Rajani Palme Dutt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A portrait photo of Rajani Palme Dutt.
Rajani Palme Dutt

Rajani Palme Dutt (19 June 1896 – 20 December 1974), best known as R. Palme Dutt, was a leading journalist and theoretician in the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Rajani Palme Dutt was born in 1896 on Mill Road in Cambridge, England. His father, Upendra Dutt, was an Indian surgeon, his mother Anna Palme Dutt was Swedish; he was thus half-Bengali and half-Swede.[1][2] Anna Palme Dutt was a great aunt of the future Prime Minister of Sweden Olof Palme.[3]

Dutt was educated at The Perse School, Cambridge and Balliol College, Oxford, where he obtained a first class degree in classics after having been suspended for a time due to his status as a conscientious objector in World War I.[4]

Dutt married an Estonian, Salme Murrik, the sister of Finnish writer Hella Wuolijoki, in 1922. His wife had come to Great Britain in 1920 as a representative of the Communist International.[4]

Political career[edit]

Dutt joined the Labour Research Department, a left wing statistical bureau, in 1919. The following year, he joined the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and in 1921 founded a monthly magazine called Labour Monthly, a publication which he edited until his death.

In 1922, Dutt was named the editor of the CPGB's weekly newspaper, The Workers' Weekly.[4]

Dutt was on the Executive Committee of the CPGB from 1923 until 1965 and was the party's chief theorist for many years.[5]

Dutt first visited Soviet Russia in 1923, where he attended deliberations of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) relating to the British movement.[4] He was elected an alternate to the ECCI Presidium in 1924.

Following an illness in 1925 which forced him to stand down as editor of Workers' Weekly, Dutt spent several years in Belgium and Sweden as a representative of the Comintern.[4] He also played an important role for the Comintern by supervising the Communist Party of India for some years.

Palme Dutt was loyal to the Soviet Union and to communist ideals. In 1939, when the CPGB General Secretary Harry Pollitt supported the United Kingdom's entry into World War II, it was Palme Dutt who promoted Stalin's line, forcing Pollitt's temporary resignation. As a result, he became the party's General Secretary until Pollitt was reappointed in 1941, after the German invasion of the USSR and consequent reversal of the Communist Party attitude towards WW2.

In his book Fascism and Social Revolution a scathing criticism and analysis of fascism is presented with a study of the rise of fascism in Germany, Italy and other countries, he called fascism a violent authoritarian, ultra nationalist, and irrational theory. In his own words: "Fascism is antithetical to everything of substance within the liberal tradition."[6]

After Stalin's death, Palme Dutt's reaction to Khrushchev's Secret Speech downplayed its significance, with Dutt arguing that Stalin's "sun" unsurprisingly contained some "spots".[7] A hardliner within the CPGB, he disagreed with its criticisms of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and opposed the CPGB's increasingly Eurocommunist line in the 1970s, retiring from his party positions, although remaining a member until his death[8] in 1974. According to historian Geoff Andrews, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was still paying the CPGB around £15,000 a year "for pensions" into the seventies, recipients of which "included Rajani Palme Dutt".[9]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Of a Certain Age: Twenty Life Sketches, Penguin Books, pp. 135, 2011
  2. ^ Faruque Ahmed, Bengal Politics in Britain – Logic, Dynamics & Disharmony pp. 57, 2010.
  3. ^ Henrik Berggren, Underbara dagar framför oss. En biografi över Olof Palme, Stockholm: Norstedts, 2010; p.659
  4. ^ a b c d e Colin Holmes "Rajani Palme Dutt", in A. Thomas Lane (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of European Labor Leaders, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995; vol. 2, p.284
  5. ^ Francis Beckett Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party, London: John Murray, 1995
  6. ^ http://books.google.ca/books?id=ZO1-mHHZchQC&pg=PA69&lpg=PA69&dq=palme+dutt+fascism&source=bl&ots=YwlaBiVVCF&sig=EBitIn6ORQbkf0cmRR9HAkuCFkI&hl=en&ei=5BwCSsToBo2Ntgfk_-WMBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4
  7. ^ Rajani Palme Dutt - Biography
  8. ^ J. Callaghan, Rajani Palme Dutt. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1993.
  9. ^ Geoff Andrews, Endgames and New Times, The Final Years of British Communism 1964–1991, Lawrence and Wishart, London 2004, p. 94

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Idris Cox
Editor of the Daily Worker
1936–1938
Succeeded by
Dave Springhall
Party political offices
Preceded by
Harry Pollitt
Acting General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1939–1941
Succeeded by
Harry Pollitt