Monday, 12 December 2016

London Socialist Historians seminars, Spring Term 2017

Friday, 9 December 2016

New Book: 1956: John Saville, EP Thompson and The Reasoner

Paul Flewers and John McIlroy (editors), 1956: John Saville, EP Thompson and The Reasoner (Merlin Press, pp 450, £20)


When Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin in his ‘Secret Speech’ in 1956 the leaders of the Communist Party of Great Britain attempted to deal with an unprecedented and unwelcome situation by carrying on as best as normal. Many party members were not satisfied with their prevarications, and one result was The Reasoner, a substantial duplicated magazine produced by party historians John Saville and EP Thompson. The three issues of The Reasoner gave an outlet to critical party members’ feelings; for the leadership this was mutinous behaviour. Dismayed by the party leaders’ endorsement of the Soviet invasion of Hungary, Saville and Thompson, along with thousands of others, resigned their party membership.

Although The Reasoner has been mentioned in many historical studies, its text has never been republished until now. This book reproduces all three issues, together with key CPGB statements on the issues that the magazine raised. John McIlroy has provided an extensive introduction that investigates the history of intellectuals within the CPGB and an essay that analyses the political evolution of John Saville, and Paul Flewers has provided an essay that assesses EP Thompson’s views on Stalinism and the Soviet experience.

  1. Preface
  2. Chronology
  3. John McIlroy, Communist Intellectuals and 1956: John Saville, Edward Thompson and The Reasoner
  4. Documents I — Harry Pollitt, Rajani Palme Dutt, George Matthews, John Saville, EP Thompson, Derek Kartun, CPGB Political Committee
  5. The Reasoner, No 1
  6. The Reasoner, No 2
  7. Documents II — CPGB Political and Executive Committee on The Reasoner
  8. The Reasoner, No 3
  9. Ronald Meek, The Marxist-Leninist’s Song
  10. John McIlroy, John Saville and Stalinism: An Exploration
  11. Paul Flewers, E P Thompson and the Soviet Experience
  12. Index
Paul Flewers is the author of The New Civilisation? Understanding Stalin’s Soviet Union 1929-1941 and an editor of Revolutionary History.
John McIlroy is a Professor of Employment Relations at Middlesex University Business School.

Publisher’s website < >.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Save the Georg Lukacs Archive


Dear subscribers,

The creation of an international foundation to save the Georg Lukács archive was achieved in the months following our appeal.

The Lukács Archívum Nemzetközi Alapítvány–Lukács Archive International Foundation–has Ágnes Heller and János Weis as founders, János Kelemen as Chair of the Board of Trustees, and a broad-based Board of Trustees. Anticipating that formal Hungarian legal approval of the Foundation–a prerequisite to collecting funds–would be soon achieved, the Foundation announced its intention to create an international network of patrons and donors, chaired by Iván Szelényi.

Recent developments are reason for deep concern. The Foundation has not yet been given the formal approval necessary to solicit funds, though we are assured that final approval is imminent. But the Hungarian Academy of Sciences,  who have full legal responsibility for the archive, has up to now not shown any sign of willingness to co-operate with the Foundation. They are threatening to begin the physical dispersion of the archive.

We therefore suggest that all subscribers directly approach the responsible person, i.e. the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Dr. László Lovász by email at:  or

Once the archive is dispersed, it is hardly possible it could ever be put back together. We need to express our concerns in a personal manner, as well as demand concretely that the Lukács Archive be preserved while the effort is made to fund its continued existence at its historic location in Budapest.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

From Pluto Press - People's History Book Series

Pluto Press are beginning a new series - the People's History Book Series - 'restoring the role of ordinary people in their own history'.

It is well known that most history is written from the standpoint of the victor. History is viewed from the perspective of the rich and powerful, and the actions of small numbers of people, generally white men, are seen to dictate the course of world affairs. History of this kind continues to dominate both academic and popular literature, despite challenges from historians who have tried to write history from different perspectives, including that of ordinary women and men. 

Whether it was E.P. Thompson in England or Howard Zinn in the United States, this ‘history from below’ is noted, at times even celebrated,but ultimately put back on the shelf while historians return to writing books and articles that lead more easily to research funding and professorial appointments. 

But there are deeper reasons for the neglect of what we are calling ‘people’s history’. It is quite simply easier to write about Prime Ministers, great industrialists and their ilk. They often write memoirs, leave their papers to archives or, in the case of U.S. Presidents,create their own libraries to house all the data they wish to make public from their career. Writing history from below is a challenge because the historical record is scattered and largely neglected. 

But it is a challenge worth taking up. This Pluto Press series is both an attempt to view history from the perspective of ordinary people, and also an exploration of how the actions of common women and men, as individuals or through forms of collective organization, influence the course of history. Books published in the series will focus on the masses of humanity rather than the designated heroes, or villains,of world civilization. Our books seek to shine a light on that which, as a feminist historian once said of women’s history, has been hidden from history. 

For further information about the series, or to submit proposals, please email David Castle , Senior Commissioning Editor at Pluto Press ( or Series Editor, William A. Pelz (