Friday, 17 October 2014

Support the People's History Museum in Manchester

Reverse the £200,000 cut in funding to The People's History Museum in Manchester.

Why is this important?

The People's History Museum in Manchester is the only museum in England dedicated to celebrating the history of working people.  It tells the story of working people's contribution to this country in both peacetime and war.  It charts their struggles from the deportation of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, through Lancashire mill workers during the American Civil War as well as working people's solidarity with anti-apartheid campaigners in South Africa.

And now, during the centenary of the First World War, the museum's current exhibition tells the story of the working people of Britain throughout the war.  The museum's deputy editor Cath Birchall has said: “They [the government] don’t see the importance of a national museum that shows the effects of the war on ordinary people.”  A war where approximately 750,000 people died in combat and more than a million were injured fighting abroad, and which also resulted in huge numbers of domestic casualties with as many as 100,000 dying of malnutrition and disease.

Please stop the cuts and save this national treasure.  After all, in the words of Len McCluskey, "History is not just about those who write it, but about those who live it. Working people and the labour movement have been at the forefront of all social and political changes this country has undergone over the past three centuries. We must defend the People’s Museum ... and safeguard the one museum dedicated to telling the story of us all".
Sign the petition here:

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Book Review: A Matter of Intelligence

From LSHG Newsletter 53 (Autumn 2014)

