Archive for May, 2011


Amy Levy: The Woman who Dared

SHS and Jewish Socialists’ Group joint meeting
Friday 27 May 2011
Nadia Valman, (Queen Mary, University of London); Christine Pullen, (author The Woman Who Dared: A biography of Amy Levy) and Emma Francis, (Warwick University) will speak on Amy Levy: The Woman who Dared.
In a short life Amy Levy produced a remarkable collection of poetry, fiction and journalism; radically freethinking and a fierce social critic, Amy sought to live as an independent woman and professional writer. A Jewish woman, she confronted the stifling prejudices of a male dominated and class ridden society; breaking free from her community, she moved in the radical circles of late 19th century London and was a friend of Eleanor Marx, Olive Schreiner and others; she knew George Bernard Shaw, William Morris and Oscar Wilde, who praised her “genius”.
Time: 7.00 p.m. Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2 (opposite Liverpool Street Station). Admittance free. All welcome. Retiring collection


The Fight for the Rights of Rural Workers in East Anglia – Yesterday and Today

2011 GEORGE EDWARDS MEMORIAL MEETING: “The Fight for the Rights of Rural Workers in East Anglia – Yesterday and Today”. Chairman: Rev. Graham Hedger, former chair of Rural Action East; speakers: Mr. Stan Newens, Labour historian, former MP & MEP, and Mr Ivan Monckton, RAAW member of the General Executive Council of Unite. Venue: Gressenhall Museum, Nr. Dereham, Norfolk. Entrance fee (meeting only): £2.40. Organised by East Anglia District, Methodist Church, and Rural, Agricultural and Allied Workers’ section of ‘UNITE’, in association with the Gressenhall Museum.
Saturday 4 June – 2.00 to 4.00 p.m.


Gordon McLennan

Gordon McLennan (1924-2011)

Gordon McLennan, a past General Secretary of the Communist Party, died on 21 May at the St Christopher’s Hospice, after a long battle with cancer.

Gordon was born in Glasgow on 12th May 1924. Having joined the Young Communist League at the age of 15, McLennan served on the YCL Executive Committee from 1942-1947.

He worked as an engineering draughtsman but became a full time worker for the Party in Scotland, first as Glasgow City Organiser, then Glasgow City Secretary, then Scottish District Organiser and, in 1956, the Scottish Secretary. Having joined the National Executive of the Party in 1957, he became National Organiser in 1966 and General Secretary in 1975, succeeding John Gollan. He remained in post until 1989.
He contested numerous constituency seats: the Glasgow Govan constituency in the general election 1959, West Lothian in a 1962 by-election, Govan in the 1964 and 1966 general elections, St Pancras North in the 1970 and February 1974 general elections.
In his role as National Organiser, he became responsible for the Young Communist League, which he steered to make major changes in the 1960s and early 1970s in a revisionist direction. In the 1980s, he played a decisive role in creating circumstances where a major division of the Communist Party ensued. Enormous numbers of committed activists left or were excluded or expelled and some re-established the Communist Party in 1988, leaving the increasingly fragmented shell to continue for some four years.

Latterly, Gordon was a prominent activist in the Lambeth pensioners’ movement and was active in the Stop the War Coalition. In 1992, he joined the Communist Party of Scotland. He was a supporter of Respect led by George Galloway in the 2005 general election.


Socialist History Society AGM and seminar

Saturday 21 May 2011

Socialist History Society AGM, followed by public seminar on ‘Aspects of East End History’.
Invited speakers include Sam Bird, Sarah Wise and Janine Booth.
AGM starts 1 p.m.; public seminar follows directly at 2.00 pm,
Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2 (opposite Liverpool Street Station). Admission to seminar £1.50; all welcome.


LSHG Newsletter

The new summer issue of the London Socialist Historians Group Newsletter is now online, features include Keith Flett on the anti-monarchist tradition in England, Ian Birchall on Ray Challinor and the 1965 Courtauld Strike in Preston and Tim Evans on Llanelli 1919.


Nina Fishman Archive

The Nina Fishman archive has been created online in tribute to the late socialist historian.


CFP:Historical Materialism conference 2011

Spaces of Capital, Moments of Struggle
Eighth Annual Historical Materialism Conference

Central London

10–13 November 2011

The ongoing popular uprisings in the Arab world, alongside intimations of a resurgence in workers’ struggles against ‘austerity’ in the North and myriad forms of resistance against exploitation and dispossession across the globe make it imperative for Marxists and leftists to reflect critically on the meaning of collective anticapitalist action in the present.

Over the past decade, many Marxist concepts and debates have come in from the cold. The anticapitalist movement generated a widely circulating critique of capitalist modes of international ‘development’. More recently, the economic crisis that began in 2008 has led to mainstream-recognition of Marx as an analyst of capital. In philosophy and political theory, communism is no longer merely a term of condemnation. Likewise, artistic and cultural practices have also registered a notable upturn in the fortunes of activism, critical utopianism and the effort to capture aesthetically the workings of the capitalist system.

The eighth annual Historical Materialism conference will strive to take stock of these shifts in the intellectual landscape of the Left in the context of the social and political struggles of the present. Rather than resting content with the compartmentalisation and specialisation of various ‘left turns’ in theory and practice, we envisage the conference as a space for the collective, if necessary, agonistic but comradely, reconstitution of a strategic conception of the mediations between socio-economic transformations and emancipatory politics.

For such a critical theoretical, strategic and organisational reflection to have traction in the present, it must take stock of both the commonalities and the specificities of different struggles for emancipation, as they confront particular strategies of accumulation, political authorities and relations of force. Just as the crisis that began in 2008 is by no means a homogeneous affair, so we cannot simply posit a unity of purpose in contemporary revolutions, struggles around the commons and battles against austerity.

In consideration of the participation of David Harvey, winner of the Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize, at this year’s conference, we would particularly wish to emphasise the historical and geographical dimensions of capital, class and struggle. We specifically encourage paper submissions and suggested panel-themes that tackle the global nature of capitalist accumulation, the significance of anticapitalist resistance in the South, and questions of race, migration and ecology as key components of both the contemporary crisis and the struggle to move beyond capitalism.

There will also be a strong presence of workshops on the historiography of the early communist movement, particularly focusing on the first four congresses of the Communist International.

The conference will aim to combine rigorous and grounded investigations of socio-economic realities with focused theoretical reflections on what emancipation means today, and to explore – in light of cultural, historical and ideological analyses – the forms taken by current and coming struggles.

Deadline for registration of abstracts: 1 June 2011

Preference will be given to subscribers to the journal and participants are expected to be present during the whole of the event – no tailor-made timetabling for individuals will be possible, nor will cameo-appearances be tolerated.


Behind the Lines film screening and talk

Thursday 5 May 2011
Film: Behind the Lines (1971): Screening and Talk.

A classic film account of the struggle against Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique and of life in the liberated zones, made with the support and cooperation of the Mozambican liberation movement, FRELIMO. At no small personal cost and not without challenges, land was cultivated for food production on a cooperative basis, health and primary education services provided, and new institutions of governance established. Rich in archive footage this film is an invaluable and enlightening reference of the end days of Portuguese defeat and decolonisation in Mozambique.
The film will be preceded by talks by the film’s director Margaret Dickinson and Dr Ros Gray of Goldsmiths University who will discuss the film’s importance.
Time: 7.00 p.m. Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2 (opposite Liverpool Street Station). Admittance free. All welcome.

May 2011