Obituaries

Not the worst kind of renegade

Author

August Grabski

Karol Modzelewski died on 28 April 2019. He was a well known personality on the western anticapitalist left in the 1960s, as co-author of the “Open letter to the Party”.

After the collapse of “actually existing socialism”, he was treated as a moral authority by the liberal media in the Third Polish Republic, as one of the fighters for Polish democracy.

Samir Amin, 1931-2018

Author

Colin Foster

Samir Amin, who died this year at the age of 87, was one of the foremost writers of the “dependency theory” which, in the 1960s and 70s came, many left-wing activists came to think was “the Marxist theory of imperialism”.

Many even thought it was “Lenin’s theory”, although the whole structure of the theory was different.

Mick Woods 1954 - 2018

Author

Martin Thomas

Mick Woods died on 19 July at the age of 63. He was an activist of the tendency which is now Workers’ Liberty from the mid 70s to 1984, and remained a committed socialist until his death.

As all the tributes since his death have testified, Mick combined commitment with wit, critical thinking, and unpretentiousness. The tribute from Roger Welch, an ex-activist of the same vintage, says it well: “a genuine revolutionary but also one with an irreverent sense of humour and healthy cynicism regarding the sort of lefties who reek of self importance”.

“A refusal to settle down”

Author

Fraction L'Etincelle

Klara Feigenbaum, a Trotskyist activist of Romanian origin, known as Irène, died at the age of 97 in March 2017, a year ago.

Moishe Postone 1942-2018

Author

Colin Foster

The Marxist writer Moishe Postone, best-known for his 1993 book Time, Labour, and Social Domination, died on 21 March at the age of 75.

He was also well known for his critique of left antisemitism.

Born in Canada, he first studied for a degree in biochemistry at Chicago University, but then moved to studying history. He recalled a big student occupation in 1969, and a reading group on Hegel and Marx which came out of it, as turning-points in his development.

Hugh Masekela 1939-2018

Author

Bruce Robinson

South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela died aged 79 on 23 January following a recurrence of prostate cancer. He was famous internationally for his playing and singing; for blending South African musical styles with jazz and pop; and as a prominent anti-apartheid activist. Born in Witbank, a mining town near Johannesburg, Masekela started his musical career in a school run by the British anti-apartheid priest Trevor Huddleston.

"Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”

Author

Michéal MacEoin

Anti-capitalist and feminist writer Ursula K. Le Guin passed away on 22 January, aged 88.

Le Guin primarily wrote science fiction and fantasy but, not wishing to be discussed in narrowly restrictive (and often implicitly depreciative) genre terms, wished simply to be known as an “American novelist.”

In books such as The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Word For World is Forest, Le Guin explored huge political themes: revolution, anarchism, life in a communist society, gender, sexuality, religion, colonialism, environmentalism and more.

Cyrille Regis: 1958-2018

Author

Matthew Thompson

The former footballer Cyrille Regis has died suddenly at the age of 59 after a heart attack.

Cyrille was one of the black players who broke through into the game at the top level in England in the late 70s and early 80’s. They overcame appalling racism which was then, sadly, often regarded by fans and managers alike as just harmless banter, to be brushed off as something “normal” and to be expected.

Why the 70s shop stewards lost

Author

Jim Denham

For a brief period in the 1970s, Derek Robinson (who has died, aged 90) was widely regarded as the most powerful trade unionist in Britain.

The so-called “Red Robbo” wasn’t a full-time official. He was a shop steward (albeit a senior steward, allowed time off by management, to devote himself full-time, to union duties).

Joanne Landy

Joanne Landy, one of the last surviving representatives of a thin thread of living continuity between the Third Camp Trotskyists of the 1940s and politics today, died on 14 October in New York, aged 75. She was one of the early members of the Independent Socialist Club which was founded by Hal Draper in Berkeley, California, in 1964, to regroup the revolutionary socialist wing of the remnants within the Socialist Party USA of the old “Shachtmanite” Workers’ Party and Independent Socialist League.

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