Book Review of “A Matter of Intelligence. M15 and the Surveillance of Anti-Nazi Refugees 1933-50” (Manchester University Press, 2014) by Charmian Brinson and Richard Dove.
The concern of the police and security services with lefties is not new. A book has just come out which looks at MI5’s behaviour towards the political refugees from Nazism. Their role has so far been hidden from history.
MI5 were over-concerned with German – and subsequently Austrian - Communist refugees, indeed much of their resources were devoted to their surveillance and investigation. Although nobody knows exactly how many German Communists there were in Britain up till the November 1938 pogrom (Krystalnacht), we are probably talking of about twenty comrades who identified themselves as German Communists. There were a few dozen other people who were on the fringe of the German Communist Party, or who passed through the UK on their way, usually, to the US, but altogether, there were not many people in the UK who could have been reasonably categorised as German Communist refugees.
There were reasons for the small number of anti-Nazi exiles in the UK.  The Home Office did not want Communists in the UK.  According to Brinson and Dove, from after the end of World War One, the Prussian Secret Service gave information to the MI5 about their Communists. The Home Office would have been well prepared. A tragically small percentage of people who applied for the right to land in the UK received permission to do so. This did not just apply to left refugees, but also to Jews (sometimes an overlapping category) and everybody else: industrialists, Social- Democrats etc, seeking refuge. The greater the need for asylum, for example after the 1938 Pogrom or the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the more difficult it became to get in.  In addition, German KPD refugees in the years immediately after the Nazis gained power generally wanted to stay nearer than Britain to build and maintain some sort of illegal KPD organisation which could influence the German anti-Nazi struggle.
So why were MI5 so obsessed? Two if not three of their bug-bears coincided in the person of the German anti-Nazi refugees: firstly, they were German, secondly, they were Communists and God forbid, many of them were Jews as well. Kell, who had risen to be the MI5 boss, was far more sympathetic to the fascists than the communists. The British Union of Fascists he saw at one time as a patriotic bunch, representing the interests of all, unlike those Communist class warriors.
Opening the refugees’ mail was MI5 favoured form of spying (advantageous when, as is my case, you want to research some of these people!) They also infiltrated the groups and friendship networks. The Communist exiles lived in dread. They were not allowed to participate in political activity as a condition of being granted temporary rights of residence but this was something many of these people, who had given their all in the opposition to the Nazis, pre- and post- 1933, found difficult to comply with. A small KPD group in exile was established which went against these restrictions, leaving them very aware of the possibility of betrayal: which did indeed occur. (And though it falls outside this book, it seems so great was the Government’s dislike of these exiles, that. even though they were desperate for information on and contacts with the German opposition/underground, especially after the outbreak of war, they never made use of this little bunch of well - connected exiles.)
Nor did MI5 stop with the end of the war. By mid-1940s, the USSR was seen as the enemy. Although there were a few ‘ex’-Nazis floating around, the Nazi system had collapsed and insofar as it had ever been, Nazism was no longer seen as the threat. My mother’s files were still being sent to the CIA in the early 1950s.Recently opened MI5 files have divulged that they were still keeping a close eye on Peter Pears in 1951 on the grounds that he was the Vice-President of the Musicians Union for Peace and a member of the League for Democracy, both described by M15 as ‘Communist Front organisations’. Two years later, in 1953, MI5 were concerned with Pears’ partner, Britten, as a well- known pacifist. MI5’s file on Priestley started in 1933 and effectively continued till 1960. What alerted them appears to be that he was a member of the early National Council for Civil Liberties in the 1930s. As late as 1956, MI5 had a report, presumably from a ‘spy’, of a meeting which Priestley attended about police powers! He was, they said, associated with left-wing causes, but the appreciation that ‘none [were] Communist inspired’ did not stop the surveillance.
But there is hope yet.  What emerges from this book is how much MI5 bungled everything: their priorities were to keep an eye on lefties but they concentrated on people who were harmless and let other ‘real spies’ slip by. MI5 failed to identify or prioritise the very few cases which could be defined as a ‘security risk’. They failed to spot Klaus Fuchs, the ‘atomic spy’ for the USSR until late in the 1940s. In the case of his fellow atomic spy, Englebert   Broda, it failed to take any action at all. In the case of Edith Tudor- Hart, they may have kept policemen on watch outside her house and intercepted her mail in the 1930’s, but they did not even realise she was a member of the Communist Party, never mind a crucial agent. In the meantime, however, many political refugees were left feeling overwhelmed with a fear of being spied on and deported.
The final blow for many of these anti-Nazis was internment in 1940 when anti-Nazi and a few Nazis were packed together in internment camps, some in very poor conditions. Amidst talk of a ‘fifth column’ and the enemy within, MI5 saw its task, sometimes against Home Office advice, to intern people who had the rights to temporary abode in a foreign -‘democratic’ – country because they had opposed Nazism and had to escape or die.
Why has so little light been cast on MI5’s disgraceful activities during this period? Brinson and Dove suggest their record does them no favours so they have preferred it kept quiet. This book has finally pulled together how Mi5 operated in relation to a number of anti-Nazi exiles. It is also of interest because unlike so much that is written in relation to the lead-up to the war and the barbarism of Nazism, this is a book which finally looks at the people who chose to stand up against Nazism in Germany and Austria, the people in whose shoes we tread, despite our disagreements with the Communist Party, and the responses of the British State to them.
Merilyn Moos
Edited to add: On Monday Nov 24 Merilyn Moos will be speaking in London on 'Siegfried Moos: a lost revolutionary? The story of a German Communist who fled to Britain in 1934.' as part of the LSHG seminar series.   

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Assorted London meetings of interest

Terrorism, Feminism and a Century of War,1914-2014
 Bojan Aleksov on Gavrilo Princip, the assassin who triggered World War One
Laura Schwartz on feminism and the Great War
Gabriel Levy on Putin and the war in the Ukraine
5pm, Mason Lecture Theatre
Anarchist Bookfair
Saturday 18 Oct.
Queen Mary Uni., Mile End Rd. E1 4NS.
 See for more on a day of meetings: Peter Linebaugh, Middle East, Africa, Guy Debord, feminism, anti-fascism, abortion, workplace & housing struggles etc…
Paine, Carlile, Cobbett, Chartists, Marx, Morris, Kropotkin, Bakunin, Matchwomen, Pankhurst, Goldman
author of: 'The London Hanged'
Sunday 19 October, 2.30pm
 St. Bride’s Avenue, Fleet St. EC4 1DH. Blackfriars Tube.
'Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible'
Thursday 6 November, 7pm.
88 Fleet Street,
St. Bride’s Ave., EC4 1DH.
Blackfriars Tube.

