Saturday, 31 March 2012

Tussy - Eleanor Marx and the Early Socialist Movement in Great Britain

In January, 1855, Karl and Jenny Marx, their daughters, Jenny and Laura, and their son, Edgar, were living in two rooms at 28 Dean St. Soho Square, London. In 1851, a third daughter had been born, but only lived for one year. But in January, 1855, a fourth daughter, who they named Eleanor, was born. In March, however, much to Karl and Jenny Marx's distress, the nine year old Edgar died. Nevertheless, the arrival of Eleanor was a great joy to them. "Tussy", as she was later called, was soon the "idolised darling of the whole house". And of her, Jenny Marx wrote in a letter to Joseph Weydemeyer in America, on the 11th of March, 1861:
"The child was born when our poor little Edgar died, and all the love and tenderness we bore him was transferred to his little sister, and the older girls looked after her and nursed her with almost motherly care. But then it would really be difficult to find a more lovable child, as pretty as a picture and sweet tempered...the child has learned German, and speaks it with remarkable accuracy and grammatical precision, and, naturally, she has learned English as a matter of course. The child is Karl's favourite, and her laughter and her merry chatter dispel any of his worries".

Karl Marx was a great lover of children. He was no authoritarian. The girls treated him more as a playmate than a father; and they called him "the Moor", a nickname given to him on account of his jet-black hair and dark complexion. "Children must educate their parents", he would say. And during this period he remained completely aloof from all political activities, and concentrated on his studies and journalism.

Marx would take his three daughters, Jenny, Laura, and young Eleanor, for outings into the country on Sundays; their favourite destination being Hampstead Heath, with a magnificent view of London, and the hills and valleys surrounding the city, from Jack Straw's Castle.

At home, Marx would read to Eleanor the stories of Bluebeard or Rumpelstilzchen by the brothers Grimm. And he would recount his version of the life of Jesus, in which he depicted Jesus as a poor carpenter's son who had been unjustly executed by the rich and powerful. In 1856, the Marx family moved to Grafton Terrace, Haverstock Hill, near Hampstead Heath.

When Eleanor was sixteen, a French radical, Prosper Olivier Lissagaray, who later wrote a history of the Paris Commune of 1871, in whose ranks he fought, fell in love with her, courted her, and proposed marriage. Eleanor seems to have been favourably inclined towards Lissagaray; but Karl was doubtful about his reliability, despite Eleanor's mother, Jenny, approved the match, and in the end, after much hesitation, nothing came of it. Eleanor was obliged to remain at home. As she got older, she became her father's secretary, and conducted much of Marx's correspondence with the International Workingmen's Association. Eleanor Marx loved to recite poetry and to act, and her father encouraged her to take dramatic lessons. In 1875, the family moved again, to Maitland Park Road, in the same area.

In autumn of 1878, Marx's wife Jenny, became dangerously ill. She was suffering from incurable cancer. In June 1881, Karl went down with a violent attack of pleurisy, complicated with bronchitis and pneumonia. Eleanor nursed them both. She wrote:
"Mother lay in the big front room and the Moor lay in the little room next to it. The two who had grown used to each other, whose lives had completely intertwined, could no longer be in the same room together. The Moor got over his illness once again. I shall never forget the morning when he felt himself strong enough to get up and go into my mother's room. It was as though they were young again together - she a loving girl, and he an ardent youth starting out together through life, and not an old man shattered by ill-health and a dying old lady taking leave of each other for ever"

And on the 2nd of December, 1881, Karl Marx's wife, Jenny died. There was no ceremony at her funeral, although Frederick Engels spoke at the graveside.

In June, 1881, a small book, England for All, was published. It was written by Henry Myer Hyndman, who claimed it to represent the programme of an organisation called the Democratic Federation, which he had just formed. This annoyed Marx, as much of the book consisted of English translations of extracts from Marx's Capital, together with a few summaries of Marx's ideas; but Hyndman mentioned neither Capital or Marx, and merely commented at the conclusion of the Preface that he was indebted "to the work of a great thinker" for much of the material. Marx broke off all relations with Hyndman.

Following his wife's death, Karl Marx's health again deteriorated; his daughter, Jenny also died on the 11th of January, 1883, and in the afternoon of the 14th of March, whilst sitting in his easy chair, Karl Marx fell asleep for the last time. As with his wife, there was no ceremony at the funeral, but again Engels spoke at the graveside. Laura had married Paul Lafargue in 1867.

Eleanor Marx was now alone. She, therefore, soon became more socially and politically active. Shortly after the death of her father, Eleanor met Beatrice Potter (later to become Mrs Sidney Webb) who was involved in charity work and freethinking. In 1883, W.G. Foot, the editor of the The Freethinker, was jailed for blasphemy. Eleanor was, in the words of Potter, "very wrath". It was useless arguing with her, she noted in her diary:
"She refused to recognise the beauty of the Christian religion. She thought that Christ if he had ever existed, was a weak-headed individual, with a good deal of sweetness of character, but lacking in heroism...The aim of socialists was to make people disregard the mythical next world and live for this world, and insist on having what will make it pleasant for them."

Potter added that Eleanor Marx "lives alone, and is much connected with the Bradlaugh set". Charles Bradlaugh, although not a socialist, was a well-known radical, republican and freethinker. But within a year of Karl Marx's death, Eleanor had entered into a "free association", or liaison, with one of this "set", Dr. Edward Aveling, a physician and, at the time, a teacher of science, who with Bradlaugh and Annie Beasant, was a leading secularist. Eleanor had by then a secretarial job in "a better class boarding-school"; but when she openly announced the situation, they said that they regretted to have to sack her. "I need work much", she informed Havelock Ellis, "but find it difficult to get. 'Respectable' people won't employ me"

A number of Eleanor's friends tried to discourage her interest in Edward Aveling, but without success. But following their association, Aveling became active in the emerging socialist and social-democratic movement, and, in fits and starts, became a lecturer and writer, and later on a translator of some of Karl Marx's writings. But according to Edmund Wilson there was something odd about Aveling:
"...he was extremely undependable about money::he not only skipped out of hotels without paying the bills, but he borrowed money from his friends right and left, and even when he knew they had little, without ever paying it back; and he did not hesitate to use for his own purposes the funds which had been given to the cause" (To the Finland Station)

At one time, Aveling tried being an actor; he wrote several one-act plays, in which he and Eleanor acted. He also had luxurious tastes

Eleanor Marx joined the Democratic Federation in 1883, as did William Morris who hoped that it would become a socialist organisation. And in August, 1884, at its conference, the Democratic Federation became the Social-Democratic Federation. Its "ultimate" objective was:
"The establishment of a free condition of society based on the principle of political equality with equal social rights for all and the complete emancipation of labour"

To this ultimate objective, the Social-Democratic Federation added a number of immediate demands which it called "palliatives"; these included the abolition of a standing army, free compulsory, secular education, and the means of production, distribution and exchange to be treated as collective or common property. But neither the SDF's immediate or ultimate objective included the abolition of the wages system as proposed by Karl Marx as early as 1865.

