Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

Stuart Hall

The passing of Stuart Hall is very sad news indeed.  Hall was one of the most remarkable, distinctive and principled voices on the New Left in post-war Britain - a very cultured anti-Stalinist Marxist intellectual whose heroes were figures such as Antonio Gramsci and C.L.R. James, and whose writing was always thoughtful and thought provoking, even if one did not agree with it in its entirety.   Duncan Hallas once said of Ralph Miliband that he 'hovers, hesitates, floats, between the best of the academic left and revolutionary left', and this was true of Hall and his contribution as well.  Given we are approaching the 30th anniversary of the start of the Great Miners' Strike in Britain,  there will no doubt be some discussion of Hall's analysis of Thatcherism as 'authoritarian populism' and the problematic positions associated with his support for the Marxism Today project.  Yet we should also remember Hall's contribution as a youthful activist in the first New Left - around CND and as the first editor of New Left Review - which are brought out quite well in the film 'The Stuart Hall Project'.  Those wanting to critically engage with Hall's work around 'Cultural Studies' would be well recommended to read Colin Sparks's contribution to the volume edited by David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen, Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 1996), which shows the essential continuities in thought which ran throughout his life from the 1950s until the 1980s in thinking about such questions as class consciousness and identity.  Overall, Hall made a creative, original and impressive contribution to the British and international Left, both as a black radical public intellectual and a generous partisan academic - and I count myself very privileged to have been able to have met him in person.  My sincere condolences go out to those who were close to him, particularly his friends, family and comrades - RIP Stuart. 

Edited to add: a link to some videos of Stuart Hall speaking: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9F57C5B178A98750

Edited to also add: Tributes / obits / commentary from Robin Blackburn (with useful links), Tariq Ali Evan Smith , Keith Flett , Gary Younge, Suzanne Moore, Stuart Jeffries

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