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“Communism is English”: Edgell Rickword, Jack Lindsay and the cultural politics of the popular front

Manchester University Press
Publication Date
  • Memory
  • Text And Place
  • Political Science


Focussing primarily on Edgell Rickword and Jack Lindsay, this article recovers and analyses the contexts and arguments through which these and other intellectuals identified with and articulated Communism in the mid and late 1930s. It argues that such neglected figures were absolutely central to the cultural politics of ‘popular front’ Communism, changing the profile of the Communist Party which in turn changed them. The article also unpicks significant tensions between these figures—fulsome and fluent advocates of bringing a radical emphasis to national culture in the name of a better future—and the Communist Party’s overarching subservience to the Soviet Union. The conclusion sketches in the contested legacies of Rickword and Lindsay’s interventions—which staked a claim on the nation’s future through the radical cultural and political traditions of its past—beyond the popular front period.

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