Edward Aveling had also applied for membership of the [Social-]Democratic Federation; and, although the Executive Council, and Hyndman, did not want him in the organisation, they deferred to pressure by Eleanor and a number of her French and German friends, who wrote letters to the Council on Aveling's behalf, and he was admitted. They, together with William Morris, Robert Banner, E Belfort Bax, and a number of other members of the Council, soon came into conflict with the autocratic leader, Hyndman, whom Frederick Engels called an "extreme chauvinist"

The break with Hyndman, and the Social-Democratic Federation, came at a stormy meeting on the 27th of December, 1884, at which Morris read out a statement which, in part, read:
"...We believe that to hold out as baits hopes of amelioration of the condition of the workers, to be rung out of the necessities of the rival factions of our privileged rulers, is delusive and mischievous. For carrying out our aim of education and organisation no over-shadowing and indispensable leader is required, but only a band of instructed men, each of whom can learn learn to fulfil, as occasion requires it, the simple functions of the leader of a party of principle.
We say that on the other hand there has been in the ranks of the Social-Democratic Federation a tendency to political opportunism, which if developed would have involved us in alliances, however temporary, with one or other of the political factions, and would have weakened our propagandist force by driving us into electioneering, and possibly would have deprived us of the due services of some of our most energetic men, by sending them to our sham parliament, there to become either nonentities, or perhaps our masters, and it may be our betrayers. We say also that among those who favoured these views of political adventure, there was a tendency towards National assertion, the persistent foe of socialism; and it is easy to see how dangerous this might become in times like the present.
Furthermore, these views have led, as they were sure to lead, to attempts at arbitrary rule inside the Federation; for such a policy as above demands a skillful and shifty leader, to whom all persons and opinions must be subordinated, and who must be supported (if necessary) at the expense of fairness and fraternal openness...
....our view of duty to the cause of socialism forbids us to cease spreading its principles or to work as mere individuals. We have, therefore, set on foot an independent organisation, the Socialist League, with no intention of acting in hostility to the Social-Democratic Federation, but determined to spread the principles of socialism by the only means we deem effectual."

The first two signatories to the statement were those of Edward Aveling and Eleanor Marx.

The Socialist League was formally founded on the 30th of December, 1884. Following the "To Socialists" statement, partly quoted above, "The Manifesto of the Socialist League", which as largely written by William Morris, was published in The Commonweal, which as edited by Morris with Aveling as sub-editor. The Manifesto set out in some detail the ideas of not just Morris, or Eleanor Marx, but the emerging, still contradictory, socialist movement of the 1880s in Britain. Its main arguments and conclusions are worth quoting.

It begins:
"We come before you as a body advocating Revolutionary International Socialism; that is, we seek a change in the basis of Society - a change which would destroy the distinctions of classes and nationalities.
As the civilised world is at present constituted there are two classes in society: the one possessing wealth and the instruments of production, the other producing wealth by means of those instruments, but only by the leave and the use of the possessing class.
The two classes are necessarily in antagonism to one another. The possessing class, or non-producers, can only live as a class on the unpaid labour of the producers - the more unpaid labour they can wring out of them, the richer they will be; therefore the producing class - the workers - are driven to strive to better themselves at the expense of the possessing class and the conflict between them is ceaseless."

And the Manifesto of the Socialist League continues:
"All the means of the production of wealth must be declared treated as the common property of all...Nationalisation of land alone, which many earnest and sincere persons are now preaching, would be useless so long as labour was subject to the fleecing of surplus value under the capitalist system.
No better solution would be State Socialism, by whatever name it may be called, whose aim it would be to make concessions to the working class while leaving the present system of capital and wages in operation: no number of merely administrative changes, until the workers are in possession of all political power, would make any real approach to Socialism
The Socialist League therefore aims at the realisation of complete Revolutionary Socialism, and well knows that this can never happen in any one country without the help of the workers of all civilisation...
...To the realisation of this change the Socialist League addresses itself with all earnestness. As a means thereto will do all in its power towards the education of the people in the principles of this great cause, and will strive to organise those who will accept this education...."

At the same time as the Manifesto of the Socialist League was written, a draft constitution was prepared, with encouragement by Engels, by Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling. It committed the Socialist League to "striving to conquer political power by promoting the election of Socialists to Local Governments, School Boards and other administrative bodies". Their draft, however, was rejected by a majority of the membership at the League's first annual conference in July, 1885

Despite the Socialist League's official policy of the working class conquering "political power", and opposition to "palliatives", or what socialists now refer to as "reformism", the organisation soon demonstrated that, among its active members, were anarchists whose main concern was the destruction of the state, and reformers whose policies included the passing of the Eight Hour Bill. Furthermore, the Socialist League was not entirely opposed to the idea of nationalisation; and socialists such as William Morris and Eleanor Marx, and the socialist movement generally, had not, as yet, completely rejected the notion of leadership as a principle, although they were opposed to the "arbitrary" leadership of people like Hyndman; this was partly understandable at the time, and was due to the fact that many workers, including active Trad Unionists, were still illiterate or , at least, only semi-literate. Another weakness of such people as Eleanor Marx, William Morris and Edward Aveling, was that although they had left the Social-Democratic Federation, and formed the Socialist League, they had "no intention of acting in hostility to the Social-Democratic Federation". It was twenty years before socialists realised that a party organised solely for the establishment of socialism would have to oppose other parties, including the SDF.

The Socialist League appeared to get off to a good start; indeed, just before its founding, Engels wrote to Karl Kautsky that Ernest Belfort Baxand Edward Aveling had "the best intentions and learn a lot too; but everything is confused and by themselves these literary people can do nothing; they are both thoroughly sound, intelligent and sincere although needing great assistance". However, by 1886, Engels noted that Bax was strongly influenced by the anarchists. Indeed, Engels wrote in April, 1886, that "...the anarchists are making rapid progress in the Socialist League". The main arguments were between those who considered that the working class, through a socialist organisation or party, could, or should, use parliament as a means to emancipation, which included Eleanor Marx, and those such as the anarchists, who did not. Morris attempted to reconcile both camps, writing in 1887:
"I am trying to get the League to make peace with each other, and hold together for another year. It is a tough job."
Edward Aveling had already resigned as sub-editor of Commonweal early in 1886. He had been encouraged in this by Eleanor, who, by 1887, was calling the League "a swindle". And Bax, whom Engels had accused of being influenced by the anarchists, and who had succeeded Aveling as sub-editor of Commonweal also resigned, and supported the policy of the League contesting elections. William Morris was concerned with "making socialists", and considered that the only time that socialists should enter parliament was when a majority had become socialists and parliament should be abolished or "broken up". Morris was also opposed to the Socialist League advocating palliatives [he changed his mind some time later]

By the time of the 1888 conference, the various factions within the League had grown even more irreconcilable. However, while the various factions were tearing the League apart, working-class discontent was growing. John Quail comments:
"In the Trade Unions a sharper, more militant note was being struck. At the TUC conference the young Keir Hardie clashed with the Liberal's lap-dog, Broadhurst. A determined attempt to get an Eight Hour campaign under way in the Engineering Union and the TUC was made. John Burns and Tom Mann were active in this campaign. New organisations in the provinces, the Labour Federation on Tyneside and the Knights of Labour in the Midlands, proved surprisingly effective and grew rapidly. New organisational attempts also met with some success among the seamen. This new militancy was both spread by socialists and proved responsive to them" (The Slow Burning Fuse)

Not surprisingly, this included Eleanor Marx.

In 1883, in his The Historical Basis of Socialism, H.M. Hyndman explained his, and to some extent the SDF's, view of Trade Unions. He wrote:
"The waste of the Trade Union funds on strikes or petty benefits to the individuals who compose them is deplorable. Enormous sums have been lost, directly, or indirectly, in consequence of strikes which, if applied by Unionists to active propaganda against the existing system...would long since have produced a serious effect."

However, others, including Eleanor Marx, held a view that workers should resist the attempts by employers to depress their standards of living and, here circumstances were favourable, improve them, yet at the same time they should, through a political organisation or party, strive for the abolition of the system, capitalism, which exploits them.

Nevertheless, a "new" unionism was beginning to take over from the "old" unionism; the general from the craft. In 1888, the mainly female workers of the match factory of Bryant and May went on strike, which was largely successful. The dock strike of 1889 was probably the most dramatic conflict of th period, as it was a struggle of the most depressed section of the working-class who, hitherto, were considered unorganisable. The victory of the dockers was a victory for elementary Trade Union rights which led to a vast movement among both skilled and unskilled workers. The Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Labourers' Union was formed out of the strilke. Even agricultural workers revived their unions.

