Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India: 1919-1943

March 4, 2012

Sobhanlal Datta Gupta. 2011. Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India: 1919-1943 – Dialectics of Real and a Possible History (Kolkata: Seribaan, Rs. 895.00)

After the opening of Moscow’s Comintern archives and the archives of the Communist Party of Great Britain in the 1990s, this is the first full-length study of the impact of the Communist International (Comintern) on the shaping of Indian communism. Based on materials collected from these once forbidden archives, the book also takes into consideration the private papers of Horst Krueger in Berlin, a whole range of inner-party documents and the new Comintern historiography (primarily Russian and German, apart from English) that has developed over the years. The book is the culmination of the author’s research for more than a decade on the shaping of communism in India in the Comintern period. The revised and enlarged edition of the book incorporates many new materials which have come to the surface since the publication of the first edition in 2006 and also introduces a comparative perspective, highlighting how communism developed in the countries of the East, and examines how the path chosen by the Indian communists was so different from that of the Communist Parties in China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Korea, for example.

A Malayalam version of the first edition of the book, under the title Cominternum Indian Communist Partiyum (Thiruvananthapuram : Prabhatham Printing & Publishing Ltd), was published in 2010. A German version of the present revised and enlarged edition bearing the title Komintern und Kommunismus in Indien: 1919-1943 (Berlin : Karl Dietz Verlag) is forthcoming in 2012.

Sobhanlal Datta Gupta (b. 1948), former Surendra Nath Banerjee Professor of Political Science at the University of Calcutta, has an abiding interest in the intellectual history of Marxism and Marxist theory. His recent works include The Ryutin Platform (Stalin and the Crisis of Proletarian Dictatorship) (ed.) (Kolkata: Seribaan, 2010) and Marxism in Dark Times : Select Essays for the New Century ( Delhi, London, New York: Anthem Press, 2012). Currently he is working on a three volume work on The Socialist Vision and the Silenced Voices of Democracy: New Perspectives on Rosa Luxemburg, Georg Lukács and Nikolai Bukharin. He can be contacted at or

For overseas orders and all commercial information about the book, please contact: Sreejoni, the book’s exclusive overseas distributor, by visiting For Indian orders please contact us at:


An Early Communist: Muzaffar Ahmad in Calcutta 1913–1929

July 4, 2011

Suchetana Chattopadhyay. 2011. An Early Communist: Muzaffar Ahmad in Calcutta 1913–1929.
9.5 x 6.25 inches; xiv + 306 pages; Hardback; ISBN: 978-81-89487-77-5; Rs 600

The book

From an occasionally employed, lower middle-class Bengali Muslim intellectual on the borderline of starvation in the city, he was to become ‘the chief accused’ at the Meerut communist trials started by the colonial government in 1929. What was the road travelled before challenging imperialism ‘from the dock’? In 1913 Muzaffar Ahmad (1889–1973) was just one more individual adrift in the sea of migrants arriving from rural Bengal to Calcutta. His ambition was to be a writer. Yet in the vortex of metropolitan upheavals, his life would take a completely different turn. Taking Muzaffar Ahmad’s early career (1913–29) as its chronological frame, this book examines the dialectical interplay between social being and a wider social consciousness in late colonial Bengal which drew a section of Muslim intellectuals to communism.

Muzaffar’s life converged with a significant phase in the social and political history of India and the world: 1913 marked the eve of the First World War, while the Wall Street stockmarket crash set off the Great Depression in 1929. During this period, especially after the success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, socialist ideas and communist activism became politically familiar in different parts of the globe. In the post-First World War climate, many alienated urban intellectuals – from Cairo to Shanghai – stood at the crossroads of established identities and radical currents. Informed by working class protests from below and a leftward turn in the literary/cultural fields, many in India were also moving away from the political routes open to those from their social background to combat colonialism and identifying with alternative visions of decolonization.

