Ted Grant

In 1968 revolutionary processes erupted throughout the Middle East. Here Ted Grant provided a first analysis of the nature of the August coup by the right-wing Baathists in Iraq.

In February 1968 massive cuts in social spending by the Labour government were carried out in order to support the increasing burden of military expenditure. The Labour bureaucracy was sacrificing the basic interests and needs of the British workers to cling on to the power politics of British imperialism. In this article Ted Grant provided a merciless criticism of the Labour leaders’ policies.

In autumn 1967 a wave of strikes erupted with the British miners, dockers and printers taking the lead. After years of Labour government the workers were demanding measures against the worsening conditions they were experiencing. Ted Grant argued that the TUC, which had adopted the demand for a national minimum wage of £15, should mobilise the workers to put pressure on the Labour government to enforce it. He also called for the nationalisation of the 380 big monopolies to provide the necessary means for a decisive change.

In this article of March 1967 Ted Grant welcomed the Easter march of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament as a moment for socialists to expose the hypocrisy of imperialist power politics. Although different because of their class nature the Stalinist bureaucracies of Russia and China were not offering a real alternative to capitalist war and put forward the deceptive policy of supporting the United Nations as a means to enforce peace on a world scale.

In 1967 a truce in the cold war between the Western powers and the USSR opened a drive towards the East, to access the markets of the Eastern bloc. Capitalists were no longer afraid of the revolutionary potential of the USSR and the Soviet bloc and rushed to get access to the markets of these countries. Ted Grant explained in this article the reasons behind this.

The Wilson government in 1966 imposed a total freeze on wages and prices, provoking the opposition of a number of important trade unions. A decisive change in policy by the government – argued Ted Grant – had to be enforced by the trade union leaders, if they were to match their protests with facts.

With concrete facts and figures Ted Grant demonstrated in this article of June 1966 that “Wilson and Callaghan are basing their budget on the interests of the giant manufacturers and combines and not on the interests of the working class.” But this would not stop the inevitable decline of British capitalism and the need for the working class to fight for an alternative to capitalist rule.

In March 1966 the Wilson Labour government was solidly in office with a 13.5 percent lead against the Tories in the opinion polls. In spite of the government’s drastic measures to tackle the payments crisis and the general decline of British capitalism, workers continued to see the Tories as being responsible for the then crisis. Instead of leaning on this tremendous support in society to carry out a programme of genuine reforms, Wilson bowed to the pressures of the capitalist class and strove to make the workers pay for the bosses’ crisis.

Towards the end of 1966 the beginnings of crisis were being felt in Britain and the capitalists were undergoing feverish preparations to make the workers pay for it with the collaboration of the Wilson Labour government. This led to increasing friction between the government and the trade unions. The dreams of the Labour right wing were being proven false by capitalism itself: “So much for the spurious optimism of Wilson and the Cabinet. They thought they could ‘plan’ capitalism. Capitalism is planning them,” sarcastically commented Ted Grant.

In 1970 the outgoing Wilson government lost the elections to the Tories. However, the Labour leaders did not draw any of the lessons from the disastrous experience of 1964-70 when they had been in office and issued yet another ambiguous draft programme for the 1972 Labour Party conference. Ted Grant analysed in detail the LP draft programme, pointing out all the contradictions of the reformist outlook and how this would inevitably lead the next Labour government to being one of crisis, which is what eventually happened in 1974-79.

In January 1958 economic indicators showed that a slump was under way. Ted Grant explained the laws that showed the inevitability of boom and slump cycles under capitalism and called the Labour leaders to prepare a plan of action against the crisis, adding that “all capitalist measures could only be at the expense of the working class and, even if successful, could only prepare the way, at a new stage, for an even worse slump.”

In 1962, there was an open confrontation between American big business and the Kennedy administration, which provoked chaos and panic in the US and European stock exchanges. Ted Grant pointed out that although Kennedy made it clear that his policies fundamentally sided with the capitalist class, the essence of the conflict was all about showing who was Boss. Ted pointed out that in this there was a warning for the British labour movement, because Kennedy’s so-called “people’s capitalism” was being presented as a model to follow by the Labour Party right-wing leaders in Britain.

