The Call- Socialist Left Federation and Socialist Anti-War Front

callFollowing the winding up of the Socialist League in 1937 there were attempts by its Trotskyist faction- the group around Reg Groves- to resurrect it as the Socialist Left Federation.

We have issue 1 of The Call- newspaper of the SLF from March 1938 which calls on workers to “Organise the Revolutionary Left in the Labour Party- join the SLF”

(A fragile, large format broadsheet paper we have had to scan each page as two files and then splice them together.)

It is unclear how many issues of The Call were published but by September of 1939 Groves was instrumental in founding a new body- the Socialist Anti-War Front which, a year later in November 1939 was to begin publication of its own newspaper also called The Call.

It is possible that the SLF merged entirely with the SAWF.

We have four issues of “The Call of the SAWF”

THE CALL ARCHIVE- SLF and SAWF

By this time, Groves himself had broken with the organised Trotskyist movement but The Call carried articles by a number of those associated with Trotskyism- Harry Wicks, Hugo Dewar, Frank Ridley, Henry Sara…

A letter welcoming the appearance of the appearance of The Call from the Independent Socialist Party (a rightist split from the Independent Labour Party) and pledging adherence to the SAWF shows the intended broad appeal of the SAWF beyond the ranks of Trotskyists.

 

 

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International News- the International Contact Commission

INThe ETOL holds some copies of International News from 1935- theoretical journal of the Revolutionary Workers League and its continuation as Fourth International from 1936 – 1939.

We can now add a few copies of the re-launched International News from 1944 and 1945- now the journal of the International Contact Commission made up of the US RWL, the Red Front of Germany and the Leninist League of Great Britain.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS- INTERNATIONAL CONTACT COMMISSION

Of some interest will be the article in Volume 7 no 6 for July 1945 which details the fusion of the Communist Workers Group with the Leninist League to form the Revolutionary Workers Association of Great Britain (although the next issue of IN still lists the Leninist League as its British affiliate).

Also in the same issue is a critical report on the Neath by-election which was contested by Jock Haston on behalf of the RCP…

International Communist Party- British Section of the ICFI

IWWe have previously covered most of the groups which came from the break up of the Workers Revolutionary Party in 1985 so we are pleased now to be able to bring you a few publications of the International Communist Party, British Section of the ICFI which was linked to David North’s then US Workers League.

First formed in February 1986 from a split in the ranks of the WRP (Workers Press) group led by Dave Hyland. The ICP published nine issues of a Young Socialist paper (which we do not have) before launching International Worker newspaper in July 1986.

We have six issues of International Worker along with two issues of the relaunched ICFI magazine Fourth International here which cover in detail their side of the split in the WRP.

International Communist Party Archive

International Worker continued for a number of years with well over 100 issues so we would love to be able to track down more copies.

The ICP later became the Socialist Equality Party, which still exists and is linked to the World Socialist Web Site.

The Workers Voice group

We will let Terry Liddle have a last word on Joe Thomas:

“By the mid-1960s, Joe was editing, and mostly writing, a duplicated journal called the Workers’ Review, helping republish a number of forgotten classics such as The History of the Movement for Workers’ Councils in Germany, and trying to revive the Workers League. By the end of the decade, he and I and some others in London had come into contact with a group in Liverpool who, having been influenced by the ideas of Bordiga, had quit the Socialist Labour League and were publishing a paper, Class Voice. The two groups fused into a new organisation – Workers Voice!”

We have 7 issues of Workers Voice, a special edition on nationalisation and a pamphlet: Communism vs Reforms by Anton Pannekoek and Sylvia Pankhurst.

WORKERS VOICE ARCHIVE

Reflecting its previous incarnation as Class Voice (or Workers Review) a decision was taken to number Workers Voice from volume 2 so v2 no1 is the first issue and reports on the foundation of the group.

“Sadly, this was to be short-lived. There were bitter differences over such questions as the trade unions and participation in elections, and the London group, before folding, split off and published two issues of a new paper, Workers News Special.”

A note on this split can be found on the back page of   Workers Voice v2 no7.

Interestingly, at the same time, the group began to correspond with other groups firmly in the Left Communist camp.

The Workers Voice group evolved sharply towards Left Communism and exists to this day as the Communist Workers Organisation.

“However, Joe and I discovered a group of ex- and expelled SPGB members with views near to our own and eventually yet another group emerged – Social Revolution – with a paper of that name and a theoretical journal, Libertarian Communism. Joe took a great dislike to some comrades’ views on sexual matters, and left.”

