Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Anti-Revisionism in the United Kingdom

Post World War II Antecedents – Index Page


Individual members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) expressed disquiet at the strategy laid out in The British Road to Socialism when it was first unveiled in 1951. In contrast to earlier programmes of the CPGB, The British Road proposed that socialism could be achieved by the labour movement working initially within Britain’s existing democratic structures. George Thompson may be the only member of the CPGB’s Executive Committee to vote against adoption of The British Road, because “the dictatorship of the proletariat was missing,” but he remained a member of the editorial board of the CPGB’s theoretical journal, Marxism Today. There may have been expressions of doubt from former Education Organiser of the Communist Party, Douglas Garman but he remained a party member until his death in 1969.

On the other hand, the writer Edward Upward and his wife Hilda resigned from the CPGB in 1948, in protest of its “reformist” direction. Edward later wrote about the inner-party struggle leading to their resignations in his novel, The Rotten Elements (1969). Others, like folk singer Ewan MacColl simply allowed his Party membership to lapse out of disagreement with the new strategic line, only to re-emerge in 1966 as a supporter of the anti-revisionist, pro-China journal, The Marxist.

Other dissidents described the programme as “revisionist,” but opposition to the strategy never coalesced into organisational form before the 1960s. Thus, the initial, post-World War II anti-revisionist opposition within the Communist Party was muted and individual in character. Key to this was a subjective factor – every member’s knowledge that the British Road had the endorsement of the Soviet Communist Party, if not Stalin himself. It was felt that to go against the Party in Britain was to go against the whole of the International Communist Movement. If the British Road was okay with Stalin, what weight could be given to our concerns? John Gollan, a leader of the CPGB at this time was reported to have later told the Communist Party of China: “How can Khrushchev claim to have introduced peaceful transitions? I advanced it long before he did!” (Mao Zedong, Selected Works, Vol. V, page 495).

Arthur H. Evans, a rank and file CPGB member, was one of the few who waged a systematic campaign against what he perceived to be revisionism in the basic line of the Party in the post-war years, writing a series of letters to the CPGB leadership in the period 1947-1953. Another rank and file anti-revisionist was Hamilton Neil Goold-Verschoyle, an Irish Communist who moved to England in the early 1950s where he was active in the Connolly Association in London. In 1956 Goold published a pamphlet, The Twentieth Congress and After: A Vindication of J. V. Stalin and His Policy. He also wrote and published October Events in Hungary (1956) and Trotskyism: Its Roots and Fruits (1957).


Contents

General Background Materials

The British Road to Socialism [1951]

Exchanges between J. V. Stalin and Harry Pollitt over The British Road to Socialism

The Origin and Development of Revisionism in the C.P.G.B. by Wilf Dixon

Notes On the Origins Of Revisionism in the C.P.G.B. by Wilf Dixon

Primary Documents

Truth Will Out – Against Modern Revisionism by A. H. Evans

The Twentieth Congress and After by Neil Goold