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Obituary: Chris Harman


Chris Harman was a long-standing central leader of the IS/SWP Britain, and of the IS Tendency internationally. He was also editor of the theoretical journal International Socialism. Harman died of a heart attack on 6th November 2009  in Egypt. Radical Socialist expresses its condolences to his family and to his comrades.

Harman was an important figure on the British left, one f the major associates of Tony Cliff in building the IS and then the SWP as one of the strongest far left organizations in the UK, and indeed anywhere in the imperialist countries.  He played a major role in establishing Socialist Worker, the regular paper of the SWP, and in editing it till 2004. He was also a well known writer ad orator.

Orthodox Trotskyists will remember Harman for his log polemics with Ernest Mandel over the nature of the USSR. The IMG, and later the International Socialist Group, sections of the Fourth International in Britain, published these polemics as The Inconsistencies of State Capitalism and The Fallacies of State Capitalism.  Harman published two very significant works – The Lost Revolution: Germany 1918 to 1923, and A Peoples’ History of the World.

Harman also wrote often on economic issues, including his recent book, Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx.
Harman came from a working class family and joined the Socialist Review Group. He became notorious during the anti-Vietnam War protests, when, while opposing the US war on Vietnam, he denounced Ho Chi Minh for the murder of Trotskyist leader Ta Thu Thau in 1945 and crushing the independent working class movement.

It was typical of his internationalism that he died of a cardiac attack while attending a Socialist Days conference of The Center of Socialist Studies(CSS) in Cairo.