Tony Cliff

Why read State Capitalism in Russia?

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Many people still associate socialism and especially Marx's version of socialism with the brutal Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union.

Tony Cliff's book State Capitalism in Russia has enabled us to explain why the horrific crimes committed by the Stalinist regime had nothing to do with socialism. Instead Cliff argued that Russia under Stalin's rule became a particular form of capitalist society, state capitalism, locked into competition with its rivals in the West.

What does it mean to be a Leninist?

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In February's issue of Socialist Review Alex Callinicos addressed the claim that Leninism is finished. Here, Ian Birchall responds to Alex arguing that he asks the question, but does not fully answer it

There is much in Alex Callinicos's article "Is Leninism finished?" (SR, February 2013) that Socialist Review readers will agree with: the inability of reformism to offer any way out of the horrors of capitalism, the need for working class revolution led by a revolutionary party, the defence of the Bolshevik Revolution and in particular of Lenin. Alex has restated themes developed by the SWP, notably in the work of Tony Cliff.

Tony Cliff: a Marxist for his time

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Tony Cliff, the founder of the Socialist Workers Party, made major contributions to revolutionary theory and practice. Ian Taylor reviews a new biography of Cliff and assesses his place in post-war Marxism

Few Marxist revolutionaries become household names, but it is a travesty that the greatest Marxist of the latter part of the 20th century is so little known. So the appearance of a biography of Tony Cliff is a major event.

A socialist diamond jubilee

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Sixty years ago the Socialist Review Group, forerunner of the International Socialists and later the Socialist Workers Party, was founded by a group of 21 people in a flat in Camden Road in London. Ian Birchall looks back at the struggles socialists faced then and their relevance for today.

Sixty years ago, on the weekend of 30 September to 1 October 1950, 21 people met in a flat at 866a Camden Road, London NW1, to form a new political group. It took its name from the publication it produced and became known as the Socialist Review Group (SRG). In 1962 it changed its name to the International Socialism Group and then, in 1977, to the Socialist Workers Party.

Tony Cliff remembered

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Ten years ago this month Tony Cliff died. Cliff was a founder of the Socialist Workers Party, and, Ian Birchall explains, made a huge contribution to the left in Britain and around the world

Ten years ago this month I was telephoned late one Sunday night to be told that Tony Cliff was dead. I knew he was 82 years old and had recently had a major heart operation. Yet I was devastated to realise that after nearly 40 years I would never again hear Cliff's judgements on events - judgements I had sometimes disagreed with, but which I had always respected as being based on a remarkable political understanding.

A Blast from the Past

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Correct revolutionary theory requires correct revolutionary practice.

One of the great things about the anti-capitalist and anti-war movements has been the refusal of people to take old certainties for granted. You cannot seriously contemplate changing the world unless you are prepared to critically examine every accepted dogma. If you try, you end up rather like those 17th century clerics who tried to cling onto the 2,000 year old Aristotelian notion that the earth was the centre of the solar system.

'Parrots Have Never Made a Revolution'

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Attacks on Labour and trade union leaders, as well as the occasional anecdote, makes 'In the Thick of Workers' Struggle', Tony Cliff's second volume of selected writings, essential reading.

Before 1960 Tony Cliff established himself as a theoretician with books on state capitalism in Russia, China and Eastern Europe. But as a revolutionary Cliff could not be satisfied by this. To show that Stalinism had nothing to do with socialism was merely a negative statement. Cliff now wanted to negate this negation, to look forward to the rebuilding of an authentic socialist movement.

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