Thomas Linehan
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Tending the communist body
The quest for physical fitness
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This chapter looks at representations of the 'vile' bodies of communism's principal political opponents, the 'fascist body' and the 'bourgeois body'. Like all bodies, the proletarian communist body was an expressive sign, a semiotic site. The body would function as an important site of British Communist Party (CPGB) efforts to implant the communist spirit and way of life in its members. During the interwar years the CPGB was keen to ensure the physical well-being and fitness of its activists. For communists, there was a vital connection between sport, physical fitness, and revolutionary labour. The 'young workers forced to perform one humdrum operation, day in and day out, become mere cogs in the machine with grave consequences to their mental and physical development', complained Young Communist League (YCL) Secretary William Rust in 1925.

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Communism in Britain 1920–39

From the cradle to the grave

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