During the dock strike of I889, writes Tom Mann,
"Offers of clerical help were numerous during the strike. One of these volunteers who rendered valuable service was Eleanor Marx Aveling, the daughter of Karl Marx, a most capable woman. Possessing a complete masterly of economics, she was able alike in conversation and on a public platform, to hold her own with the best. Furthermore, she was ever ready, as in this case, to give close attention to detailed work, when by doing so she could help the movement" (Tom Mann Memoirs)

The Gasworkers and General Labourers Union was the first of the "new" unions for mainly unskilled workers. Formed in 1889, by sheer eight of numbers, the union exchanged their twelve-hour shifts for an eight hour day without a strike. Although, they subsequently lost it again, the old hours were never resumed. Shortly after the union's founding, Eleanor Marx became a member and, later, as a member of its first women's branch became a member of its Executive. Will Thorne, the union's general secretary, had no education as a child; and he recounted who Eleanor helped him to improve his reading and writing, "which was very bad at the time"

In 1892, a Preamble To The Rules of the GGLU as drafted by Eleanor Marx and probably Edward Aveling. It reads:
"Trade Unionism has done excellent work in the past, and in it lies the hope of the workers for the future; that is the Trade Unionism which clearly recognises that today there are only two classes, the producing working-class and the possessing Master class. The interests of these two classes are opposed to each other. The Masters have known this a long time; the workers are beginning to see it, and so thay are forming Trade Unions to protect themselves, and to get as much as they can of the product of their labour. They are beginning to understand that their only hope lies in themselves, and that from the masters as a class they can expect no hope; that divided they fall, united they stand...the interests of all workers are one, and a wrong done to any kind of labour is a wrong done to the whole of the Working Class, and that victory or defeat of any portion of the Army of Labour is a gain or a loss to whole Army, which by its organisation and Union is marching steadily and irresistibly forward to its ultimate goal - the Emancipation of the Working Class - that Emancipation can only be brought about by the strenuous and united efforts of the Working Class itself. Workers Unite!”

Eleanor Marx was not, however, blind to the limitations of trade unionism; nor to the necessity of workers studying the economics of the system that exploited them. Far from it.

From the 16th of August, 1856, to the 1st of April, 1857, Karl Marx wrote a series of articles, under the title of "Revelations of Diplomatic History of the 18th Century" for the Free Press. These articles were later edited by Eleanor Marx in a book, "Secret Diplomatic History of the 18th Century" was published in 1899. Eleanor also published, under the title of the "Eastern Question", a series of articles Marx wrote in 1855 for the New York Tribune.

More importantly, from the working-class viewpoint however, was the debate that Karl Marx had with John Weston, a member of the General Council of the First International, in 1865, in which he read a paper on wages, profit, prices, value, labour and labour-power, and the production of surplus value. At the time, Marx did not agree to its publication, as he had not finished his studies on Capital. The manuscript was then forgotten until after Engel's death in 1895, when it was discovered by Eleanor Marx, who edited it, with assistance from Edward Aveling, under the title of Value, Price and Profit; and it was published early in 1899.

It was in the ultimate paragraph, and well-known to Eleanor, that Marx had expounded his view on Trade Unions, wherein he wrote:
"Trades Unions work well as centres of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail from an injudicious use of their power. They fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organised forces a a lever for the final emancipation of the working class, that is to say, the ultimate abolition of the wages system"

It was during the mid-1890s that Eleanor Marx, again with some assistance from Aveling, conducted economics classes. These, or at least some of them, were held at 337 Strand, London, whichat the time was the head office of the SDF. (see, for example, Eleanor's letter to Mary Gray, a prominent member of the SDF, dated, 25.9.96, regarding "classes" ) Indeed, it was at such classes that Jack Fitzgerald and two or three other younger members of the SDF, who later founded the Socialist Party, first learned their Marxian economics in general and the theory of value in particular

Frederick Engels was devoted to "Tussy", as he called Eleanor, and often continued to entertain both Eleanor and Edward Aveling when other guests told him that if Aveling came they would not. Edward Bernstein seems to have found Aveling "very clever", and that he and Eleanor were of "great service to the socialist movement"; but Olive Schreiner wrote to Havelock Ellis, saying "I am beginning to have a horror of Dr. Aveling. To say I dislike him doesn't express it at all. I have a fear and horror of him when I am near. Every time I see him this shrinking grows stronger...I love her, but he makes me so unhappy".

He also made Eleanor unhappy; but she did not desert him. In 1893, the "disreputable" Edward Aveling joined the newly-formed Independent Labour Party. Engels was, by then, living in London. He would have nothing to do with Hyndman, who he accused of taking money from the Tories. However, Engels enjoyed his remaining years in London; and he entertained freely. But by 1894, he was aware that he was suffering from cancer of the oesophagus, and was unable to speak, but could still write. He died on the 5th of August, 1895.

Aveling was unfaithful to Eleanor. Every so often he disappeared. Towards the end of 1897, he disappeared again. On the 24th of January, 1898, Eleanor Marx wrote to Mary Gray, in which she said:
"I would have been to see you, but as you know, Edward has been dangerously ill. He is now at Hastings, but though the lung trouble seems better, it seems certain that he must soon - in a year or so - undergo a most dangerous operation...the operation is so dangerous that there is the utmost danger. But without the operation there seems no hope at all."

Eleanor nursed him following his operation until he was well, although she was, by then, aware that he was in love with another woman. Aveling informed her that, during the time that he has been away in Hastings, he had - his first wife having in the meantime died - married a young actress. On receiving the news, Eleanor Marx committed suicide by taking poison. Aveling inherited the small amount of money that Engels had left Eleanor, and went to live with his new wife. A few months later he too died - in an easy-chair, in the sunshine, reading a book.

Just four years after the death of Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling, Jack Fitzgerald, who had been one of Eleanor's students at her economic classes, together with a number of other London members of the SDF, rebelled (they also had been, like Eleanor Marx holding economic classes!) and, by early 1904, had either been expelled or had resigned; and, together with around 150 others former members of the Social-Democratic Federation, founded the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which opposed the advocacy of reforms or palliatives. It adopted an object and declaration of principles, largely drawn up by Fitzgerald. It was socialism - and nothing else!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Ukrainian "Socialist" Party

The Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party was formed early in the last century within the old Czarist Empire. Its policy up to, and shortly following, the Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of social reform and autonomy for Ukraine within a Federal Post-Czarist Russia. In the main, it was not fanatically nationalistic. However, a number of its members, and ex-members such as Simon Petlura, had moved more to the right and had become blatantly nationalistic after the occupation of Ukraine by the Red Army. By 1921, most of its leaders had gone into exile, in Poland, Czechoslovakia and France. The Party was banned in the Soviet Ukrainian Republic. It appears to have functioned as a democratic party in Polish occupied Western Ukraine for a number of years before 1939. With the occupation of Poland by both Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, in 1939, the USDLP ceased to exist. Some of its former members managed to collaborate fairly amicably with the Germans; and a few assisted them in the formation of the Galician (Ukrainian) Waffen SS. With the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945, most of the "social democrats", like many other Ukrainian anti-communists made their way to the American and British zones of Germany. Most of the Ukrainain nationalists found their way to DP camps in and around Munich; and others seem to gravitate to Augsburg, both in the American zone. Some Ukrainian"socialists", who did not remain in Augsburg, found their way to London by about 1950. At some time, they reformed themselves into the Ukrainian Socialist Party.

