Monday, 10 December 2012

Appeal for Rosa Luxemburg Collected Works

Dear Friends,
We are writing to ask you to assist us in the effort to publish the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, which will bring the contributions of one of the most creative thinkers and activists of modern radicalism alive for our times.
The 14-volume Complete Works will contain everything Luxemburg ever wrote—all of her books, essays, pamphlets, essays, articles, letters, and manuscripts. Most of these writings—as much as 80 per cent—have never before appeared in English, and some will be published for the first time anywhere. New English translations will be provided for her works that have been published previously.
The project is being published by Verso Books with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLS) in Berlin. Although the RLS has provided important assistance, it cannot provide the full cost of translation and editing. We are therefore appealing to you to help us obtain additional funding to bring this project to fruition.
We urgently need $30,000 to fund the next volume in the series (so far we have raised $19,000 towards that goal). Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the newly-established Toledo Translation Fund—named after the twelfth- and thirteenth- century school of translators renowned for its translations from Arabic, Greek and Hebrew texts that helped pave the way for the Renaissance. All funds sent to the Toledo Fund for this project will be exclusively used to cover the cost of translating and publishing The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg.
We have so far issued (in 2011) a companion volume, The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, which is the most comprehensive English-language collection of her letters ever published. It received widespread acclaim in such publications as The London Review of BooksThe NationAtlantic MonthlyThe Guardian, and Book Forum. In early 2012 the first volme of the Complete Works will appear, entitled Economic Writings I. It will contain the first full English translation of one of her most important books, Introduction to Political Economy, as well as eight recently discovered manuscripts on the history of ancient, medieval, and early modern societies, Marx’s Capital, and the causes and consequences of capitalist crises.
You can make a contribution by going directly to and filling out the online form for donations to The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg. Your help will be deeply appreciated!
If you are not in the position to contribute financially, we hope you can still collaborate in the project by working on translation, editing, and helping to publicize the forthcoming volumes in the series. We also hope that you can forward this message to others who may be interested in the project.
Sincerely Yours,
Peter Hudis, General Editor, The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg
Paul Le Blanc, Editorial Board, the Complete Works
Susan Weissman, Editorial Board, the Complete Works
William Pelz, Editorial Board, the Complete Works
Axel Fair-Schulz, Editorial Board, the Complete Works
Lea Haro, Editorial Board, the Complete Works

Sunday, 9 December 2012

CLR James Legacy Project update

2013 looks set to be an exciting year for admirers of the Trinidadian Marxist historian and activist CLR James, with not only the first publication of his 1934 play about the Haitian Revolution - Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History out soon - and a collection of his writings on state capitalism also forthcoming in the new year - but also a number of conferences and events in the UK at least to pay tribute to his wider life and work.  A sense of this can be seen in the following update from Andrea  from the CLR James Legacy Project:

 It’s been a while since we have been in touch but we wanted to update you on what has been happening with the C.L.R. James Legacy Project – and let you know about some exciting future plans.

 As part of the commitment to keep the name of C.L.R. James not just on the building but relevant we were proud to have author, broadcaster and award-winning Guardian columnist, Gary Younge  deliver the first C.L.R. James Memorial lecture. Held at the new library, the lecture can be viewed here:

So what happens next?
We are pleased to announce that the C.L.R James Legacy Project, in partnership with the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) will be hosting a conference on the Life & Legacy of C.L.R. James in London Saturday 13th April 2013. The format for the day is still to be planned and we invite anyone interested to:

- Send suggestions for presentations, papers and speakers. We already have some high profile speakers that have said they will present..more news to follow. We will also be showing films and launching some exciting new projects. We hope to document the conference by producing a book after the event. If you want to get involved then please let us know.

- Volunteer time to help organise and publicise the conference. 

- Donate and/or help raise money to help make the conference a success. We currently have no funding to put on this event but are committed to it going ahead. If you would like to donate personally or help fundraise then please get in touch.

If you think you can help in any way to make this conference the success it deserves to be then please email:

Other news…

CLR James lecture 2013 (Fighting for the black vote)
APRIL 12th - Dalston CLR James Library 18:30 to 21:00
A lecture followed by a panel discussion, looking at the impact, importance and relevance of the African/Caribbean votes in UK local and national political elections. The panel will include a representative from Operation Black Vote.

Potential Danny Glover visit
American actor, film director and political activist Danny Glover has expressed an interest in delivering a lecture on the UK about C.L.R. James. This would undoubtedly be a great event and would attract much attention. But to make the event happen would involve a lot of fund-raising and coordination. The Legacy Project does not have the capacity to drive this initiative through – but we are willing to support any individual or groups of individual that would like to try to make this happen. Do contact us if you would want to be involved in planning this.
Another conference: C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary: 50th Anniversary Conference. University of Glasgow. Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May, 2013.
Confirmed keynote speakers: Mike Brearley (former England Test captain), Wai Chee Dimock (Yale) and Robert A. Hill (UCLA and C.L.R. James's Literary Executor). For info visit:

Making a film about C.L.R. James  
We have been talking for a while now about making a film about C.L.R. James and though it is at an early stage we have had some good feedback from potential funders. If you think that you could have something valuable to input into this initiative then please contact us.

