From the International Socialism, Internal Bulletin, December 1971.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford September 2012.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
A conference on the History of the Revolutionary Movement in Britain, 1910–1927 was held at the University of Warwick on Saturday, November 13th. Despite the fact that the conference coincided (in both cases accidentally) with a meeting of the National Committee in London and of the Labour History Society in Newcastle, 70–80 people attended (see report in SW, 20 November). Apart from the papers and discussion of them, the main purpose of the conference was to initiate an IS History Group in accordance with the resolution re-organising the group’s academic intellectuals at the last National Conference. The conference concluded with an organisation meeting attended by 30–40 comrades. The minutes of that meeting are reproduced here for the information of group members.
Correspondence was read from R. Challinor and C. Hitchens. R. Kuper, attending on behalf of the Education Sub-Committee, introduced the discussion so expertly that all his suggestions were subsequently adopted. Points made in the course of the discussion included
- that any History Group would probably be centred on the practising historians within the Group, but that its activity should be concerned as much with servicing the needs of the IS group as a whole as with meeting the needs of the historians in particular;
- that the concern of any History Group should be with the history of class struggle in Britain and elsewhere, and not with Labour History narrowly defined;
- that any History Group should seek not to encourage a tendency that some comrades detected in recent issues of SW – viz. the substitution of historical articles on e.g. fascism or Ireland for the serious analysis of such contemporary problems;
- that the question of the attitude of any History Group to other professional bodies, and particularly the Society for the Study of Labour History did not require discussion for the time being.
The meeting decided
1. That a History Group should be established.
2. That the Warwick comrades should act as a secretariat for the group, and that a national co-ordinating committee should be set up consisting of the secretariat together with any individuals from other areas willing to serve on it. Four comrades came forward at the end of the meeting
L. Barrow (London)
The meeting also agreed to invite any comrades unable to attend to serve on the committee if they wished to. This rather makeshift constitution to be reviewed in the light of experience.
3. This committee will hold its first meeting at 69, Arden Street, Earlsdon, Coventry, at 11.30 a.m., on Sunday, December 12th.
4. The committee was instructed to undertake the following tasks:
- to agree priorities for and organize the writing of a series of historical articles to be offered to SW (Secretariat to approach editor for his views before the meeting);
- to consider what contributions the Group might take towards future issues of IS and future Pluto publications (secretariat to approach editor of IS before the meeting);
- the compilation of a speakers’ list for circulation around branches;
- to arrange for a non-specialist history conference within the next 6 months. It was suggested that the conference might focus on the history of the Movement in the 1920s and its relevance to today
- to compile a list of names, addresses and work in progress of practising historians in IS;
- to arrange for a specialist history conference within the next 6 months. Topics suggested included the history of the unemployed workers movement in the 1920s and 30s; and the theory of history, the role of the academic study of history in the revolutionary movement;
- to consider the production of a bulletin for the circulation of research papers, etc., among practising historians.
If you wish to serve on the History Group Committee, or to be kept informed of its activities, please write to J. Hinton, School of History, University of Warwick, Coventry. If you are a practising historian please indicate the nature of, your work, whether you are prepared to write for Socialist Worker, IS, etc., to speak, and if so what on.
Last updated: 14.9.2012