The Ukrainian Socialist Party first came to my notice in 1951. Their leader was Dr Emile Wolynec,and i met him, together with a number of young men whom he described as Ukrainian Socialist Youth, at 19 Hereford Square, a large house in the "posh" are of Kensington - a most unlikely place for a Socialist Party HQ! Before I left, he gave me a book, "Ukraine:Her Struggle For Freedom", by Panas Fedenko, a member of the old Ukrainian Social Democrat Labour Party. The book was published by "Free Ukraine", situated in Augsburg where, I believe, Panas Fedenko was living. The USP did not appear to publish any literature, at least in English. Wolynec was polite, but not particularly friendly, despite the fact that the USP were (or would later be) associated with the "Socialist International". I never heard any more from them;and , in fact, lost interest in Ukraine until the early 80s, when i began to read about "dissidents" in Soviet Ukraine.

I decided to study the history of Ukraine in some depth; and on 23 May, 1986, I wrote to Dr Wolynec, hoping that he might assist me. On 25 May, my letter was returned by the Post Office "no longer living at this address". A few days later, I wrote to the "Socialist Union of Central-Eastern Europe", at 1 Norfolk Place, London W2. There was no reply;and on 20 June, I looked in a new edition of London Telephone Directory, where I found Dr. Wolynec's name under a different address.. I immediately sent my original letter to this address. Some what surprisingly, I received a letter, dated 24 June, from a Mr Mikhail Dobriansky, also of West London, who wrote that Dr Wolynec had sent my letter on to him. He said he would be happy to help me and send me any relevant literature. Even more surprisingly, he volunteered the information that although he had retired, he had been the Chief Editor of the Ukrainian Section of Radio Liberty for 16 years. (He did not mention the CIA!). Nevertheless, he did send me - on loan - a lot of interesting old pamphlets, published by the Ukrainian National Rada (Council) in Exile, and published (again) in Augsburg, mainly between 1948 and 1951. The Rada included many Ukrainian "social democrats", some of whom had worked for the Germans. One particular collaborator was "President" A. Livitsky, who received a retainer from the Germans.

I return now to the "Socialist Union of Central-Eastern Europe"

Some weeks after I wrote to them, I received a letter dated 14th July, 1986, from Vilem Bernard*, 44 Sheridan Avenue, Reading, apologising for the delay. He regretted to inform me that Dr Wolynec of the USP died in London three years previously (so I don't know how Wolynec managed to communicate with Dobriansky!), He then mentioned a M. Bohdan Fedenko, B.P.150 - 14 Paris 14e. I wrote to M. Fedenko. My letter was returned by the French PO stating that no such person was known to them. Another brick wall. However, there is an organisation Paris called "L'Est European", which is an (un)offical branch of the ABN/OUN [Anti-Bolshevik League/Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists] in France. It supposedly has nothing in common with the USP. However, when I ordered a book from them, I wrote rather cheekily;"Please forward me M. Fedenko's address". This, indeed, was a very wide shot, as a friend in Paris had tried to obtain his phone number and address from French Telecom, who informed her that it was on the "red list" (ie ex-directory). Anyway, L'Est European sent me his address without murmur. I again wrote to Fedenko in March, 1987. He replied to me 29 July(!), promising to send me information. He said that the other Fedenko was his father. I replied asking various questions of a general nature, but including one or two asking if he thought that Bandera had been an agent of the British and US intelligence services ( as a number of writers in Britain were claiming); but Bohdan Fedenko never replied. Another dead end.

This gives rise to a number of questions;

Were these Ukrainian "socialists" and East European Socialist Parties, whose members seemed to live in expensive houses (when many of their comrades were merely existing in DP camps) incompetent and highly secretive by nature;or were they - as some suspicious characters surmise - working for foreign agencies and, possibly, being well paid for it. The Soviets, who were naturally biased against them, claimed that not only the OUN but also the so-called Social Democrats were employed by , mainly the British SIS and the US CIC/CIA. They mentioned Livitsky in particular.

Perhaps, Fedenko, and others, had something to hide. Indeed, Roger Faligot and Pascal Kror in "La Piscine" claim that the Central Committee of Ukrainians in France, representing 17 Ukrainian associations, provided the best raw material for SDECE, that is the French intelligence. Maybe they were also Bohdan Fedenko's employer. Who knows?

* Dr Vilem Bernard worked, in co-operation with Denis Healey for the Foreign Office's Information Research Department (IRD), as well as the CIA. See, particularly, Denis Healey's autobiography, Time of my Life

See also Chapter 12, note 73, p822 of MI6 - Fifty Year of Special Operations by Stephen Dorril (Fourth Estate, London, 2000)

Peter E Newell

Ukrainian Social Democratic Party - re-established in Ukraine by 1990
Green Party of Ukraine formed at beginning of 1991

Information Research Department - Notes and Quotes

"Atlee agreed, in 1948, to a major expansion of MI6 and the establishment of the Information Research Department (IRD), a 'black' propaganda unit aimed at destabilising the communists at home and abroad. It was set up by Christopher Mayhew, a Labour MP and former intelligence officer who eventually defected to the Liberals. The Foreign Office forced the BBC to broadcast IRD propaganda and it partially funded The Observer news service and Reuters. As late as 1962, the IRD was supplying right-wing trade unionists and Labour MPs with confidential information about left-wingers which was used by the Labour leadership for expelling them from the party."

Livingstone's Labour, Ken Livingstone, p48 1989

[Angleton]...authorised the use of many new CIA agents to penetrate British trade unions and a big expansion of the World Forum Features news agency, a CIA front with close links to the 'black' propaganda Information Research Department of British Intelligence."

Ibid p56

"...Bevin approved my proposal for an ideological offensive against Stalinism...Some lively meetings followed in the Foreign Office, establishing what came to be known as the Information Research Department (IRD)"

Time To Explain Christopher Mayhew, p108, 1987

"However, my aim was not to impress the committee, but to put officially on record anti-Stalinist propaganda material for worldwide dissemination by IRD. IRD's material, well-researched and authoritative, was now finding a ready market. We had representatives in all British embassies and high commissions abroad, who fed this material into friendly and receptive hands. At home, our journalists, trade union leaders and others, and was often used by the BBC's External Services. We also had developed close links with a syndication agency and various publishers."

ibid pp111-112

"The propaganda section was established with the innocuous name of the Information Research Department (IRD) and was to be funded by the secret vote in the same way as the security and intelligence services, MI5 and MI6 were."

War of the Black Heavens, Michael Nelson, p27, 1997

"By the mid-fifties the IRD had sixty staff, permanent and contract, in the Soviet section...During the Suez crisis of 1956 the IRD was converted into the Information Coordinating Executive under military command...There were BBC connections with the British intelligence"

Ibid p31

"It was not until 1947, after the Political Warfare Executive had been dismembered, that its value was realized belatedly; the government, therefore, reconstituted it as the Information Research Department (IRD) of the Foreign Office"

The Friends, Nigel West, p10, 1988

"Britain's principal instrument of propaganda, the euphemistically named Information Research Department, was closed in 1977..."

Games of Intelligence, Nigel West, p5, 1989

"Britain formerly had a counter-intelligence agency which operated in a semi-clandestine way under the cover name of the Information Research Department (IRD), and was set up by the Attlee Government, mainly to counter the activities of Communists"

The Secret Offensive, Chapman Pincher, p314, 1985

"For many years the Foreign Office operated hat as really a psychological warfare branch under the cover name of the Information Research Department (IRD). Its main purpose was to counter Soviet bloc propaganda and to disseminate information and disinformation to undermine communism in Britain and elsewhere, and particularly to expose Communist front organizations for what they are. Various journalists were recruited to work for the IRD, which was largely financed by the CIA. They used information supplied by IRD or produced their own."

