Esmonde Higgins in the Soviet Union



Publication Details

Irving, T. H. (2008). Esmonde Higgins in the Soviet Union. In S. Fitzpatrick & C. Rasmussen (Eds.), Political Tourists: Travellers from Australia to the Soviet Union in the 1920s-1940s (pp. 40-57). Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Publishing.


Esmonde Higgins, younger brother of Nettie Palmer and nephew of H. B. Higgins, a Justice of the High Court, spent the first fifteen years of his adult life as a professional revolutionary. At the age of 23, he joined the Communist Party of Great Britain after returning from a visit to Russia in 1920. Back in Australia in 1924, he quickly became a leading member of Australia's tiny Communist Party, which sent him to Moscow as its delegate to the Sixth Congress of the Communist International in 1928. In the 1930s, as the party began to exercise significant influence among industrial workers and intellectuals, he began a long disengagement from communism. In this chapter I focus on what Russia meant to Higgins, on the part these visits played in his joining and his leaving the communist movement, and their effect on his expectations of left-wing politics in Australia.

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