History

CND: The CP steward, the priest, and the political banner

Author: 

Peter Fryer, Brian Pearce, and others

From Tribune 27 June 1958

Peter fryer: “stopped from marching”

Some most unfortunate incidents marred last Sunday’s demonstration organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Members of the Labour Party, including many who had come down specially from the provinces, were marching behind the Newsletter’s banner, which bore the slogan “Industrial action — black the H-bomb and the rocket bases” and were shouting the slogan “No work on H-bombs, no work on rocket bases.”

CND: The CP steward, the priest, and the political banner

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Trotskyists, Stalinists and the Anti-Nuclear Weapons Movement in Britain, 1957-58

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

By Sean Matgamna
The letters below all appeared in the Labour left-wing weekly Tribune in 1958. We think they conjure up the political world in which Trotskyists operated half a century ago.

The British Left that gave birth to the CND movement. An article and some documents of the time.

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

The Phoenix Marxist and Labour Movement Archive

As Leon Trotsky once wrote, the revolutionary party is the memory of the working class. It is, it must be, also the memory of the Marxist movement itself. Documents, newspapers, reminiscences, carbon copies are the repositories of this memory. The AWL has over the years accumulated a considerable amount of such material, and not only of our own tendency, over the last four decades. We have decided to organise and augment this material, and to make it available to scholars of the movement and others.

We are setting up a Phoenix Marxist and Labour Movement Archive.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Publications: 

“Workers cannot write newspapers? Really? Just tell us some news about your factory”

Pieces from communists involved in producing factory newspapers. Taken from the Funke, the paper of the party workers of the Berlin-Brandenburg district of the German Communist Party. 6 August 1925

It was about three weeks before the Reichstag election. In our district we discussed how we could mobilise factory nuclei for the struggle and also how we could utilise the election campaign for the activation of our nucleus work. In this connection we naturally came to speak of nucleus newspapers.

Trade Unions: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

“Factory newspapers riled the employers from the beginning”

Abridged from Inprecor, the bulletin of the Communist International, February 1925

Factory newspapers are an innovation in the life of the Communist Parties of the West. They had their origin on the revolutionary soil of the Soviet Union in the form of wall newspapers. During the last year they crossed the boundary which separates the proletarian European East from the capitalist West, assuming the form of cyclostyled factory newspapers and becoming a form of agitation, propaganda and organisation which is really gaining in importance.

Trade Unions: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Boring old romantics

Ruben Lomas reviews Peter Ackroyd’s The Romantics, BBC2

The French Revolution — although it was a bourgeois revolution — also saw ordinary working people organising collectively, producing their own propaganda, literature, publications and staking their claim for a society in which those who produce wealth also have some control over it. The events in France in the late 18th century are still a central point of departure for anyone serious about studying our tradition.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Publications: 

The “IS tradition” and the Independent Labour Party

Author: 

Sean Matgamna
The “IS tradition” of the 1960s was in fact largely taken from the Independent Labour Party in its last years.

The “IS tradition” of the 1960s, which members and old ex-members of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) cherish, was in fact largely taken from the Independent Labour Party in its last years.

The first part of this article described the earlier history of the ILP. After 1946 the ILP mutated. This article tells the rest of the story.

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The history of pensions

Old age pensions have been won by labour-movement campaigning, or granted by conservative politicians trying to pre-empt rising labour movements.

The idea of a universal old-age pension, payable to all elderly people as of right, was first raised in the French Revolution of 1789–99, although the policy was never carried through.

The first comprehensive old-age pension was legislated in Germany, in 1889, by a conservative leader, Otto von Bismarck, who wanted to stall the rise of the then-illegal German socialist movement.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

SWP/IS: history and myth

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Eric Hobsbawm somewhere discusses one of the oddest conundrums in labour historiography, one paralleled now in the historiography of IS/SWP: the 20th century reputation of the Fabian Society as far-sighted pioneers of independent labour representation - the gap between what was and what is afterwards widely accepted as having been.

An examination of the historiography of IS/SWP, by a one-time member, and of the realities behind the encrusted mythology. (1997)

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Around the world: 

What is the Bolshevik-Trotskyist tradition?

Workers' Liberty

What follows is a summary of the political and ideological traditions on which Workers’ Liberty and Solidarity base ourselves.

Isaac Newton famously summed up the importance of studying, learning, and building on forerunners. “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, he wrote, referring to René Descartes, his contemporary Robert Hooke, and presumably also to his direct predecessor Isaac Barrow.

In science few people think they can neglect the “tradition” and rely on improvisation. In politics, alas, too many.

A summary of the political and ideological traditions on which we base ourselves.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

The working class in the US Civil War

By Sacha Ismail

In my first article, I described how the bourgeoisie of the Northern United States formed a coalition with other social layers to defeat a pro-slavery rebellion and destroy slavery in the US South. This article looks at the US working class during that period.

The making of the American working class

It was only when the Napoleonic Wars and the Anglo-American war of 1812-15 cut off the import of manufactured goods from Europe that the US’s industrial revolution really began.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

The forgotten massacre of the Vietnamese Trotskyists

On demonstrations in the 1960s, it was common to hear marchers chanting “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, we will fight and we will win”, in honour of the Vietnamese Stalinist who led the fight against US occupation. The best sections of the left replied with their own rhyme — Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh — how many Trots did you do in?” They were referring to the mass murder of the Vietnamese Trotskyists by Stalinist forces in 1945. Sixty years on, the massacre has largely been forgotten.

The mass murder of the Vietnamese Trotskyists by Stalinist forces in 1945 has largely been forgotten.