We found a number of issues of Libertarian Communism online at LibCom which is an excellent resource for anarchist and libertarian publications.

“But he [Joe] was not politically idle, and he helped form the London Workers Group, arguing for workers’ councils and the study of Marxist economics. It was out of the LWG that the Movement for Workers’ Councils emerged.”

Having wandered some considerable way from the beaten track of British Trotskyism,  our normal service will be resumed soon….

Revolutionary Notes

revnotesOur publication of the only known copy of “Revolting Worker”, on 1st April, was headlined as the “last fling of the British Oehlerites?”

Coincidentally, a comrade, this week, found a long mis-placed folder including documents that show there was an actual last fling of the British Oehlerites in the 1990s.

We are delighted to bring to you two issues of “Revolutionary Notes” both dated 1996.

Revolutionary Notes no1 July 1996

Revolutionary Notes no3 September-October 1996

A personal letter in the same folder clearly indicates that Tom Cowan was responsible for the production of “Revolutionary Notes”.

Tom Cowan died in 1997 so Revolutionary Notes may well genuinely be the non-April Fool last fling of the British Oehlerites…

Intriguingly, there is also a letter from Tom Cowan in Workers Press (early 1995?) which mentions a group of British followers Marlen… presumably the same people referred to by Mike P in his article and in the post-script he added to the comments, which we reproduce here:

“In his haste to to appear well informed, or even perhaps can we credit it erudite, your guest blogger only reveals his crass lack of knowledge of not only the Glasgow jazz and folk scenes of the 1950s but his compete ignorance of that most chaste of publications The Free Presbyterian Magazine. A little more care on his part, or use of his memory, might have reminded your guest that Arthur Priest, the British Marlenite referred to in your post concerning the British Oehlerites, did find at least two co-thinkers after the collapse of the Socialist Workers League in 1951. Remarkably one being C P (Cliff) Stanton once a leader of the RSL/RWL which had a brief existence in 1939/40 and had evinced quite rational politics for a tiny hyper-active revolutionary group that is. Stanton as we know had been courted by the WIL during the early war years but rejected their overtures and by 1950 was living in Glasgow where he opened a shop selling records and electrical equipment. We know that he was writing for Marlens duplicated magazines between 1949 and 1951 which is where, for the present, the trail ends. Except that we also know that Stanton was for some years the President of the Glasgow Jazz Society in which capacity he is recorded in The Free Presbyterian Magazine of July 1955 as having written to the candidates of all political parties standing in the then recently concluded General Election as to their attitude towards jazz being played on the Sabbath, noting that: “If we find, on analysing the replies, that we have the overwhelming support of one party, then that party will get our vote.” A position rather distant from that of Marlen or Oehler one imagines.”

Joe Thomas and Workers Review

W RevThe Workers League, a tiny group with fewer than a dozen members, lasted for ten years until 1964, but in 1961 Joe Thomas and Bill Blatchford were expelled for “bureaucratic suppression of discussion”

In 1967, Thomas began publication of a new journal Workers Review on the same political basis as the Workers League.

Indeed the key article split across the first two issues “Towards A New Workers Party” has whole sections lifted verbatim from the WLs 1954 “Draft Manifesto”

 

We have three issues of Workers Review

Volume 1 no 1 May 1967

Volume 1 no 2 June 1967

Volume 1 no 4 August 1967

Workers Review ran for a total of seven issues but it is not clear when it folded. However, by 1972 Thomas and other former WR comrades were collaborating with a group in Liverpool to put out the paper Workers Voice…

Brian Behan and the Workers Party / Workers Voice

wvBrian Behan, brother of the writer Brendan Behan, was a prominent trade union activist based in London.

Despite his anarcho-syndicalist leanings he joined the CPGB in the early 1950s before leaving it in 1956 over the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

He then joined The Club / Socialist Labour League from which he was expelled in in May 1960, with a few supporters.

They then founded the Workers Party, which published Workers’ Voice

We have one issue of Workers Voice- volume 1 no 1 for 7th July 1960

The expulsion of Brian Behan from the SLL and the forming of the Workers Party is covered in Workers News Bulletin (Workers League)

The Workers Party was short lived and, as attested to by this letter (found on the excellent Anarchist archive site Sparrow’s Nest) in early 1961 it fused with the anarcho-syndicalist Syndicalist Workers Federation.

This article at Northern Voices also refers to the WP / SWF merger.

Hopefully one day we will add a few more items to our

WORKERS PARTY ARCHIVE

UPDATE 8/4/18-  Just added the Draft Programme of the Workers Party.