Tom Kemp

Last updated

Tom Kemp (1921–1993) was a prominent Marxist economic historian and political theorist. He was influential in socialist and Trotskyist parties in the UK, and published several influential books on Marxist theory and economic development, in particular Theories of Imperialism which made an important contribution to assimilating globalisation into Marxist theory.

Contents

Early life

Kemp was born in Wandsworth, London, to a working-class family. He gained a scholarship to the grammar school Emanuel School and during his school years Kemp became involved with the Young Communist League (UK) and Communist Party of Great Britain. He was thrown out of the school Cadet Force for distributing communist literature about the Spanish Civil War.

In 1939 he enrolled at the London School of Economics, breaking his studies after a year to serve in the Royal Navy as a rating in landing craft, participating on his 21st birthday in the Bruneval Raid and subsequently the Dieppe Raid. Towards the end of the war Kemp was stationed in liberated Marseille and met the Frenchwoman whom he married after the war. Kemp was a lifelong Francophile and wrote important texts on French economic history and the history of Stalinism in France.

Kemp returned to his studies at LSE in 1946 and in 1950 joined the economics faculty of the University of Hull, where he taught for over 30 years.

Academic work

Kemp wrote a number of works on Marxist theory and economic development, in particular Theories of Imperialism which made an important contribution to assimilating globalisation into Marxist theory. His works on economic development are also important. He was prolific contributor to Marxist journals including the Labour Review and the International Socialist Review , and in 1968 was the opponent in that year's Socialist Party of Great Britain debates. Kemp also wrote contributions for the Encyclopædia Britannica.

In the 1970s, University of Hull was one of the leading centers for economic history, fuelled in-part by the intellectual division between John Saville and the New Left and Kemp on the Trotskyist left.

He was the doctoral advisor of Gabriel Salazar, who had arrived to the University of Hull as an exile from the military dictatorship in Chile.

Political activity

As a political activist Kemp was, together with Cliff Slaughter, one of the theoreticians behind the Socialist Labour League and the Workers Revolutionary Party. [1]

Like many others, Kemp left the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1956 at the time of the Soviet Invasion of Hungary. In 1957 he joined The Club (Trotskyist), the Trotskyist group within the Labour Party led by Gerry Healy. Kemp was an important thinker and activist within the group and its successor organisations the Socialist Labour League and the Workers Revolutionary Party.

In 1967 Kemp took a stand against the party's cataclysmic projections of the imminent economic end of the capitalist system, submitting an alternate document on economic perspectives to the party conference and refusing to back down. Only he voted for the document, and he was nearly driven from the party. [2]

However, he regained influence and continued to be an important thinker in the party until 1980 when, according to Cyril Smith, [3] disillusionment with Healy’s leadership led him to withdraw from party activities. After Healy’s expulsion from the party in 1985 Kemp resumed an active role in WRP, continuing until his death in 1993.

Kemp also played a central role in the theoretical work of the International Committee of the Fourth International, and co-edited the Fourth International Journal.

Selected works

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Left-wing politics</span> Political ideologies supporting social equality and egalitarianism

Left-wing politics describes the range of political ideologies that support and seek to achieve social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. Left-wing politics are also associated with popular or state control of major political and economic institutions. Left-wing politics typically involve a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished. According to emeritus professor of economics Barry Clark, left-wing supporters "claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated."

Marxism–Leninism is an authoritarian communist ideology which was the main communist movement throughout the 20th century. Developed by the Bolsheviks, it was the state ideology of the Soviet Union, its satellite states in the Eastern Bloc, and various countries in the Non-Aligned Movement and Third World during the Cold War, as well as the Communist International after Bolshevisation. Today, Marxism–Leninism is the ideology of the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam, as well as many other communist parties, while the state ideology of North Korea is derived from Marxism–Leninism. Marxist–Leninist states are commonly referred to as "communist states" by Western academics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nikolai Bukharin</span> Soviet revolutionary and politician

Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was a Bolshevik revolutionary, Soviet politician, Marxist philosopher and economist and prolific author on revolutionary theory.

State capitalism is an economic system in which the state undertakes business and commercial economic activity and where the means of production are nationalized as state-owned enterprises. The definition can also include the state dominance of corporatized government agencies or of public companies such as publicly listed corporations in which the state has controlling shares.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trotskyism</span> Variety of Marxism developed by Leon Trotsky

Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch of Marxism developed by Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and some other members of the Left Opposition and Fourth International. Trotsky self-identified as an orthodox Marxist, a revolutionary Marxist, and Bolshevik–Leninist, a follower of Marx, Engels, and 3L: Vladimir Lenin, Karl Liebknecht, and Rosa Luxemburg. He supported founding a vanguard party of the proletariat, proletarian internationalism, and a dictatorship of the proletariat based on working-class self-emancipation and mass democracy. Trotskyists are critical of Stalinism as they oppose Joseph Stalin's theory of socialism in one country in favour of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. Trotskyists criticize the bureaucracy and anti-democratic current developed in the Soviet Union under Stalin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fourth International</span> Revolutionary socialist international organization

The Fourth International (FI) is a revolutionary socialist international organization consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky, also known as Trotskyists, whose declared goal is the overthrowing of global capitalism and the establishment of world socialism via international revolution. The Fourth International was established in France in 1938, as Trotsky and his supporters, having been expelled from the Soviet Union, considered the Communist International as effectively puppets of Stalinism and thus incapable of leading the international working class to political power. Thus, Trotskyists founded their own competing Fourth International.

