Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

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stnylan

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It seems the brave new future has quite the challenge for Mosely and his ilk .
 

DensleyBlair

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Good updates. I am loving it
Still haven't caught up with you but......better take it all in slowly and enjoy it fully!

Excellent AAR
:)

Thank you! Glad you’re still enjoying it. How far have you got?

It seems the brave new future has quite the challenge for Mosely and his ilk .

Indeed, the honeymoon period is definitely coming to a close. Mosley will find the years after 1945 much more troubled than the years after 1934.
 
Society Rebel Who Rose to the Presidency: Cynthia Mosley, 1898–1945

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SOCIETY REBEL WHO ROSE TO THE PRESIDENCY
CYNTHIA MOSLEY, 1898–1945

DAILY HERALD
16 AUGUST 1945


The people of the Commonwealth were shocked last night by the news of the sudden death of President Cynthia Mosley at the age of 46. A strong government presence in her own right, Cynthia was also the devoted wife of Chairman Oswald Mosley, who benefited greatly from her love and support throughout his life in politics.

Born into an old aristocratic family, “Cimmie” rebelled against her class and embarked upon a commitment to socialist politics from a young age. Rising from this unlikely origin to the highest office in the Commonwealth, Mosley was driven in all things by a sincere concern for the welfare of the worst-off in society.

Succeeding to the presidency in 1939, Cynthia brought a woman’s touch to an office that had previously been occupied by ambitious, energetic men. As President, Mosley worked to keep the Executive Committee running at the height of the Anti-Fascist Wars. Her sympathetic nature and ideological sincerity ensured her role as a calm and considerate voice within government at a critical time in the history of the Commonwealth.


A Dedicated Servant of the Commonwealth

A constant presence during the Revolution managing affairs for her husband Oswald, Mosley was a skilled organiser who enjoyed the task of serving the people. First elected to Parliament as a member of the former Labour Party in February 1928, Cynthia overcame a great deal of scepticism to convince her constituents in Stoke-on-Trent of her sincerity and dedication to the socialist cause.

Growing to become an effective speaker, Mosley was initially mocked by the capitalist press for preaching “Hyde Park sentiments in a Park Lane accent”. Nevertheless, her commitment to socialism soon came to outshine her appeal as a society figure. Cynthia was well-liked by constituents and represented them well in Parliament. Even after leaving the Labour Party to help her husband form the Party of Action, Mosley was returned by a comfortable margin.

Following the Revolution, with Oswald Mosley and his followers all but kept out of government by during a period of Communist Party dominance, Cynthia continued to demonstrate her sincerity to the people’s cause. She was instrumental in the foundation of numerous local initiatives in her constituency during the Communist period, including the release of funds for the development of a new housing estate in the Bentilee area of Stoke in 1931.

In 1934, Cynthia was put forward for the role of Secretary for the Provision of Healthcare in her husband’s first executive committee. Holding this position for five years, Mosley oversaw a period of consolidation and expansion for the National Health Syndicate, which had been initiated by the Communist Party. Moving on from the Communist policy of converting former great houses of the aristocracy into hospitals and sanatoriums, Mosley directed the construction of new hospital buildings across the country.

Always a competent administrator, Mosley made herself as popular within the Executive Committee as she had previously with her constituents while a member of the Workers’ Assembly. Never forgotten by the community in Stoke, she returned to the city in 1936 after the opening of a new children’s hospital named in her honour.



MOSLEYS%201930.jpg

Oswald and Cynthia in 1933, a year before rising to power.


President at Crucial Moment

In 1939, Cynthia became President of the Commonwealth following the election of Arthur Horner to the leadership of the Miners’ Federation of Britain. It was a critical juncture in the history of the presidency, with President Horner having brought some stability back to the role in the aftermath of the Rhineland Crisis and the dismissal of President Lloyd George in 1936. Mosley followed Horner’s example and acted in the role as more of a figurehead than a leader.

It has been said of Arthur Cook, the only man to serve as President on two separate occasions in our young nation’s history, that he was surely above all other possible candidates the “Father of the Commonwealth”. It may similarly be argued that Cynthia Mosley was its mother, providing a sympathetic and guiding hand to the nation during a turbulent time in European affairs.

Attaining the Presidency in the aftermath of the Spanish War, Mosley provided a calming influence against a backdrop of continuing conflict with the fascist powers of Europe. Charming and likeable, she proved adept at winning the affections of her international counterparts. An old friend of American leader F. D. Roosevelt, the two Presidents oversaw a warming of relations between the Commonwealth and the United States while the two countries were allied in the fight against the Japanese Empire in the Pacific. Mosley was at the heart of celebrations following the signing of peace in October last year.


Socialist in Jewels and Furs

Cynthia Blanche Curzon was born in August 1898, the second daughter of an imperialist Conservative minister and an American retail heiress. She spent much of her early life in India before going to school in Eastbourne.

Cynthia experienced work for the first time during the Great War, finding employment as a government clerk on a wage of 30s per week. Later she worked the land as a volunteer, before obtaining an education in social work from the London School of Economics.

Known across high society as a great beauty, she kept fashionable company and was feted by the gossip columns. Later, in the early days of her husband’s career within the movement, she amazed comrades by wearing fur stoles and jewellery to Labour garden parties.

