Firebrands, trade unionists and Marxists
The shadow of the Russian Revolution, the colonial state and radicalism in Guyana, 1917–57
in The Red and the Black
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British Guiana (Guyana), like elsewhere in the Black Atlantic, felt the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1917. The rise of the left in Guyana in the period was initially marked by the work of trade unionists like Hubert Critchlow and others. On his return to Guyana from a visit to Soviet Russia in 1931, Critchlow is reported to be the first individual to introduce the term ‘comrade’ to the colony and uphold the Red symbols in May Day marches. Individual firebrands, some of whom hailed from the local chapter of the African Blood Brotherhood, and the Universal Negro Improvement Association and other organisations were active as an emergent black nationalism. By the late 1940s, a nascent nationalist, Marxist-influenced movement had developed in Guyana. The chapter explores the largely unrecorded contribution of the early radical movements, their varied ideological outlooks and potential collective influence on the development, by the 1950s, of a popular national party, the People’s Progressive Party, with its Marxist and anti-colonial orientation.

The Red and the Black

The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic