Immanuel Wallerstein 1930-2019

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:10

Martin Thomas

Immanuel Wallerstein died at the age of 88 on 31 August. He was one of the last great exponents of the 1950s-60s theory of imperialism known as “dependency theory”, and continued to write until only a few years ago.

He was born in New York, the son of Polish Jews fleeing antisemitism, and worked almost all his life in US universities. He named Marx first among those to whom he “acknowledged a continuing intellectual debt”.

He described himself as one of a “gang of four” with Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi, and Andre Gunder Frank, all also now dead. Gunder Frank was the most prolific and

Ágnes Heller 1929-2019

Published on: Thu, 05/09/2019 - 09:10

John Cunningham

With the death of Ágnes Heller on 19 July an era in Hungarian politics has come to an end.

She was one of the last links to the Hungarian Marxist György Lukács and the so-called Budapest School of the 1960s, which consisted of a number of his former students, including Heller’s husband Ferenc Feher.

Born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Heller survived the Holocaust. Her father – an inspirational figure who helped many Jews to survive – perished in the final months of the war. After 1945 she enrolled at university and joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1947 after hearing Lukács give a

Not the worst kind of renegade

Published on: Thu, 20/06/2019 - 09:03

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.

Karol Modzelewski was born in Moscow in 1937 in a family of Communist activists. His stepfather, Zygmunt Modzelewski, became the foreign affairs minister in “People’s Poland” in 1947. In 1964, Modzelewski, who was then a lecturer at the

Samir Amin, 1931-2018

Published on: Wed, 17/10/2018 - 08:38

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.

Amin, of Egyptian-French background, lived most of his life in France, and was in the French Communist Party then associated with Maoists. The basic idea of “dependency theory” was that ex-colonial countries were underdeveloped because of a drain of surplus to the richer

Mick Woods 1954 - 2018

Published on: Wed, 08/08/2018 - 10:46

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”.

Mick went with the group around Alan Thornett in

“A refusal to settle down”

Published on: Wed, 28/03/2018 - 18:41

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.

Alongside her then-partner David Korner, alias Barta, she founded the “Groupe Communiste”, which in 1944 took the name “Union Communiste” (UC), and which led the 1947 Renault strike alongside the militant worker Pierre Bois, at a time when the CGT and the PCF (which was then in the government) were opposed to all strikes. It was from this group that would later spring Voix ouvrière (although Irène was only active in it for the first few years) and then Lutte ouvrière and

Moishe Postone 1942-2018

Published on: Wed, 28/03/2018 - 18:04

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.

He went to do further postgraduate study at Frankfurt University with Iring Fetscher, a philosopher in the tradition of the “Frankfurt

Hugh Masekela 1939-2018

Published on: Wed, 14/02/2018 - 12:34

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.

After seeing a biopic about jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, he agreed to stop getting into trouble at school in exchange for learning the trumpet. He then became part of

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

Published on: Fri, 26/01/2018 - 16:12

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.

One of Le Guin’s most valuable

Cyrille Regis: 1958-2018

Published on: Tue, 16/01/2018 - 19:09

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.

Cyrille was one of the so-called “Three Degrees” of black players signed by West Bromwich Albion along with the late Laurie Cunningham and Brendan Batson. They were managed for a time by Ron

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