Stalinism, John Lewis and Ipswich.
John Lewis: Stalinist.
In the latest Revolutionary History (which cannot be too highly commended) there is a text in the section, “Christian Stalinism and Trotskyism.”
I shall later do a proper review of this bumper issue, Trotsky and his Critics, but there is one thing which deserves immediate signalling.
The second of these two articles, which the editors rightly describe as something truly extraordinary (hate filled drivel) is an attack on Trotsky by somebody the identity (from internal textual evidence) can be called John Lewis, a “Unitarian Minister of Ipswich”.
The text in question, informed by the deep knowledge of international affairs available to an Ipswich Minister of an obscure Christian sect, is a defence of the Moscow Trials.
On authority, no doubt impeccable, it informs us that Trotsky’s agents had gone directly to the Japanese and German Embassies, to offer their services.
There is more, a lot more, in the same vein.
Lewis went on to become a leading figure in the Communist Party of Great Britain, a leading light in the Left Book Club and editor of The Modern Quarterly (one of the CPGB’s fronts) from 1946-1953.
The Editors of Revolutionary History do not however inform us that John Lewis was the subject of a famous essay by Louis Althusser, Réponse à John Lewis (1973).
Lewis had reinvented himself as a ‘Humanist’ Marxist.
Althusser, correctly, attacked this stand – no doubt informed by the knowledge that Lewis’s mate in France, Roger Garaudy, who took the same ‘Christian-Marxist’ line, was another Stalinist liar.
Anyway Ipswich people will be interested in Lewis’s career in our town (Wikipedia),
By 1929, his left wing views were too strong for the church he was in and he moved to Ipswich as a Unitarian minister. Here, his leftist political sermons attracted a large youth following, but upset a group of older, more conservative members. Their complaints led Lewis to offer his resignation, to be put to a vote of the membership. In a packed and charged meeting, he received the support of the majority of church members.
Lewis participated in anti-war political activity starting in 1916. On one occasion, he had to be rescued from an angry crowd. He also became involved in work to support the unemployed, and served on the local Trades Union Council. On one occasion, at Christmas, he led a group of unemployed men who marched to the Town Hall, where the Mayor was holding his formal Christmas dinner. They walked in and sat down, demanding to join the feast.
He also was involved with the Boy Scout movement, running a Scout troop, and authoring training booklets. He acted as a guide for outdoor holidays organised by the Holiday Fellowship. He often went to Switzerland, and took parties up the Matterhorn.