Marxists

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...

1917 was a revolution, not a coup

The British Trotskyist group Socialist Resistance has published a book, October 1917 — Workers in Power (Merlin 2016), which defends the key decisions of the Bolsheviks, while making some reasonable criticisms of the regime created after the civil war. The collection of essays is useful in many respects, but feels somewhat stale and has a number of notable gaps. A centre-piece of the book is Ernest Mandel’s essay, October 1917: Coup d’etat or social revolution? Mandel, who died in 1995, did a good job explaining why the Bolsheviks had won majority support among workers (and indeed wide...

Healy's WRP: the inside story

The Workers Revolutionary Party was the largest group on the revolutionary left until the mid-1970s, and a sizeable force until it collapsed in 1985. Here, Richard Price, a former member of the WRP, reviews Come The Revolution: A Memoir, by Alex Mitchell. Mitchell was the editor of the WRP paper from the early 1970s until 1985. He quit politics without explanation in 1986, returned to his native Australia, and made a career in mainstream journalism. Now Mitchell has written an autobiography. In October 1985 the Workers Revolutionary Party split explosively, amid allegations of sexual abuse of...

The ABCs of socialism today: an outline of the basics

Why the Working Class is Central Trotsky Taught Us Class Action What is Leninism? What is Trotskyism? Leon Trotsky: A Life For Socialism — October 1879 - August 21 1940 October 1917: Revolution for Freedom In Equality An Eye-Witness Account of the October Revolution (HD) October Was a True Working Class Revolution How the Communist Parties became “frontier guards of the USSR” The Nature of Stalinist Imperialism (HD) Stalinism and Bolshevism (LT) What a Revolutionary Party Must Be and What It Must Do Trotskyism: The Fragmented Tradition (SM) What the Alliance For Workers' Liberty Is For (SM)

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