In the footsteps of Lenin
The official CPGB’s leading theoretician, Rajani Palme Dutt, followed the example of Lenin when assessing the reputation of Karl Kautsky, writes Lawrence Parker
Rajani Palme Dutt (1896-1974), the Communist Party of Great Britain’s leading theoretician in its first decades, is not often thought of as a rebel in respect of his communism; or at least not in relation to the Comintern/Soviet controllers of the world communist movement.1
After being caught to the right of Zinoviev’s Comintern in 1923-24 through taking a conciliatory attitude to the minority Labour administration, Dutt, keeping in step with a Comintern that was politically to the left of the CPGB leadership majority through the mid-to-late 1920s, subsequently took a leftist tack in relation to issues such as the CPGB’s work in the Labour Party. Dutt was always capable of rebelling against the more parochial sensibilities of his British comrades (through overseeing the adoption of the Comintern’s ‘imperialist war’ line in 1939, down to leading a CPGB minority in 1968 backing the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia) in favour of a graveyard of Soviet-inspired ‘internationalism’.
This article, however, reveals details of a minor ideological rebellion by Dutt on the issue of the reputation of Karl Kautsky (1854-1938). Dutt, as a good ‘Leninist’, upheld Lenin’s view of Kautsky as a leading Marxist theoretician who had betrayed his earlier writings in 1914. As we shall see, there are pieces of evidence suggesting some elements in the early CPGB did not follow Lenin or Dutt on this matter. Rather, the implicit idea appeared to be that Kautsky had always been a renegade and that 1914 was hence implicit in all of his oeuvre (a view that has become generalised among sections of the contemporary left, either from ignorance or through an interpretation of writers such as György Lukács).
This is not written as some kind of revisionist exercise to rehabilitate Dutt’s reputation. Rather, the final judgement on him has to be that he generally espoused, as from this example in the CPGB’s crisis year of 1956, “Stalinist realism and political machismo” that “constituted an exercise in displacement intended to re-infuse communists with the hard-nosed mentality that ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’”.2 Indeed, such an attitude proved to be fatal to Dutt’s already reduced authority inside the CPGB after 1956. For some sections of the party he became a figure of fun,3 although Dutt was still respected by the CPGB’s pro-Soviet left, particularly after his intervention during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.4 (In fact, contrary to received contemporary wisdom, not all Dutt’s writing was dross.)
However, despite figures such as Dutt not being candidates for any kind of rehabilitation, one still has to explain the generalised fragmentation afflicting organisations such as the CPGB in the world communist movement. By the 1970s such political and organisational fragmentation is obvious to anyone who has studied the CPGB (it was certainly also obvious to anyone active inside it). By and large, its trade union contingent was stuck inside a silo with its own structures and trade unionist ideology. Another ‘party in a party’ was its left, which had its own pro-Soviet ideology, foisted on top of confused ideas of militant class struggle. It too had its own structures of command (some of which were focused on Sid French and the Surrey district of the CPGB; others around figures such as Fergus Nicholson), set apart from the leadership of King Street.
By the 1970s, the CPGB’s national leadership had effectively decided to organise around such fragmentation rather than counter it.5 But this fragmentation was nothing new to the CPGB. Right from its earlier expansionist attempts at ‘Bolshevisation’ in the 1920s, where an attempt was made to centralise its structures of command and provide uniformity to its ideology, this was always aspirational rather than real. The CPGB’s leaders could never completely control their activists and intellectuals, and were thus always worrying about low-level deviations of one sort or another. The kind of brittle centralisation espoused by the CPGB, unlikely to consistently engage the democratic energies of its members, produced its opposite: fragmentation and attempts to route around the party’s central structures. There was little that was politically positive about such actions, which, in general, did not step outside the boundaries conventionalised by the world communist movement. People often rebelled on the basis of previous bad periods of Comintern or CPGB politics (for example, general secretary Harry Pollitt argued briefly against 1939’s new ‘imperialist war’ on the basis of a previous popular frontism; and the post-war CPGB ‘anti-revisionists’ tended to sanctify the reputation of earlier ‘revisionists’, such as Pollitt and Dutt).
Dutt, of course, was usually involved in this desiccated attempt at centralisation and the episode here is at the outer edge of this general process of fragmentation. But in many ways Dutt proves the complete hopelessness of the ‘Bolshevisation’ project of ideological unanimity. If the party intellectual who seemed most attuned to Soviet conceptions was prepared at points to register his own intellectual dissonance, then what chance had anyone else in the CPGB of becoming a model of ‘Bolshevised’ perfection?
