Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History


Popular Fronts

Dear Comrades,

In connection with Paul Flewers’s review of The French and Spanish Popular Fronts (Revolutionary History, Volume 2, no.3), it is perhaps worth pointing out that this volume consisted of papers presented to an international conference of academics – hence some of the shortcomings or omissions to which he calls attention. Obviously contributors were left free to decide which aspects they should cover, based, of course, on their particular line of specialisation. In the nature of things a systematic treatment could not be expected and the contributors would not have been able to agree about the ‘lesson’ of the Popular Front. The volume was, however, significant for showing that the Popular Front has become a serious subject of study by (mainly ‘bourgeois’) scholars; it is up to Marxist historians to do better. It was significant that the Stalinist interpretation (of the Britain, Fascism and Popular Front sort) received little or no support in the conference.

Unfortunately, it was one of the conditions laid down by the publisher that if all the contributions were to be included each one would have to be cut to about a dozen pages. That was a severe restraint, especially in the case of the broader papers – but such are the exigencies of publishing, even by a prestigious university press, to which reviewers might draw attention.

Finally, I was expecting to see a correction of a mistake which appeared on page 42 of Volume 2, no.2. The full name of the ‘Wobblies’, or IWW, is, of course, the Industrial Workers of the World. I have noticed that bourgeois historians on both sides of the Atlantic, through carelessness or ignorance of the working class movement, make the same mistake that you do, and for which there is no excuse.

Tom Kemp

Updated by ETOL: 10.7.2003