Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Film: Children of the Revolution

The Frontline Club in Paddington is screening Shane O' Sullivan's documentary 'Children of the Revolution' on the 8th of August. The film depicts the lives of left wing, female revolutionaries Ulrike Meinhof (of the Red Army Faction in Germany) and Fusako Shigenobu (of the international wing of the Japanese Red Army) through the eyes of their children. 

For more information on the screening and the film please visit 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The Match Girls' Strike / Harriet Law, Annie Besant and Eleanor Marx

Two Socialist History Society Public Meetings

1. This year’s annual A L Morton Memorial Lecture
7pm Wednesday 28th September 2011

Louise Raw on “The Truth about the 1888 Match Girls’ Strike and its Place in History”
The speaker is the author of the book, Striking a Light: The Bryant and May Match women and their Place in Labour History, copies of which will be available at the meeting.

2. Socialist History Society Public Meeting

''Radical to Revolutionary Women in the 19th century:
Another look at Harriet Law, Annie Besant and Eleanor Marx''

7pm, 9th November 2011

Dr Laura Schwartz on Harriet Law
Deborah Lavin on Eleanor Marx
Marie Terrier on Annie Besant

Seminar consists of three short talks presenting new views of the subjects followed by discussion.

Venue for both events: Bishopsgate Institute, Liverpool Street
Free entry, all welcome, retiring collection

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Great Unrest and a Welsh Town

Since Tim Evan's writings on the 1911 Railway Strike in Llanelli have featured in the past in the LSHG Newsletter, it seems appropriate to draw people's attention to the latest volume of International Socialism, which has a full article on this moment of intense class struggle a century ago entitled 'The Great Unrest and a Welsh Town

A Dis-Service to Scholarship

For those that have missed it, Scott McLemee and Richard Seymour have recently drawn the attention of the blogosphere (if that is still what people are calling it) to Trotsky scholar Bertrand M. Patenaude's recent demolition of Trotsky: A Life by Robert Service. It therefore seems timely to highlight the LSHG's own demolition of Service's work by Ian Birchall over a year ago - aptly entitled Out of Service.

Pat Hudson on writing the history of the Industrial Revolution today

The Industrial Revolution: A New History

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Request for info on Young Communists

From Evan Smith:

I am looking for material on youth/youth culture/music in CPGB/YCL publications from 1980 - 1991. (Besides Marxism Today and Morning Star) References, copies or general info welcome.
Please email: Thanks.

Friday, 8 July 2011

CFP: Marx at the Movies Conference

Call for Papers
Marx at the Movies Conference
University of Central Lancashire
March 16-17, 2012

As the Lehmans Brothers filled for bankruptcy on September 15 2008 an
era came to a halt. No more was there a belief that ‘the Market’ would
work for the greater good as long as it was left un-regulated. As the
belief in neoliberal theory and practice collapsed, many turned to the
alternative theory – that of Marxism, not least because for Marx the
challenge for human thought was not simply to understand the world but
to change it.

Not for the first time Marx is ‘fashionable’. As David Harvey observes
in his introduction to The Communist Manifesto: ‘The Communist
Manifesto of 1847 is an extraordinary document, full of insights, rich
in meanings and bursting with political possibilities. Millions of
people all around the world – peasants, workers, soldiers,
intellectuals as well as professionals of all sorts – have, over the
years, been touched and inspired by it.’

The same can be said about filmmakers, film academics and students, in
view of the fact that cinema, as a collective endeavour and as an
industrial art, is an excellent ground to test Marxist dialectical
thought. But how has cinema engaged with Marxist theory and practice?
How has cinema engaged in processes to create radical social
transformation, including decolonisation and the liberation of women?
Is there a revival of Marxism in contemporary film theory and

These are some of the questions we want to discuss during the two-day
conference, hosted by the School of Journalism, Media and
Communication in Preston –a town of great importance to the history of
the working class, as testified by Marx and Engels’ writings. Papers
are sought for topics such as:

The problems of conveying Marxist thought on screen (including
attempts to screen Capital)
Representation of alienated and nonalienated labour and capital on screen
The work of Sergei Eisenstein, Bertolt Brecht, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris
Marker, Dušan Makavejev, Satyajit Ray, Ousmane Sembène, Alexander
Kluge, Ken Loach, Lars von Trier. Are they Marxist filmmakers?
Western and Eastern Marxist film theory and history
Socialist production, distribution and exhibition of films
Marxism, Third cinema and the cinema of revolt
Marxism and feminist cinema
Marxism, realism and non-realism
Screen images of Marx, Engels and Lenin

Organising committee
Prof. Ewa Mazierska
Dr. Anandi Ramamurthy
Dr. Lars Kristensen