A one-day massive strike of the railwaymen against announced sackings and closures on the part of the Railway Commission in October 1962 showed the potential strength of the workers when mobilised. The crisis was the result of privatisation policies, as Ted Grant pointed out, and therefore the working class should fight for a co-ordinated plan of all transport to be placed in public hands. But experience showed that nationalisation was not enough: the workers had to participate from top to bottom in control and management.

In 1961, economic crisis hit the British economy. Ted Grant pointed out that “the only remedy of the Tory witchdoctors is to bleed the victim in the new economic squeeze, for the benefit of their millionaire paymasters.” The attacks against workers’ living standards were a golden opportunity for Labour to expose the class nature of Tory policies and build an alternative, but the bankrupt policies of right-wing LP leaders were not offering the workers an alternative.

Labour Prime Minister Wilson inaugurated the year 1966 with a speech announcing austerity measures, wage freeze and further cuts in social spending. Ted Grant commented that Labour leaders were treating with contempt the modest demands of the workers while giving in to the pressure of big business. Any concession granted to the bosses would inevitably result in bigger claims.

For the first time in many years, a workers’ demonstration on January 15th for jobs was enthusiastically written up and supported by the Tory press” – Ted Grant ironically commented back in 1965, exposing the hypocrisy of the Tories. Ted Grant pointed out that the real problem facing the labour movement was the failure of Wilson’s Labour government to face the crisis of the aircraft industry and the Labour leaders’ subordination to the interests of big business.

British rule over Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was shaken in the early sixties by the rise of the African people against colonial rule. In order to preserve its interests British imperialism tried to start a transition towards so-called “partnership” between blacks and whites. In 1965 the white settlers’ government unilaterally declared its independence (U.D.I.) to keep racialist rule, threatening to unleash a conflict with the black majority. Ted Grant analysed the interests at stake and what the attitude of the labour movement should be.

In 1962 Gaitskell’s right wing clique was trying to consolidate and extend its grip on the Labour Party with all sorts of manoeuvres, expulsions, bans and tricks against the left wing. Ted Grant exposed those attempts and pointed out the need for the left to appeal to the ranks and fight back.

In 1962 bye-election results revealed the profound discontent of the middle class and workers with the policies of the then Tory government. Ted Grant underlined that the big swing to the Liberals was because they presented themselves as a radical alternative to the Tories. The Labour Party instead was bogged down by the right-wing policies of Gaitskell and his clique.

A wave of strikes, starting with the Asturian miners, challenged the dictatorship of Franco in Spain in the spring of 1962. Ted Grant argued that this heroic struggle represented the beginning of the end of the regime, but at the same time highlighted the limits of the positions put forward by the leaders of the Socialist and Communist parties and the need of building solidarity action with the Spanish workers by the international working class.

In October 1962 Ted Grant summed up the contradictions posed by the post-war arms race between the major powers and the proliferation of nuclear armaments. The working class should never trust international institutions like the UN to address this or any other fundamental problem but should mobilise its own forces around a socialist programme, the only means to put an end to all wars.

“The government has proclaimed a crisis, exhorted the workers to greater exertions and sacrifices, only for them to be faced with the same situation in the next 2 years.” Back in 1961 Ted Grant analysed how the British ruling class constantly attempted to throw the weight of British capitalism’s decline onto the shoulders of the working class.

In 1961, the sixth economic crisis in Britain since the end of the Second World War was used once again by the Tory government to justify a policy of cutting taxes for the rich and introducing indirect taxation which affected the standards of living of ordinary people. Ted Grant exposed the ruthless class nature of these policies and invited the trade union and Labour leaders to action.

In this 1971 article (produced as a special pamphlet) Ted Grant exposed the capitalist character of the Common Market and explained that the EEC was nothing more than a “glorified customs union” to protect the interests of the European capitalists against the USA and Japan. This Europe would not carry out policies in favour of the workers of any country. While taking sides clearly against the EEC, Ted Grant also exposed the nationalist character of the arguments put forward by the Labour “lefts” of the Tribune.

