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Splits and Fusions- an archive of Trotskyist publications in Britain

This is the post excerpt.

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Welcome to Splits&Fusions.

Here we will showcase documents from the various tendencies of what can broadly be described as the Trotskyist movement in Britain (with a nod to Irish, US and other publications in the English language).

In most cases items will be presented without much in the way of editorial, beyond a brief (and hopefully factual) description of the group. Continue reading “Splits and Fusions- an archive of Trotskyist publications in Britain”

Solidarity … forever

hedgehog_Wow2In 1960, the same year that Brian Behan decamped to set up his Workers Party, a separate but linked grouping was expelled from the Trotskyist Socialist Labour League.

This group, around Chris Pallis, Ken Weller and Bob Pennington (later a leading member of the International Marxist Group) styled itself “Socialism Reaffirmed” and began publication of a paper The Agitator: For Workers Power.

The Agitator was re-named Solidarity and gave its name to the group itself

This very useful dissertation gives a detailed history of Solidarity outlining its political evolution away from Trotskyism, the intricacies of its local organisation and publication history and the splits which meant that Solidarity was effectively the parent of most of the various left-communist and libertarian socialist groups in Britain.

Much of Solidarity’s prodigious output is already online- not least at Libcom.org and the Autonomy Archives

However, we have pulled together, and attempted to organise as much of this material as we can in one place, supplementing it with some additional scans from our own collections and from items held at the Sparrows Nest.

In particular, we have tried to group together the journals of the different local and regional Solidarity groups- some of which had a greater or lesser existence- and provide a comprehensive collections of the more than 50 pamphlets for which Solidarity was well known.

The journals include Solidarity: For Workers Power which follows directly from The Agitator as a national publication, Solidarity for Social Revolution– a re-launched journal incorporating Social Revolution after the December 1977 fusion with a group of that name, and Solidarity- A Journal of Libertarian Socialism from the mid-1980s to early 1990s…

We also have some bulletins and other ephemera, including the Solidarity Motor Bulletin.

Please get in touch if you can add anything to these collections.

SOLIDARITY ARCHIVE

ILP Industrial Committee- The Shop Steward pamphlets

During World War 2 a number of individual Trotskyists and groupings of Trotskyists were active in the Independent Labour Party. These included a circle around Harry Wicks and Hugo Dewar as well as supporters of the Workers International League, many of whom were recruited as ILP members and who then remained in the ILP.

The ILP was attractive to Trotskyists at a time when both the Communist and Labour Parties were vehemently hostile to strikes in  industry or anything which could be seen to undermine the war effort. By contrast the ILP supported workers taking action in defence of their living standards.

The ILP Industrial Committee, with some influence by Trotskyists, put out a newspaper Shop Steward and a series of Shop Steward pamphlets. See Bill Hunter’s “Lifelong Apprenticeship” chapter 7 for more details on activities in the ILP.

We have five Shop Steward pamphlets:

1

2

3

4

5

Click the covers to view each issue.

 

An even Bigger Flame!

So, segueing smoothly from the previous post…

We have, over the last few months, been quietly adding to our collections of Big Flame materials.

bigger.png

Firstly, we’ve added another sixteen issues of the newspaper– mainly from the ‘late period’ early 1980s. This brings our tally to around 70 issues online which is probably about 60% of issues published. Anyone who can help us in any way to plug the gaps, please get in touch.

We have also added three interesting pamphlets.

Chile Si! is not a rarity so a bit surprising we hadn’t got it already… but there you go!

Century of The Unexpected is an analysis of Soviet type societies by John Fantham and Moshe Machover. Was Moshe a BF supporter?

Introduction To Big Flame is a reprint produced by Class War Classix

And we have added to our folder of Big Flame theoretical journals so that we have not only Big Flame journal no1 but also five issues (1, 2, 8, 9, 10) of the Revolutionary Socialism magazine.

And last, but not least, we have the 1981 Conference report which was an insert in the paper.

Very interestingly it outines the positions taken by various tendencies at conference including the group around John Howell which left. Did this new grouping actually come into being? What was it called and do any copies of its newsletter still survive?

 

 

 

The LCG- moths drawn to a Flame…

LCTo conclude (for now) our foray into the left Anarchist milieu we look at the final incarnation of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists, the Libertarian Communist Group.

A good History of the Libertarian Communist Group was written by former members after their fusion with the Big Flame organisation.

The LCG published eight issues of Libertarian Communist– the first seven as a well produced tabloid and the final issue in magazine format.

At least four supplements to the paper were also issued. Of a theoretical nature, they addressed key ideas and concepts marking quite clearly the trajectory of the Group- so, we have Spain 1936, Russia 1917, Socialism and Democracy and Sketching the Limits of Trotsky. (Note that the previous paper Anarchist Worker also issued a very similar supplement on Hungary 1956)

Additionally, a theoretical journal, Libertarian Communist Review appeared sporadically. We have two issues: Winter 1976 and an undated issue devoted entirely to Bakunin

Thanks in particular to the Sparrows Nest for supplying much of this material.

