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Communists and British Society 1920-1991: People of a Special Mould Paperback – 28 Feb 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rivers Oram Press; First Edition edition (28 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854891456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854891457
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,380,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Newly accessible communist archives in Britain and Moscow have given us a fuller and richer picture of the membership of the British Communist Party than of any other British political party, and indeed of most other communist parties. This project presents the fullest and most authoritative details of the Communist Party in Britain yet assembled. It tracks down British communists: who they were, where they came from, how their allegiances were forged and sustained, how communist identities were created and dissolved, the diverse roles party members played in British society. A truly collaborative project led by academics with sustained research experience, this book will not simply deepen our understanding of one of the key social movements of the twentieth century, it will provide a social history of left-wing activism in Britain, from the social ferment and grassroots militancy of the interwar period to the cultural politics and 'designer socialism' of the 1980s.

Accessible but rigorous, the book will also illuminate broader issues of history, radical politics and political sociology, including: patterns of belief and commitment; formative influences and politicisation; organisational culture; relations between organisations; processes of mobilisation; the significance of class, gender, generation, locality and ethnicity for political activism and radicalism

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By Neutral VINE VOICE on 6 April 2010
Format: Paperback
This examination of the history of communists in Great Britain is based on "a prosopographical approach to the subject". This means a study of individual communists' experience in relation to society as a whole and the application sociological categories including ethnicity, class, gender and mobility, to explain the source and course of the actions of members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and its acolytes. The authors attempt this in a thematic, rather than a chronological, way. The result is still the same as that described by Walter Kendall in his study of the revolutionary movement in Great Britain. The CPGB from its inception were not human beings but puppets of the Soviet Union. The authors dispute Kendall's interpretation and make a valiant effort to put some flesh on the bones of the Party with personalised accounts of individual members' histories but the chasm between political reality and party doctrine is never satisfactorily closed.

In terms of the sociology of the CPGB there is little which is new to historians, although the authors seem to imagine they have discovered previously untold but important secrets. Marxism has all the characteristics of a secular religion. In that sense it has long been recognised that the CPGB provided secular comfort and support for those for whom traditional religion no longer explained the world as it was and how it would inevitably become in accordance with the doctrines of Marxism-Leninsim. Any admission that the doctrine demanded a suspension of reason, or the right to question its veracity, would destroy the psychological integrity of the true believer.
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