 

“The arguments of the anti-marketeers in the labour movement have had no more substance than those of the pro-marketeers themselves. They have adopted a narrow nationalistic outlook, appealing against the loss of British ‘sovereignty’… Neither nationalism nor pseudo-Europeanism is a solution in the interests of the working class… The solution to the problem lies in the unity of the workers of Europe and the world against the capitalists of Europe and the world. A socialist Britain, in a socialist united states of Europe.”

In 1966 the Labour leaders after opposing entry into the EEC (the old name of the EU) on a nationalist basis did an about turn seeking entry on a capitalist basis. The Marxists opposed entry into the EEC on a socialist, internationalist position, as Ted wrote, "for the working class neither entry nor non-entry would solve their problems or lead to an increased standard of living...There is no road to the union of Europe except on a socialist basis, with full national autonomy, the abolition of tariffs, national armies and government state machines."

A general strike erupted in Belgium in the winter of 1960-61 against the austerity measures of the government. The movement lasted six weeks exposing the impotence of the ruling class. Ted Grant drew the lessons of this epic struggle and polemicised with those leftists who had written off the revolutionary potential of the European working class because of “high standards of living in the welfare state”.

 

In April 1960 savage repression of student led protests against rigged elections sparked off revolution in South Korea. The students were joined by the workers and within 10 days the semi-dictatorial rule of US-backed president Rhee was overthrown. Ted Grant pointed out that US imperialism had no alternative other than to grant substantial concessions to the masses in order to stem the tide of revolt.

In May 1961 Ted Grant replied to an article in the Tribune by Michael Foot who alleged that the Second World War could have been avoided, had the British ruling class understood that Hitler was “bluffing”.

Ideological debate around the issue of “inevitability of war under capitalism” turned into a major row between China and the USSR and escalated in 1960 with the sudden withdrawal of Russian specialised instructors from China. Ted Grant explained the real significance of this clash and denounced the nationalist conflicting interests of the Chinese and Russian bureaucracies.

In 1956, Khrushchev’s report on the crimes of Stalin at the 20th congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union together with the Hungarian revolution shook the Stalinist parties throughout the world. Ted Grant exposed the contradictory and reductionist analysis proposed by the Stalinist leaders in preparation of the British CP congress and pointed out that “the complete shake up within the Communist Party in Britain is an indication that it will not be possible to muffle the doubts and questioning among the sincere Communist rank and file by hysterical shrieks and threats on the part of the leadership as in the past. The hypnosis of Stalinism has been broken.”

In 1956 the Khrushchev report and the Hungarian Revolution opened up a crisis inside the British Communist Party, with many rank and file members beginning to question Stalinism. The group around Ted Grant oriented its activity towards the CP and tried to build links with militants who were in opposition within the party, with the aim of winning them to the Marxist tendency.

Professor Wolfgang Harich, member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany was arrested in 1956 in East Germany accused of conspiring against the state and condemned with other dissidents to long jail sentences. Ted Grant pointed out that an opposition to Stalinism was developing within the party and that the bureaucracy’s harsh reaction was an indication of weakness, not of strength.

Notice: Trying to get property 'author' of non-object in /home/idom/public_html/templates/purity_iii/html/com_tags/tag/default_items.php on line 104

One year ago today the Marxist theoretician Ted Grant died after more than seventy years of political activity. His death marked the end of an era, but not the end of the struggle for the ideas he always defended.

Notice: Trying to get property 'author' of non-object in /home/idom/public_html/templates/purity_iii/html/com_tags/tag/default_items.php on line 104

Last year, after the death of Ted Grant, we launched an appeal for donations to finance the publication of his works. The plan is to produce the first volume, covering the War Years, this year. The work of scanning and proofreading the original texts is going ahead and we have started publishing them on line at www.tedgrant.org. As this is an ongoing project, which will need a lot of financial backing (so far about £5000 has been raised), we are relaunching last year's financial appeal.

We are appealing to all our readers and supporters to help raise the necessary resources for the publication of the collected works of Ted Grant, the only Marxist theoretician who genuinely developed and built on the ideas of Leon Trotsky after the Second World War.

