Theodore Rothstein and the Russian political emigre influence on the British labour movement 1884-1920
This thesis examines the influence of Russian political emigrés on the British labour movement, 1884-1920, with particular reference to the career of Theodore Rothstein. It takes as its starting point Sergius Stepniak's comments on the impact of a small group of socialists on a Liberal- Radical demonstration in Hyde Park in 1884, and closes with the formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920 and the refusal to allow Th. Rothstein re-entry into Britain in August 1920. It takes issue with those historians who have argued that the Russian political emigré influence was essentially harmful, serving only to undermine natural developments already in evidence on the British Left and imposing new perspectives, which later made the CPGB subservient to the needs of Soviet foreign policy. This thesis, on the contrary, argues that the Russian political emigré community in Britain, predominantly Jewish, had become an integral part of the Left-wing of the British labour movement by the time of the formation of the CPGB, and as such formed part of the British socialist tradition that favoured Marxism. It looks specifically at the history of the Social-Democratic Federation, (SDF) which between 1884 and 1920 adopted the titles Social-Democratic Party and British Socialist Party before it merged itself with the CPGB in 1920. The SDF appealed particularly to the Russian political emigrés, as opposed to other groupings, because it saw itself as a Social-Democratic body and part of an international movement, to which the Russian Social- Democratic Labour Party was affiliated. The emigrés, therefore, felt that their activity within the British socialist movement was not something imposed upon a reluctant nativist body; but an integral part of that movement's development.