Monday, 27 January 2020

The Socialist History Network (1999)

The Socialist History Network
Written By: Keith Flett and John Walker
Date: April 1999
Published In LSHG Newsletter Issue 6: summer 1999 

The London Socialist Historians Group is proposing the formation of a socialist historians’ network covering the whole of Britain.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, with the decision of the Northern Marxist Historians to stop meeting as an organised group we felt it important that the substantial number of people on their mailing list were kept informed of what was happening. Secondly, because it remains the case that lots of right-wing, and sometimes not so right-wing people are happy to claim that socialist and marxist history is dead, that no one does this stuff anymore and so on. A founder member of the LSHG, Peter Alexander, who is alive and well and teaching at a South African University, was recently able to confound an academic who claimed that there were no marxist historians left in Britain, by pointing him in the direction of the LSHG Web site.

So what is proposed? At least initially, something very modest. We are not planning any grandiose manifestos or mission statements, no committees or meetings. We are not into organisation for organisations sake. What we want to do is simply to establish where there are individuals or groups interested in socialist history and make sure that they get to hear about what is happening around the country. We want to do all we can to encourage participation in events and research by socialist historians.

We have made some contacts in Wales, we have the Northern Marxists mailing list, we are in touch with groups in the West Midlands and Portsmouth. We are of course already in touch with the History Workshop, the Socialist History Society and the Comparative Labour Seminar held at the Institute of Historical Research in London. We hope to develop contacts with the journal Revolutionary History and in Scotland shortly.

What this means immediately in practice is that we intend to include more material about activities and meetings outside London in the newsletter. To some extent, this is merely an extension of what is already occurring. There are already a number of people outside London who receive the newsletter, and the newsletter regularly advertises events held outside the London area. The plan is merely to consciously develop this trend.

This provides opportunities for socialist historians in those areas where no group already exists. In much of the country it is not possible to run seminars on the same regular basis as the LSHG does. But the existence of a socialist historians’ network will provide continuity to one-off events or irregular seminars. A series of occasional events under the name of a single umbrella will provide an impetus that the events would not be able to achieve singly. It will therefore help make these sorts of initiatives more effective.

Formally, this is still at the stage of a proposal. We would therefore like to hear what others think of the idea. And we would particularly like to hear from you if you have practical ideas on how the network could work.

In the meantime, the LSHG is committed to helping extend the influence of socialist history. Therefore, we are actively soliciting reports of work in progress, announcement of events, etc from those outside London for inclusion in the newsletter. So if you have something you want to communicate with other socialist historians, whether you live inside or outside the M25, please send it in.

No comments:

Post a comment