Ted Grant

In 1956 there was a concerted attack by France, Britain and Israel against Egypt with the aim of seizing control of the Suez Canal nationalised by Nasser. Ted Grant explained that the outcome of the Suez war marked the downsizing of Britain and France as second-rate imperialist powers and exacerbated the revolt of the Arab masses against imperialist domination, preparing greater revolutionary crises in the future.

The events that unfolded towards the end of 1956 in Hungary shook all the Communist Parties of the world. The official line of the Communist Parties was that what was taking place in Hungary was a Fascist counter-revolution! Not all the ranks of the CPs were fooled. Many could see that the workers of Hungary had risen up against the bureaucratic elite in power. This could be no counter-revolution. 

With the death of Stalin, the Stalinist bureaucracy was not removed from the Soviet state. As Ted Grant explained in 1956: "The present leaders in the Kremlin claim that they are returning to the methods of Lenin. But they are preserving the basic gains and perquisites of the officialdom. If there has been a revulsion against the methods of Stalin, that has been for two reasons, the growing pressure of the masses, and the fear of the bureaucracy of a repetition of the personal and arbitrary rule of Stalin."

The NEC of the Labour Party in 1954 argued in favour of German rearmament against the Soviet "threat". The Labour left argued that a re-armed West Germany, backed by the United States, would be facing a hostile and armed East Germany, backed by Russia, making World War III "inevitable." Ted Grant replied to both, putting forward an internationalist position. Here we provide the full unabridged text.

Ted Grant's criticism of the pamphlet "Problems of Foreign Policy" published by Transport House in 1952 exposes the chauvinistic approach in foreign policy of the Labour leaders and their abandonment of a working class perspective.

In early 1952 fifty-seven Labour MPs voted against the Tory motion of endorsement for the rearmament programme, reflecting the deep dissatisfaction of the rank and file members of the Trade Unions and the Labour Party with the policy of the official Labour Movement. Ted Grant analysed the limits and the potential of this opposition developing around Bevan.

Using the method of Marxism to describe the regime of Tito, and hence explain the split with Stalin, this document by Ted Grant from 1949 takes the argument further and extends it to the example of China. It elaborates further the process by which Mao Tse Tung established his regime, explaining that it was, of necessity, 'deformed' from the very beginning.

In 1949 the new Occupation Statute gave control of the Ruhr region, the powerhouse of Europe, to the British, French and US imperialists. The excuse was to prevent the possibility of German rearmament. Ted Grant exposed the imperialists' interests behind this measure and denounced the chauvinistic policies of both the Stalinist and Labour leaders.

In January 1949 Ted Grant analysed the historical significance of the victory of Mao in China. Key to this victory was Mao's agrarian reform which won over the peasants while the feudal landlords and capitalists clung to the rotten Kuomintang. The Chinese revolution was second in importance only to the Russian October, but with one important difference: from day one the Chinese masses were expropriated of their political power by the Stalinist bureaucracy. 

In 1948 Ted Grant, commenting on the debate at the Tory Conference, argued that the Conservatives were trying to disguise with a thin layer of “social” veneer the class character of their policies in favour of the ruling class and warned against the possibility of a Tory comeback if the Labour leaders failed to deliver decisive social change.

We reprint this article by Ted Grant, first published in the July 1948 edition of Socialist Appeal which analyses the real reasons behind the split between Tito and Stalin.

In this pamphlet, written by Ted Grant, the RCP explained the social basis of fascism, as a mass movement based on the middle-class and set in motion by the capitalist class to smash the labour movement. Faced with the danger of social revolution and the loss of power, the British capitalists, no less than their European counterparts, would be prepared to mobilise and finance fascist gangs to atomise the workers organisations. The pamphlet describes how the British capitalists were sympathetic to Hitler and Mussolini before the war, and how they supported the nascent fascist movement in Britain around Oswald Mosley.

