Sunday, 26 January 2014

The 1960s and the New Left

The 1960s and the New Left
Saturday 1 February 1:00pm – 6pm
Room B35, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, WC1E 7HX
Entrance: £3/£5 donation
hosted by Socialist Resistance


PENELOPE DUGGAN, Fellow of the Amsterdam IIRE, editor of International Viewpoint, and member of the NPA.

DAVE RENTON, Barrister and historian of IS & SWP; blogs at

ERNIE TATE, author of Revolutionary Activism in the Fifties and Sixties in Canada and Britain and a supporter of the Fourth International.

JANE SHALLICE, a member of VSC and CAST (the Cartoon Archetypical Slogan Theatre), joined the IMG in 1968 until 1972. NUT activist, a member of Stop the War from 2001.

IAN BIRCHALL, Marxist historian and translator. Author of ‘Tony Cliff: A Marxist for his time’ and numerous other works. Member of Revolutionary History Editorial Board and of London Socialist Historians Group. Member of IS and SWP for nearly 50 years, recently resigned.

ALAN THORNETT, Trade union and workers’ leader in the car industry for 25 years, and author of ‘Militant Years – Car Workers Struggles in Britain in the 60s and 70s’. Member of Communist Party and Socialist Labour League (SLL) in the 1960s. Currently a member of Socialist Resistance and of the International Committee of the FI..

The 1960s saw a rising tide of working class mobilisations and youth and student radicalisation. The high point was a month-long general strike in France in 1968. There were also militant and mass mobilisations shaking the system in Prague, Rome, Berlin, London, Mexico and elsewhere. In Britain, the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign mobilised up to 200,000 against the war. In France, revolutionaries saw the events as the “dress rehearsal” of a revolution. How close was France to a revolutionary situation when the rulers can no longer govern as before, and people are no longer willing to be ruled as before? A “second wave” of feminism spread from the early 1960s, with a strong socialist component which argued that there could be no women’s liberation without socialism and no socialism without women’s liberation. It played a major part in defending abortion rights and winning a law for equal pay. What remains of 1968? This major event of the class struggle profoundly changed society and the left. It is one of the key dates of the re-composition of the European workers’ movement at the end of the 20th century. New revolutionary Marxist currents, such as the IMG and IS in Britain, developed into significant players. There is still a strong anti-war movement in Britain. And feminism is re-energised as austerity is challenging all the gains that women have won. Participants and historians of the events of 1968 will present their views for a discussion about the period and the challenges faced by the new Marxist Left.

ERNIE TATE will be launching his book about the period Revolutionary Activism in the Fifties and Sixties in Canada and Britain. Ernie was a leading member of the VSC and the IMG. He worked with Bertrand Russell in the Russell Tribunal set up to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.

Bookings here:

Friday, 10 January 2014

In Quest of a Fairer Society

Readers might be interested to know that the veteran socialist and former Labour MEP Stan Newens has recently published his autobiography - In Quest of a Fairer Society: My Life and Politics

Thursday, 9 January 2014

No Glory - Scrap the New Kitchener £2 Coin

There's a new petition taking off on, and we think you might be interested in signing it:  

Royal Mint: Replace the Kitchener £2 coin with one that truly commemorates the millions who died in the first world war

By Symon Hill
The Royal Mint has chosen to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war with a £2 coin featuring Horatio Kitchener (the Secretary for War in 1914) and his recruiting slogan "Your country needs you".
The coin does nothing to commeorate the millions of people who died in the war, or the millions more who were wounded, traumatised, displaced, impoverished, imprisoned or bereaved. Instead, the coin glorifies war by featuring the message of Kitchener, who as both a general and a politician played a key role in policies that contributed to a senseless waste of life. Kitchener was complicit in atrocities in Sudan and South Africa prior to world war one, including the Omdurman massacre of 1898.
The coin has already been criticised by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (England). Other groups, both religious and secular, are likely to add their voices soon.
We can mark the 100th anniversary of the first world war by remembering the dead and working to prevent war. We call on the Royal Mint to withdraw this coin design and replace it with one that truly commemorates those who died and suffered in the first world war.

