Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History
Congratulations on Revolutionary History. You are doing, in your special sphere, the same sort of invaluable job as is done in the Matériaux pour l’histoire de notre temps published by the Bibliotheque de Documentation Internationale Contemporare.
I heard of your publication from Cyril Smith. To my surprise, it was not available at the Economist’s Bookshop, adjoining the LSE, where, indeed, the staff had not even heard of it.
Do you know of my article in the April-May 1959 issue of Labour Review and published over the pseudonym ‘B. Farnborough’? Although I had by that time given up using the pseudonyms ‘Joseph Redman’ and ‘Leonard Hussey’ and was writing under my own name, 1 thought it discreet to use a pseudonym for this article as it was, in effect a criticism of Bill Hunter’s article Marxists in the Second World War, published in the December 1958 issue of Labour Review, and I did not want to make it too easy for certain elements to say that the ‘new’ Trotskyists were quarrelling with the ‘old’ Trotskyists.
My choice of pseudonym arose from a wartime memory. In May 1940 I arrived at Aldershot for an army training course just as the Germans launched their offensive in the West. An acquaintance of mine – I forget if he was actually a fellow CP member or only a fellow-traveller – was just ‘graduating’, and expected to be sent to France forthwith. We met and went for a walk on Farnborough Common. He asked me what he ought to do if and when he found himself out there: should he go over to the Germans? I replied, as I recall: “Well, Ken, I agree that the practical implications of the Party line are far from obvious, but I’m certain you ought not do that” (adding, mentally, “Especially as you are Jewish”).
This article of mine was not included in the collection of my articles published by New Park in 1975 as Essays on the History of Communism in Britain, so at my request Tariq Ali reproduced it in the Spring 1977 issue of International along with my 1949 article, For the 20th Anniversary of Comrade Harry Pollitt as General Secretary of the Communist Party. The latter was written when I was still a keen Stalinist – but one who was still too fond of ‘raking up’ past controversies, so that I was rebuked by the CP leadership for circulating this piece. An enlarged version of my article on defeatism appeared in Sbornik No.13 (now Revolutionary Russia), edited by Dr John Slater, Department of Russia, The University, Durham DH1 3JT.
All good wishes for the success of your journal.
The reason for the absence of our journal from the Economist’s Bookshop is that whenever our representative has called, they have refused to accept it, even though the shelves are graced with such journals as The Marxist Monthly.
Updated by ETOL: 6.7.2003