Excerpts from the Left in Britain: 1956-1968

October 3, 2015 at 9:02 pm (Uncategorized)

I was thumbing through David Widgery’s compilation The Left in Britain: 1956-1968 last week. It’s an odd little look at the British left in the period between the Hungarian Revolution and the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia and published by Penguin Books.   Widgery was a member of IS (now the SWP), and the collection leans towards their worldview, but it is broader than that. Some very interesting, and quite rare leaflets and interviews, but anyone with a working knowledge of the left at that time will enjoy the glossary.

Funny, but not always accurate. Here are a few of my favourites  (NB- the entries quoted below are much longer for each in the original are longer

  • Socialist Charter – “Pressure group of the Labour Left… Known as the Lunar Marxists in view of their way-out inconsistency.”
  • International Socialists – “Tend to regard themselves as a development of the Leninist tradition rather than as Trotskyists. Known for their members sense of humour except when people laugh at them.”
  • Socialist Party of Great Britain – “Indefatigable, old-fashioned propagandists of the virtues of socialist society…Denounced the Russian Revolution as state-capitalist within hours of hearing about it.” [Funny comment, but quite untrue]
  • English Student Movement – “Tiny Maoist religious grouping which flourished in Sussex University in the late sixties. Marxist-Leninist Children of God who guru is Hardial Bains, a Canadian ‘Internationalist.’ ” [Upon his return to Canada, Bains founded the equally loopy Communist Party of Canada Marxist-Leninist]
  • Socialist Labour League – “Orthodox Trotskyist group founded in 1969…members tend to look tense and aggressive.”
  • Internationalism – “Sophisticated international ultra-left theoretical journal of the state-capitalist, council-communist persuasion. English edition incorporated into the quarterly World Revolution in May 1974. Attitude to trade unions drawn from Spanish Trotskyist Grandizio Munis’s Unions Against Revoluion.

No doubt, more to follow.



  1. Schalken said,

    It really said that the Internationalism group was “state-capitalist?”

    • fischerzed said,

      Oh I read that as meaning that their perspective on the USSR was that it was state-cap, not that the group was that. Combing from an IS supporter, it would be a compliment.

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