Not going ‘pop’: the aesthetic criticism of early British Maoism

Twentieth Century Communism - ISSN 1758-6437
Volume 2022 Number 22

Not going ‘pop’: the aesthetic criticism of early British Maoism
LAWRENCE PARKER pages 141-165


If people think about Maoist/anti-revisionist groups in countries such as Britain, they are often seduced by an impression of exoticism and the incompatibility of such groups with a more humdrum native left-wing culture. What is also significant about such groups is the depth of their ideological inheritance from the Soviet-inspired world communist movement. This is particularly clear in relation to such groups’ cultural criticism. Cultural products such as folk or pop music tended to be reduced to simplistic class designations (i.e. bourgeois art) and were often ruthlessly dismissed, sometimes for an apparent propen-sity to lead to fascism. Maoists called for a more political, communist art as an alternative, focused on serving the struggle for proletarian revolution. It’s important to grasp that such criticism wasn’t set apart from previous inner-CPGB debates on cultural issues, where the oppo-sitional left that had been apparent in the party since the Second World War had retained the thrust of the Zhdanov doctrine emphasised by the party majority in the immediate post-war years. This article explores the aesthetic responses of a number of groups that developed during the first wave of international Maoism in the 1960s and measures them against inner-CPGB differences on art and culture.

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To cite this article
LAWRENCE PARKER (2022) Not going ‘pop’: the aesthetic criticism of early British Maoism, Twentieth Century Communism, 2022(22), 141-165

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