Evan
Evan

October 8th, 2016, 7:51 am #11

Are there any good books that attempt to tackle the controversial decisions by the Comintern/CPGB but from a non-Trot/Euro position. Are there any ML authors/historians who have examined, for example, the 'Social Fascist' line in the late 30's? or the role of Communists in the Spanish Civil War? or the support for the British State during WWII? I'm not looking for pure repudiations or apologetics but considered and Marxist examinations of the whys, wherefores and could do betters.etc

Cheers!
Neil Redfern wrote a book about the CPGB and the Second World War from an anti-revisionist perspective, published by Manchester University Press.
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Francis King
Francis King

October 8th, 2016, 5:50 pm #12

To me the term seems meaningless without a set of "actually existing socialist" countries to hope to reform. The entire Eurocommunist project was based on the hope (forlorn it seems) that a planned economy could be married to political pluralism. What would a so-called Eurocommunist believe today?
The belief that the states and parties which emerged, directly or indirectly, from the October revolution had the potential to develop towards socialist democracy was probably the main thing which distinguished eurocommunists from left social democrats. That distinction is now irrelevant. There are still some CPs from eurocommunism's heyday (PCF, PCE) that retain the communist name and imagery, but in fact they function as social-democratic parties. In their turn, the PS and PSOE seem to have lost what little vestigial socialism they once had.
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Down with the King
Down with the King

October 8th, 2016, 8:14 pm #13

Yet more tiresome Euro crap from King. If ‘socialist democracy’ was really the aim of the Euros, why did they expel large amounts of the CP’s membership in Britain and try to disenfranchise others? One trick my Euro branch secretary had was to ‘forget’ to re-issue cards to comrades who didn’t happen to agree with his waffle. Other older comrades will give plenty of other examples. Also, comrades should read about the disaster that Carrillo was for the party in spain. It was a car crash, with no democracy, socialist or otherwise.

I’m well aware of the many faults of the old CP but ‘socialist democracy’ my arse! The Euros were just petty dictators.
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Joined: October 20th, 2015, 9:04 pm

October 9th, 2016, 10:34 am #14

Neil Redfern wrote a book about the CPGB and the Second World War from an anti-revisionist perspective, published by Manchester University Press.
I reviewed Redfern's book for the Communist History Network Newsletter in 2005 but that publication no longer seems to be available online.

My own take on the party's history during the war may be found here:

http://www.ucc.ie/chronicon/robfra.htm

This article was based on research I did in the late 1970s for a volume of essays on CPGB history that was supposed to be published by Lawrence and Wishart but never saw the light of day, I suspect for political reasons because the party leadership did not like its heterodox mix of Eurocommunist, Feminist and Trotskyist views.

I agree with Francis that politically biased history is always bad history. But sometimes more partisan perspectives can yield novel insights and open up new avenues for research. The important thing is not to distort either the evidence or alternative viewpoints in pursuit of a partisan argument/interpretation.

Geoffrey Roberts
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Harsanyi_Janos
Harsanyi_Janos

October 10th, 2016, 6:54 pm #15

Yet more tiresome Euro crap from King. If ‘socialist democracy’ was really the aim of the Euros, why did they expel large amounts of the CP’s membership in Britain and try to disenfranchise others? One trick my Euro branch secretary had was to ‘forget’ to re-issue cards to comrades who didn’t happen to agree with his waffle. Other older comrades will give plenty of other examples. Also, comrades should read about the disaster that Carrillo was for the party in spain. It was a car crash, with no democracy, socialist or otherwise.

I’m well aware of the many faults of the old CP but ‘socialist democracy’ my arse! The Euros were just petty dictators.
"Also, comrades should read about the disaster that Carrillo was for the party in spain. It was a car crash, with no democracy, socialist or otherwise. "

Fortunately, the performance of the Spanish Communist Workers' Party shows how well "non-revisionist" communism fared in Spain. Led by Enrique Líster -- a former Republican general who fought in the Jarama offensive -- it polled 6,000 votes in the 1983 Spanish regional elections. This modest success led Lister to rejoin the "car crash" PCE.

The remnants of the Spanish Communist Workers' Party still exists -- it polled a whopping 2,000 votes in the 2015 elections.
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Down with the King
Down with the King

October 10th, 2016, 10:02 pm #16

Comrade, I’m not sure what that proves. That Lister was a car crash too I am well aware. But I’m not sure his failure makes the overall failure of the PCE any less apparent or shocking. I am not a particular fan of ‘non-revisionist’ communism, as you put it.
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Joined: October 20th, 2015, 9:04 pm

October 15th, 2016, 12:30 pm #17

I reviewed Redfern's book for the Communist History Network Newsletter in 2005 but that publication no longer seems to be available online.

