Monday, 12 December 2016

London Socialist Historians seminars, Spring Term 2017

Friday, 9 December 2016

New Book: 1956: John Saville, EP Thompson and The Reasoner

Paul Flewers and John McIlroy (editors), 1956: John Saville, EP Thompson and The Reasoner (Merlin Press, pp 450, £20)


When Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin in his ‘Secret Speech’ in 1956 the leaders of the Communist Party of Great Britain attempted to deal with an unprecedented and unwelcome situation by carrying on as best as normal. Many party members were not satisfied with their prevarications, and one result was The Reasoner, a substantial duplicated magazine produced by party historians John Saville and EP Thompson. The three issues of The Reasoner gave an outlet to critical party members’ feelings; for the leadership this was mutinous behaviour. Dismayed by the party leaders’ endorsement of the Soviet invasion of Hungary, Saville and Thompson, along with thousands of others, resigned their party membership.

Although The Reasoner has been mentioned in many historical studies, its text has never been republished until now. This book reproduces all three issues, together with key CPGB statements on the issues that the magazine raised. John McIlroy has provided an extensive introduction that investigates the history of intellectuals within the CPGB and an essay that analyses the political evolution of John Saville, and Paul Flewers has provided an essay that assesses EP Thompson’s views on Stalinism and the Soviet experience.

  1. Preface
  2. Chronology
  3. John McIlroy, Communist Intellectuals and 1956: John Saville, Edward Thompson and The Reasoner
  4. Documents I — Harry Pollitt, Rajani Palme Dutt, George Matthews, John Saville, EP Thompson, Derek Kartun, CPGB Political Committee
  5. The Reasoner, No 1
  6. The Reasoner, No 2
  7. Documents II — CPGB Political and Executive Committee on The Reasoner
  8. The Reasoner, No 3
  9. Ronald Meek, The Marxist-Leninist’s Song
  10. John McIlroy, John Saville and Stalinism: An Exploration
  11. Paul Flewers, E P Thompson and the Soviet Experience
  12. Index
Paul Flewers is the author of The New Civilisation? Understanding Stalin’s Soviet Union 1929-1941 and an editor of Revolutionary History.
John McIlroy is a Professor of Employment Relations at Middlesex University Business School.

Publisher’s website < >.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Save the Georg Lukacs Archive


Dear subscribers,

The creation of an international foundation to save the Georg Lukács archive was achieved in the months following our appeal.

The Lukács Archívum Nemzetközi Alapítvány–Lukács Archive International Foundation–has Ágnes Heller and János Weis as founders, János Kelemen as Chair of the Board of Trustees, and a broad-based Board of Trustees. Anticipating that formal Hungarian legal approval of the Foundation–a prerequisite to collecting funds–would be soon achieved, the Foundation announced its intention to create an international network of patrons and donors, chaired by Iván Szelényi.

Recent developments are reason for deep concern. The Foundation has not yet been given the formal approval necessary to solicit funds, though we are assured that final approval is imminent. But the Hungarian Academy of Sciences,  who have full legal responsibility for the archive, has up to now not shown any sign of willingness to co-operate with the Foundation. They are threatening to begin the physical dispersion of the archive.

We therefore suggest that all subscribers directly approach the responsible person, i.e. the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Dr. László Lovász by email at:  or

Once the archive is dispersed, it is hardly possible it could ever be put back together. We need to express our concerns in a personal manner, as well as demand concretely that the Lukács Archive be preserved while the effort is made to fund its continued existence at its historic location in Budapest.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

From Pluto Press - People's History Book Series

Pluto Press are beginning a new series - the People's History Book Series - 'restoring the role of ordinary people in their own history'.

It is well known that most history is written from the standpoint of the victor. History is viewed from the perspective of the rich and powerful, and the actions of small numbers of people, generally white men, are seen to dictate the course of world affairs. History of this kind continues to dominate both academic and popular literature, despite challenges from historians who have tried to write history from different perspectives, including that of ordinary women and men. 

Whether it was E.P. Thompson in England or Howard Zinn in the United States, this ‘history from below’ is noted, at times even celebrated,but ultimately put back on the shelf while historians return to writing books and articles that lead more easily to research funding and professorial appointments. 