After the Revolution, Oswald and Cynthia traded their glamorous life for a life serving the people. Their house in London became a GP surgery and the couple moved into ministerial apartments. Despite having grown up the daughter of a Viceroy, Cynthia was far more at ease leaving behind the excesses of her youth and wholeheartedly embraced the life of a public servant. More than anything, she was driven by a deep desire to raise the lot of the working classes.


A Cosmopolitan Figurehead

A senior statesman within the Syndicalist bloc in spite of her relative youth, Cynthia helped to maintain good relations between the signatory nations of the Anti-Fascist Pact after the end of the Spanish War. Her transformation from wealthy heiress to revolutionary figurehead made her the object of considerable admiration from Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov, who had made a similar journey. Stalin, meanwhile, was more suspicious.

Mosley’s acquaintances with the other socialist leaders of Europe reflected the shifting geopolitics of our age. Acting as the commonwealth’s most senior representative abroad, Cynthia was more warmly welcomed in Western Europe than by the Soviet bloc in the East. Cynthia travelled widely while President, visiting French premier Léon Jouhaux and Spanish leader Ángel Pestaña at Biarritz in 1940. This occasion marked the first meeting of the heads of the Syndicalist states of Europe, paving the way for mutual solidarity and close collaboration between nations over the coming years.

Mosley also made history when she visited President Roosevelt in New York in summer 1942, at the height of the Pacific War, becoming the first serving politician in the Commonwealth to set foot in the United States.

Furthermore, along with her husband Cynthia toured Palestine as recently as spring 1944. The President and the Chairman visited the country to inspect the situation on the ground following the conclusion of hostilities with Italian forces in the region in September 1943.


Subject of Controversy

Criticised from the start of her career by dissidents on both the Left and the Right, Mosley’s class background and good relations with politicians in America made her the object of suspicion in many quarters. Reviled by the far-right as a class traitor, there were equally those on the far-left who were never able to accept Cynthia’s position within the Commonwealth. Even while President, she faced condemnation for her aristocratic birth. In spite of two decades of work towards its advancement, some openly questioned her commitment to the socialist cause.

In reality, Cynthia was one of many figures drawn from diverse class backgrounds who answered the call to serve the Commonwealth at the highest level. Mosley formed part of a government that included former coal miners and schoolteachers, representing the full scope of life within the Commonwealth. Her achievements in office easily invalidate any misguided attempts to question her credibility as a socialist.



MOSLEY%20FAMILY%20HOLIDAY.jpg

The Mosley family on holiday in Devon, 1943.


Chairman Mosley Speaks

No one has been more acutely affected by the sudden death of President Mosley than her widower. Chairman Mosley gave a brief, sombre statement to the CBC Current Service following the announcement of Cynthia’s death yesterday evening:

“You will by now have heard the news that Cynthia Mosley, President of the Commonwealth, has died. Not only has this country lost a dedicated and compassionate servant in the prime of her life, but I have lost my wife, the woman whom I loved more dearly than any other in this world.

“While Cynthia’s death is an unspeakable tragedy, from which I personally will find it difficult ever to recover fully, the life of the Commonwealth and the work of its people must and shall go on. The coming days will be hard for us all, and I expect many of you will find yourselves – perhaps unexpectedly – sharing in my profound, personal grief. But we must go forward as Cynthia would have wished: with our commitment to socialism undiminished, and our thoughts always for the good of the people of the Commonwealth.”


Life in the Commonwealth Goes On

While the Commonwealth mourns the passing of the former President, the government of the country must continue. President Mosley is to be honoured with a state funeral, to be held on Monday 20th August. This will be broadcast on CBC Television. Many smaller services of commemoration will be held across the country.

The government has advised that next Monday will be designated a national day of mourning, on which the factories and offices are to be closed.

Chairman Mosley is to assume the duties of the Presidency while the matter of the succession is resolved.
 
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stnylan

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One always has to be suspicious of suspiciously sudden deaths, even in an era when sudden death was not always so suspicious
 
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DensleyBlair

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One always has to be suspicious of suspiciously sudden deaths, even in an era when sudden death was not always so suspicious

Cynthia’s OTL death in 1933 may have been butterflied away, but the shock of it certainly wasn’t. Nothing suspicious here on the surface – but that’s not to say Oswald won’t be exploiting it for his own purposes. It will change him, regardless.

Thanks for commenting! :)
 
Preface to 'English History, 1929–45'

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PREFACE TO ENGLISH HISTORY, 1929–1945

A. J. P. TAYLOR

1968


The British revolution was a reaction against the use of the machinery of the state for the promotion of the goals of an elite, capitalist class. In 1929, having suffered a decade and a half of mismanagement by politicians drawn from high society and the industrialist class, the workers of Britain took control of the state power and set it to work constructing a society that served their needs, not the desires of the moneyed classes. Prior to 1929, the British state was antique. Much of its operation was drawn from centuries old traditions. Its ruling class was drawn from a small pool of men, whose grandfathers before them had known power in their own time. Before shaken out of its complacent slumber by the Great War, a terrible conflict of its own making, this old world stuck fast to well tested principles: the first, general indifference towards the condition of the working classes; the second, the freedom of those in power to enrich themselves. So long as the state did not place too great a burden upon the ordinary citizen, it was held to be functioning correctly. When this ideal faltered during the Great War, the old ship of state lost the wind from its sails and ended up a ruin. The war saw a massive scale mobilisation of state power in the interests of the defence of the capitalist classes, including the requisitioning of vast swathes of infrastructure and the reorganisation of entire populations. In Britain alone, 3 million men were redirected away from old industries into the army and the munitions factories. Production was sought on the basis of convenience, not economy.


