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Unite to Defend Motherland: Communist Party National Council Resolution
New Age Communist Party Weekly
Vol. X, No. 44, New Delhi, November 4, 1962
Approved for Release: 8/27/2000: CIA-RDP78-03061A000100070014-0
by Central Intelligence Agency





The National Council of the Communist Party of India, meeting in New Delhi in the present grave period of national emergency, appeals to all sections of the Indian people to unite in defence of the motherland against Chinese aggression. The Communist Party joins hands with all our patriotic people who stand behind the Prime Minister’s stirring appeal for national unity in defence of the country, says the National Council of the Communist Party of India, in its resolution entitled “National Emergency Arising Out of Chinese Aggression” adopted in New Delhi on November 1. The resolution further reads –

The National Council pays its humble tribute to the remarkable heroism of our soldiers in the face of extreme odds. The National Council salutes the memory of those sons of India who have given their precious lives for the defence of our borders.

The last few weeks have seen an unprecedented mass upsurge of our people against Chinese aggression and for the defence of the country. In various parts of the country, State and District Committees of the Communist Party have joined hands with other patriotic forces to mobilize and unite the masses for national defence.

Violation of Solemn Undertaking

In violation of the solemn undertakings given by the Chinese Government during the last three years, not to cross the McMahon Line, Chinese armed forces in large numbers have openly crossed this international frontier and are today in many places inside Indian territory. The Chinese forces have also simultaneously launched big offensives against our positions in Ladakh.

The claims which have again and again been put forward by the Chinese Government on the grounds that the McMahon Line is “illegal” because it was the result of an agreement made at a time when British imperialists ruled over India, are completely untenable and on no account can such arguments justify their launching aggression on India. The crossing of this line, under any excuse or pretence whatsoever, indisputably constitutes aggression and violation of our territory.

The National Council congratulates the members and supporters of the Communist Party who have joined the national defence efforts in large numbers and participated in different forms of patriotic action.

The National Council calls on every Party member and supporter to intensify his efforts in support of the defence of the country – in unity with all people.

The National Council extends its full support to the position taken by Prime Minister Nehru in regard to the conditions for the opening of negotiations for the settlement of the border dispute. India had all along declared its willingness and its desire to settle the border dispute by peaceful negotiations, and even today, in the face of the invasion of our territory, the Prime Minister has reiterated his willingness to negotiate with the Chinese Government, while taking all the necessary measures for the defence of the country. But such negotiations can take place obviously on the basis of the withdrawal of Chinese forces at least to the positions they held before the present aggressive actions began – that is, as the Government of India has suggested, to the positions held before September 8, 1962.

Appeal To Friendly Countries

The National Council of the Communist Party appreciates the efforts of friendly countries and Governments to end the present conflict and pave the way to negotiations. It appeals to them and to all progressive and peace-loving forces in all parts of the world to throw their weight in favour of stopping of hostilities, to secure the withdrawal of Chinese forces as proposed by the Government of India so that an atmosphere for negotiations is created.

It should now be clear to all that the continuation of this conflict disrupts Afro-Asian solidarity, weakens the common struggle against imperialism and for national independence, and threatens world peace.

While defending the sacred soil of our country from aggression, our people are conscious of the fact that a full-scale war between two such big powers of Asia is a disaster that everyone must exert his best to avoid.

Chinese Propaganda

The National Council totally rejects and repudiates the characterization made by the Chinese authorities in their press and radio propaganda, of Prime Minister Nehru as “an agent of U.S. imperialists” and the leader of “reactionaries” and an “expansionist”, and of the Government of India acting as a “tool of U.S. imperialism” in order to secure more dollar aid.

The Communist Party in its Sixth Congress at Vijayawada had already stated that the Government of India under the leadership of Nehru, is pursuing a policy of peace and non-alignment and of opposition to war and colonialism; it is not expansionist nor serving the interests of U.S. imperialism, though there have been errors in the consistent execution of such a basically correct policy.

In his broadcast to the nation, Prime Minister Nehru has reiterated that India will continue to pursue a policy of non-alignment. The Communist Parties of the world have again and again acknowledged the contribution to peace of the non-aligned countries and particularly India.

As long ago as last December, our late General Secretary Ajoy Ghosh publicly repudiated the wrong Chinese understanding of the character of the Indian Government and the policies pursued by it.

The National Council of the Communist Party of India never expected a socialist country like China to settle a border dispute with India by force of arms, and make astounding claims against a country which is engaged in peaceful consolidation of its newly-won independence, which belongs to the peace camp, which follows a foreign policy of non-alignment, which has all along maintained friendship with China, and whose Government is run by a parliamentary democracy and not a military dictatorship.

By its wrong and mistaken attitude, the Chinese Government has facilitated the strengthening of the Right-wing reactionary parties and groups in this country, strengthening of the opponents of non-alignment. The result of Chinese aggression has been to give a tremendous fillip precisely to these forces.

Reaction’s Game

These reactionary forces seek to take advantage of the situation created by the Chinese aggression, to make India give up its policy of non-alignment, foment war hysteria and drag India into the imperialist camp. To this end, they are spreading panicky rumours and slanders to discredit the defence administration and leadership; they are openly accusing the Government and the Prime Minister of ‘appeasement’ and ‘vacillation’ and calling for a total reversal of foreign policy.

The Communist Party of India stands for the strengthening and building of the unity of all patriotic forces in this national emergency. The Communist Party of India is not opposed to buying arms from any country on a commercial basis. But it is opposed to the import of foreign personnel to man the defences of this country. The people and armed forces of India are capable enough to defend their country once they organize and move in their millions as a solid united force. Supreme efforts both by the Government and people will have to be made in this direction.

PM’s Call Responded

The people have responded splendidly to the call of the Prime Minister for united national effort, for stepping up production, mobilizing funds for the armed forces, etc.

The Communist Party pledges itself to participate fully in all activities for the promotion of national unity, defence and the strengthening of the morals of the people.

In this situation, the National Council draws the attention of all to the warnings given in the Prime Minister’s Appeal against anti-national vested interests who will try to profit by raising prices or hoarding, etc. The Council hopes that the Central and State Governments will take stern measures against the vested interests, who, as past experience shows, utilize such situations of national and international crises to enrich themselves at the cost¬ of the toiling people, to the detriment of the defence of the country.

Revoke Anti-People Measures

The great common mass of toiling people, who already live in poverty but who by their labour on land and in factories will be working in the rear to fulfil the needs of production, also need to be protected against the anti-social vested interests.

While sharing the tasks of the defence of the country, the people want to be assured that all the burdens of defence are not cast on the poor toiling people. Hence the Council hopes that those unpopular measures which have been on the anvil of the legislatures are set aside and the defence efforts are so organized¬ as to enthuse the mass of people and unite them for greater voluntary sacrifices for the defence of the country.

China’s Astounding Claims

The Council notes that reactionary elements in the country are trying to misuse popular indignation against Chinese aggression to rouse felings against the Communist Party of India. In the present situation, this amounts to nothing but national disruption and defiance of the Prime Minister’s call for national unity. The Council is confident that the patriotic and democratic forces in the country will give a fitting rebuff to all such attempts.

The Council calls on Communist Party units, members and supporters everywhere:

• To take an active part in the work of the popular committees which are being set up in support of the defence efforts;
• To exert their best to build up the National Defence Fund;
• To work resolutely for increase in production for defence and people’s needs;
• To mobilize public opinion against price rises, blackmarketing and profiteering and other anti-social activities, which hit the working people and the nation;
• To campaign tirelessly against those groups, parties and elements which seek narrow political advantage out of the present crisis;
• To oppose attempts to force India to give up her foreign policy of non-alignment and peace and thereby put her at the mercy of the imperialist camp and involve India in a prolonged full-scale war;
• To support all moves taken by the Government of India to bring about a peaceful settlement, consistent with the honour and dignity of the country.
The National Council is confident that all Communists will stand at their posts of duty and work, together with the rest of the Indian people, to the greater glory of the Motherland.


“In the Interest of Peoples, For the Sake of Universal Peace”

Text of Pravda Editorial

Moscow, October 25:

The following is the full text of Pravda editorial entitled “In the Interests of the Peoples, For the Sake of Universal Peace”, published today:

The Soviet Union and the other socialist countries regard it as the chief aims of their foreign policy the ensuring of peaceful conditions for the construction of a new society and for the development of the world socialist system, consolidation of friendship among all peoples, and the ridding of mankind from the threat of a new world war.

This position is consistently adhered to by the Soviet Union and countries of the socialist community in settling all world policy problems. Counterposing to imperialism the new type of international relations, the socialist states persistently and purposefully uphold the principles of freedom, national independence, sovereignty and the possibility for the people of every country to decide their destiny. The countries of the socialist camp act as genuine friends and allies of the peoples in their struggle against colonialism and the intrigues of the imperialist powers.

The young sovereign states have inherited many unsolved problems from the grievous past. The imperialist quarters never miss an opportunity of taking advantage of difficulties connected, specifically, with all kinds of border issues and disputes. In their aggressive aspirations U.S. imperialism and its allies in NATO, SEATO and other military blocs pin special hopes on exploiting the unsettled border issue between the People’s Republic of China and India.

The question of the Sino-Indian border is a legacy of the times when the British colonialists held sway on Indian territory, arbitrarily cutting and recutting the map of Asia.

The notorious McMahon Line, which has never been recognized by China, was imposed upon the Chinese and Indian peoples. The imperialist quarters did their utmost to use border conflicts connected with this line for provoking an armed clash. The imperialists dream of setting these great powers against each other, and also of undermining the Soviet Union’s friendship both with fraternal China and with friendly India.

The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China are bound by many years of unbreakable friendship. This friendship rests on the community of aims: the building of socialism and communism, its firm foundation is constituted by a uniform economic base, a uniform political system, a common ideology – Marxism-Leninism. The Soviet Union, China, and all the countries of socialism are at one in the struggle against imperialism, for peace all over the world. The joint forces of the socialist camp reliably guarantee every socialist country against encroachments by imperialist reaction. When four years ago, in 1958, the Chiang Kai-shek clique started, in collusion with U.S. military, provocative activities in the Taiwan Strait, the Soviet Government sternly warned the fanciers of playing with fire, stressing that in the struggle against the intrigues of imperialism the Soviet Union was fully on the side of great fraternal China. This warning was confirmed by the head of the Soviet Government, N.S. Khrushchev, in his radio and TV address on July 2, 1962.

Profound satisfaction is aroused in Soviet people by the development of the Soviet Unions’ cooperation with India. We rejoice over the successes of the Indian people, we understand their difficulties and readily broaden our cooperation which helps develop the economy and culture of the country which has cast off the colonial yoke. Soviet people highly appreciate sovereign India’s contribution to the struggle for peace and international security, against colonialism and imperialist military blocs.

Soviet People Are Worried

Soviet people, as all peace-loving public, are worried by the development of events on the Indian-Chinese border, especially in the recent period, when things came to armed clashes. Such a development does not accord with the spirit of relations existing between China and India. It runs counter to the national interests of both states. Aggravation of relations between China and India is only profitable to the common enemy of these states, international imperialism.

The Soviet Government and the Soviet people have always advocated the peaceful adjustment of this frontier dispute through negotiation. All lovers of peace adopt this view. There is no question that they will be gratified to see the new move which the Chinese Government has taken to peacefully settle its dispute with India. This is the statement issued by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the full text of which is published in today’s Pravda.

“It is absolutely impossible to imagine the solution of the question of the Chinese-Indian border with the help of armed force,” the statement says. “China and India are two major Asian countries and they bear great responsibility for peace in Asia and the world generally. They initiated the five principles of peaceful coexistence and took part in the Bandung Conference. And though present Sino-Indian relations are rather strained there is still no reason to jettison the five principles and the Bandung spirit.”

The Chinese Government has suggested embarking on negotiations to settle the question of the Sino-Indian frontier. It has expressed the hope that the Indian Government will be agreeable to having both sides respect the line between territories actually controlled by both sides along the entire Sino-Indian frontier and, to avoid contact, will withdraw their armed forces to within 20 kilometres distance. The Chinese Government believes that there should be another meeting between the Chinese and Indian Prime Ministers at a reciprocally suitable moment.

The Chinese Government has called on the Indian Government to energetically respond to its proposals. It has urged the Afro-Asian governments to exert an effort to facilitate their realization. It has likewise called on all the peace-loving countries and peoples to bend their efforts to promote Sino-Indian friendship, Afro-Asian solidarity and world peace.

The fomentation of the conflict between the two great Asian powers brings grist to the mill not only of imperialism in general but also of certain reactionary circles inside India, most intimately associated with foreign capital and imperialist forces inimical to the Indian people. To adjust the conflict peacefully India’s progressives must redouble their efforts. One, of course, must realize that when relations are strained as they are now, even some progressively minded people may succumb to nationalism and become jingoists. However, one cannot do that, when questions of the struggle for peace, of the solution of international issues, are at stake. In this case, one must be an internationalist and strive not to fan animosity and exacerbate the conflict but settle it peacefully through negotiation. Of course, there can be misunderstandings in relations between states. But it is imperative from the point of view of plain common sense to show good-will on both sides and not dictate any preliminary terms when adjusting disputes.

As for the Soviet people, they take the Chinese Government’s statement as an expression of its sincere concern for its relations with India and of its desire to end the conflict. We think the Chinese Government’s proposals constructive. Without impairing the prestige of either side, they provide an acceptable groundwork for starting negotiations and for peacefully settling controversies in a way taking account of the interests of both the People’s Republic of China and India.

Together Against Imperialism

A friendly settlement of the Sino-Indian frontier problem would once again demonstrate the great power of the principles of the peaceful co-existence and cooperation of states with different systems. It would also promote the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Indian peoples and largely facilitate the consolidation of international security in Asia and the world generally. Further, it would strike a fresh blow at the forces of imperialism and colonialism and against the machinations of the aggressive quarters of the U.S., who in the last few days have embarked upon an extremely perilous venture, which is directed not only against Cuba and the socialist states but against all lovers of peace in general.


Yemen Republic Victorious

The Yemeni Premier Abdallah al Sallal told a Cairo correspondent on October 27 that the Republican Government of the Yemen had been able, in the month since the beginning of the revolution, to put down the unrest provoked in the frontier regions by King Saud, King Hussein and the ruler of Beihan.

“Now”, he said, “we are dedicating all our efforts to the economic advance of Yemen. We hoped to set about doing this from the very first day of the revolution, but the conspiracies of our enemies hampered us. Of course, the defeat which Saud, Hussein and the Beihan ruler sustained, will not stop them. They will continue sending their mercenaries, arms and gold to Jauf and Marib regions in order to provoke unrest. That is why we shall continue enhancing our vigilance.”

”Our government”, Abdallah al Sallal said, “has already drafted an economic programme. It has been submitted to an economic conference now taking place at Sanaa. Above all, we must set up a central bank. We have also started various agricultural reforms. Above all, we must enlarge cotton crops and new markets for our farm produce. We shall try to obtain loans from various countries since the treasury had been empty at the time of the revolution. We shall invite specialists from the whole world and ask for their help.”

Meanwhile, MEN Agency correspondent from Marib reports that after bitter fighting, troops of the revolutionary Government of Yemen captured a height dominating Marib. In the course of the engagement, which lasted an hour, 170 rebels were killed and wounded and 100 others were taken prisoner.

Yemen aircraft discovered and strafed mercenary forces near the road between Marib and the British Protectorate of Beihan.

The Al Ahram correspondent reports from Sanaa that Yemen revolutionary troops have blocked another attempt by mercenaries to enter Yemen from the North-East.


Supplement to WPC Bulletin 10

Stop Press News on Cuba – 24 October 1962

Think – Act – Before It is Too Late

The peoples’ will to peace must halt US Cuba blockade and safeguard peace

Message to the Chairman of the UN Security Council from Professor J.D. Bernal
Chairman of the WCP Presidential Committee

In this house, when the outbreak of world war has never been so imminent, I address through you the members of the Security Council in the name of the hundreds of millions throughout the world who have steadily supported the cause of peace.

The orders given to the US Navy to stop and search all shipping to Cuba are completely illegal. Their implementation would be equivalent to a blockade. The military measures which accompany them are provocative and highly dangerous to peace.

The reasons alleged for these orders are totally irrelevant at a time when no city in the whole world is out of range of nuclear ballistic missiles. As to the proximity of the alleged missile bases in Cuba to the United States providing any justification for these actions, the Soviet Union and other Socialist countries have been ringed for years with nuclear bases round their frontiers without producing the hysterical military reaction which the US Government is now exhibiting. The other actions ordered by President Kennedy, particularly the intense military build up, cannot fail to be seen also as preparation for an invasion of Cuba.

Nevertheless, the US Government is actually asking the Security Council to justify its actions and even to reinforce them. We earnestly hope you will reject this motion and demand instead the calling off of the blockade and the military threats which accompany it. Only in an atmosphere free from such tension and incitement can the whole question of Cuba be dealt with by the United Nations so as to secure the right of its people to govern themselves free from blockade and threats of intervention.

The United Nations can only vindicate its original purpose of preserving peace by acting now to avert the gravest threat it has faced since its creation and save the world from the horror of nuclear war.



from Juan Marinello, President of the Cuban Movement for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples

In the face of imminent war danger provoked by the aggressive statement of President Kennedy ordering the Naval blockade of Cuba, we most urgently request appeal of world peace forces to urge new public condemnation of war-provoking actions by US Government, the sending without delay of messages to UNO and organization of powerful national movements in support of the cause of Cuba which is the cause of peace based on the respect and sovereignty of nations.


