It is with the deepest grief that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) announces that our beloved Comrade Jack Shapiro, Honorary President of our Party and of Hands off China!, passed away from illness in the early morning of Friday 29 January 2010 at the age of 93.
Comrade Jack was a staunch Marxist-Leninist, a proletarian revolutionary, a long-tested communist fighter and an implacable foe of revisionism and opportunism.
Born into the working class Jewish community in east London, he served a full eight decades in the communist movement, decades that took him from a young teenage militant in the ranks of the Young Communist League to Britain’s most cherished veteran communist fighter. From the moment he took his place in the ranks of the proletarian army, he stood in his place, fighting for the liberation of mankind. He never once looked back but always forward to humanity’s brilliant communist future. He never once regretted the choice he made. Whilst every victory inspired him, no difficulty or setback could ever daunt him. To paraphrase the words of Ostrovsky in ‘How the steel was tempered’, our Comrade Jack can have no regrets for a cowardly and trivial past. In dying, he can truly say that all his life and all his strength were given to the finest cause on earth, the liberation of mankind.
Comrade Jack’s early political life was marked by intense class struggle against rapacious sweat shop employers, slum landlords, bigotry, anti-Semitism and the rise of fascism; in defence of the Soviet Union of Joseph Stalin, the Spanish Republic and the Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese aggression.
Throughout his eight decades of political life, Comrade Jack was as firm as a rock in his defence of the principles of Marxism-Leninism. He defended the Marxist-Leninist theory of the state and the dictatorship of the proletariat. He knew that without revolutionary theory there could be no revolutionary movement and he studied hard throughout his life up to his final days. He knew that labour in the white skin could never be free if in the black it was branded and that the movement of the proletariat in the advanced nations would be a fraud and a humbug if it was not most closely united with the struggle of hundreds of millions of colonial and neo-colonial slaves for their national liberation. The struggle against Zionism was no exception. The Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab peoples had no better friend and comrade-in-arms than Jack. One of his very last political acts was to generously donate to the Viva Palestina! convoy that has just returned from carrying much needed relief to the people of Gaza. He knew that “women hold up half the sky” and his own long marriage, friendship and comradeship with Comrade Marie was a true example of how human beings should live.
To Comrade Jack, the socialist countries, especially the Soviet Union of Lenin and Stalin, the first country in which his own Jewish people knew freedom, and the People’s Republic of China, were the apple of his eye and no task was greater than their unyielding defence. For him, every step taken by the socialist countries in the building of a free, prosperous and happy life was but a harbinger of the future new world where every child would know oppression and exploitation only as a topic taught in history classes.
With such bedrock principles, from the first, Comrade Jack opposed the revisionist ‘British road to socialism’, both for its parliamentary cretinism and abandonment of the dictatorship of the proletariat as well as its betrayal of the peoples fighting British imperialism for their complete freedom. He strongly supported the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and its great leader Comrade Mao Zedong, in the international fight against modern revisionism.
Comrade Jack’s relationship with the Chinese revolution was a special one indeed, ever since his much loved brother and comrade Michael Shapiro took up work with the Xinhua News Agency in Beijing in 1949 at the request of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and stayed in China till he breathed his last. Comrades Jack and Michael and their wives Comrade Marie and Comrade Liu Jinghe formed a single proletarian fighting unit, uniting the communists of Britain and China across continents and oceans. Senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping described Michael Shapiro, who accompanied the Chinese People’s Volunteers in Korea during the most bitter days of war, as a “staunch international soldier and sincere friend of the Chinese people”. These fitting words equally describe his dear brother Jack. It is indeed appropriate that his final speech should have been given from his wheelchair last 3rd October at our Party’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese revolution.
Having staunchly fought against revisionism for more than half a century, going through many twists and turns, Comrade Jack greeted the foundation of our Party with almost youthful enthusiasm. He joined our ranks, accepted the post of Honorary President, gave us wise advice and counsel, and generously supported us in every way. To us, he was truly a star shining in our sky, a living link to the October Revolution and to the Third Communist International. He was also a friend and a man whose impish sense of humour made light of every difficulty, whether political or personal.
Jack’s passing is a sad and irreparable loss to our young Party. But we take courage from, and will never forget, the rich legacy he has left us.
Comrade Jack, with our heads bowed but our fists raised, we offer you our reddest of red salutes. You have earned the right to take rest. You will live forever in our hearts.
Eternal glory to Comrade Jack Shapiro!