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Thomas “Tom” Bell (September 20, 1882 – April 19, 1944) was a Scottish socialist politician and trade unionist. He is remembered for being a founding member of both the Labor Socialist Party and the Communist Party of Great Britain and as editor of the Communist Review, the official monthly magazine of the latter.
Thomas “Tom” Bell was born in Parkhead east of Glasgow, Scotland, in what was then a semi-rural town, his father was a frequently unemployed stonemason, while his mother came from a family of coal miners and He worked at home spinning cotton and silk, and Tom entered school in the spring of 8889 and left it in the spring of 1894, at the age of 11, working first in the distribution of milk and then as an employee in a soft drink bottler. to help his impoverished family.
While employed at the bottling plant, Bell became interested in atheism and union politics, reading the rationalist works of Ernst Haeckel and Thomas Huxley as well as the works on the evolution of Charles Darwin, gradually acquiring familiarity with the Socialist ideas Together with two colleagues, Bell joined the Independent Labor Party (ILP) in 1900.
The young “idealistic and enthusiastic socialist” Bell found the smooth and improvable program of the ILP insufficient and in 1902 he began to attend economics classes led by the Democratic Social Federation (SDF), led by Henry Hyndman, who introduced Bell in the literature of Marxism In February 1903, Bell left the ILP and enrolled as a member of the SDF.
Some of the classes that Bell attended at the SDF were given by George Yates, an engineer who impressed young Bell with his ability as a speaker and knowledge of economics, history and politics.In the spring of 1903, Bell would follow yachts and the group of revolutionary socialists “Impossible” around him outside the SDF to found the Labor Socialist Party, a rival organization.
Bell began a seven-year apprenticeship as an iron shaper, but after nine months of work he went to another foundry, where he exaggerated the length of his previous job, getting a job on very favorable terms. Two years there, he moved to another foundry that manufactured gas engines, completing seven years of apprenticeship that allowed him to join the Association of Cast Iron Castors of Scotland in August 1904.
dedicated to education, went to Andersonian College and the Academy of Literature, giving soon lectures for the “League of the Plebe”.
In 1907 he would be expelled from the Labor Socialist Party for arguing that the SLP should not favor the Industrial Workers of the World organization. He was allowed to return the following year, convincing the majority of the party to form Advocates of Industrial Unionism.
Generally continuing his work in the metal, Bell briefly joined the Singer Company to form the Industrial Workers of Great Britain, but would be expelled after the failure of the 1911 strike.
In 1916, Bell was elected to the Committee of Workers of the Cyde, in which he promoted the SLP policy of the trade union. In 1917, he led a successful national strike of engineers and foundry workers. Prominent again in 1919, he was elected President of the Iron Castors Union of Scotland, Secretary of the SLP and editor of his newspaper, The Socialist. He was on a unity committee, trying to negotiate the creation of a single communist party with leaders of the British Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Federation and other socialist groups, but his proposals were rejected by the SLP. Resigning as Secretary, he helped found the Communist Unity Group, which would be an original constituent of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Employed by the PCGB, he was initially General Organizer. He then went to the 3. er World Congress of the Communist International, visiting Moscow for five months, despite the fact that the British government had refused him the visa. He was elected as representative of the PCGB in the Executive Committee of the Communist International in the Comintern. He returned to Soviet Russia for the 4th World Congress of the Comintern, remaining in the city as a representative of the PCGB and a reporter, until the end of 1922.
Bell held several posts in the party, including the edition of Communist Review]]. In 1925, he was one of the twelve PCGB leaders accused of sedition libel and incitement to the riot, for which he was in jail for six months.
The next few years were spent between Britain and Russia. In 1930, Bell became Secretary of the Friends of the Soviet Union, writing in 1937 a history of the PCGB.
Death and legacy
Tom Bell died on April 19, 1944.
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