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The book begins by situating the CPGB within the major social and cultural changes of the 1960s, and documents the hopes for renewal that were symbolised by the new social movements associated with May 68, and the Prague spring. It ends with the collapse of the ...
The book begins by situating the CPGB within the major social and cultural changes of the 1960s, and documents the hopes for renewal that were symbolised by the new social movements associated with May 68, and the Prague spring. It ends with the collapse of the party and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite all the new thinking and idealism, the party could not hold together.
The book covers the Young Communist League's engagement with popular culture in the 1960s; the influence of the new social movements, especially feminism; the party's strong presence in the trade unions; CPGB relations with the Labour Party and labour movement; the increasing influence of Gramsci within the party, especially among a new generation of intellectuals; the Communist Universities of London; the influence of Eurocommunism; and the rise and fall of Marxism Today.
Geoff Andrews is Lecturer and Staff Tutor in Politics at the Open University, and a co-editor of Soundings. He has written widely on the history of the left, and on contemporary Italian politics. His publications include Citizenship (1991) and - with Nina Fishman and Kevin Morgan - Opening the Books: Essays on the Cultural and Social History of the Communist Party (1995). He is currently completing a new book, Not a Normal Country: Italy under Berlusconi.
Geoff Andrews, a Lecturer in Politics at the Open University, has written the sixth and final volume in Lawrence & Wishart’s history of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Andrews claims that ‘Stalin endorsed the main features’ of the revisionist 1951 CPGB programme The British Road to Socialism. But the only evidence for this seems to be party General Secretary Harry Pollitt’s unsupported claim that Stalin endorsed it when he met Pollitt in Moscow in 1950. Before Pollitt’s trip, the CPGB’s Central Committee had not discussed the need for a new programme, nor had it produced a draft. Pollitt acted behind the Party’s back. He alleged that he showed a document to Stalin, who, allegedly, approved it as a programme. Pollitt then returned home claiming Stalin’s backing, to bounce the CC into backing the new line. The CPGB’s 1956 break with Stalin led inevitably to its break with Lenin, which led inevitably to its break with Marx. Each was a step not to renewal but to dissolution. Its final break with Marxism was a break with the trade unions: its 1989 Manifesto for New Times accused trade unions of acting ‘against the interests of society as a whole’. In 1994, its journal Marxism Today backed Blair for Labour Party leader. Marxism Today, like the Labour Party, embraced Thatcherism while pretending to oppose it. Marxism Today wrote of the ‘failure of the left to understand Thatcherism’ – true, it didn’t understand Thatcherism. The CPGB never defined class clearly. It rejected the truth that all who work for a living are working class, the vast majority. Instead it fostered a false split between mental and manual workers – which split not the class, but itself. In rejecting class, it rejected materialist analysis of events. It fell for romantic nonsense about the Paris events of 1968, about new social movements and about the ‘New Left’. It enthused over Gramsci’s anti-Marxist hostility to the economic basis of society and his consequent wrong strategies. The CPGB also rejected democratic centralism. Instead it embraced the divisions of race, gender and sexual orientation, so-called identity politics (in fact, disunity politics). So it set up separate committees for each identity, dividing itself till it fell apart. This liberalism in the face of threats to party unity caused its demise.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.