Obituaries

The Man in Black

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Matt Cooper

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Living on the hopeless hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner
Who has long paid for his crime
But is there because he's a victim of the times
I wear it for the sick and lonely old
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold
I wear the black in mourning for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men

(From The man in black, 1971)

The life and work of Johnny Cash.

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A lady in trousers

Clive Bradley looks at the life and career of Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn, who died at the beginning of July at the age of 96, was not alone among her generation of Hollywood aristocratic ladies in preferring to wear trousers. But the other two women most associated with such manly apparel-Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich-were European, so they probably didn't count.

Hepburn, on the other hand, was from a patrician New England family, educated at an Ivy League university, and even spoke in that almost-British accent which marks out the American upper bourgeoisie.

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The two souls of Christopher Hill

Alan Johnson concludes his appreciation of the Marxist historian who wrote about the 17th century and the English Revolution


We have to be careful in appropriating Hill's history-writing. He is contradictory and uncertain on some crucial questions. In parts of his oeuvre Hill is not alive to the qualitative difference between a bourgeois and a working class revolution. The former is necessarily minoritarian and self-deluding. The latter is necessarily majoritarian and self-conscious. Hill (rather like Isaac Deutscher) tended to conflate the two and read the dynamics of the former onto the latter. But in other places Hill is clear that on the left wing of the bourgeois revolution emerged something entirely new in human history, the presentiment of self-emancipation.

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Tom Jackson: how not to lead a union

By Pete Keenlyside

In an era when trade union leaders were household names, Tom Jackson, who died this month aged 78, stood out from the rest. This was partly due to his appearance - the trademark handlebar moustache - partly due to the fact that he appeared regularly on TV panel programmes but mainly because he was general secretary of the postal workers union (then UPW, now CWU) during the 7-week strike in 1971.

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Christopher Hill and the making of the English Revolution

"The master of more than an old Oxford College", Edward Thompson used to say of Christopher Hill, historian and Master of Balliol College, Oxford, who died in March 2003. Hill was the pre-eminent Marxist historian writing on the 17th century and the English Revolution. Harvey Kaye, in his book about the remarkable generation of "British Marxist Historians", judged Hill "one of the greatest historians to work in the English language in the twentieth century". In this issue of Solidarity Alan Johnson begins an appreciation of Hill, his view of history and the significance of his work.

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MUSIC: New world music

Clive Bradley looks at the life and work of Luciano Berio (1926-2003)


The musical avant garde, like "modern art" in general, has a bad reputation with most people, who hear it as tuneless noise (if indeed it is not, as in one work by John Cage, complete silence, or another by Karlheinz Stockhausen, a group of musicians sitting by themselves in a room for several days doing very little...) It is thought of as elitist, impenetrable, above all boring.

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Staring down defeat

Christopher Hill, who died in March, was an eminent Marxist historian, writing on the 17th century and the English Revolution. Alan Johnson continues his appreciation of Hill's writing. The first part can be found in a recent issue of Solidarity.

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Robert Howard-Perkins

It is with great sadness that we report the unexpected death of Rob Howard-Perkins. Rob died in December following a short illness. He was 35.

Rob joined the civil service after leaving school in 1987, working at Stepney and then City Social Security offices. He joined the union immediately and it was not long before he was playing an active role in CPSA Hackney and Tower Hamlets branch. Rob also served on the CPSA DHSS Section Executive Committee and was a member of both Socialist Caucus and the Broad Left. Outside the Civil Service Rob was active in the Labour Party, Socialist Organiser and several anti racist campaigns.

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BOLSHY'S TRIBUTE TO JOE STRUMMER

Joe Strummer
1952-2002

They don't make bands like The Clash any more. Call me cynical, but it's true. Girls Aloud and One True Voice, as vocally talented, articulate, intelligent people as they are, don't quite measure up to a band like The Clash. Their front-man, Joe Strummer, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in December 2002 at the age of 50, will certainly be missed.


Joe Strummer and The Clash combined punk - the angry noise of the white working-class - and ska - the angry noise of the black working-class - and came out with…The Clash: the angry noise of the working-class. Okay, apathy wasn't as endemic then, but Joe and The Clash never avoided controversy and were never afraid to speak their minds.

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An inspiration for a new generation

Veteran Chinese Trotskyist Wang Fan-hsi dies by Din Wong

also Alexander Buchman

On 16 January the funeral of the veteran Chinese Trotskyist Wang Fan-hsi took place. He was ninety five. As well as friends and family there were representatives and comrades from many of the revolutionary groups in Britain.

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Joe Strummer, rebel musician (1952-2002)

MUSIC
Matt Cooper appreciates the music and times of the lead singer of the Clash


White youth, black youth
Better find another solution
Why not phone up Robin Hood
And ask him for some wealth distribution

From the Clash's "(White man) in Hammersmith Palais" (1977)

When Joe Strummer, one time front man of the Clash, died at the age of 50 on 22 December, it was more than a pioneering musician who died. Strummer linked rebel music with the politics of resistance in a way that was neither pretentious nor insincere.

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Wang Fan-hsi

By Din Wong

"I have spent the greater part of my life and effort in the struggle for socialism and against Stalinism." Wang Fan-hsi, 1907-2002.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many on the left greeted the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe and the rise of US "New World Order" with dismay and despondency. But not Wang Fan-hsi, a life-long Trotskyist and Chinese communist revolutionary, who passed away in Leeds, England, on 30 Dec 2002, aged 95.

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Ceri Evans, 1965-2002

Ed George, Darren Williams, Leanne Wood and Brendan Young remember their comrade Ceri Evans

Ceri Evans took his own life at the beginning of August at the age of 36. Ceri was first drawn to revolutionary politics as a teenage activist in the anti-missiles movement of the early 1980s. He joined the International Marxist Group, British Section of the Fourth International, in 1981. From then until the day he died he remained a revolutionary socialist, an internationalist, a Marxist, and an irreconcilable atheist.

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Pure Gould

Clive Bradley looks at the work of Stephen Jay Gould, who died in May 2002.

Stephen Jay Gould, who has died aged sixty, after a twenty year battle with lung cancer, was one of the world's best known, and often most controversial, writers of popular science. Professor of Zoology and Geology at Harvard University, Gould introduced thousands of non-scientists like me to Darwinism, with books like Ever Since Darwin and An Urchin in the Storm - collections of essays originally written for Natural History magazine. A palaeontologist (an expert in snails), he was himself a chief figure within Darwinist debates. He was one of the authors of the theory of 'punctuated equilibria' - that evolution goes through (relatively speaking) rapid periods of change after long eras of 'stasis', rather than just bit-by-bit gradualism. But his work covers an astonishing range of subjects. One of his best books, The Mismeasure of Man, was not about evolutionary theory at all, but an impassioned criticism of the whole racist history of intelligence testing.

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