Guy Burgess was one of that layer of talented upper class youth who, understanding that the class to which they belonged harboured a strong strain of proto-fascists and in the face of the profound crisis through which capitalism was passing, consciously betrayed their class and sided with the working class and the only state in which the working class held power.
Channel Four have today broadcast the voice of Guy Burgess recounting, shortly before he was compelled to flee Cold War Britain to the safety of the Soviet Union, his account of his meeting with Winston Churchill.
It was the day after the infamous betrayal of Czechoslovakia. The decisive section of the British and European bourgeoisie., represented by the pro-appeasement prime minister Chamberlain fatally conceded yet one more slice of territory to Hitler in the hope of deflecting him from an inter imperialist conflict with the British Empire and towards a war with the Soviet Union.
Winston Churchill, no less an imperialist than Chamberlain but with a more realistic grasp of Hitler’s intentions, discussed with the young BBC radio producer what he could do “an old man and without a party” to help the president Benes of Czechoslovakia.
“Use your eloquence”, “Stump the country” Burgess told him and Churchill marked the occasion with a note and offered Burgess a job to fit his talents, if he ever needed one.
Burgess, of course, already had a mission and as one of a small group of young people of bourgeois origin played a critical role in ensuring that the Soviet Union was well informed about the plans and decisive trends of opinion within the Western Powers, ensured that a monopoly of nuclear weapons did not lie with imperialism and that the wartime alliance against fascism was a partnership of equals.
As Engels said: “What is genuine is proved in the fire, what is false we shall not miss in our ranks. The opponents must grant us that youth has never before flocked to our colours in such numbers . . .”