Letter to Thomas Bell, August 13, 1921

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Dear comrade,

I thank you very much for your letter, of August 7. I have read nothing concerning the English movement last months because of my illness and overwork.

It is extremely interesting what you communicate. Perhaps it is the beginning of the real proletarian mass movement in Great Britain in the communist sense. I am afraid we have till now in England few very feeble propagandist societies for communism (inclusive the British Communist Party[1]) but no really mass communist movement.

If the South Wales Miners’ Federation has decided on July 24 to affiliate to the Third International by a majority of 120 to 63-perhaps it is the beginning of a new era. (How many miners there are in England? More than 500,000? How much in South Wales? 25,000? How many miners were really represented in Cardiff July 24, 1921?)

If these miners are not too small minority, if they fraternise with soldiers and begin a real “class war”—we must do all our possible to develop this movement and strengthen it.

Economic measures (like communal kitchens) are good but they are not much important now, before the victory of the proletarian revolution in England. Now the political struggle is the most important.

English capitalists are shrewd, clever, astute. They will support (directly or indirectly) communal kitchens in order to divert the attention from political aims.

What is important is (if I am not mistaken):

1) To create a very good, really proletarian, really mass Communist Party in this part of England, that is, such party which will really be the leading force in all labour movement in this part of the country. (Apply the resolution on organisation and work of the Party adopted by the Third Congress to this part of your country.)

2) To start a daily paper of the working class, for the working class in this part of the country.

To start it not as a business (as usually newspapers are started in capitalist countries), not with big sum of money, not in ordinary and usual manner—but as an economic and political tool of the masses in their struggle.

Either the miners of this district are capable to pay halfpenny daily (for the beginning weekly, if you like) for their own daily (or weekly) newspaper (be it very small, it is not important)—or there is no beginning of really communist mass movement in this part of your country.

If the Communist Party of this district cannot collect a few pounds in order to publish small leaflets daily as a beginning of the really proletarian communist newspaper if it is so, if every miner will not pay a penny for it, then there is not serious, not genuine affiliation to the Third International.

English Government will apply the shrewdest means in order to suppress every beginning of this kind. Therefore we must be (in the beginning) very prudent. The paper must be not too revolutionary in the beginning. If you will have three editors, at least one must be non-communist. (At least two genuine workers.) If nine-tenths of the workers do not buy this paper, if two-thirds 120/120 + 63 do not pay special contributions (1. 1. penny weekly) for their paper it will be no workers’ newspaper.

I should be very glad to have few lines from you concerning this theme and beg to apologise for my bad English.

With communist greetings,


  1. ↑ The Communist Party of Britain was founded at the Inaugural Congress held from July 31 to August 1, 1920. It united the Left wing of the British Socialist Party, the majority of the Scottish Socialist Workers’ Party, the Irish Socialists, the Communist Unity Group of the Socialist Labour Party, the South Wales Communist Council and a number of small socialist groups. In January 1921, at the Unity Congress in Leeds, it was joined by the Communist Workers’ Party (consisting mostly of members of the shop stewards movement in Scotland, headed by William Gallacher) and the Workers’ Socialist Federation. The formation of the British Communist Party was completed when the Left wing of the Independent Workers’ Party, headed by Palme Dutt, joined it in the spring of 1921.