My own take on the party's history during the war may be found here:

http://www.ucc.ie/chronicon/robfra.htm

This article was based on research I did in the late 1970s for a volume of essays on CPGB history that was supposed to be published by Lawrence and Wishart but never saw the light of day, I suspect for political reasons because the party leadership did not like its heterodox mix of Eurocommunist, Feminist and Trotskyist views.

I agree with Francis that politically biased history is always bad history. But sometimes more partisan perspectives can yield novel insights and open up new avenues for research. The important thing is not to distort either the evidence or alternative viewpoints in pursuit of a partisan argument/interpretation.

Geoffrey Roberts
My review of Redfern may be found here:

https://www.academia.edu/29068712/Class ... World_Wars


This site contains a number of my articles, reviews and papers, including a chapter from the unpublished and unfinished memoirs of Dennis Ogden:

https://www.academia.edu/21879420/After ... ow_in_1955

Dennis went to Moscow in 1954 to work as a translator for the Foreign Languages Publishing House (mostly on the journal International Affairs). In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was the Daily Worker's correspondent in Moscow, famously breaking the story of Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight ahead of the official announcement, which annoyed the Soviet authorities no end! In the 1960s he taught Russian Studies at the Polytechnic of Central London. In the 1970s he was the Secretary of the CP's Committee for the Study of the European Socialist Countries (the party leadership wouldn't let us discuss China, Cuba, North Korea or Vietnam!). This group was quite active for a few years, contributing courses to the Communist University of London and publishing four issues of a journal called Socialist Europe, which carried articles by Soviet and Czech dissidents alongside more orthodox views.
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A Worker Who Reads
A Worker Who Reads

October 15th, 2016, 3:26 pm #18

Thanks for posting this material.
I'm interested in your comment that the CPGB leadership wasn't in favour of analysing/debating the non-European socialist countries. This strikes me as odd given the CPGB's distance from the Chinese party for example. Was this done for diplomatic reasons or simply that there wasn't sufficient knowledge of these countries? There were certainly some CPGB members who were involved in the Vietnamese solidarity campaigns, not so many on Cuba pre-89, and China was a real blank spot.
I doubt many CPGBers went to North Korea. The Star's Colin Williams was one of the few I remember.
I have some copies of Socialist Europe somewhere, I must dig them out. I heard Dennis speak on the CPSU 20th congress at some event or other, fascinating stuff!
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Joined: March 7th, 2015, 8:29 pm

October 15th, 2016, 7:36 pm #19

My review of Redfern may be found here:

https://www.academia.edu/29068712/Class ... World_Wars


This site contains a number of my articles, reviews and papers, including a chapter from the unpublished and unfinished memoirs of Dennis Ogden:

https://www.academia.edu/21879420/After ... ow_in_1955

Dennis went to Moscow in 1954 to work as a translator for the Foreign Languages Publishing House (mostly on the journal International Affairs). In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was the Daily Worker's correspondent in Moscow, famously breaking the story of Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight ahead of the official announcement, which annoyed the Soviet authorities no end! In the 1960s he taught Russian Studies at the Polytechnic of Central London. In the 1970s he was the Secretary of the CP's Committee for the Study of the European Socialist Countries (the party leadership wouldn't let us discuss China, Cuba, North Korea or Vietnam!). This group was quite active for a few years, contributing courses to the Communist University of London and publishing four issues of a journal called Socialist Europe, which carried articles by Soviet and Czech dissidents alongside more orthodox views.
Thanks for the links Geoffrey.

Could you unpack what you mean when you say (in your review of Neil Redfearn's book)

"Speaking as someone who's general attitude to the party's history is the more right-wing the better..."
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Joined: October 20th, 2015, 9:04 pm

October 16th, 2016, 12:56 pm #20

Wow!

I've been waiting for years for someone to pick me up on this. It was a mistake. I meant to say "right-deviationist". I was making the point that while I did not share Redfern's leftist critique of CPGB politics during the Second World war he had done a good job reconstructing the party's point of view. It is this that makes the book worth reading; otherwise it would be little more than a Maoistic polemic.

I'm not sure why the party restricted us to the European socialist countries. The committee's origins lay in an unofficial discussion group of Soviet and East European specialists so it might have been just a question of continuity. I presume the leadership didn't want us meddling in the Sino-Soviet split and restricting us to Europe was a convenient pretext. Or maybe they just wanted to put some manners on us (the point man was Reuban Falber). That worked!
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