Obituaries

Journalist, scoundrel Christopher Hitchens dies at 62

By David Walsh, 17 December 2011

Christopher Hitchens began his public life as a “left” journalist in Britain and moved on, without undergoing any apparent internal struggle, to become a proponent of imperialist war and oppression, residing in Washington, D.C.

Bob Gould 1937-2011: A political assessment

By Nick Beams, 13 June 2011

For almost his entire political career, Gould functioned as a particular Australian representative of the political trend known as Pabloism.

Richard Holbrooke: Long-time operative for US imperialism

By Patrick Martin, 15 December 2010

The veteran US diplomat was steeped in the commission and cover-up of bloody crimes.

SEP (Sri Lanka) holds funeral for comrade Piyaseeli Wijegunasingha

By our correspondents, 14 September 2010

Hundreds attended the funeral in Colombo to pay their last respects to a lifelong Trotskyist and Marxist literary critic.

Jimmy Reid, Stalinist union leader who betrayed Scottish shipyard struggle, dies at 78

By Steve James, 25 August 2010

Jimmy Reid, the leader of the famous 1971 “work-in” at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) in Glasgow, Scotland, died on August 10.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski (1949–2010)—from Solidarity advisor to right-wing politician

By Marius Hauser, 13 April 2010

Poland’s late president Lech Kaczynski, who died Saturday in a plane crash, was a loyal representative of the country’s ruling elite and sought to establish authoritarian forms of rule based on reactionary Polish chauvinism.

Former British Labour Party leader Michael Foot dies

By Chris Marsden, 4 March 2010

Former Labour Party leader Michael Foot died yesterday. His political legacy is best measured by the fact that the working class, in a political sense, is far weaker today than it was at the time of his birth 96 years ago.

Alexander Haig (1924-2010): Long-time enforcer for American imperialism

By Patrick Martin, 22 February 2010

Alexander Haig was a trailblazer for a modern reactionary type, the political general, who crosses over from the uniformed military to high political office. Haig played a central role during two critical periods for American imperialism: as Nixon’s White House chief of staff in 1973-74, and Reagan’s secretary of state in 1981-82.

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

An assessment of A People’s History of the United States

By Tom Eley, 15 February 2010

Howard Zinn died on January 28 at the age of 87. Any serious evaluation of Zinn requires consideration be given his book, A People’s History of the United States.

An appreciation of the life of Paula Claire Schuman (1948-2010)

By Helen Halyard, 12 February 2010

Paula Schuman, a former member of the Workers League (forerunner to the Socialist Equality Party) and specialist in infectious diseases and AIDS, died on January 10, 2010 at her home in Davenport, Iowa.

Jyoti Basu: elder statesman of Indian Stalinism dies at 95

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 19 January 2010

Jyoti Basu, the reputed elder statesman of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and for 23 years the Chief Minister of West Bengal, died Sunday. His death has occasioned numerous gushing tributes from India’s political establishment, beginning with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

Egor Gaidar (1956-2009): Architect of capitalist restoration in Russia

By Vladimir Volkov and Andrea Peters, 18 January 2010

One month ago, Egor Gaidar, a leading figure in the restoration of capitalism in Russia, died of a heart attack. The policies he implemented had a disastrous impact on the country and resulted in an immense growth in social inequality.

The death of Miep Gies (February 15, 1909—January 10, 2010)

Protected Anne Frank from the Nazis

By Sybille Fuchs, 15 January 2010

Miep Gies, the last survivor of those who helped young Anne Frank in the Netherlands during World War II, died on Sunday at the age of 100.

Gabonese President Omar Bongo (1935-2009)

A tool of French imperialism in Africa

By Olivier Laurent, 5 September 2009

Gabonese President Omar Bongo died on June 7 after spending nearly 42 years in power defending French imperialism's interests in sub-Saharan Africa.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung dies

By John Chan, 3 September 2009

Behind the rhetoric about “democracy” and “peace”, Kim represented the interests of sections of the Korean bourgeoisie who had been marginalised under the US-backed military dictatorship.

Ted Kennedy and the decay of American liberalism

By Barry Grey, 27 August 2009

The death of Massachusetts Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy on Tuesday marks the end of the Kennedy family’s role as a major force in American politics.

Writer Budd Schulberg, unrepentant informer, dead at 95

By David Walsh, 7 August 2009

Schulberg was a member of the Communist Party in the late 1930s and subsequently “named names” before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in May 1951. To the end of his life he defended his informing, and that experience largely defines his legacy.

Walter Cronkite and the US news media

By David Walsh, 20 July 2009

Walter Cronkite, a fixture in a great many American homes as anchorman of the CBS evening news from 1962 to 1981, died in New York City July 17 at the age of 92.

