Obituaries

Mick Woods 1954 - 2018
Mick Woods
SJWWed, 08/08/2018 - 10:46

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”.

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“A refusal to settle down”
Klara
SJWWed, 28/03/2018 - 18:41

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

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Moishe Postone 1942-2018SJWWed, 28/03/2018 - 18:04

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.

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Hugh Masekela 1939-2018MatthewWed, 14/02/2018 - 12:34

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.

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"Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”
Ursula K Le Guin
SJWFri, 26/01/2018 - 16:12

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.

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Cyrille Regis: 1958-2018
Cyrille Regis
SJWTue, 16/01/2018 - 19:09

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.

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Why the 70s shop stewards lost

Submitted by Matthew on 8 November, 2017 - 11:00 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).

Comments

Submitted by Janet on Sun, 19/11/2017 - 03:32

I'm guessing that this from Jim Denham "Edwardes must have realised that the majority of senior stewards in British Leyland were severely out of touch with their members. He dispensed with the soft-soap Ryder approach, drove a coach and horses through participation" is what the Economist obituary tells like this : "Mr Robinson’s forte was haranguing mass meetings on windswept playing fields, with strike votes taken instantly by an intimidating show of hands. But in 1979 British Leyland’s new boss, Michael Edwardes, balloted the workers directly (and secretly) on modernisation plans, gaining a seven-to-one majority for drastic job cuts in exchange for investment."
I'm also interested in this story for its similarities (though many differences) with the way Australian manufacturing unions promoted and enforced a national Prices and Incomes Accord, essentially out of fear of growing unemployment. Promises of investment, leading to jobs, weigh very persuasively to workers generally and union leaders in particular. There is nothing beneficial to employees in their employer going bust. It's not so hard to come up with general demands against unemployment - shorter hours, nationalisation, decent unemployment benefits - but in the maelstrom of uncertainty about being able to earn a living - there's a profusion of cases of unions submitting to capital. What efforts if any, were made through the 1970s, from an independent working class perspective, to anticipate and avert job losses from the coming demise of car manufacturing?

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Joanne Landy MatthewWed, 18/10/2017 - 10:43

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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Mehmet AksoyMatthewWed, 11/10/2017 - 09:26

Mehmet Aksoy, a London-based Kurdish socialist activist, has been killed by Daesh while volunteering with the Kurdish YPG national liberation forces. Aksoy, a trained film-maker, was volunteering as a press officer with a unit of the YPG when a Daesh unit attacked his position a short distance from the front line in Raqqa.

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Clancy Sigal: 6 September 1926 - 16 July 2017
Clancy Sigal in 1962
AWLTue, 03/10/2017 - 18:21

The author of possibly one of the best novels about British coalminers and their communities, Clancy Sigal, was a Chicago-born Jew who came to Britain during the McCarthy period having previously been an organiser for the United Automobile Workers.

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