Louise Raw on Gender, Class, Sexuality and the Matchwomen's Strike

Bad Girls' Who Changed the World : Gender, Class, Sexuality & the Matchwomen's Strike.A talk by Louise Raw. Tuesday October 14,  6.30–9.00pm.  Upstairs in the Cock Tavern, 23 Phoenix Rd., NW1 1HB (Euston). Entry free. More Info:

Monday, 6 October 2014

LSHG seminar - Killing Communists in Havana

London Socialist Historians Group Seminar - all welcome 

Killing Communists in Havana: 1947 and the Start of the Cold War in Latin America 
Steve Cushion 

13 October 2014, 17:30 - 19:30 - Institute of Historical Research 
Seminars are in the Olga Crisp Room [104] at the IHR Senate House, Malet St, London, WC1 . Free without ticket. 

The Cold War started early in Cuba, with anti-communist purges of the trade unions already under way by 1947. Corruption and government intervention succeeded in removing the left-wing leaders of many unions but, in those sectors where this approach failed, gunmen linked to the ruling party shot and killed a dozen leading trade union militants, including the general secretary of the sugar workers union. Part of the objective of this attack was to increase productivity and restore profitability in the difficult post-war economic climate and the failure to achieve this would ultimately lead to Batista's coup d'etat in 1952. 

Based on material from the Cuban archives and confidential US State Department files, this paper will examine the activities of the US government, the Mafia and the American Federation of Labor, as well as corrupt Cuban politicians and local gangsters, in this early episode of the Cold War.

CfP: Workers of all lands unite?

Workers of all lands unite?
Working-class nationalism and internationalism until 1945

7th March 2015, University of Nottingham

September 2014 marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Workingmen’s Association, or First International. Between 1864 and today, the cause, practice, and history of working-class internationalism has undergone many changes, and has appeared in a dizzying variety of forms all over the globe. Yet working-class internationalism has always been defined in terms of what at first appears to be its opposite, working-class nationalism. While some historians have regarded these concepts, and the ways in which they were practically embodied, as opposites and as mutually conflicting, others have found a more complex relationship between the two, and have instead considered class contrasts, gender relations, and racial conflicts. Similarly, workers and their organizations have often struggled to reconcile internationalism as a political commitment with notions of national belonging. This polar duality had been further complicated by perceptions of racial, ethnic, and gender identities.
This conference aims to explore the relationships between working-class nationalism and internationalism prior to 1945. We invite papers on any aspect of this relationship or of these concepts from postgraduates, early career scholars, and those outside of full-time academia that have an interest in Labour/Trade Union History, Economic History, Politics, Political Theory, Race and Ethnicity Studies, and/or Gender Studies. We look forward to papers that discuss European and American contexts, but we also warmly encourage papers that predate the creation of the First International, or go beyond European and American topics discussing Asian, African, and Oceanic situations.
Topics can include but do not need to be limited to:
- Cross-border trade union and socialist organizations;
- Local experiences of internationalist organizations;
- Workers' attitudes to the First and/or Second World Wars;
- Colonialism and racism;
- Internationalist, nationalist and ethnic tensions within organizations;
- Independence struggles and socialism;
- International solidarity;
- Immigration policies in workers’ organizations, racial and ethnic prejudices amongst workers.
Keynote speaker: TBA.
Postgraduates, early career historians and those outside of full-time academia are invited to submit proposals for papers (of about 20-30 minute’s length) by the 7th January 2015. Please e-mail abstracts of no more than 300 words to Abstracts should include your name, institution and/or organization, email address, and the title of your proposed paper.
For more information on the conference follow us on Twitter (@wuniteconf2015) or consult our website:
The conference is hosted by the Department of History and the Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, and supported by the Economic History Society.