LIBERTARIAN COMMUNIST GROUP Archive

BF fuse.jpg

 

The Anarchist Workers Association

AW frobt“At the beginning of 1975 ORA (Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists) changed its name to the Anarchist Workers Association, which it was felt implied more of a class committment…

By 1976 the AWA had 50 members, most of them active, with 3 groups in London, groups in Oxford, Yorkshire, Leicester, and Scotland. The paper now called itself Anarchist Worker, was a regular monthly with sales of 1,500-2,000, mostly street sales. It was to some extent ‘a libertarian version of Socialist Worker’ but the coverage was wider, for example covering the struggles of claimants and squatters and provocatively questioning the work ethic.”

(From Organise, no42, journal of the Anarchist Communist federation)

AW unity

We have 8 issues of Anarchist Worker, starting with the first issue- no27 as it took its numbering from the predecessor Libertarian Struggle.

The final issue, before the paper became Libertarian Communist in late 1977, was no36.

ANARCHIST WORKER ARCHIVE

The ‘missing’ two issues of Anarchist Worker can be found in this file which we found on Archive.org

Our technical department will attempt to extract these issues and piece together as full PDFs…

Trotskyists and Anarchists…

MaydayOne of our areas of interest is the fuzzy and fluid edge of ‘Trotskyism’ which intersects with left-communist, left-libertarian and anarchist groupings.

There is a long history of two-way traffic across this semi-permeable membrane. We have covered the groupings which moved from Trotskyism, through Oehlerism and then towards Left-Communism / Neo-Bordigism (Workers Voice) and the Behan group (Workers Party) which after detaching itself from the Socialist Labour League moved rapidly towards syndicalism…

We could also mention the influential ‘Solidarity’ group which was, again, formed by ex-Healyites.

Some of the traffic has been the other way, with anarchists perhaps seeing in Trotskyist groups a coherence or seriousness not shared in their own milieu. So, in the early 1970s the left tendency in the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists gravitated, in the main, towards the WRP and in the early 90s members of the Anarchist Workers Group did likewise with the RCP.

So, we were delighted to find that the wonderful Sparrow’s Nest anarchist archive in Nottingham has substantial collections of publications from the key nationally organised Anarchist groupings– Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists, Anarchist Workers Association and Libertarian Communist Group (the latter of which joined the Big Flame group)

Thanks to Phillip at the nest for all his hard work, and his patience with my requests!

A history of the main anarchist-communist groups can be found here

We present here an archive of Libertarian Struggle the tabloid paper of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists from 1973-1976- some 14 issues and a special out of 26 published. From issue 27 the paper became Anarchist Worker whilst retaining the same numbering…

LIBERTARIAN STRUGGLE / ORGANISATION OF REVOLUTIONARY ANARCHISTS

(At last) the Marxist Worker Group documents

MWG leafletOne of the high points of 2018 (and there were many) was making contact with and then visiting former members of the Bolton based Marxist Workers Group of the mid to late 1970s.

This small group had long been a footnote in British Trotskyist history with little to nothing written about it that we were able to find.

We are now in a position to remedy that situation and bring you a substantial collection of MWG documents to flesh out the overview provided by Neil D.

We will start with the group’s journal Marxist Worker. We have four issues- all un-numbered and undated – and a few miscellaneous pages which indicate that more issues were actually produced- possibly as many as a dozen, and on a monthly basis…

The group also produced pamphlets, leaflets, bulletins and a number of open letters to other left groupings.

As detailed elsewhere, from its earliest days, having come out of the Workers Fight group Democratic Centralist Faction, the MWG had an orientation towards fusion with other groups. One such early prospective partner was the Revolutionary Marxist Current and we have a number of MWG discussion documents and internal bulletins relating to this (failed) fusion.

Later the fusion of the MWG with the International Marxist Group was more successful, building to an extent on joint work around the Socialist Unity initiative which saw two MWG members stand as SU candidates

It is interesting to note that whilst localised in the North-West with a branch in Bolton and later one in Leigh, the MWG was for a time the largest far-left grouping in Bolton- as a result of its own origins as a branch of Workers Fight, and Workers Fights own relative strength in that area when, as the Trotskyist Tendency, it left the International Socialists…

The MWG was active on a number of fronts- in anti-fascist work, Irish solidarity, the womens movement, anti-cuts campaigning and electoral work. Its members were also central to a radical theatre group Grassroots which published an ostensibly monthly journal of its own, of which we have one issue…

MARXIST WORKERS GROUP ARCHIVE