The Third Period is an ideological concept adopted by the Communist International (Comintern) at its Sixth World Congress, held in Moscow in the summer of 1928. It set policy until reversed when the Nazis took over Germany in 1933.

In Marxist theory, a semi-colony is a country which is officially an independent and sovereign nation, but which is in reality very much dependent and dominated by an imperialist country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marxism</span> Economic and sociopolitical worldview

Marxism is a left-wing to far-left method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, better known as historical materialism, to understand class relations and social conflict and a dialectical perspective to view social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. As Marxism has developed over time into various branches and schools of thought, no single, definitive Marxist theory exists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">State monopoly capitalism</span> Marxist theory

The theory of state monopoly capitalism was initially a Marxist thesis popularised after World War II. Lenin had claimed in 1916 that World War I had transformed laissez-faire capitalism into monopoly capitalism, but he did not publish any extensive theory about the topic. The term refers to an environment where the state intervenes in the economy to protect larger monopolistic or oligopolistic businesses from threats. As conceived by Lenin in his pamphlet of the same name the theory aims to describe the final historical stage of capitalism, of which he believed the Imperialism of that time to be the highest expression.

Charles Bettelheim was a French Marxian economist and historian, founder of the Center for the Study of Modes of Industrialization at the EHESS, economic advisor to the governments of several developing countries during the period of decolonization. He was very influential in France's New Left, and considered one of "the most visible Marxists in the capitalist world", in France as well as in Spain, Italy, Latin America, and India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marxist schools of thought</span> Group perspectives regarding Marxism

Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that originates in the works of 19th century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism analyzes and critiques the development of class society and especially of capitalism as well as the role of class struggles in systemic, economic, social and political change. It frames capitalism through a paradigm of exploitation and analyzes class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development – materialist in the sense that the politics and ideas of an epoch are determined by the way in which material production is carried on.

State socialism is a political and economic ideology theorised by Ferdinand Lassalle within the socialist movement that is against private ownership and advocates state ownership of the means of production, either as a temporary measure or as a characteristic of socialism in the transition from the capitalist to the socialist mode of production or communist society. It refers to the theory, doctrine and movement that advocates a planned economy controlled by the state in which all industries and natural resources are state-owned.

The Workers Revolutionary Party is a Trotskyist group in Britain once led by Gerry Healy. In the mid-1980s, it split into several smaller groups, one of which retains possession of the name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ernest Mandel</span> Belgian economist and Marxist philosopher

Ernest Ezra Mandel (Dutch: [manˈdɛl]; also known by various pseudonyms such as Ernest Germain, Pierre Gousset, Henri Vallin, Walter, was a Belgian Marxian economist, Trotskyist activist and theorist, and Holocaust survivor. He fought in the underground resistance against the Nazis during the occupation of Belgium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tony Cliff</span> Jewish-British socialist activist (1917–2000)

Tony Cliff was a Trotskyist activist. Born to a Jewish family in Palestine, he moved to Britain in 1947 and by the end of the 1950s had assumed the pen name of Tony Cliff. A founding member of the Socialist Review Group, which became the International Socialists and then the Socialist Workers Party, in 1977 Cliff was effectively the leader of all three.

Anti-revisionism is a position within Marxism–Leninism which emerged in the 1950s in opposition to the reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Where Khrushchev pursued an interpretation that differed from his predecessor Joseph Stalin, the anti-revisionists within the international communist movement remained dedicated to Stalin's ideological legacy and criticized the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his successors as state capitalist and social imperialist.

A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovereign state constitutionally dedicated to the establishment of socialism. The term communist state is often used synonymously in the West specifically when referring to one-party socialist states governed by Marxist–Leninist Communist parties, despite these countries being officially socialist states in the process of building socialism. These countries never describe themselves as communist nor as having implemented a communist society. Additionally, a number of countries that are multi-party capitalist states make references to socialism in their constitutions, in most cases alluding to the building of a socialist society, naming socialism, claiming to be a socialist state, or including the term people's republic or socialist republic in their country's full name, although this does not necessarily reflect the structure and development paths of these countries' political and economic systems. Currently, these countries include Algeria, Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ted Grant</span> Founder-leader of Militant then Socialist Appeal

Edward Grant was a South African Trotskyist who spent most of his adult life in Britain. He was a founding member of the group Militant and later Socialist Appeal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Far-left politics in the United Kingdom</span>

Far-left politics in the United Kingdom have existed since at least the 1840s, with the formation of various organisations following ideologies such as Marxism, revolutionary socialism, communism, anarchism and syndicalism.

References

  1. pg. 479, R. J. Alexander, International Trotskyism, 1929-1985 - https://books.google.com/books?id=_eUtQjseKaIC&
  2. "The Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy".
  3. Smith, Cyril. "Tom Kemp 1921-1993" . Retrieved 2011-04-02.