Conference: Workers' Internationalism before 1914

"Workers' Internationalism before 1914", at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, February 15-16, 2014. It marks the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the International Working Men's Association (1864), and the 125th of the Socialist International (1889). Attendance is free, but registration is required. To register, contact Francis King at

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Upcoming book launches at Bookmarks

Booklaunches at Bookmarks Bookshop 1 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3QE

Land and Labour: Marxism, Ecology and Human History
Friday 24 January at 6.30pm
With Martin Empson

Martin Empson draws on a Marxist understanding of history to grapple with the contradictory potential of our relationship with our environment. In so doing he shows that human action is key, both to the destruction of nature and to the possibility of a sustainable solution to the ecological crises of the 21st century.

"This superb book examines humanity‘s dynamic relationships with nature − from the dawn of civilisation to modern times − with a view to better understanding the social roots of today"s environmental crises. Engaging, comprehensive and very well-written, it"s an important contribution to the field of Marxist ecology."
− Simon Butler, co-author Too Many People

"Martin Empson puts today‘s global environmental crisis into historical context, showing how humanity has used and abused the rest of nature for thousands of years, and how in a few hundred years capitalism has brought us to the brink of disaster. It is essential reading for everyone who wants to know how we got into this mess − and how we can get out of it."
− Ian Angus, editor Climate and Capitalism

Admission £2, refundable on any purchase. Call 020 7637 1848 to reserve your place.

Mariner, Renegade and Castaway: Chris Braithwaite
Tuesday 18 February, 6.30pm
With Christian Hogsbjerg

Chris Braithwaite (aka "Chris Jones") was a black Barbadian seaman who became a leading organiser of colonial seamen in inter-war Britain. He played a critical role in the Pan-Africanist and wider anti-colonial movement alongside figures such as C L R James and George Padmore. Christian Hogsbjerg recovers this long overlooked life of a black radical and political trade unionist, and suggests his determined struggle for working class unity in the face of racism and austerity retains relevance for us today.

'Christian Høgsbjerg's "biography from below" of West Indian seaman Chris Braithwaite opens a portal onto an dynamic Black and Red Atlantic world of work and politics. Here is an excellent contribution to a "people's history of the sea."'
- Marcus Rediker

"Through his scrupulous research of the compelling life and times of Chris Braithwaite, Christian Høgsbjerg has uncovered the vital contribution of a pioneering black activist and anti-colonial stalwart. Braithwaite's brave achievement should be on the curriculum of all our schools."
- Chris Searle, Race & Class

Admission £2, refundable on any purchase. Call 020 7637 1848 to reserve your place.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

LSHG conference on 1914-1919: Imperial War to Class War

London Socialist Historians Group Conference
1914-1919: Imperial War to Class War; Institute of Historical Research
25th January 2014
From Midday in the Woburn Suite, IHR, Senate House, Malet St WC1

2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Already well over one hundred books on the subject have been published. A voice that is largely absent however is that of the left. Of those who opposed the war, went on strike during it, and deserted from the army during the course of it
The labour movement internationally supported the First World War but a minority across a range of viewpoints from Keir Hardie to Lenin refused to go along with their Governments’ warmongering.
The war was to lead to death on an industrial scale and eventually revolution in Russia and Germany.
The Coalition Government plans to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war but not celebrate it as a victory. Many on the right however are demanding that it should be celebrated as such.
This conference will seek to take an alternative look at a range of aspects of World War One from those who opposed it, to the workers movements which developed during it and after it and the harsh and deathly realities of the ‘war to end all wars’

Speakers include:
Ian Birchall
Neil Faulker
George Paizis
Megan Trudell
Terry Ward

Registration in advance is encouraged. Please mail conference organiser Keith Flett:

The conference is free but small donations towards the cost of organising the event will be appreciated.

