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‘Co-operation and Communism cannot work side by side’: organised consumers and the early Cold War in Britain

Gurney, Peter (2019) '‘Co-operation and Communism cannot work side by side’: organised consumers and the early Cold War in Britain.' Twentieth Century British History, 30 (3). 347 - 374. ISSN 0955-2359

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This article contributes to a better understanding of labour anti-communism in Britain through an exploration of the evolution of ideas and attitudes within the co-operative movement during the early Cold War. It demonstrates that the period witnessed an increasingly rigid separation of co-operation from communism and argues that this separation made it harder for activists within the co-operative movement to imagine a total or utopian alternative to capitalism. Drawing particularly on a close reading of the co-operative press as well as other sources, the study is divided into three main parts. The first section discusses sympathy among co-operators for the achievements of the Soviet Union, which increased during the war against fascism. The article then moves on to consider the continuing dialogue between British co-operators and their counterparts in European communist states and how international tensions shaped co-operators’ views. The final major section explores the hardening of attitude towards communism after Marshall Aid was declared in June 1947, and underlines the role played by figures such as A. V. Alexander and Jack Bailey who worked with the Information Research Department at the Foreign Office to spread anti-communism within the movement. The conclusion reflects, more speculatively, on what implications this shift may have had for the medium and long-term decline of co-operation and the hegemony of capitalist consumerism post-war.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2018 14:10
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2020 01:00

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