Robert S. McNamara, 1916-2009

Pentagon chief during Vietnam War escalation dead at 93

By Patrick Martin, 8 July 2009

Robert S. McNamara, one of the principal architects of the US war in Vietnam, died Monday morning at the age of 93.

Mary Elise Henehan (1925-2008)

By Helen Halyard, 5 January 2009

On December 16, 2008, Mary Elise Henehan died at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the age of 83. She was the mother of Tom Henehan, a political committee member of the Workers League, predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party, who was the victim of a political assassination carried out on October 16, 1977 in New York City.

Austrian right-wing politician Jörg Haider dies in car crash

By Markus Salzmann, 16 October 2008

Jörg Haider, the governor of the Austrian province of Carinthia and chairman of the extreme right Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) died in a car accident in Klagenfurt in the early hours of October 11.

From Pabloism to the Greens

Peter Camejo dead at 68

By Fred Mazelis, 16 September 2008

This past weekend brought news of the death of Peter Camejo, a leading figure in the US Green Party, three times its candidate for governor of California, and Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate in his independent third party campaign for president in 2004.

Mildred Loving, civil rights-era pioneer, dies at 68

By Patrick Martin, 9 May 2008

Mildred Loving, plaintiff in a civil rights-era lawsuit that led to the overturning of state laws against interracial marriage, died May 2 at her home in the small town of Milford, Virginia. She was 68, and the cause of death was reported as pneumonia, although she had been in generally poor health for several years, and suffered from severe arthritis.

William F. Buckley, longtime propagandist for US ultra-right, dies at 82

By Patrick Martin, 5 March 2008

The death of William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review magazine and long-time media publicist for the American political right, has prompted an outpouring of tributes and praise in the American press, out of all proportion to the significance and stature of its subject.

US auto union leader Douglas Fraser dead at 91

By Jerry White, 26 February 2008

Douglas Fraser, the president of the United Auto Workers union between 1977 and 1983, died Saturday at the age of 91 in Southfield, Michigan.

International condolences and tributes to Eddie Benjamin

12 February 2008

We are publishing here a selection of the many messages of condolence and the many tributes to Eddie Benjamin sent by Eddie’s comrades from around the world and from within the US.

Eddie Benjamin: January 2, 1953—February 5, 2008

By Jerry White, 11 February 2008

It is with great sadness that the World Socialist Web Site reports the sudden death of Eddie Benjamin, a long-time member of the Socialist Equality Party in the US, and its forerunner, the Workers League.

French revisionist Pierre Lambert dies aged 87

By Peter Schwarz, 21 January 2008

Pierre Lambert, the long-time leader of the French Organisation Communiste Internationaliste (OCI) and of today’s Parti des Travailleurs (PT), died at age 87 on January 16 in Paris after a long illness.

Social theorist André Gorz dies, aged 84

By Stefan Steinberg, 9 October 2007

On September 24, the economist and social theorist André Gorz, 84, committed suicide together with his wife in their house near Paris. The couple had made a pact to end their lives together following a prolonged illness on the part of Gorz’s beloved wife, Dorine.

Kurt Waldheim (1918-2007)

Ex-UN chief’s Nazi past covered up

By Dietmar Henning, 21 June 2007

Last week, former UN Secretary-General and Austrian President Kurt Waldheim died at the age of 88. His family was with him when he succumbed to cardiovascular failure.

Jerry Falwell, founder of the right-wing Moral Majority, dead at 73

By David Walsh, 17 May 2007

Jerry Falwell, one of the leaders of the Christian Right in the US, died Tuesday in his office in Lynchburg, Virginia at the age of 73. Although his brand of fundamentalist hucksterism has been around for a long time in America, Falwell belonged to a generation of preachers who enjoyed unprecedented success as religious entrepreneurs, television personalities and even political leaders.

Raveenthiranathan Senthil Ravee

October 12, 1969-February 28, 2007

7 March 2007

Raveenthiranathan Senthil Ravee (Senthil), a member of the International Committee based in London, was killed in a car accident in the early hours of February 28 on the London-bound M20 motorway. He leaves behind his wife Anparasi and three children, Turphin, Ajann and baby Leon.

Former US President Gerald Ford dies

Pardoned Nixon for Watergate crimes

By David Walsh, 28 December 2006

Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States, died December 26 at the age of 93 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California.

Jeane Kirkpatrick: from “social democrat” to champion of death squads

By Bill Van Auken, 12 December 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick, the acerbic right-wing former US ambassador to the United Nations, died December 7 at the age of 80.

Ted Grant: A political appraisal of the former leader of the British Militant Tendency

Part 2

By Ann Talbot, 28 September 2006

This is the conclusion of a two-part obituary. Thefirst part was posted September 27.

