The Death of Uncle Joe
- Paperback 269 pages
- Merlin Press 1997
- ISBN: 9780850364675
The facade of a united Communist leadership, believing its own constant praise of the Soviet Union, was ripped apart when Khrushchev denounced Stalin as a mass murderer in 1956. The British Communists confronted their leaders with two questions: Is this true? Did you know?
Alison Macloed had particularly good opportunities to ask these questions. She had worked for a dozen years at the Daily Worker, and in 1956 was its TV critic. Her notes, made at the time, rcord the answers - or evasions - of the leaders. Palme dutt at first replied to all questions by quoting statistics of pig iron. Then he declared that Stalin's failings were 'spots on the Sun'. The assistant editor of the Daily Worker, defending Stalin's memory, cried: 'You mustn't say that Stalin stifled Jewish culture. Stalin stifled all culture.'
As the Russian tanks rolled into Budapest, the Daily Worker refused to print the despatches of its correspondent, Peter Fryer. When asked what a good Communist ought to have done, on witnessing the events in Hungary, Palme Dutt replied with a speech beginning: 'In 1917 Zinoviev and Kamenev...' Other old Stalinists merely attacked Fryer's personal character.
This world-wide crisis was also a turning point in the lives of individuals. Alison Macloed's book records a moment when people had to decide: in struggling for the future of humanity, do we need fairy tales?