Tony Cliff dies

Russell Grinker grinker at
Mon Apr 10 22:59:38 PDT 2000

>Tony Cliff, 1917-2000
>Don't Mourn, Organise!
>It is with the deepest sadness we have to tell you that Comrade Tony Cliff
>died at 4.30pm on Sunday.
>What follows is the statement given by Chris Bambery in his role as
>National Organiser at a meeting for everyone in the Printshop this morning.
>'I first heard Cliff speak in circumstances different from most of you. It
>was at a public meeting in Edinburgh on the European Union referendum in
>1975. I was a young member of the now defunct International Marxist Group
>who went along to "intervene" at the meeting.
>'When this small, old and very Jewish man got up to speak it was quite a
>shock. I was used to more flowery speakers like Ernest Mandel & Alain
>Krivine who talked big. Indeed Mandel had just promised us that the next
>world congress of the 4th International would take place in Red Madrid
>after the successful Spanish revolution.
>'In contrast Cliff spoke with honesty interspersed with jokes and tales. He
>was really accessible. As a 20 year old I could not "intervene", another
>comrade did & badly.
>'Then I had no idea I would join the International Socialists as the SWP
>then was. But in 1979 I did. Cliff was to play a formative influence on me
>like so many others.
>'To me he was a bridge between the generation of Trotsky & a new generation
>of revolutionaries. He kept the flame alive & ensured that Trotsky's
>heritage wasn't pickled but was a real, living & developing body of ideas.
>'Obviously I cannot stress enough his contribution in developing the theory
>of state capitalism, deflected permanent revolution & the permanent arms
>'In the 1970s there were many revolutionary organisations across the world
>bigger than IS. But they did not survive into the 1980s.
>'Cliff's toughest achievement was in understanding there was a downturn in
>the class struggle in the late 1970s and adapting the organisation
>'It was have been very frustrating for him but the SWP did not just survive
>in the 1980s it developed & strengthened.
>'The polemic Cliff helped conduct on the Iran-Iraq war in the late 1980s
>stood the organisation internationally in good stead when it came to the
>Gulf War & then the Balkan Wars. The way he conducted that was a model for
>us all. He was always hard as nails on the politics & always honest.
>'It was in the 1980s that the International Socialist Tendency really built
>& Cliff was a key part of that.
>'After German unification he grasped that Germany was the key link in the
>European capitalist chain & singlehandedly decided that things could not
>continue with a moribund organisation in that country. He convinced a
>handful of young comrades to build a new, youth based organisation. They
>joke that Cliff engaged in 'telephone terrorism', ringing each day. It
>seemed he knew what each German comrade had had for breakfast.
>'There can't be such a thing as a memorial for Cliff but today's Linksruck
>with over 1000 members stands as a tribute to him. It was one of his
>greatest achievements.
>'As the political climate shifted in the 1990s Cliff responded brilliantly.
>'In last week of his life he was enthusiastic about the magnificent
>demonstration in Birmingham over Rover & on Friday told us that he thought
>things were really changing in Britain. He was excited over the LSA & over
>the crisis of reformism.
>'Lets make sure that's the case. Don't mourn, organise!'

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