But there are deeper reasons for the neglect of what we are calling ‘people’s history’. It is quite simply easier to write about Prime Ministers, great industrialists and their ilk. They often write memoirs, leave their papers to archives or, in the case of U.S. Presidents,create their own libraries to house all the data they wish to make public from their career. Writing history from below is a challenge because the historical record is scattered and largely neglected. 

But it is a challenge worth taking up. This Pluto Press series is both an attempt to view history from the perspective of ordinary people, and also an exploration of how the actions of common women and men, as individuals or through forms of collective organization, influence the course of history. Books published in the series will focus on the masses of humanity rather than the designated heroes, or villains,of world civilization. Our books seek to shine a light on that which, as a feminist historian once said of women’s history, has been hidden from history. 

For further information about the series, or to submit proposals, please email David Castle , Senior Commissioning Editor at Pluto Press ( or Series Editor, William A. Pelz (

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Just an Ordinary Lawyer - Jan 11-28th at Theatro Technis in London

Just An Ordinary Lawyer
Theatro Technis
26 Crowndale Rd
London NW1 1TT
United Kingdom

11-28 January
Nigerian Tunji Sowande quietly breaks through multiple barriers to become Britains first Black judge in 1978. Also a fine concert singer and keen cricket lover, he muses on international politics and history as they affect the Black world from Africa to the USA and Britain, from the point of view of one who would rather watch sports, and spread love and peace through the medium of song.

Recalling heroic sporting achievements alongside epoch-defining political events, Tayo Aluko follows the multi-award-winning Call Mr. Robeson with another "brilliantly put together history lesson delivered as art."

Tickets from here:

"First Rate" The Guardian on Call Mr. Robeson
"Prepare to be bowled over" (4 stars) Wirral Globe
"Another triumph  that thrills and touches" (5 Stars) British Theatre Guide
"Immensely enjoyable" (4 Stars) One4Review
"A superb play" (9/10) Liverpool Sound and Vision
"Every socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist will love this" Socialist Worker
"I learnt more about black history through your show than my entire secondary school education" E.I.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

LSHG Seminar - Merilyn Moos on children of refugees from Nazism


Monday December 5th - Merilyn Moos: 'Breaking the Silence. Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism'

 Merilyn Moos will be focusing on the continuing impact on the ‘second generation’, people born in Britain to refugees from Nazism, of their parents’ terrible losses and dislocation, but also on whether  having parents who actively opposed the Nazis from the left makes a difference to their children. She will conclude by making some suggestions about similarities and differences with today's refugees.

Room 304 Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, WC1, at 5.30pm. Free without ticket - no need to book in advance.  For more on the subject and a link to Merilyn Moos's book please see here
For more information please contact LSHG convenor Keith Flett on the email address above...

Book launch - Rocking Against Racism 1976-1982

Free Event: Rocking Against Racism 1976-1982

Monday 5th December @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm – Conway Hall

Book Launch

 Rocking Against Racism

Celebrating a movement of both Cultural and Political importance in the UK’s history, Reminiscences of RAR – Rocking Against Racism 1976-1981 hears from a number of collaborators, rockers and fighters. The launch event will host talks, readings and, of course, music, not only looking back at the events of 40 years ago, but also looking at the struggles and fights we face in Britain today.
Rock Against Racism (RAR) came into existence in the autumn of 1976 in response to a rise in racist attacks, and the continuing growth of the Nazi National Front. In August a racist tirade by blues guitarist Eric Clapton from the stage in Birmingham led to a letter, jointly signed by the compilers of this book, to the music press critical of Clapton’s racism and asking for readers to support an anti-racist campaign through music. The response was overwhelming and a movement was born.
For the next six years RAR was at the centre of a cultural movement against racism and the NF. From 1978 it was partnered with both the Anti-Nazi League and School Kids Against the Nazis. Together they had broken the National Front by 1979 and continued the fight against racism with RAR’s Militant Entertainment Tour, and in 1981 the fourth and final Carnival in Leeds.
With 65 contributors this book brings together the reminiscences of activists and supporters during the period. From many backgrounds and ages, musician and audience, punk and Rasta, street fighter and pogo dancer, united with a single aim: to Rock Against Racism.