While this arrangement just about held together at war, in peacetime it proved unsustainable almost immediately. A series of financial and industrial shocks revealed the ineptitude with which the wartime state had been constructed. Its expanded powers were put to work, as they had been during the war, in the work of propping up the capitalist system. In 1927, a dispute involving the mineworkers of Britain rapidly escalated into a general strike. Over the next two years, British workers brought about the final demise of the old order. By the spring of 1929, the workers of Britain had taken control of the country’s institutions of state. Parliament was under the control of the workers and their allies, led by Oswald Mosley. The military had been pacified by volunteers in the new Workers’ Brigades, organised by figures within the Communist Party. Large-scale industry was shut down, and in some cases repurposed under worker control. The transport networks were taken over and put to work in the service of the strike. Food and clothes were distributed according to need by committees of the trade unions. Vacant houses were squatted by those previously left homeless after the Great War. For the first time, the unemployed were organised into a large and powerful union. They occupied key areas of central London, taking shelter and sustenance from the empty homes of the rich.


It is possible that this informal system could have maintained itself for some years. Between May 1927 and February 1929, the trade unions and their allies had assembled a parallel state. Operating outside of the jurisdiction of the capitalist British state, quickly dying, this new machinery served only the betterment of the working classes. In the days and weeks after the capture and defeat of the rump parliament at Cliveden, the leaders of the revolution moved to cement this new state in place. They called it the Commonwealth of Britain. The United Kingdom was declared dead. King George V had already left for Newfoundland, and no functional opposition to this declaration remained. Over the following months, a new political system was drafted by the leaders of the workers movement. Its aim was true democracy, and to protect against the sorts of tyrannical abuse and rulings by decree that had brought Britain into a catastrophic world war only fifteen years previously. Formulated by union leader George Hardy, the constitution of the new workers’ state was an uneasy compromise that tried too hard to balance the interests of the various branches of government. Hardy and his colleagues ran into a central problem: the difficulty of constructing a state apparatus that at once allowed for the kind of freedom enjoyed by the worker during the strike, but which at the same time allowed for the defence of the revolution against external enemies.



TECTON%20PLUMSTEAD.jpg

The very appearance of Britain changed in the immediate years after the revolution. Built in 1933, these townhouses in Plumstead,
South London were designed by Soviet emigré Berthold Lubetkin of the Tecton Group, whose "Commonwealth Modernism" was a key influence on the architecture of Britain well into the middle of the Twentieth century.


In Soviet Russia, this debate between strict adherence to Marxist orthodoxy (we recall that the community of the proletariat is stateless) and the necessity of state power has driven no end of internal intrigues within the Communist government. After the revolution of 1917, much energy was expended in the battle between those in government who favoured a doctrine of ‘permanent revolution’ (that is to say, the mutual relationship between different revolutionary states) and ‘socialism in one country’ (a position that held, in contrast to orthodox Marxism, the necessity of a national communism and internal strength within a regime). After 1923, the adherents of Socialism in one country appeared to have been vindicated, allowing for the rise of Joseph Stalin and signalling the demise of Leon Trotsky. Yet the success of the British revolution, aided in part by Russian money and resources, complicated matters. Once again, it appeared possible that the doctrine of permanent revolution could hold true. Stalin, now more concerned by political intrigues than ideological diplomacy, moved nevertheless to isolate Trotsky. In Russia, communism would be delivered by a strong state.


For the Communist Party in Great Britain, Stalin’s doctrine held sway. General secretary Albert Inkpin was dissatisfied with the structure of the Commonwealth, regarding it as too decentralised. He favoured a large central state empowered to rebuild British society along Soviet lines. Although approaching the issue from a different angle, Inkpin was joined in his opposition by Oswald Mosley. Mosley had risen to prominence within the Labour Party arguing against the obsolescent machinery of the British state as it had been. For Mosley, the state best suited to the contemporary moment was streamlined and economical. It would be empowered to act where necessary with great dynamism and efficacy. Yet it would not involve the average citizen’s every decision in politics. In many ways, Mosley’s vision represented a modernisation of the British state as it had been before the Great War. Where prewar Britain had been economical to the point of meanness, its economy demonstrative of the small group it served, Mosley’s Britain would be active and sympathetic. Mosley’s proposed state had the means to build half a million houses per year. The nature of life carried out in these new homes was to remain outside of the scope of the state.


Between 1929–34, the government of the Commonwealth at a national level was dominated by members of the Communist Party. A new spirit gripped the country as a group of Communist organisers and functionaries, mostly adhering to the party line coming from Moscow, embarked upon the work of forging a new Britain. Major advances were made almost overnight in matters of welfare and public spending. The great houses, left empty by an emigrant aristocracy that had fled for the old Dominions, were requisitioned and converted into hospitals and workers’ flats. The farms were collectivised and mechanised. Oswald Mosley, having been appointed to direct the Office for Economic Planning, oversaw a vast reconfiguration of the nation’s industry and infrastructure. New industries emerged, with the factories of the Commonwealth Motor Group established in the West Midlands in the early 1930s, and a growing electrical goods industry centred on Manchester from 1932. Mosley’s office also managed the much awaited reorganisation of the steel and coal industries, correcting many of the inefficiencies created by the demands of wartime production during the Great War. The landscape of the country also changed, with hundreds of thousands of new houses built each year between 1929–34 and thousands of miles of railway tracks laid. New motorways were opened, the M1 from Watford to Birmingham in 1933 and the M2 from Chertsey to Southampton in 1934, allowing for unprecedented personal mobility. A series of trade policies kept the British economy, booming after the ravages of war and revolution, insulated from the worst excesses of the Depression that shook the capitalist world after 1929. Trade barriers went up all over Europe, an economic indicator of the growing tension between states. The Commonwealth looked past Europe to the newly autonomous states of Africa and India, former British colonies, in the creation of a global network of socialist production and exchange.



