The decline of revolutionary pragmatism and the splintering of British communism in the 1980s
in Labour united and divided from the 1830s to the present
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In this chapter, it will be suggested that the questioning by many communists of the party's long-established 'revolutionary pragmatism' contributed strongly to its internal divisions. The chapter situates the travails of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in the broader context of a disunited left and examines the party's revolutionary pragmatism in order to establish how it was challenged in the name of competing legitimacies. The party's relationship with international communism was not a decisive element in its travails in the 1980s. The use of revolutionary pragmatism sheds a different light on the turmoil of the 1980s. In 1991, the CPGB ceased to exist and transformed itself into Democratic Left (DL). Although the Communist Party of Britain is much smaller than the CPGB, it has thus attempted to re-create the revolutionary pragmatism which characterised the CPGB for many years.


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