The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
THE Communist Party Historians' Group, given the presence in its ranks of writers of the stature of Rodney Hilton, Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm, has long been of interest to other historians.
David Parker's book is, however, the first collection of the documents produced by the participants.
For Parker, the most dynamic part of the group was its section dealing with the 16th and 17th centuries.
In his narrative, two names feature most often - Victor Kiernan and Christopher Hill.
For Kiernan, the key steps in the transition from feudalism to capitalism took place in the 15th century with investment in farming and the emergence in the English countryside of relationships akin to wage labour.
Hill held that the creation of capitalist-type relations was but the prelude to social revolution.
Right in the middle of Parker's book are the minutes of a meeting from January 1948 where the two men had clashed. What was at stake, Hill suggested, was a conception of how revolutions happen.
Economic changes might take place in stages, but revolutions did not.
At one moment in history, only one mode of production could dominate. The capitalist class had triumphed once in England and once only.
There is a real drama to the minutes of the exchange.
"Cde Kiernan, at the conclusion of the discussion, withdrew his main contentions."
If only all historical debates were as stimulating.