Archive for July, 2010


Socialist Historians Up North – Autumn Day School 2010

The next Socialist Historians Up North Day School has been organised for Saturday October 16th, 2010. All are welcome to come along – whether you are socialist historians or just interested in the topics we are discussing.

To be held at: People’s History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester,
Greater Manchester M3 3ER


09.45: Tea and Coffee (please purchase in the Museum)

10.00 to 12.15: The Great Unrest, Labour and Syndicalism 1900-1914 (Edd Mustill presenting)

12.15 to 1.15pm: Lunch (bring your own, or purchase at Museum cafe)

1.15 to 3.30pm: ‘Social Democratic Trajectories in Modern Europe: one or many families?’ (Professor Stefan Berger, Manchester University, presenting)

3.30 to 4.00pm: Planning and Organising the Socialist Historians; future meetings etc.

Coming Along?

If you think you might be coming along, please let us know by e-mail (see below). Note that lunch is not provided, so bring your own, or you can eat at the museum’s cafe.

The fee to attend the day-school will be £7 waged, £5 unwaged, to cover cost of room hire



Special Offers on Books

 The Eugene Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle

We have just one copy left of this difficult to obtain selection of articles by the American radical Socialist and trade union activist Eugene Debs published by the Institute of Working Class History in Chicago. Edited by William Pelz, a Socialist History Society member in the US. Price £10.

Broonland by the Scottish historian Christopher Harvie (Verso, 2010)

A witty analysis of contemporary Scottish culture, its economy, state and politics, which centres around a merciless examination of the checkered career of Gordon Brown (remember him?) and is informed by the author’s understanding of Marxism. Professor Harvie, who is also an MSP for the Scottish National Party, gave a an extremely entertaining talk on the same theme to the Socialist History Society just a few weeks before the recent general election. We have a few copies still available of his book at the discount price of £5.

To obtain copies of either of the above contact:


witness against the beast


Power, Profit & Prestige: A History of American Imperial Expansion by Philip S Golub (Pluto, 2010)

As the great French historian Fernand Braudel once observed, the past inescapably “contaminates” the present.

This idea of the present contaminated by the crimes of the past certainly applies to the continuities in the foreign policy record of the United States over the centuries, according to Professor Philip S Golub, a Paris-based international relations and economics specialist, who is the author of this highly informative, concisely argued and remarkably well researched study of the country’s imperial ambitions.

International relations-based critiques of US imperialism have become a veritable industry in the post-September 11 world, particularly following the invasion of Iraq, but far too many of these often hastily produced volumes adopt a somewhat superficial polemical approach and thus ultimately fail to address the fundamental issues that are at stake; they tend to find the monopoly-seeking behaviour of the US at the start of the 21st century deeply puzzling and leave its actions largely unexplained.

By contrast, Golub’s book stands out for its detailed historical research, its wealth of references and its insistence on always making the connections between the economic, political, financial, and foreign policy interests.

In Golub’s perspective, the United States or “America” as he prefers to describe it, no doubt to the annoyance of our Latin American friends, is just one of many big empire-building countries with a ruling elite whose lust for domination is similar in its ruthlessness to those of European imperialists and of empires from time immemorial for that matter.

Just as a rose is a rose, an empire is an empire, it is as simple as that, Golub believes, citing the classical historian M I Finley’s telling remark: “Calling an empire a ‘hegemony’ does not change its nature or objectives in the slightest.”

By marshalling a wealth of quotations from past and present US leaders and key strategists, Golub, who is also a contributing editor to Le Monde Diplomatique, establishes beyond doubt the continuities in US ideology and ambitions and convincingly makes the case that it has always been a power with strong imperial designs.

He quotes the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Henry Cabot Lodge, who in 1895 stated his country’s intentions in no uncertain terms: “The US has a record of conquest, colonisation and territorial expansion unequalled by any people in the 19th century…we are not to be curbed now.” A similar arrogance is evident in former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s curt dismissal of international law in 2000 as mere “illusory norms of international behaviour” to which the US would not adhere.