The Italian elections of April 18th, 1948 marked an important turning point in the class struggle in Europe with the defeat of the popular bloc led by the Italian CP and the victory of the Christian Democrats. Ted Grant analysed the role played in this defeat by the Church and the Allies, but pointed out that the imperialists had grabbed the chance to consolidate their control over Italy only thanks to the betrayal of Togliatti and the Stalinist leaders.

In 1947 a group of Russian workers over in Britain on a training programme were banned by the Soviet authorities from joining a British trade union, leading to conflict with the British workers who had fought for a closed shop. The Soviet bureaucracy could not tolerate the fact that these Russian workers might pick up a few ideas about basic trade union rights, which caused harsh debates within the British Communist Party.

After nationalizing Coal, it became evident to workers that conditions were not improving. A number of unofficial strikes broke out in 1947 provoking the threat of retaliatory sackings by the capitalist led Coal Board. Ted Grant vibrantly protested against the lavish acceptance of this measure by the leaders of the Miners' Union and called on them to give voice to the legitimate demands and grievances of the workers and fight for workers' control over the Coal industry.

In 1947 the US "liberal" Henry Wallace visited Britain to present his views against the policies of Truman, while at the same time defending the "progressive" character of Roosevelt's policies. Ted Grant argued that Wallace had nothing to offer the workers but empty words while glossing over the same imperialist policies.

In March 1947, Ted Grant welcomed the revolutionary opposition to the reformist policies of the leadership emerging from within the ranks of the Communist Party, especially among workers, at that year's Party conference. Differences were raised on the question of workers' control on the railways and the CP leaders' lavish support for Labour government's policies.

At the end of the Second World War a polemic broke out between the British Trotskyists of the RCP and the European Secretariat of the Fourth International as to whether bourgeois democratic or Bonapartist regimes had been established in Western Europe. This bitter exchange of letters between Ted Grant and the leader of the US Workers’ Party, Max Shachtman, gives a taste of that debate. Ted’s letter was first published in The New International in February 1947 with a reply by Max Shachtman.

At the end of 1946 the post-war Labour government issued a Bill for the nationalization of transport provoking furious criticisms from the Tories. Ted Grant explained why Marxists opposed compensation to the transport company shareholders and demanded that workers should take control over the industry through the election of a Workers' Board.

The first democratic elections in Germany after the war, in 1946, saw the workers' parties triumph, especially the Social Democrats, a swing of the petty bourgeoisie toward the Christian Democrats, the collapse of the openly right-wing parties and a total rejection of the Nazis. Ted Grant pointed out that this was the answer to those, including the Stalinists and Labour leaders, who blamed the German workers for Hitler's crimes. The relative setback of the Stalinists and protest vote in the Soviet Zone also indicated that German workers were in favour of Socialism, but were repelled by the Stalinist caricature of it.

In late 1946 Stalin announced that the immediate task in the Soviet Union was one of building "Communism". At the same time he set in motion new purges among the lower layers of the bureaucracy. Imposing these limits on corruption among the lower bureaucrats, Ted Grant argued, arose from the need to gain support from the pauperised and deprived masses for the reconstruction effort, in order to preserve the general privileges of the bureaucracy as a whole.

In 1946, while offering the exiled White Guards full citizenship, Stalin retaliated against the Chechen-Ingush and Crimean peoples and dissolved their autonomous republics, accusing them of having not rebelled against the Nazis during the War. 1,500,000 men, women and children were deported. "How [does one] explain the fact that the peoples see no advantages in the Stalinist regime, but the White Guard capitalist elements do?" Ted Grant asked.

In 1946 one of the main stooges of Stalin, Aleksandrov, delivered an official speech during the Lenin memorial meeting in Moscow announcing a revision of Marx and Lenin's theory of the state. Ted Grant highlighted the importance of this open breach with Marxism showing that it sought a theoretical justification for the persistence of the rule by the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union.

On the eve of 1946 post-war Britain was on her knees. The British ruling class reached a deal with the former U.S. allies for a huge loan, but the repayment conditions were very severe. The Labour leaders in office were willingly carrying out the dirty job of asking British workers to postpone any demands to improve their conditions. Ted Grant looked at the consequences of these policies for the workers.

