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Jim Higgins: More Years for the Locust

Jim Higgins: More Years for the Locust

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Published by Slim Brundage
Born into a working-class family in Harrow, Jim Higgins joined the Young Communist League at 14 and left school at 16. Two years later he was apprenticed to the Post Office as a telecommunications engineer. After National Service in the early 1950s, he became active in both the Communist Party and the Post Office Engineering Union. He broke with the CP in 1956 following Khrushchev’s “secret speech” and the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Higgins read Trotsky voraciously, and joined a small group – Socialist Labour League – and then the Socialist Review Group which became the International Socialists.

By the 1960s he was a POEU branch secretary and was elected to the union’s national executive, but he gave up his union work to become IS’s full-time national secretary in the early 1970s. IS grew rapidly in the later 1960s and early 70s but in a burst of internal quarrels in the period 1973-76 he was forced out of the organisation and then built a new life as a journalist. He remained active as a writer and speaker at left wing meetings up until his death.

More Years for the Locust is Jim's 1997 account of his years in the IS/SWP.
Born into a working-class family in Harrow, Jim Higgins joined the Young Communist League at 14 and left school at 16. Two years later he was apprenticed to the Post Office as a telecommunications engineer. After National Service in the early 1950s, he became active in both the Communist Party and the Post Office Engineering Union. He broke with the CP in 1956 following Khrushchev’s “secret speech” and the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Higgins read Trotsky voraciously, and joined a small group – Socialist Labour League – and then the Socialist Review Group which became the International Socialists.

By the 1960s he was a POEU branch secretary and was elected to the union’s national executive, but he gave up his union work to become IS’s full-time national secretary in the early 1970s. IS grew rapidly in the later 1960s and early 70s but in a burst of internal quarrels in the period 1973-76 he was forced out of the organisation and then built a new life as a journalist. He remained active as a writer and speaker at left wing meetings up until his death.

More Years for the Locust is Jim's 1997 account of his years in the IS/SWP.

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Published by: Slim Brundage on Apr 06, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/31/2013

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More Years forthe Locust
the Origins of the SWP 
Jim Higgins
Cartoons by Phil Evans
Published by:
IS GroupPO Box 13824LondonSW1P 2ZL1997ISBN 0-9530607-0-5
 
 This book is dedicatedto the memory of Harry Wicks(1905 - 1989)revolutionary communistand a real working class hero.
 
J
im Higgins has written a witty and wise book about the dashed hopes of revolu-tionary socialists in the 1960s and 1970s. In a cynical age, when we are told bysuch gurus of New Labour as Will Hutton that “socialism is dead,” it is worthrecalling those days of heady activism, mass demonstrations and latent workingclass power, when it seemed not only desirable but possible that British societycould be remodelled in a truly democratic and egalitarian fashion. The need remainsand it is worth pointing out to Mr Hutton and his ilk that the “socialism” they so ear-nestly despatch to the knacker’s yard comes in the twin form of social democracyand Stalinism, over which we shed no tears. In a vulgar, tawdry and increasinglysqualid society, where millions live in deepening poverty, a minority stick their trotters and snouts in the privatised troughs, and a manufacturing base is destroyedin a rush to base an economy on service industries and hamburger restaurants, thecase for root and branch social change has never been greater.The main purpose of Jim's book is to paint a picture of the recent past in thehope that the mistakes of that period will not be repeated. Some readers will bridleat the caustic tone and harsh humour. But it must be stressed that the participantsin the struggles recorded here made enormous self sacrifice for the movement andfound themselves cast aside by “comrades” who did not give a fig for the distressthey caused. Jim plays down his own central role in the events he describes but Irecall how a man plucked from a key position in his trade union to become nationalsecretary of the International Socialists was sidelined within less than a year, thevictim of dishonourable, sectarian manoeuvering and back-stabbing. As a result of the bitter and unprincipled in-fighting within IS, a whole cadre of fine and commit-ted people were lost to the cause of socialism, reduced to working at the margins of the struggle instead of being centrally involved.It has been said many times that revolutions devour their children. Less attentionhas been paid to the ability of small revolutionary groups to ingest their offspringlong before the first barricade has been built. The high hopes of the members of the International Socialists were smashed as the result of many factors: a lack of acoherent long-term strategy, wild changes of tack by Tony Cliff, with blatant disre-gard for democratic structures that would leave Tony Blair breathless with admira-tion, the advancement of placemen and opportunists at the expense of experiencedmembers and a ruthless and savage demonising of opponents of the latest “line”.The tragedy of what happened to IS is that it did not start out that way. AsJim graphically records, the early group was based upon a genuine comradeshipand shared intellectual abilities. I had spent my formative years in Gerry Healy’sSocialist Labour League and was in urgent need of a political oil change and decoke
Preface
I have a rendezvous with DeathAt some disputed barricade
Alan Seeger 1888-1916

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