MOSLEY%201943.jpg

Chairman Oswald Mosley, 1943. Mosley portrayed himself as an active and dynamic leader, who personally oversaw the modernisation of the British economy during the years 1929–45.


Self-rule for the former colonies had been a key aspect of the Communist restructuring. The old British Empire was dissolved and newly autonomous territories were invited to join the Union of Constituent Commonwealth States. The white Dominions shunned this organisation, retreating from Britain and remaining faithful to the Windsor monarchy. Closer to home, Ulster was transferred to the Republic of Éire in March 1930. India began the process of transferring to self-government that summer. Jawaharlal Nehru, a national figure with links to both the Gandhists and the Socialists, became the first premier of an autonomous India on 8 January 1934. Young Communist intellectuals C. L. R. James and George Padmore convened the fifth Pan-African Congress in London in 1931. James and Padmore had both grown up in Trinidad before coming into contact with communism and emigrating to Britain after the revolution. Attracted by a new sense of political possibility, the two men established contact with many leading figures in the African independence movement and set up the Pan-African Federation to direct the work of organising for autonomy. This was supported by African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta and Isaac Wallace-Johnson. After 1935, James worked increasingly with his idol Trotksy, who had come to Britain that year after being expelled from France. Independent of the Communist Party, which mistrusted James and Padmore owing to their anti-Stalinism, the Pan-African Federation was a vital actor in the realisation of self-rule for the African states.


In Britain, fears surrounding the strength of the 1929 constitution were vindicated when the Communist state proved unable to contain a series of attacks by fascist groups between autumn 1933 and summer 1934. Led by a number of far-right imperialist groups, London and other cities were subjected to bombing campaigns and street fighting. At the height of the crisis, Oswald Mosley was elected Chairman of the Executive Committee. Mosley enacted a series of emergency measures giving the state necessary powers to fight the fascist insurgency, resulting in the complete dismantling of the counter-revolutionary organisational network by autumn 1934. After 1934, the PLUA-controlled assembly passed a number of constitutional reforms aimed at streamlining the British state and reducing the size of the growing bureaucracy. This was particularly true of local government, which between 1929–34 comprised of a tangled web of competing executive and legislative bodies. Mosley oversaw centralising measures that simplified the democratic process within the Commonwealth. For the first time, it could be said that Britain possessed a modern state. The state provided jobs, housing, infrastructure, education and healthcare. Every Commonwealth citizen, thanks to the reforms of Mosley, and previously the Communists, could live a life free from fear or want. No government bureaucracy would intrude into a man’s private affairs. No political class would use him for its own advancement. Government was conducted by a broad group of men and women sincerely devoted to the welfare of the people and the protection of the state against fascist attack.


This found its clearest expression after 1936, when the Commonwealth was for the first time engaged in a foreign war, albeit indirectly. Mosley sent troops and material assistance to the Republicans in Spain during the Spanish War, which ended with the final defeat of the fascist army led by General Sanjurjo in 1939. Britain was joined in its support of the Republican forces by the Soviet Union and, after a bit of arm twisting, France. Supporting Sanjurjo were Nazi Germany (until 1938) and fascist Italy. 1936 marked the start of a new era in European, and later global, diplomacy. Described in the historiography of the Commonwealth as the Anti-Fascist Wars, the period from 1936–44 saw Britain involved in numerous conflicts around the world. The Spanish War expanded into the North African and Middle Eastern theatres from 1938, when Mussolini launched assaults on French Algeria and Commonwealth protectorates in Palestine. Europe came close to being engulfed by another Great War later the same year when German leader Hitler threatened to invade Czechoslovakia. His ambitions for a greater German Reich alarmed members of the country’s armed forces, who launched a coup with the tacit backing of the British international bureau in October. Hitler’s assassination led to the collapse of the fascist Nazi state and the re-emergence of the German monarchy. Nevertheless, while remaining intensely nationalistic, the new regime declined to press the issue of German territory in the Sudentenland and a crisis was averted. Mosley was able to claim a great victory for anti-fascist diplomacy.



DEMO%201936.jpg

Members of Socialist Youth demonstrate in solidarity with the anti-fascist forces fighting in Spain, 1936.


