Saturday, November 07, 2009

Chris Harman RIP

I am saddened to hear the news that Chris Harman, revolutionary socialist and leading theoretician of the International Socialist tradition, died following a cardiac arrest in Cairo last night. Before his death, he edited the International Socialism journal, and had written an accessible critique of mainstream economic theory, Zombie Capitalism. I personally owe a considerable portion of my Bildung to the man, as it was trawling his back catalogue - Explaining the Crisis, Economics of the Madhouse, etc., plus innumerable articles for International Socialism, (sophisticated polemics against high theorists such as Ernest Mandel and Alec Nove among them) - that enabled me to first get a basic grip of some economic theory. In addition, his historical work, culminating in the magisterial A People's History of the World, provided an invaluable introduction to the topics I would later have to deal with in my degree. Generations of socialists will owe a similar debt, I expect. He is also one of the few such writers to have his work recommended in an album sleeve.