As soon as Germany and Japan had been knocked out of the war, the scramble for the markets of the world intensified among the Allied victors. Despite the official lies about the reasons for Lend-Lease, it was only granted in the first place by the Americans after they had stripped British imperialism of the major part of her investments, markets and interests abroad. The sugary phrases about “co-operation” in the “great battle of democracy” are shown to have been but a cover for the real interests of imperialism.

At the end of the Second World War the Labour Party was elected into office, a clear rejection of Churchill and his anti-working class policies. But the statements of the Labour leaders revealed that they intended to continue with capitalism. The British ruling class understood they could use these leaders, discredit them and then bring back the Tories. Ted Grant warned the Labour leaders that this is what would happen.

The election of a majority Labour Government for the first time marked a definite turn in European, world and British history. In voting for the Labour Party, the mass of the British workers indicated that they wanted a complete change from the capitalist system. With such a decisive victory, the whole social structure of Britain and Europe could have been changed by a bold socialist programme on the part of the Labour leaders.

After the end of the Second World War, the Allies announced a savage and vengeful programme of enslavement of Germany and the German people. Of course, the responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis was not to be laid on their real backers, the German capitalists and bankers and the British and French capitalists. The burdens of dismemberment and defeat were to be thrown onto the backs of the thrice oppressed and enslaved German workers and peasants, the first victims of Hitlerism.

After the Crimea conference, the British Communist Party leaders came out with a position advocating a National unity government with the Tories for the post-war period. This policy of class collaboration was denounced by Ted Grant, who wrote in 1945 that, "to support Churchill is to support monopoly capitalism. To support the capitalists, the interests of the working class must be betrayed. It has taken the advanced British workers the experience of 50 years to realise that the Liberal and Tory Parties are parties of capitalism."

In early 1945 the radical mood within the British working class was preparing a landslide victory for the Labour Party. In this context the I.L.P. leadership raised the idea of re-affiliation to the L.P., but gave no explanation for its 13 years of independent existence. Here Ted Grant provided a sober-minded Marxist approach to the question of the Labour Party and the mass organizations of the working class in general.

In 1945 Churchill justified the brutal repression of the Greek workers at the hands of British troops. The then leaders of the Labour Party and the Communist Party in Britain hid the real meaning of the Greek events from the British workers. Ted Grant exposed this terrible betrayal in this article that appeared in the Mid-February 1945 edition of the Socialist Appeal.

In 1944 the Labour Party held its annual conference while British troops were being used to crush the Greek workers. The Labour leaders scandalously supported British imperialist policy in Greece, but even worse was the fact that the Labour left had capitulated on this issue. Ted Grant put forward a revolutionary Marxist position on the question.

Ted Grant in 1944 defends an internationalist approach towards the German workers as opposed to the utter nationalist degeneration of the Trade Union, Labour and C.P. leaders who enthusiastically joined the bandwagon of those blaming the German workers for the crimes of the Nazi regime, when in fact they were its first victims.

In October 1944 the Communist Party of Great Britain held a national conference where the leadership did everything possible to disguise in revolutionary sounding language their support for the Tories, for Churchill, for the Atlantic Alliance and so on. Some dared to criticise from the ranks but these were soon silenced. Ted Grant exposed the contradictions in the position presented by the leadership of the party.

We publish for the first time in electronic form, this important document written by Ted Grant in the autumn of 1944. It analyses the consequences of the inevitable victory of Anglo-American imperialism and the growing grip of Stalinism over the European masses due to the immense prestige gained by the Red Army. It also explains why the imperialists would find themselves in a relatively weak position and would need to grant concessions to the masses in Europe. Imperialism would be forced to do this in order to carry out a counterrevolution, albeit in a democratic form, with the help of the leaders of the mass reformist and Stalinist parties.

