The Comintern, Communist women leaders and the struggle for women's liberation in Britain between the wars: a political and prosopographical investigation, part 2

McIlroy, John and Campbell, Alan (2022) The Comintern, Communist women leaders and the struggle for women's liberation in Britain between the wars: a political and prosopographical investigation, part 2. Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory, 50 (1) . pp. 107-153. ISSN 0301-7605 [Article] (doi:10.1080/03017605.2022.2050533)

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Abstract

This is the second part of an article which explores and contextualises in revolutionary theory and practice the lives and careers of a highly unusual group of women, many hitherto hidden from history, who took a leading part in the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) between 1920 and 1939. The first instalment discussed the historiography and outlined a prosopographical approach to the subject. It traced the theory of women's liberation which informed the early Comintern and its national affiliates from its roots in the work of Engels, the German Social Democratic Party and the Second International; outlined developments in CPGB policy on the question over two decades; and presented a statistical analysis of 15 of the 18 women who figured in the party leadership between the wars. This second instalment provides mini-biographies of these Central Committee (CC) members. It examines their origins, ethnicity, religion, education, occupation, previous affiliations, political attitudes and career in the CPGB. Recuperation confirms that the group as a whole embraced Communism as a break with earlier women's politics – including those with direct experience of the suffrage movement. They rejected feminism but exhibited little interest in Marxist theory beyond Comintern pronouncements. Committed to the party and the policies of the Soviet Union as it moved from Lenin to Stalin, they were practical organisers and agitators who, on the whole, respected conventional gender roles. They exercised the right to be politically active, even in the face of domestic commitments, and engaged in the general activities of the party as well as specialist work with women. But they offered no explicit critique of the family, prevailing sexual mores or the subordination of women members within the CPGB.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Women's Liberation, Gender, Comintern, Communist Party of Great Britain, Soviet Union, Feminism
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 36622
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory on 2 Jan 2022, available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/03017605.2022.2050532
Useful Links:
Depositing User: John Mcilroy
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2022 15:33
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:37
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/36622

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