THE FUNERAL of revolutionary socialist Tony Cliff, who died on 9 April,
took place on Wednesday of last week.
Up to 3,000 people, carrying red flags, joined the procession in Golders
Green, north London.
There were trade unionists and socialists who had taken part in every
major industrial struggle in Britain over the last 40 years.
There were manual workers and office workers, pensioners and young
people as well as socialists from France, Ireland, Poland, Greece, the
US and elsewhere.
They talked about how they were inspired by the clarity of his political
ideas and how they remembered his jokes.
Their presence was a testimony to Cliff's contribution to the
revolutionary socialist movement over 70 years.
Lindsey German, the editor of Socialist Review, spoke at the funeral
about Cliff's important contribution to the Marxist movement.
She said that for many people it was difficult to believe that such a
youthful figure had died.
He was an unassuming man, but he had supreme confidence in his beliefs.
Cliff developed the theory of state capitalism which showed that the
Soviet Union and the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe had nothing to
do with socialism but were another form of capitalism.
The theory of state capitalism was vital in ensuring that a whole
generation of socialists did not become disillusioned and demoralised in
the years of the Cold War or when the Eastern European regimes
But Tony Cliff was not just a theoretician. He believed theory was
worthless unless it was accompanied by revolutionary activity to change
Lindsey also paid tribute to Cliff's wife, Chanie Rosenberg, who
provided love and comradeship for 55 years, and who is herself a strong
and active revolutionary socialist.
Two of Cliff 's children, Anna Gluckstein and Donny Gluckstein, also
spoke at the funeral.
Anna talked of growing up with Cliff as a dad.
It wasn't exactly normal, she said, and joked about how they had to be
quiet during every single news broadcast.
Anna spoke of Cliff 's sense of humour and urged people to continue to
fight for a world full of love, warmth and laughter, which he would have
Donny said the whole family was very moved by the hundreds of messages
of condolence from socialists across Britain and around the world.
Ahmed Shah from the Linksruck socialist group in Germany spoke of the
vital role Cliff played in helping a new generation of socialists in
Germany to break out of the demoralisation which followed the collapse
of the Berlin Wall.
And Chris Harman, the editor of Socialist Worker, spoke of how Cliff
inspired working class militants in Britain in the early 1970s.
"He was a Jewish man from Palestine, but he could write pamphlets on the
threat of wage controls and productivity deals which were read by
thousands of shop stewards."
Chris also spoke about how Cliff stayed in tune with the political mood
until the end of his life.
In the weeks before his death he was enthused by the huge march for jobs
in Birmingham and the possibilities of the London Socialist Alliance.
"Cliff would have said, 'Don't mourn, organise', " said Chris. "The best
tribute we can pay Cliff is to use his inspiration to redouble our
efforts to fight for a socialist society."
MESSAGE FROM THE FAMILY
WE, CLIFF'S family, would like to thank all of you who contributed to
making his funeral such a memorable occasion.
We must thank: the comrades who created those simple but powerful flags,
and the Rebel comrades who carried the flags by the hearse, the bagpiper
who worked so hard, the comrades who made the elegant programmes, the
comrade who organised the piano, the comrades who prepared the food and
lovely table settings at the wake, and, of course, the thousands of
comrades who came from far and wide and made the procession so
Your hard work and organisation made the day a fitting political tribute
to Cliff and a special day for us - one that rightly looked at the past
and prepared us to look to the future.
The struggle continues!
With many thanks,
Chanie Rosenberg, Elana Dallas, Donny Gluckstein, Danny Gluckstein and
from Socialist Worker No. 1694, 29 April 2000