I’ve written a paper on communist anti-imperialism for a conference in Paris on ‘The People and Decolonization’. It develops some points I first made in my book on the British Left and India, using newly available research material from a number of archives, including those of the Communist International (the Comintern), the Communist Party of Great Britain, and the security services.
I argue against the idea that metropolitan anti-imperialism was doomed to failure because of the compromising economic interests of British workers, or their apathy and ignorance concerning ‘the colonies’. Both competing economic interests and ignorance were indeterminate: they could support anti-imperialism as well as work against it. There was therefore significant room left for the conceptualisation and organisation of anti-imperialism by political ‘entrepreneurs’. The records of the Communists are exceptionally good in describing these conceptual and organisational efforts, and provide the basis for a close analysis of the successes and failures.
IMAGE CREDIT: GWEN RAVERAT, THE BOLSHEVISTS (DETAIL) (WOODCUT, 1922).