Spring 1938 saw the expansion of the socialist bloc in Europe. The French declared the establishment of the syndicalist Fourth Republic following a revolutionary general strike, sparked by capital flight and the institution of price controls in late 1937. The alliance between France and Britain, the two syndicalist states of Western Europe, led to increased tension with Stalin, and the three governments clashed over Russia’s invasion of Finland and the Baltic states in 1940. At a conference in London between Mosley, Stalin and French premier Jouhaux in February of that year, the three socialist nations pledged to resist “anti-communist encroachment” in Europe. This meant containing German interests in Poland, while effectively allowing Russian control of the Baltic to remain unchallenged. The complex system of alliances and agreements characteristic of the Anti-Fascist Wars saw Britain and the Soviets allied against Japanese imperialism in East Asia and the Pacific between 1941–44. Japanese attacks on American naval bases in the Pacific later bought the United States into the war, marking a warming in the historically cool relationship between the US and the Commonwealth. This detente was aided by the good rapport between Chairman Mosley and President Roosevelt, who had first become acquainted two decades earlier when Mosley conducted a tour of industry in North America. America, which had remained isolated from Europe since the Depression of 1929, had now been brought back into contact with the old world. The context was a dreadful and bloody war halfway across the world, fought to keep fascism out of the furthest reaches of Britain’s sphere of influence. The brunt of the fighting was borne by the Russians, who had been at war with the Japanese since 1937, and the Americans, who expended a colossal amount of energy and men in the final invasion of Japan in the summer of 1944.


The period 1929–45 may therefore be viewed, perhaps somewhat fancifully, as the Commonwealth’s stormy adolescence. From the immediate aftermath of the revolution, when new men were occupied in the work of transforming British society, barely fifteen years later the Commonwealth emerged from a series of global wars against fascism and imperialism as a world power of the first order, under the leadership of the dynamic Chairman Mosley. On 15 August 1945, the people of the Commonwealth were shocked by the sudden death of President Cynthia Mosley. Cynthia, Oswald’s wife, had served as the Commonwealth’s head of state since 1939. She died of acute peritonitis at the age of 46. Oswald Mosley was devastated by the loss of his wife, whom he loved without equal. In subsequent years, he was at once emboldened in much of his work by a deep desire to honour his wife’s legacy, and crushed by the loss of his most reliable ally. After this point, it is possible to discern a shift in the government of the Commonwealth. Mosley’s dynamism becomes more technocratic; Britain’s role in global politics shifts. It is perhaps a stretch to pin all of these changes on one personal tragedy. Nevertheless, 1945 stands as a turning point in the recent history of Britain. Starting with the success of the syndicalist revolution in Italy and the final defeat of the fascist monarchist state, from this optimistic beginning the fortunes of the Commonwealth shifted. During the second half of the 1940s, the cold war in Europe intensified and Britain entered a period of slump for the first time since the revolution. Poised between this uncertain future and a triumphant recent past, 1945 is the pivot on which this transformation turns. It may be considered the close of the Commonwealth’s jubilant first act, and the start of the more sober second showing. Thus it is here that I choose to conclude this, the second volume in my account of the history of the Commonwealth from its inception until the present day.



Alan John Percivale Taylor

London, 1968
 
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stnylan

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Mr Taylor paints a picture of a faultline only ever plastered over, between Russia and other states. Given there are still plenty of gaps in our knowledge, not sure how true that impression is.
 

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Mr Taylor paints a picture of a faultline only ever plastered over, between Russia and other states. Given there are still plenty of gaps in our knowledge, not sure how true that impression is.

A pretty hefty overview of diplomatic relations will be coming up, but your assessment is astute. Stalin is wary of Mosley, and certainly rues the fact that the Moscow-backed CPGB were forced from power. As we shall see, the situation between east and west is only going to get more tense over the coming decade.

Thanks for your comment. :)

________________________________

As ever, I’ll look to put the next update out over the weekend. If memory serves, part 3 starts with a look at Mosley‘s economic policy in the post-war years. Soon we will also begin to see evidence of a less, how to put it, friendly accommodation of the left opposition going into the 1950s. So lots on the horizon! :)
 
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And I’ve caught up!

Absolutely stunning work Densley, really reminiscent of Meadow’s old UoB AAR (which I remember reading at the time). The level of detail and all the different voices you’ve conjured have made this really enjoyable to read. It’s a shame you’ve not had more regular comments.

The world we’re seeing forming going into the 1940s is really fascinating - with Syndies in Western Europe (awkwardly still controlling rebranded colonial Empires), the Soviets in the east, and Conservative-capitalist states in America, the White Commonwealth and Germany. Decolonisation will be very interesting, with right wing pro-American and German groups likely to be prominent among rebel forces and leftists looked on suspiciously as Syndie proxies. I really liked that update from CLR James.

I’d love to hear some discussion of the new Britain from some critical historians - potentially domestically, or from abroad in America, Canada or Germany. (I can imagine some OTL British right wing historians might have emigrated in this timeline - if you’re searching for source material).
 
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And I’ve caught up!

Absolutely stunning work Densley, really reminiscent of Meadow’s old UoB AAR (which I remember reading at the time). The level of detail and all the different voices you’ve conjured have made this really enjoyable to read. It’s a shame you’ve not had more regular comments.

Really great to see you in thread Tommy! Thanks for sticking with it, and glad you are enjoying things so far. The People's Flag was absolutely an inspiration in setting up this AAR, so I'm happy to hear it's bringing back some old memories. As for more frequent comments, obviously any writAAR wants all the engagement they can. I do get the feeling that the sheer scale of this project and the lack of a firm in-game anchor maybe put off casual readers – but I also know there are people out there who read along and stay quiet, so I take what I can get. :)

The world we’re seeing forming going into the 1940s is really fascinating - with Syndies in Western Europe (awkwardly still controlling rebranded colonial Empires), the Soviets in the east, and Conservative-capitalist states in America, the White Commonwealth and Germany. Decolonisation will be very interesting, with right wing pro-American and German groups likely to be prominent among rebel forces and leftists looked on suspiciously as Syndie proxies. I really liked that update from CLR James.