Eight hundred American women of Women Strike for Peace gathered in front of the UNO buildings in New York and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the blockade measures announced by President Kennedy. They shouted slogans and carried banners saying: Take care President Kennedy! Blockage leads to war!

Youth too demonstrated before the UN buildings shouting: Give up the blockade! To prevent world war – negotiations not provocations!

There were protest demonstrations as well in Berkeley (California) and Columbus (Ohio) at which youth and students protested against the Government announcement. In Columbus the demonstrators adopted a statement declaring the blockade an act of war and stating that the safety, not only of the United States, but also of the whole world is threatened by these measures.

Brazil and Argentina

The trade-unions of Latin America’s largest country, Brazil, have expressed their indignation at this “attack on the right to self-determination of a small people” and have declared their solidarity with the Cuban people. The Argentine trade-unions stated in a telegram to UNO: “The Cuban people is sovereign and has the right to shape its life independently and to take measures in its own defence. The war danger originates, not from Cuba, but from the USA which does not wish to respect this right”.

Great Britain

Action in support of Cuba has already started in Britain. Two thousand people demonstrated in front of the US Embassy. They broke through police cordons and 126 were arrested. Other demonstrations took place in Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester and Bristol. The British Peace Committee is calling a protest march through Central London on Saturday 27 October; the Hands off Cuba Committee has called a meeting for Saturday afternoon in Hyde Park and the CND will protest on Sunday with a public meeting in St. Pancras Town Hall.

The British Peace Committee issued a statement on 23 October and published a second one the following day to convene the Saturday march.

In a telegram to Premier Macmillan the Executive Committee of the South Wales branch of the National Union of Minors states that the British Government must not support the action of the United States against Cuba. The Executive Committee points to the necessity of removing all foreign bases and withdrawing all troops from foreign territories. The pursual of the present course of the US Government, the telegram states, will finally lead to war.


Throughout the whole day on 23 October, deputations from all districts of Paris and the outlying towns flocked to the United States Embassy in Paris to protest against the measures decided on by President Kennedy against Cuba.

The National Council of the Peace Movement sent a telegram to the French delegation at the UN Security Council. It also sent the following telegram to the Security Council itself:

“To the Security Council of the United Nations Organisation.

“Cuban blockade by the USA creates situation dangerous to peace. Demand withdrawal war measures decided by Kennedy and condemnation by Security Council of decision which could lead to nuclear war. Urge you reaffirm right of peoples for free choice of destiny.”

-- French Peace Movement


The Presiding Committee and the Secretariat of the Italian Peace Committee, at an emergency meeting following the very grave situation brought about by the US initiative taken on the night 22-23 October, condemned the acute danger to world peace of such an action. The United States, with its military bases and rocket stock-piles stationed in all areas of the world, in Italy and even in Cuba itself, has deliberately created a threat and launched a challenge directed, not only against Cuba and the Soviet Union, but also against the whole world by taking military measures, violating all norms of international law and defying outright the principle of the sovereignty of the peoples it states.

In the face of this extremely grave threat, all the peoples must act to defend peace.

The Italian Peace Committee considers it essential to impel the Italian Government to take a clear and firm stand without delay on the situation. The Government must refuse to submit to such an irresponsible military blackmail; it must take action in all possible fields to re-establish peace and law and give assurance that no Italian territory whatever be used to support in any way, directly or indirectly, the US action and that in no case Italian military units be engaged as a possible consequence of the insane threat.

As soon as President Kennedy’s speech had become known there were impressive demonstrations in the big cities of Italy. In Rome, thousands demonstrated shouting “Hands off Cuba!”. Similar demonstrations took place in Milan, Genoa, Turin, Forli, Bologna, etc. The people of Italy are demanding that their Government take effective measures to safeguard peace.

Many leading politicians and intellectuals have made statements in support of the freedom and independence of the Cuban people.


The President of the Belgian Senate, Paul Struyo, declared that there was not the slightest legal ground which would allow US to threaten ships en route for Cuba. Paul Struyo stressed that these measures announced by the USA were contrary to international law.


In neutral Sweden, the leading newspaper Stockholms Tidningen has condemned US action on the grounds that the blockade could bring with it the most grave consequences for world peace and that in any case the already tense international situation will be seriously worsened.

World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches, which represents protestant, orthodox and Anglican churches from 53 countries, has published a statement in Geneva condemning the act of aggression by the USA against Cuba. In its statement it declares that the World Council of Churches regards it as its duty to express its grave concern and regret at the measure which the United States Government has taken against Cuba.


Excerpts from the Soviet Government Statement

“… In this hour of grave anxiety the Soviet Union considers it its duty to direct a most solemn warning to the Government of the USA that, with the implementation of the measures announced by President Kennedy, the US Government would be taking upon its shoulders a grave responsibility for the fate of peace and would be playing an insane game with fire …

“… The Soviet Union has always remained true to the principles of the United Nations Charter; it has consistently followed, and will continue to follow, a policy aimed at maintaining and strengthening peace. The whole world knows what colossal efforts the Soviet Union makes to achieve the relaxation of international tension, the elimination of focal points of conflict and strife between states, the implementation of the principles of peaceful coexistence between states with various social systems. It was the Soviet Union that developed and founded the programme of general and complete disarmament, the achievement of which would open up real prospects for a world without war, a world without weapons.

“… These proposals meet with ever increasing support throughout the world; they have captured the imagination of men and have become the order of the day …

“… The US Government accuses Cuba of creating a danger for the security of the United States. But who will believe that Cuba could constitute a danger for the USA? On considering the size and the resources of both countries, of their armaments, it could not occur to any rational-minded statesman to imagine that Cuba could represent a danger to the United States of America or any other country…

“… Is it not convincing that the Cuban Government has officially stated that it wanted to settle all outstanding problems with the US Government by negotiations? …

“As for Soviet help for Cuba, this serves the sole aim of strengthening Cuba’s defence capacity…

“… If the USA today attempts to prohibit other countries from trading with Cuba and using their ships to carry goods and freight to Cuba, then leading circles of the USA could tomorrow demand similar measures against any other state whose policy or social system does not meet with the approval of ruling US circles …

“… The Soviet Government decisively rejects such claims. The crass actions of US imperialists could lead to catastrophic results for the whole of mankind, and no peoples in the world, including those of the USA, want this…

“… The Soviet Union appeals to all governments and peoples to protest against the aggressive actions of the United States of America against Cuba and other countries, resolutely to condemn these actions and to prevent the US Government from unleashing a nuclear war…”

(Unofficial translation)


The London Times on 10 October published a letter from certain eminent British personalities on the question of Cuba. Following are extracts:

“The American calls for armed aggression against Cuba are so strident, the justifications given for it so unconvincing to reasonable people outside the United States, that it is tempting to dismiss them…”

“It may, therefore, be as well,” continues the letter, “to state what we believe to be the feeling of the great majority of Britons. Whatever we think of Fidel Castro, we have no sympathy for the hectoring of a small country by a great power. We find the American arguments for intervention unacceptable. We do not believe that any good can come to world peace, or, for that matter, to America’s standing in the world (and especially Latin America), from intervention in Cuba. Finally, we would strongly oppose any attempt by the United States to involve this country by asking British ships to participate in a blockade or by requesting any other interference with the normal peaceful relations between states…”


Robert Bolt; George Devine; Penelope Gillialt; Willis Hall; Richard Hoggart; Paul Johnson; Christopher Logue; Louis Mae Neice; John Osborne; J.B. Priestley; Herbert Read; Philip Toynbee; Kenneth Tynan; Anthony Wedgwood Benn; Arnold Wesker.

3 October


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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:26 am

The New Age
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/20

Issue number 1 of the relaunched The New Age 2 May 1907

The New Age was a British weekly magazine (1894-1938), inspired by Fabian socialism, and credited as a major influence on literature and the arts during its heyday from 1907 to 1922, when it was edited by Alfred Richard Orage. It published work by many of the chief political commentators of the day, such as George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton and Arnold Bennett.


The New Age began life in 1894 as a publication of the Christian socialist movement, but in 1907, as a radical weekly edited by Joseph Clayton, it was struggling.[1] In May of that year, Orage and Holbrook Jackson, who had been running the Leeds Arts Club, took over the journal with financial help from George Bernard Shaw. Jackson acted as co-editor only for the first year, after which Orage edited it alone until he sold it in 1922.[2][3] By that time his interests had moved towards mysticism, and the quality and circulation of the journal had declined. According to a Brown University press release, "The New Age helped to shape modernism in literature and the arts from 1907 to 1922".[4][5] It ceased publication in 1938. Orage was also associated with The New English Weekly (1932–1949), as editor, during its first two years of operation (Philip Mairet took over at his death in 1934).


The magazine began as a journal of Christian liberalism and socialism.[6] Orage and Jackson re-oriented it to promote the ideas of Nietzsche, Fabian socialism and later a form of Guild socialism. But The New Age did publish opposing viewpoints and arguments, even on issues upon which Orage had strong opinions. Topics covered in detail included:

• the role of private property - in a debate between H. G. Wells and Shaw against G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc
• the need for a socialist party (as distinct from the newly formed Labour Party)
• women's suffrage

On this last point, the editorial line moved from initial support to bitter opposition by 1912
. As The New Age moved away from Fabian politics, the leaders of the Fabian Society, Beatrice and Sydney Webb founded the journal The New Statesman to counter its effect in 1913, and this, combined with the growing distance between Orage and the mainstream left, reduced its influence. By then, the editorial line supported Guild socialism, expounded in articles by G. D. H. Cole and S. G. Hobson among others. After World War I Orage began to support the Social Credit theory of C. H. Douglas.

The New Age also concerned itself with the definition and development of modernism in the visual arts, literature and music, and consistently observed, reviewed and contributed to the activities of the movement.

The journal became one of the first places in England in which Sigmund Freud's ideas were discussed
before the First World War, in particular by David Eder, an early British psychoanalyst.


The journal appeared weekly, and featured a wide cross-section of writers with an interest in literature and the arts, but also politics, spiritualism and economics.

With its woodprint illustrations reminiscent of artwork by the German Expressionists, its mixture of culture, politics, Nietzschean philosophy and spiritualism, and its non-standard appearance, The New Age has been cited as the English equivalent of the German Expressionist periodical Der Sturm, a journal to which it bore a striking resemblance.

Notable contributors

• Boris Anrep
• Michael Arlen (Dikran Kouyoumdjian)
• Belfort Bax
• Hilaire Belloc
• Arnold Bennett
• Cecil Chesterton
• G. K. Chesterton
• G. D. H. Cole
• C. H. Douglas
• Arthur Kitson
• David Eder
• Havelock Ellis
• Florence Farr
• Beatrice Hastings
• T. E. Hulme
• Herbert Hughes
• Holbrook Jackson
• Oscar Levy
• Anthony Ludovici
• Hugh MacDiarmid
• Katherine Mansfield
• Edwin Muir
• Alfred Orage
• A. J. Penty
• Marmaduke Pickthall
• Ezra Pound
• Herman George Scheffauer
• Hugh Pembroke Vowles
• H. G. Wells
• Herbert Read
• Clifford Sharp
• Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji
• George Bernard Shaw
• Walter Sickert
• Dimitrije Mitrinovic
• Ramiro de Maeztu
• P. D. Ouspensky


1. John Carswell, Lives and Letters, London, 1978, ISBN 0-571-10596-3, p 32.
2. Modernism In and Beyond the “Little Magazines”: course syllabus (posted at the Modernist Journals Project) by Professor Ann Ardis
3. The New Age in Encyclopædia Britannica article on Orage
4. Modernist Journals Project Has Grant to Digitize Rare Magazines: Brown University press release (April 19, 2007)
5. Scholes, Robert. Short description of The New Age at the gateway page for the MJP's digital edition
6. Martin, Wallace. The New Age Under Orage (chapter 2) at the Modernist Journals Project

External links

• Complete archive of The New Age under Orage (1907–1922) at the Modernist Journals Project. PDFs of all 783 weekly issues (and 42 supplements) may be downloaded for free at the MJP website.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 7:39 am

Maurice Dobb
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/20

Maurice Dobb
Born: 24 July 1900, London
Died: 17 August 1976 (aged 76)
Nationality: British
Field: Political economy
School or tradition: Marxian economics
Influences: Karl Marx

Maurice Herbert Dobb (24 July 1900 – 17 August 1976) was a British economist at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is remembered as one of the pre-eminent Marxist economists of the 20th century.


Maurice Dobb was born on 24 July 1900 in London, the son of Walter Herbert Dobb and the former Elsie Annie Moir.[1] Dobb and his family lived in Willesden, a suburb of London. Dobb was educated at Charterhouse School in Surrey, an independent boarding school.[2] He began writing after the death of his mother, during his early teenage years, and his covert, introverted personality prevented him from building a network of friends. His earliest novels were fictional fantasies. Much like his father, Dobb initiated practice in Christian Science after his mother's death; the family had previously belonged to the Presbyterian church.

Saved from military conscription by the Armistice of November 1918, Dobb was admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1919 as an exhibitioner to study economics.[3] Dobb gained firsts in both parts of the economics tripos in 1921 and 1922 and was admitted to the London School of Economics for graduate studies.[3] Following his achievement of a PhD in 1924, Dobb returned to Cambridge to take up a post as University lecturer.[3]

In 1920, after Dobb’s first year at Pembroke College, John Maynard Keynes invited Dobb to join the Political Economy Club, and after graduation Keynes helped him secure a position at Cambridge. Dobb was open with his students about his communist beliefs. One of his students, Victor Kiernan, later reported: "We had no time then to assimilate Marxist theory more than very roughly; it was only beginning to take root in England, although it had one remarkable expounder at Cambridge in Maurice Dobb." [4] Dobb's house, "St Andrews" in Chesterton Lane, was a frequent meeting place for Cambridge communists that it was known locally as "The Red House".[5]

Dobb joined the Communist Party in 1920 and during the 1930s was central to the burgeoning Communist movement at the university. One of his recruits was Kim Philby, who later became a high-placed mole within British intelligence. It has been suggested that Dobb was a "talent-spotter" for the Comintern.[6] Dobb was one of the great communist revolutionaries in Britain at the time. He was very politically active and spent a considerable amount of time organizing rallies and presenting lectures on a consistent basis. The economist commonly focused on vulnerability to economic crisis, and pointed to the United States when referring to capitalist money assisting military agendas instead of public works.


Dobb's position at Trinity helped him stay connected to the college for more than 50 years. Dobb was elected as a fellow of Trinity College at Cambridge in 1948, at which time he began joint work with Piero Sraffa assembling the selected works and letters of David Ricardo.[7] The result of this effort was eventually published in eleven volumes.[8] He did not receive a University readership until 1959.

Over the span of his career he published twelve academic books, more than twenty-four pamphlets, and numerous articles meant for general audiences. He often wrote on political economy, drawing a connection between the social context and problems in society and how that influences market exchange. "Economic relations of men determine social associations of men" he said in his Marxian economics class. Dobb believed the capitalist system created classes, and with class comes class warfare. After his 1925 trip to Russia with Keynes, Dobb refrained slightly from his interests of political conflict; he was notorious for long and dull lectures with fewer attendees each class.

Other positions held by Dobb around 1928 include teaching in a summer school, acting as the Chairman of the Faculty of Economics of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and even helping to launch the party's own film company. He encountered differing opinions with people in the party, pushing that intellect and political activity are not mutually exclusive.

In 1931, Dobb married Barbara Marian Nixon, and unlike his first marriage stayed with Nixon for the rest of his life. She never claimed herself a communist, but was an active member of the Labour Party and held a seat on London's County Council while pursuing a career in acting. Dobb's personal life was of particular interest to his colleagues, and due to the controversy Pembroke College dropped Dobb as the Director of Studies and withdrew his dining rights. In the same year he had given a lecture describing a recent trip to Russia, which prompted some to call him a "paid official of the Russian government", and in turn caused a small scandal at Cambridge. Dobb responded by writing an article in The Times claiming he had no connection to the Soviet Union.

The Hogarth Press

The Hogarth Press, founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf, was a printing press intent on publishing items that encouraged free exchange of ideas. Leonard Woolf himself was an anti-imperialist. He also believed intellectual exchange was the same as economical exchange in material form; Dobb’s publications were both intellectual exchange through introduction and defense of Marxism, as well as a pieces of work that could be sold. Publications possibly reflected the opinions of Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Leonard Woolf later commissioned The Political and Social Doctrine of Communism, and originally asked Maurice Dobb and another author, who both refused. Between “1924 and the late 1930s, the Hogarth Press published eight pamphlets on Russia, communism, and Marxism… the motives, supported by Leonard Woolf, were political and educational."

Dobb published two pamphlets with the Hogarth Press. The first, Russia To-day and Tomorrow (1930), was written after his return from Russia with Keynes. Dobb comments on the Soviet Union’s economy, politics, industry, and culture. Russia To-Day and Tomorrow was a bestseller during the 1930s. His second publication, On Marxism To-Day (1932) was another pamphlet meant to be a rudimentary introduction to communism directed to the general public.

Death and legacy

Maurice Dobb died on 17 August 1976. Before his death in 1976 and the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Dobb started to question his earlier devotion to Russia’s economics.

His communist ideals, however, did not die with him. Dobb had two notable students, Amartya Sen and Eric Hobsbawm. Sen won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 and Bharat Ratna in 1999 for his work in welfare economics, as well as the inaugural Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize in recognition of his work on welfare economics. Sen is also a fellow at Trinity College, much like Dobb was. Hobsbawm attended the University of Cambridge, like Dobb, and was a Marxist historiographer who published numerous works on Marxism and was also active in the Communist Party Historians Group and the British Communist Party.

