Bolshevism, Syndicalism and the General Strike: The Lost Internationalist World of A.A. Purcell


ISBN 9789350023617
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ISBN 9789350023617


This volume centres around the figure of Alf Purcell (1872-1935), who between the wars was one of the leading personalities in the British and international labour movement. Purcell was most famous as one of TUC ‘lefts’ of the 1920s, but after 1926, with the squeezing of the syndicalist approach, and as the labour movement polarised into Labour and communist currents, Purcell faded from the political scene. When he died he was a broken figure.

Morgan also deploys the life of Purcell as a biographical lens, a way of exploring wider controversies – among them the rival modernities of Bolshevism and Americanism; the reactions to Bolshevism of anarchists like Emma Goldman (who called Purcell ‘that damn fake’); and the roots of political tourism to the USSR in the British labour delegations in which Purcell featured so prominently. The volume also includes a major challenge to existing interpretations of the general strike, which it compellingly presents, not as the last fling of the syndicalists, but as a first and disastrously ill-conceived imposition of social-democratic centralism by Ernest Bevin.

Kevin Morganis Professor of Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Manchester. He is the author of many books on labour movement history, including the two previous volumes in this series; and he is co-editor ofTwentieth Century Communism: A journal of international history.


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