Book via eventbrite here

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The History of Labour and its Environmental Aspects

Raphael Samuel History Centre - History and Environment seminar series  

The History of Labour and its Environmental Implications

30 November 2016, 7:30 pm, Marx Memorial Library, Clerkenwell Green, London, United Kingdom

‘The Generalisation of Wage Labour, and the Changing Relationship with the Land in Early Modern England’, George Yerby, author of The English Revolution and the Roots of Environmental Change (Routledge 2016)

 ‘Capitalism, the Use of Labour, and the Environmental Context’, Martin Empson, author of Land and Labour: Marxism, Ecology and Human History (Bookmarks 2015)

 ‘Urbanisation, Industrialisation, and their Impact on Labour Militancy’, Neil Davidson, author of Nation-States, Consciousness and Competition (2016)

Chair: Carrie Hamilton (Roehampton)

All welcome. No booking necessary.

 Contact:George Yerby: or Neil Davidson:

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

LSHG seminar - John Boughton on Labour and the rise and fall of High Rise Housing

London Socialist Historians Group seminar 

Monday November 21st - John Boughton (Municipal Dreams blog), 'High Hopes - Labour and the rise and fall of High Rise housing'. 
Room 304 Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, WC1, at 5.30pm. Free without ticket - no need to book in advance.

Other seminars coming up - venue / time same as above

Monday December 5th - Merilyn Moos: 'Breaking the Silence. Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism'
For more information please contact LSHG convenor Keith Flett on the email address above...

Hadaway Harry play


Putney will play host to a hit play about the Victorian Geordie who invented the sport of rowing we know so well today.

Harry "Hadaway" Clasper, who was from Tyneside, was the Sir Steve Redgrave of his day having led seven teams to win the Championship of the World on the Thames at Putney. In addition Harry, in the 1840s, invented and built the slim, light boats and outriggers used by modern scullers.

At the time Clasper's revolutionary new initiatives were ridiculed because rowers were still using the old clinker-built boats that had been a feature on rivers for centuries.

Harry also went on to train future world champions and umpired world championships.

The play, "Hadaway Harry", which will be performed at Newcastle's 1200-seat Theatre Royal, will have an out-of-town-run at the prestigious London Rowing Club on the banks of the Thames in Putney on Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18.

The play itself, which was performed to sell-out crowds and received standing ovations on Tyneside in June 2015, focuses on the very first time the Geordie oarsmen - led by Clasper and comprising his brothers - defeated the "unbeatable" Thamesmen in 1845.

Playwright Ed Waugh, whose shows have been performed nationally and internationally, explained: "Rowing was the sport of the working class prior to football. Every major river had its champion so there was huge interest in matches because civic pride was at stake.

"When Harry led his team of brothers to Putney in 1845 to win the World Championship for the first time it caused a sensation nationally; was akin to Fulham beating Barcelona in the final of the European Cup!

"Even Charles Dickens wrote about the wonderful spectacle of the Geordies versus the Thamesmen."

Ed continued: "The National Rowing Museum in Henley features the modern greats but at the very start of the rowing timeline there you'll see writ large the name of an illiterate, former Durham miner called Harry Clasper."

Waugh added: "After 1845, Harry went on to dominate national rowing for the next 25 years and when he died in 1870, aged 58, more than 130,000 people crammed the streets of Newcastle and Gateshead to pay tribute."

Harry Clasper was a regular visitor to Putney. He often lodged in The Feathers pub at the mouth of the River Wandle when preparing for races.

Harry Clasper's son, John Hawks Clasper, himself a top rower, went on to live in Putney; Lower Richmond Road and Stainbridge Road, both within a few hundred yards of the London Rowing Club.

John, who also lived in and ran The Feathers pub, was a master boater builder; his workshop, on the banks of the Thames in Putney, is now the Westminster School boathouse, which still bears his name, JH Clasper.