The C.L.R James Legacy Project
Web-site: If you have any relevant articles or want to write for the web-site then let us know.
Pictures of Celebrations for the new Dalston C.L.R James Library

Teaching Resources


Saturday, 8 December 2012

LSHG Spring term seminars 2013

London Socialist Historians Group

Spring term seminars 2013

All seminars are in Room G34 ground floor Institute of Historical Research Senate House University of London, Malet St London WC1 5.30pm

Mon January 21st
Sue Bruley 'Socialist Women and Women's Liberation 1968-1982: An Oral History Approach'.

Mon February 11th
Peter Dwyer 'African Struggles Today: Social Movements Since Independence' [In the Holden Room R103]

Mon February 18th
Martin Hoyles 'William Cuffay: The Life and Times of a Chartist Leader'

Sat March 2nd.
 'The Dublin Lock-Out 100th Anniversary'. John Newsinger and others. In Stewart House STB 3/6

Monday March 18th Terry Ward 'The rehabilitation of Red Daisy the Countess of Warwick'.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Present Uses of the Past

The Raphael Samuel History Centre at Queen Mary, University of London presents
‘The Present Uses of the Past’

6.00pm, Tuesday March 5th 2013, Skeel Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary, University of London Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

The past is never really past; it lives on into the present, sometimes in very controversial ways. Competing interpretations of the past are used to explain, to inspire, to exonerate, to condemn. This event looks at some of the uses made of the past in present-day life and politics.

Catherine Hall (History, UCL);
Jacqueline Rose (English, QMUL)
Bill Schwarz (English, QMUL);
Gareth Stedman Jones (History, QMUL);
Chair: Barbara Taylor ( QMUL Director, Raphael Samuel History Centre)

All Welcome. No tickets, no advance booking, just come along.
To join our mailing list, email Katy Pettit,
The Raphael Samuel History Centre was founded at the University of East London in 1995. From 2008 it was a partnership between UEL, Birkbeck College University of London, and Bishopsgate Institute. In September 2012 QMUL joined the partnership.

New publication on Clara Zetkin

Marilyn J. Boxer and John S. Partington, eds, Clara Zetkin: National and International Contexts (Socialist History Society, 2012)

Alan Woodward Interviewed by Ian Birchall

Introductory Note by Keith Flett

The obituary of Alan Woodward published in the Guardian and the interview with him by Ian Birchall below give a sense of the political history and ideas that he had. I’m adding just a brief word here about his historical activities. Alan was an enthusiastic chronicler of workers and labour movement history. I worked with him on several volumes of ‘Fragments’ which looked at workers struggles and activists in north-east London in the 1960s and 1970s. The sense here was very much a ‘hidden from history’ one.

In more recent years Alan was interested in the history of anarchist, council communist and libertarian organisations and activists and we sometimes discussed what little evidence there is for the existence of them in north-east London. The lack of evidence as we both knew does not mean that they did not actually exist and have real influence.

Alan worked with the London Socialist Historians Group over several decades. He contributed the occasional review to the Newsletter and spoke at the conference marking 50 years since the events of 1956. His contribution there became a chapter in the book 1956 and all That. He also ran for a considerable time, with others, a north-east London radical history network. Meetings were lively and enthusiastic reflecting a base of activists rather than academics. To keep such a group going for any length of time requires dedication and engagement with what the study of history can tell us about the present.
Keith Flett


I conducted this interview with Alan Woodward (1939-2012) in May 2008 as part of the research for my biography of Tony Cliff.  While the focus was on Cliff, Alan naturally talked of his own experiences, and discussed the evolution of his own political position.  I think it brings out both what he owed to the International Socialist tradition, and how he came to differ from it.  I have edited it lightly to remove hesitations, repetitions, digressions and remarks addressed to the dog, while keeping at least some of Alan’s characteristic “etcetera’s”.   I’ve pruned some of my own comments where they did not assist the flow of the argument.  A few explanatory points have been added in square brackets.

Ian Birchall

When did you first meet Cliff?

I first got involved in politics – I was on a train and I bumped into a man called Brian Lynam, who is still I understand living in West London,  having come back from being a Posadist in  Brazil or Argentina or somewhere, and from him I got involved in all sorts of activities in the South Paddington Labour Party, the CND and there was a Socialist Review readers meeting – it had people like John [Alan forgets name, maybe John Palmer or John Phillips]  and Brian Lynam and various other people and Cliff naturally came over to speak to this at some point in time. I had long conversations with in particular a man called Jim Plant who now runs a thing called Red Lion out at Stanton Abbots – he’s the British representative of the SWP or one of the old Trotskyist organisations.  In my recorded notes I have long accounts of the discussions I had with Jimmy Plant primarily and also Brian Lynam, etc. And that more or less set me into the philosophy that later became the International Socialists.