Deadline for abstracts (max 250 words): 1 December 2011.
Please send abstracts to Ewa Mazierska
Lars Kristensen

The conference is not expected to produce a surplus value.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Problem of the Middle East by Tony Cliff online

The Problem of the Middle East (1946), Tony Cliff’s first book, has long lain buried in the archives. It has now been published online, just as the Middle East is alight once again with revolution. There is much in today’s wave of uprisings and revolutions that the Cliff who wrote the book as a young Trotskyist activist in Palestine in 1945 would recognise. The dictatorships shaken by popular revolts from below, the decaying hegemony of the region’s imperial powers, the rising tide of workers’ struggle: all these are explored in the book. Although when completed in 1946, the greatest struggles of the turbulent decade which followed were still in the future, Cliff showed remarkable prescience in seeing that the Middle East stood at the crossroads. The alliance between the old colonial powers, the landlords and big merchants which had formed the bedrock of the political order since the First World War, was in terminal decline. Rising social forces such as the nascent working class and an educated urban lower middle class were impatient for political and social change. Social justice, national liberation and democracy were the watchwords of their struggles – slogans which would be picked up again in the streets of Tunis, Cairo, Damascus and Sana’a in 2011.

Writing the book in snatched moments as he whiled away time in hiding from the police, Cliff was optimistic that Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution could be applied to the Middle East. The development of the workers’ movement in Egypt was central to his analysis. ‘The rise of an independent proletarian power’ there was a pivotal development for the whole region, he believed. After the book was completed, an explosion of strikes and protests against the British military occupation of Egypt in early 1946 sent him hurrying to update the manuscript to take account of these new developments.

Both the book and the revolution in the Middle East remained unfinished. Cliff moved to Britain in 1946, taking the precious manuscript with him. And although his prediction that a revolutionary wave would engulf the region was proved right, with Egypt, Syria and Iraq shaken by repeated popular uprisings, the outcome was not the one he hoped to see. Army officers in Egypt and Iraq seized power on the back of the struggles from below, but were able to deflect the revolution onto a track of state-capitalist economic development and crush independent workers’ organisations, a process Cliff would explore in his later writings.

Although Cliff’s hopes for socialist revolution in the Middle East in the forties were dashed, sixty years later, The Problem of the Middle East, still raises urgent questions for today’s revolutionaries.

Anne Alexander

[For an image of Cliff's 1946 pamphlet The Middle East at the Crossroads - see here]

CFP: Oral History and Working Class History

Call for Papers


Dec.1, 2011 - Abstracts (one to two pages) and CVs

April 1, 2012 - Complete papers

Working Lives: Special Issue on Oral History and Working-Class History

Since the 1960s, if not before, labour and working-class history has been closely connected to the practice of oral history. Working-class historians were at the forefront of developments in oral history, often using this method as a means of recuperating the history of those who were less likely to leave archival and written sources. They created written histories, archival collections, museum exhibits and community projects that gave workers, their families and their communities a new voice, and a new place in history. Writing on working-class oral history has also encompassed far more than recovery projects; scholars have enriched the field of oral history by addressing questions about method, theory and approach, by offering critical reflections on our assumptions and expectations about oral history practice. Oral history has similarly enriched the field of working class history, posing new questions, challenging existing interpretations, and diversifying the themes and subjects we study

The Oral History Forum d’histoire orale is currently seeking contributions that engage with oral history and working-class history, broadly defined. This special issue will explore questions of method, theory, approach, and examine the ways in which oral history offers a unique perspective and insights into working class history. University researchers, community organizers, educators, oral historians, public historians, and others who are working in this field are invited to submit theoretical and methodological papers, as well as empirically-based essays based on original research, reviews (books, new media, exhibitions, films, theatrical productions), and discussions for this special edition of the journal. Topics might include (but are not limited to) paid work, unpaid labour, the labour movement, politics, working-class communities and culture, the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, religion, and class, immigrant and migrant communities, unemployment and poverty, and state interventions in working-class lives. All article submissions will be subject to the normal peer review process of the journal.

The Oral History Forum d’histoire orale is the online journal of the Canadian Oral History Association which serves as the online meeting place for scholars, community activists, librarians, archivists, and others who use oral history to explore the past. Through this open-access collection we hope to generate discussion on this important theme and provide a valuable resource for people interested in the study of oral history and working-class history, whether in the classroom or in their own research. Articles will be published as soon as they are ready, ensuring a quick turn around time for early submissions, and the collection will be launched in 2012.

Please send queries and submissions to:

Joan Sangster and Janis Thiessen and

Guest Editors, Oral History Forum d’histoire orale

University of Winnipeg

515 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 2E9