Inside Story, Chapman Pincher, p175, 1978

"...and he (William Gausmann) assisted with the publicity for the distribution of a collection of anti-communist writings, The Curtain Falls, edited by Denis Healey and published by Ampersand, an imprint established and subsidised by the Foreign Office's secret Information Research Department, which specialized in grey and black propaganda"

Labour under the Marshall Plan, Anthony Carew, p129, 1987

"Re-christened IRD - the Information Research Department - Mayhew's organisation recruited Soviet emigres to compose anti-communist literature.
In time, the CIA came to provide most of IRD's funding for this psychological warfare. The Committee for a Free Europe and Radio Free Europe set a regular American pattern by being nominally the work of private foundations, but in fact backed by US intelligence. Clusters of British and US 'front' organisations - magazines, institutes, student and labour organisations - sprang up as a counterpart of Soviet-backed bodies. The BBC was once again dragooned into functioning as an arm of government; although it retained some journalistic independence, its broadcasts ere directed and funded by the Foreign Office, and its programme-makers were required to accept batches of undercover IRD material...
...IRD planted anti-communist tracts on journalists in Britain and abroad...Publishers were given grants to bring out books on anti-communist themes...To reliable trade unionists, secret anti-communist 'digests' of propaganda were circulated: in 1963, the veteran Labour right-winger Bessie Braddock could still boast of getting these publications, replete with warnings of 'Communist fronts' and subversive organisations.

The Wilson Plot, David Leigh, p8, 1988

"Before leaving The Economist, I had already , on contract, transformed a thick folder of IRD documents into a short book called Neo-Colonialism, published some months later by Bodley Head as one of a series of 'Background Books' edited by Stephen Watts"

Free Agent, Brian Crozier, p51, 1993

"After the document had been 'sanitised' by excision of secret material, i was allowed to take the scissored typescript home. The report formed the core of a further 'Background Book' with the same title as the Chatham House article. This one was yet another sequel in the series started with The Rebels"

Ibid p57

"...IRD had played an important role, by disseminating accurate Background papers on the CPGB, and on other Communist groups"

Ibid p102

"In 1978, the Guardian and the Observer carried detailed accounts of the life and death of IRD. The secret of IRD's real objectives had been kept for thirty years"

Ibid p120

"The department's second area of interest was moulding of domestic opinion in Britain. It used the anti-communist material created with government funds to aid right-wing social democrats within the Labour Party and the trade union movement"

British Intelligence and Covert Action, Jonathan Block and Patrick Fitzgerald, p90. 1983

"The staff of the Department were a strange mixture. Emigres, such as those from Czechoslovakia, featured prominently: many were the flotsam of failed intelligence operations. Others were carefully chosen journalists whose specialist knowledge the Department needed. It became a favourite resting place for MI6 people washed up at the end of their careers. Secrecy was so endemic that it was possible for someone to be recruited, as one ex-IRD worker told us with the idea that they were going to do research as the Department's title suggested. Relations with MI6 were close, particularly with section IX, which dealt with the Soviet Union. The IRD was represented at liaison meetings in London between MI6 and the CIA during most of its lifetime. The head of IRD between 1953 and 1958, John Rennie, was later head of MI6.
In its prime, during the fifties, the IRD staff numbered between three and four hundred - the Soviet section alone had sixty people working in it"

Ibid pp91-92

"IRD also took an interest in books as propaganda vehicle...a short series of books published by the small Ampersand company, at the initiative of the IRD...Ampersand was set up just after the war by ex-wartime intelligence officer, Leslie Sheridan, and Victor Cannon Brooks. In 1953, these two were joined by another director, Stephen Watts, who also had been in wartime intelligence. He would discuss titles with the heads of IRD before commissioning them."

Ibid p76

"Meanwhile, IRD was sponsoring the Background Books series (edited by Stephen Watts), first through Batchworth Press, then through Phoenix House until 1960 when Bodley Head became the publishers for the next decade. IRD'S method was to use Ampersand to buy Background Books from Bodley Head and, at the end of the year, to reimburse Ampersand for its outlay."

Ibid p97

"In the labour movement the Trades Union Congress was working with the newly-formed Foreign Office-based, political warfare executive, operating under cover as the Information Research Department (IRD), in an anti-communist drive."

The Clandestine Caucus, Robin Ramsay, p5, 1997

"The Democratic Revolution was part of a series called Background Books - a series conceived and subsidised, it now seems, by the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office. The IRD was "a secret department committed to a worldwide anti-Stalinist crusade"...A number of the Background Books authors had served in military intelligence. The editor of the series had been a wartime MI5 officer. And not only did the writers receive background briefing papers from IRD, but the organisation bought unsold Background Books, thereby effectively subsidising a series that might otherwise have fallen short of best seller status. All this might indeed make us wonder."

The Guardian, David Newnham , 16/12/94

"Secrecy does ultimately corrupt. The moral high ground a lost as soon as tactics used became no different from those of the Soviet propagandists. During the 1950s, while open information agencies contracted, the IRD expanded - with 60 staff alone in the Soviet section and, in all, 300 people by the middle of the decade. The department was also expanding its operations inside Britain.
Alleged communist front groups were attacked and conferences disrupted. Material was handed over to trade union anti-communist fronts such as the Industrial Research Information Service and Common Cause. Trade union and senior Labour Party officials were in receipt of briefings which, in the case of Labour, formed the back bone of its Proscribed List of organisations and was influenced in the selection of candidates.
The IRD also had a massive list of contacts, including journalists and academics who were in receipt of its briefing papers or ho wrote for one of its publishing outfits. In the 1950s and 1960s, the IRD had woven its propaganda web around "opinion-formers of every sort"

The Puppet Masters, Stephen Dorril, the Guardian, 18/8/95

"Roger Hesketh's father as approached to act as Monty's 'double'...but he turned it don. Gilbert Lennox of MI5 was asked by LCS to find a suitable candidate for the operation. He passed the task on to his assistant, Stephen Watts..."

MI5, Nigel West, p374, 1983

Bilateral intelligence relations between the United States and the United Kingdom include human intelligence, signals intelligence, and radio and television broadcast monitoring. The British-US Communications Intelligence Agreement of 1943 is still in force, and regulates the bilateral part of the British-US SIGINT relationship.
A second highly formalized arrangement consists of an agreement to divide up, geographically, the responsibility or monitoring public radio and television broadcasts - mainly news and public affairs broadcasts. The specific organization involved are the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Monitoring Service and the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). Together, those two organizations monitor most of the world's most significant news and other broadcasts. As noted, both the BBC Monitoring Service and the FBIS have a network of overseas stations, operated with varying degrees of secrecy to gather material.
Cooperation between the BBC Monitoring Service and the FBIS began in 1948, as an openly acknowledged arrangement. Thus, the BBC Annual Report for 1948-49 noted :
"There is close cooperation between the BBC's Monitoring Service and its American counterpart, The Foreign Broadcast Information Branch of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and each of the two services maintained liaison units at each other's stations for the purpose of a full exchange of information."

The U.S. Intelligence Community, Jeffrey T. Richelson, pp274-5, 1989

Additional Note.
The main BBC monitoring station is located at Caversham. It is mainly financed by the Foreign and Commonealth Office, although the US also contributes to the cots. US staff are, as Richelson, note , stationed at Caversham. However, the Americans do not supply the British with all the information that the CIA/FBIS monitors

Secret History - How the British government controls and censors the news

Apologists for British capitalism have always claimed, at least in peace-time, that we have a "free press", that the media is not controlled by the government, and that the British Broadcasting Corporation is "independent" of the state. Censorship, we are told, is abhored in "free" Britain. But is it? And was it?

The truth, in fact, as the opposite.

Combating Stalinism

During the Second World War, following first the German invasion of the Soviet Union on Sunday, June 22, 1941, and the attack on Pearl Harbour, by the Japanese on December 7, also in 1941, Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union were somewhat reluctant allies. At least, on the surface, they appeared to be buddies. It was not, however, to last. The thieves who had united in defeating Nazi Germany soon fell out once war was over.

Even before the war ended, the British Foreign Office was preparing for an ideological offensive against the Soviet Union; and had discussed the matter with the British ambassador in Moscow. Likewise, Soviet propagandists had never entirely ceased criticism of Britain and the United States. Nevertheless it was not until the Marshall Plan had got underway, in 1948, that the Attlee Labour Government decided to counter Soviet propaganda, directed against Britain and the United States.