Sunday August 20th is the 66th anniversary of Trotsky's assassination by a Stalinist agent. On this occasion we republish Ted Grant's text Trotsky's Relevance Today, written in 1990.


Notice: Trying to get property 'author' of non-object in /home/idom/public_html/templates/purity_iii/html/com_tags/tag/default_items.php on line 104

More messages have been pouring in from all over the world written by people expressing their condolences after the death of Ted Grant. We have ordered all messages by country.

Notice: Trying to get property 'author' of non-object in /home/idom/public_html/templates/purity_iii/html/com_tags/tag/default_items.php on line 104

Several mainstream newspapers have published obituaries on Ted Grant today. Although not every detail is exact or even true, you can read them here: The Financial Times, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Notice: Trying to get property 'author' of non-object in /home/idom/public_html/templates/purity_iii/html/com_tags/tag/default_items.php on line 104

Today, The Times published a lengthy obituary on Ted Grant in which they recognise the fundamental role he played in developing Trotskyism in Britain, in particular the Militant Tendency. Here we provide a link to the text.

Notice: Trying to get property 'author' of non-object in /home/idom/public_html/templates/purity_iii/html/com_tags/tag/default_items.php on line 104

We reproduce here the brief biography of Ted Grant written by Rob Sewell in May 2002. This text was taken from the Tedgrant.org site.

This morning we heard the tragic news of the death of comrade Ted Grant, just a few days after his 93rd birthday. The news was a great shock to all of us. Despite his age and the obvious deterioration of his condition in the last period, we had grown used to the idea that he would always be there, a permanent fixture amidst all the turbulence and change.

On the 30th anniversary of the military coup in Argentina, we remind you of Ted Grant's article on the Argentine Revolution first published in July 1973. As he predicted back then, “The capitalists having clutched the straw of Peronism, will turn to the stick of the generals once again.” This unfortunately is what happened a few years later with another military coup. Today’s activists must study the mistakes of the movement in the past in order not to repeat them today.

Last Saturday, Ted Grant celebrated his 92nd birthday in East London together with a few comrades. On this occasion Ted wanted to take the opportunity to send greetings to all comrades, young and old. (July 11, 2005)

This article was originally published in 1974, on the 57th anniversary of the Russian Revolution) in answer to a member of the Labour Party Young Socialists [the youth section of the Labour Party at the time], Frank Tippin, who wrote to Ted Grant posing a series of questions.

On the 58th anniversary of the Russian Revolution Ted Grant wrote this article in which he compared the revolutionary ideas and tactics of the Bolsheviks in 1917 to the class collaborationist and reformist policies of the leaders of the Socialist and Communist parties in the 1970s. He explains how the Bolsheviks were able to lead the workers to successfully take power in 1917. He also stressed the historical significance of the Russian revolution by quoting Trotsky who said that, "The Soviet system wishes to bring aim and plan into the very basis of society, where up to now only accumulated consequences have reigned." Unfortunately the isolation of the revolution to one country prepared

...

This article was written to commemorate the Russian Revolution on its 57th anniversary in 1974, when Brezhnev was in power. At a time when many of the Communist Parties around the world were still defining the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China as countries where socialism had been "realised", Ted Grant explains clearly the deformed nature of these regimes where power was in the hands of a privileged elite.

The announcement that the IRA will begin decommissioning its arms marks a new stage in the troubled peace process in Northern Ireland. What is the meaning of this? And what attitude should socialists and the labour movement take towards it?

Born in 1868 into a poor family in Edinburgh, James Connolly was a genuine proletarian. His working life commenced at the age of ten. All his life he lived and breathed the world of the working class, shared in its trials and tribulations, suffered from its defeats and exulted in its victories. Connolly was a self-educated man who became a brilliant speaker and writer. He alone in the annals of the British and Irish Labour Movement succeeded in developing the ideas of Marxism.

The clash between China and the USA over the crashed spy plane has thrown into sharp relief the tensions between the great powers in Asia. The incident in itself was an accident. But dialectics explains that necessity can be expressed through accident. Underlying the immediate incident lie fundamental contradictions between China and the USA.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!