Obituaries

A life in the struggle: Bob Cox (1944-2014)

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Bob Cox

Bob Cox was an organic intellectual who used his technical skills to aid the struggle for a better world. Jeff Jackson collects together the memories of Bob's friends, family and comrades.

“One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform. Accepted authority rests first of all on reason” — The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Bob Cox, who died on 25 November after a protracted fight with cancer, was a longstanding member of the Socialist Workers Party. Along with his many years of consistent activity as a revolutionary socialist in the workplace and community, he was a major contributor to Socialist Review’s web presence in the early days of the internet, creating a website indexing the magazine.

Leslie Feinberg, 1949-2014

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A rich and passionate life dedicated to struggle and the fight for transgender liberation

Next to me on a bookshelf is a book which has had a profound influence on my life and thousands of others. Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors, published in 1996, is a unique piece of work — an examination of gender variant expression by people from the dawn of history to the present, written by a Marxist and setting out a materialist explanation for transphobia and homophobia.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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The death of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the age of 87 marks the end of an era that transformed Latin American literature.

Marquez is renowned for a style of work known as Magical Realism, where the supernatural and the mundane merge. His books are a metaphor for imperialism, dictatorship and struggle.

Marquez, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, popularised a style that was steeped in Latin American artistic traditions at a time of deep social change and dashed hopes.

Pete Seeger: A song for every struggle

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Pete Seeger died in January aged 94. His life was dedicated to making music for left wing progressive movements. He was a principled brave musician who always stood by his beliefs, whatever the cost.

Seeger composed famous protest songs like "If I Had a Hammer" and helped make "We Shall Overcome" an anthem of the civil rights movement. He sang at the 2012 Occupy Wall Street protest just like he had at anti Vietnam War and civil rights rallies.

Lessing's legacy

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For a writer as prolific as she was - she wrote more than 50 books - that's not surprising. This unevenness was also, to some significant degree, the product of her political choices over nearly 70 years.

Lessing grew up in the profoundly racist society of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and her early reaction to that was to explore the complexities of inter-racial relationships in her first novel, The Grass is Singing, and then to join the tiny and secretive Communist Party (CP).

Leon Kuhn (1954-2013)

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A life long revolutionary socialist Leon devoted his outstanding artistic skills to furthering the cause of the working class and oppressed people around the world. He he not only drew on the revolutionary photomontage of artists like of George Grozs, Hannah Hoch and John Heartfield, but he also advanced it as printing and copying techniques evolved.

Lou Reed 1942-2013

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The media have been full of praise for Lou Reed now that he is dead, as is the norm for the hypocritical press. He would have hated it. Lou Reed hated the press in general but especially loathed the British press.

He was loudly and openly scornful of celebrity culture and fame. He saw himself as a rebel poet who sang rather than as a pop singer. One of his last public gigs was at Occupy in New York reciting a poem against Wall Street.

Norman Geras 1943-2013

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The author of the seminal and groundbreaking work, Marx and Human Nature, was not without his faults.

Norman Geras died an apologist for imperialism and had spent the last decade and more trying to justify Bush's and Blair's drive to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. That said, it would be a mistake to dismiss all of his work because of where he ended politically. For in the decades before he became a warmonger, Geras made important, if flawed, contributions to Marxism that deserve rereading today.

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

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Paul O'Brien celebrates the life and poetry of Ireland's rebel poet.

Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in 1939. He was perhaps the finest lyrical poet of his generation and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. He grew up in the deeply divided landscape of Northern Ireland where "the lines of sectarian antagonism and affiliation followed the boundaries of the land". He lived through the demise of the ancient rural world into which he was born, and the emergence of a globalised modern Ireland.

Bernard Behrman (1931-2013)

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Alex Callinicos pays tribute to a lifelong and powerful fighter for justice and socialism.

I vividly remember first meeting Bernard Behrman, who died in August at the age of 81. It was in the mid-1970s. If you were interested in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, London was a fascinating place. It seemed to be full of exiles who had had to flee their country because of the ferocious repression that crushed the great struggles of the 1950s and early 1960s.

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