Economic thought

Dobb was an economist who was primarily involved in the interpretation of neoclassical economic theory from a Marxist point of view. His involvement in the original economic calculation problem debate consisted of critiques of capitalist, centrally planned socialist, or market socialist models that were based upon the neoclassical framework of static equilibrium. Dobb charged the market socialist model of Oskar Lange and the contributions of "neo-classical" socialists of an illegitimate "narrowing of the focus of study to problems of exchange-relations." (Economists and the Economics of Socialism, 1939.)

Many of his works have been published into different languages. His short publication Introduction to Economics was translated to Spanish by the Mexican intellectual Antonio Castro Leal for the leading Mexican publishing house Fondo de Cultura Economica, which has gone through more than ten editions since 1938.

For Dobb, the central economic challenges for socialism are related to production and investment in their dynamic aspects. He identified three major advantages of planned economies: antecedent co-ordination, external effects and variables in planning.

Antecedent co-ordination

Planned economies employ antecedent co-ordination of the economy. In contrast a market economy atomises its agents by definition, the expectations which form the basis of their decisions are always based on uncertainty. There is a poverty of information which often leads to disequilibrium that can only be corrected in a market ex post (after the event), and thus resources are wasted. An advantage of antecedent planning is removal of significant degrees of uncertainty in a context of coordinated and unified information gathering and decision-making prior to the commitment of resources.

External effects

Dobb was an early theorist to recognise the relevance of external effects to market exchanges. In a market economy, each economic agent in an exchange makes decisions on the basis of a narrow range of information in ignorance of any wider social effects of production and consumption. When external effects are significant, it invalidates the information transmitting qualities of market prices so that prices will not reflect true social opportunity costs. He claimed that contrary to the convenient assumptions of mainstream economists, significant external effects are in fact pervasive in modern market economies. Planning that coordinates interrelated decisions before their implementation can take into account a wider range of social effects. This has important applications for efficient industrial planning, including decisions about the external effects of uneven development between sectors, and in terms of the external effects of public works, and for development of infant industries; this is in addition to widely publicised negative external effects on the environment.

Variables in planning

By taking the whole complex of factors into consideration, only coordinated antecedent planning allows for fluid allocation where things that appear as "data" in static frameworks can be used as variables in a planning process. By way of example one can enumerate the following categories of "data" that under coordinated antecedent plan would assume the form of variables that can be adjusted in the plan according to circumstances: rate of investment, distribution of investment between capital and consumption, choices of production techniques, geographical distribution of investment and relatives rates of growth of transport, fuel and power, and of agriculture in relation to industry, the rate of introduction of new products, and their character, and the degree of standardisation or variety in production that the economy at its stage of development feels it can afford.


1. Ronald L. Meek, "Portrait: Maurice Dobb," Challenge, vol. 22, no. 5 (Nov./Dec. 1979), p. 60.
2. Meek, "Portrait: Maurice Dobb," pp. 60–61.
3. Meek, "Portrait: Maurice Dobb," pg. 61.
4. Victor Kiernan, London Review of Books (25 June 1987)
5. Biography of Maurice Dobb
6. Phillip Knightley, Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy, Andre Deutsch, London, 1988, pp 30–31, 36–37, 45.
7. Antonio Callari, "Maurice Herbert Dobb (1900–1976)," in Robert A. Gorman (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of Marxism.Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986; pp. 95–97.
8. Piero Sraffa and M.H. Dobb (eds.), The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo. Eleven volumes. Cambridge University Press, 1951–1973. Available online.


• Capitalist Enterprise and Social Progress, 1925
• Russian Economic Development since the Revolution. Assisted by H. C. Stevens. London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1928.
• Wages, 1928
• "A skeptical view of the theory of wages", 1929, Economic Journal.
• Russia To-Day and Tomorrow, 1930, The Hogarth Press
• On Marxism To-Day, 1932, The Hogarth Press
• "Economic Theory and the Problems of a Socialist Economy", 1933, Economic Journal.
• Political Economy and Capitalism: Some essays in economic tradition, 1937.
• Soviet Planning and Labour in Peace and War: Four Studies. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1942.
• "How Soviet Trade Unions Work." San Francisco: International Bookshop, n.d. [1942]. —Leaflet.
• Marx as an Economist: An Essay. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1943.
• Soviet Economy and the War. New York: International Publishers, 1943.
• Studies in the Development of Capitalism, 1946
• Soviet Economic Development Since 1917, 1948
• Reply (to Paul Sweezy's article on the transition from feudalism to capitalism), 1950, Science and Society.
• Some Aspects of Economic Development, 1951
• On Economic Theory and Socialism: Collected Papers. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1955.
• An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning, 1960
• Economic Growth and Underdeveloped Countries. New York: International Publishers, 1963.
• Papers on Capitalism, Development and Planning, 1967
• Welfare Economics and the Economics of Socialism, 1969
• "The Sraffa System and Critique of the Neoclassical Theory of Distribution", 1970, De Economist
• Socialist Planning: Some Problems. 1970
• Theories of Value and Distribution Since Adam Smith: Ideology and Economic Theory. London: Cambridge University Press, 1973.
• "Some Historical Reflections on Planning and the Market," in Chimen Abramsky (ed.), Essays in Honour of E. H. Carr, London, Macmillan Press, 1974.
• An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976.
• The Development of Socialist Economic Thought: Selected Essays. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2008.

Further reading

• Dubino, J. (2010). Virginia Woolf and the Literary Marketplace. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
• Eatwell, J., Murray Milgate, & Peter Newman, (eds.) (1990) The New Palgrave. Marxian Economics. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.
• Feinstein, C. (ed.) (1967). Socialism, Capitalism and Economic Growth: Essays Presented to Maurice Dobb. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Hobsbawm, E.J. (1967). "Maurice Dobb." In Feinstein (1967).
• Hollander, Samuel. (2008). The Economics of Karl Marx: Analysis and Application. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Howard, M.C. & King, J.E. (1992). A History of Marxian Economics, Volume II: 1929-1990 Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
• Maurice Dobb Memorial Issue. (1978). Cambridge Journal of Economics, 2(2), June.
• Meeks, Ronald. (1978). Obituary of Maurice Herbert Dobb. Proceedings of the British Academy 1977, 53, 333-44.
• Pollitt, B.H. (1985). Clearing the path for ‘Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities’: Notes on the Collaboration of Maurice Dobb in Piero Sraffa’s edition of ‘The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo’. Mimeographed.
• Sen, Amartya. (1990). "Maurice Herbert Dobb." In Eatwell, Milgate, & Newman, (1990).
• Shenk, Timothy. (2013). Maurice Dobb: Political Economist. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
• Shenk, Timothy. (2013). "A Marxist in Keynes’ Court". Jacobin Magazine. October 9 issue.
• Sraffa, P. (1960). Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities: Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Sraffa, P., with the collaboration of M.H. Dobb. (1951–73). Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo. 11 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links

• Papers of Maurice Herbert Dobb
• The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism: A Contribution to the Sweezy-Dobb Controversy H. K. Takahashi and Henry F. Mins Science & Society Vol. 16, No. 4 (Fall, 1952), pp. 313–345
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:32 am

[Victor Gordon] Kiernan: British Historian of Imperialism
by Bhupendra Yadav
(Parts of this essay were published as ‘Kiernan: Historian of Imperialism’ in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLIV, No. 24, June 13, 2009: 26-29)

A few weeks after Freda emerged from Lahore jail, the war took a turn which had direct repercussions for both her and her husband. Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 and attacked the Soviet Union, his erstwhile ally. Communist parties which had already carried out one contortion when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact became public knowledge and changed overnight from describing the conflict as a war against fascism to an imperialist war were again wrong-footed. The British party quickly fell in line with Moscow and came to hail a people's war which needed to be prosecuted zealously, not least to protect Soviet communism from the Nazi aggressor. The Indian party was slower to respond to the changing contours of the conflict -- in part because of a reluctance to make common cause with the Imperial power, and in part because the detention of so many leading left-wingers hampered debate and decision making. By the close of 1941, Indian communists were coming to accept the need to support the allied war effort against Germany and Japan. In April 1942, the communists confirmed their change of strategy, and so decided to support the war and all it entailed. Three months later, the Communist Party of India was legalised. This support for the prosecution of the war was not a popular move in India. 'It alienated us completely from the national movement ... ' Bedi recalled, 'but at the same time the conviction was so deep that anti-fascism struggle had to be carried on.' It also sharpened the distinction between communists and other progressive strands of nationalism. In August 1942, Congress launched the Quit India agitation which placed achieving independence ahead of fighting Germany and Japan, and which also entailed the detention of most Congress leaders for the remainder of the war; in that same month, the more radical nationalists led by Subhas Bose established the Indian National Army to fight alongside the Japanese in an attempt to evict Britain from India. The communists stood aloof from both endeavours.

Towards the close of 1941, a Friends of the Soviet Union association was established in Calcutta. Freda Bedi promptly took to the platform to endorse the campaign... 'The spirit that animates Russia in her magnificent resistance to Nazi barbarism will never die,' she told a students' conference at Lahore's Bradlaugh Hall at the end of November. She read a telegram from Bedi sent from Deoli, and passed by the censors there so in a sense approved by the British authorities: "'Convey students glowing greetings towards peace and progress through vigorously functioning Punjab Friends of Soviet.''' Within weeks, the new association had established a regional organisation in Punjab and Freda became the provincial organiser. It was the most prominent position she took in Indian politics, ... she had a standing and reputation which helped the pro-Soviet, anti-Nazi, message percolate beyond the immediate ranks of the still underground CPI and its supporters....she was an exceptional organiser as well as an accomplished orator. The British communist intellectual Victor Kiernan was in Lahore at this time and regarded Freda highly, considering that she was 'emerging as one of the most effective of a new generation of Party leaders'....

No meeting was held in Lahore those days where Bedi did not speak or Freda Bedi did not speak....

'Our platform is non-party,' Freda insisted, not entirely convincingly, when seeking support for the initial conference of the Punjab section of the Friends of the Soviet Union, 'and the object of the organisation is to draw together all those who sympathise with the Soviets in their epic struggle against the Nazi hordes, whether on cultural, political or humanitarian ground.' On another occasion she spoke of the Second World War as an 'international civil war' and asserted that 'it is to Russia that the poor and neglected of the world look'.

-- The Lives of Freda: The Political, Spiritual and Personal Journeys of Freda Bedi, by Andrew Whitehead

Victor Gordon Kiernan (1913-2009) died of heart failure on 17th February 2009 at the ripe age of 95. We remember Kiernan fondly in South Asia not because he was one of the founders of the Historians’ Group of Communist Party of Great Britain (hereafter Historians’ Group) or because he was a Professor Emeritus of History at Edinburgh University (Scotland). In Edinburgh University, Kiernan inspired students like Prakash Karat, General Secretary of CPM and Dr James Gordon Brown (1951-), present Prime Minister of UK. Karat tried to repay his gratitude by editing a Festschrift entitled Across Centuries and Continents on the 90th birthday of Kiernan. Brown, who was a student of the History Department of Edinburgh University, reportedly edited The Red Paper on Scotland in 1975 with help from Kiernan. All this is important but not of pressing consequence to us here and now.

Owen Dudley Edwards edited the first Festschrift presented to Kiernan on his retirement in 1977. In his tribute to Kiernan, Edwards called him ‘a devoted scholar, a kindly teacher, an austere lecturer, an inspirational companion and a passionate anti-imperialist.’ (February 20, 2009 in In our estimate, Kiernan was both a Marxist historian and a scholar with eclectic interests. The ‘linguistic turn’ in social sciences and new cultural history passed Kiernan by, without even so much as an appreciative nod from Kiernan. The history of gender relations and environmental degradation did not interest Kiernan in any sustained way either. This makes Kiernan a chip of the same old ideological block. However, Kiernan made a unique contribution and had his distinct niche in Marxist historical writing. He studied the relationship of imperialism with society, in Europe and outside. He was interested in knowing what imperialism meant for its victims and which attitudes shaped it in the metropolis. When Kiernan wrote on Europe, it was with the regret that it had ‘imposed so much of itself and its discordance on the world’. (Kiernan (1980): ix.)

Kiernan’s scholarship was formidable but his personality was endearing. In his message at the Memorial service for Kiernan, Hobsbawm declared that the life of Kiernan confirmed that goodness, honesty and virtue are still found in the world. In 1986, Christopher Hill (1910-2003) dedicated Volume Two of his Collected Essays (featuring Religion and Politics in 17th Century England) to Kiernan. The dedication said “For Victor Kiernan – wit, provocateur and generous friend for fifty years.” (Hill (1986).) Before we proceed let us see the following example of Kiernan’s wit. In State and Society in Europe, 1550-1650, Kiernan observed that while Chinese magistrates were chosen for their learning and Turk officials, from the Sultan down, learned some useful occupation, the Badge of Gentry in Europe was idleness and hypochondria because upper classes ‘did not know how to spend their time’. Consequently, Kiernan inferred that ‘nine tenths of Europe (meaning peasants and artisans) was being steeped in misery in order that the other tenth (the Gentry and the feudal lords) might be miserable’. (Kiernan (1980: 260.)

Kiernan was a part of the Historian’s Group but his interests were different. For us, ex-colonial subjects of Britain, Kiernan is important because we were important to him. We, victims of imperialism, occupied a large part of his work. Kiernan spent eight precious years of his youth (1938-46) in Lahore, his first marriage was with the danseuse, Shanta Kalidas Gandhi (1917-2002), and he was a multi-lingual Marxist historian who took imperialism more seriously than his ilk. Kiernan blazed a trail of research on cultural imperialism with his The Lords of Human Kind (1969). Edward Said, the famous literary critic and linguist, systematically followed this theme later. Said’s legendary book Orientalism (1978) has just about two references to Kiernan but Said accepts gratefully Kiernan’s characterisation of Orientalism as ‘Europe’s collective day-dream of the Orient’. (Said (1978): 52.)

Kiernan was born on 4th September 1913 in a lower middle-class family. Apart from English, he picked Spanish and Portuguese at home because his father worked as a translator in the Manchester Canal company. He learnt Greek and Latin in the Grammar School at Manchester. Kiernan was multi-lingual before he joined Trinity College, Cambridge for his graduation (1931-6) in History. He worked there later as a Fellow in two tenures, viz. 1936-8 and 1946-8. Remembering his academic and political life then, Kiernan wrote poetically (Kiernan (1974b): 24):

…Doubtless the youthful world we inhabited contained, like all others, regions of illusion and self-deception, over which Saharas have long since crept. Much nevertheless is left from that time of common endeavour and common hope that few of the survivors would willingly forget.

Kiernan is survived only by his wife, Heather Massey – a Canadian academic. Kiernan’s book The Duel in European History: Honour and Reign of Aristocracy (1988) was dedicated to Heather. Both married in 1984 when Kiernan was 70 years old. Kiernan was married earlier to an Indian, Shanta Kalidas Gandhi (1917-2002), in 1938. Shanta was a friend and contemporary of Indira Gandhi. Both were studying in England when Indira fell in love with Feroze and Shanta met Kiernan. Kiernan famously followed Shanta to India. The highpoint of their whirlwind romance was marriage at the Bombay railway station, just when Kiernan was boarding a train to join his Lectureship at Sikh National College, Lahore. Kiernan later shifted to Aitchison College also in Lahore. His love for Urdu and Persian literature and friendship with Faiz Ahmed Faiz also started in Lahore. The marriage with Shanta ended in divorce in 1946 where after the lady went on to join Uday Shankar’s Dance School in Almora and Kiernan travelled back to his work as Fellow in Trinity College, Cambridge. (Kapur Chishti (2005))

The firm Marxist commitments of Kiernan came in the way when he was looking for a regular teaching assignment. He was refused jobs in the leading institutions because his own referees wrote something which did not endear him to the educational establishment in Oxford and Cambridge University. Finally, he joined the History Department in Edinburgh University in 1948 and retired from there in 1977. Speaking of Kiernan, Geoff Eley says (Eley (2005): 28):
..(Apart from Hobsbawm) Kiernan was also a true polymath, publishing widely on aspects of imperialism, early modern state formation, and the history of the aristocratic duel, as well as British relations with China and the Spanish Revolution of 1854, with an imposing wider bibliography of essays on an extraordinary range of subjects.

Dissident with a difference

Historians, as a vocational group, have not been keen to generalize their findings and this has led history to be classified as an ideographic social science as compared to sociology which is nomothetic. Consequently, most historians are net consumers of social theory produced by scholars in other disciplines. It is only two historians who reportedly contributed concepts to social theory, viz. E.P. Thompson (1924-93) who gave us the concept of ‘moral economy’ and E.J. Hobsbawm (born 1917) who helped create the concept of ‘invention of tradition’. (Peter Burke (1992): 1- 2.) Coincidentally, both the aforementioned innovative historians were Marxists by persuasion and British by descent. They, along with several others, were the leading lights of the Historians’ Group. Most members of this Group were Euro-centric. Some among them (like Maurice Dobb(1900-76)) highlighted the class relations perspective in the debate about the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Others (like Eric Hobsbawm) celebrated the peasant resistance to capitalist transformation by calling them ‘social bandits’ because Robin hood robbed the rich, distributed the booty among the poor and never killed except in just revenge. Still others (like E.P. Thompson) pioneered ‘history from below’ by letting workers to speak for themselves and thereby, save them from the ‘condescension of posterity’. Kiernan was a part of this group. He said that Marx gave him ‘tentative and fragmentary information on the past’ and he learnt from historians with a ‘Marxian outlook’. But, he added, students of the past must grope among approximations because sometimes the solid ground of interpretations dissolves before her ‘from a chaotic pile to mere nebulosity’. ‘Then history-writing becomes a struggle to chart a phantasmagorical cloud-procession, or build with mists and vapours instead of bricks and mortars.’ (Kiernan (1980): ix-x.)

