Review of Mark Shipway's book, Anti-Parliamentary Communism: the Movement for Workers' Councils in Britian, 1917-1945, from The Red Menace.
The existence and activity of revolutionaries in Britain before the end of World War II has been either ignored or distorted In the various histories of the period written by apologists for the "Communist" Party and the Labour Party. Several books have recently become available which give us a clearer picture of our predecessors in this country.
Mark Shipway’s Anti-Parliamentary Communism - the movement for workers’ councils in Britain 1917-45 (Macmillan, 1988) focuses on Sylvia Pankhurst and the Workers’ Dreadnought group, the Glasgow-based Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation, and the groups centred around the anarcho-communist Guy Aldred.
While the "Communist" Party of Great Britain attempted to affiliate to the Labour Party, the Dreadnought group (later named the Communist Workers Party) opposed all parliamentary action and supported the struggles of the unemployed against the Labour-controlled Poplar Board of Guardians. While the CPGB became a mouthpiece for the interests of the Russian state, they printed articles which accused the "Communist" International of being "bound up with the capitalism which is being newly Introduced into Russia" (although In fact capitalism had never really been destroyed in Russia).
After Workers’ Dreadnought stopped appearing in June 1924 the APCF and Aldred remained active, eventually going on to oppose the Second World War. As an article in the Word (paper of Aldred’s United Socialist Movement) put it: "It makes no difference to the effect of a bomb whether it is dropped with the hatred of a Fascist Dictator or the love and kisses of a Democratic Prime Minister... In every case it is the workers who are killed". Class War on the Home Front (Wildcat, 1986), a pamphlet consisting of APCF articles from this period is available from BM Cat, London WC1N 3XX for £1.50.
Come Dungeons Dark- the life and times of Guy Aldred, Glasgow anarchist (Luath Press, Barr, Ayrshire, KA26 9Th, 1988, £6.95) is a biography of Aldred written by John Caldwell, a fellow member of the USM, including an account of his various spells In prison.
Meanwhile For Communism, a book written by Aldred in 1935 has just been reprinted. It is an account of the state of the communist movement at that time which exposes the role of leninism and the Third International in attacking the revolutionary proletarian movement. Available for £2.00 + 40p postage from Unpopular Books, Box 15, 136 Kingsland High Road, London E8 2NS.
Published in The Red Menace, number one, February 1989. Taken from the Practical History website.