[Marxism] moving to the Left

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at juno.com
Thu Nov 10 17:10:52 MST 2005

On Thu, 10 Nov 2005 22:36:34 -0000 "Michael Costello"
<ctcimpex at btconnect.com> writes:
> To identify those who do move from Right to Left is more important 
> than seeking out those who go the other way. May I mention three 
> possible candidates: two of them are Tony Benn, who moved into the 
> mainstream Left under the influence of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders 
> workers' work-in, and Bertrand Russell, who started off hoping that 
> the USA would use the atom bomb against the USSR and changed to 
> being the inspiration for many in the campaign for nuclear 
> disarmament.

Russell was sort of a funny duck.  He started off as a
Liberal in the tradition of his family (his grandfather
was the Liberal prime minister, John Russell).
He began shifting more towards a Fabian position
after having spent a year working at the British embassy
in Berlin where he came into contact with the SPD,
who were the subject of his first book, *German
Social Democracy*, published in 1896.
During WW I, he took a strong antiwar stance
and was twice convicted on account of his
activism. His first conviction led to loss of
his teaching post at Trinity College, Cambridge,
whereas his second conviction led to a
six month prison sentence.

He visited the Soviet Union during its
early years and there he met with most
of the top political figures including
Lenin and Trotsky. His book on
the Soviet Union, *The Theory and
Practice of Bolshevism* which was
highly critical of the October Revolution. 

His reputation for moral and political radicalism
led to his being denied a teaching post at
City College in New York in 1940, after
a scurrilous campaign waged against
him by the churches and the Hearst

After having supported appeasement
in the late 1930s, he reluctantly
supported the Second World War.
During this period his views came
more in line with those of the British
Establishment and he became quite
a respectable figure.  After the war,
his anticommunism led him to being
at first a rather enthusiastic cold warrior.
And yes, he did suggest that the West
ought to consider the atom bombing
of Moscow, if the Soviets did not agree
to the placing of nuclear weapons under
international control. Later on in the
1950s his attitudes towards the cold
war changed quite significantly as
he came to believe that it was the
US that acting in provocative and
destabilizing ways and that the Soviets
were making the more constructive
proposals for preventing atomic
war.  That was when he took up
the mantle of campaigning for
nuclear disarmament. Later in
the 1960s he also campaigned
against the Vietnam War and
on behalf of quite a number of
progressive causes.

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