When exactly was this?

That would be from 1960, possibly 1959, onwards.   I finished National Service halfway through 1959 and then I did a teacher training course - one of these crash two-year courses at the college up there and while I was there I  was in constant contact with Brian Lynam. I used to live with him in the vacations in a flat in   Notting Hill.  I became great friends with Brian Lynam. He was the best man at my wedding in 1962. And we went on holiday in Scotland, where we slept in barns and railway trains and various things like that. I became very very close to him personally.
In terms of Cliff I invited him down to the college I was at - a teacher training college, St Mark and St John – and I was trying to get him to speak to a small socialist society that I had set up – there hadn’t been one  before and I had set it up. But in the end he came down and I met him at the gate in the King’s Road and we went in and there was a very small meeting – about four etc.  – However he spoke. I saw him to the gate – I’m not sure if we gave him any money. That was when I lived over in West London. 

How had you heard of him?

Oh he’d come over to the Socialist Review meetings. I’d heard him speak before.
Then in 1962 I got married somewhat hurriedly. And I moved over to Islington, the only place where you could find cheap accommodation at the time, and this turned out to be Tony Cliff’s territory.  I was very active in CND and I met Jim Cronin, who was also very active, who was known to Chanie [Cliff’s wife] in one capacity or another, though he denies it subsequently.  We got invited to meetings at Tony Cliff’s residence. This would be 1962 onwards to 1964. There would be people there coming from all over London. I’m not sure whether this would be before or after the IS was set up. [The Socialist Review Group became the International Socialists in 1962.]
1962 to 1964 I was there. I would go to meetings, I would take my child, in a carrycot, put him in the other room. My partner at the time Maureen would go. People like Jim Cronin would come.  There was also a guy from Solidarity for Workers Power that I knew called John Lane, who had packed up doing his degree at Cambridge and gone to work on the underground. The meetings were quite lively. They were pretty standard meetings. A bit of business, collection of money, strange as that may be to believe, and then we’d have discussion.  Cliff was not a particularly adept debater or discusser.  He was very good on the line, he knew what the line was,  but then we knew what our line was. I acted as a sort of bridge interpreter between the bulk of the people who had just been pulled in from the Labour Party, or CND or whatever,  and the official line. I’ll give you one example. There was an interesting discussion one day where the question of charity came up. So Cliff came down like this [sound of a thump]. [Alan imitates Cliff’s accent]: “Charity is no answer to anything, it’s not the way forward, we have to have  …”  So some people said if people come round collecting for a good cause and you don’t donate any money you’re seen as a bit of a tightwad, etc. [Imitates Cliff] “No, no, that’s not the answer, you have to argue with them”. So I acted as mediator saying broadly that the political perspectives were that charity was no more than a system for keeping things going, for salving people’s conscience, etc. and so on  but if individual people felt they were donating to a  particular good cause, then that was something we had to live with. Subsequently I developed this argument that if you contributed to their collection then when you went round with a strike collection the next week you could say: “I put in your money-box, etc.” I later on developed the arguments on that.
So the meetings were quite full – Chanie of course was busy buzzing around etc. I went up there one day and they had washed the cups: I thought good God what is all this about etc.?  and it turned out not only had they washed the cups they’d made the beds. It turned out a chap from Glasgow was coming down, a chap called Paul Foot. The whole place had been turned upside down. He would shoot out the door to deal with the great man Paul Foot.
I can’t remember too much about the meetings. They were at Cliff’s old house, 52, Chatterton road, and people like Stan Mills, Jean Tait, and Sidney Bidwell came over at some point in time  and a lot of time was taken up with literature but the bottom end of the  meeting was local contacts like Jim Cronin and other people from the locality that Chanie and Cliff had been very involved with.
Then I moved up to Tottenham here. Again there had been a thriving IS group. I think that met most of the time in people’s houses, it met in my house for some of the time. At that period we had a normal programme of meetings where we would invite speakers in from various organisations and then we would discuss the politics of it afterwards. Various comrades were active, mainly in the Young Socialists but I was active, if you can call it that, in the Labour party, as you were.

I remember it well.

