Cliff Slaughter

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Cliff Slaughter (born 1928)[1] is a British socialist activist and writer. His best-known works are Coal is our life (written with Norman Dennis and Fernando Henriques) and Marxism, Ideology and Literature; Index Books published his Not without a storm: towards a communist manifesto for the age of globalisation in 2006.

Early life[edit]

During the Second World War, Cliff Slaughter worked in a coal mine as one of the Bevin Boys. He later became a lecturer and writer on sociology and Marxism.

As a lecturer at the Universities of Leeds and Bradford, Slaughter joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. He left in 1956 following the Soviet invasion of Hungary and joined Gerry Healy's group The Club.[2] Slaughter remained with the tendency for almost three decades, during which it became known as the Socialist Labour League and then the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP). During this period, he was regarded as one of the group's leading intellectuals,[3] and remained on the Central Committee.

Split in the WRP in 1985[edit]

In 1985, Healy faced allegations of sexual harassing WRP members, leading Cliff Slaughter and Michael Banda to oppose him. This broadened into a more general criticism of the party's direction. They were able to gain a majority of the group and forced Healy to retire. When Healy again tried to exert authority, Slaughter and Banda led a call for "revolutionary morality" and expelled Healy and his supporters. This effectively split the organisation between their supporters and those of Healy and Sheila Torrance.[4]

Slaughter and Banda's group at first called itself the Workers Revolutionary Party (Workers Press). However, Banda soon left the group and repudiated Trotskyism. The international supporters of this group decided to call themselves the Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International (WIRFI), and they published both the Workers Press and the International journal. In the 1990s, the members of a sub-group within WIRFI (influenced by Cliff Slaughter) decided that the idea of an elite vanguard party was not the way to build towards socialism.

In 2006, his work Not Without a Storm: towards a communist manifesto for the age of globalisation[5] was published (314 pp), intended as the opening of a discussion on contemporary issues and the responsibility of socialists. Slaughter's later book is Bonfire of the Certainties - the Second Human Revolution, (186 pp) published in 2013 by[6] Over the past 20 years, Slaughter has - in his theoretical work - been increasingly influenced by the writings of Istvan Meszaros as evidenced by his last two published works 'Storm' and 'Bonfire'.


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