Hadaway  Harry will be performed at London Rowing Club, Putney (SW15 1LB) on Friday and Saturday, February 17 and 18. The show starts at 7.30pm on both evenings with a matinee at 2.30pm on Saturday.  Tickets, limited to 80 per show, cost only £16 from (0191) 424 7788.

For further details visit: Hadaway Harry

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Killing Communists in Havana

Launch of a Socialist History Society Occasional Publication

Killing Communists in Havana

The Start of the Cold War in Latin America
Steve Cushion
Author of
Socialist History Society Public Meeting
Saturday 26th November 2016 2.00pm
37a Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU
nearest tube Farringdon
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 Cuban Sugar Workers' Federation.
Based on material from the Cuban archives and confidential US State Department files, this SHS Occasional Publication 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.

Friday, 4 November 2016

CfP: Reparative Histories 2: The Making, Re-making and Un-making of ‘Race’

6-7 April 2017, Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories, University of Brighton, UK

This interdisciplinary conference aims to build on the momentum created by the first Reparative Histories symposium held in 2014 and by the subsequent publication of a special issue of Race & Class (‘Reparative Histories: radical narratives of ‘race’ and resistance’, Race and Class, 57, 3 (2016)). That first event was interested in critically addressing the ways in which conceptions of the ‘reparative’ are currently shaped and understood, and in exploring what it means to turn to history in the appeal for recognition and redress. We set out to explore the question of how to relate the past to the present in the context of ‘race’, narrative and representation. Significant issues stemming from the first symposium concerned the importance of thinking through forms of historical interconnectedness both spatially and temporally, and ways of addressing, the dialectics of anti-colonial struggle, anti-racist resistance and mobilisation. This conference aims to further develop the concept of ‘Reparative Histories’ and to build on these concerns.
Given that racialised meanings continue to powerfully structure understandings of identity, belonging and exclusion within multiple social, cultural political and economic spaces. How might we further trace the history and politics of the making and unmaking of ‘race’? How might we connect effectively these historical formulations and to the maintenance of particular contemporary power relations? This conference aims to explore critically the ways in which processes of making, re-making and un-making ‘race’ are rooted in particular histories, politics and cultures. The conference aims to further elucidate the processes of racialization associated with histories of imperialism, colonialism, transatlantic enslavement and other forms of global labour production. It also aims to question how ‘legacies’ might be traced in the light of contemporary social and economic formations. ‘Race’ continues to signify either by glossing its historical provenance, or by drawing upon it.
At the same time, ‘race’ and its histories, offer a powerful political platform for those engaged in anti-racist, anti-colonial resistance. These traditions of struggle are currently being re-activated and re-articulated in ways that confront the power and pull of the universalism of liberal orthodoxy and they are increasingly exposing its fault-lines and occlusions. What is the role of history and indeed, memory, in relation to these resistant political processes. How might representations of the past be activated for the now?
Possible themes for this symposium could include ‘race’ and colonialism, ‘race’ and labour; anti-slavery resistances; decolonisation and de-colonial struggles; capitalism and ‘race’; interracial class solidarity; gendered racialization; anti-racist resistance movements; the racializing of ‘suspect communities’; anti-Semitism and Islamophobia; Whiteness studies and the limitations of privilege theory; ‘race’, representational form and expressive culture; and contemporary anti-racist politics;  
 Questions for consideration might include (but are not limited to the following):
 How does tracing the historical making of ‘race’ contribute to reparative history?
·         How do re-makings of ‘race’ in the contemporary moment draw on raced histories of the past?
·         How has an anti-racist insistence on racialization functioned in forms of political mobilisation and/or political resistance?
·         What are the limits of liberal humanism in accounting for normalising discourses of ‘race’?
·         How can the history and legacies of transatlantic enslavement, colonialism and imperialism be drawn upon for the purposes of resisting contemporary racisms?
·         What sort of politics do histories and memories of inter-racial mobilisations either enable or delimit?
·         How are migrants placed within the language of racialized labour practices both historically and in the present?
·         What does the treatment of refugees tell us about contemporary politics of ‘othering’?
·         What is the role of literary and other forms of cultural representation in securing/subverting racialized imaginaries?
·         How can memories and/or memorialisation negotiate the contested histories of ‘race’?