Yes. George Page. [Wood Green LP agent.] Those were the days.
But once I’d moved up here I had not a lot of normal contact with Cliff or Chanie or any of the other members of the family.    I did have one contact with Donny Gluckstein. Jim Cronin had mended Tony Cliff’s watch and I had to get it back to him. I used to see Cliff because I was teaching at Woodberry Down. At the time I didn’t see him so I slipped the watch into Donny’s top pocket and said this is from Jim for your Dad, etc.  He was in a class. I taught backward kids basically but you were required sometimes to sit in on other classes. Donny was a student at Woodberry Down. He was in the top stream. I mainly dealt with the bottom streams. That was something I’d decided to do before I took our politics seriously and turned to the class and went to work in factories, which I did in 1966 or 1967. So I only saw Cliff and Chanie at aggregates, at all-London aggregates, and when he came to speak to the Tottenham branch. I seem to recall we had [Michael] Kidron more than Cliff.
I packed up teaching and went to work in factories from about 1966 or 1967 onwards. I was active industrially with the pamphlet for British Oxygen with the information I got from Labour Research. But I went to work in Enfield, in Brimsdown and made some progress.  I set the union up in the Enfield Rolling Mills, the staff union.   I was the staff rep and set up a staff side committee.
Because I was quite active in the industrial field and had made myself into a mini–expert in the industrial field, in the period after 1968, when the organisation was restructured in terms of the National Committee and so on, there was an industrial sub-committee set up, which met on the Sunday after the National Committee on the Saturday. Because of my experience I was made secretary of that, so what it meant was collaring the delegates who had come down for the National Committee. It met on the Sunday morning, which meant very few of them turned up, mostly pissed the night before.  This was about the time of the Tony Cliff book on productivity deals [The Employers’ Offensive].
So all that time 1968, 1969, 1970 I was quite active in sharing and doing some of the administrative work there. I didn’t work down the centre and I was in about 1971 replaced by a comrade from Kingston, one Roger Rosewell [later political adviser to Lady Shirley Porter]  who brought in some student comrades like Dave Lyddon  who were working down the centre full time. But for a time I did have this role of running the Sunday morning meetings and so on.
And about this period Duncan [Hallas] who had just been brought back into activity, had this idea that what was needed was a sort of administrative troika, which he proposed should be himself, Cliff and me – bright young things. There was an attempt to run that but I wasn’t really capable of doing that sort of work at the time, I was too much involved in industrial work.  That little administrative sub-committee never really took off, it ran for a few months I think. But it was always Duncan interpreting things, Cliff chipping in and me taking stuff down.
The long and the short of it was that by 1972 and the start of the Rank and File movement and the conference etc. I was gradually being moved out. [The first National Rank and File Conference was in March 1974.] A lot of my industrial contacts had gone – they’d been sacked from various workplaces, Keith Blackmans and all sorts of places. And I finished up labouring on building sites which was not very productive, though there some interesting discussions I had with people.  And then I finished up taking the course at Enfield College – Trade Union Studies course – the year immediately after John Phillips and various other comrades had taken it. From there I went on to Warwick University for some strange reason having done quite well in the exams. And once up there I got very involved in taking shop stewards’ courses both while I was taking the MA because I needed money urgently and after. And I persuaded the WEA organiser up there that I had done a lot of industrial tutoring; in fact I had not done a lot - some industrial tutoring but not a lot. I had done some industrial tutoring in the North London branch under the guidance of an old Communist called Eddie Hayes. We had run meetings on hazards at work and things like that so we had a little miniature education section up there so I managed to persuade the organiser up there that I’d done more; so he set up set up various courses for me in local factories including Rolls Royce and there was a bloke called Jim Sutherland, and I got full-time work in Solihull. Interestingly enough the convenor at Solihull Land Rover, whom Jim knew very well, was a man called  Joe Harris who is currently  secretary of the National Pensioners Convention.  And from then on I did a large amount of industrial work in Birmingham and political work in Coventry.
I had very little contact with Cliff. In the great dispute we had in with the Roger Kline-ites in 1975, at the time of the Right to Work Campaign [actually 1976], Roger Kline was the organiser – he’d been moved in there, he’d been on the Central Committee – he wrote that Anti-Freeze pamphlet and he organised a base around Peter Caldwell, who was WEA organiser and had a load of contacts in the factories, and there had been a putative group based around people like Paul Smith.    But a sort of political split developed about 1975. It was nominally about the Right to Work Campaign. We were active around the Right to Work Campaign and they took on responsibility for it but we found out the week the Right to Work March was due to come that they had done nothing, no work at all – no arrangements for accommodation.  So there was a long split. This involved people like shop stewards in various factories like the Massey-Ferguson where Kline himself worked and John Fisher  and Peter Binns and the Leamington group who more or less stood on the outside. A split developed between Roger Kline and his group  who probably had the majority of the IS and myself and a man called John [name inaudible] and Paul Smith of the old-stagers  and to sort that out they sent Jim Nichol up and the Kline-ites ultimately resigned. Their argument was that the rank and file needed to be “independent”. Which in its historical perspective meant independent of the trade-union structure. They thought it should be independent of political organisation. So Kline became a [trade union] full-timer and worked in Birmingham. I was extremely busy with industrial work, I was deputy in charge at Solihull College.   And I didn’t have much time after the Kline split for work within the IS. So my contact with Cliff would have been pretty  minimal – sometimes I didn’t even get to meet him.

Any other recollections, rows you had with Cliff etc.?