Ted Grant: A political appraisal of the former leader of the British Militant Tendency

Part 1

By Ann Talbot, 27 September 2006

This is the first of a two-part obituary.

Theodore Draper—American historian and social critic

By Peter Daniels, 31 March 2006

Theodore Draper, the historian who first came to prominence with his two volumes on the history of the American Communist Party published nearly 50 years ago, died last month at the age of 93. Draper’s long career as a freelance historian and essayist also included studies of the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s and of the American Revolution.

Eugene McCarthy, dead at 89, played pivotal role in 1968 political crisis

By Patrick Martin, 30 December 2005

The death December 10 of former senator and US presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy provides an occasion for reviewing one of the most important chapters in recent American history—the political crisis that erupted in 1967-1968, shattering the administration of President Lyndon Johnson and giving a powerful impetus to the long-term decline and political decay of the Democratic Party.

Simon Wiesenthal: Nazi-hunter dead at 96—part 2

“Only a regime which admits to historical truth can learn from the past”

By Nancy Hanover, 15 November 2005

The following is the second part of a two-part obituary of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died September 20, at age 96, at his home in Vienna, Austria. The first part was posted on November 14.

Simon Wiesenthal: Nazi-hunter dead at 96—part 1

“Only a regime which admits to historical truth can learn from the past”

By Nancy Hanover, 14 November 2005

The following is the first part of a two-part obituary of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who died September 20, at age 96, at his home in Vienna, Austria. The second part will be posted on Tuesday, November 15.

Ralph Edmond (1926-2005): worker and socialist

By Eula Steele and Samuel Davidson, 9 July 2005

Ralph A. Edmond, Jr. died of an aneurysm and heart failure after slipping into a coma in the early morning of June 25. He passed away at the home of his daughter Paula Landon in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, where he had lived with her husband and two children for the past two years. Ralph was 79 years old.

An appreciation of biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005)

By Walter Gilberti, 3 May 2005

Ernst Mayr, arguably the preeminent biologist of the twentieth century, died on February 3, succumbing after a short illness at the age of 100. Mayr was the last survivor of a generation of renowned natural scientists that included the likes of Julian Huxley, George Gaylord Simpson, Theodocious Dobzhansky, J.B.S. Haldane, G.L. Stebbins and Hermann Muller, all of whom worked to establish Darwinian evolution as the cornerstone theory of biology.

Longstanding Sri Lankan Trotskyist dies

Velupillai Sarawanaperumal (1948-2005)

By K. Ratnayake, 20 April 2005

Socialist Equality Party (SEP) member Velupillai Sarawanaperumal, known affectionately to his comrades and friends as Papa, died early on the morning of April 14 after his lungs failed. His untimely death at the age of just 56 is a great loss to the SEP in Sri Lanka and the international Trotskyist movement. He is survived by his wife, Saraswathie, and 15-year-old son, Paranitharan.

Nathan Steinberger dies at 94

A life dedicated to the fight against fascism and Stalinism

By Verena Nees, 9 March 2005

On February 26 Nathan Steinberger died at the age of 94 in a hospital in Berlin. His wife Edith died four years ago. Nathan and Edith Steinberger were among the last members of a generation who lived through an epoch marked by revolutionary upheavals and the tragic defeats of the workers movement. Their lives were inextricably bound up with the terrible experiences of fascism and the Stalinist terror, during which, as members of the German Communist Party (KPD) living in the Soviet Union, they barely escaped with their lives. [See also: An interview with Nathan Steinberger (1997)]

Druba Jyoti Majumdar: pioneer Indian Trotskyist dies

By Nanda Wickremasinghe and Ganesh Dev, 27 January 2005

On the morning of Sunday, January 16, pioneer Indian Trotskyist Druba Jyoti Majumdar died at his home in Katwa, West Bengal, of asthma. He was 75.

Des Warren: 1937—2004

The best of his generation

By Mike Ingram, 10 May 2004

With the death of Des Warren on April 24, the working class lost one of its most principled representatives. The immediate cause was pneumonia, but the ultimate responsibility for the death of the 66-year-old former steel fixer lies with the British ruling elite, their police and judiciary and the treacherous leaderships of the workers’ movement.

Longtime supporter of International Committee in US dies

By Jerry Isaacs, 10 December 2003

David Nickerson, a longtime supporter of the Socialist Equality Party in the United States and its forerunner, the Workers League, died in his sleep in Los Angeles on November 25 at the age of 62. He had battled a rare degenerative muscular disease and a heart condition for nearly a decade.