We invite proposals from across the disciplines. They may concern historical and/or contemporary issues or moments and address any representational form. We welcome proposals for single papers, panels, or for plenary discussions. (Please provide a brief rationale for a panel or a plenary.) If your proposal speaks to one of the conference questions listed above, please specify this in your submission. Postgraduate submissions are of course welcome.

Proposals of 250 words and a brief biography/CV should be sent to Anita Rupprecht ( and Cathy Bergin ( Closing date for proposals: December 31st, 2016.
The conference fee is £80. There is a fee of £40 for graduate students and for those with no institutional affiliation. 
The conference will be held at the Grand Parade Campus, University of Brighton.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

CfP: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic - October 2017, UCLan, Preston

Institute For Black Atlantic Research
The Red and the Black – The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic - Conference to be held at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR), University of Central Lancashire, Preston, 14-15 October 2017, to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution

Image result for claude mckay comintern

Claude McKay addressing the Fourth Congress of the Comintern, Moscow in 1922

The Russian Revolution was not only one of the most critical events of the twentieth century in its own right but an inspirational event across the ‘black Atlantic’ as a blow against racism and imperialism.  For colonial subjects of European empires internationally as well as black Americans, the Russian Revolution promised the hope of a world without oppression and exploitation.   This conference aims to build on the growing scholarship and literature in this area to explore the impact the revolutionary events in Russia during 1917 made across the African diaspora and the subsequent critical intellectual influence of Marxism and Bolshevism on the current of revolutionary ‘black internationalism’ in its aftermath.
For details of the full CfP and submission of abstracts and proposals for this conference - please see  here


Sunday, 30 October 2016

LSHG seminar - Simon Hall on 1956: The World in Revolt

Image result for simon hall the world in revolt

London Socialist Historians Group seminar 

Monday November 7th  - Simon Hall: '1956: The World in Revolt'

Room 304 Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, WC1, at 5.30pm. Free without ticket - no need to book in advance.

Other seminars coming up - venue / time same as above

Monday November 21st - John Boughton (Municipal Dreams blog), 'High Hopes - Labour and the rise and fall of High Rise housing'.  
Monday December 5th - Merilyn Moos: 'Breaking the Silence. Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism'
For more information please contact LSHG convenor Keith Flett on the email address above...

The Black Jacobins Reader

Sheila Rowbotham recently picked her top ten books of radical history in the Guardian - a fine list, which was topped by C.L.R. James's 1938 classic Marxist history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins. As Rowbotham notes:

James, an exploratory Trotskyist who loathed imperialism, racism and class power in equal measure, writes graphically about the 1791 slave rebellion in the French colony of San Domingo (later Haiti) led by Toussaint L’Ouverture. With calls for the French revolutionaries’ liberty and equality to apply to the colonised, they overcame the whites who enslaved them, a Spanish and a British invasion and then the army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte. The memory of this revolt and of its historian have proved resilient. When I mentioned L’Ouverture and James to a Haitian cab driver in New York I was given a free ride!

Back in 2008, to mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Black Jacobins, the London Socialist Historians Group organised a one day conference at the Institute for Historical Research, with speakers including Selma James and Darcus Howe (see the programme here), and now almost nine years on, it is nice to finally announce that some of the proceedings from that conference together with other material and contributions from academics and activists have finally been brought together in a volume which is forthcoming with Duke University Press as part of their 'C.L.R. James Archives series', The Black Jacobins Reader - it should hopefully be out early in 2017 and be of interest to all those inspired by Sheila Rowbotham's recommendation and who want to go further than simply reading (or re-reading) The Black Jacobins itself.

Containing a wealth of new scholarship and rare primary documents, The Black Jacobins Reader provides a comprehensive analysis of C. L. R. James's classic history of the Haitian Revolution. In addition to considering the book's literary qualities and its role in James's emergence as a writer and thinker, the contributors discuss its production, context, and enduring importance in relation to debates about decolonization, globalization, postcolonialism, and the emergence of neocolonial modernity. The Reader also includes the reflections of activists and novelists on the book's influence and a transcript of James's 1970 interview with Studs Terkel.