Details of upcoming Spring term seminars of the LSHG can be found here

Edited to add: Report of the conference

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Call for Participation: Unofficial Histories 2014

Unofficial Histories 2014
Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 June 2014- Huddersfield, UK
 A public conference to discuss how society produces, presents, and consumes history beyond official and elite versions of the past.
 -Call for Participation- 
The Unofficial Histories conference seeks to bring together those who wish to consider the value and purpose of historical engagements and understandings that take place within, on the edges of, or outside “official” sites that produce and transmit historical knowledge and ideas. The third annual Unofficial Histories conference will take place in Huddersfield over two days:
 ■Saturday 7 June 2014 will be a day of papers, presentations and debate at University of Huddersfield, Queensgate, Huddersfield.
■Sunday 8 June 2014 will be a relaxed day of informal activities in Huddersfield exploring the theme of ’Unofficial Histories’.
We now invite presentation proposals for the meeting on Saturday 7th June 2014 to be held at University of Huddersfield. Taking its cue from the assumption that history is, as Raphael Samuel put it, “a social form of knowledge; the work, in any given instance of a thousand different hands”, the conference aims to open up to examination the ways in which historians, curators, writers, journalists, artists, archivists, geographers, film makers, musicians, playwrights, activists, enthusiasts and others, produce and present the past in the public realm, popular culture and in everyday life. How is this history produced, transmitted and consumed? Who is producing and consuming it, and why? What subjects, ideas and themes are presented? What styles and mediums are used? We hope to sharpen the awareness of the different sites and forms of historical production and consider how they impact public perceptions and consciousness of history. We hope to explore the interactions between competing and corresponding impulses in history-making: the scholarly and the political; the academic and the everyday; the imperatives of funding, sustainability, ethics and access. Finally, we would like to consider whether such “unofficial histories” have political effects that might serve democratic and emancipatory goals, and if and how they can be seen as sources of dissent and resistance against conventional, privileged models of historical knowledge.
 Presentations of 5-20 minutes (different approaches to communication are encouraged) are welcomed on any aspect of the above, which may include: ■People’s History & the History of Everyday Life ■History on TV, Radio and the Internet ■Memory, Myth and Folklore ■History and the Arts ■Class, Culture and Ethnicities ■Museums, Heritage and Archives ■Historical Re-enactment and Living History ■Family History and Genealogy ■Feminist, Women’s and Gender History ■History Education, Teaching and Curricula ■Oral History, Testimony and Biography ■History and the Politics of Now ■Uses and Abuses of History ■The Role of the Historian ■Local, Regional and Community History
 Please submit proposal abstracts of 250-300 words, including a proposed presentation duration (5-20 minutes), by Wednesday 28 February 2014 to

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Save the Cromwell Museum

 Save the Cromwell Museum - sign the petition

The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon is under threat of closure. The Museum, which was set up in 1962, is earmarked for closure from the end of 2014. The Friends of the Cromwell Museum are determined to prevent this if at all possible. Please support the campaign.
The Museum is run and funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, which like all local authorities, has to make significant budget reductions. The County’s Business Plan for 2014-19 contains a reference to the planned closure of the Museum from 2015-16 to achieve a saving of £20,000. The County Council’s case for the complete withdrawal of support is based on the need to make savings and the fact that the provision of the Museum is not a statutory requirement.
The Friends of the Museum are opposed to the closure on the grounds that it would be a significant loss, locally, regionally and nationally, and that the level of savings proposed is miniscule compared to the authority’s budget as a whole. The County does many things which are equally non-statutory, from the provision of ‘real-time’ bus information on bus stops, to a Mediatheque at Cambridge Central Library. Many other local authorities provide museum services to a far greater extent than Cambridgeshire because they recognise their cultural and economic value. The Friends believe that the Cromwell Museum contributes to the County Council’s wider objectives, and should continue to receive support.
The budget proposals also refer to the option of transferring the Museum to another operator. The Friends support an initiative to investigate this option further, but are not optimistic that an alternative will be found. The Friends urge the County Council to guarantee support for the Museum, at no less than the current level, for five years, unless and until, another viable means of operating the Museum is in place.
If the Museum is to be saved for the future it is critical that concerns are raised now. Join the campaign to save the Cromwell Museum.