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Durham University

School of Government & International Affairs

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Gidon Cohen

Cohen, Gidon & Morgan, Kevin (2004). British Students at the International Lenin School 1926-37: A reaffirmation of methods results and conclusions. Twentieth Century British History 15(1): 77-107.

Author(s) from Durham


Alan Campbell, John McIlroy, Barry McLoughlin, and John Halstead have offered a sweeping, if incoherent, criticism of the research presented in ‘Stalin's Sausage Machine’, our recent article on British students at the International Lenin School. By expanding upon and reaffirming the methods, results, and conclusion of our original article, we address each of the main criticisms made and show that none can be substantiated. Using statistical analysis based on matched samples, we demonstrate that we did not underestimate the school's impact on the apparatus of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). We also show that none of the supposed ‘significant deficiencies’ in our handling of qualitative analysis has any foundation. We deal briefly with the sole alternative explanation our critics offer for the CPGB's internal leadership changes, namely ‘life itself’ and natural causes. We suggest that such a de-politicized interpretation not only lacks any evidential basis but reveals a profound ignorance as to the internal workings of communist parties and flies in the face of all available literatures on the subject. We also document the contrast between our critics' methodological pretensions and the ways in which their case depends for its plausibility on methods of an extremely dubious nature. Every possible academic rationale for the attack upon us is disposed of. We therefore end with a plea for a less personalized approach to the writing of Communist Party history.