British Communism and the Politics of Race

by Evan Smith

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A ground-breaking examination of how the Communist Party of Great Britain helped shape the anti-racist movement in the U.K.

British Communism and the Politics of Race explores the role that the Communist Party of Great Britain played within the anti-racism movement in Britain from the 1940s to the 1980s. As one of the first organizations to undertake serious anti-colonial and anti-racist activism within the British labour movement, the CPGB was a pioneering force that campaigned against racial discrimination, popular imperialism and fascist violence in British society.

The book examines the balancing act that the Communist Party negotiated in its anti-racist work, between making appeals to the labour movement to get involved in the fight against racism and working with Britain’s ethnic minority communities, who often felt let down by the trade unions and the Labour Party. Transitioning from a class-based outlook to an embrace of the new social movements of the 1960s–70s, the CPGB played an important role in the anti-racist struggle, but by the 1980s, it was eclipsed by more radical and diverse activist organizations.

Part of the Historical Materialism series