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The Communist Party of Great Britain 1920-1991

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I'm not sure if this is the most appropriate place to post this, but hopefully more appropriate that General Discussion (I suppose).

So I was browsing the Internets and found this material:

The Communist Party of Great Britain And The Red Menace 1920-1991 - Flashbak

It has quite a large selection of historical photos, although I'm not sure how accurate the commentary is - I don't know a lot about the history of Communism in Britain. Hopefully Edric O will provide some insights.

The same site has articles with photos related to other historical periods and events, such as this huge collection of World War I photos:

Behind Enemy Lines: Over 100 Photographs Of German Soldiers Fighting World War One - Flashbak

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Thank you for the links! The pictures are really interesting. I've never seen them before.


I don't know much about the CPGB specifically, but I do know that the history of the CPGB follows quite closely the general pattern of the history of most "official Communist Parties" in the West in the 20th century. The "official Communist Parties" are the parties that were created in solidarity with the Russian Revolution in the period 1917-1921, and which took on the official name "Communist Party of [country]" and were members of the Third International before WW2. There is (or was) one in almost every country. Some were huge, like the French or Italian Communist Parties, while others were rather small, like the CPGB or the CPUSA. The larger ones are mostly still in existence, while the smaller ones typically ceased to exist after 1991.

The major distinguishing feature of the "official Communist Parties" is that they took their lead from the USSR - they copied the ruling ideology of the Soviet Union as long as it was around. They were Leninist in the 1920s, then became Stalinist in the 30s, 40s and 50s, then denounced Stalin after 1956, and so on. They faithfully reproduced whatever was happening in Soviet politics at the time - although some stopped doing this in the 1970s or 80s, and obviously after the fall of the USSR they all stopped doing it. In the 1990s, some disbanded themselves, like the CPGB, while others went off in all sorts of different directions. For example, today, the Communist Party of France (PCF) is basically social democratic, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is hardcore Leninist.

But for a very long time, they were all together, doing more or less the same thing. It's amazing when you think about it, really. It was the most synchronized global political movement in the history of the world. The fact that it continued in almost perfect lockstep for over five decades (serious cracks began to appear only after 1968) is a testament to the overwhelming international prestige of the Russian Revolution. Even when the Soviet Union was doing highly questionable or even completely indefensible things, the official Communist Parties still had more support, typically, than any other communist or socialist organizations. They did not face any serious political competition on the radical left in any country until the 1970s. Such was the prestige of the heirs of the Russian Revolution.

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