If the US is “exceptional” in any way, as its defenders often assert, it is only in the sheer scale of its global reach, Golub maintains, showing how it has exercised its powers to subjugate all rivals, especially since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

But a key element of Golub’s thesis is that US imperial domination of the world may now be coming to an end in the wake of the recent global financial crisis, which considerably weakened its economic and financial might, while simultaneously its failure to have its own way in the Middle East has tarnished its military prestige overseas. In addition, the quiet but steady rise of China poses a serious challenge in the future. Golub observes that President Obama may initiate a radical change of direction in US foreign policy, but ultimately he seems unconvinced of this. 

Power, Profit & Prestige is very ambitious in scope and it is extremely tightly written; in just over 220 pages it manages to comment on developments over the centuries taking in the genocidal elimination of the American Indians as a founding nation-building crime, followed by the ruthless exercise of power against the Philippines at the end of the 19th century, examining the key economic importance of the slave plantations to both Britain and the US, taking in the Cold War and concluding with George Bush’s war against terrorism and the recent global economic downturn. Some 60 of its 220 pages are taken up with notes and references which conveniently enable the reader to follow up the arguments.

If the left is ever to slay the beast of imperialism then we need to equip ourselves with the knowledge to comprehend its inner workings and mentality. Golub’s book is a manual for understanding the nature of this particular nasty beast and as such it cannot be too highly recommended.

David Morgan



Khachatur Pilikian – Yeraz (Dream)

I would like to share with you this magnificent Armenian song, (live performance recording here below) titled: YERAZ (Dream) – a most treasured song of the Armenian students in foreign lands, during the second half of the 19th century, dreaming of home, mother and motherland. Recently I performed it yet again in my vocal recital in Athens, last November 2009.

I first heard this song as a child from my mother, Tefarik, born in Khaskal-Izmit (Nicomedia), who had survived the genocide and lived as a child with her mother. Her father Hagop (Jacob) was dragged to serve the Ottoman army as hard labourer (amele tabourou) in Jerusalem. Knitting to survive with her mother in Thessalonica, my mother was ‘found’ by my father when she was in her twenties. My father, Vahan/Israel, born also in Khaskal, survived the Der el Zor hell on earth in the Syrian desert. Orphanaged in Baghdad, he decided to find his childhood beloved come rain or sunshine. He did. They stayed together for over 65 years -now buried together in London (father 95, mother 87). Both parents had very beautiful voices – I have learned many songs first from them. I remember vividly my father’s singing to raise funds for the families of the Armenian soldiers fighting against the Nazis…

Khachatur Pilikian

Here is the poem in English

Poem by Smpad Shahaziz (1840-1897)
Translated by Zabelle Boyajian (1872-1957)

Soft and low a voice breathed o’er me,
Near me did my mother seem;
Flashed a ray of joy before me,
But, alas, it was a dream!

There the murmuring streamlet flowing
Scattered radiant pearls around,
Pure and clear, like crystal glowing—
But it was a dream, unsound.

To her heart she pressed me yearning,
Wiped my eyes which wet did seem;
And her tears fell on me burning—
Why should it have been a dream?
Yeraz (Dream): performed by Khatchatur I. Pilikian and Sona Kupelian accompanying on the piano. Recorded in February 1985, Beirut, in Pilikian’s vocal recital of Fifteen Centuries of Armenian Song.

Click on the this link to listen to the song


‘Dora Montefiore, Why Forgotten?’

Socialist History Society

Public Meeting

‘Dora Montefiore, Why Forgotten?’

A talk by Ted Crawford

Tuesday 2nd November 2010 at 7pm

Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, Liverpool Street, London

Ted Crawford, the editor of Revolutionary History and a member of the Socialist History Society, looks at the long and active political career of Dora Montefiore (1851-1933), variously a Suffragist, Socialist and Communist who was active in Britain and Australia, but who is today largely forgotten.

Talk followed by discussion.

Admittance free. All welcome. Retiring collection.

July 2010