By tracing this process in the context of Calcutta through Muzaffar Ahmad’s transitions, the little investigated history of the left in Bengal prior to Meerut is unravelled, and is related to the convergences between individual radicalization and the emergence of a new political space in a colonial city. The connected histories of communism, port-cities, Bengal Muslims, workers, intellectuals, youth, migration, colonial intelligence, early left organization, radical prose, local/ regional activism and internationalist currents are also probed in this context.

The author

Suchetana Chattopadhyay teaches history at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She studied at Jadavpur University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and has published articles in South Asia Research and History Workshop Journal.

To order copies of the book, please contact:

Tulika Books, 35 A/1 Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 110 049. email:,

IPDA, 35 A/1 Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 110 049. email:

To buy copies of the book online, please visit:, or Scholars Without Borders.

Eric Hobsbawm on How to Change the World

January 5, 2011

Professor Eric Hobsbawm in discussion on his latest book, How to Change the World: Tales of Marx and Marxism.

Date and time: 7pm, Friday 25th February 2011.
Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, Liverpool Street.

In his major new work, Eric Hobsbawm addresses the history of Marxism in the 162 years since the publication of Marx’s Capital and assesses its continuing relevance as a challenge to capitalism.
This event is free but places are strictly limited. As we anticipate high demand we ask that you send your details to Stefan Dickers to confirm your place.

Tito: A Biography – Geoffrey Swain

November 23, 2010

Geoffrey Swain. 2010. Tito: A Biography (London: I.B.Tauris). ISBN: 9781845117276. 232 pages. £56.50.

Josip Broz Tito was a remarkable figure in the history of Communism, the Second World War, the Balkans and post-war Eastern Europe. He was the only European besides Lenin to lead a successful Communist revolution and became one of the most renowned Communist leaders of all time. For a certain generation, he was remembered as someone who stood up to both Hitler and Stalin – and won. Tito was above all else a communist, and was devoted to the communist cause until the day he died. What made him different from other communist leaders was that his early experience of Soviet Russia had given him sufficient knowledge of the Soviet experiment to be wary of its spell. In this, the first post-communist biography of Tito, the acclaimed historian Geoffrey Swain paints a new picture of this famous figure, focusing primarily on his Communist years. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in Communist and Eastern European history.

John Saville: commitment and history

November 22, 2010

David Howell, Dianne Kirby and Kevin Morgan (eds). 2011. John Saville: commitment and history
Themes from the life and work of a socialist historian
(London: Lawrence and Wishart). ISBN 9781907103216. 224 pages (pbk) £14.99.

John Saville (1916-2009) was one of the leading socialist academics of his generation, and one of the most influential figures in British labour history. This new collection of essays offers a variety of perspectives on his lifetime’s work. A first section – commitments – assesses Saville’s activities, at different times during his life, as a communist, as a founder of the New Left, and as editor (with Ralph Miliband) of the long-running Socialist Register. The middle section – themes – looks at key themes which mattered for Saville, from revolutionary anti-imperialism in India to the politics of Cold War and debates in labour history. In part three – interventions – contributors discuss Saville’s contributions to contemporary historical understanding of Chartism, British labourism and the Cold War. The aim is to offer critical analysis and reflection in the tradition which Saville himself did so much to establish.

Contributors: Tony Adams, John Callaghan, Malcolm Chase, Madeleine Davis, Sobhanlal Datta Gupta, David Howell, Dianne Kirby, Colin Leys, Kevin Morgan and John Sakkas.

Lawrence and Wishart, 99a Wallis Road, London email
tel 020 8533 2506 fax 020 8533 7369
Published in association with the Socialist History Society

Kevin Morgan The good old cause
Madeleine Davis The New Reasoner and the Early New Left
Colin Leys ‘Honest socialists’: John Saville and the Socialist Register
John Sakkas The first casualty of a socialist foreign policy? Greece and Britain in the 1940s
Dianne Kirby Islam and the Religious Cold War
Sobhanlal Datta Gupta History re-examined: anti-imperialism, the Communist Party of India and international communism
Tony Adams Port workers and politics: religion, casual labour and voting in English docklands, 1900-1922
Malcolm Chase The Chartist movement and 1848
David Howell The ideology of labourism
John Callaghan The politics of continuity

Hobsbawm History and Politics – Gregory Elliott

November 22, 2010

Gregory Elliott. 2010. Hobsbawm: History and Politics (London: Pluto Press).

