Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ray Challinor - revolutionary historian

One of my most inspiring experiences as a historian came when I had the honour and privilege of spending a day in the company of Ray Challinor a few years ago - and so it was particularly dispiriting to hear the sad news that he passed away yesterday. Ray was a member of the Socialist Review group (forerunner to the International Socialists/SWP) and was a truly outstanding and in many ways ingenious Marxist historian of the British working class movement, particularly in the North East of England. All of his many writings deserve reading and thinking about - one of my favourite short pieces by him The Red Mole of History on revolutions should give people a taste of his style and is particularly relevant given current events across the Arab world. Ray had his idiosyncracies and eccentricities, but as he himself wrote about the 'parliamentarian, poet and lion-tamer' John S. Clarke, 'in his writings he understood the need to maintain the reader's interest in order to get over his message. Whatever he was doing, he always strived to amuse and entertain as he instructed...to him, socialism must have a human face - or it was nothing'. The same was as true of Ray as it was of John S. Clarke, and such humanism together with the clear understanding of class politics that pervade all Challinor's writings on revolutionary history meant that his works will stand the test of time, above all his work on the Socialist Labour Party, 'The Origins of British Bolshevism', while all those who were amused, entertained and instructed by him over the years will stand forever in his debt. I'll add tributes/obits etc here are they appear. RIP Ray.
Raymond Challinor Internet Archive
Appreciation by John Charlton

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At 8:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to support your view of the Origins of British Bolshevism as a great book. I re-read it a couple of years ago whilst at Leeds Met. Ray seemed a nice bloke when I met him at Marxism in about 1980, when he was still in the SWP as far as I know. I think he left in the early 80s but the reasons were never clear to me. I think it was connected to the rejection of the central thesis in OoBB by the party leadership. We may find out soon.

At 8:28 pm, Anonymous Geoff Collier said...

That wasn't meant to be anonymous

At 10:34 pm, Anonymous Russell Challinor said...

Ray Challinor Funeral details

9 February 2011 at 2.15p.m at Tynemouth Crematorium,
Walton Avenue,
North Shields
Tyne & Wear
NE29 9NJ.

No Flowers Please donations if desired to Stop The War Campaign. All friends and comrades welcome.

At 2:25 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Thanks Russell, and my condolences.

At 6:46 pm, Anonymous ResoluteReader said...

Obituary from Socialist Worker here, by John Charlton



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