Growing up with parents who were strongly committed to communist ideology meant that Alexei had an unusual upbringing. His parents would often have discussions about morality and ideology. They expected Alexei to have an ideological standpoint, even as a child.
‘It was a bit like having Radio Moscow on all the time...if you bought a Superman comic they would say...it's capitalist propaganda...’
Alexei’s family holidays were also unusual. His father worked for the railways, so they had free travel up to the borders of the Soviet Union. They visited several countries behind the Iron Curtain including Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Alexei found that everything was very different from the West.
‘...there was no advertising and what packaging there was, was often done in this just very extraordinary alien style and of course there was only one of everything. So there would be toothpaste, pen, shoe...that was very striking...’
Because his parents were members of the Communist Party, they were often well received and made some close friends.
‘We went to Prague...we got to know various high-ups in the government...’
Alexei gained a unique perspective of communism in Eastern Europe because not many Westerners, even members of left-wing organisations, could visit countries behind the Iron Curtain. But to him, it was the more conventional holidays which sounded exotic.
‘Two weeks in Blackpool, wow man! That’s weird! Because I had no experience of that...’
Around the age of fifteen, Alexei decided to join the Young Communist League even though his parents had become disillusioned with communism. But he only went to a few meetings because he wanted to be involved with more extreme left wing organisations.
In 1968 Alexei joined a Maoist organisation which believed that China’s approach to communism was better than the Soviet Union.
‘The Soviet Union was going soft and…China with the Cultural Revolution was really the way to go...’
After the Soviet Union and China began to diverge in their interpretation of communist ideology, many left-wing groups in Britain mirrored the split. Alexei believes that left-wing politics had some similarities to religion.
‘The other aspect in which left-wing politics resembles religion is that the groups are endlessly fissiparous...they are constantly splitting off from each other...’
By the mid-1970s Alexei was no longer active in left-wing politics but he still believes in the principles of communism.
‘I still would adhere to those philosophical and economic ideas of Marxism that I got when I was sixteen...it’s seemed to me as true now as it did then....’