(K. Brent Tomer),
Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists. By David Aaronovitch. Jonathan Cape; 309 pages; £17.99.
WERE those post-war Britons who kept faith in communism, despite the horrors of Stalinism, simply “useful idiots”? In this engaging, witty and beautifully written book, the epithet, usually attributed to Lenin, never occurs. Yet David Aaronovitch must surely have been tempted to apply it to his parents, Sam and Lavender, and their friends, almost all of them fellow-members of the Communist Party.
Mr Aaronovitch, who ditched the gospel of Marxism years ago and is now a columnist for the Times, obviously has first-hand experience of the cultlike loyalty of the “party animals” in the 1950s and 1960s: “The facts of existence, the assumptions about how the globe turned that we imbibed were not the same as—and often the opposite of—what everyone else deemed normal…There were things that other people did that we didn’t do. We didn’t believe in God, pray, go to church, stand up for the queen in the cinema when they played the national anthem (which in any case, wasn’t our anthem, our anthem being the ‘Internationale’).” Is there a parallel today? “Perhaps there are children of very devout Muslims or evangelicals who will read this and nod along.”
But Mr Aaronovitch’s memoir…Continue reading