At the end of the war, the tremendous psychological shock occasioned by the events of the war, the collaboration of the bourgeoisie of the defeated countries with the Nazi invaders, had undermined the former habitual acceptance of bourgeois domination over the nation. As Ted Grant wrote in 1944, "The problem of the German revolution cannot be separated from the problem of the revolution in all Europe. The war has tied the fate of all the European countries together. Events in one will have immediate repercussions in all the others."

In July 1944 the Allies had their forces in France ready to march eastwards towards Germany. In the British media there were calls for punishment of all Germans, conveniently ignoring the fact that the German workers had always been opposed to Hitler, whereas the British bourgeois had welcomed his crushing of the German labour movement in 1933.

Towards the end of the Second World War the coalition government in Britain was pushing through the Town and Country Planning Bill in such a way that it guaranteed the property rights of the big landowners. In this article (July 1944) Ted Grant called on Labour to break the coalition and nationalise the land without compensation to the big landowners!

At the 1944 conference of the ILP there were clear indications that a steady move to the right on the part of the leadership was taking place. This posed the question of what the left wing of the party should do. Here Ted Grant raises the need for the left to sharpen up its ideas and take a firm stand.

Contrary to the official mythology about Churchill, by 1944 he was already losing support among the people of Britain. This article by Ted Grant, written at the time and based on local election results, shows that the workers were becoming radicalised. This was to be confirmed in a dramatic way just after the war when Labour won a landslide victory.

In 1943 a revolt of the Lebanese erupted against French imperialism. While oppressing their own colonies, the British cynically supported the Lebanese as a means of weakening De Gaulle and French imperialism. De Gaulle drowned the rebellion in blood refusing to accept the position of puppet of Anglo-American imperialism. Thus the British and French imperialists competed for spheres of influence while Arab blood spilled onto the streets.

In return for Stalin’s help in ensuring the continuation of capitalism in Europe, the Allies were prepared temporarily to make concessions to him. The real purpose of the Three Powers Talks in Moscow was to come to some arrangements for the post-war world.

The summer of 1943 marked a dramatic turn in the Second World War. In this article Ted Grant analysed the implications of the Allied invasion of Sicily and the opening of the Second Front, the attempts by Churchill to reach a deal with the Italian monarchy and prop up a regime of the accomplices of fascism which would preserve the interests of Anglo-US imperialism against the rising revolutionary tide. As in the case of North Africa with Giraud, Allied imperialism was dropping the "democratic" mask showing their real aims and interests in the war.

The Third International was created by Lenin and Trotsky as an instrument of world revolution. However, as Ted Grant wrote in 1943, the Comintern under Stalin quickly degenerated "into a kept whore of the Stalinist bureaucracy, applying its policy according to the changing moods of Kremlin policy. In reality the creation of the International was not a question of sentiment or convenience, but arose directly from the objective tasks posed in front of the international working class."

The Labour leaders were in the wartime coalition, but not as “equal partners”. What the bosses wanted came first and the Labour leaders bowed down to this pressure. But pressure was also building up from below to meet the needs of the workers. Ted Grant looked at how all this was reflected in the Labour Party conference.

More than halfway into the Second World War the mood among the British workers was changing. The bourgeois could feel the changing mood and attempted to manoeuvre by making false promises. All this was putting pressure on the Labour Party, where the contradiction between the leaders in the coalition government and the workers in general was becoming ever more evident.

In an attempt to discredit the Trotskyists once again, the CP attempted to disorient and confuse the working class by spreading out-and-out lies on the Chinese Revolution. Ted Grant replies to these points in a effort to set the record straight and expose the methods of the Stalinists.

In 1942 the British Stalinists launched a vicious campaign of slander and lies against Trotskyism. Ted Grant, in the best traditions of Marxism, used the weapon of truth to reply to the Stalinists, whose methods were without honour, truth and conscience.

In the middle of the war the ILP was floundering. Not having a fully worked out Marxist programme, it combined opportunism and sectarianism at the same time. They could not understand the method as outlined by Ted Grant at the time, which was not to issue mere denunciations of the Labour Party leaders. It could “only be done by demonstrating to the masses, by their own experience, that their leaders are incapable of representing their interests.”

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