Obituaries

Martin McGuinness

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Martin McGuinness became a revolutionary, by his own lights, as a teenager, and ended his life as a bourgeois minister in a political system he had vowed to shun. He died on 21 March, only a couple of months after resigning as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The underpinnings of Irish national-communal division, the poisonous Partition structures which Martin McGuinness, who has died aged 66, set out to fight remain entrenched.

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John Berger and seeing politically

Author: 

Hugh Daniels

Since the death of John Berger on 2 January the bourgeois press has squirmed over the task of commemorating a major public figure who was also a lifelong Marxist. Some have responded by simply attacking him.

As demonstrated in his seminal 1972 BBC TV series (and accompanying book) Ways of Seeing, John Berger shared the period’s wariness about the dangers of seductive ideologies. However he responded by encouraging us to locate contradictions and complexities within our experience of the world, rather than keeping our distance.

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Belligerent but beautiful songs

Author: 

Janine Booth

When I grew into adulthood in the 1980s, the Tory government's onslaught saw us staring into a bleak future unless we fought back. So we did, and our fightback had a soundtrack.

The better-known voices of that soundtrack — the Paul Wellers and Billy Braggs — are still playing to this day. But one of the less known, and to me one of the best, died last month at the too-young age of 60.

Billy Franks led the Faith Brothers, writing belligerent but beautiful songs of working-class lives and battles, and playing them to an ardent congregation who lived those lives and fought those battles.

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Matthew Caygill 1955 — 2016

Author: 

Luke Hardy

Workers’ Liberty is saddened to hear of the sudden death of Matthew Caygill, a Marxist historian, a left wing activist and trade unionist.

Matthew Caygill, a Marxist historian, left-wing activist and trade unionist, started out his political life in the anti-Apartheid movement and through that ended up joining the Socialist Workers Party. Eventually he and others left the SWP over their “anti-imperialist turn” in the late 80s and early 90s which they criticised as a move away from the anti-Stalinist left tradition that the IS/ SWP grew out of.

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Davey Hopper, 1943-2016

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Davey Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association, died suddenly on 16 July.

The defeat of the 1984-1985 miners’ strike destroyed communities, lives and set back the cause of working class struggle for a generation. No one knew that better then Hopper, and he with others devoted the next 30 years of his life to turning the Durham Miners’ Association into a force which fought back for the community and the wider movement.

Davey Hopper, General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association, died suddenly on 16 July.

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Bogdan Denitch: “a tireless organiser”

Author: 

Ed Strauss

Bogdan Denitch was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1929. His father was a Serbian diplomat.

In 1940 Bogdan went to London when his father moved to the Yugoslav embassy there. Eventually Bogdan came to New York in 1946. He enrolled at City College New York and soon joined the Young People’s Socialist League, YPSL, the youth group of the Socialist Party.

Ed Strauss remembers the veteran Yugoslav-American socialist Bogdan Denitch, who died on 28 March.

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Remembering Leon Brumant

Author: 

Daniel Randall

Leon, on the left, picketing Oxford Circus station during a London Underground strike in August 2015.


Leon Brumant, London Underground worker, RMT union rep, and socialist and anti-racist activist, died on Friday 22 April, aged just 30 years old. He is survived by Nailah, his young daughter.

Leon Brumant, London Underground worker, RMT rep, and socialist and anti-racist activist, died on Friday 22 April, aged 30 years old. His colleague and comrade Daniel Randall remembers him.

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Carl Hornsey, 1977-2015

Author: 

Camila Bassi

I knew Carl during our student activist days. I can still recollect our intense political conversation in a noisy upstairs room of a London pub that led to him joining the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty in 1997, of which he was a member for around two to three years.

An obituary of Carl Hornsey, a former member of Workers' Liberty who has died aged 38.

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Les Forster, 1919-2016

Author: 

Ann Field

The veteran Glasgow socialist Les Forster died last week, aged 96. Forster was the last survivor of a generation of socialist activists in the West of Scotland who broke with the Communist Party in the early 1950s and struck out to build a non-Stalinist and anti-Stalinist socialist tradition.

The veteran Glasgow socialist Les Forster died last week, aged 96. Forster was the last survivor of a generation of socialist activists in the West of Scotland who broke with the Communist Party in the early 1950s and struck out to build a non-Stalinist and anti-Stalinist socialist tradition.

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Ellen Meiskins Wood (1942-2016): a Marxist who put class centre

Author: 

Andrew Coates

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, was a noted intellectual figure on the international left who influenced several generations of thinkers and activists.

Born in New York as Ellen Meiksins one year after her parents, Latvian Jews active in the Bund, arrived as political refugees, Wood studied in California before establishing herself as an academic in Canada, based at York University in Toronto.

Her writings were thought-provoking and luminous.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, influenced several generations of left academics and activists. She was a Marxist who combined creative and original thinking with a powerful defence of the centrality of class and class struggle to socialist politics.

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