Before we begin to discuss some of the early CPGB’s thinking on Lenin and Kautsky, it is necessary to state that this article follows the argument of Lars T Lih. Lih focuses on a “central paradox” that “after the outbreak of war in 1914, Karl Kautsky was at one and the same time Lenin’s greatest enemy and his greatest mentor”. Lih goes on to mention “a constant stream of comments by Lenin praising ‘Kautsky when he was a Marxist’ on a wide range of topics”.6 In other words, Lenin treated Kautsky in 1914 as betraying an earlier, theoretically sound, Marxism and reacted with shame and anger when Kautsky tried to excuse the action of the German SPD Reichstag deputies in voting for war credits.7 It was this framework that Palme Dutt absorbed from Lenin.
However, this perspective was not automatically generated in the early British communist movement. Rather, an alternative idea also took root - as against Lenin’s more nuanced approach - that Kautsky had always been a problematic figure for Marxists. For example, in a review of Kautsky’s The dictatorship of the proletariat (1918; first published in English in 1919) in The Call, the paper of the British Socialist Party (shortly to become part of the fledgling CPGB), in February 1920, WH Ryde took Kautsky to task for an overextension of ideas of capitalist democracy and the forms of class struggle.8 Ryde stated: “In 1893 and 1900 [Kautsky] discussed this matter [of capitalist democracy and class struggle] and arrived at the following conclusion, which he believes is still valid.”9
There then follows in the review a quote that condenses a couple of passages that Kautsky cites in chapter four of The dictatorship of the proletariat, taken, as Ryde suggests, from unspecified Kautsky works from 1893 and 1900:
This so-called peaceful method of the class struggle, which is confined to non-militant methods, parliamentarism, strikes, demonstrations, the press, and similar means of pressure, will retain its importance in every country according to the effectiveness of the democratic institutions [that] prevail there, the degree of political and economic enlightenment, and the self-mastery of the people.
On these grounds, I anticipate that the social revolution of the proletariat will assume quite other forms than that of the bourgeoisie, and that it will be possible to carry it out by peaceful economic, legal and moral means, instead of by physical force, in all places where democracy has been established.10
It is actually Kautsky who, ironically, seems to suggest this idea to Ryde that his pre-1914 standpoint was flawed, by conflating his views of 1893, 1900 and 1918. As Kautsky remarks of the passage quoted immediately above: “The above is my opinion today.”11 (The issue as to whether Kautsky’s conflation of views from different periods of his political career was legitimate is one that I will leave aside.)
Tom Quelch’s review of the 1920 BSP edition of Lenin’s polemic with Kautsky simply treats the latter as “the intellectual head and front of all those proletarian forces [that] still fall under the spell of social patriots on the one hand - men [such as] Scheidemann in Germany, Renaudel in France, Henderson, Thomas and Clynes in [Britain] - and the uncertain socialists such as Longuet in France, and the leaders of the ILP in this country”, with no mention of any of the contradictions in Kautsky’s long career.12
Such schematic conclusions were also present in some of the CPGB’s early writings on the Second International. JT Murphy, writing in 1925, said: “The Second International … represents the organisational growth of the proletariat divorced from revolutionary leadership. No wonder it was shattered by the first great shock of war and revolution.”13 In other words, the collapse of the Second International was implicit in its earlier trajectory before 1914; and, by this logic, the Third International was the only genuine successor to the First International.
Yet, unsurprisingly in a movement premised on an unfolding ‘Leninism’, there were other attitudes to Kautsky. CPGB member Harry Wicks remembered Kautsky visiting London in 1924 to speak on the 60th anniversary on the founding of the First International:
I was in the group from our economics class, along with Jack Clancy and Bill Ryder, that went to hear that arch anti-Bolshevist. The occasion was an ILP dance and social; the band stopped for some minutes and, from a raised dais, Kautsky spoke. He was an old man with a white beard, mumbling softly in an English [that] was very bad to my ears. All I recall was, he conveyed greetings for the International’s anniversary.
