Peter Sedgwick

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Peter Sedgwick (1934–1983) was a translator of Victor Serge, author of a number of books including PsychoPolitics and a revolutionary socialist activist.


Peter Sedgwick grew up in Liverpool, and won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. In 1956, after the Hungarian Revolution he left and joined the Socialist Review Group, later the International Socialists (forerunner to the Socialist Workers Party) He wrote for the group’s press whilst also involved in the activities of rank-and-file members. He was opposed to the International Socialism group's renaming itself as the Socialist Workers Party in 1976, refusing to join the new organisation while always remaining a man dedicated to the far left. (Christopher Hitchens called him "a noble remnant of the libertarian left"[1] and dedicated his book 'Letters To A Young Contrarian' to him.)

At one stage Peter Sedgwick earned his living as a lecturer in politics at the University of York.

Peter Sedgwick wrote a book on psychiatry called PsychoPolitics. In many respects this book predicted and explained the severe Thatcher/Reagan–era reductions in US and UK National Health Service psychiatric services, especially in the number of NHS beds for the mentally ill which were reduced by 80,000 in the UK during the 1980s. Peter Sedgwick identified that "politically correct" conceptions of mental illness, such as those of the anti-psychiatry writers Michel Foucault, R.D. Laing and Thomas Szasz, could be exploited by the right wing to reduce services. His ideas have not been forgotten and Peter Sedgwick's views about psychiatry have been developed and reinterpreted in a marxist and situationist context at the web site

Peter Sedgwick was found dead in 1983 in a canal in Northern England. He was editing the works of Victor Serge at the time of his death.

Selected articles/works[edit]

  • Introduction to Victor Serge Memoirs of a Revolutionary (1963)
  • George Orwell: International Socialist? (1969)
  • PsychoPolitics (1982; 2nd ed. 1987)
  • "The Unhappy Elitist: Victor Serge’s Early Bolshevism" (1984)


  1. ^ Alexander Linklater, "Christopher Hitchens", Prospect, May 2008 (accessed August 6, 2008).

External links[edit]