Saturday, 7 November 2009

Chris Harman, revolutionary socialist

Chris Harman, a leading figure in the the Socialist Workers Party (and its forerunner International Socialists), has died after suffering a cardiac arrest in Cairo.

Chris Harman has edited all the SWP's publications at various times, most prominently Socialist Worker from 1982 until 2004, when he moved to the theoretical journal International Socialism. He had first become prominent in International Socialists in the late 1960s, as a leading student activist in LSE's Socialist Society. He later wrote an excellent book, The Fire Last Time, about 1968 and the tumultuous years which followed.

I have many of his books on my shelves - as do most longtime SWP members - but 'A People's History of the World', published in the final days of 1999 as the Seattle protestors started to write a new chapter in radical politics, is his greatest achievement. It encompasses extraordinary breadth, as the title suggests, and is consistent and rigorous in applying the marxist method to history. I won't be the only one who has found themselves returning to it many times over the last decade.

There is far, far more that can be said, but I'll leave that to the tributes from revolutionaries and socialists which will no doubt be published in coming days. Above all, I recommend turning to the Chris Harman collection at Marxists Internet Archive.

The photo was taken in Cairo last night.

1 comment:

  1. This came as quite a shock to me. I never knew Chris that well personally, but I respected the man politically. Over the years I attended many meetings at which he spoke and read several of his books.

    The socialist world has lost a great mind. Chris Harman, R.I.P.