My Political Autobiography
Ted Crawford b.1976

I first met Trotskyists, Grant, Cliff and Healy all three in fact, at NALSO Kessingland camp in 1958. Later, in about 1963-64, I joined a very small group of Trotskyists, the Socialist Current group, originally a split from Grant. (I first met them and Tony Cliff in 1957-8). I had been associated with them for a couple of years but only committed myself about then. In 1967 we made contact with VO, largely as a result of the Pamphlet by Hanson “Healy Reconstructs the 4th International” Previously we had not been aware of either the Sparts or VO. With Frank Rowe of SC, now dead, I visited them and worked with VO in Paris for a week at Easter 1967.

In January 1968 I left the SC (we only had 5 members) and joined the IS (Tony Cliff) as an individual. The SC had previously refused to fuse though they had been offered very good terms by Cliff. I became involved with the relations between IS and (VO now LO) which blossomed after the May 1968 events. For some time after I joined the IS (a year or so I think) I maintained contact with the Sparts until I realised that they were rather mad. I continued to work on international matters with the IS and LO for a number of years. I continued to work on international matters with the IS and LO for a number of years. Apart from that it was a very exciting time, leafletting factories, selling SW, and above all making gains. And there were splendid people in IS I greatly admired. From about 1974/5 I started to become disillusioned with IS who did not seem to realise that something was wrong, that there was a deep downturn - I did not realise it but I could sense things were going badly. I was expelled in February 1976 basically for disagreeing about the competence of the local full timer but in retrospect the times were changing and the gains had ceased and I sensed this. Shortly after, in November 1976, I became a father and dropped out of active politics. I remained for a year or so an inactive member of the so-called Workers League of ex-IS and ex-SWP people but being a father, taking those responsibilities seriously and earning a living as a teacher and lecturer (of economics) was a full-time job.

I had known Al Richardson when active in the Vietnam Solidarity Committees in 1968. I started to become involved again helping him and the small group of comrades round him in about 1986/7/8 on questions of history. My children were now much older. Thus my involvement in Revolutionary History. Later I became involved with the MIA. I am totally non-techie but I have the immense resources of the London Libraries available to me. It seemed to me that I would be much better employed, as far as the division of labour was concerned, by getting hold of rare material and putting it into digital form than becoming a bad HTMLer.

MIA Work History: From the late 19th century have transcribed much Kautsky, Mehring, Bernstein, Trotsky on Britain, Luxemburg and Bax (an area which I have made my own,) Eleanor Marx, etc negotiating for the MIA with publishers and on copyright in the UK. I intend to do Hyndman. In the post war period I have recently helped with the indexing of articles in British and American Trotskyist journals digitising some of them. I find their errors and mistakes of perspective even more illuminating than their achievements in both the 19th and 20th centuries.

My view of the Left groups. Basically I believe that the only valid Marxist tradition will come out of the Left Opposition that includes Trotsky but not only him but there are a great many others who made a vast contribution - and often quarrelled with him. (Serge, Rosmer even Thalheimer)

I believe that all the gurus of the present Trotskyists groups, Hardy/Robert Barcia, Tony Cliff/Ygael Gluckstein, Lambert/Pierre Boussel, Ted Grant/Isaac Blank have built international tendencies on a very nationalist basis, perhaps inevitably so. The local tactics of the leading tendency become a fetish for their “International.” The conditions in which they tried to operate were such, so unrevolutionary, that maintaining any kind of w-class revolutionary tradition led to deformations, different deformations in each national case. And it had to do so. This may be because we cannot at this moment construct an international as we do not have a leadership which has been tested by leading great numbers of workers in successful struggles - as LDT had been. And my criticism of Hardy/Robert Barcia, Tony Cliff/Ygael Gluckstein, Lambert/Pierre Boussel, Ted Grant/Isaac Blank etc are those of hindsight. (All those tendencies above tried to stay oriented to the w-class. Others (such as the U.Sec) whizzed off in different directions.) But the w-class is now changing. The class is coming into existence in tens of millions in China, India and Latin America, while in the developed countries it is changing radically. We need suggestions, not recipes, from those who have gone before. That is my justification for work with the MIA and Revolutionary History. Both seem to me terribly important.

 


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