Communists and the national question in scotland and iceland, c. 1930 to c. 1940

Ragnheiđur Kristjánsdóttir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the period between 1935 and 1939, the international communist movement urged communist parties to strike a more nationalistic note in their propaganda. In Scotland this was met by what may seem as a surprising reluctance to move away from strict communist adherence to internationalism, and towards a more nationalistic approach to Scottish politics. This article aims at understanding how the interplay between the international and national political contexts resulted in this reluctance. It considers, in particular, the extent to which the national identity of Scottish communists influenced their approach to the national question. It places the ideas of Scottish communists in the context of Marxist-Leninist doctrine, and considers how these were adapted into the national political context. As a further aid in determining which factors were at work when Scottish communists tackled the national question, the attitude of Scottish communists is compared with that of their fellow communists in Iceland. By broadening the perspective in this way, it is argued, we can make sense of the paradox that it was indeed international communism that eventually turned Scottish communists into nationalists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-618
Number of pages18
JournalHistorical Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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