Alan Woods (political theorist)

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Alan Woods
Trot Alan Woods.jpg
Born (1944-10-23) 23 October 1944 (age 70)
Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Sussex
Sofia University
Moscow State University
Occupation Political theorist, activist, writer
Movement International Marxist Tendency
Religion None
Website
http://www.marxist.com

Alan Woods (born 23 October 1944 [1]) is a Trotskyist political theorist and author.[2] He is one of the leading members of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), as well as its British affiliate group Socialist Appeal.[3] He is political editor of the IMT's In Defence of Marxism website. Woods was a leading supporter within the Militant tendency within the UK Labour Party and its parent group the Committee for a Workers' International until the early 1990s.[4] A series of disagreements on tactics and theory led to the expulsion of Woods and Ted Grant from the tendency, who founded the Committee for a Marxist International (soon renamed International Marxist Tendency) in 1992. They continued with the policy of entryism into the Labour Party.[5] Woods has been particularly vocal in his support for the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, and has repeatedly met with the socialist Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, leading to speculation he was a close political adviser.[6][7]

Political life

Early life

Woods was born into a working-class family in Swansea, South Wales and grew up in the Townhill and Penlan areas of the city.[3] At the age of 16 he joined the Young Socialists and became a Marxist, becoming a supporter of the Trotskyist Militant tendency within the Labour Party.[8] He studied Russian at Sussex University and later in Sofia (Bulgaria) and Moscow State University (MGU).[9] Woods's work in Brighton for the Militant tendency established an important base of support at the university and in the town.[10] He later moved back to south Wales, becoming the first regional full timer for the organisation. He, his wife, and two small daughters moved to Spain in the early 1970s where his well-known political stance placed him amongst those struggling against the Francisco Franco dictatorship, where he worked to establish the Spanish section of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI). Woods speaks several languages, including Italian, English, Spanish, French, German and Russian. His daughter is socialist and trade union campaigner Lizzie Woods.

The split in Militant

Main article: Militant tendency

In the early 1990s Woods and his mentor, Ted Grant, were expelled from the Militant tendency and its parent organization, the Committee for a Workers' International, over what they considered to be the ultraleft turn of this organisation when it decided to split from the Labour Party. The minority group led by Ted Grant also argued that a decline in emphasis on political education, as well as the development of a bureaucratic clique around Peter Taaffe was damaging Militant. Grant and Woods and their supporters internationally formed the Committee for a Marxist International in 1992, which was later to be known as the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), and remained active in the Labour Party.[11] The British section of the IMT is known as Socialist Appeal.

Recent activities

Alan Woods and Hugo Chávez in a meeting together.

Woods was the editor for some years of the Marxist journal Socialist Appeal, published in London.[3] Alongside Lal Khan, he is currently a leading theoretician in the IMT and editor of its website In Defence of Marxism. He writes on the current political situation in Venezuela and the tasks to be carried out by revolutionaries elsewhere.

Woods has had meetings with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez,[6] and defends the idea that the Bolivarian Revolution is the germ of the World Revolution. Woods also travels and supports other revolutionary processes in Pakistan, Bolivia, the Middle East and Cuba. He is a close friend of Trotsky's grandson Vsievolod Platonovich "Esteban" Volkov, who regards Woods' work as closest to Trotsky's theories.[citation needed]

President Chavez publicly announced in a TV broadcast that he was reading Woods' book Reform or Revolution "in great detail", which encouraged speculation that Woods was an advisor to the President.[6]

In 2010, Woods was subject to severe criticism, firstly by some Venezuelan right-wing newspapers[12] and groups like Primero Justicia,[13][14] then by international media,[15][16] for an article (Where is the Venezuelan revolution going?) he wrote on the IMT website.[17] He wrote it after the latest Venezuelan general elections advocating to further radicalise the Bolivarian Revolution towards "the expropriation of the commanding heights of the economy". His reply to these attacks was given widespread attention in the Venezuelan media.[18]

In November 2012 Mr. Woods went on a speaking tour in both the United States and Canada.[19]

Publications

See also

References

  1. ^ "Ted Grant - The Permanent Revolutionary. Chapter Five: The Times That Try Men's Souls". 1 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "UK, Germany vie for influence in debt-hit EU (Interview with Alan Woods)". Russia Today. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c Turner, Robin (7 December 2010). "The strange tale of Hugo Chavez and the Swansea Marxist". Western Mail. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Crick, Michael (1986). The March of Militant. London: Faber & Faber. p. 130. 
  5. ^ Taaffe, Peter (1995). The Rise of Militant. London: Militant Publications. p. 452. 
  6. ^ a b c Yapp, Robin (5 December 2010). "Welsh Trotskyist in row over claims he is key adviser to Hugo Chavez". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Ellner, Steve (2010). "The Perennial Debate over Socialist Goals Played Out in Venezuela". Science & Society 74 (1): 63–84. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Grant, Ted (2002). History of British Trotskyism. London: Wellred. pp. (postscript by Rob Sewell) 208. 
  9. ^ Woods, Alan (2008). Reformism or Revolution. London: Wellred. pp. i. 
  10. ^ Crick, Michael (1986). The March of Militant. London: Faber & Faber. p. 57. 
  11. ^ Sewell, Rob. "How the Militant was Built – and How it was Destroyed" (10 October 2004). In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "The Faces of Radicalism". El Universal (Caracas, Venezuela). 10 November 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  13. ^ Video on YouTube
  14. ^ Video on YouTube
  15. ^ "Venezuela's economy: Towards state socialism". The Economist. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  16. ^ (Spanish) Yolanda Valery, "Alan Woods, the new ideologue of Hugo Chavez?", BBC Mundo, 3 December 2010.
  17. ^ Woods, Alan (29 October 2010). "Where is the Venezuelan Revolution going?". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Woods, Alan (26 November 2010). "Venezuela: The lies of the counter-revolution answered". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  19. ^ http://www.socialistappeal.org/wil/events-reports/1099-alan-woods-minneapolis