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics. Bill defines a united front (amongst other definitions) as "common action to achieve common objectives", involving "no sacrifice of principle".
Bill's contribution to the National Committee for Marxist-Leninist Unity was substantial. He was not only the engine behind the Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau, but also an example in person of how it is possible to work together with other communists, including those we do not always agree with, in the pursuit of common communist goals. While some few others walked or ran away from differences, Bill patiently stood his ground and explained his views to anyone principled enough to listen.
Bill was the author of numerous works for the NCMLU, including the Course of Marxism, which is also on our Internet site. His work will go on through the NCMLU as we continue to campaign for an alliance of the Marxist-Leninist forces and the creation of a single, revolutionary party, not only because of his scholarship, but also because he left us the gift of his example, which he handed down to us through the months and years of constant collaboration with our organisation, of a principled approach in the struggle for Marxist-Leninist revolutionary unity.