Chris Harman: 1942-2009

November 18, 2009

Chris Harman, a leading British socialist and author of dozens of books and pamphlets on politics, economics, history and the Marxist tradition, died of a heart attack on November 6 at the age of 67.

His death — while in Cairo to speak at the Socialist Days conference — comes as a terrible shock. We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of this revolutionary who was a vital participant in the struggle for a new world for half a century.

Harman was born to a working-class family in Britain and attended the London School of Economics, where he was drawn to radical politics. He was part of the British campaign against the Vietnam War, called the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign — one of the central struggles that contributed to the re-emergence of a new revolutionary left in Britain.

By the early 1960s, he had joined the International Socialists (IS), later renamed the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), an organisation in which he remained a leading figure all his life.

Harman was a prolific writer for the publications sponsored by the IS and SWP. He was the editor of Socialist Worker newspaper in Britain for almost constantly from 1976 until 2004, when he started editing International Socialism Journal, the SWP's theoretical quarterly.

Harman was known throughout the international left for his contributions to Marxist economic theory.

His writings also took up history. One of his last books was A People's History of the World, which presented a Marxist understanding of human history from the first examples of settled societies thousands of years ago to the international capitalist system of today.

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