Alan Woods (political theorist)

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Alan Woods
Alan Woods 2018.png
Woods in 2018
Born (1944-10-23) 23 October 1944 (age 76)
Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Sussex
Sofia University
Moscow State University
OccupationPolitical theorist, activist, writer
MovementInternational Marxist Tendency

Alan Woods (born 23 October 1944)[1] is a British Trotskyist political theorist and author.[2] He is one of the leading members of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) as well as of 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 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 Woods and Ted Grant leaving the CWI, to found 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 expressed particularly vocal support for the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, and repeatedly met with the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (in office 1999–2013), leading to speculation[by whom?] that he was a close political adviser to the president.[6][7]

Political life[edit]

Early life[edit]

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 Francoist Spain, 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.

Split in Militant[edit]

In the early 1990s Woods and his mentor, Ted Grant, left 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[edit]

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] 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 stated in a TV broadcast that he was reading Woods' book Reformism 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 newspapers[12] and political parties in opposition to Chávez, like Primero Justicia,[13][14] then by international conservative factions of the 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 radicalize 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, Woods went on a speaking tour in both the United States and Canada.[19]

In November 2015, Woods detected "embryonic seeds of revolutionary developments" in the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader.[20]



  1. ^ "Ted Grant - The Permanent Revolutionary. Chapter Five: The Times That Try Men's Souls". 1 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "UK, Germany vie for influence in debt-hit EU (Interview with Alan Woods)". Russia Today. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Crick, Michael (1986). The March of Militant. London: Faber & Faber. pp. 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Ellner, Steve (2010). "The Perennial Debate over Socialist Goals Played Out in Venezuela". Science & Society. 74 (1): 63–84. Retrieved 13 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Grant, Ted (2002). History of British Trotskyism. London: Wellred. pp. (postscript by Rob Sewell) 208.
  9. ^ Woods, Alan (2008). Reformism or Revolution (PDF). London: Wellred. pp. i.
  10. ^ Crick, Michael (1986). The March of Militant. London: Faber & Faber. pp. 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "The Faces of Radicalism". El Universal (Caracas, Venezuela). 10 November 2010. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Video on YouTube
  14. ^ Video on YouTube
  15. ^ "Venezuela's economy: Towards state socialism". The Economist. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ (in 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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ Woods, Alan (26 November 2010). "Venezuela: The lies of the counter-revolution answered". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ Woods, Alan (13 November 2015). "The Corbyn revolution: What does it mean and where is it going? – Part One". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 27 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)