Friday, 3 October 2014

CfP: LSHG Conference 2015: Attlee's 1945 Labour Government at Seventy

Attlee’s 1945 Labour Government at Seventy:
What is the historical balance sheet?

A one day event organised by the London Socialist Historians Group
Institute of Historical Research
Senate House, Malet Street London WC1E 7HU

Saturday 28 February 2015
From 11.30am

In 1945 Labour was returned to office with a large majority in the election that marked the end of World War Two and the coalition Government that had ruled from 1939.

Contrary to many expectations Tory leader Winston Churchill was swept from power and replaced by Clement Attlee’s Labour Government. Many socialists look back on the Attlee Government as an example of what a left-wing Government can achieve. The Welfare State was introduced, including the NHS, and industries were nationalised.
Much of this is captured in Ken Loach’s excellent film The Spirit of ‘45
Yet the record was not all positive. The Attlee Government sent troops to break strikes, worked on developing a British nuclear bomb and laid the basis for the Cold War in Britain.

This conference, looking back over 70 years, will seek to draw a balance sheet of the positives and negatives of the 1945 Labour Government in a bid to contribute modestly towards a useful and working, historically focused agenda for the left in the present day.

Proposals [no more than 500 words] for papers should be sent to Keith Flett at by 1 December  2014.

175th anniversary of the Newport Rising

175th Anniversary of the
1839 Chartist Rising:
SOME Events in Newport

FREE at Newport Museum & Art Gallery
Visitors can see on the first  floor the outstanding permanent Chartist displays opened 2010 and from 18 October with a chance to see original Chartist broadsheets, lithographs, posters and bills from the collection.

Tuesday 28 October 7.00pm - Lecture in the Art Gallery with Prof. Chris Williams (Head of History at Cardiff University):
“Sir Thomas Phillips -
The Great Hero of the Newport Rising”
Saturday 1 November:
10.0 -16.00: 8th Annual Newport Chartist Convention at Newport City Campus:

AM Session: What was the 1839 South Wales ‘Rising’? Three history professors lead discussion: Malcolm Chase (Leeds), Owen Ashton (Staffordshire) and Chris Williams (Cardiff)

PM Session: Women and the Vote, Merthyr Rising 1831 – Val Williams (Chance Encounters Theatre) Chartism & Women - Joan Allen (Newcastle University) Newport Suffragettes - Ryland Wallace The Bird in the Cage - Winding Snake Production
Animation film about Lady Rhondda

Tuesday 4 November
3.00pm at the Murrenger,High Street:
This month’s Newport Museum’s Down Your Local is going to be a Chartist Rising special. Paul Busby, local historian will be talking about Thomas Prothero, the arch enemy of John Frost, followed by discussion about the 1839 events.

Saturday 8 November:
Chartist Day at the Museum & Art Gallery:
Activities for all ages, discover the story behind
what happened at the Westgate 1839

For information about more events surrounding the anniversary request a copy of Chartist Magazine from its editor:

Book Review: Part II of Sheila Cohen on Ian Birchall on Tony Cliff

From LSHG Newsletter # 53 (Autumn 2014). 


A Marxist for his time
By Ian Birchall
Bookmarks 2011
Paperback 552pp
ISBN 9781905192809

Editor’s note:  this second part of an extended review by Sheila Cohen of Ian Birchall’s biography of Tony Cliff follows on from the previous issue of this Newsletter. See here:
The final part will appear in the next issue.

Sheila Cohen is an academic and labour movement activist currently based at the University of Hertfordshire.

