Christopher Hill's Politics

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I enjoyed Brian Manning's tribute to Christopher Hill (March SR).

What a shame that since Hill's death, the right wing press have alleged that as a member of the wartime foreign office he 'must' have been a Soviet spy. The idea that he concealed his politics is laughable. Not only was Hill a prominent, public member of the Communist Party (CP), he was also a dissident intellectual whose ideas were distrusted by the bureaucrats at the head offlis party.

Hill's 1940 book 'The English Revolution 1640' was denounced in the CP's magazine, 'Labour Monthly'. Hill's main critic, Jurgen Kuczynski, was a leading member of the Comintern, who later held positions of authority in East Germany. The civil war was a class war,' Hill had written. Such clear politics was anathema to people who believed that liberty could be exported by Soviet tanks.

After a fierce row this controversy was dropped in 1941, and Hill was able to continue his membership of the CP in peace. Yet the dispute had a lasting resonance. It opened up a space for free intellectual enquiry. Several of Hill's supporters in 1940 later played a prominent part in the New Left and CND. Far from being a Soviet spy, Hill's work played a proud part in the creation of an anti-Stalinist left.

Dave Renton
Brent