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John Passant

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November 2009



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Chris Harman’s death a tragic loss for socialist movement

This article, by Sandra Bloodworth, is republished from Australia’s Socialist Alternative magazine.

Chris Harman, one of the greatest revolutionary Marxists of recent years, has died at the young age of 67. This is a tragic loss for the revolutionary left.

Harman was a revolutionary from his university days, and a leading member of the International Socialists (which became the Socialist Workers Party) in Britain by the age of 26.

His writings will remain both an inspiration and source of important knowledge and arguments for anyone wanting to understand the genuine Marxist tradition. The breadth of his research and writing was astonishing. However, he was always focused on questions the revolutionary left needed to clarify, or debates into which he thought we should intervene.

So in 1984, he wrote what was for many of us in the IS tradition, a seminal document on women’s liberation. It was a summary of conclusions drawn from several years of debate about women’s oppression and the relationship between fighting for women’s liberation and socialism. In it he took up the question of whether women have always been oppressed. Ever since he has followed debates in archaeology and anthropology. In 1994, in a special edition of the International Socialism Journal, he summarised Engels’s arguments about the origins of humanity, the rise of classes, the state and women’s oppression in light of the most recent knowledge and theories in these fields. And only a few months ago he drew the attention of readers of the ISJ, which he edited, to new archaeological discussions about an early classless society.

In 1989 he intervened in the debates among Marxists on the transition from feudalism to capitalism, another topic which led to further research and intervention, with articles about the rise of the capitalist nation state, followed by the developments of that state and its relationship to capital. He wrote widely about imperialism and produced a pivotal book on the creation of the East European Stalinist states after World War II. His Fire Last Time was likened at the time by one reviewer to Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution in its grasp of the Marxist historical method. It is a marvellous account of the radicalisation and struggles of the 1960s and 70s.

Only months before his untimely death, his latest analysis of the world economic system was published. This was a re-statement of his original Explaining the Crisis which is one of the best explanations and defence of Marx’s economic theory you will read. Zombie Capitalism, the latest book, builds on that explanation and explains the new crisis the world system has entered.

His research and interventions are summarised in his A People’s History of the World.

These works and more are some of the best sources for an understanding of the dreadful traditions of Stalinism; they spell out succinctly and clearly the genuine Marxist analysis of twentieth century capitalism and into the twenty-first.

Harman¬† never pursued ideas or historical knowledge simply for academic interest. He was always intervening to win people to a Marxist world view. I remember being in London when the Stalinist bloc was collapsing. He was editor of the SWP’s weekly paper, Socialist Worker, a demanding job, doing numerous talks at the Marxism conference, arguing with people from all corners of the world about what their organisations were doing. At the same time he was madly learning Russian in the hope he could go to Russia and intervene in the ideological turmoil there, which he did. The tragedy was the organisations of the IS tradition were too small to be a pole of attraction for the layer of intellectuals he and others debated. The nightmare of Stalinism left a shadow which obscures the genuine Marxist revolutionary traditions,and it ¬†still hangs over the left world wide. To step out from under that shadow, to understand the liberating force of Marxism, there is no better writer from the last 4 decades to study.

Chris Harman will be sorely missed by the revolutionary movement as we live through one of the terrible crises of capitalism he so clearly explained. However, the work he has produced will stand us in good stead and remain as a lasting memorial to him as we face the task of building a revolutionary movement capable of ending the rule of capital once and for all – a project to which Harman gave every breath of energy he could muster for the whole of his adult life.


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