 Contributors. Mumia Abu-Jamal, David Austin, Madison Smartt Bell, Anthony Bogues, John H. Bracey Jr., Rachel Douglas, Laurent Dubois, Claudius K. Fergus, Carolyn E. Fick, Charles Forsdick, Dan Georgakas, Robert A. Hill, Christian Høgsbjerg, Selma James, Pierre Naville, Nick Nesbitt, Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Matthew Quest, David M. Rudder, Bill Schwarz, David Scott, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Matthew J. Smith, Studs Terkel.

Read the Foreword by Robert A Hill here:

Exclusive offer for LSHG members and supporters (in the UK) - 30% discount (£18.19) when you order using code CSF117TBJR
Order online:
or by telephone: Marston +44 (0)1235 465500

Revolution - New Art for a New World - new documentary on the Russian avant-garde

A new political documentary will be showing at Curzon Bloomsbury on 10 November: 

Revolution - New Art for a New World is a bold and exciting new feature documentary which seamlessly weaves the tumultuous period of the Russian Revolution with the story of the artists that shaped it, including Chagall, Rodchenko, Kandinsky and more. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Social Histories of the Russian Revolution series

Social Histories of the Russian Revolution series

All are welcome to SOCIAL HISTORIES OF THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION, a monthly series of discussion meetings, timed to take place during the run-up to the centenary of Russia’s revolutions of 1917.
Each discussion will be opened by historians, scholars working in academia who have spent many years studying the revolution in the Russian archives. But these are not academic seminars – they are open to all who share our interest in the history of the Russian revolution as a landmark struggle for social liberation. At each discussion there will be an opening talk of about 30 minutes, followed by open debate.
The emphasis in the discussion meetings will be on the social histories of the revolution – that is, how it was experienced by the mass of working people who participated.
By taking this approach we aim not to brush aside the role of political leaders, and their disputes and decisions, but rather to move beyond these well-known debates and reach a deeper understanding of the revolution as the active participation of millions of people in changing history.
We hope that by developing our theme over a year of meetings, we will be able collectively to engage in serious thinking and re-thinking about the revolution and its significance for our past and present. 
William Dixon, Brendan McGeever, Simon Pirani (Organisers)  


Dreyfus Room (2.02), Birkbeck, University of London, 28 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ


 Last Thursday of the month (usually), 6.30 pm

Upcoming meetings

Nov 24 – Brendan McGeever (Birkbeck, University of London): Antisemitism and Revolutionary Politics in the Russian Revolution, 1917-1919
Dec 15 – Andy Willimott (Reading University): Living the Revolution: Urban Communes in 1920s Russia and the Invention of a Socialist Lifestyle

Jan 26 – Sarah Badcock (Nottingham University): The 1917 Revolutions at Local Level
Feb 23 – Katy Turton (Queens University, Belfast): Women in Revolt: the Female Experience of the 1917 Revolutions
March 16 – George Gilbert (Southampton University): The Radical Right and the Russian Revolution
March 30 –Dimitri Tolkatsch (University of Freiburg, Germany): The Ukrainian Peasant Insurgency in the Revolutionary Period
April 27 – Chris Read (Warwick University): The Social History of the Revolutionary Period
May 25 – Barbara Allen (La Salle University, USA): Alexander Shlyapnikov and the Russian Metalworkers in 1917
June 29 – Don Filtzer (University of East London): The Working Class and the First Five-year Plan, 1928-32
Sep 28 – Wendy Goldman (Carnegie Mellon University, USA): Taking Power: Remaking the Family, Levelling Wages, Planning the Economy
Oct 12 – Lara Cook (University of York): Local Soviets in 1917-18 and their Relations with the Central Executive Committee
Oct 26 – 1917 A Century On: A Debate (Speakers TBC, including Simon Pirani (author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat 1920-1924)
Nov 23 – Gleb Albert (University of Zurich): Early Soviet Society and World Revolution, 1917-27

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

LSHG Rosmer seminar postponement

Unfortunately Ian Birchall is unwell at the moment and the seminar on Lenin's Moscow on 24th Oct and March 13 will have to be cancelled. Apologies for any inconvenience caused - we hope Ian gets well soon. 