The good thing about Kiernan is that he is as open as Thompson when it came to intra-left ideological and political problems. He is, however, less celebrated than Thompson because Kiernan was a trifle less polemical, more focussed on historical themes, less spread-out on other agendas like pacificism and could not earn the halo Thompson did as a ‘public intellectual’. Harvey J. Kaye left Kiernan out from his seminal book The British Marxist Historians (1984) but more than compensated for it by editing and writing an introduction to History Classes and Nation-states: Selected Writings of V.G. Kiernan (1988). He noted that all the British Marxist historians were creating the ‘historical aesthete’. But while others (like Rodney Hilton (1916-2002), Christopher Hill (1910-2003), Eric Hobsbawm, George Rude (1910-93) and Edward Thompson (1924-93)) were primarily strategists of socialist politics ‘fanning the spark of hope’, Kiernan’s vision of history was tragic. He reminded us that the ‘the enemy (the ruling class) has not ceased to be victorious’ with the triumph of capitalism. (Harvey J. Kaye (1988): 27.) Kiernan was convinced that the losers of history will not be safe even after they are dead. The losers will not be left alone by the victorious ruling class; they will be systematically misrepresented in history. Therefore, it was on behalf of the losers that Kiernan took up cudgels in his life and work.

The association of Kiernan with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) lasted twenty-five years. He joined the Left party in 1934 at Cambridge and left it in 1959. He was appalled that CPGB was in the habit of shielding USSR from real and imagined capitalist onslaught, like the one in 1918. Kiernan thought that the party grew in public esteem and organisational membership when it took an independent stand against Spanish Fascism, Mosley at home and the misery caused by unemployment. Writing in London Review of Books (September 17, 1998), Kiernan said that he was disappointed at the Party’s paralytic response to the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and a report of the three member committee (one member out of which was fellow historian Christopher Hill) that there was no democracy in the organisation. Most of his Comrades in Edinburgh joined the Labour party, one or two became Trotskyites, one turned into a supporter of Maoism but Kiernan ‘lingered inactively for three years’ ‘waiting in the hope that the party might improve’. But when it did not, from 1959 Kiernan decided to be a ‘one-man party of liberal-Marxist principles’.

During his membership of CPGB, Kiernan was engaged with the communist underground in India between 1938 and 1946. In September 1938, he carried a ‘lengthy document from the Communist International’ which said that Moscow was seeking a collective security agreement with Britain and hence, was unable to campaign for the legalization of Communist Party of India (CPI). He met PC Joshi secretly, after disguising himself by shaving off his moustache, in the lounge of the Prince of Wales Museum at Mumbai (then Bombay). The first time Kiernan went to a secret meeting of the CPI he was made to wait for half an hour outside a cinema in an Indian area and to cover up his loitering he knew of no better thing than ‘keep tying a shoelace’. (Kiernan (1987): 61- 2.) Apparently, the cell-phone serves much the same purpose these days!

For most of the period he was in India, Kiernan was in Punjab which he describes as ‘a backwoods province run for the British and for themselves by a coalition of landowners called the Unionist Party’. During the wartime, CPI grew because it took up mass grievances like housing shortage/ high rentals in Lahore, Punjab’s capital; scarcity of commodities and inflation in prices; and shortage of food-grains. The Punjab unit of Friends of Soviet Union was formed with Freda Bedi, the mother of cine-star Kabir Bedi, as provincial organiser in Punjab. Kiernan wrote a letter calling for opening official/ academic contacts with USSR and it was published in The Tribune on 20 September 1942. A humorous incident took place when the Commissioner called up Kiernan to loan a Russian flag for hoisting at the victory celebrations, after the War. (Kiernan (1987): 63, 69-70.) The Punjab unit of Friends of Soviet Union or Kiernan did not have a Russian flag to loan the Government for celebrating the victory of allies over fascism!

Kiernan was just an onlooker of the political goings on in India who also managed to play a small role in them. He found many splendid qualities among the CPI comrades but he was exasperated at the ‘wooden dogmatism, bureaucratism and aggressive national self-esteem’ in the party. Most of the party members were talented, educated people and some of them belonged to rich, elitist families. Yet, at the party ‘commune’ in Andheri at Mumbai, the whole-timers, lived on a monthly wage of Five rupees, ‘slept on thin mats on hard floors’, ‘ate sparse meals sitting in rows on the ground’ and used a foul-smelling latrine to ease themselves. Despite facing these odds while visiting them, Kiernan declared, ‘Living and working among them was on the whole the most exhilarating experience of my life.’ (Kiernan (1987): 67-68.) Such admirable sacrifice and self-effacing simplicity was the hallmark of the life of the men and sprinkling of women, veterans and beginners, plebeians and aristocrats, Hindus and Muslims, poets, writers, activists and leaders of CPI.

The way CPI worked was exasperating, says Kiernan. There was little room for discussion because the theory came from Marx and the party-line from the top. Hence, Kiernan did not hear even once a point of theory being discussed in the eight years he was in India. Kiernan noticed that young intellectuals were recruited by CPI but they either wore out quickly or turned into party hacks. To counter the self-assumed anarchic Indian national temperament, seriousness was imposed on CPI members in schoolmasterly ways. ‘At Lahore at one stage all members were called on to fill in weekly time-table details of how every hour of each day had been employed.’ Consequently, communists thought of themselves as practical men with no time for idle chatter or interest in cultivating a sense of humour. Kiernan records that ‘I used to make up limericks, on topical subjects, for the wall-newspaper, and as a connoisseur of this genre was disappointed to find that only the least subtle were applauded.’ (Kiernan (1987: 66 & 68.)

Kiernan was clear that the stand Indian nationalists took against the Second World War was sounder than the vacillation communists showed during this period. In his entry on ‘Nationalism’ in A Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Kiernan wrote that Marx and Engels under-estimated nationalism because they were German immigrants living outside and they were internationalists out to unite the workers of the world! He appreciated that the Third Communist International supported colonial liberation movements. Kiernan also admired the Chinese and Vietnamese communists for blending their socialism with nationalism and backing this clearer theory with a better organisation to carry the day in the politics of their respective countries. But, he regretted, the Indian communists missed the bus due to their indecisiveness towards the on-going national movement. Kiernan wrote (Bottomore et al eds. (1983): 349):

…(Communists won in China and Vietnam but) India was an exception; there, with the Western connection so old, and political activity tolerated, a national movement on liberal lines had a long start. There were chronic debates among Indian Marxists as to whether they should collaborate with it, and on what terms; their failure to gain more ground owed much to their seeming to stand aloof from the national struggle.

Understanding Imperialism culturally

In 1999, Encyclopaedia of Historians and Historical Writing classified Kiernan as the ‘British historian of Imperialism’. After his death, Tariq Ali called Kiernan a ‘Marxist historian, writer and linguist who challenged the tenets of Imperialism’. (The Independent, February 20, 2009) Eric Hobsbawm captioned his obituary of Kiernan as ‘Historian with a global vision of Empires, Marxism, Politics and Poetry’. (The Guardian, February 18, 2009). In a memorial service at Edinburgh on February 28, 2009, the message of Hobsbawm proclaimed, ‘If God were to ask me for a good deed entitling me to admission in Heaven, I would say ‘I knew there was only one man capable of writing The Lords of Human Kind and I got him to write it.’ (John Trumpbour, “V.G. Kiernan: Historian of Humankind,” The Nation, March 2, 2009.)

The word imperialism, as we know, is derived from Empire and was first used in France in the 1830s. This term was popularized by journalists of Europe in the 1890s, after the Partition of Africa. An empire could be defined as a political system in which authority is vested in an emperor, like say the Roman Empire, in India, China etc. Empire is now most often used for the lands brought under the control of various European powers after 1500 CE. There can be situations of informal empire when one state controls another without claiming sovereignty over it, like say the British control over China in the 19th century. There can also be situations of cultural imperialism where control is exercised without political domination about which Edward Said has written and we see around us in the ‘Macdonald-isation’ of middle class culture. There can be neo-colonialism where imperial influence is perpetuated in nominally independent countries. Kiernan was interested in all these forms of imperialism.

Kiernan came from a family which was devoted to the empire. One of his brothers was called Edward after Edward VII and another Gordon after General Gordon of Khartoum. Victor, his own first name, was from Queen Victoria (Owen Dudley Edwards (2009), “Kiernan: Historian of Human Kind”, News., February 20, 2009.) It is, therefore, strange that Kiernan rebelled against the family heritage by becoming a critic of the British Empire quite early in his life. His earliest study of the British Empire was Metcalfe’s Mission to Lahore, 1808-1809. Kiernan thought the outcome of the diplomatic offensive, called Mission of Charles T. Metcalf to Ranjit Singh in 1808-1809, was a ‘small meal for imperialism’. The Mission helped British troops move from Yamuna (and territories around Delhi occupied in 1803) to 200 kilometres West up to the Sutlej, just six years later. Such expansion was matched by the ill-will among the parties concerned. Kiernan noted (Kiernan (1943, 1971 reprint): 109-110):

…All Englishmen of his (Metcalfe’s) time underrated all Sikhs: with some excuse, for they came in touch with the robber barons, not with the newly-emerged democracy, and knew very little of its religion or its outlook. “In my long acquaintance with mankind,” wrote Ochterlony, “I have never seen a race so strongly characterised by an almost brutal ignorance, selfish depravity, shameless falsehood, unprincipled cunning and a suspicion so excessive that even benefits must be long felt before they are received as unconnected with some sinister design.”

(Colonel Ochterlony was put in command of an expeditionary force to advance up to the Sutlej and even handled diplomatic parleys in the absence of Metcalf. Kiernan (1943): 32 & 82.)

Some scholars have undertaken intensive studies on the economic force driving imperialism and its effects (Peter J. Cain and Anthony G. Hopkins (1993). Some other scholars have been happy exploring the political and strategic compulsions behind imperialist expansion (William Roger Louis ed. (1976).) The cultural and psychological effects of imperialism were studied first in Francophone Africa in the late 1950s. Frantz Fanon was the first to note cultural domination and he said that imperialists did not only economically exploit and politically oppress their colonial subjects. Imperialism destroyed the consciousness of the history and culture among colonized people. The colonial subjects were stripped of their identity and represented in ways that made them more vulnerable to their new masters, said Fanon. Amilcar Cabral noted that the cultural loss of colonial subjects led to two responses, viz. a tame acceptance of the colonial stereotypes and a resistance to cultural domination by a return to the source.

Imperialism of the British variety ruled India and while the West was enriching itself since 1500, we were undergoing a phenomenon Andre Gunder Frank called ‘the development of underdevelopment’. In the popular perception, however, British colonialism is still considered a blessing. Protesting the indifference in the upkeep of old statues of British colonialists, Khushwant Singh, the doyen among Indian journalists, wrote in his column, “With Malice Towards One and All” (Hindustan Times, 14 March 2009):

While glorifying our freedom movement, we harped on the racist-colonial aspect of British rule. We erased from our memory the good they did. Ruling over the entire country, they made us conscious of being one people, Indians. We forgot our racial, religious and linguistic divisions and came closer to each other. The British introduced democratic institutions in the country: elected municipalities, legislatures including the Parliament. They gave us our judicial system, civil and criminal laws. They gave us the telegraph, railways, canals and roads. They gave us New Delhi, one of the most beautiful and greenest capitals of the world. There was more respect for law and order in the British days than there is today. And they left the country in good grace…

To such simplistic understanding of imperialism Kiernan may have responded sharply. Kiernan called the conquest and occupation of the world by Europeans as a very painful era; it was ‘old-style surgery without anaesthetics’, he said. When some Marxists thought this conquest harbingered progress in Asia and Africa, Kiernan said the real contribution of European imperialism ‘was made less by imposing its rule on others than by teaching others how to resist it’. (Kiernan and Kaye (1988): 16.) Kiernan endorsed the belief of Renan that a nation was both a memory and a purpose. Nationalism in the 20th century in Asia, he said, was a constructive force and spread, like communism, due the search of ‘bewildered multitudes for new ideals’. Created by the educated professionals, Indian nationalism got teeth with the support of urban middle strata, like petty traders, discontented clerks, swarms of lawyers and students anxious about their future. Gandhiji was acknowledged to be the personification of ‘united front’ of Indians against their colonial adversary. (Kiernan and Kaye (1988): 139 &155). Gandhi, said Kiernan (ibid: 159):

… worked out a philosophy to meet the needs of a country striving towards advance, but still entangled in the past and all its ways. It diluted cautious reformism with old-world religious views: it allowed conservatives to be mildly progressive, and restrained radicals from being too progressive. It admitted that India must fit itself for Independence by some degree of social reconstruction for the benefit of the underprivileged, including women and Untouchables, but insisted that traditional Indian life and thought contained treasures not known to the materialistic West. Under Gandhian tuition, in short, a hesitant India could take up its bed and walk without having to feel that it was leaving home.

The Lords of Human Kind: European Attitudes towards the outside world in the Imperial Age (1969) was not the first book by Kiernan. Apart from a number of historical research articles, he had already published two books on diplomatic history, viz. British Diplomacy in China, 1880-1885 (1939) and Metcalfe’s Mission to Lahore, 1808-1809 (1943). With The Lords of the Human Kind, however, Kiernan graduated to a large canvas and big themes. Apart from research articles on specific themes, he started writing books on such general themes like Marxism and Imperialism (1974), America: The New Imperialism (1978) and European Empires from Conquest to Collapse, 1815-1960 (1982). In the world of scholars, Kiernan came to be taken seriously after his The Lords of Human Kind. Incidentally, Kiernan dedicated The Lords of Human Kind to his friend Nazir Ahmad ‘lately Principal, Government College, Lahore in memory of excursions east and west’. The title of this book was taken by Kiernan from the following lines in Oliver Goldsmith’s poem The Traveller (1765):

Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of human kind pass by.

European civil servants, explorers, archaeologists, educationists, missionaries, profiteers, mercenaries and even convicts descended on the outside world in the Imperial Age. The Lords of Human Kind was a survey of European attitudes ranging from paternalistic, censorious, acquisitive, conscientious, righteous and condescending towards the ‘inferior races’. The Europeans felt moral outrage at the sight of mixed bathing in Japan (pp. 180-1); they were bewildered at the sight of Chinese who invented the gunpowder but used it only in celebrations as fireworks (pp. 171- 2); they had mixed feelings towards the amorous freedom among Tahitian women (pp. 244-5); and they were savage-like in repressing the rebellions, like the one by Chinese Boxers and the Indians in 1857.

Europe, after its heyday in Greek and Roman times when others in the east were called ‘barbarians’, had to start from a low cultural level in the Middle Ages (Kiernan (1969): 4). Seafarers like Columbus in 1492 and Vasco de gamma in 1498 found lands far from Europe. Interest in the outside world was nourished by tales of travellers, reports of missionaries and other accounts from Spanish colonies. Defoe gave matter-of-fact travelogues but Shakespeare’s Othello narrated cock-and-bull stories to Desdemona about the outside world (ibid: 16). Gulliver was a satire on how Europeans looked at or behaved with others. The sources, Kiernan said, of The Lords of Human Kind ‘are a random mixture of miscellaneous readings, unpublished British and French diplomatic records, conversations with many people from many lands and literature, predominantly English’.

Out of the 14 sovereign states in Europe in 1914, eight had colonies and Spain had just lost theirs few decades ago. The Europeans may have been moving from ‘compulsion to assent’ in organising their own social system but they were conducting themselves in the opposite spirit abroad. Ultimately, this cost the Europeans themselves quite dearly. More than just friendships and goodwill were lost by Europeans around the world. For instance, more lives were lost in World War I because people like Colonel G.B. Malleson suppressed the Revolt of 1857 in India and framed the golden rule that the ‘true mode to fight the Asiatics is to move straight on’. Now, faced with machine-guns and barbed wires in Europe, the infantries of combating enemies moved straight on and met certain death in monstrous proportions. These deaths took place in a measure larger than necessary and could be reduced if alternate battle tactics were used to outflank the enemy and then trap it or overpower it. The division of the world into ‘martial’ and ‘non-martial races’ also proved disastrous because it bound European vision less to military tactic and strategy and more to innate might and inherent fervour (Kiernan (1969): 314.)

