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1956: John Saville, EP Thompson and the Reasoner

1956: John Saville, EP Thompson and the Reasoner (Paperback)

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Synopsis

A seismic shock convulsed British Communism in the wake of Nikita Khruschev's revelations about Stalin at the 20th Congress of the Russian Party in February 1956: a shock that can be understood only in relation to the history and development of the British party. British Communism was rooted in the revolutionary aspirations of a minority of British workers, but its forms politics, culture, organisation, and resilience were all bound up with the policy of the Russian Communist Party and its state. '1956' became a year of crisis for the CPGB, leading to the advent of The Reasoner and catapulting John Saville and Edward Thompson to prominence. This book documents their work reasoning why Stalin became Stalin:...an analysis has to be made unless we are to succumb once again to the error which has dogged us for so long - that of failing to make a Marxist analysis of the developments in Communist movements in general and in the Socialist countries in particular...The shock and turmoil engendered by the revelations were the result of our general failure to apply a Marxist analysis to Socialist countries and to the Soviet Union in particular.

The absence of such an analysis is an admission of naivety or worse. The Failure bred Utopianism and encouraged attitudes of religious faith.

Paul Flewers is the author of The New Civilisation? Understanding Stalin's Soviet Union 1929-1941 and an editor of Revolutionary History. John McIlroy is a Professor of Employment Relations at Middlesex University Business School.

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