Wednesday 21 November 2012

British Trotskyism after the Cold War

Followers of A Very Public Sociologist 1.0 may recall something by the name of A Reflexive and Value-Added Analysis of Contemporary Trotskyist Activism in Britain. This was my PhD thesis, which I completed just shy of three years ago. Since then it has gathered dust on Keele Library's shelves and basically bummed its way around the shabby furnishings of my house. So it's about time the work I laboured on for four years got a bit of an airing.

For those unfamiliar with previous postings on the subject, my research basically involved interviewing individual Socialist Party and Socialist Workers' Party activists about their lives, how and why they got involved with their respective parties, and have remained committed during a time that wasn't exactly bountiful for any kind of socialist politics (the final interviews took place in summer 2007). These were then analysed in relation to key theoretical contributions to social movement scholarship, and I then developed value-added constructs to make sense of processes around political recruitment and commitment.

Sadly, the meat of this analysis will have to wait to be worked up for publication in a seldom-read sociology journal, or perhaps a book if I can ever find the time to sort it out. But a little bit will soon be available. One chapter was given over to the key features of the Militant/SP and International Socialism/SWP tradition and their political history since the final collapse of the Revolutionary Communist Party (1944-49). A lot of this will be rewritten for a collection of essays on Trotskyism since 1956 due to be published soon, and this is what my contribution will look like:
Marching Separately, Seldom Together: The Political History of the Two Principal Trends of British Trotskyism, 1956 – 2012

The Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party and their antecedent organisations have, since 1956, proved to be the most durable and high profile of all of Britain’s Trotskyist tendencies. This paper is concerned with providing a political history of their development within the context of the changing fortunes of the British labour movement and the significant reconfiguration undergone by British capitalism. It will argue that both organisations’ history can be divided into ‘open’ and ‘closed’ periods of work that were/are conditioned by the traditional vanguardist political practice of Trotskyism and the changing political opportunities open to the two traditions.
Left watchers, nerds, and trainspotters will know there are a small amount of journalistic and scholarly books out there (John Callaghan's two books, and the hatchet pieces by Michael Crick and Blake Baker spring to mind), but none are what you would describe as up-to-date. Therefore my piece will focus on how the two organisations have developed since the Cold War. Unfortunately, a certain violence will be done to the convoluted roots of shifts in strategy, fallings out, and splits because of the tight word count - so apologies to the nitpickers in advance!


Evan said...

Phil, this looks really good. I hope to read the chapter in full in the near future!

For further info on the forthcoming collection, see my blog.

Phil said...

I have booked some time off work to churn it out!

Trudy Esperanza said...

once upon a time i was so much afraid of war. my parents convinced me that if dont take food in time war will broke out and i will be foodless. now ehn i think of that cold war ere it seems so funny.