The rest of this extended review will be less detailed as Birchall’s biography traces the various moves away from non-sectarian support activity towards ever more blatant  party-building. Although the Rank and File conference which took place early in 1974 attracted considerably more delegates from union branches and shop steward organisations than had been expected (p354) its potential was subordinated to Cliffite announcements that major changes were needed in IS’ internal organisation and strategy; as Birchall comments (favourably), the disputes of the period “were about real issues of party-building” (p359).

Rather prematurely, Cliff declared that “[t]he working class was in a process of rapid change” away from a primarily industrial base; perhaps as another excuse for moving away from the tank-and-file strategy, he argued that shop stewards were becoming increasingly incorporated into joint management-union workplace structures, an position later theorised by ex-IS member Richard Hyman in his notorious “workplace bureaucratisation” thesis [i]. Birchall’s support for Cliff’s “turn from the class” is argued particularly clumsily here: “If IS had continued to orient…on the layer of experienced workers, it would have been condemned to disaster”, the “logic” of this being is that major strikes of the period were not led by experienced workers. True enough (and disastrous the outcome, at least at Grunwick[ii]) but this overlooks the staggering strike record of the period, in which some highly experienced activists were involved. Nor would a primarily working-class orientation preclude support for and building from struggles conducted by “inexperienced” workers  – which in fact hold the potential for radicalisation and rapid class education of the workers concerned.
This ABC of party-and-class relations does not seem to have been available from the early 1970s onwards; although “Cliff was committed to the rank-and-file perspective” he “saw a danger of rank and file work becoming an end in itself. For Cliff, politics was paramount…” So “rank and file work” intrinsically lacks “politics”? Cliff’s obsession with “party-building” swept aside the recognition that there is always a layer/periphery of particularly committed activists in the working-class activists open to political ideas; perhaps the central critique that must be made of Cliff/IS’ turn, so to speak, to the Party. 
By autumn 1974 IS membership was over 3000, with over 1,200 manual workers – a substantial achievement. Contradicting Cliff’s future analysis of a “downturn” beginning at this point, “industrial struggle continued at quite a high level…In Scotland…so many disputes came together there was almost a general strike…almost 90 percent of strike days were unofficial” (p373). Such a downturn we can only dream of. Yet IS insisted on “pessimism of the will”; a 1975 conference document argued gloomily, “We underestimated the speed with which the economic crisis would drive workers to draw political conclusions” (p376).

Apart from anything else, this is a particularly clunky way of understanding political consciousness amongst workers. As Luxemburg writes, working-class consciousness “does not proceed in a beautiful straight line but in a lightning-like zigzag” [iii]. Yet such subtleties were now a very long way from the radar of a manically impatient Cliff. At this point revolutionary upheaval was at full tilt in Portugal, and IS’ far from constructive intervention reflected the organisation’s increasing obsession with “party-building” and the correct “line” in a situation requiring fluid response to concrete working-class struggle. One outcome of IS’ position on Portugal was that it led to “a dispute with IS’ fraternal organisation in America, the International Socialists of the United States(ISUS).”  Although Birchall says little about ISUS’ development in the mid-late ‘70s, it is clear retrospectively that the split provided the political “room” for invaluable initiatives like TDU and, later, Labor Notes (neither of which features in Birchall’s index).
Back in Britain, Cliff moved on to his major work on Lenin, in which he highlighted Lenin’s conviction that “[o]rganisation…should be subordinated to politics”. Birchall rightly notes how “radical” this point was, arguing that Cliff’s analysis “repudiated the myth” of the “Leninist party”. Recently Lars Lih’s re-reading of Lenin has indicated the widespread misinterpretation and mis-appliance of “What Is To Be Done?”, stressing the continuity of Lenin’s views on party organisation, while Cliff’s favourite phrase “bending the stick” implies inconsistency or at least an opportunistically “flexible” perspective on building revolutionary leadership of the class.