Bill Ryder never left the small coffee table even to listen, but, on our return, he was most critical. ‘What was Kautsky doing on the 50th anniversary in 1914?’ he asked. But the point is, his criticism and opinions were confined to our small circle. It shows how the movement was still one: you could have a group of CPers going along to hear that outstanding critic of the Bolshevik Revolution, without feeling bound to heckle.14
Long after his political demise as a Marxist thinker, Kautsky’s books were still sought after by Marxist students. Three years later  when I was told to prepare myself for the [Moscow] Lenin School, his Economic doctrines of Karl Marx was on the short list of compulsory reading.15
Wicks obviously has something more in common with Lenin’s understanding of Kautsky, of a great theoretician who has fallen from grace, while he alludes to a division in CPGB ranks on the subject. Some were more hostile because of Kautsky’s failure in 1914; others were more respectful because of his theoretical stature prior to the fall.
‘When he was a Marxist’
It was this latter viewpoint that Dutt had taken over, as an inheritance of ‘Leninism’, in this period. In 1927, in his ‘Notes of the month’ in Labour Monthly, Dutt discussed the fallacies of what he called the “imperialising” of the Labour Party and the incorporation of a ‘socialist’ colonial policy. He drew attention to the rejection of such policies by the Seventh Congress of the Second International in Stuttgart in 1907. He argued: “In this debate the decisive speech was made by Kautsky, who was then still a revolutionary socialist and Marxist.”16
Dutt then moves on to approvingly paraphrase Kautsky’s speech, concluding:
The conception that certain peoples are ‘children’, are incapable of self-rule: this is the basic conception of all despotism, the invariable argument of all slave-owners in favour of slavery. So Kautsky argued 20 years ago, and carried the congress with him.17
Unlike the tendency in the writing of Murphy that we have noted above, to treat the Second International as an aberration and the Third International as a simple continuation of the First, Dutt, using the example of Stuttgart, drew up a much more nuanced balance sheet of the Second:
It is to be noted that, as in all the discussions of the old pre-war Second International, while the Marxist position is more or less laid down in principle, the practical conclusions are not clearly drawn, and dangerous loopholes are left for opportunist distortions.18
This was no aberration on Dutt’s part. Even the irruption of the ‘third period’ of the Comintern (roughly 1928-33) - where communist parties were pushed (with Dutt involved in the ‘pushing’ in the mid-to-late 1920s) into a more hostile and confrontational posture towards the social democratic organisations of the Second International, and which may have been expected to lead to more ideological venom being squirted at key figures such as Kautsky - provoked no essential change in Dutt’s basic conception. Thus in his short book Lenin (1933), Dutt repeated his analysis of 1927:
The Socialist International numbered 12 millions by 1914. The programme of Marxism remained in name the programme. But the practice turned increasingly to opportunism: that is, to adaptation to the existing capitalist regime for the sake of limited immediate concessions.19
But Dutt does not merely shrug his shoulders at this occurrence as an immediate justification for the Third International; rather he stresses the tragedy of 1914. Or, as he puts it himself, “This moment was the blackest moment in modern history … the instrument … built up with the labour and sacrifice of generations to be ready for the crisis … appeared to have failed.”20 Later in this work, Dutt, picking up on Lenin’s quoting of Kautsky in ‘Leftwing’ communism: an infantile disorder. The quote comes from the same article (‘The Slavs and the revolution’, 1901) with the preface that, back in 1901, Kautsky was “then the recognised theoretical leader of international socialism”,21 which is similar to Lenin’s “when he was still a Marxist and not a renegade”.22 For Dutt, on this issue at least, ‘Leninism’ was an arena where Lenin had to be taken literally.
However, the ideological backdrop here was not static, as Kautsky continued a stream of polemics against the Soviet Union into the 1930s. For example, Allen Hutt complained of a “contemptible farrago of the most vulgar and childish Morning Post lies about the Soviet Union” in Kautsky’s Bolshevism at a deadlock (1931).23 In Bolshevik (an official Moscow magazine) in March 1931, there was also an attempt to damage Kautsky’s pre-1914 reputation and smear the Marxist theoretician and archivist, David Riazanov (1870-1938), at the same time. In an unsigned article in July 1931’s Labour Monthly, a letter from Marx to Jenny Longuet of April 1881 was reproduced from the Bolshevik article alongside a poisonous commentary.