Sabaratnam Rasendran 1947—2002

Veteran Sri Lankan Trotskyist dies in Colombo

By Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka), 2 March 2002

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) announces the death of comrade Sabaratnam Rasendran with profound sorrow. Rasendran died at the Chest Hospital in Welisara, Sri Lanka, of pneumonia and lung abscess septicemia at 4am on February 27. He was a member of the Colombo editorial board of the World Socialist Web Site and the Central Committee of the SEP, the Sri Lankan section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

Career spanned rise and decay of US auto union

Former UAW President Leonard Woodcock dies

By Shannon Jones, 3 February 2001

On January 16 Leonard Woodcock, president of the United Auto Workers from 1970-77 and later US ambassador to China under President Jimmy Carter, died in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the age of 89. An official in the UAW for nearly 40 years, Woodcock's life encompassed the transformation of the union from a militant mass movement of the working class into a bureaucratic apparatus, alien and hostile to the workers it supposedly represents.

Messages of condolence for Ernst Schwarz

25 January 2001

The German Socialist Equality Party (Partei für Soziale Gleichheit) received the following messages paying tribute to Ernst Schwarz, who died unexpectedly at the age of 43 on January 13.

Funeral for Ernst Schwarz held in Dortmund, Germany

By Marianne Arens, 25 January 2001

The funeral of Ernst Schwarz took place on January 22 at the main cemetery in the German city of Dortmund. Schwarz was for many years a member of the German Socialist Equality Party (Partei für Soziale Gleichheit--PSG) and a longtime fighter for socialist perspectives at the Krupp Hoesch steelworks. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack on January 13 at the age of 43.

On the death of Ernst Schwarz (1957-2001)

A fighter for socialist perspectives in the workplace

19 January 2001

Completely unexpectedly, comrade Ernst Schwarz died of a heart attack last weekend. He leaves behind him a wife and child. For many years he was a member of the German Socialist Equality Party (Partei für Soziale Gleichheit—PSG) and in the mid-90s, standing on a socialist platform, he was elected onto the factory trade union committee in the steelworks where he worked—Krupp Hoesch AG.

The death of former New York Mayor John Lindsay and the passing of liberalism

By Fred Mazelis, 6 January 2001

John V. Lindsay, who died last month at the age of 79, was mayor of New York City from 1966 to 1973, a period of social and political upheaval. Newspaper columnists and editorialists, along with former colleagues of the mayor, have commented on his legacy, but most of what has been written skirts the substantive issues raised by Lindsay's tenure in office.

American historian C. Vann Woodward dies: an interview with Civil War historian James McPherson on Woodward's contribution

By David Walsh, 24 December 1999

The remarkable historian C. Vann Woodward, who contributed much to an understanding of the American South, died December 17 at his home in Connecticut at the age of 91. Woodward is perhaps best known for his work The Strange Career of Jim Crow, published in 1955, which did a good deal to debunk the myth that segregation was the inevitable consequence of Southern culture, and pointed instead to its roots in social and political relations.

International tributes for Russian Marxist historian

Vadim Rogovin buried in Moscow

By our correspondent, 6 October 1998

More than three dozen people gathered at the Moscow Crematorium September 21 to mourn the passing of Vadim Zakharovich Rogovin, Russian Marxist historian and sociologist and author of a six-volume study of the Trotskyist opposition to the rise of the Stalinist regime within the Soviet Union. Rogovin died of cancer on September 18. He was 61 years old.

Vadim Rogovin: 1937-1998

Russian Marxist Historian Dies in Moscow

By David North, 18 September 1998

Vadim Zakharovich Rogovin, the Russian Marxist historian and sociologist, and author of a monumental six-volume study of the Trotskyist opposition to the rise of the Stalinist regime within the USSR, died of cancer early Friday morning in Moscow. He was 61 years old.

Alfred Kazin, champion of American literature: An appreciation

By Fred Mazelis, 26 June 1998

Alfred Kazin, the noted literary critic whose memoirs forcefully evoked the immigrant experience in early twentieth century America as well as the political and cultural odyssey of the intelligentsia over the past 60 years, died on June 5, his eighty-third birthday.

Obituary

Sam Marcy, an apologist for bureaucracy

By Fred Mazelis, 13 February 1998

Sam Marcy, who died February 1 at the age of 86, was one of the last of an older generation who were trained in the Trotskyist movement and then repudiated the principles of socialist internationalism in the period following the Second World War.

The Reagan airport

By Martin McLaughlin, 6 February 1998

Congress passed a resolution Wednesday to rename Washington National Airport after former President Ronald Reagan.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996): An appreciation

By Joseph Bradshaw, 13 January 1997

Detailed discussion of his work and materialist outlook, and includes a focus on his attitude to Trotsky.