Our purpose here is not to parse Cliff’s writings, but to reflect on how his theoretical analysis influenced his leadership of IS. On this front, the next development was disastrous – in only too symbolic a way. As Birchall reports, in late 1975 “the longstanding internal dispute” – presumably over rank and file organising versus party-building  - “came to a head”. The issue was the refusal of IS engineering union members to put forward an IS candidate for a union post, instead supporting the existing Broad Left (aka CP) candidate. Rather than understanding and commending these activists’ informed choice, IS expelled the dissident engineering workers.

Understandably, this provoked something of a crisis in the organisation (again), with those identifying with the contours and complexities of working-class organisation on one side and the party-builders, including “hanging judge” Steve Jeffreys, who implemented the expulsions, on the other. A faction calling itself the “IS Opposition” was established on this basis; arguing that “the present lurch to ultra-leftism will destroy any working-class base”, it included former executive members such as Jim Higgins and John Palmer. They were duly expelled, while “a considerable number more were demoralised by the internal dispute and dropped out” (p403). Good work, party-builders.

Even the faithful Birchall is gently critical of Cliff over this episode, which saw “the biggest split in the history of the organisation and a very serious setback.” Nevertheless, he returns to the well-worn “downturn” theme in arguing that “The hopes of the IS in the early 1970s were not realised because the Labour government succeeded in enforcing the Social Conflict and large-scale industrial conflict virtually came to an end” (p405). As any superficial reading of 1970s working–class history demonstrates, this is way off the mark – and in fact on the next page Birchall contradicts himself, noting that “Cliff continued to be impatient, aware that the favourable circumstances of the mid-1970s would not last long.”
Yet by this time Cliff appears to have lost, or at least severely damaged, his antennae regarding the significance of workplace struggle: “When a German comrade told how they had set up a regular informal meeting for contacts from a factory, Cliff…shouted that most people were attracted by revolutionary ideas, not by discussion about the workplace” (p407). Hmmm – no dialectical relationship between the two, then? And in fact the mid-1970s were the beginning of the end, if not of workplace struggle then of IS’s primary orientation towards that dynamic. 1976 marked the setting-up of the Right to Work Campaign – addressed at unemployed workers rather than employed activists - complete with a Right to Work march, mass rallies and all. In the same year, the leadership decided to begin contesting parliamentary by-elections, a strategy rapidly shown up as a dismal failure (pp410-12).

After listing these diversions, Birchall casually notes that “at the end of 1976 it was decided to rename the organisation the Socialist Workers Party. There was some debate…” No, not over whether to take this drastic step, but over the name – a CC majority favoured the Socialist Party[iv] “on the grounds that the name SWP [presumably because of the W-word] would represent a barrier [!] to thousands of new recruits”. But leaving aside these important matters, “[t]he new name was a recognition of a change which had taken place over the preceding years…the IS was already functioning as a party” (p412). Cliff himself had commented in January of that year that “In the course of the last year, our organisation has become a party.” In an article justifying (or celebrating) the move, Cliff explained the rationale of the “new name” as Birchall refers to the change; for example that “[t]he SWP was now capable of electoral results at least as good as the CP’s” and that the 1976 Right to Work conference had been bigger than recent conferences of the now (largely abandoned[v]) LCDTU. As Birchall notes – uncritically – “Cliff was preoccupied with numbers” (p313).

Worse was to come – or at least more moves away from any primary class orientation; “In the course of 1977 the focus of SWP activity…switched towards anti-racism” (p419). The popular front Rock Against Racism was established in 1976; although its roots were in the contemporary and highly anti-establishment punk zeitgeist , a leading role was played by SWP members.  The Anti-Nazi League (ANL) was formed the following summer, imitating most popular fronts in involving “a number of prominent sportspersons, musicians and intellectuals” as well as “leading figures from the Labour Party such as Neil Kinnock…”. Neil Kinnock!?! No one could oppose such activity per se, but it was a long way from the old IS – or any primarily class-based - perspective.