During the war, the British government's main propaganda organisation was the Political Warfare Executive, in which the BBC, together with other organisations, was used to promote policy. In 1947, however, the Political Warfare Executive was closed down.

In 1948, the Labour Government agreed to a major expansion of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI); it also re-established the PWE under a new name, the Information Research Department (IRD). It was set up by Christopher Mayhew, a Labour MP and former intelligence officer, who was a junior minister at the Foreign Office.

The Information Research Department

After lengthy discussions with various British ambassadors from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and with officials in the Foreign Office, Mayhew said that "...Bevin approved my proposal for an ideological offensive against Stalinism" (Mayhew, Time to Explain). He continued:
"... my aim put officially on record anti-Stalinist propaganda material for worldwide dissemination by IRD. IRD's material, well-researched and authoritative, was now finding a ready market. We had representatives in all British embassies and high commissions abroad, who fed this material into friendly and receptive hands" (Mayhew, p111)

The IRD was funded by the Secret Vote, of the government, in the same way were the secutity and intelligence services, MI5 and MI6. (War of the Black Heavens, Michael Nelson, p27). By the mid-fifties, the IRD had sixty staff in the Soviet section, and between 300 and 400 in its headquarters in Carlton House Gardens.

At home, in Britain, the IRD's main purpose was to counter Soviet and Communist Party propaganda, and particularly to expose Stalinist "front" organisations; it also attacked what it called fellow-travellers and "left-wingers" sympathetic towards the Soviet Union and other state-capitalist regimes. (Inside Story, Chapman Pincher, p175) During the Suez crisis of 1956, the IRD was converted into the Information Co-ordinating Executive under direct military command (The Friend, Nigel West, p10)

The staff of the Information Research Department were a strange mixture of East European, Russian and Ukrainian emigres, mostly former Social Democratics; former members of the Political Warfare Executive and MI5 and MI6. Indeed, relations with MI6, particularly with Section IX, which dealt with the Soviet Union, were very close; and the IRD was representative at all the liaison meetings in London between MI6 and the CIA for much of its existence. In time, the CIA came to provide most of the IRD's funding. It was closed don by the then Foreign Secretary, David Owen, in 1977. (Games of Intelligence, Nigel West, p5)

The Press

During the Second World War, as in the First World War, the British press was largely controlled by the government, and was subject to censorship. One or two newspapers, such as the Daily Worker and the Daily Mirror, were either banned or threatened with banning when they "stepped out of line", or merely criticised aspects of government policy regarding the war. Such censorship and control could not continue, at least overtly, following the end of the war. But government interference in, and with, the press continued and, during the Cold War, again increased, but in a completely and covert manner.

Christopher Mayhew admitted that the Information Research Department "had developed close links with a syndication agency" (p112). It did much more than that, however.

The IRD employed many journalists; it also had many contacts with "reliable" journalists on British and overseas newspapers. The IRD concluded deals with several British newspapers, which then gave it permission to print and reprint articles. Both the IRD and MI6 "placed" its agents in papers such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Observer, as well as The Economist. Indeed, at one time, Kim Philby was working for MI6, The Observer, and the KGB! And "after an abortive attempt to buy The Observers Foreign News service, it concluded a deal withb them which gave the IRD the right to distribute articles cheaply, or even free of charge, to the media of selected countries" (British Intelligence and Covert Action, Jonathan Block and Patrick Fitzgerald, p94)

The British-based newsagency, Reuters, during both world wars, received large grants from British governments in exchange for distributing "helpful" stories; but, following the allied victory in 1945, the board of Reuters decided to stop accepting them. But by 1964, Reuters found it virtually impossible to operate in certain areas as the Middle East, and was forced to reach an agreement with the IRD. For over six years, Reuters received £28,000 from an IRD subsidiary.


The myth that the BBC is independent is generally believed;yet, even before the Second World War, in 1938, "the government controlled the BBC's home political broadcasts" (Truth Betrayed, W.J. West, p54). Security vetting of broadcasters and staff was set up in 1937, "at a time when the BBC was almost taken over by the government as state propaganda".

Throughout the war, the BBC was under complete and direct control by the government. The BBC was subject to all Political Warfare Directives; and MI5 had to vet all "those who appeared at the microphone for their political reliability" (Spymaster, W.J. West, p80). And at that time, political reliability meant supporting "Uncle Joe" and Britain's ally, the Soviet Union. Indeed, the Ministry of Information, banned the publication of George Orwell's book. Animal Farm, in 1944 because it was considered to be anti-Soviet; and Orwell was forced to leave the BBC after making an uncensored broadcast.(Years later the IRD and MI6 as well as the CIA, promoted Orwell's Animal Farm as anti-Soviet propaganda).

Of the situation before, during, and after the Second World War, West comments:
"The BBC's alleged independence from Government supervision was a myth - widely propagated and, indeed, firmly believed in by many employees at all levels in the BBC from that day to this, but a myth none the less" (Truth Betrayed.p57)

* In 1948, a formal agreement between the BBC, on behalf of the British Foreign Office, and the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Service (FBIS) divided up the world for monitoring various radio, and later, TV broadcasts. This continues to this day; and the information is supplied to various government agencies, the home and overseas BBC broadcasting services, and the press. Thus as with Reuters, at least in the past, radio and TV news in Britain is heavily biased in the government's interest.

...And the Cold War

On 8 January, the British cabinet adopted proposals by the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, to set up a "propaganda section" to "oppose the inroads of communism by taking the offensive against it" (Nelson, p26). The BBC overseas service was expected to spearhead such an offensive. The main target was to be "the broad masses of workers and peasants in Europe and the Middle east" (Ibid, p27) And in April, a top-secret memorandum stated "categorically that the views of the British government should be made clear in the Iron Curtain countries principally through the BBC".Bevin emphasised that he would make certain that the BBC present policy in line with that of the government. By July, 1948, Mayhew reported that the new Information Research Department was turning out a steady stream of anti-communist propaganda. After some discussion, the BBC increasingly used IRD material. Nelson comments:
"The Foreign Office and the BBC were later to make the remarkable admission that 'much of the material and a great deal of the background for the BBC's broadcasts to the Soviet Union, the satellites and China, reaches the BBC from this Department. The liason in this respect is both close and constant" (Nelson, p31)

Co-operation between the BBC and the IRD remained close until the IRD's demise in 1977. BBC connections with both MI5 and MI6 were, and stillare, close. Charles Wheeler, a well-known BBC correspondent in Berlin, has recounted how he liased regularly with the IRD for many years. He also passed information on to MI6, as did Wheeler's successor R.A.Harrison. Not surprisingly, the Soviets jammed the BBC (and Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Europe CIA-funded) broadcasts to the Soviet Union. Such jmming, continued on and off, until the mid-1980s.

Nevertheless, differences occasionally arose between the BBC and the Foreign Office, particularly during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Eden expressed disstisfaction with the Overseas Service for allowing members of the opposition, including the Labour Party leader Hugh Gaitskell, to criticise the government over the invasion of Egypt. However, in the aftermath of the Suez Crisis, the BBC was concerned to make certain that its liaison with the Foreign Office be improved. "The corporation intends to ask its senior staff to keep more closely in touch with the heads of the geographical departments of the Foreign Office...This should ensure that broadcasting, as an instrument of foreign policy, is as effectively exploited as it can be", a Foreign Office official recorded. In 1948, a survey of British embassies thought the BBC was not anti-Communist enough; BY 1961, they considered the BBC to be too anti-Communist!Soviet commentators agreed.