I've written up to about 1953, and so far the timeline is pretty much fleshed out until about 1961. I'm hoping that the 20th Century develops along lines that are different enough from OTL in order to keep things interesting, but recognisable enough that you sort of look at it and think, yeah maybe this is the history we narrowly missed. America and Germany are both going to get big roles fairly quickly.

I’d love to hear some discussion of the new Britain from some critical historians - potentially domestically, or from abroad in America, Canada or Germany. (I can imagine some OTL British right wing historians might have emigrated in this timeline - if you’re searching for source material).

Absolutely, this is something I can do for sure! I think a nice point to introduce some right-wing voices could possibly come after Mosley's exit from office, which sort of gives a natural moment to assess things. (It also gives me a little while to practice writing conservative arguments. :p)

_________________

Apologies all for not getting an update out over the weekend. I'm about two weeks off my final final uni deadline so negotiating this while in lockdown is, needless to say, a challenge. I reckon at this point I'll just wait until this weekend to publish the next update. So keep your eyes peeled! :)
 
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Oswald Mosley: A Secret History

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg



OSWALD MOSLEY: A SECRET HISTORY
THE NEW PARTISAN REVIEW
TERRI ZUCKER
1980



In the months since Oswald Mosley’s death at the grand old age of 83, the presses of Britain have been falling over themselves in the rush to produce the perfect encapsulation of the life of one of the most definitive figures of this century. Since the Bevanite thaw, and in particular after the events of 1968, criticism of the former chairman has been far less dangerous an undertaking than in times past. We will perhaps never know the true number of those persecuted under Mosley-era censorship laws, which were always vaguely defined and loosely applied. High-profile cases such as that of the Heatherden Twelve are no doubt only the tip of the iceberg. Most, necessarily, will have passed without any attention from the media.


Still, there are of course those even today who remain committed apologists for the Mosley era. A. J. P. Taylor’s gushing obituary in the Daily Herald read as if he were eulogising his own father. Despite the shifting orthodoxy, one unavoidable fact remains: if you are over the age of about 25, you will remember Mosley’s Britain. Very roughly, this is about two-thirds of the population of Britain. Mosley’s death has thus had a profound impact upon the collective psyche. Many, without even really knowing why, have felt compelled in recent months to reassess their opinions of the former chairman and the country he governed. Most of this is simple nostalgia. We all secretly yearn for a return to our younger days, state-capitalist or otherwise.


All of this being the case, it is understandable, therefore, that so many postmortem assessments of Mosley have focused on his achievements and his failings in power. Even in this magazine, the heir to the old Partisan Review that was suppressed in 1949, Mosley was treated with all due reverence you might expect accorded to one of the century’s leading statesmen. All differences were ideological. So what if he almost singlehandedly hijacked the workers’ movement for his own means? He did legitimately transform Britain from an antiquated imperial motherland into a modern European power. (As if we are meant to care about geopolitics.) His regime was increasingly authoritarian, and the Party of Action (does anyone actually remember the days when they had the word ‘Labour’ in their name?) became little more than an organ for the exercise of state-economic power – but hey, at least he gave us the motorways and a modern consumer good industry!



MOSLEY%201970S.jpg

Oswald Mosley (1896–1980), photographed in the 1970s.


The collective, selective amnesia surrounding Mosley’s reputation is a betrayal of all that we have achieved on the Left in the last twenty years. (I say this as someone young enough to have been told about Windscale during a primary school assembly.) Not only was Mosley an aristocratic opportunist whose attachment to socialism ran as deep as a puddle in a drought, in his personal life he was an appalling snob who was often unfaithful to those who loved him, and egotistical to the point of mania. Reading his memoirs, published with characteristic arrogance while Nye Bevan was still in office, you would be forgiven for thinking that he had personally directed the tide of British history since 1925. He was like a modern day Canute, if Canute had not only believed his own mythology but written the vast majority of it in the first place.


Many unpleasant men have been revolutionaries. In some cases, we can forgive them on the grounds that, at the very least, they were revolutionaries. Mosley was no such thing. Never interested in Marx, he instead derived his bastard form of socialism from second-hand bourgeois Fabian interpreters. He wrote of J. A. Hobson as a great influence in his early years, Hobson being a man who once declared that the biggest threat to the British worker was the arrival of Russian Jews in England. While in his later period in office he did become genuinely motivated by the possibility of a united European state of like-minded peoples, this sort of state-influenced thinking sat at the limit of his ability to conceive of the international solidarity of the working classes. For a man who used to campaign for the Labour Party in suits costing more than his average constituent would earn in half a year, it was no doubt hard enough to imagine a solidarity with the working classes closer to home.


Like all revolutionary play actors, Mosley converted the historical power of the working classes into an engine for his own ambitions. Since the publication of his infamous ‘Memorandum’ of 1928, Mosley had pictured himself as the man to save Britain from ruin. This was his ultimate motivation for joining the Labour movement, which he (correctly) judged to be the operative movement of his times. This, when all else is taken away, was always Mosley’s biggest skill: he was phenomenally gifted in the game of politics. An impassioned and fluent speaker, he could convince any crowd of his singular vision. As soon as men like A. J. Cook gave him a platform within the workers’ movement, themselves taken in by his spectacle, the revolutionary movement was as good as over. Arthur Cook was perhaps the only man who could match him for sheer power of will, and that is likely why they became such firm colleagues. If Cook hadn’t been murdered in 1934, who is to say how ‘Mosleyism’ may have ended up.