In this letter, Marx said of a young Kautsky:
When this beauty first appeared before me - I am speaking of this odd fellow, Kautsky - the first question [that] escaped my lips, was he like his mother? Absolutely not at all, he replied; on which I inwardly congratulated his mother. He is a mediocrity, with petty points of view, too wise by half (he is only 26 years’ old), knowing better than anyone else, to a certain extent industrious, occupying himself with statistics, but getting little sense out of it; he belongs from the year of his birth to the genus philistine, for the rest he is in his way, a respectable fellow - I shall endeavour as far as possible to pass him on to friend Engels.24
Not a very flattering assessment perhaps, although not the most hard-edged political one. However, the letter was used by elements in the Soviet bureaucracy and its OGPU to move against Riazanov, who was now being classed, in the lying commentary reproduced in Labour Monthly, as a “Menshevik savant and archivist”.25 It went on:
Riazanov, who has enlarged so much on the theme that he, in contrast to Bernstein, gives Marx without falsification, printed this letter ostensibly without any kind of abbreviation, but in fact carefully concealing the original of this letter in order to safeguard the authority of Kautsky, and in point of fact excising from the letter the deadly characterisation of Kautsky that it contains.26
Leon Trotsky very effectively rubbished this frame-up, pointing out that Riazanov had “published not a few documents and works [that] had caused Menshevism considerable vexation”.27 He also praised Riazanov’s “exceptional perseverance and ingenuity” in gathering the Marx and Engels archive, and stated that, far from representing some kind of skulduggery, the archivist’s pruning of the judgement on Kautsky from the letter was probably related to the conditions of its sale:
It is beyond doubt that the ‘Menshevik Lydia Zederbaum’ did not simply turn over the letter to Riazanov, but she probably sold it as an intermediary for Bernstein or someone else among the old men who had the letter by Marx. It is quite natural that in selling this letter, which draws a crushing picture of Kautsky, Bernstein or the other proprietor of the document from the same circle, put as a condition for the sale that the letter should not be published while Kautsky was alive or while the one selling it was alive. The rigorous manner in which Bernstein submitted to this sort of censorship the correspondence of Marx and Engels is sufficiently well known.28
Yet, despite his stout defence of Riazanov’s actions, Trotsky appears to agree with the Soviet bureaucrats that Marx’s judgement on the young Kautsky was revealing. He stated that the “crushing characterisation” of Kautsky therein “was, in short, fully verified by the future”.29 Leaving aside whether a short personal jab at a precocious youth can be truly crushing or some kind of magical portent of 1914, we can state with certainty that this would not have been Lenin’s judgement, in that he found part of Kautsky’s future thought extremely conducive to his own political development (so Marx’s words, if you treat them as any kind of pointer, were not fully verified). Neither did Dutt apparently think much of using this youthful portrayal of Kautsky as any definitive guide to the future.
To be fair to Trotsky, he did later correct his view on Kautsky and the Soviet bureaucracy. In 1938 he wrote:
The attempts of the present historiography of the Comintern to present things as if Lenin, almost in his youth, had seen in Kautsky an opportunist and had declared war against him, are radically false. Almost up to the time of the world war, Lenin considered Kautsky as the genuine continuator of the cause of Marx and Engels.30
This is a strange episode because, as the editor of Labour Monthly, it is implausible that Dutt would not have had full sight of the ‘Marx on Kautsky’ article before it went to press. And yet he chose - probably on purpose - to directly contradict this entirely negative view of Kautsky in his ‘Notes of the month’ in the very same issue. Dutt discussed the “deep corruption” of the “petty-capitalist outlook” that he saw as dominating the British trade union movement.31 He quoted Kautsky’s The social revolution (1902) to illustrate the contradictions of the British movement’s tradition:
The English workers today stand lower as a political factor than the workers of the most economically backward country in Europe - Russia. It is the real revolutionary consciousness in these latter that gives them their great political power. It is the renunciation of revolution, the narrowing of interest to the interests of the moment, to the so-called practical politics, that have made the latter a cipher in actual politics.32
To underline this, Dutt made an appeal for the contemporary usefulness of Kautsky’s remarks: “The foundations of this contrast, made by Kautsky with clear judgement then as to what constituted real backwardness and real strength in a working class movement, are not yet wiped out today.”33 Reading between the lines, Dutt is telling his audience that they should not pay too much attention to Marx’s acerbic remarks about the youthful Kautsky; nor to the Soviet bureaucracy’s promotion of them, even though Dutt felt obliged to print them in his magazine as a matter of course. At least in his own contribution to this particular issue of Labour Monthly, Dutt stayed faithful to Lenin’s view of Kautsky as someone who, in his pre-1914 writings, could be a useful repository of knowledge for the working class movement.
