Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brian Pearce - Revolutionary Historian and Translator

I have just heard the sad news that Brian Pearce, (1915-2008) longstanding Marxist writer (in the Trotskyist tradition), historian and in particular translator, has passed away. RIP. He made a serious contribution to the revolutionary Marxist movement over the course of his life. I will add obituaries etc here as and when. One of my favourite articles by Pearce was written fifty years ago in 1958, The British Stalinists and the Moscow Trials, an absolutely superb historical piece of work which, after reading it, means that one will never look at magazines like the New Statesman in quite the same way ever again.

Edited to add: Obituary by Terry Brotherstone

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8 Comments:

At 7:46 pm, Anonymous Michael Rosen said...

Brian lived in our house when I was a kid. My father had got to know him at university.

 
At 12:54 pm, Anonymous Michael Rosen said...

Gimme a shout if an obituary appears somewhere. I went to see Brian about fifteen years ago and I bumped into his grandson at a gig in Brighton a few weeks ago too. It would seem that he spent the last thirty years or so living out the life of the isolated marxist intellectual/historian, having dispensed with the CPGB and then the WRP (or its forerunner, the SLL) and, as far as I know, mostly not joining or even joining-in, after that. I may be wrong on this though.

 
At 1:20 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Sure Michael. I never met him myself, but I expect there must be legions of people out there with Trotskyist literature that says 'translated by Brian Pearce' on it - and so it can be hoped that there will be obituaries along at some point which explain his exact political evolution after breaking with the CPGB. On that first break, I think Revolutionary History back in 2006 had a special issue on 1956 with an article by John McIlroy, 'A Communist Historian in 1956: Brian Pearce and the Crisis of British Stalinism' while Keith Flett edited a volume on 1956 with an article by Terry Brotherstone on Pearce in 1956 as well.

 
At 7:22 pm, Anonymous Michael Rosen said...

Call me a dozo but I don't seem to be able to get to the articles themselves! ((Incidentally, I was at that 1956 demo in Trafalgar Square that Keith Flett was writing about. I was 10 and can remember Bevan speaking whilst a CP friend of my parents arrived and announced 'The tanks have gone in!' I thought he was talking about British tanks in Egypt!)

But anyway, I'd really like to lay my hands on these articles about Brian Pearce. My father even adopted some of his mannerisms!

Feel free to carry on this conversation direct to my email.

 
At 10:37 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Michael - have emailed you - the articles are not online...

 
At 10:49 pm, Anonymous Grim and Dim said...

I met Brian for the first (and only) time a few weeks ago. He was a remarkable man; he was 93, but his intellectual curiosity was quite undimmed. He had contacted me because he had found a word he didn't know in one of Balzac's novels. And he was quizzing me about wikipedia and how it works.

I got some of my earliest political education from Brian. He had a regular column in the Newsletter, the paper of the SLL (forerunner of the WRP). Most of it was Healyite diatribe, but Brian's columns were of considerable interest. If anyone has a bit of free time, why not dig out the file of the Newsletter and put Brian's pieces on the MIA.

 
At 9:07 pm, Blogger Raytoye said...

Hello, I am Brian Pearce's grandson, Raymond. Please get in touch at rtoye@wanadoo.fr - Brian's funeral is to take place on 15 December. I have gathered as much material as i can on his work and am happy to share it. Thanks for taking this initiative.

 
At 3:33 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Thanks Raymond. I have set up a wikipedia page about Brian Pearce here which people can add to etc if they wish.

 

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