Yet Birchall notes that “despite his involvement in so many other activities, Cliff remained committed to the importance of the industrial struggle” (p432). This is exemplified by the fact that “In December 1978 he published a short pamphlet for Chrysler workers” which focussed on rationalisation of the industry” but also found space to “quote…rank and file workers on the ill effects of the incorporation of senior stewards into the management structure” [vi]. So what not to like? Nothing, except that this period saw the biggest strike revolt (in terms of working days lost) of British history – the Winter of Discontent. Notwithstanding the evidence before his eyes, “Cliff began to argue for the need to recognise a downturn in struggle in 1978…” (p433).

Sheila Cohen

[i] Richard Hyman The politics of workplace trade unionism: Recent tendencies and some problems for theoryCapital and Class 8 (54-67), 1979.
[ii] See Amrit Wilson, Finding a Voice (Virago 1978) and Ramparts for an account of this 1977 dispute.
[iii] Rosa Luxemburg, The Mass Strike Merlin 1925, p.73.
[iv] Now the misnomer of the principal split from Militant.
[v] In the early-mid 1970s the CP moved to a strategy of courting left-wing MPs and trade union leaders rather than building from the workplace – with disastrous results (see Darlington and Lyddon 2001).
[vi] This was at roughly the time that Hyman’s influential article on this question was published.


(To be concluded in the next issue of this Newsletter)

1914: Opposing the war from the start

From LSHG Newsletter # 53 (Autumn 2014)

The First World War started a century ago on 4th August 1914. August this year saw a range of events designed to mark the centenary, and with them continued debate about the reasons for the war and whether it is possible in any way to see it as a ‘victory’, rather than an imperial conflict which was largely meaningless for the millions whose lives were lost.

Some issues that arose a hundred years ago have not received much official or media attention. One of those is what it was like in those very early days of the war for socialists who had not only taken opposition to war as a principle but continued to oppose the war after it had started.

We may query how far there was popular enthusiasm for war in August 1914, though it is clear that there was some. What is equally true is that those who stood out against the war were at this stage in a minority even amongst what had been, until 3rd August, the left. This was true not just in Britain but across Europe.

The issues of the Daily Herald for the first few weeks of the war provide some insight. The Herald was edited by George Lansbury, a left-winger who went on to became Labour leader. He was opposed to war but that wasn’t necessarily the view of sections of the paper’s labour movement readers. Sales dropped and the Herald went to weekly publication until 1919 when it resumed as a daily. The Herald covered the early days of the war with an emphasis on the horror and loss of life. It could not report national opposition to it, because there was none of note at this stage. Indeed, it noted that all but a small section of German socialists had supported the war as well.

However the Herald also reported the activities of local supporters groups, the Herald Leagues. In some cases these remained staunchly anti-war. North London, and Finsbury Park in particular, as Ken Weller documents in his book Don’t Be A Soldier, were centres of anti-war agitation throughout the 1914-1918 period. Regular protests and demonstrations were held in Finsbury Park against the war, very much to the disapproval of the park authorities. They faced large pro-war gatherings which often disrupted the meetings, particularly in the early years of the war before conscription was introduced in 1916.

The range of people in North London opposed to the war was wide objecting for reasons of conscience, religion and a broad sweep of political beliefs from anarchists to socialists. When war was declared it is very unlikely that any had it in their minds that they would still be protesting in 1918.

On 5th August 1914, the day after war had been declared, the North London Herald League called a street meeting at Salisbury Corner in Harringay with speaker Walter Ponder. Salisbury Corner is near to Finsbury Park and at the time was a noted meeting spot. The Daily Herald noted in its edition of Thursday 6th August that an anti-war meeting was to take place with speakers ‘Comrades Knight and Grainger’. The Secretary, P.W. Howard of 15 Effingham Road, Hornsey, noted ‘we want if possible to hold nightly protest meetings in the district for a week or ten days’. This they did for a period. The Herald noted a meeting on Monday 10 August at Salisbury Corner 8.15pm with speakers Councillor F.W. Carter and R.M. Fox. The secretary called for ‘Rebels rally around red rostrum’.