To be clear, this was a fairly minor act of ideological rebellion by Dutt (although this issue was, of course, not a minor one for Riazanov, then being hounded by the OGPU) and has been recited here due to its interest in terms of understanding how the early CPGB understood its relationship with Kautsky; and because it is illustrative of the general framework of the overcentralisation/fragmentation couplet with which we began this excursion. Indeed, Dutt had more serious, although still perhaps ultimately secondary, disagreements with the Comintern line around 1928, over India’s industrialisation prospects.34
Dutt’s view of Kautsky was an example of the manner in which ‘Leninism’ (a state-sponsored ideology) had developed: Dutt would have only seen himself as repeating the authoritative voice on Lenin on this topic. But the fact that Dutt’s reiteration only led in this instance to a partial fragmentation shows the contradictions inherent in such a process. The practice of ‘Leninism’ was meant to lead to precisely the opposite. JR Campbell, elaborating the doctrine to the CPGB’s membership in 1925, argued that in the Second International
Groups with the most diverse views of socialist theory and policy … sheltered under the expansive social democratic umbrella. The result was that the social democratic parties contained groups and schools waging continuous war against each other. There was no ideological unity. Against this method of party organisation Lenin waged unrelenting war.35
Cruder CPGB advocates of ‘Leninism’, such as JT Murphy, arguing that a version of Bolshevism was entirely applicable to British conditions, considerably over-egged the pudding: “The Communist Party is pursuing day by day the policy Lenin enunciated as the world’s greatest Marxist and proving from experience that Leninism is not for Russian consumption alone, but a vital factor in the progress of the working class of Britain.”36 So, here we have the proposition that the policy decisions of Lenin, and not just the Marxist method or process used to arrive at such decisions, have to be carried through into the very microbes of the CPGB’s daily work.
But how Lenin’s body of work (ie, a highly sophisticated, nuanced edifice concretely elaborated in another time and space) directly applied to the CPGB in the 1925 was a good question to ask and, at the very same time as the above two quotes appeared, an editorial in The Workers’ Weekly partially stepped back from Murphy’s conclusions:
In commemorating Lenin by making his doctrine accessible to the British working class the Communist Party is not claiming that doctrine as perfected and infallible. Leninism is not something that will guide us in all phases of the workers’ struggle without us [referring] to the actual conditions in which we are operating. It is rather a body of knowledge [that] enables us to understand the conditions in which we are living, and to act on them in such a way as to get the best possible results.37
This more dialectical version of ‘Leninism’ points up the fallacies of merely draping an idealised Lenin onto subsequent arguments and actions. But even this eminently more sophisticated version was really only ever the royal road to ideological fragmentation, as the Collected works continually threatened to burst the bounds of the more shabby expediency demanded of them by the world communist movement and its leaders.
Even Dutt, stiff-necked Stalinist though he was, briefly demonstrated to the world in 1931 the precise incompatibility of Lenin’s oeuvre with the short-term needs of a grotesque OGPU frame-up.
1. For a relatively recent biographical treatment of Dutt there is J Callaghan Rajani Palme Dutt: a study in British Stalinism London 1993. However, while this work does highlight some interesting materials for the study of Dutt’s life, its analytical framework for understanding his communist career is, at best, thin and at times positively banal.
2. J Mcllroy, ‘Communist intellectuals and 1956: John Saville, Edward Thompson and The Reasoner’ in P Flewers and J Mcllroy (eds) 1956: John Saville, EP Thompson and The Reasoner London 2016, p21.
3. James Klugmann, a CPGB intellectual from a later vintage than Dutt, apparently called him ‘Palme-Dotty’ shortly before his own death in the 1970s (G Andrews The shadow man: at the heart of the Cambridge spy circle London 2015, p219). Considering that Klugmann had very similar Stalinist form to Dutt, this seems to be a particularly brutal case of the pot calling the kettle black.
4. Other more prominent, and perhaps unexpected, intellectual fans of Dutt included the Marxist art writer and critic, John Berger. See L Parker, ‘Berger and Stalinism’ Weekly Worker February 2 2017.
5. By the time of the departure of Sid French and much of the Surrey and Hants and Dorset districts to form the New Communist Party in 1977, the CPGB’s leadership admitted that it was being forced to reconstitute the party in those areas by relying on members with whom it had sharp differences - see L Parker The kick inside: revolutionary opposition in the CPGB, 1945-1991 London 2012, p89.
