Previously Marxist historians had been neither academics nor professional historians; they were revolutionaries with a range of interests which included history. After the Second World War, this was to change. In this period a generation of academic Marxists emerged and matured. Their research was, as a result, more systematically and exclusively oriented towards historical questions. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 provoked the departure of several historians from the Communist Party who had thrived despite the generally stultifying influence of Stalinism. As a consequence, they attempted to shake off the mechanical materialism of Cominform orthodoxy. They squinted at Marx and history with rejuvenated eyes. The result, history from below, ennobled the resistance and non-conformity of bandits, peasants, artisans, industrial workers, poachers, religious millenarians and transportees. E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (1963) acted as a manifesto for this perspective. But the groundwork had been prepared well before this in the Historians’ Group of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
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