Communism in Britain 1920–39

From the cradle to the grave

Author: Thomas Linehan

This book is a study of the communist life and the communist experience of membership. The study places itself on the interface between the membership and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) by considering the efforts of the latter to give shape to that experience. For those who opted to commit fully to the communist way of life it would offer a complete identity and reach into virtually all aspects of life and personal development. In regard to the latter, through participation in the communist life 'joiners' gained a positive role in life, self-esteem, intellectual development, skills in self-expression, and opportunities to acquire status and empowerment through activities like office-holding or public speaking. The British Communist Party had a strong and quite marked generational focus, in that it sought to address the experience of Party life and membership at the principal phases of the life cycle. The Party developed rites of passage to guide its 'charges' through the different stages of the life cycle. Thus its reach extended to take in children, youth, and the adult experience, including marriage and aspects of the marital and family relationship. The Party did not disengage even at the beginning and termination of the life cycle. Its spokespersons advised communist mothers on birth and mothercraft, 'red' parents on childrearing, and addressed the experience of death and mourning within the communist domain.

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