6. LT Lih, ‘Lenin, Kautsky and the “new era of revolutions”’ Weekly Worker December 22 2011.
7. LT Lih, ‘Lenin, Kautsky and 1914’ Weekly Worker September 9 2009.
8. WH Ryde ‘The mistakes of Karl Kautsky’ The Call February 19 1920. This article does not specify what Kautsky work it is reviewing, although it offers some clues in terms of quotes and page numbers.
10. K Kautsky The dictatorship of the proletariat (www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1918/dictprole/ch04.htm).
12. T Quelch, ‘The proletarian revolution: an appreciation of Lenin’s book’ The Call April 22 1920. The BSP’s 1920 edition of Lenin’s book was published with the slightly lumpy title of The proletarian revolution and Kautsky the renegade.
13. JT Murphy, ‘The First and the Third: the 60th anniversary of the First International’ The Workers’ Weekly September 26 1924.
14. H Wicks Keeping my head: the memoirs of a British Bolshevik London 1992, p35.
16. ‘Notes of the month’ Labour Monthly February 1927.
18. Ibid. For a similar reading of the Second International, see JR Campbell, ‘Leninism and the party’ Workers’ Weekly January 16 1925.
19. RP Dutt Lenin London 1933, p18.
20. Ibid p19.
21. Ibid p88.
22. VI Lenin ‘Left-wing’ communism: an infantile disorderhttps (www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/lwc/ch01.htm).
23. G Allen Hutt, ‘The final stage of Kautsky’ Labour Monthly August 1931. Hutt repeated the Lenin/Dutt understanding that “many years ago Kautsky betrayed Marxism”.
24. ‘Marx on Kautsky’ Labour Monthly July 1931. From Trotsky’s comment on this case it seems as if a version of the Bolshevik article probably also appeared in Pravda (March 12 1931) - see L Trotsky, ‘A new slander against DB Riazanov’ (www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1931/xx/riazanov.htm).
25. Ibid. A year earlier, Riazanov had been praised by the same journal for his “indefatigable labours” on the collected works of Marx and Engels - see HCS (author), ‘Book review: the early intellectual development of Karl Marx’ Labour Monthly May 1930. Riazanov was swept up in the OGPU net after the arrest of a research assistant at the Marx-Engels Institute, II Rubin. Rubin gave false testimony that Riazanov was a member of an underground Menshevik organisation. Riazanov was dismissed as director of the Marx-Engels Institute in 1931 and subjected to administrative deportation. The slanders in relation to Riazanov’s handling of Marx’s letter were very obviously part of the OGPU case against him. He died in 1938 in the Soviet purges.
27. L Trotsky op cit.
29. Ibid (my emphasis).
30. L Trotsky, ‘Karl Kautsky’ (www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/11/kautsky.htm). Trotsky was also expressing late in his life the impact that Kautsky had had upon him. “Trotsky was telling us about the first time he had been invited to Kautsky’s home in Berlin, and how Kautsky had been discussing something with Bebel (or Bernstein?) and he had listened in silence with the feeling: ‘These are the great men of the movement, and I am an unknown young man ...” - A Rühle Gerstel, ‘No verses for Trotsky: a diary in Mexico (1937)’ Encounter April 1982.
31. ‘Notes of the month’ Labour Monthly July 1931.
34. Dutt maintained that the prospects for rapid industrialisation were good and that figures such as Gandhi reflected petty bourgeois, and not monopoly capitalist or feudal, concerns. Comintern figures such as the economist, Eugene Varga (1879-1964), argued that imperialism had impeded India’s modernisation and that India’s nascent bourgeoisie was unable to lead the anti-imperialist struggle. For a flavour of this debate, see E Varga, ‘Economic policy in the fourth quarter’ Inprecorr March 1928; and RP Dutt, ‘The Indian awakening’ Labour Monthly June 1928. Varga’s position chimed well with the leftism inherent in the politics of the third period - and Dutt was in the strange position of being an advocate of leftism in Britain, while having a more sober appreciation of the travails of Indian anti-imperialism. This debate went forward to the Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928, where the British delegation argued against the CI secretariat’s thesis on colonialism - although even here such opposition did not mean they were opposed to the application of a third period line to India. See LJ Macfarlane The British Communist Party: its origin and development until 1929 London 1966, p208.
35. JR Campbell, ‘Leninism and the party’ The Workers’ Weekly January 16 1925.
36. JT Murphy, ‘Leninism in Britain’ The Workers’ Weekly January 16 1925.
37. ‘Leninism’ The Workers’ Weekly January 16 1925.