Fred Goldstein, 1938-2023

Fred Goldstein, 1938-2023

Fred Goldstein was an internationally recognized revolutionary activist and Marxist thinker living and working in the United States. He was the author of Low-Wage Capitalism: Colossus with Feet of Clay, published in 2008. The book describes in sweeping detail the devastating effect of new technology on the multinational working class, leading to the fundamental and irreversible restructuring of global capitalism in the post-Soviet era. The result, Fred argued, was a "race to the bottom" for workers in all the capitalist countries, creating the material basis for future social upheaval. His second book, Capitalism at a Dead End: Job destruction, overproduction, and crisis in the high-tech era was published in 2012. The latter work was translated and published in Spanish and Korean.

Goldstein analyzed political events from a Marxist perspective and authored important essays on the lessons of the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as an analysis of the class character of China. He brought an anti-imperialist perspective to all his work and was passionate about the need to end all forms of capitalist exploitation and oppression. Goldstein was invited to speak at several international conferences. A high point of his life was to travel to Cuba in 2008 to address the IV International Conference entitled “The Work of Karl Marx and the Challenges of the 21st Century.” He also wrote countless articles for Workers World newspaper. His writings have been widely published in the U.S. and internationally.

Part of the revolutionary youth movement of the 1960s, Goldstein was inspired by the rising liberation movements of the time, from the Vietnamese victory against French colonialism in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu, to the Cuban revolution of 1959, to the struggles against colonialism that were sweeping the African continent. While a student at City College in Harlem in the late 1950s, he heard Malcolm X speak to growing crowds on 125th Street and was attracted to the militant struggles against racism in the civil rights and Black liberation movement.

Goldstein joined Workers World Party (WWP) in 1961 during the CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. He collaborated closely with the party founders in those early years – Sam Marcy, Dorothy Ballan, Vince Copeland, and Deirdre Griswold – to build the party center in New York City. He went on to help found Youth Against War & Fascism (YAWF) and recruited a number of students from City College (CCNY), where he was a student at the time. In 1962 he helped to organize the first demonstration in the U.S. against the war in Vietnam. He was also an organizer of a demonstration at the UN in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to protest Israeli aggression during the June 1967 war. He returned to CCNY in 1969 to support the students of color at the City University of New York (CUNY) campuses leading the fight for open admissions.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Goldstein played a central role in recruiting many revolutionary youth and collectives to WWP. Together they participated in struggles including defense of the Cuban revolution, support for the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, the Attica rebellion, GI resistance against the Vietnam war, defense of the women’s liberation movement and the LGBTQ+ struggle, and many more. He was a dynamic speaker and teacher, as well as a tireless organizer who had a gift for connecting meaningfully with people.

In 1981 Goldstein traveled to Washington, D.C., to help organize for the May 3 march on the Pentagon initiated by the People’s Anti-War Mobilization. It was an important and early part of the struggle against the Reagan administration’s funding of wars in Central America and imposing draconian cutbacks to social services in the U.S. Later that year he spent several months in Detroit organizing with the Detroit branch for the All-Peoples Congress at Cobo Hall. This gathering was aimed at bringing together the multinational working class to fight back against the Reagan attacks on social services, unions, and all those fighting for social justice.

In the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and workers’ states in Eastern Europe, Goldstein concentrated on analyzing the causes of these developments and drawing lessons for communists. He also focused on understanding the Chinese Communist Party’s experiment with opening up to Western capitalist investment while retaining control of key sectors of the planned economy.

Goldstein participated in the struggles against the U.S.-NATO dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the struggle to free political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. In the 2000s, he devoted a great deal of time to studying how the use of high-tech by capitalist multinational corporations was affecting the working class worldwide. This research led to the publication of his two books in 2008 and 2012.

After a number of years of internal strife in WWP, Goldstein resigned as a contributing editor to WW newspaper in 2018. He continued to write, publishing articles on his website ( and encouraging several outlets to reprint his work, including Struggle-La Lucha and WW newspapers. Beginning in 2020, illness prevented him from continuing to participate in political work.

Fred Goldstein was born in New York City on November 14, 1938. He dropped out of public school at a young age and graduated from high school when he went to night school at the age of 18. Having never read a book before returning to school, Fred became a voracious, life-long reader on many subjects. He consumed the Marxist classics and studied the works of Marxist thinkers in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. In addition, he studied world history, political science, philosophy, economics, literature, and art history.

Goldstein entered City College in New York (CCNY) in 1958, where he was exposed to many currents in the radical movement of the time. He lived nearby in the New York City housing projects in Harlem and participated in the housing struggles there that were led by Jesse Gray. For several years in the early 1960s, Fred earned a living as a stevedore with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) on the Brooklyn waterfront. Lifting hundreds of pounds of packages a day (or night), he was left with severe back pain and injury for the rest of his life.

In addition to his political work, Goldstein was a talented self-taught carpenter who designed and built furniture. He cooked healthy food and, late in life, became an excellent baker of bread. He rode his bicycle everywhere and enjoyed camping and hiking with his family in his leisure time.

Fred Goldstein died on April 11, 2023, at the age of 84, after a long illness. He is survived by his partner of 57 years, Naomi Cohen Goldstein, and their daughter, Lila Natalie Goldstein, as well as a daughter from a prior marriage.

Last updated: 23 May 2023