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

August Grabski on the Anti-Zionism of the Bund (1947-1972)

The Bund in Poland dissolved itself 16 January 1949. The activists assembled at the congress in Wroclaw called the bundists to join the Polish United Workers Party (the Communist party). But the activity of the Bund was continued in about twenty countries in Western Europe, the USA, Canada, Israel, Latin America countries, Australia. The purpose of this text is to show the attitude of the Bund towards the state of Israel and the Zionism during 25 years since the UNO decision on the partition of Palestine until the situation shaped by the six days war. The article is devoted much more to the programmatic – propaganda questions than organisational ones. The text will treat mainly on the Israeli Bund and the world congresses of the party.

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Workers' Liberty 49, September 1998

Contents

Click on "read more" to see articles.

Our History: When women fought for liberation by Cathy Nugent

Should socialists stand against Labour?, by John Nihill

Cliff on Russia: A matter of terminological taste, by Hal Draper

Ireland: blame the British ruling class!, by Sean Matgamna

Issues and Campaigns: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Catholic Action: A rift in the Iron Curtain, by James P Cannon

Author: 

James P Cannon

Trotskyist literature that deals head-on with organised religion is something of a rarity. Not so in the USA in the 1940s and 50s. The American "Orthodox Trotskyists" of the Socialist Workers Party published a stream of articles and a pamphlet denouncing the Cardinals, bishops and priests of the Catholic Church for their reactionary role in politics and American society. This article, by James Patrick Cannon, was one such attack. Reviewing a novel, Moon Gaffney, by Harry Sylvester, Cannon followed Sylvester in portraying the social and mental world of Catholic Irish-America.

The American Trotskyist leader discusses political Catholicism in the USA in the mid-Twentieth Century.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

A Sinister Web

A SINISTER WEB

A Right-Wing Conspiracy in Italy 33 Years Ago?

by Alfred Consiglio

It was the kind of news the Italians call a bombshell. Settegiorni magazine reported on 16 April, 1972 that the Defence Ministry had been obliged to dismiss the command of the 3rd Army, stationed on the Eastern border. The formal grounds were “economic and organizational considerations”. Actually, it had come to light that there existed in the 3rd Army “right-wing elements attempting to form an activist nucleus for further action” with a view to “putting democracy in the freezer”.

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill

Author: 

Joe Hill

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right,
But when asked about something to eat,
They will answer in voices so sweet:

Chorus:
You will eat bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky.
Work and pray, (work and pray),
Live on hay, (live on hay),
You’ll get Pie in the Sky,
When you die, (that’s a lie!)

A song about religion.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

The Wobblies' legacy

This is the second part of an article* by the American Trotskyist James P Cannon about the US Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or “Wobblies”), founded 100 years ago.

The IWW was set up as “one big union” to organise all American workers, but as Cannon explains, it was also a “revolutionary” union built by socialists. IWWers thought the union could form the basis of a new, socialist, society.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Jihadis of the 1640s

Dan Nichols reviews “blood on our hands: the english civil war”, Channel 4

Channel Four’s programme on the English Revolution broke new ground in its portrayal of a nation at war with itself. It was based around letters from the period and featured actors playing the roles of those who had written the letters.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Publications: 

The Trotskyists and Israel/Palestine

As with the statement put out by the Palestinian Trotskyists in 1948 (Solidarity 3/65), the main interest for present-day politics of the article reproduced below — an editorial by Hal Draper from the American weekly Labor Action (24 and 31 May 1948) — lies in the sharp contrast with what passes for Trotskyism today.

Labor Action was the paper of the Workers’ Party, the dissident “other stream” of Trotskyism, which had separated from Trotsky in a dispute about attitudes to Stalinist Russia a few months before he was murdered in August 1940.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Archive: The Trotskyists and Israel, 1948

The document reprinted here was a statement put out by the Palestinian Trotskyists on the eve of the declaration of Israel on 14 May 1948 and the invasion by the armies of five Arab states, some of them under the command of British officers, that followed.

On one level it is a splendid statement of working class internationalism thrown into the howling gale of Arab and Jewish nationalism that dominated Palestine.

On the level of immediate politics, it is a mixture of ultra-leftism and economism.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

The 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster

Notes from a talk by Clive Bradley at North London AWL branch, 14 December 2004

The disaster took place on the night of 2-3 December 1984. Just after midnight, poison gas leaked from a chemical factory, which killed up to 8,000 people immediately, and between 16,000 and 30,000 people over time. It was a terrible atrocity, which symbolises global inequality and the reality of capitalism to people in the 'third world'.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Around the world: 

The Rosenbergs: framed but guilty?

Steve Cohen reviews “An Execution In The Family” by Robert Meeropol, St Martins Press

New Labour is a clean machine. On the bridge over Victoria Station in Manchester there used to be a slogan daubed well before the age of spray paint. In bold white-wash it demanded “Save the Rosenbergs”. This was obliterated by the Labour council some time in the 1990s. I want to restore it. Thanks to that slogan, by my eighth birthday I’d become politicised on one significant issue — the cruelty, corruption and anti-communism of the USA political and judicial system.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Publications: 

Opposing both evils

Some people argue that we must support the US/UK occupation of Iraq, despite everything, because the US/UK forces offer the only realistic way of defeating the Islamists there. Similar arguments were used, for example, during the Korean War of 1950-3, to claim that socialists should back the USA’s war there because it was the only realistic option for defeating Stalinism. This reply by the American Marxist Max Shachtman to the argument about Korea remains relevant, in its essentials, to the arguments about Iraq today.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Balance sheet on James P Cannon

James P Cannon still has a lot to teach Marxists today and the balance sheet on his life and politics is largely positive (Solidarity 3/56 and 3/57). There is no doubt his decision to support Trotsky in 1928 was of enormous significance in creating the international tendency opposed to Stalinism, on whose shoulders we stand today.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - History