Labour History Review

Communists and the Inter-War Anti-Fascist Struggle in the United States and Britain

Labour History Review (2011), 76, (3), 184–206.

Abstract

This article offers a comparison of the Communist anti-fascist experience in the United States and Britain in the inter-war period. The focus is on opposition to domestic fascism and the comparison extends across three areas, namely, respective analyses, organization, and political violence. This article demonstrates how both Communist parties initially understood fascism as a developing trend within bourgeois capitalist democracy before they, reflecting the Comintern's shift to the Popular Front, reworked their anti-fascism into different forms of democratic and progressive rhetoric. It places Communists at the forefront of anti-fascist campaigns in the US and Britain and yet, despite obvious transatlantic links, this article reveals that the organizational manifestations of their anti-fascism diverged significantly. The final section calls attention to the role of Communists in physical force anti-fascism, and reveals that Communist involvement in violent disturbances during the 1930s (if not the 1920s) appears more common in Britain than in the US. Nonetheless, it still cautions against making too much of physical confrontation as the single most important feature defining the British Communist anti-fascist experience.

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Author details

Copsey, Nigel