Sylvia Pankhurst reader

Sylvia Pankhurst demonstrating against British policy in India, 1932

An extensive compilation of the political writings of left communist Sylvia Pankhurst on class, women, communism and fascism.


  • The potato pickers
  • Pit brow women
  • The Suffragette (extract)
  • Our paper: The Woman's Dreadnought
  • A minimum wage for women
  • Beware the CD acts
  • How to meet industrial conscription
  • Our equal birthright
  • Human suffrage
  • The Lenin revolution: what it means to democracy
  • Look to the future
  • The election
  • You are called to the war
  • Towards a communist party
  • A constitution for British soviets. Points for a communist programme
  • Cooperative housekeeping
  • Soviet Russia as I saw it in 1920: the Congress in the Kremlin
  • Writ on Cold Slate
  • Freedom of discussion
  • To Lenin, as representing the Russian Communist Party and the Russian Soviet Government
  • The truth about the Fascisti
  • What is behind the label? A plea for clearness
  • Women members of Parliament
  • Capitalism or Communism for Russia?
  • Save the mothers (extract)
  • Women's citizenship
  • The life of Emmeline Pankhurst (extract)
  • The Suffragette Movement (extract)
  • The Home Front (extract)
  • In the Red Twilight (extract)
  • Our policy [on the invasion of Ethiopia by fascist Italy]
  • Three great powers betrayed us
  • The fascist world war
  • Our policy [on the democratic ideal]
  • The conspiracy against world peace
  • Fascism As It Is (chapter 39: women under the Nazis)
  • Ethiopia and Eritrea. The last phase of the reunion struggle 1941-52 (extract)
  • Appendices
Sylvia-Pankhurst-reader.pdf8.81 MB

Posted By

Jul 6 2016 20:52


Attached files


Jul 6 2016 22:45

Is "left communism" still appropriate to categorise these works by our comrade? No matter, this will give me something to read when I've finished Love and Capital. Thanks – if thanks are appropriate – for sharing, comrade.

Jul 17 2016 17:31

She was a Left Communist between 1918 and about 1926. So not all of these were written in her Left Communist period. Is that what you're getting at?

Jul 17 2016 23:07

"Left Communist" was not a label she would have applied to herself during this period (1918-26). More the fact that I don't think it's wise to pigeonhole. Simply out of respect I think we shouldn't split a woman's life into periods.

Jul 19 2016 08:56

I'm not sure that would have been the case. As she was close to both the Linkskommunismus/Ratekommunismus groups in Germany and to Bordiga, and as far as I remember came under fire from Lenin in 'Left Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder' then I think she probably would have accepted the label 'Left Communist' (or 'Communist' of course). She certainly has a better claim to be considered a 'Left Communist' in this period than some other people given the label. In fact, her group joined the 4th International (the 'Communist Workers' International'). From wiki:

"The Communist Workers' International (German: Kommunistische Arbeiter-Internationale, KAI) or Fourth Communist International was a council communist international. It was founded around the Manifesto of the Fourth Communist International, published by the Communist Workers' Party of Germany (KAPD) in 1921.

The organisation was founded in 1922, following a split in the KAPD, by members of the Essen Faction, including Herman Gorter and Karl Schröder, the Berlin Faction holding that the formation of an international was premature. It was joined by the Communist Workers' Party of the Netherlands, Sylvia Pankhurst's Communist Workers' Party in Britain, the Left Communists in Russia (who accordingly renamed themselves the Communist Workers' Party), the Communist Workers' Group in Russia and some left communists in Belgium and Bulgaria."

On division into periods... do you think 'votes for women', 'all power to the soviets' and 'support the Emperor of Ethiopia' are the same thing?

Jul 19 2016 09:20

If I were to apply a label I would prefer to label her "communist" and Lenin (the bolsheviks), "social-democrat".

On division into periods... do you think 'votes for women', 'all power to the soviets' and 'support the Emperor of Ethiopia' are the same thing?

I would prefer not to reply to that question as I do not wish to be on the receiving end of any more personal abuse from doctrinaire users.

Thanks for your replies. I was not aware of the Fourth International, or I had forgotten it.

Red Marriott
Jul 19 2016 09:49

Are you a Rastafarian?

Jul 19 2016 14:30

I'm a sinner: my diet includes meat and salt; I drink alcohol and smoke tobacco.

I do equate communism with true Rastafari. I do view Haile Selassie I as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and Jesus Christ as His only begotten son. So, yes and no.

Judging by your self-description ("Party of Moderate Progress within the Bounds of the Law") you are far closer to the character of Ras Tafari Makonnen than I am.

Red Marriott
Jul 19 2016 17:00

Your religious character makes you much closer to Selassie.

Jul 20 2016 17:26

I see that you were being ironic.

Your religious character makes you much closer to Selassie.

Excepting that I do not know how to pray.

A short note on Ethiopian religious names:

It is a mistake to use either part of such a name without the other, and the all too common journalists' habit of calling the Emperor 'Selassie' [Trinity] confuses him with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Haile-Selassie's Government, by Christopher Clapham

Red Marriott
Jul 20 2016 17:59
Excepting that I do not know how to pray.

That could be a drawback for someone who believes in god(s). But you're saved, help is at hand;

I am most sorry to have offended with the incorrect form of address your Lord & Master Emperor Haile Selassie, divine head of your communist church and supreme leader of the movement against a hierarchical society.

Jul 20 2016 18:28

Tetchy! No offence taken.

I don't think the World Wide Web will be able to teach me how to pray. I think prayer is something alien to the Western mindset of which I am a part.

Nov 23 2016 00:17

Marxist archive has a few articles that should be part of any anthology of Sylvia Pankhursts writings

And from Libcom library a letter from Pannekoek to Pankhurst
Replying to this

Nov 23 2016 11:28
ajjohnstone wrote:
Marxist archive has a few articles that should be part of any anthology of Sylvia Pankhursts writings

if you could post those extra ones up into our library that would be fantastic!

May 25 2021 14:46

I've just finished my slow long 'lockdown' read of the excellent new Sylvia Pankhurst biography,
'Sylvia Pankhurst -Natural Born Rebel' by Rachel Holmes published by Bloomsbury.
My interest in Sylvia was sparked many years back by her activity with the 'Workers Dreadnaught' in her 'left communist' phase and although she did not remain consistent with that throughout her life she was in her own way still consistent in her socialism, feminism, anti-racism and anti-imperialism. This biography runs through the whole of our modern history from the lead-up to the first world war and through both that and the second world war and on to the struggles in Africa for 'national independence' from the European powers. Given recent developments and civil wars in the Horn of Africa Sylvia's early reformist support for Ethiopian independence under Haile Selassie during the italian invasion under Mussolini and beyond including the push for the unity of Ethiopia with Eritrea and Somalia, this part of the biography is of increased interest. The early suffrage movement in the UK is of course also included with Sylvia distinguishing herself from her mother and older sister in her clearer working class perspective. Her long political and loving relationship with Keir Hardy was matched however in her later life with the anarchist and syndicalist Silvio Corio also referenced in the libcom library.
Well worth a read.