The colonies were built and kept on a whole edifice of illusions and fanciful convictions. For instance, it was believed by colonialists that India would fall prey to anarchy and invasion without British rule. All sorts of emotions were expressed regarding people from different parts of British colonial Empire but it was thought that all Indians were stuck in the mud of the past. Richard F. Burton said East Indians were ‘the most antipathetical companion to an Englishman’; J.R. Seeley despaired that ‘no one could be more alien to one another than the English and the Hindus’; G.O. Trevelyan said the inner life of Bengalis is a sealed book to us’ etc. It was thought that there was some temperamental affinity of the English with the chivalrous Rajput, sturdy Punjabi and idol-hating Muslim. India’s narrow specialisations of caste and community increased manifold during the colonial rule. Bengalis took to English literature, Parsis to English commercial methods and Panjabis to English bayonets and all three moved much further away from one another than ever before. But, it was emphatically noted that the English did not know ‘the inner and instinctive feelings and modes of thought among large classes of the native community’. (Kiernan (1969): 51 & 69)

In the context of India, two myths Kiernan helped break were about British impartiality and colonial godlike superiority. Kiernan noted that the British administration was known to be expensive and blundering but seldom capricious or prone to favouritism. The reason for this had less to do with belief in equality of rights before law or setting up an ‘administrative machinery dealing impersonally with objective facts’. At home the Europeans were moving from a society based on compulsion to one founded on consent of the ruled. But abroad the tendency was in the opposite direction with W.P. Andrew, a self-proclaimed pacifist, epitomizing the sentiment by saying (in 1880) that it was Britain’s mission ‘to spread among the savages (of North-West Frontier Provinces) the power of that great civilizer the Sword’. The administrators in India could put up a face of impartiality because s/he had fewer associations and kins in India to get swayed by affections or interests, says Kiernan. In the mid-19th century, Lord John Russell took oath as Minister in England and he was expected ‘to remember his relatives while not forgetting his friends’. The same feelings may have prevailed in India provided the administrators had family and friends in India. (Kiernan (1969): 56 & 312.)

The absence of Indian women from the social scene imparted the British Godlike aloofness, adds Kiernan. Women in India were confined to domesticity because paternalism prevented the intermingling of women with men outside their family, caste system forbade intermarriage outside one’s social group and without modern education women had no reason to move out of home. Indian women of all classes remained inaccessible to the British. The only women they met were sex workers or dancing girls in brothels. This cut the British off from Indians very harmfully. Mughal rulers married Rajput princesses but if a Viceroy were to do so, such a marriage would be considered as disgraceful as one with an English parlour maid. Racialism caused this phenomenon and sustained the standoffishness among the civil/ army officers and it percolated down to their British subordinates. Kiernan noted (Kiernan (1969): 57-8):
…When the Englishman turned his back on the invisible Indian beauty, as on a poisonous orchid or sour grape, he was in a way turning his back on India altogether. His wife, whose susceptibility to the Indian climate was notorious, was less uneasy about him because he ostentatiously avoided Indian society. It may be surmised that a broad moat between the races helped the white paterfamilias also to feel easy in the mind. …Altogether, the peace and quiet of the family was safer if Indian company was excluded from the spacious bungalow. And the peace and quiet of the empire were safer if the bungalow set a good example to the barracks; for Tommy Atkins to go wandering among women would foment endless rows, and undermine discipline.

Other Interests

Kiernan, like many others, stood resolutely with labour in its contest for hegemony with capital, sang paeans to the peasants and condemned imperialism. This he proved by his academic writings and political activism. But Kiernan was among the very few who understood the language and idiom spoken in the South Asian sub-continent. We know about this aspect from his translations of sublime poetry. Kiernan was the earliest translator of the Urdu poems of Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The lovely poem “Capital and Labour” was translated thus (Iqbal (1947): 47):

Oh, the crafty man of capital has gnawed you to the bone,
And the ages have gone by, and your reward has been a stone!
In the hand that forges all wealth has been dropped a grudging pay,
As the poor receive in charity what rich men toss away.
Like the Old Man of the Mountain they have fed you with hashish,
And you thought it sugar candy, you silly spaniel on the leash;
For the bourgeoisie is cunning, and from Patriotism and Creed,
Colour, Culture, Race and Kingship, has brewed drugs to serve its need;
For these false gods, oh poor witless, you have rushed upon your doom,
You have thrown away life’s treasure for the taste of this mad fume.
Your sharp paymasters have swept the board, they cheat and know no shame –
You, for ever unsuspecting, have forever lost the game;
But now rise! New ways are growing in the assembly of the earth,
In the Orient and the Occident your own age comes to birth!

To the lofty soul all ocean is too mean a gift: will you’
Like the careless bud, much longer be content with drops of dew?
To those legends of Sikander, to the old myths, for how long
Will you listen, when all joy is in democracy’s loud song?
From the old womb of the universe a new red sun is born:
How much longer, oh dull skies, for stars extinguished will you mourn?
When the human mind has made all his chains a broken heap,
For how long must Man his banishment from Paradise beweep?
How much longer, of the garden’s old attendant asks the Spring,
For the red wounds of the rose your idle ointments will you bring?
Foolish moth! that age-long fluttering round the candle’s flame forswear,
In your true being’s brightness your own dwelling-place prepare.

Iqbal’s poem “To the Punjab Peasant” was translated by Kiernan as follows (ibid: 86):

Your existence – what is it, tell! what is its mystery?
Rolled in the dust is your thousand years history!
And deep in that dust has been smothered your flame;
Now wake! for Dawn’s minarets their summons proclaim.
We creatures from dust from the earth may draw bread –
But the Fountain of Life by its glooms is not fed;
And slight is his mark or his name on this earth
Who puts not to trial his innermost worth!
Let the idols of race and of caste be destroyed!
Let the old ways that fetter men fast be destroyed!
For this only is Victory, this the Faith’s power,
That among the world’s peoples true union should flower!
On the soil of your clay cast the seed of the heart;
From that seed the tomorrow’s great harvest shall start.

In response to the so-called Indian ‘Reforms’ of 1935 Iqbal wrote in his “Psychology of Rulers” (ibid: 113):

The pity is the pitiless fowler’s mask.
All the fresh notes I sang – of no avail!
Now he drops withered flowers in our cage,
To reconcile the captives to the jail.

We, in the sub-continent, will miss Kiernan, scholar-activist and the anti-imperialist translator of our melodies, for a long time!

Notes, References and Bibliography:

Bottomore, Tom et al eds. (1983), A Dictionary of Marxist Thought (Oxford: Basil Blackwell)
Burke, Peter (1992), History and Social Theory (Cambridge: Polity Press)
Cabral, Amilcar (1973), Return to the Source (New York: Monthly Review Press)
Cain, Peter J. and Anthony G. Hopkins (1993), British Imperialism: Innovation and Expansion, 1688-1914 and British Imperialism: Crisis and Deconstruction, 1914-1990 2 Vols (London and New York: Longman)
Eley, Geoff (2005), A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press)
Fanon, Frantz (1968), Black Skin, White Masks Translated C.L. Markmann (London: MacGibbon and Kee)
Frank, Andre Gunder (1971), Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil (Harmondsworth: Penguin)
Harvey J. Kaye (1988), “Introduction V.G. Kiernan: Seeing Things Historically,” in Harvey J. Kaye (ed.) (1988), History, Classes and Nation-States: Selected Writings of V.G. Kiernan (Cambridge: Polity Press)
Hill, Christopher (1986), The Collected Essays of Christopher Hill Volume Two Religion and Politics in 17th Century England (Brighton: The Harvester Press Limited)
Iqbal (1947), Poems from Iqbal Translated by V.G. Kiernan (Bombay: Kutub Publishers)
Kapur Chishti, Rita, “The Vanishing Indian: Remembering Shanta Gandhi,” Seminar, 549, May 2005.
Karat , Prakash ed. (2003), Across Time and Continents: A Tribute to Victor G. Kiernan (New ‘Delhi, Leftword Books)
Kiernan, V.G. (1939), British Diplomacy in China, 1880 to 1885 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
__________ (1943), Metcalfe’s Mission to Lahore, 1808-1809 Monograph 21 (Lahore: Punjab Government Record Office)
___________ (1966), The Revolution of 1854 in Spanish History (Oxford: Clarendon Press)
__________ (1966), “India and Pakistan: Twenty Years After,” R. Miliband and J. Saville (eds.), The Socialist Register 1966 (London: Merlin Press): 305-20.
________ (1969), The Lords of Human Kind: European Attitudes towards the Outside World in the Imperial Age (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson)
________ (1974a), Marxism and Imperialism: Studies (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul)
Kiernan, V G (1974b), “Mohan Kumaramangalam in England,” Socialist India, Vol VIII No 13, 23 February, 1974: 5-7 & 36; Socialist India, Vol VIII No 14: 13-17 & 24.
_________ (1978), America, The New Imperialism, From White Settlement to World Hegemony (London: Zed Books)
____________ (1980), State and Society in Europe, 1550-1650 (Oxford: Blackwell)
___________ (1982), European Empires from Conquest to Collapse, 1815-1960 (London: Fontana)
___________ (1987), “The Communist party of India and the Second World War,” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies Vol X, No 2, (December 1987): 61-73.
__________ (1988), The Duel in History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy (Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Idem and Harvey J. Kaye (1988), History Classes and Nation-states: Selected Writings of V.G. Kiernan (Cambridge: Polity Press)
__________ (1990), Poets, Politics, and the People ed. Kaye (London: Verso)
___________ (1991), Tobacco: A History (London: Radius)
__________ (1993), Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen (London/ New York: Verso)),
__________ (1995), Imperialism and Its Contradictions ed. Kaye (New York: Routledge)
__________ (2003), “Reminiscences of India,” Prakash Karat (ed.) (2003), Across Time and Continents: A Tribute to Victor G. Kiernan (New ‘Delhi, Leftword Books): 228-43.
William Roger Louis ed. (1976), Imperialism: The Robinson and Gallagher Controversy (New York: Viewpoints)
Said, Edward (1978), Orientalism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul)
Soderlund, Richard J (1999), “Kiernan, V.G. 1913 - : British historian of Imperialism,” Kelly Boyd ed (1999), Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing Vol I (London & Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers): 646-7.
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Philip Spratt
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/20

Philip Spratt

Philip Spratt (26 September 1902 – 8 March 1971) was a British writer and intellectual. Initially a communist sent by the British arm of the Communist International (Comintern), based in Moscow, to spread Communism in India, he subsequently became a friend and colleague of M.N. Roy, founder of the Communist parties in Mexico and India, and along with him became an communist activist.[1]

He was among the first architects, and a founding-member of the Communist Party of India, and was among the chief accused in the Meerut Conspiracy Case; he was arrested on 20 March 1929 and imprisoned.[2][3]

Portrait of 25 of the Meerut Prisoners taken outside the jail. Back row (left to right): K. N. Sehgal, S. S. Josh, H. L. Hutchinson, Shaukat Usmani, B. F. Bradley, A. Prasad, P. Spratt, G. Adhikari. Middle Row: Radharaman Mitra, Gopen Chakravarti, Kishori Lal Ghosh, L. R. Kadam, D. R. Thengdi, Goura Shanker, S. Bannerjee, K. N. Joglekar, P. C. Joshi, Muzaffar Ahmed. Front Row: M. G. Desai, D. Goswami, R.S. Nimbkar, S.S. Mirajkar, S.A. Dange, S. V. Ghate, Gopal Basak.

The Meerut Conspiracy Case was a controversial court case initiated in British India in March 1929 and decided in 1933. Several trade unionists, including three Englishmen were arrested for organizing an Indian railway strike. The British Government convicted 27 leftist trade union leaders under a false lawsuit. The trial immediately caught attention in England, where it inspired the 1932 play Meerut by Manchester street theatre group the 'Red Megaphones', highlighting the detrimental effects of colonisation and industrialisation....

The main charges were that in 1921 S.A. Dange, Shaukat Usmani and Muzaffar Ahmed entered into a conspiracy to establish a branch of the Comintern in India and they were helped by various persons, including the accused Philip Spratt and Benjamin Francis Bradley, sent to India by the Communist International. The aim of the accused persons, according to the charges raised against them was under section 121-A of the Indian Penal Code (Act 45 of 1860)...

Though all the accused were not communists, the charges framed against them portrayed the British government's fear for growth of communist ideas in India. In the trial the accused were all labeled as Bolsheviks. During the trial of four and a half years, the defendants turned the courtroom into a public platform to espouse their cause. As a result, the trial saw strengthening of the communist movement in the country.

-- Meerut Conspiracy Case, by Wikipedia

As a result of his reading during his time in jail, and also his observation of political developments in Russia and Western Europe at the time, Philip Spratt renounced Communism in the early 1930s. After India gained independence from the British, he was among the lone voices –- such as Sita Ram Goel -– against the well-intentioned and fashionable leftist policies of Nehru and the Indian government.[4][5]

He was the Editor of MysIndia, a pro-American weekly, and later of Swarajya, a newspaper run by C. Rajagopalachari. He was also a prolific writer of books, articles and pamphlets on a variety of subjects, and translated books in French, German, Tamil, Sanskrit and Hindi, into English.
Swarajya is an Indian monthly print magazine and online news-portal. The publication subscribes to right-wing liberalism and critics note it to be a pro-Bharatiya Janata Party publication. According to fact-checking websites such as Alt News, Swarajya has propagated fake news multiple times.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (pronounced [bʱaːrətiːjə dʒənətaː paːrʈiː] is one of the two major political parties in India, along with the Indian National Congress. As of 2019, it is the country's largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies and is the world's largest party in terms of primary membership. BJP is a right-wing party, and its policy has historically reflected Hindu nationalist positions. It has close ideological and organisational links to the much older Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, abbreviated as RSS (IAST: Rāṣṭrīya Svayamsevaka Saṅgha, IPA: [rɑːʂˈʈriːj(ə) sʋəjəmˈseːʋək ˈsəŋɡʱ], lit. "National Volunteer Organisation") is an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation. The RSS is the progenitor and leader of a large body of organisations called the Sangh Parivar (the "family of the RSS"), which have presence in all facets of the Indian society. RSS was founded on 27 September 1925.

-- Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, by Wikipedia

The BJP's origin lies in the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, formed in 1951 by Syama Prasad Mukherjee. After the State of Emergency in 1977, the Jana Sangh merged with several other parties to form the Janata Party; it defeated the incumbent Congress party in the 1977 general election. After three years in power, the Janata party dissolved in 1980 with the members of the erstwhile Jana Sangh reconvening to form the BJP. Although initially unsuccessful, winning only two seats in the 1984 general election, it grew in strength on the back of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Following victories in several state elections and better performances in national elections, the BJP became the largest party in the parliament in 1996; however, it lacked a majority in the lower house of Parliament, and its government lasted only 13 days.

-- Bharatiya Janata Party, by Wikipedia

R. Jagannathan is the current editorial director. Originally established in 1956 as a weekly under the patronage of C. Rajagopalachari, it shut down in 1980 but was relaunched in September 2014, as a daily news website; a monthly print magazine was launched in January 2015.

-- Swarajya (magazine), by Wikipedia

Early life

Philip Spratt was born in Camberwell on 26 September 1902 to Herbert Spratt, a schoolmaster, and Norah Spratt. He was one of five boys. His elder brother David Spratt, left boarding school to join the British army during World War I, and was killed at Passchendaele in 1917. Although raised a Baptist, Herbert Spratt later joined the Church of England. Philip Spratt's own rejection of religion came early on:

"By the age of 17 I had a fair knowledge of nineteenth-century physical science, and I read a little on my own in biology. On Sunday evenings after church I used to take a fast walk round the neighbourhood, and for some months on these walks I argued with myself about science and religion. I decided quite definitely that the religious theory of things was unsound. But I remember no 'conflict' or emotion over my rejection of religion. I kept it entirely to myself, and I still attended church, and continued to do so till I went to the university."[6]

University and early Communist activity

Philip Spratt got a university scholarship in 1921 for Downing College, Cambridge, to study Mathematics. He writes in his memoirs: "But I was in no mood to devote myself to my proper studies, or to associate with the dull dogs who stuck to theirs. I dabbled in literature and philosophy and psychology and anthropology." [7] He was awarded a First-class degree on completing the Mathematics tripos. He joined the Union Society, the University Labour Club and a private discussion society called the Heretics, of which Charles Kay Ogden was President; Frank P. Ramsey, I.A. Richards and Patrick Blackett, Baron Blackett often attended.

The Cambridge Heretics Society was a group of Cambridge students and other intellectuals that challenged traditional and religious authorities. Founded by C.K. Ogden in 1909, the group continued to meet until 1932.

The Heretics Society

Ogden also co-founded the Heretics Society in Cambridge in 1909, which questioned traditional authorities in general and religious dogmas in particular, in the wake of the paper Prove All Things, read by William Chawner, Master of Emmanuel College, a past Vice-Chancellor. The Heretics began as a group of 12 undergraduates interested in Chawner's agnostic approach.

The Society was nonconformist and open to women, and Jane Harrison found an audience there, publishing her inaugural talk for the Society of 7 December 1909 as the essay Heresy and Humanity (1911), an argument that warned of the dangers of group-think and implored the audience to realize that we are constantly negotiating the line between egotism and herd instinct, but that how we navigate that line matters. Investigating the origins of the word 'heresy,' her lecture, later published in Alpha and Omega (1915), challenged many of the religious restrictions and rules of the Anglican Church and its unholy alliances with the university. The talk of the following day was from J. M. E. McTaggart, and was also published, as Dare to Be Wise (1910). Another early member with anthropological interests was John Layard; Herbert Felix Jolowicz (1890-1954), Frank Plumpton Ramsey and Philip Sargant Florence were among the members. Alix Sargant Florence, sister of Philip, was active both as a Heretic and on the editorial board of the Cambridge Magazine.

Ogden was President of the Heretics from 1911, for more than a decade;[28] he invited a variety of prominent speakers and linked the Society to his role as editor. In November 1911 G. K. Chesterton used a well-publicised talk to the Heretics to reply to George Bernard Shaw who had recently talked on The Future of Religion. On this occasion Chesterton produced one of his well known bons mots:

Questioner: ... I say it is perfectly true that I have an intuition that I exist.

Mr. Chesterton: Cherish it.