I remember one day it was one of the early newspapers we had, I think it was Labour Worker where there was an article by a man called Sidney Bedwell.  I said to Cliff “that’s you under another name isn’t it?” . But [Alan imitates Cliff’s accent] “there is a man called Sidney Bidwell” [later Labour MP] – a railway person. He went on to work for the National Council of Labour Colleges. But I was gently taking the mick out of him, but he wasn’t having any. And he went on to tell me that the article made “very good sense”. That’s just something that sticks in my mind.
Over the years I would see Cliff and Cliff would always acknowledge me, and my partner as well even though she had dropped out of politics in the course of the 1970s and we split up eventually in 1979. Cliff always remembered her name which surprised me a little bit.
My political differences with the group developed over a period of time. I remember you commenting later on that I didn’t believe in the party.

Did I say that? I can’t imagine me saying that.

And I pointed out that I did believe in the party, but not the party that you believed in.
And my position now is that I do believe in the party, but not the party that the SWP believes in. And I disagree with the anarchists who don’t believe in any party.
My differences with the party developed over a time. But I got more and more involved in political activity on the industrial front, I became active in NATFHE. I did run a bookshop when the IS closed down all its bookshops. I took over the Coventry bookshop for a while. And then I bought the shop myself in the late seventies. But I was never centrally involved in any of the major arguments from then onwards. My position on the role of the party, and its increasing dominance was largely unstated. 

There clearly was a shift in Cliff’s position in 1968 when he started talking much more about the need for the party.

My own position was that the party that I was in was first class.  I don’t know if you remember but up here when we did that tenants’ activity [campaign against council rent rises in 1967] we thought about standing candidates and we wrote to the Working Committee [the leading body of IS before 1968] asking should we participate in the standing of tenants’ candidates and we got a letter back saying “Do what you like mate” basically. I’ve still got the letter somewhere. 
After 1968 that wouldn’t have happened.  At the time the party was OK, the politics were absolutely brilliant. People like Kidron were very persuasive.  John Phillips was persuasive as well. And I was basically convinced of the politics of the organisation. But I think after 1968 when you and Cliff wrote that little booklet on France etc. [France: The Struggle Goes On] which I discovered subsequently was quite heavily criticised by people like Solidarity for Workers Power. Akiva Orr wrote a long critique of it. There was a document done – “Akiva Orr writes”. The politics shifted the organisation. There was a long debate. You were in Enfield, I was in Tottenham here. We had a large number of students living in the area from the LSE – Laurie Flynn, Martin Shaw, Mike Millotte, Morgan O’Brien, etc. and they persuaded the branch mainly through nobbling people like Mel Norris who was quite close to Jim Nichol at the time that they should go for the centralised party option rather than the existing form of the organisation which was characterised as federal. I thought that was perfectly OK.   Subsequently I met Laurie Flynn and he said: “You were right in 1968, Alan”. There you go – it’s all water under the bridge now.
That did lead to some sort of split ideologically. My own position was that by this time I was dropping more and more out of things By 1972 I was on this course up at Enfield and by 1973 I was in Warwick. I’d moved out then anyway. I moved into Coventry and found myself an upholder of party organisation, which was a strange position for me to be in. The Kline-ites seemed to me to be out and out reformists. So it’s rather strange that the SWP supported him in the UCU election last year. There was a rank and file candidate who was a bit libertarian but he was better than Kline who’d been a full-time official for thirty years. And as people have pointed out if Kline and the SWP had supported the other guy he would have won.
However I opposed the Kline position and it was a very nasty fight. My position was that I accepted the basic theory of the SWP but that I wasn’t terribly involved in the organisation. I was living in Birmingham and working in Coventry, so I had links with both branches. Sheila Macgregor was the organiser in Birmingham, and there were shop stewards, I was living in Coventry. So that further alienated me from a close concern with the politics of the organisation. The SWP went its way and I went mine, more or less. And the two were growing apart. 

So looking back on Cliff, how do see his contribution? Was it positive or negative?

I think Cliff’s capacity to build an organisation was absolutely magnificent. I mean the IS organisation of pre 1968 or pre 1977 was grand. We did the job. We took initiatives like the tenants and there was the leafleting round British Oxygen.  It was all functioning very very well. I was quite satisfied with it. But Cliff’s perspectives – aided by yourself I think, that the need was now for a centralised Bolshevik-type Leninist party, which I think had been not very far from the front of Cliff’s mind all along, I don’t think the French event was any sudden charismatic event etc. Cliff had his perspective of building a Leninist party all along and the French events provided a pretext for announcing it.
Cliff was very astute and he knew what he was doing. He handled people very well but as time developed he began to be obsessive and he began to dominate and began to insist on his own perspective more or less at any price. And the politics of the eighties did lose lots of members. Many of whom went out of politics, like John Phillips and our brother [Jim] Higgins in 1976. There was quite a high toll of people who left. Curiously enough our local Radical History group has some ex-IS people. There are quite a lot of ex Solidarity for Workers Power people too. There’s Terry Burton, who I met in my National Service, who became an IS member. There was Dave Black – he’s a Hobgoblin [a journal based on the ideas of Raya Dunayevskaya] now. He and a bloke called George Shaw are the British Dunayevskaya organisation. 