Those anti-war socialists at Salisbury Corner, along with those in Highbury, Hackney and some places in Scotland were amongst the few to stand out against the war when it was called a century ago. They faced opposition not just from jingoistic supporters of the war but also from the ranks of the labour movement itself. There were moves for example in the Herald League not to have anti-war street meetings and to hold all events indoors.

As the start of the war is recalled we should also remember those socialists who stuck to their principles and publicly opposed the war in the most difficult of circumstances.

Keith Flett

CfP; After Revolution: Versions and Revisions of Haiti

Call for Papers: After Revolution: Versions and Re-visions of Haiti, Institute for Black Atlantic Research, University of Central Lancashire, Preston 9-10 July 2015
As a dual struggle against both slavery and colonialism, the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) challenged and shattered the fundamental ideologies and material practices of the transatlantic world. This was founded upon the racialised and super-exploitative transatlantic slave economy and – what Aimé Césaire and others have regarded as – its proto-fascist, colonial regimes of violence.
Whereas for a long time the Haitian Revolution and its challenges were “silenced” (Trouillot) in mainstream historiography, the event has received significant attention over the last two decades, even from Western scholars at the heart of Western academe. For instance, it has been cast as the birthplace of modern philosophy (Buck-Morss), of human rights and “universal emancipation” (Nesbitt), of Black Atlantic discourse (Jenson) and as a source of alternative modernities (Fischer).
Yet, despite this recent “Haitian Turn” (Joseph) in transatlantic studies (and with notable exceptions such as the work of Ramsay, Smith, Ulysse and others), post-revolutionary Haiti continues to receive comparatively little attention. In an orientalist vein, Haiti’s post-independence history has often been depicted as a steady decline from its ground-breaking “glorious” revolution to its current state as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.”
This conference seeks to take the centenary of the beginning of the US occupation of Haiti as an occasion to challenge such views and explore Haiti after the Revolution. While the Revolution will remain a key reference point, this conference hopes to trigger debates and discussion which will interrogate such uni-dimensional visions and versions of Haiti and explore alternatives to them. In doing so this it aims to generate a fuller picture of Haiti’s rich history and vibrant culture beyond the current focus on its revolutionary origins.
Potential topics include (but of course are not limited to)
–      Post-Revolution: making sense of the Haitian Revolution
–      Post-revolutionary Haiti and visual/literary culture
–      Stereotypical narratives of Haiti and challenges to them
–      Nineteenth-century Haiti at the intersection of slavery, anti-slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism
–      Haiti on the world stage: international responses to Haitian independence and its aftermath
–      Haiti and its Visitors: travel writing and the ‘Black Republic’ – Haitian national political culture since 1804
–      Uneasy relations? Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean
–       Haiti and 20th century anthropology/ethnography
–      The U.S. Occupation and the Haitian Revolution
–      The U.S. Occupation and its afterlives
–      The U.S. Occupation and culture (U.S. cultural production, Haitian culture)
–      Haiti and the Harlem Renaissance
–      Haiti and the antebellum/post-bellum USA
–      Haiti and postcolonialism
–      Haiti and reparations
–      Haiti in contemporary commemorative discourses on slavery and its abolition (on a local and global level)
Confirmed keynote speakers are Matthew J. Smith (University of the West Indies, Mona) and Gina A. Ulysse (Wesleyan University).
Please send an abstract for a 20 minutes paper (max. 300 words) and a short biography (max. 200 words) to the conference organisers by October 15th 2014, using the following email address:
We are looking forward to hearing from you:
The organising committee
Kate Hodgson (University of Liverpool)
Wendy Asquith (University of Liverpool)
Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool)
Jack Webb (University of Liverpool)
Raphael Hoermann (University of Central Lancashire)