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New Left Review I/41, January-February 1967


Monty Jonstone

The Communist Party in the 1920s

For the last 46 years the Communist Party has played a part in left-wing politics in Britain out of all proportion to its membership and electoral support. Other left-wing Socialist groups, organizations, campaigns and journals have come and gone. But the continued existence of the Communist Party, despite very considerable fluctuations in fortunes and policies and notwithstanding periodic calls on it from Labour circles to disband, has at no time been seriously in question. Though one or two more or less unsatisfactory short histories and profiles have appeared, it is only now that we have a fully documented study of a prolonged period of the party’s history. Dr. L. J. Macfarlane’s The British Communist Party: Its Origin and Development until 1929 [1] L. J. Macfarlane: The British Communist Party: Its Origin and Development until 1929. Macgibbon and Kee. 1966. 63s. now painstakingly relates the events of the crucial early years of the Party’s life. His chronicle provides an extremely useful record of its internal debates and public pronouncements in this period, an understanding of which is essential for a proper assessment of its subsequent development and role.

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