Later, during the Falklands Islands conflict and the Gulf War, BBC broadcasts, both to home and abroad, on radio and TV, were rigorously controlled and censored by the Ministry of Information(sic) and the armed forces. And even today, most participants on radio and TV are vetted, and likely opponents of capitalism refused participation in current-affairs programmes, although BBC producers are quite prepared to invite on to their discussion programmes such as tame "revolutionaries" as Tariq Ali.

Background Books

During the Cold War, particularly between 1950 and 1970, The American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) produced and subsidised 1,000 books. The CIA was even prepared to use the writings of Marx and Engels against the Soviets. One such work, for example, was The Russian Menace to Europe, a collection of articles, letters and news dispatches by Marx and Engels, selected and edited by two American "Kremlinologists", Paul W. Blackstock and Bert F Hoselitz. Another such book was the so-called Penkovsky Papers, written and produced by Peter Deriabin, an ex-KGB officer then working for the CIA.

But the Americans were not alone in producing clandestine books and publications as propaganda. Nor were they the only ones using selected writings of Marx in the interest of capitalism. The British government, through the Information Research Department, was doing likewise.

At the initiative of the Information Research Department, many academics contributed a series of propaganda books, known as "Background Books" and "Background Specials". Among them were Hugh Seton-Watson, Michael Kaser, Leonard Schapiro, Sir Bruce Lockhart, Francis Noel-Baker, Max Beloff, Elspeth Huxley and Bertrand Russell. The IRD established a company called Ampersand; its directors were wartime intelligence officers, Leslie Sheridan and Victor Cannon Brooks, who, in 1953, were joined by another director, Stephen Watts, a former journalist and MI5 employee, who was appointed by IRD editor of the "Background Books" and "Background Specials". All the "Background Books" and "Background Specials" were discussed and vetted by IRD before publication, first by Batchworth Press, then through Phoenix House until 1960, when Bodley Head became the publishers until the 1970s. (Block and Fitzgerald, pp96-97)

Such publications were, in the words of Christopher Mayhew, "fed into friendly and receptive hands. At home, our services were offered to,and accepted by, large numbers of selected MPs, journalists, Trade Union leaders and others" (Mayhew, p111). Many workers who knew nothing of the origins of such workers, were either given them free of charge or at reduced rates, generally through agents of the state or through Trade Union head office officials secretly working for the IRD. One was TUC general secretary Victor Feather.

One such "Background Special" which circulated widely around 1956, and which may have been read by older readers, was Marx and Soviet Reality, by Daniel Norman, a Rumanian emigre who claimed to be socialist but who had served in the French army during the war. Norman's arguments were particularly subtle, as, unlike, most Western propagandists, he claimed, as had the Socialist Party of Great Britain for many decades, that the Soviet Union was not communist but a state capitalist regime (chapter 5). Much of his arguments were Marxist in content, and he even mentioned that there were Soviet millionaires. Citing Marx, Norman was particularly critical of Soviet censorship (but, of course, not British government censorship!). However, whilst using Marx against Soviet propagandists, Norman considered communism/socialism to be Utopian, a "Marxist Utopia" of which Marx and Engels dreamed (p14).

Daniel Norman was right in saying that Marx opposed censorship and government control of the press, and media, even if he was only concerned with condemning Soviet censorship and lack of freedom.

Marx and the Press

In 1842, Marx was editor of the Rheinische Zeitung which, like other publications, was subject to Prussian censorship laws, and was itself banned in 1843. Nevertheless, writing under the nom-de-plume of "Rhinelander", Marx wrote a series of articles in April and May, 1842, commenting on the proceedings and debates of the Sixth Rhine Province Assembly. Part of his comments are still worth repeating here:
"The censored press remains bad even when it turns out good products, for these products are good only insofar as they represent the free press with in the censored press, and insofar as it is not in their character to be products of the censored press. The free press remains good even when it produces bad products, for the latter are deviations from the essential nature of the free press. A eunuch remains a bad human being even hen he has a good voice. Nature remains good even when produces monstrosities. The essence of the free press is the characterful, rational, moral essence of freedom. The character of the censored press is the characterless monster of unfreedom; it is a civilised monster, a perfumed abortion." Debates on Freedom of the Press, Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol1, p158

Although still a Hegelian in 1842, Marx continued to oppose censorship and government control of the press when he became a socialist/communist as do socialists to this day. A socialist society of the future must, of course, of necessity, be thoroughly democratic, and administered and controlled by the people as a whole with all the information freely available. It will - must! - abolish what Marx called the "monster of unfreedom" of capitalism in Britain and throughout the world.

Peter E Newell

Marx, the Cold War and the "Spooks"

In December 1996, the "re-constituted" Socialist Party of Great Britain (better known as the Ashbourne Court or Socialist Studies Group) published a pamphlet entitled "War and Capitalism". Although much of this pamphlet contains statements and arguments which I, and most socialists, would not quarrel, there is a quotation which immediately caught my eye. Moreover, I was surprised to read the origin of the quotation. It read:
"...the characteristic of the censored press is that it is a flabby caricature without liberty, a civilised monster, a horror even though sprinkled with rose-water." (quoted from Marx and Soviet Reality by Daniel Norman, 1955,p54)

Quoted on Page 7 of War and Capitalism, it is indeed part of a longer quotation, from Karl Marx, on pages 53 and 54 of Marx and Soviet Reality by Daniel Norman, who was primarily concerned with the lack of freedom in the Soviet Union.


Who then was Daniel Norman? Who published Marx and Soviet Reality? What were the origins of the publication, and the publishers? Why should what at first appears to be a quotation from an obscure book written in 1955 be used in 1996?

Daniel Norman, the author of Marx and Soviet Reality, was of Romania origin, who had studied law at Bucharest University. He claimed to be a member of the "Romanian Socialist Movement", but was not in fact a socialist but a former Social Democrat. By 1955, he lived in London;and he worked, as a journalist, mainly for the Economist, the Observer, the Manchester Guardian and a French monthly, Preuves. Marx and Soviet Reality was published by The Batchworth Press; and was one of a series of "Background Books" and "Background Specials". Included in "Background Books" and "Background Specials" were works of Leonard Schapiro, Ralph Blumenau, Sir R. Bruce Lockhart, Walter Kolarz, John Plamenatz and Francis Noel-Baker. The editor of "Background Books and Background Specials was Stephen Watts (1)

The Batchworth Press Ltd, was a publishing company located at 54 Bloomsbury St. London, WC1.

And Stephen Watts?

Before World War 2, Watts was a journalist; he was later recruited by MI5. And in 1943, he was largely responsible for organising the "Monty's double" scam in Gibraltar. After the war, to former(?) spooks, Leslie Sheridan and Victor Cannon Brooks, set up a small publishing company, Aspersand; and in 1953, they were joined by another director, Stephen Watts, who would discuss the titles with the Information Research Department before commissioning them. He also advised the Observer newspaper that British Information Officers, attached to the Foreign Office, would encourage publishers to produce local editions in 3rd World countries, "by buying up obscure language rights on the cheap and passing them on for free in the countries concerned". Through Watts, the United States Information Service also obtained the language rights for Ampersand Books - in one case for 45 countries.

The Information Research Department sponsored, with Stephen Watts as editor, the "Background Books", first through the Batchworth Press, and then through Phoenix House, until 1960 when Bodley Head published them over the next ten years. The IRD's method was to use Ampersand to buy the "Background Books" from Bodley Head and, at the end of each year, reimburse Ampersand. Many of the "Background Books" and "Background Specials", particularly with a "Marxist" or anti-Soviet theme, were often "off-loaded" on the Trade Union members and members of non-communist political parties in Britain. (2)


The Information Research Department was formed in 1948. The junior minister at the Foreign Office in Attlee's Labour Government, Christopher Mayhew, claims the credit for its creation. He writes:

"Some lively meetings followed in the Foreign Office, establishing what came to be known as the Information Research Department (IRD). I summoned a conference of our ambassadors from communist countries. Everyone seemed to support the new project, but there were different degrees of enthusiasm and some disagreement about the priority we should give to different propaganda targets. How much emphasis should we place on the lack of freedom in the communist world? On communist expansion as a menace to peace? On the low living standards of Soviet workers?...I found myself in a minority in urging that living standards should have priority...This view was resisted by the majority of ambassadors and officials, who felt that the emphasis should be on freedom" (3)

The truth, however, was that the permanent officials in the Foreign Office, as well as British ambassadors in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, had previously decide that what they required was a clandestine propaganda organisation whose aim was to combat Soviet "imperialism" and "communism". (4) Concern for the poverty of Soviet workers was, for them, not a priority.