I’ve been trying to find out if Cliff ever met Dunayevskaya.

I have a copy of Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom, dedicated to George Stone. I don’t know who George Stone was. I think her contacts were with the ILP. [Ray] Challinor became quite bitter about the IS and then he was quite ill for a long time. He had a stroke. I wanted to contact him some time ago but he was too ill. When I knew Stan Newens [later Labour MP/MEP] he was Chanie’s protégé.  I saw him a few years ago. He was secretary of the group at one time.

Anything else on Cliff?

My final view on Cliff, Cliff built the party and I suppose that also gives him the right to destroy it etc..
And I wonder what he’d think about current events. [Presumably a reference to the recent split in Respect.] I’ll leave it at that.

International conference on Rosa Luxemburg

International Rosa Luxemburg Society

Circular – Early December 2012

« Democracy and Revolution in the work of
Rosa Luxemburg »

International Conference
4-5 October 2013
Paris, Sorbonne, l’amphithéâtre Lefebvre

One of the most important contributions of Rosa Luxemburg to modern Marxist thought is her refusal to separate the concepts of “democracy” and “revolution”. This approach is developed in a) her criticism of the limits of bourgeois democracy, b) her conception of the revolutionary struggle as democratic self-emancipation of the great masses, c) her vision of socialist democracy with the workers’ councils’ system as a possible form of “dictatorship of the proletariat”, and d) her firm insistence - in discussion with Russian revolutionaries - on the importance of democratic freedoms in the transition towards socialism.
We will deal with the question of democracy in her writings on Marxism, on political economy and on the national question (self-administration and national autonomy as democratic solutions).
These are issues that remain relevant at the beginning of the 21 Century. The aim of the Conference will be not only to analyze the historical aspects and the texts themselves,  but also  the political significance of these issues,  in an epoch that sees a crisis of democracy within the context of crisis in capitalist civilization.
          Co-organizers/sponsors: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin,  Transform Network,  Espaces Marx,  Foundation Louise Michel, the journals  Actuel Marx and Contretemps,  Agone Publishing House,  Smolny Collective,  and others.
Conference Languages: French and English with simultaneous translation
In general the participants have to carry the costs for travel and accommodation themselves. We are trying some fund raising actions to give financial support for travel and accommodation costs to those who need it. But actually we cannot tell whether a financial support will be possible. 
The number of speakers is quite limited (20) due to the one room venue with simultaneous translation. Therefore it might be possible that we are not able to accept all demands for registration of papers. But of cause everybody is welcome as conference participant whether with or without presenting a paper. 
Please send your request for registration or the proposal for your paper to:
Prof. Dr. Michael Löwy                Dr. Elisabeth Gauthier         
Prof. Dr. Narihiko ITO                  Ottokar Luban                    


Our special thanks go to the Paris committee with Michael Löwy (chair), Elisabeth Gauthier, Jean-Numa Ducange, Claudie Weill, Aleksander Jousselin, Dominique Crozat, Claude Saligny, David Muhlman, Jacqueline Bois, and Eric Sevault who are preparing the conference since late 2011.

Prof. Dr. Narihiko ITO                   Ottokar Luban   

Monday, 3 December 2012

1913 Dublin Lockout Centenary events

Struggle, Solidarity and Defeat:
1913 Dublin Lockout Centenary Conference
Saturday 19 October 2013
 Old Fire Station, The Crescent, University of Salford, Salford M5 4WT
 (next to the Salford Working Class Movement Library)
Organised by the University of Salford and Salford Working Class Movement Library sponsored by the Society for the Study of Labour History, Irish Labour History Society, North West Labour History Society, Historical Studies in Industrial Relations journal and North West Trades Union Congress (TUC)

9.45am-10.30am: Registration and Coffee
10.30am- 10.45am:Welcome and Introduction

10.45am-11.45am: The Dublin Lockout

Speaker: PadraigYeates, former IrishTimes industry and

employment correspondent; author of Lockout: Dublin 1913;
projectmanager of the Irish 1913 Committee

11.45am-12.45pm: The IrishTransport andGeneralWorkersUnion

Speaker: Francy Devine, author of Organising History: A Centenary
of SIPTU; 1909-2009, former President of Irish Labour History

Society and editor of journal Saothar; ex-tutor in the SIPTU

Education andTraining Department

12.45pm-2.00pm: Lunch,Music and Exhibition Display

2.00pm-3.00pm: JimLarkin

Speaker: EmmetO’Connor, senior lecturer in History,Magee

College, University of Ulster; author of James Larkin and

Syndicalism in Ireland

3.00pm-4.00pm: Solidarity and Defeat

Speaker: Ralph Darlington, Professor of Employment Relations,

University of Salford; author of The PoliticalTrajectory of J.T. Murphy

and Syndicalism and theTransition to Communism: An International

Comparative Analysis

Conference Registration:

£15 waged and £5 unwaged, with lunch provided

£5 donation requested

To reserve your place in advance please email

Edited to add: The LSHG will also be organising a one-day conference to mark the centenary on 2 March 2013 at the Institute of Historical Research in London with speakers including John Newsinger - for more details contact Keith Flett. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

African Americans in Britain 1850-1865

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, in conjunction with the Black & Asian Studies Association

Black and Asian Britain seminars

Senate House, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1 
6 to 7.30 pm,
Everyone is welcome. You do not have to pre-book/register.

4 December (room 261, second floor)

Jeff Green  

African Americans in Britain 1850-1865
A wide-ranging summary of the Black American presence with details and evidence to support the view that escaped or "fugitive" slaves were just one aspect of British history in those years.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Next LSHG seminar

Dear Comrade
The next seminar in the socialist history series at the Institute of Historical Research is on Monday 26th November.
Beer writer Pete Brown brings a new take on the controversial subject of the tavern drinking school of social history with a discussion on the research for his new book Shakespeare's Local about the George pub in Borough.
The seminar is at 5.30pm in the Gordon Room [G34] ground floor Senate House, Malet St WC1.
I hope to see you there.
A reminder in addition that the deadline for contributions to the next issue of the London Socialist Historians newsletter is December 1st. All contributions, complaints etc gratefully received.
keith Flett

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Caribbean Workers Struggles Book Launch

You are invited to come and celebrate with 

Richard Hart
founding member and Honorary President of Caribbean Labour Solidarity 
and member of the Socialist History Society

the launch of his new book

published by Bogle-L'Ouverture Press with the Socialist History Society

Thursday, 6 December 2012
Bishopsgate Institute,
230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH
(nearest tube Liverpool Street or check this link for map and details of how to get there:

 If you can't make it, you may want to send a message to Dick Hart c/o Caribbean Labour Solidarity:

Monday, 19 November 2012

Today in Labour History

 From Edd Mustill:
Dear Keith,

I am working at, a news service and campaigning website for trade unionists. We are currently starting to build a 'Today in Labour History' calendar that people and union branches can add as a widget to their website. We want as many people as possible to be involved in the project in order to give it as much detail and flavour as we can. As an internationalist website, we are looking at adding dates of strikes, protests, congresses, and so on from all over the world. It would also be good to have some lesser known local disputes covered as well.

Would you or anyone involved in the LSHG be interested in sending in any dates and descriptions of things they think should definitely be included in such a calendar? All we need is a date, very brief desciption of the event, and if possible a link to more information.

People can send any ideas over to me at

I'd be grateful if you could forward this out to your email lists, and/or put out the call on your blog.


Edd Mustill

Friday, 16 November 2012

Jairus Banaji Deutscher Memorial Prize Lecture online

Delivered at the recent London Historical Materialism conference 

Lenin Plaque Unveiling

The Marchmont Association  unveiling of a commemorative plaque to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin on Friday 30th November 2012 from 2.30pm at 36 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9RE.
Lenin stayed at this address (formerly numbered 21) in 1908 whilst reading at the British Museum and writing 'Materialism and Empiriocriticism'.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Eric Hobsbawm - A Tribute

Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) – A Tribute

Saturday 8th December

University of Brighton
10-11 Pavilion Parade
Brighton BN2 1RA
“Human beings are not efficiently designed for a capitalist system of production.”
Age of Extremes (1994), p.414

“The imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people.”
Nations and Nationalism Since 1780 (1990), p.143

Bandits, Rebels and Resistance * Marx and the Historical Imaginary * Jazz and the Sounds of the Subaltern * History in Theory and Theory in History * Culture, Biography and Politics * Socialism, Communism and Labour History * Industry, Empire and Revolution * Long and Short Centuries * Education, Activism and the Academy

Alex Callinicos, Mark Perryman, Eileen Yeo, Stuart Laing, Patricia McManus, Louise Purbrick, Paddy Maguire, Mark Erickson, Tom Hickey, Lucy Robinson, Mark Abel

 This one-day symposium is dedicated to the work and the life of Eric Hobsbawm as a tribute from some of the many who have benefited from his insights and collegiality, in their work as historians and as activists for a better world. It is hosted by the ‘Politics, Aesthetics, Philosophy’ group in the School of Humanities at the University of Brighton. Admission is free but places can be booked in advance via

Conference: The Philosophy of Walter Benjamin


Two-Day Conference, Friday December 14 & Saturday, December 15 2012
Goldsmiths College, University of London (Ben Pimlott Building, Lecture Theatre)
INC – Goldsmiths Continental Philosophy Research Group

