Democracy, Direct Action and Socialism


A Debate on Fundamentals

Book Cover "Democracy, Direct Action and Socialism: A Debate on Fundamentals" By Michael Foot and Sean Matgamna overlaid on an image of a bleeding worker being led away by police in riot gear.
Sean Matgamna and Michael Foot
Second edition
Short book
107 pages

A head-to-head debate between the revolutionary left (Sean Matgamna) and the traditional Labour left (Michael Foot), focused on the alternatives posed to the labour movement in the fight against the Thatcher Tories from 1979 to the mid-1980s. The core political arguments remain crucial.

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There are decisive turning points in history that shape the future for many years ahead. The British labour movement was brought to such a turning point by the victory of the Thatcherite Tories in the 1979 general election and the events that came after it. The defeat of the labour movement then shaped the social, political, and ethical world we live in now. Was that defeat unavoidable? The revolutionary left argued then that it wasn’t: that if we mobilised our strength we could defeat Thatcher, as we had defeated her Tory predecessors in 1972-4.

This book deals with the clash of ideas between the revolutionary left and the traditional Labour left then personified by Michael Foot.

It was republished to complement our book Can Socialism Make Sense?

Table of Contents
  • Introduction Martin Thomas
  • Introduction to the Web Edition
  • Preface: Thatcherism and Democracy Sean Matgamna

The Debate:

The Conway Hall Debate:

  • Democracy and Direct Action Martin Thomas
  • What Revolutionary Socialists Advocated Against Thatcher Sean Matgamna
    • The Class Struggle in the Left in 1980
    • Stop the Thatcher Blitz!
    • We Need a Workers Government


  • Trotsky's Diary in Exile Michael Foot
  • Michael Foot: The Man Who Embraced Defeat to Avoid Defeat Sean Matgamna

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