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The Global Challenge of Peace1919 as a Contested Threshold to a New World Order$
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Matt Perry

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781800857193

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781800857193.001.0001

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Sylvia Pankhurst in 1919

Sylvia Pankhurst in 1919

Feminism, Communism and Interwar Internationalism

(p.93) 5 Sylvia Pankhurst in 1919
The Global Challenge of Peace

Neelam Srivastava

Liverpool University Press

Sylvia Pankhurst is better known for her connections to the suffragette movement than for her role in the establishment of the British Communist Party and her lifelong commitment to anti-colonial causes, most notably her enduring support for Ethiopia against Italy’s invasion in 1935. This chapter looks at Pankhurst’s “press activism” around the year 1919, in order to understand better the internationalism that flourished in the interwar period, of which Pankhurst was a notable representative. In 1917, Pankhurst renamed her feminist broadsheet, the Women’s Dreadnought, The Workers’ Dreadnought, as part of her increasing sympathy for Communism; she had previously made a radical split with mainstream suffragette activism, which she felt let down working-class women. Pankhurst was one of the first white editors to publish black writers, and in her broadsheet Claude McKay wrote critiques of socialism’s blindness to the racism among its associates. The Workers’ Dreadnought stood out among other radical newsheets for its distinctly internationalist viewpoint. In 1919, Pankhurst also became a foreign correspondent for Gramsci’s Communist journal, L’Ordine Nuovo. She is distinctive among her contemporary comrades for her insight that struggles for gender, class and racial equality could not be separated from one another and needed to be tackled together, thus always placing herself at the radical fringes of any political movement that she decided to join.

Keywords:   Sylvia Pankhurst, Claude MacKay, Antonio Gramsci, Suffragettes, Anti-imperialism, Ethopia, postcolonialism

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