SHS meeting - William A Pelz on A People's History of Europe

Socialist History Society PUBLIC MEETING

 Image result for a peoples history europe
William A. Pelz (Institute of Working Class History, Chicago) speaks on A People's History of Europe (also the title of his latest book, Pluto, 2016).


 Venue: Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Conference on the 40th anniversary of the Lucas plan

BOOK NOW for a conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Lucas Plan!

Veteran trade unionists and younger activists see Nobel prize-nominated plan as inspiration for the future
November 26th, Birmingham
The Lucas Plan was a pioneering effort by workers at the arms company Lucas Aerospace to retain jobs by proposing alternative, socially-useful applications of the company’s technology and their own skills. It remains one of the most radical and forward thinking attempts ever made by workers to take the steering wheel and directly drive the direction of change. Read the Plan here.
Today, in 2016 — 40 years after the Lucas Plan — we’re facing a convergence of crises: militarism and nuclear weapons, climate chaos, and the destruction of jobs by automation.
These crises mean we have to start thinking about technology as political, as the Lucas Aerospace workers did.
Our conference will aim to re-open the debate about industrial conversion and democracy. 

Leading figures from the left, trade union, environmental and peace movements are coming together at a conference on November 26th with a fresh perspective on tackling current crises, using the ideas of socially useful production pioneered in the Lucas Plan. The Plan, produced by workers at the Lucas Aerospace arms company, showed how jobs could be saved by converting to make products that answer a social need, rather than weapons. To book for the conference, visit  See, or the notes below for more information on the Lucas Plan.

The conference will focus on 5 key themes:

  • The Lucas Plan and socially useful production.
  • Arms conversion and peace.
  • Climate change and a socially just transition to sustainability.
  • The threat to skills and livelihoods from automation.
  • Local/community economic and industrial planning.

Linking all these issues is the need to rethink how we can produce what people and society actually need and overcome corporate domination through their control of technology.

Highlights of the conference will include:

  • Talks by Phil Asquith, Brian Salisbury and Mick Cooney (Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine).
  • Screening of a new film on the Lucas Plan by Steve Sprung.
  • Contributions from: Chris Baugh (PCS), Suzanne Jeffery (Million Climate Jobs Campaign), Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), John McDonnell (tbc), Natalie Bennett and Molly Scott-Cato (Green Party), Romayne Phoenix (People’s Assembly Against Austerity), Mary Pearson (Birmingham Trades Council), Jim Wyke (Young Scots for Independence), Philippa Hands (Unison), Stuart Parkinson (Scientists for Global Responsibility), Dave Elliott (Open University), Dave King (Breaking the Frame), Tom Woolley (Rachel Bevan Architects), Simon Fairlie (The Land magazine), Karen Leach (Localise West Midlands), plus more speakers to be announced.

The conference on the Lucas Plan 40th anniversary will be held at Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR) on November 26, 2016. See The conference is being organised and sponsored by: former members of the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine, Breaking the Frame, PCS, UCU, Million Climate Jobs Campaign, Green Party, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Campaign Against Arms Trade, and Red Pepper.

Tickets are £10/£5 concessions: To book for the conference, visit For more information, email

BACKGROUND INFO: The Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards Combine’s Alternative Corporate Plan (‘The Lucas Plan’) was launched in 1976 and became famous worldwide, sparking an international movement for socially useful production and workers’ plans. Facing the threat of redundancies, the Combine collected 150 ideas from shop floor workers about alternative socially useful products that could be produced by the company, instead of relying on military orders. Many of the innovations in the plan, such as hybrid car engines, heat pumps and wind turbines were commercially viable and are now in widespread use. Although the Alternative Plan was rejected by Lucas Aerospace managers, it was instrumental in protecting jobs at Lucas in the 1970s. The Combine was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and Mike Cooley received the Right Livelihood Award in 1982. More information about the Plan, including the 53-page summary of the five 200 page volumes, can be found on the conference website,