Historian Eric Hobsbawm is possibly the foremost chronicler of the modern age. His panoramic studies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, stretching from the French Revolution to the fall of Soviet communism, have informed the historical consciousness of scholars and general readers alike. At the same time, his writings on labour movements and socialist politics have occupied a central place in left-wing debates. Despite this, no extended study of Hobsbawm’s work has yet been attempted Gregory Elliott fills this gap in exemplary fashion.

Elliott analyses both the scholarly record of Hobsbawm and the intellectual and political journey that his life represents. In doing so, he seeks to situate Hobsbawm’s thought within the context of a generalised crisis of confidence on the Left after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Rich in content and written in Elliott’s authoritative and highly readable style, this book is a must for anyone with an interest in Hobsbawm and the crisis of the Left.

About The Author

Gregory Elliott is a Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University. His books include Ends in Sight (Pluto, 2008), Perry Anderson: The Merciless Laboratory of History (1998) and Althusser: The Detour of Theory (2nd edition, 2006).

‘Not just Orwell’ – People’s History Museum

March 22, 2010

‘Not just Orwell’ – Saturday 8 May 2010 – 2.00pm-2.45pm

Author Chris Hall we bringing to life the experiences of British and Irish anti-fascist volunteers who fought with Orwell in the Spanish Civil War. Lecture suitable for adults. Access is free, although pre-booking required.

Peoples History Museum
M3 3ER
Tel: 0161 838 9190

For more information on the event, contact Christopher Hall [].

Servir la classe ouvrière – Sociabilités militantes au PCF

January 28, 2010

Servir la classe ouvrière – Sociabilités militantes au PCF – Julian Mischi
Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010. ISBN : 978-2-7535-0984-9. 19,00 €

“Julian Mischi’s new study of the French Communist Party examines the work of the PCF in four Departments (Allier, Isère, Loire-Atlantique, Meurthe-et-Moselle). With materials drawn from internal documents and interviews, the book analyses the organisation of the PCF’s militants in the local districts, villages and factories, and their activities within the trade union and municipal networks. Challenging the typical monolithic image of the PCF, the mobilisation of communist militants within popular movement is revealed here as plural.”

Margrit Schiller – ‘Remembering the Armed Struggle’

May 27, 2009

The book launch for Margrit Schiller’s Remembering the Armed Struggle: Life in Baader-Meinhof (Zidane Press, ISBN: 978-0955485046; 0955485046) will take place Friday 6 June 2009 at the Card Room, Millbank (entrance through Chelsea College of Art and Design [near Tate Britain]), 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU.

Attendance is by invitation only, and needs to be confirmed in advance, by emailing:

Remembering the Armed Struggle

Kiwi Compañeros – New Zealand and the Spanish Civil War

May 11, 2009

Mark Derby (ed.). 2009. Kiwi Compañeros: New Zealand and the Spanish Civil War. Christchurch. NZ: Canterbury University Press. Paperback, 304pp, b/w illust. & photos. ISBN: 978-1-877257-71-1. 240 x 170 mm, 765g. $45

“This book is the first-ever account of New Zealand’s role in the Spanish civil war of 1936–39, a war that became a ruthless rehearsal for World War Two.

Volunteers from more than 50 countries arrived in Spain to take sides. This book records the actions of New Zealanders involved, including those who worked for the Spanish cause at home by raising funds, lobbying politicians, writing poems and spreading propaganda.

Kiwi Compañeros includes contributions from some of New Zealand’s leading writers and historians. It draws on personal letters, recently released military documents and previously unpublished photographs to tell an all-but-forgotten story.”

Available for purchase online from Canterbury University Press.

Kiwi Compañeros - New Zealand and the Spanish Civil War

Kiwi Compañeros - New Zealand and the Spanish Civil War