International Socialists (IS)


Continuation of the Socialist Review group who regrouped as International Socialists in 1962 with about 250 members. Main recruiting field was young people in YS and CND. Produced International Socialism, edited by Mike Kidron, advancing a classical Marxist critique of many Trotskyist orthodoxies and developing Marxist economic analysis. Ran a monthly industrial paper, Labour Worker, based on supporters’ groups and calling for support for unofficial strikes and outright opposition to incomes policy. Stressed self-activity and spontaneous shop-floor revolt, and critical of orthodox Trotskyism’s self-importance and leadership fetish. Dominant force in the Labour Party Young Socialists’ paper Young Guard, recruiting groups of apprentices in Glasgow and Birmingham en bloc.

Ceased systemmatic work inside the adult Labour Party by 1965, mainly active independently in local struggles over redundancy, victimisation and racialism. Although it began organized rank-and-file work in NUT in 1965, set up the SSDC in January 1966 and led the LSE student occupations, its first mass campaigning was in the London rent strikes of 1968-9 and in the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign.

Moved from a federalist national structure in 1968 with about 800 members, spurred by the May events and after two special conferences and five separate factions. In 1968-1970 it executed ‘The Turn to the Class’, aimed at utilizing the entire group’s resources to establishing a substantial industrial base, through the systemmatic sales of two booklets, ‘Incomes Policy, Legislation and Shop Stewards’ and ‘Productivity Deals and How to Fight Them’, the production of regular factory bulletins using information from sympathisers within plants, and the establishment with other socialists of democratic rank-and-file papers for particular industries. Profited from the communist Party’s unwillingness to take initiatives and lack of enthusiasm for those they took. Associated Pluto Press.

The largest of the far-left groupings with 3,000 members evenly distributed between industrial workers and white-collar workers, students, teachers and housewives. Tend to regard themselves as a development of the Leninist tradition rather than as Trotskyists. Known for their members’ sense of humour except when people laugh at them.

from Dave Widgery, ‘The Left in Britain’ (1976)

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