In 1912 T. E. Hulme and Bertrand Russell spoke. Hulme's talk on Anti-Romanticism and Original Sin was written up by Ogden for the Cambridge Magazine, where in 1916 both Hulme and Russell would write on the war, from their opposite points of view. Rupert Brooke addressed them on contemporary theatre, and an article based on his views of Strindberg appeared in the Cambridge Magazine in October 1913. Another talk from 1913 that was published was from Edward Clodd on Obscurantism in Modern Science. Ogden was very active at this period in seeing these works into print.

On 4 February 1923, the biologist J.B.S. Haldane lectured the Society on "Daedalus; or, Science and the Future", a speculative vision that enjoy some success in print and spurred in 1924 a less optimistic response from Bertrand Russell entitled "Icarus or the Future of Science".

The Heretics continued as a well-known forum, with Virginia Woolf on May 18, 1924 using it to formulate a reply to criticisms from Arnold Bennett arising from her Jacob's Room (1922), in a talk Character in Fiction that was then published in The Criterion. This paper contains the assertion, now proverbial, that "on or about December 1910 human character changed." The Heretics met in November 1929, when Ludwig Wittgenstein lectured to it on ethics, at Ogden's invitation, producing in A Lecture on Ethics a work accepted as part of the early Wittgenstein canon.

-- Charles Kay Ogden, by Wikipedia

Many prominent modernist intellectuals, from Bertrand Russell to John Maynard Keynes to George Bernard Shaw, were associated with the Heretics Society and gave lectures for it.

Connections for Cambridge Heretics Society

J.B.S. Haldane: Haldane presented “Daedalus, or Science and the Future” to the Heretics Society in 1923 (Franke 229).

Julian Huxley: Huxley presented a lecture to the Heretics on May 28, 1922 (Franke 229).

Film Society: Many of the Film Society members, including Julian Huxley, J.B.S. Haldane, John Maynard Keynes, George Bernard Shaw, and Roger Fry, were involved with the Heretics.

Marie Stopes: Stopes gave a guest lecture on birth control at the Heretics Society sometime after World War I, a lecture that led some members of the Society to resign (Franke 77).

Bloomsbury: Many Bloomsburyites, including Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, Roger Fry, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Adrian Stephen, and Clive Bell, were honorary members of or lecturers at the Heretics Society (Franke 219-229, 25-26).

Virginia Woolf: Woolf presented the lecture “Character in Fiction,” a version of “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown,” at the Heretics Society on May 18, 1924 (Franke 229). She was invited to become an Honorary Member of the Heretics in 1925, but declined (ibid. 91-92).

Aldous Huxley: Aldous Huxley was invited to speak at the Heretics Society in 1930 but refused (Franke 99).

Bertrand Russell: Russell presented the lectures “The Philosophy of Bergson” in 1912, “Mysticism and Logic” in 1914, and “Industrialism and Religion” with Dora Russell, to the Heretics (Franke 221, 223, 229).

-- Cambridge Heretics Society, by Literature and Science in Modern Britain

Philip Spratt, Maurice Dobb, John Desmond Bernal, Ivor Montagu, the historian Allen Hutt, A.L Bacharach, Barnet Woolf and Michael Roberts (writer) comprised the tiny handful of Communist Party members at the university at that time. Spratt, Woolf and Roberts would sell the Worker's Weekly to railwaymen at the town railway station or canvass the working-class areas of Cambridge. Spratt worked, for a while, at the Labour Research Department in the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford, and was a member of the London University Labour Party.

In 1926, at the age of 24, he was asked by Clemens Dutt (the elder brother of Rajani Palme Dutt) to journey to India as a Comintern agent to organise the working of the then nascent Communist Party of India, and in particular to launch a Workers and Peasants' Party as a legal cover for their activities. He was expected to arrange for the infiltration of CPI members into the Congress party, trade unions and youth leagues to obtain leadership of them. Spratt was also asked to write a pamphlet on China, urging India to follow the example of the Kuomintang. He was accompanied to India by Ben Bradley and Lester Hutchinson.

Move to India

Spratt was arrested in 1927, on account of some cryptic letters written to and by him that were seized by the Police. He was, however, charged with sedition, on account of the pamphlet entitled India and China that he had written on Clemens Dutt's instructions. He was tried by jury and – the judge, Mr. Justice Fawcett, having summed up very leniently – they found in his favour.

Hansard records show that on 28 November 1927, Shapurji Saklatvala, the MP for Battersea North, questions Earl Winterton (then Under-Secretary of State for India in Baldwin's government) about the wrongful detention of Philip Spratt for six weeks prior to his trial.

HC Deb 28 November 1927 vol 211 cc15-6

§ 32. Mr. SAKLATVALA asked the Under-Secretary of State for India if, in view of the fact that a Mr. Philip Spratt has recently been found not guilty by a jury in India of a charge of sedition in relation to the publication of a pamphlet entitled India and China, he will cause inquiries to be made as to the reason why he was in the first instance refused bail and thus kept in prison for six weeks prior to trial; and whether he will make representations for compensation to be paid to the said British national?

§ Earl WINTERTON It appears from the newspapers that bail was refused by Mr. Justice Davar in the High Court of Bombay, and it would not be proper to make inquiries as to the reasons for a decision which was within the competence of the Court. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.

§ Mr. SAKLATVALA Does the Noble Lord agree that this prosecution was launched by the Government and that the Judge of the High Court refused bail on certain representations which were made by the Government's prosecutor, which representations proved in the end to be untrue?

§ Earl WINTERTON The hon. Member is bringing a most serious charge against a Judge of the High Court, which I can-not accept for a moment. Judges of the High Court in India, as in this country, judge a question on its merits. Representations were doubtless made by prosecuting counsel, but the Judge is the sole interpreter as to whether they are correct, and I must respectfully decline to discuss on the Floor of the House the conduct of a Judge of the High Court.

§ Mr. SAKLATVALA Will the Noble Lord allow me to dispel his dramatic performance? Does the Noble Lord understand my question, which does not put any blame or comment or criticism on the Judge at all? My question is that the Judge, who gave a right decision upon the case presented to him by the Government prosecutor, afterwards, by his judgment, said it was a wrong presentation.

§ Earl WINTERTON I do not quite understand the hon. Member's question now. He has asked me whether I will cause inquiry to be made as to the reason why bail was refused. I have informed the hon. Member that I cannot do so because it would be committing a totally improper act, as criticising the action of the Judge. It rests solely with the Judge as to whether bail is granted or not.

§ Mr. SPEAKER Clearly, it is a matter for the Court of Justice.[8]

Meerut Conspiracy Trial

In March 1929, almost all the members of the Communist Party of India and about an equal number of trade unionists, congressmen and others who were working alongside them – 30 people in all – were arrested simultaneously in half a dozen different towns and taken to Meerut jail.

They were charged under Section 121A: conspiring to deprive the King Emperor of his sovereignty of British India. The body of conspirators was the Comintern and its associated organisations, and in particular the Indian party.

Spratt was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, which on appeal, was reduced to 2; he was released from jail in October 1934. He discusses the psychology of imprisonment in an article which appeared in the Modern Review (Calcutta) in 1937.

It is his time in Meerut – Spratt records in his memoirs – that marked the beginning of his emotional turn away from communism: “When we had been in jail a year or two, the significance of the new Comintern line which we had accepted so uncomprehendingly at Calcutta began to show itself. It compelled the renovated party to split the central trade union body twice within two years, and to direct fierce criticism at the Congress, whose great Civil Disobedience campaigns made our activities look rather silly. We found fault with what was being done, but we did not direct our attack at the persons really responsible, viz. the Comintern authorities in Moscow… My own feelings were not of doubt or criticism but of boredom. I was closely involved in the preparation of the defence case, an immense and tedious job, and in the politics of the jail and the party outside. I gradually lost interest in all three, and became absorbed in reading and writing on other subjects… I have no doubt that here was the beginning of an emotional turn away from communism.” [9]

In December 1934 he was arrested again and interned under the emergency legislation passed to suppress Civil Disobedience. He spent 18 months in the Fort at Belgaum, and was released finally in June 1936.

During his time in Meerut, Spratt learnt to read Hindi and one of the first books he read was Atmakatha by Mahatma Gandhi. On doing so, he resolved to write a study of Gandhi and while in Belgaum wrote his book on the Mahatma entitled Gandhism: An Analysis. While in confinement, Spratt also wrote the foreword for Peshawar to Moscow: Leaves from an Indian Muhajireen's Diary by Shaukat Usmani.

Personal life

Soon after his release in 1934, he became engaged to Seetha, the grand-niece of Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar, who was a barrister and a founding member of the Communist Party in the south of India. Philip and Seetha married in 1939, and had four children: Herbert Mohan Spratt, Arjun Spratt, Radha Norah Spratt and Robert Spratt.

Post-Meerut life in India

Spratt began to write strongly in criticism of Soviet policy after the Russian invasion of Finland in 1939. In 1943, he joined M. N. Roy’s Radical Democratic Party, and remained a fairly active member until the party ceased to exist in 1948. In 1951, Spratt became secretary of the newly formed Indian Congress for Cultural Freedom, and a frequent contributor to its bulletin, Freedom First. He settled in Bangalore, and was the Chief Editor of a pro-American and pro-Capitalist weekly named MysIndia, until 1964.[10] In its columns, he criticised the policies of the government which he believed, 'treated the entrepreneur as a criminal who has dared to use his brains independently of the state to create wealth and give employment'. He further believed that the result would be 'the smothering of free enterprise, a famine of consumer goods, and the tying down of millions of workers to soul deadening techniques'.[10]

Spratt believed that the Kashmir valley should be granted independence. In 1952, he stated that India must abandon its claim to the valley and allow the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah to 'dream of independence'. It should withdraw its armies and write off its loans to the state government.[11] He stated:[11]

"Let Kashmir go ahead, alone and adventurously, in her explorations of a secular state. We shall watch the act of faith with due sympathy but at a safe distance, our honour, our resources and our future free from the enervating entanglements which write a lie in our soul."

He argued that Indian policy was based on a 'mistaken belief in the one-nation theory and greed to own the beautiful and strategic valley of Srinagar'.[11] He further stated that the costs of this policy, present and future, were incalculable, and that rather than give Kashmir special privileges and create resentment elsewhere in India, it was best to let the state secede.[11]

Spratt later moved to Madras, and edited the Swarajya, which was a newspaper run by C. Rajagopalachari, and a mouthpiece of the Swatantra Party. During these years he also wrote several books on diverse subjects, numerous pamphlets and also translated books from French, German, Tamil, Sanskrit and Hindi, into English. He died of cancer on 8 March 1971, in Madras.


1. M N Roy Mainstream, Vol XLV, No 35.
2. "Working Class Movement Library" Meerut Conspiracy TrialArchived 2 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine
3. ROLE OF THE COMMUNISTS 60 Years of Our Independence and the Left: Some Thoughts – Jyoti Basu, Communist Party of India official website."We should remember the contribution of communists Rajani Palme Dutt (RPD), Clemens Dutt, Philip Spratt and Ben Bradley."
4. Renounced communism.. Jawaharlal Nehru:A Biography, by Sankar Ghose, Allied Publishers, 1993, ISBN 81-7023-369-0. page 280.
5. Foreword by Philip Spratt of the Sita Ram Goel's Genesis and Growth of Nehruism.
6. Philip Spratt. Blowing Up India: Reminiscences and Reflections of a Comintern Emissary. Calcutta: Prachi Prakashan, 1955. p. 8
7. Philip Spratt. Blowing Up India: Reminiscences and Reflections of a Comintern Emissary. Calcutta: Prachi Prakashan, 1955. p. 10
9. Philip Spratt. Blowing Up India: Reminiscences and Reflections of a Comintern Emissary. Calcutta: Prachi Prakashan, 1955. p. 53-54
10. Guha 2008, pp. 692–693
11. Guha 2008, pp. 259–260


• Guha, Ramachandra (2008). India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-39611-0.

Further reading

• Foreword by Philip Spratt New Orientation: Lectures Delivered at the Political Study Camp Held at Dehra Dun from 8 to 18 May 1946.Calcutta, Renaissance Publishers. 1946.

External links

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Benjamin Francis Bradley
by The Open University: Making Britain
Accessed: 3/20/20

Date of birth: 01 Jan 1898, London, England
Date of death: 01 Jan 1957

Benjamin Bradley was a leading figure in the Communist Party of Great Britain ["CPGB"] and an anti-colonialist. A metalworker by trade, he was posted to India in 1927 by the CPGB to promote militant trade unionism, becoming Vice-President of the All-India Trades Union Congress. Bradley was arrested for anti-government activities in March 1929, and sentenced in the Meerut Conspiracy Trials of 1932.

On his return to Britain, Bradley remained active in anti-colonial as well as Communist activities. From 1934 to 1940, he was Secretary of the League Against Imperialism which became the Communist Party’s Colonial Information Bureau. In this role, he produced the fortnightly Colonial Information Bulletin which consisted largely of reports on developments in British colonies. The paper was swiftly shut down when it expressed support for the war effort in spite of the CPGB’s Central Committee’s decision to back the Comintern -– although Bradley later appeared to change his mind about the war, concurring with his fellow Communists. Indian Political Surveillance files give evidence that Bradley was a regular participant and occasional speaker at India League meetings in the late 1930s and early 1940s. There, he came into contact with several Indian activists and writers, including Mulk Raj Anand, Iqbal Singh, Krishnarao Shelvankar and Sasadhar Sinha. The relationship between Bradley and Krishna Menon was, according to India Office reports, rivalrous but mutually beneficial. The India League provided Bradley and his fellow Communists with a useful platform for propaganda, while the CPGB’s association with the League served as a means of attracting the interest of the British working class in the plight of India. Reports also claim that Bradley, along with Michael Carritt and Harry Pollitt, was leading a group of Indian Communist students, and that he planned a Conference of Indian Peddlers and Seamen in July 1939 (L/PJ/12/452). These activities suggest his ongoing interest not just in the struggle against imperialism but also in mobilizing for the rights of working-class Indians in Britain.


Aftab Ali, Surat Alley, Mulk Raj Anand, Ayana Angadi, Jyoti Basu, Reginald Bridgeman, Fenner Brockway, Michael Carritt, B. B. Ray Chaudhuri, Dwjendra Nath Dutt, Rajani Palme Dutt, Michael Foot, Sunder Kabadia, S. M. Kumaramangalam, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, Krishna Menon, Syedi Mohamedi, Harry Pollitt, Shapurji Saklatvala, Promode Ranjan Sen-Gupta, K. S. Shelvankar, Iqbal Singh, Sasadhar Sinha, Reginald Sorensen, Philip Spratt, C. B. Vakil, S. A. Wickremasinghe.


Rajani Palme Dutt
Mulk Raj Anand
Krishna Menon
Surat Alley


India League
Indian National Congress
League Against Imperialism

Involved in events:

Meerut Conspiracy Trial, 1932

Secondary works:

Howe, Stephen, Anticolonialism in British Politics: The Left and the End of Empire, 1918-1964 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993)

Archive source:

L/PJ/12/448-54, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

CP/IND/BRAD, Archive of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Manchester People’s History Museum
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Anti-Imperialist People’s Front in India
by R. Palme Dutt & Ben Bradley
The Labour Monthly, Vol. 18, March 1936, No. 3, pp. 149-160

The Indian national struggle is to-day at a critical point. British Imperialism has succeeded in imposing its constitution of open subjection in the face of the opposition of the entire Indian nation. The first stage of the struggle against it has met with defeat. For the moment there is confusion in the national camp as to the path forward. At the same time the continuously worsening situation and sharpening struggle of the masses of workers and peasants calls ever more loudly for organisation and leadership.

If we look at the world situation we see that all over the world the anti-imperialist struggle is gathering strength and advancing. In Egypt the united mass struggle is exercising powerful pressure on British Imperialism. In China the popular forces of resistance to partition and for national unity and liberation are gathering around the central core of Soviet China, consisting of at least sixty millions who have already thrown off the imperialist yoke. In Abyssinia the entire people is fighting for their freedom with arms in hand and driving back the foreign invader, and the popular forces in all countries are supporting their struggle. In South America the People’s Anti-Imperialist Front is making great advances.

What of the situation in India? (Since the abandonment of mass civil disobedience we see a confusion of forces, and no powerful united movement of resistance to British Imperialism) which rules with more triumphant reaction than ever. Some voices are raised to advocate co-operation in working the new constitution. Others advocate retreat from the political field to concentrate on village industries or on the removal of caste disabilities. Gandhi has proclaimed his retirement from politics. The National Congress, apart from the electoral field, has given up for the time the attempt to direct the struggle, and even in the electoral field is sharply divided on the future policy, to accept office or not to accept office.

The peasants and workers, suffering under ever heavier economic distress, find themselves without united and centralised leadership in their sporadic struggles. Over the past ten years we have witnessed tremendous strike waves and economic unrest, hundreds of thousands of textile workers, railwaymen, jute workers and dockers carrying on insistent strike struggles with heroic determination against wage cuts and worsened conditions. Among the peasantry, the hardest hit section of the population, their inability to meet the demands of the landlord, money lender and collector, results in evictions, strikes and clashes with the armed forces of the government. Alongside this there is terrible mass unemployment seriously affecting not only the workers and peasants, but also the middle class.

How can we transform this situation? How can we unite and mobilise a powerful movement of resistance to British Imperialism and for the needs of the masses? This is the key problem of the Indian situation.

