Marxists

The No-Party people

During the 1980s, a lot of people who thought of themselves as Marxists [grew] indifferent or hostile to any project of building a Marxist organisation. This tribe, and it was quite an important component of the Labour left, marched or ambled, in so far as it expressed itself explicitly, under the idea: we will develop the influence of Marxism by promoting left-wing ideas in the existing broad labour movement, trade unions and Labour Party. No socialist organisation beyond the Labour Party and its coteries and careerist cliques was needed. The existing structures were sufficient. This view was...

Democracy, socialism, and public ownership

From Socialism Makes Sense B. Didn’t Stalinism do what socialists advocated? Didn’t it “nationalise” the economy? Statify it? You say that “socialism” is what you say it is, and not what everyone else says it is! A. Would you accept your politics being equated with all those who call themselves “right-wing” or “conservative”? You wouldn’t. The truth is that the self-definition of the left, in capitalist society, is always and inevitably a struggle against rabid misrepresentation and unreasoning prejudice. And even more so now, after Stalin. B. The leftists who see future socialism as a perhaps...

What is socialism?

From Socialism Makes Sense B. Socialists are good at criticising and rubbishing the society we live in. You are less forthcoming about your own positive alternative to it. A. The elaboration of a detailed picture of a future socialist society would be arbitrary and pointless, because we can’t know in detail how things will evolve. B. That puts people like me at a disadvantage. We defend what is, what we know, what critics also can see and know and denounce. You “defend” a vague and shadowy future, and say that in detail it is unknowable. What, positively, would a socialist society as you...

Communism, socialism, workers' liberty: what the words mean

The terms "communism" and "socialism" were, when they first became current in the labour movement and left in the 19th century, pretty much signified the same thing, but with variable shades of nuance. Since then they have, at various times, acquired different meanings. Generally AWL prefers to use the word "socialism", because it is widely understood that there are many versions of "socialism". We then further explain that our idea is working-class socialism, which implies also that it is democratic socialism and revolutionary socialism. We consider ourselves "communists" in the sense in...

Robert Fine, 1945-2018

The socialist writer and activist Robert Fine died on 9 June 2018, at the age of 72. We publish tributes from Workers' Liberty people and from others who knew and worked with him. Photo: Robert Fine with Jean Lane (in the clearing in the middle of the photo, slightly right of centre, holding Workers' Action newspapers) at the anti-fascist march in Lewisham, 13 August 1977. For some of the writings by Robert Fine on this website, and a review of his latest book, click here or scroll down. Clive Bradley I learned a great deal from Bob Fine (in those days he went by "Bob"; I think later he...

A book that will make socialists

They say that people — young people in particular — don’t read books any more. I hope that’s not true, because books have always been powerful weapons in the struggle for socialism, and many of us can look back to a particular pamphlet, novel or collection of essays and say, “that’s what convinced me”. Many comrades I’ve known said they were won over by Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (which, to my shame, I’ve never read), the poetry of Shelley or the writings of William Morris. For me it was youthful exposure to Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier, especially) and then, a few years...

Hope and fight: why you should be a socialist

“Why waste your life on this foolish quest?”, we are asked by anti-socialists and sceptics. “Why invite us to do the same? Why fight for a cause that may suffer nothing but defeat, in your lifetime, or forever?” Our new book Socialism Makes Sense replies: Are we nothing higher than a commercially-conducted and regulated edition of animals, amongst them primitive humankind, spending an entire lifetime browsing and grubbing for food? That is the “shop until you drop” ethos which this society glorifies and depends on for economic dynamism. Leavened maybe with a bit of religious uplift, a half...

Raymond Williams: thirty years on

January 2018 marks thirty years since the death of Raymond Williams, the writer, theoretician and critic. In the 60s and 70s Williams’ star shone brightly in the intellectual firmament of the left. It has faded somewhat since. Unjustly so in my opinion, for there is still much to be learnt from the writings of this son of a Welsh railway worker who became one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of his generation, much to the chagrin no doubt of many of his colleagues at Cambridge University, where Williams graduated and was to spend all his life as a lecturer. Perhaps, ironically, it is Williams’...

The Revolution Betrayed

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 opened up a new epoch for humanity. What no other social upheaval before it had ever dared to hope for, the Russian Revolution proclaimed boldly and confidently. Not the great French revolution, not even the Paris Commune of 1871, not even the rehearsal of the Russian Revolution in 1905, dreamed that it was the immediate forerunner of international socialism. The Russian revolutionists of 1917, from their leaders down to the most obscure militant, did believe that they had only made the magnificent beginning, and that the flame they lighted would burn until it...

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. The ISC expanded rapidly into a US-wide organisation, and in 1969 renamed itself “International...

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