The Early Days of a Better Nation

Monday, November 09, 2009

Chris Harman, 1942 - 2009

Chris Harman, who since the 1960s was a leading thinker and activist in the Socialist Workers Party (Britain), died on Friday. Although I didn't know him personally, his writings had a huge effect on my life, as they did on many thousands of others.

Condolences to all those who did know him, particularly his family and friends.

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The first Chris Harman book I can remember reading was The Fire Last Time. Funnily enough, and on the topic of the RCP: this was also the first book I was ever asked to justify reading, by a local RCP'er. This was an experience so bizarre that I simply couldn't understand it at the time. ;)

But don't leave us in suspense, JMcL63! So what did you eventually understand from this experience?

Oh the power! It's gone straight to my head! ;)

It looks like the last few months have not been a good patch for veteran UK and European leftists, with the passing of people like Peter Gowan, Giovanni Arrighi, Jerry Cohen and most recently, Chris Harman.

Have no fear, Jim - us leftists are constantly being reincarnated: one lot out, another one in.

Its a stunning loss to the socialist movement, inside and outside the SWP. And tragic, only one day before his 67th birthday. I knew his dad had died young from a heart attack, so Chris was always careful.

This mans books and speeches were formative for me, convincing me of Marxism, and much more... the excitement of left wing intellectual life.

Loved his book on 68, 'The Fire Last Time' the most.

Until the fire next time, comrades...


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