The Indian National Congress will shortly be meeting in Lucknow. The representatives of the main body of the Indian national struggle will have to consider the problems of the path forward. What shall be the programme at the coming elections? What shall be the policy of the national representatives who are elected? What shall be the future line of direction of the national struggle to defeat imperialism? The left wing elements are pressing for a line of irreconcilable struggle against imperialism, for an advance of the programme to reflect the growing influence of socialist ideas, and for the organisation of the workers and peasants as the decisive practical task. The right wing elements are making gestures for unity with the Liberals and other elements outside the Congress, who have abstained from participation in the common struggle and stand for co-operation with imperialism. The discussion will be sharp. The decisions will be of far-reaching significance.

It is at this stage that the present proposals are put forward for the consideration of all who, whether inside or outside the Congress, are concerned for the advance of Indian national liberation.

The First Need—Unity

Every Indian patriot will recognise that the first need for the successful advance of the Indian national struggle, the key need of the present situation, is unity of all the anti-imperialist forces in the common struggle. This is the indispensable condition for the successful fight against the existing and ever-sharpening reaction and oppression.

But what is Unity? Talk of Unity, of the United Front, is to-day on the lips of all. But many different proposals are put forward in its name.

Thus some, as in the recent speeches of Babu Rajendra Prasad, late President of Congress, urge unity with moderate or right wing elements at present outside the Congress, such as the Liberals, the friends and allies of the British rulers, whose programme is one of co-operation with imperialism and entry into office in order to assist the slave constitution to function successfully. Naturally, the Liberals from their point of view, as shown in the recent speech of V.S. Srinivasa Sastri at Madras, heartily welcome such proposals of unity, provided they may maintain their programme of service to imperialism since they have no mass following themselves and only so may hope to win a basis to enter office and carry out their programme.

But will this strengthen the anti-imperialist forces? While it is evident that all elements, including from among the Liberals, who are prepared to break with co-operation with imperialism and accept the programme of the national struggle, are welcome to the common front, this can only be on condition of acceptance of irreconcilable struggle against imperialism for complete independence (as already laid down in the Congress programme by the Lahore decisions). It is obvious that a so-called “unity” with the friends of the British, achieved by surrendering the struggle against imperialism, could only weaken the united front against imperialism and not strengthen it.

The Anti-Imperialist People’s Front

From this it follows that Unity cannot be regarded as something abstract, but can only be unity on the basis of the anti-imperialist struggle.

Much as we may desire to see unity of the whole Indian people in the struggle against foreign rule, we have to recognise that there cannot be an abstract “unity” of the entire Indian population, 200 per cent. all sections and classes, against British Imperialism. Some sections have their interest bound up with imperialism, e.g., the princes, landlords, moneylenders, reactionary religious and political elements which live on exploiting communal differences, elements among the merchants and wealthy classes who favour co-operation with imperialism, etc. The cunning British rulers have known how to follow the old maxim “Divide and rule” and build up their dominion on elements of support within the population; and in consequence, in estimating the forces of the national struggle, we have to take into account the realities of the class structure of the population under the conditions of imperialism.

But there can be unity of the overwhelming majority of the population against imperialism, i.e., of all the popular masses who suffer under imperialist rule, and of all the elements from other classes who are prepared to join in the common struggle for national liberation.

What is the necessary basis for such unity of all the anti-imperialist forces, such as can unite all the forces of the National Congress, the trade unions, the peasants’ organisations, the youth organisations, etc on a common platform in a mighty common front?

It is clear that the essential minimum basis for such a grouping is (1) a line of consistent struggle against imperialism, and against the existing slave constitution, for the complete independence of India; (2) active struggle for the vital needs of the toiling masses.

This is the unity of the Indian people we want, the United Anti-Imperialist People’s Front for the struggle against imperialism.

The rôle of the National Congress in Realising Unity

At this point the question will be asked: what is the relation of the National Congress to the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front? Is not the National Congress, as many of its leaders claim, already the united front of the Indian people in the national struggle?

The National Congress has undoubtedly achieved a gigantic task in uniting wide forces of the Indian people for the national struggle, and remains to-day the principal existing mass organisation of many divers elements seeking national liberation. Nothing should be allowed to weaken the degree of unity that has been achieved through the National Congress, and the proposals that are here put forward are only intended to endeavour to find means to assist and extend that unity to a still wider front.

We on the left have many times criticised sharply the existing leadership and tactics of the National Congress. We have found many decisions and policies, such as the calling-off of mass civil disobedience in 1922, at the moment when it was ready to enter on its greatest strength, the uncertain voice on the aim of independence, the wavering in the relations to imperialism, the siding with the landlords against the peasants, the Delhi Pact, the co-operation in the Round Table Conference, the Poona calling-off of the struggle in 1934, disastrous to the true interests of the national struggle and equivalent to surrender to imperialism. We have traced these decisions and policies to the existing dominant bourgeois leadership, whose interests often conflict with the interests of the masses and with the interests of the national struggle. These issues, of the utmost importance for the future, need to be discussed and fought out. But this criticism against particular policies is in no sense intended as a criticism against the masses in the Congress. Our opposition to a particular leadership or to particular policies is only intended to assist the mass army of the national struggle represented by the Congress and to assist and strengthen the national struggle.

The National Congress can play a great part and a foremost part in the work of realising the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front. It is even possible that the National Congress by the further transformation of its organisation and programme, may become the form of realisation of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front; for it is the reality that matters, not the name.

But it is necessary to recognise that the National Congress, as it exists at present, is not yet the united front of the Indian people in the national struggle. Its constitution still leaves out the broadest sections of the masses. Its programme does not yet express with full clearness the programme of the national struggle. Its leadership cannot yet be recognised as the leadership of the national struggle. It does not at present draw out and guide mass activity, but rather acts as a brake upon it.

What is needed, without impairing the degree of unity that has been achieved through the National Congress, is to strengthen and extend this unity to a broader front and to develop to a new stage the organisation and leadership of the mass struggle against imperialism.

Draw in the Masses

The National Congress is at present based, not on the union of all elements supporting the national struggle, but on a restrictive individual membership, with certain limitations of franchise and of a special ideology or “creed,” which prevents it from embracing the broadest front of all who support the national struggle.

The mass organisations of the workers and peasants, the trade unions and peasants’ unions and all similar collective mass organisations, constituting the most important forces of the national struggle are at present outside the National Congress. Only when all these forces are combined, the mass organisations of the workers and peasants together with the National Congress, whether in a united front agreement or by the collective affiliation of these organisations to the Congress, will we have achieved a broad united national front capable of developing as a real Anti-Imperialist People’s Front and drawing behind it the overwhelming majority of the population, the workers, the peasants and the middle classes in a single army of the national struggle. Within such a bloc the working class can increasingly realise its rôle of vanguard, to lead to victory the Indian revolution.

The first aim should therefore be to establish a united front of the National Congress with all the existing mass organisations of the trade unions, peasants’ unions, youth associations or other anti-imperialist mass organisations, in a broad Anti-Imperialist People’s Front on the basis of the struggle against imperialism and its constitution and for organising the struggle of the masses for their immediate demands.

At the same time we should seek to amend the constitution of the National Congress in such a way as to permit of the collective affiliation with delegate representation, of the trade unions, peasants’ unions, youth organisations, etc. This collective affiliation should be carried out not only on an All-India scale (All-India Trades Union Congress to the National Congress), but equally in the provinces and on a district and local scale the whole way through, thus bringing the National Congress into direct and continuous association with the masses. This collective affiliation is important, not only for the immediately existing mass organisations, but for the whole network of trade unions and peasants’ unions gradually embracing wider and wider sections of the masses, which Congress should devote its most active efforts to assist in building up as the strongest pillars of the national struggle.

The possibility of such collective affiliation is illustrated, not only, by the examples of the European Labour Parties, but still more closely by the example of the old national-revolutionary Kuomintang (before the betrayal by Chiang Kai Shek) at the height of its strength when it grouped, along with individual political members, trade unions, peasants’ organisations and the Communist Party, and on this basis swept forward from strength to strength, proving the most powerful and victorious weapon up to then devised for the colonial struggle against imperialism.

While it may take a necessary process of time to carry through the campaign and introduce collective affiliation into the constitution of the Congress, no time should be lost in already setting up on a local, district, provincial, and if possible All-India scale, joint bodies of the Congress Committees, Trade Unions, peasant unions, youth associations, Congress Socialist groups and other groups and anti-imperialist organisations, uniting for the purposes of combining the campaign against imperialism in the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.

Actually united front bodies have been already set up in localities—not permanent but temporary bodies, which show the possibilities—in places like Bombay, Calcutta and elsewhere. United front demonstrations and meetings were held in Bombay in February last year against the new slave constitution; these and similar actions were supported by Trade Unionists, Congress Socialists, Congress-men, Communists, etc. These actions of course were only the very first signs, but they show the urge for, and possibilities of, the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.

Democratise the Constitution of the Congress

In order that the Congress shall really become based on the masses, it is not sufficient merely in a formal fashion to draw the mass organisations into its structure; it is necessary to elicit the initiative and responsibility of the masses in the direction and policy of the Congress, so that the policy shall really become governed from below.

The existing working of the Congress machinery cannot be regarded as democratic. In practice a very small handful of leaders hold absolute control. In particular, the Working Committee, which has the greatest power and takes the most important executive decisions, is not an elected body, and cannot be regarded as representative of the sections of opinion in the rank and file of the Congress. Similarly, in the provinces am localities the degree of control from below is very weak.

An exhaustive overhauling of the constitution is necessary in order it bring it into accord with modern democratic conceptions of a popular party, and to ensure, not only the forms of democracy, but that these shall be realised in the practical working—i.e., widening of facilities for raising issues and putting forward resolutions from the membership prior circulation of agenda with opportunities for discussion, mandating of delegates, etc., active political life and discussion in all the local organisations, electing from below of all committees and officers, etc.

Centralised direction is essential for the purposes of the struggle, but this centralised direction must be on the principles, not of personal dictatorship, but of democratic centralism, i.e., elected from below and responsible to the representatives of the lower organs.

A Clear Programme of Anti-Imperialist Struggle

Then again much requires to be done to establish and ensure universal acceptance of a clear and unambiguous programme of anti-imperialist struggle both in the National Congress and for the whole Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.

At present, despite the decisions of the Lahore Congress on the aim of independence, there is still much confusion even on the central aim. Definitions of the meaning of “Purna Swaraj” are as thick as blackberries on a bush, and cover the most contradictory notions. The latest definition by the Wardha meeting of the Working Committee in September, 1934 (“includes unfettered control over the army and other defence forces, external affairs, fiscal and commercial matters, and financial and economic policy”) goes back on the goal of independence and returns to the pre-Lahore aim of Dominion Status.

It is essential to establish in unmistakable terms the aim of complete independence of India as the unchangeable aim of the Indian national struggle, and therewith the rejection of all compromise and negotiation with imperialism for half measures, co-operation in working the constitution, etc.

Further, it is essential to link up the programme of the fight for independence with the immediate political demands of the struggle against imperialism and with the immediate demands of the workers and peasants for their vital needs.

The details of such a programme could be worked out in common by representatives of all the organisations concerned. Thus for example, such a programme might include:

(1) The aim of complete independence for India.

(2) Freedom of speech, press, organisation, assembly, strikes and picketing.

(3) Repeal of all exceptional and repressive laws, ordinances and anti-labour laws (Criminal Amendment Act, Press Act, etc.).

(4) Release of all political prisoners, detenus and internees.

(5) Against reductions of wages and dismissals of workers; for an adequate minimum wage and 8-hour day; for 50 per cent. reduction in rents and against the seizure of peasant land for debt by imperialists, native princes, zemindars and moneylenders.

The particular immediate demands of the struggle could be worked out and varied according to the locality and the particular conditions and stage.

A central rallying slogan for the whole movement could be provided by the demand for a Constituent Assembly; the conditions under which this demand could be usefully taken up and made the centre of agitation and propaganda are considered later in the present article. A platform of this type requires to be established as the common platform of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front.

Similarly, the constitution and platform of the Congress requires to be worked out anew in the light of this, laying down in simple and clear form the aim of complete independence, the line of irreconcilable struggle against imperialism and the fight for the needs of the workers and peasants. Such a platform can unite all sincere elements of the national struggle, while excluding only those elements which seek to co-operate with imperialism.

The Tactics of Mass Struggle

A similar clearing is necessary with regard to the basic tactics of the Congress and of the national struggle.

The existing ideology of “non-violence,” which is still made a compulsory part of the Congress creed, is to-day a survival which is more and more visibly at variance with the realities of the struggle and less and less corresponds to the outlook of large sections of the national movement. Many prominent members of the Congress, who have formally to subscribe to this dogma as the condition of their participation in its mass activities, to-day privately declare their disbelief in it. This is not a healthy situation. While many sections may still be under the influence of the theories of “non-violence,” to make this a dogma compulsory on all sections is to place an obstacle in the way of the unity of the national front. In fact the experience of the nearly two decades since the war has abundantly shown that the conception of “non-violence” has been used, not merely in opposition to the fruitless policies of individual terrorism or sporadic outbreaks of a minority, but to shackle and hold in all effective mass activity and the development along the lines of the class struggle of the most powerful weapons against imperialism or mass resistance to imperialist violence, and thus leaving free play for the violence of imperialism, has been a dangerous and paralysing influence on the advance of the national struggle and the principal cause of the relative stagnation and failure of advance in India, despite the enormous sacrifices made, compared with other colonial countries. China and Abyssinia have shown how a people fights for its freedom against the imperialist enemy. In Egypt to-day, the higher degree of aggressive mass activity is reflected in the far greater readiness of British Imperialism to offer concessions. It is essential that the Indian national movement should free itself from the paralysing conceptions of passive “non-violence” if it is to defeat its enemy. A sharp, ideological struggle needs to be conducted on this question, but a struggle in the ideological field by way of ceaseless explaining and winning over. This issue should not be allowed to split the national front.

The Congress creed in consequence needs revision in accordance with the real conditions of the struggle. The dogma of “non-violence” should be omitted. The entire emphasis should be placed on the development of the mass struggle, on the work of organisation of the workers and peasants as the primary task in the field of organisation, on the active taking up of the immediate demands of the workers and peasants for their vital needs, and the linking of this struggle with the political anti-imperialist struggle.

Consolidation of the Left Wing

In order to realise the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front and to carry through these urgently necessary changes in the constitution, organisation, policy and work of the National Congress, it is essential that all left wing elements in the Congress should fight in unison on a common platform for these vital needs.

In the past there has been much dispersion of effort, division and mutual sniping between the left wing forces, thus playing into the hands of the domination of the right wing leadership. While it is necessary and desirable that the differences of political outlook and conception which exist between the different groupings should be thoroughly discussed and cleared in comradely discussion, this should not stand in the way of the fullest co-operation and common working on all the issues on which agreement can be reached, both within the Congress and in the immediate daily struggle.

Congress Socialists, Trade Unionists, Communists and Left Congressmen should all be able to unite on the essentials of a minimum programme of anti-imperialist struggle for complete independence of organisation of the masses and development of mass struggle, and of the fight for changes in the Congress constitution, policy, organisation and leadership to forward these aims. The Congress Socialist Party can play an especially important part in this as the grouping of all the radical elements in the existing Congress. It is of the greatest importance that every effort should be made to clarify questions of programme and tactics in the Congress Socialist Party.

It is in this way that the first stage of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front could be built up already in the common fight, stressing particularly the local, district and provincial basis.

At the same time it is essential to recognise that the task of consolidation of the left wing forces renders more necessary and responsible than ever the rôle and the activity of the Communists in this process, since they have the most responsible rôle to play in ensuring the political clearness of the fight, in pressing forward the drive to unity in action, and guiding the aims of the movement towards the goal of political and social liberation.

Through the consolidation of the left wing forces the first stage of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front can be built up already in the common fight, particular stress being laid in the early stages upon its development on a local and district basis.

The Anti-Imperialist Front in the Elections

The question of the elections is of cardinal importance for the anti-imperialist front.

On the one hand, it is essential that the clear line of the anti-imperialist front, the line of consistent struggle for complete independence, against all co-operation with imperialism and its constitution, and for the demands of the masses, should be challengingly voiced at the elections, and that the outlook of these vast sections of the national movement must not be stifled.

On the other hand, it is essential that unity of the national front should be maintained against the imperialists and their allies, and there should be no splitting of the vote for the benefit of the reactionary right wing elements outside the Congress who stand for co-operation with imperialism.

The best means to realise this requires the most earnest consideration of all supporters of the national struggle.

We would suggest that the anti-imperialist bloc, constituted on its programme of complete independence, no co-operation with imperialism, and active struggle for the demands of the masses, should seek, agreement with the existing leadership of the Congress (within which the Congress Socialists, grouping the radical elements, represent already a substantial minority of roughly one-third of the forces and a potential majority), to run its candidates directly on this programme in a certain number of seats (or to be able to include them as a group with their specific programme within the Congress panel), as recognised candidates of the united national front, co-operating with the Congress candidates in other constituencies who run on the official programme. The details of this arrangement will need careful working out; but with goodwill on both sides, such an arrangement should be possible.

Every effort requires to be made to prevent a splitting of the national front in the elections; but such unity should not be utilised to stifle the left wing forces of the anti-imperialist bloc.

The Constituent Assembly as the Central Slogan of the Struggle

In order to concentrate the struggle against the slave constitution imposed by the British Government, we cannot rest satisfied with the negative programme of rejection of the constitution and refusal of co-operation, but must counterpose our positive slogan.