STANMORE%201935.jpg

These townhouses in Stanmore, Harrow were built in 1935, the year after Mosley's election as Chairman of the Executive Committee. Building upon five years of Communist reforms, Mosley's early period in power was characterised by optimism at home and increasing confidence abroad.


Eventually, enough were won over to his promises of a golden new tomorrow that the sceptics were easily dealt with. Every cook can govern, C. L. R. James once told us. Mosley’s great trick was to ambush the cook, steal his dish and rise to power off the back of acclaim meant for other men. There were a dozen union leaders who could have been chairman ahead of Mosley and done twice as good a job, only they lacked his fundamental sense of superiority. Mosley was a wolf in shop-steward’s clothing, the ace up the sleeve of the bourgeoisie. His co-option of the revolution, excepting the brief Stalinist interlude of 1929–34, ensured the basic continuity of the lot of the English middle classes. If the CPGB hadn’t done away with property ownership it is quite likely Mosley would have simply left it alone. He would have had his fun overhauling the economy, saving Britain from Depression and using the resulting acclaim to obscure the fact that class relations remained basically intact. Only now Britain churned out cars and radios as well as coal


Mosley’s second great skill was surrounding himself with people (usually men) who could match his historic sense of urgency. Although he probably did love Cynthia a great deal, by all accounts he had a hard time tolerating her. He used to belittle her intelligence in public and would respond sarcastically to her contributions in meetings of the executive committee. On top of this, he was rarely faithful, and in the years before the revolution maintained affairs with both his sister-in-law and his mother-in-law. Cynthia was expected to simply tolerate this behaviour.


Those who earned Mosley’s fidelity were overwhelmingly his closest colleagues, with whom he felt he was solving the monumental questions of the time. His closest friend was Bob Boothby, another aristocratic former Conservative who was entrusted with the directorship of the Office of Economic Planning after Mosley chose to vacate the position following his wife’s death in 1945. Boothby, another man who likely never read Marx in his life, was the first person to occupy the rotating chair of the Executive Council of the European Syndicate after its formation in 1957, in case you ever need reason to doubt the seriousness with which Mosley approached the task of maintaining his left-wing credentials. Nye Bevan, after Cook, was probably the greatest rival Mosley had in government, in terms of both his energy and in holding a genuine commitment to the revolution. It is surely no tragic coincidence of history that he reached high office far too late in life, after four decades of organisational and administrative work had sapped his capacity for necessary action. When Bevan died in 1969, finally defeated by the illness he battled all through his chairmanship, it was a shame that he was not more widely mourned. Instead his legacy was a victim of the times. Cruel indeed is the god who decided that Bevan would have his time before Mosley – or perhaps Mosley’s cosmic punishment was to live to see so much of what he accomplished overturned.



BEVAN%201960.jpg

Nye Bevan, then President of the Commonwealth, addressing a crowd in his hometown of Tredegar 1960. He became Chairman of the Executive Committee upon Mosley's retirement the following year. His term in office was marked by a thawing of Mosleyite repression, coinciding with economic troubles and political unrest.


There was a trend within Marxist circles until some time in the 1950s to speak of ‘permanent revolution’. This was the idea, outlined by Marx and Engles in the 1840s but now mostly associated with Trotsky, that a workers’ state would come to exist only so long as the proletariat maintained their commitment to revolutionary activity. First would come the revolution of the bourgeoisie, which afterwards could be turned in favour of the working classes by the unceasing agitation of the proletariat in favour of their own advancement. At no point would the revolution be seen as complete, but always contingent upon the preceding stage and, ultimately, awaiting its own liquidation. Never would the proletariat compromise with the interests of any other class.


Marx and Engels developed the idea around the time that Europe was experiencing a depression, coinciding with the end of the railway boom and the bursting of other capital bubbles. This period also coincided with the revolutionary activity of 1848, which produced a number of bourgeois democracies of varying stabilities. Particularly in Germany, Marx and Engels imagined that the establishment of a bourgeois democracy was only the first step on the path towards communism, which they briefly saw at that time as inevitable. To them, viewing the world in 1847, it seemed as if capitalism was finally experiencing its fatal downfall.


This optimism considered from today perhaps feels hopelessly naive, but then belief in the face of hopelessness is in many ways a quality as essential as bread to the revolutionary. Capitalism, as we know, did not end in 1847 – nor indeed in 1848, nor 1917, nor 1929, nor 1934. Marx and Engels worked on the assumption that England had had its bourgeois revolution in the seventeenth century, and thus the final emancipation of the working classes was by 1850 an historical inevitability. What if they had been mistaken? What if, snatching an alternative future from the jaws of inevitability, Britain’s true bourgeois revolution came in 1929? Mosley, the turbocharged representative of the upper-middle classes, half country squire and half futuristic technocrat, was in many ways the perfect candidate to effect this act of legerdemain. Donning a flat cap and talking to constituents in Birmingham about ‘the missus’, he was like a revolutionary action man, parachuted in by the gentry to keep the working classes in line while the old order died an ignominious death. For forty years, Britain then underwent a great unspoken transformation: a state that no one wanted to admit was still in thrall to the aristocracy finally fell into the hands of the bourgeoisie, who fearing reprisals did not want to admit their own bourgeois status.