Abroad, the IRD's main activities were concerned with Western Europe, South-east Asia, India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. At home, "it used the anti-communist material created with government funds to aid right-wing Social Democrats in the Labour Party and the Trade Union Movement.(5) Relations with SIS/MI6 were close, particularly with Section IX which dealt with Soviet Russia. Indeed, the head of the IRD between 1953 and 1958, when "Marx and Soviet Reality" was published, was John Rennie, who was later the head of SIS/MI6. During this period, its salaried staff, first located in Carlton House Gardens and the in Millbank, Riverwalk House, until its demise in 1978, was around 400. The Information Research Department also used a number of "free-lance", "alongsider" writers such as Brian Crozier, ho were also involved with various CIA fronts such as the Congress For Cultural Freedom, which published, or financed such journals as Encounter and the French-language journal, Preuves to which the author of "Marx and Soviet Reality", Daniel Norman contributed (6)


The communists always claimed that socialism existed in the Soviet Union, and that the Soviet people were "building communism". In the main, this was echoed by the media and the propagandists of the West. Russia was Communist, they said. The "free world" - particularly America and Britain - was said to be in deadly combat with "communism" and "communist imperialism". This was the rhetoric of the Cold War. And many people believed it. But not everyone. And this included some of the more sophisticated propagandists employed, or used, by the Information Research Department in Britain, and the CIA in the US.

The communists, as well as Soviet propagandists, regularly used selected quotations from the writings of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and , of course, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, to "prove" that the Soviet Union was a socialist society, and was "building communism". The IRD and, to some extent, the CIA used a number of writers who wrote works, using the writings of Marx and Engels, to prove the opposite - that the Soviet Union was not a socialist or communist society along the lines advocated by Marx and Engels. Daniel Norman was such a writer, and "Marx and Soviet Reality" was such a work. Thus, writes Norman::

"There is at least one point which Soviet propaganda and the opponents of Marxism - and of socialism in general - agree: both describe the USSR as the embodiment of the Marx-Engels conception of a socialist society. Both claim to see the masters of the Kremlin the heirs and faithful pupils of Marx, and in Soviet policy the extension of Marxian policy of our times"(7)

Nothing could be wider of the mark, says Norman. There is no indication in the Russian regime of a future development of the communism of which Marx and Engels dreamed, he continues.(8) Quoting from Marx's Capital, he argues that commodity production, the hallmark of a capitalist society, prevails in the Soviet Union(9) And, continues Norman, there is no private ownership of the means of production; it is the state which is the owner. But, this time quoting from Engels' Anti-Duhring, he points out that "neither the conversion into joint-stock companies, nor into state property deprives the productive forces of their character as capital...The workers remain wage-earners, proletarians. The capitalist relationship is not abolished; it is rather pushed to an extreme" (10) All the characteristics of the capitalist system of exploitation are, therefore, found in Soviet Russia; they are pushed to n extreme in this "most advanced form of state capitalism" (11) Daniel Norman, unlike most critics of the former Soviet Union argues in his "Marx and Soviet Reality" that not only did the regime lack (bourgeois) freedom, but was in fact a state capitalist, not socialist or communist society. This was quite sophisticated argument for the IRD propagandists. But it was not a new argument.

It had been the stock-in-trade of the Socialist Party of Great Britain and its companion parties in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and a number of other countries, for at least 30 years before the publication of Norman's oeuvre by Stephen Watts in 1955. Maybe that is where he heard it. But the anonymous author of "War and Capitalism" should quote from "Marx and Soviet Reality" more than 40 years later is anyone's guess.


Another work which appears to bear all the hallmarks of "spook" involvement (the title is the give-away!!) is The Russian Menace to Europe by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Of course, neither Marx nor Engels ever wrote anything with such a title. The book is merely a collection of articles, speeches, letters and news dispatches written at various times by Marx and Engels and selectively edited by two "professional" Sovietologists, Paul W. Blackstock and Bert F. Hoselitz, in the United States. And the marks stamped all over this book are almost certainly those of the CIA. Indeed, the CIA published, or secretly financed, more than 1000 books including the "Penkovsky Papers" by the mid-1970s

Included in "The Russian Menace to Europe", are articles on the foreign policy of Russian Czarism, which Engels says is expansionist("...a cloak for its on plans for world domination"); the background to the dispute with Turkey, in 1853-54, in which Marx states that"the total acquisitions of Russia during the last sixty years are equal in extent and importance to the whole Empire she had in Europe before that time (13) and various articles on "traditional Russian policy"

In their introduction, Blackstock and Hoselitz say that it would be idle to speculate what attitude Marx and Engels would have taken towards Stalin's Russia; but, they continue, " we do know that of all the systems of tyranny and human exploitation which exist in our time the Soviet is the most vicious and the most oppressive" (14) Surely, Blackstock and Hoselitz must have led very sheltered lives!

Continuing their introduction, they argue that the most categorical opponent of Stalin, and all he stands for, is therefore none other than Karl Marx. And, like Daniel Norman, they also claim that Soviet Russia "does not resemble the class-less society which Marx and Engels envisaged as the end result of the revolution. The state has not withered away, and has not only not showed no signs of doing so, but on the contrary, has flourished and grown like topsy" (15) In their view, the Soviet Union resembles, "both in external as well as internal policies and socio-political trends", those of Czarist Russia(16) This is not quite the same conclusion as that of Daniel Norman, who argues that the Soviet Union was a state capitalist regime; but it is a different analysis to that of most critics and observers who claimed that the USSR was "communist", or that contradiction in terms, a "Marxist state".

But it is all history now.

Peter E Newell


1) Book list on back-cover of Marx and Soviet Reality

2) Block and Fitzgerald, pp96-97; Crozier,p51; West, MI5, p374, The Friends p2. Molehunt p95 and p100

3) Mayhew, p108

4) for an overview on the origins of the IRD, see Ramsay,p6

5) Block and Fitzgerald, p90

6) Crozier, pp51-52; Marx and Reality, p1; Block and Fitzgerald pp91-92

7) Norman, p7

8) ibid, p14

9) ibid, p19

10) ibid, p22

11) ibid p23

12) The Russian Menace to Europe, Karl Marx and Fredreich Engels, George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, 1953

13) ibid, p142

14) ibid, p12

Works Cited

Anonymous War and Capitalism Socialist Studies London 1996

Block, Jonathan and Fitzgerald, Patrick, British Intelligence and Covert Action, Brandon, Dingle, Co. Kerry, 1984

Crozier, Brian, Free Agent, Harper/Collins, London 1993

Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich The Russian Menace to Europe, edited by Paul W. Blackstock and Bert F. Hoselitz

Mayhew, Christopher, Time to Explain, Hutchison, London 1987

Norman, Daniel, Marx and Soviet Reality, The Batchworth Press ( A Background Special), London, 1955

West, Nigel (Rupert Allason), MI5, Triad Grafton Book(paperback edition) , London, 1984

West, Nigel, Molehunt, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1987

West, Nigel, The Friends, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1988

Also cited Ramsay, Robin, The Clandestine Caucus, Lobster, Hull, 1996

For a detailed account of the Information Research Department see "Britains Secret Propaganda War" by Paul Lashmor and James Oliver, Sutton Publishing, Stroud, 1998