Corresponding to the existing stages of the movement, the time is now undoubtedly favourable to launch as our central slogan the demand for the convening of a Constituent Assembly based upon a universal and equal franchise and direct and secret ballot. In the past there has been much discussion on the slogan of a Constituent Assembly. On the one hand, it has been presented in such a form as if the existing National Congress were to be regarded as already the Constituent Assembly of the Indian people. On the other hand, it has been presented as if it were to be regarded as an alternative to the aim of Soviets, as the political aim of the Indian Revolution. Both these outlooks are incorrect and require to be combated. But this necessary criticism of misleading conceptions has given rise to the alternative danger of the conception that the slogan of a Constituent Assembly is as such and at all times inadmissible and in inevitable opposition to the aim of Soviets. This would be a serious misunderstanding; the example of the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution has shown how, in a given situation, the slogan of a Constituent Assembly can be a most powerful mobilising force which can be combined with the propaganda of Soviet Power as the ultimate aim.

Is the situation now in India such that this slogan of a Constituent Assembly would be a correct slogan of action for the coming stage? Yes. At a time when the British Government is imposing its new constitution of slavery upon the Indian nation, and preparing its mockery of elections from which the voice of nine-tenths of the people is excluded, and the remainder barred from effective representation with any power to their representatives it is essential to spread broadcast, in opposition to the line of imperialism, the demand for a Constituent Assembly freely elected upon a basis of universal suffrage. In putting this forward the Communists will in no wise weaken their propaganda for the aim of Soviet Power. The Constituent Assembly is a slogan for mobilising the masses at the present stage of the struggle.

But at the same time it is necessary to explain on every occasion on which the issue of a Constituent Assembly is raised, both within the National Congress, and in mass propaganda, that a real Constituent Assembly can only be realised as a result of a broad movement of the masses of the people in active struggle. The significance of the slogan of a Constituent Assembly is as a mobilising slogan of the mass struggle at the present stage. As such it should become the central slogan of action of the present stage of the national struggle and of the Anti-Imperialist People’s Front, uniting all the partial and immediate struggles it this central political fight.


The need for the speedy realisation of the broadest Anti-Imperialist People’s Front in India is the more urgent, not only for the reasons of the situation now existing within India, but in view of the whole international situation as it is developing and affecting India. The war question is now of burning urgency. The Italian war on Abyssinia, alongside the ever-extending Japanese aggression in China, is the signal of the advance of imperialism to a new world war. The sympathies of the Indian people are warmly united with the Abyssinian people in their resistance to the Italian war of aggression, and with the Chinese national struggle against Japanese, and all other imperialists. But at the same time it is necessary to sharpen the struggle against the war preparations of British Imperialism, which fall with merciless heaviness on the Indian masses. The imminence of a new world war makes more than ever necessary the unity and readiness of the national front in India.

In conclusion, it should be stated that these proposals are put forward for the consideration of all supporters of the struggle for national liberation in India as an attempt to trace the main outline of the path of advance in the present immediate situation and with the given relations of forces The realisation of this next stage of advance, the realisation of a broad based, all-embracing and powerful Anti-Imperialist People’s Front should rapidly open the way to new perspectives for the Indian national movement.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 10:17 am

Lester Hutchinson
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/20

Hugh Lester Hutchinson in 1947

Hugh Lester Hutchinson[1] (13 December 1904 – February 1983)[2] was a Labour politician who was elected to represent Manchester Rusholme in the 1945 General Election, winning the seat by ten votes.

He was a prominent Trade Unionist and participated in Trade Union movements in India in 1928-29. He was a journalist on the Indian Daily Mail. He was imprisoned in the Meerut Conspiracy Case along with 32 other Communist and Trade Union leaders in 1929.[3] He was jailed for 4 years.[4]

Portrait of 25 of the Meerut Prisoners taken outside the jail. Back row (left to right): K. N. Sehgal, S. S. Josh, H. L. Hutchinson, Shaukat Usmani, B. F. Bradley, A. Prasad, P. Spratt, G. Adhikari. Middle Row: Radharaman Mitra, Gopen Chakravarti, Kishori Lal Ghosh, L. R. Kadam, D. R. Thengdi, Goura Shanker, S. Bannerjee, K. N. Joglekar, P. C. Joshi, Muzaffar Ahmed. Front Row: M. G. Desai, D. Goswami, R.S. Nimbkar, S.S. Mirajkar, S.A. Dange, S. V. Ghate, Gopal Basak.

The Meerut Conspiracy Case was a controversial court case initiated in British India in March 1929 and decided in 1933. Several trade unionists, including three Englishmen were arrested for organizing an Indian railway strike. The British Government convicted 27 leftist trade union leaders under a false lawsuit. The trial immediately caught attention in England, where it inspired the 1932 play Meerut by Manchester street theatre group the 'Red Megaphones', highlighting the detrimental effects of colonisation and industrialisation....

The main charges were that in 1921 S.A. Dange, Shaukat Usmani and Muzaffar Ahmed entered into a conspiracy to establish a branch of the Comintern in India and they were helped by various persons, including the accused Philip Spratt and Benjamin Francis Bradley, sent to India by the Communist International. The aim of the accused persons, according to the charges raised against them was under section 121-A of the Indian Penal Code (Act 45 of 1860)...

Though all the accused were not communists, the charges framed against them portrayed the British government's fear for growth of communist ideas in India. In the trial the accused were all labeled as Bolsheviks. During the trial of four and a half years, the defendants turned the courtroom into a public platform to espouse their cause. As a result, the trial saw strengthening of the communist movement in the country.

-- Meerut Conspiracy Case, by Wikipedia

Together with two other Labour MPs, Leslie Solley and Konni Zilliacus, he voted against the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty. The trio were expelled from the Labour Party on 16 May 1949, and subsequently sat as the Labour Independent Group.[5] His constituency was abolished at the 1950 election. He unsuccessfully stood for the Walthamstow West seat, but never returned to Parliament. He was a historian, writer and teacher.


2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 September 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
3. "S.H. Jhabwala And Ors. vs Emperor on 3 August, 1933". Retrieved 1 February 2018.
4. "The Meerut Conspiracy Trial: Background, charges and sentences". 13 November 2007. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 10:52 am

Clemens Palme Dutt
by The Open University: Making Britain
Accessed: 3/20/20


Date of birth: 15 Apr 1893, Cambridge, England
Date of death: 01 Apr 1975, Goring on Thames
Location: Cambridge, London.

Clemens Palme Dutt was the elder brother of Rajani Palme Dutt. Both were active in the Communist Party of Great Britain. Clemens worked as a journalist, translator and editor, in particular of the works of Marx and Engels. The brothers’ Communist ideals were influenced from an early age by their father Dr Upendra Krishna Dutt’s activities as a doctor in a working-class part of Cambridge.

Date of birth: 01 Jan 1857, Calcutta, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 01 Jan 1876

Upendra Krishna Dutt travelled to Britain in 1875 or 1876 on a Gilchrist Scholarship to study medicine at London University. After qualifying, he remained in Britain practising at Leicester and then buying a medical practice in Cambridge. He faced a deal of racial prejudice in securing employment as a doctor after qualifying. Dutt married the Swedish writer Anna Palme in England. She was a distant relative of Olaf Palme, later Swedish Prime Minister.

The Dutt family were close-knit despite financial insecurity. From 1891, Dutt hosted the Cambridge Majlis society meetings in his home. Two of Dutt's sons, Rajani and Clemens, became active members of the Communist Party of Great Britain....


Cambridge Majlis
East India Association

-- Upendra Krishna Dutt, by The Open University, Making Britain

While at university, Clemens and Rajani were involved with the Socialist Club where both came to the attention of the British authorities and remained under constant surveillance. Both brothers were founding members of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

In the 1920s, both brothers were writing for Labour Monthly and for a time Clemens took over from his brother as editor. In the 1920s, he became actively involved with the Indian independence movement. Working as a journalist in London, he wrote in particular on India and the Indian independence struggle. In July 1923, he visited Berlin from Moscow, where he became closely associated with M. N. Roy, who was heading the Indian section of Comintern. He returned to London later that year under instructions from Comintern to assist Shapurji Saklatvala. In 1925, the CPGB established its own colonial bureau, which Clemens Palme Dutt headed. The bureau attempted to form connections in India, Palestine, China, Egypt and Ireland. He became the link between the CPGB colonial bureau the Comintern’s Indian section and Indian Communists in Europe and India. In 1927, together with N. J. Upadhyaya and Ajoy Banerji, he founded the Indian Seamen's Union in London. By then he was also on the London Council of the Workers' Welfare League of India, working in close cooperation with Saklatvala. During this period Palme Dutt visited Liverpool several times to help with the organization of Indian seamen by local Communists active in the port.

In March 1928, Clemens Palme Dutt was asked by Reginald Bridgeman to join the Executive Committee of the British Section of the League Against Imperialism. In 1928, Palme Dutt returned to Moscow as a member of a sub-committee of the Executive Committee of the Comintern to advise on the Indian situation. In the 1930s, he worked on the editorial staff of the Daily Worker, the organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and acted as the Chairman of the Indian Section of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He also represented the Indian Seamen’s Union on the Executive of the League Against Imperialism. Palme Dutt worked as part of the Meerut Prisoners’ Defence Committee. In August 1930, he replaced Percy Glading as head of the Colonial Department of the CPGB. In 1930, together with Saklatvala, he helped to found the Workers' Section of the London Branch of the Indian National Congress. In June 1931, he was part of a sub-committee of the Colonial Bureau of the CPGB to organize Indian students in Britain.

In late 1931 he moved to Berlin and later to Moscow where he met Violet Lansbury (daughter of George Lansbury, leader of the Labour Party in the early 1930s) whom he married in 1936 and with whom he had a daughter. During the Spanish Civil War, Palme Dutt worked together with Krishna Menon and the India League to collect donations for an ambulance for Spanish Republicans. By early 1939 Palme Dutt, his wife and daughter had returned to Britain permanently. He continued to work for the CPGB, addressing meetings and writing articles.


Robert Page Arnot, Olive Budden, Ajoy Banerji, Reginald Bridgeman, Rose Cohen, Claud Cockburn, Shripat Amrit Dange, Upendra Krishna Dutt (father), Rajani Palme Dutt (brother), Pazl Elahi, Percy Glading, Don Phillip Rupasangha Gunawardena, W. M. Holmes, Douglas Hyde, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, V. K. Krishna Menon, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sylvia Pankhurst, Picasso, M. P. Rathbones, M. N. Roy, Bill Rust, Shapurji Saklatvala, Pulin Behari Seal, Mohamed Ali Sepassi (Khushi Mohammed), Philip Spratt, Robert Stuart, John Strachey, N. J. Upadhyaya.

Communist Club, Battersea; Communist Party of Great Britain; Indian Bureau; Indian Seamen’s Union; Meerut Prisoners Defence Committee; National Union of Journalists; Workers' Welfare League for India.


Shapurji Saklatvala
Rajani Palme Dutt
Krishna Menon


Indian Writing
Lawrence & Wishart
League Against Imperialism

Involved in events:

Meerut Conspiracy Trials

Published works:

Biology: An Introductory Course for Casses and Study Circles (London: Labour Research Department, 1925)

Labour and the Empire (London: Communist Party of Great Britain, 1929)

As editor and translator:

Engels, Friedrich, Herr Eugen Duehring’s Revolution in Science-Anti-Duehring, trans. by Emile Burns and ed. by C. P. Dutt (London: Martin Lawrence, 1934)

Engels, Friedrich, Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy...With an appendix of other material of Marx and Engels relating to dialectical materialism, ed. by C. P. Dutt (London: Martin Lawrence, 1934)Engels, Friedrich, The Housing Question, ed. by C. P. Dutt (London: Martin Lawrence, 1935)

Marx, Karl, The Poverty of Philosophy, with an introduction by Frederick Engels, ed. by C. P. Dutt and V. Chattopadhyaya (London: Martin Lawrence, 1936)

Frolov, Yury Petrovitch, Pavlov and his School. The Theory of Conditioned Reflexes, trans. by C. P. Dutt (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1937)

Critique of the Gotha Programme...With Appendices by Marx, Engels and Lenin, ed. by C. P. Dutt (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1938)

Engels, Friedrich, Dialectics of Nature, trans. by C. P. Dutt (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1940)

Marx, Karl, Selected Works of Karl Marx, ed. by C. P. Dutt (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1942)

The Soviet Worker Looks at the War: Selections from the Moscow Fortnightly War and the Working Class, ed. by C. P. Dutt (London: Labour Monthly, 1944)

Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, Weissbuch der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands ueber die muendliche Verhandlung im Karlsruhe ('The Karlsruhe Trial for banning the Communist Party of Germany'), trans. by C. P. Dutt (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1956)

Contributions to periodicals:

Daily Worker

Labour Monthly

Secondary works:

'Announcement of Death', The Times (14 April 1975), p. 24

Owen, Nicholas, The British Left and India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Archive source:

L/PJ/12/28, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/29, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

KV2/2504, National Archives, Kew

KV2/2505, National Archives, Kew
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri Mar 20, 2020 11:05 am

Upendra Krishna Dutt
by The Open University: Making Britain
Accessed: 3/20/20

Date of birth: 01 Jan 1857, Calcutta, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 01 Jan 1876

Upendra Krishna Dutt travelled to Britain in 1875 or 1876 on a Gilchrist Scholarship to study medicine at London University. After qualifying, he remained in Britain practising at Leicester and then buying a medical practice in Cambridge. He faced a deal of racial prejudice in securing employment as a doctor after qualifying. Dutt married the Swedish writer Anna Palme in England. She was a distant relative of Olaf Palme, later Swedish Prime Minister.

Anna Augusta Palme Dutt; born January 5, 1868, in Kalmar, H. Sverige, Sweden; daughter of Christian Adolph Palme [Christian Adolph Palme (Kristian Adolf), born 30 April, 1811 in Applerum, Arby, Kalmar, Sverige; died 31 March, 1889 in Kalmar, Kalmar, Sverige; son of Johan Palm and Carolina von Sydow; Secretary of State in Kalmar, lawyer in Kalmar] and Augusta Johanna Amalia Hasselqvist; Sister of Sven Theodor Palme [grandfather of Prime Minister Olof Palme]; married Upendra Krishna Dutt 1890 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK; great aunt of Olof Palme


 Johan Palme (1778-1845), bailiff, Södra Möre, Kalmar County [ 1 ]
o Johan Theodor Palme (1808-1870), wholesaler and shipowner in Kalmar [ 1 ]
 August Palme (1856–1924), actor [ 1 ]
o Christian Adolph Palme (1811–1889), Secretary of State in Kalmar, Lawyer [ 1 ]
 Henrik Palme (1841–1932), banking director [ 1 ]
 Carl Palme (1879-1960) artist [ 1 ]
 Lennart Palme (1881-1971), business manager [ 1 ]
 Henrik Palme dy (1888–1935), director [ 2 ]
 René Palme (1910–1983), Businessman, Mexico [ 2 ]
 Oscar Palme, (1891–1946), major [ 1 ]
 Ulf Palme (1920–1993), actor [ 1 ]
 Beatrice Palme , actor in Italy
 + Laila Andersson-Palme (born 1941), married to Ulf Palme from 1984 [ 3 ]
 Fredrik Adolph Palme, (1846-1912), a notary court notary [ 1 ]
 Einar Palme (1901–1993), artist [ 1 ]
 Sven Palme (1854-1934), Insurance Director [ 1 ]
 Olof Palme (1884–1918), historian [ 1 ]
 Rutger Palme (1910–1995), lawyer, chair of the municipal council [ 1 ]
 Agneta Uddenberg , born Palme (1941–2011), journalist and writer [ 4 ]
 Sven Ulric Palme (1912–1977), historian, professor [ 1 ]
 Jacob Palme (born 1941), professor [ 1 ]
 Thomas Palme (born 1944), Ambassador [ 1 ]
 Christian Palme (born 1952), journalist [ 1 ]
 Per Olof Palme (1914–1983), art historian, professor in Oslo [ 1 ]
 Hans Palme (1918-2000), chief engineer [ 1 ]
 Erik Palme (born 1938), architect [ 1 ]
 + Birgitta Palme (1940-2000), head of theater, married to Erik Palme [ 1 ]
 Susanne Palme (born 1955), journalist [ 5 ]
 Gunnar Palme (1886–1934) insurance director [ 1 ]
 Claës Palme (1917–2006), lawyer [ 1 ]
 Olof Palme (1927–1986), Prime Minister [ 1 ]
 + Lisbeth Beck-Friis (1931–2018), psychologist, married to Olof Palme [ 1 ] [ 6 ]
 Joakim Palme (born 1958), political scientist and sociologist, professor [ 6 ]
 Mårten Palme (born 1961), economist, professor [ 6 ]
 Mattias Palme (born 1968)
 Nils Palme (1895–1963), military, landlord [ 7 ]

The Dutt family were close-knit despite financial insecurity. From 1891, Dutt hosted the Cambridge Majlis society meetings in his home. Two of Dutt's sons, Rajani and Clemens, became active members of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Their involvement in politics was influenced by their father's work as a doctor in working-class areas of Cambridge.


Clemens Palme Dutt, Rajani Palme Dutt.


Rajani Palme Dutt


Cambridge Majlis
East India Association

Secondary works:

Callaghan, John, Rajani Palme Dutt (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1993)

Lahiri, Shompa, Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1800-1930 (London: Frank Cass, 2000)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Archive source:

R. P. Dutt Papers, Communist Party Archives, University of Central Lancashire
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