If we can accept this theory, that 1929 was a victory for the bourgeoisie at the expense of the working classes, then it becomes infinitely less painful to reckon with the legacy Mosley leaves. Viewed as a bourgeois dictator attempting to repair a capitalist state that had been badly mishandled by incompetent aristocrats, his entire conduct becomes so obvious as to hardly merit explanation. Recognising this fact, we can leave ourselves free to come to terms with all of the possibilities that disappeared after 1929. More importantly, we can get on with the work of ensuring that the victories of 1968 are not so readily squandered; that this time there is no compromise with the reactionary classes of the world, and that the future of Britain is a journey towards the final liquidation of the state itself.
 
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Excellent as usual Dens. It’s really fascinating to think about the legacies of figures conjured up in these stories. Mosley will surely loom over late 20th century Britain, even after his death. Many will define themselves by the way they view Britain in the Mosleyite years - for some he will be 20% bad and 80% good, and others all wrong.

I do wonder what ends up bringing him down in the end.

Lovely little glimpses on the brief Bevanite takeover in the 60s!

I’ve also been thinking about Isaiah Berlin in this TL. Given there have been so many mentions of the sympathy of the British Revolution with Jews, he may well have stayed in Britain under the Commonwealth rather than emigrate. His critique of the regime would no doubt be very interesting!
 
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stnylan

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I do believe this is what is termed a "hatchet-job".

Another masterful piece of biased writing. Through these marvellously prejudiced viewpoints you paint a rich picture.
 

DensleyBlair

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Excellent as usual Dens. It’s really fascinating to think about the legacies of figures conjured up in these stories. Mosley will surely loom over late 20th century Britain, even after his death. Many will define themselves by the way they view Britain in the Mosleyite years - for some he will be 20% bad and 80% good, and others all wrong.

I do wonder what ends up bringing him down in the end.

Thanks TommI imagine by the late 60s you have a situation, not entirely unlike today with reference to Thatcher for example, where the generation who grew up with him have strong opinions either way – but there’s no doubt that he’s shaped the orthodoxy well into the present. Which, with everything that will unfold in the Sixties, sort of creates what I hope is an interesting tension between those who bought (or swallowed) Mosley’s vision of Britain, and those who see through it.

Lovely little glimpses on the brief Bevanite takeover in the 60s!

In time we’ll see more than just glimpses, but I do enjoy giving some breadcrumbs to hint where we’re going. :)

I’ve also been thinking about Isaiah Berlin in this TL. Given there have been so many mentions of the sympathy of the British Revolution with Jews, he may well have stayed in Britain under the Commonwealth rather than emigrate. His critique of the regime would no doubt be very interesting!

I’m not nearly as familiar with Berlin as I would perhaps like to be, but I think it’s a fair call to suggest he’s stayed in Britain. (Particularly with how the US looks by contrast.) I could imagine him being offered some sort of high-ranking position at Oxford as a sop to “demosleyfication” in the universities.

The idea of Commonwealth émigrés, incidentally, is one I have considered. I have an idea that a lot of interesting “British” cinema in the Sixties might actually be made abroad, for example, in a sort of Tarkovsky-in-Sweden .

I do believe this is what is termed a "hatchet-job".

Another masterful piece of biased writing. Through these marvellously prejudiced viewpoints you paint a rich picture.

Absolutely, time to slaughter some sacred cows! :D

I do enjoy the idea that one sort of has to piece together a narrative by gleaning bits from a load of not entirely reliable sources.
Glad you enjoy it also. :)
 

Wraith11B

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I always feel like I don't have nearly the grounding in British history that I need to fully grasp everything that goes on in this thread. Its amazingly written, though!
 

DensleyBlair

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I always feel like I don't have nearly the grounding in British history that I need to fully grasp everything that goes on in this thread. Its amazingly written, though!

Thank you for your kind words, although I do hope you don’t feel like this thread is too “exclusive”! I think it’s definitely a case of Your Mileage May Vary, but my aspiration has always been that the alt-history sort of stands up enough on its own that people don’t feel like there’s any great barrier to enjoyment. Whether I’m succeeding on this front, the jury is perhaps still out on that one… Ultimately, if there’s anything that is unclear or seems obscure, I’d be more than happy to try and elaborate or discuss it further. :)
 
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Le Jones

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How in the name of Stanley Baldwin have I missed this astonishing effort? Superbly written, a beautiful evocation of a Britain that (fortunately?) never existed. I'm still playing catch up as I read through, but very well written @DensleyBlair.
 
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stnylan

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How in the name of Stanley Baldwin have I missed this astonishing effort?
I think it is quite possible Baldwin's name has never been uttered in this fashion ever before :)
 
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DensleyBlair

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How in the name of Stanley Baldwin have I missed this astonishing effort? Superbly written, a beautiful evocation of a Britain that (fortunately?) never existed. I'm still playing catch up as I read through, but very well written @DensleyBlair.

Very good of you to check this out, Le Jones! Glad to have you in the thread, and thank you for your kind words. I hope you enjoy catching up, and will look forward to hearing your thoughts as all of the various characters of A Royal Prerogative are eventually dealt with! :p I will be interested to compare and contrast our two worlds once your own POD becomes more apparent.

I think it is quite possible Baldwin's name has never been uttered in this fashion ever before :)

In fairness to Mr Baldwin, an invocation or two would probably help in weathering the storm that is his latter career in this timeline. :p