The work of the German-Jewish critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin
(1892-1940) spans a vast array of themes, ranging from the metaphysics
of youth to the Paris arcades. His writings on Goethe and Scheerbart;
Kafka and Baudelaire, as well as his work on the relationship between
art and technology continue to fascinate and polarize in equal
measure. His singular intersection of Marxian and Jewish thought is
amply evidenced in the extensive correspondence with Ernst Bloch,
Theodor Adorno, Bertold Brecht and Hannah Arendt, amongst others.
Undoubtedly it is the sheer breadth of Benjamin's interests that
accounts for the enduring concern with his often fragmentary work
across academic disciplines. That is to say, Benjamin is no longer a
stranger at the Academy. Nevertheless, a central aspect of Benjamin's
work is all-too-often overlooked when his aesthetic and literary works
are treated in isolation. The manifest content of Benjamin's writing
is never merely incidental: rather, it is shot through with a
burgeoning philosophical project – from the 'Programme of the Coming
Philosophy' (1917) to the 'Theses on the Concept of History' (1940).
In this regard it appears that recent anniversary of Benjamin's birth
in 1892 warrants a re-appraisal of this legacy by asking the question:
how can the various strands of Benjamin's work be engaged to
illuminate the unfolding of his philosophical position, and – vice
versa – how does Benjamin's philosophy illuminate other aspects of his
thought? This conference aims, then – on the one hand – to explore
Benjamin's thought in relation to the various philosophical traditions
that inform his project (Leibniz, Kant, Schlegel, Lukács etc.), and –
on the other hand – to ask how these influences continue to operate
between the lines even where Benjamin is not explicitly concerned with
the philosophical canon? In short: how are we to understand the
philosophy of Walter Benjamin?




Day One: Friday, 14 Dec

10:00 - 10:45, Howard Caygill (CRMEP, Kingston) 'Keynote Address'
10:45 - 11:30, Paula Schwebel (Potsdam) 'Benjamin's Monadology: From
Idealism to Historical Materialism'
11:30 - 12:15, Blair Ogden (Oxford) 'Walter Benjamin's Philosophical
Conception of Happiness'
12:15 - 13:00, Jonathan Gray (Royal Holloway) 'Hamann and Benjamin on
the Concept of Experience'
13:00 - 14:00, LUNCH
14:00 - 14:45, Djordje Popovic (Minnesota) 'Theology of Hell:
Continuity of Thought in Walter Benjamin'
14:45 - 15:30, John Merrick (CRMEP, Kingston) 'Benjamin's Non-Hegelian
15:30 - 16:15, Jan Urbich (Jena/Weimar) 'Under Cover: Hegel's Logic in
Walter Benjamin's Epistemo-Critical Preface'
16:15 - 16:45, COFFEE BREAK
16:45 - 17:30, Elise Derroitte (KU Leuven) 'The Critic is the New
'Philosopher of the Spirit'. Comparing Benjamin and Fichte's
Conceptions of Critique'
17:30 - 18:15, Sami Khatib (FU Berlin/Jan Van Eyck) 'Teleology Without
End - Walter Benjamin's Methodological Nihilism'
18:15 - 19:00, Scott Ritner (New School) 'The God of Negation - Divine
Intervention in the Thought of Walter Benjamin, Georges Bataille and
Simone Weil'

Day Two: Saturday, 15 Dec

10:00 - 10:45, Lea Barbisan (Paris, Sorbonne) 'Körper - Leib -
Gestalt: Benjamin's Phenomenology of the Body'
10:45 - 11:30, Lucie Mercier (CRMEP, Kingston) 'Walter Benjamin on
Translation: a Strategic Hermeneutics of History?'
11:30 - 12:15, Hanping Chiu (Tamkang, Taipei) 'Translation as
Expression: Reinventing Benjamin's Language Philosophy'
12:15 - 13:00, Florian Telsnig (Vienna) 'The Monadological Tendency in
Benjamin's Philosophy of the Name'
13:00 - 14:00, LUNCH
14:00 - 14:45, Leena Petersen (Sussex) 'Poetics of the Space in-Between'
14:45 - 15:30, Phil Homburg (Sussex) 'Symbol, Sign and Fetish: Walter
Benjamin and the Post-Kantian Concept of the Symbol'
15:30 - 16:15, Maria Andrade (Universidad de los Andes) 'Exiled
Between Romantic Absolute and Baroque Allegory'
16:15 - 16:45, COFFEE BREAK
16:45 - 17:30, Ben Noys (Chichester) 'Emergency Brake: Benjamin and
the Critique of Accelerationism'
17:30 - 18:15, Tom Allen (Independent) 'Fixed Manifestations:
Benjamin, Blanqui and the Caption of History'
18:15 - 19:00, Christian Garland (FU Berlin) 'Redeeming the Past in
the Present: Benjamin's Messianic Materialist Philosophy of History'