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Maurice Brinton was the pen name under which Christopher Agamemnon Pallis (2 December 1923, Bombay - 10 March 2005, London) wrote and translated for the British libertarian socialist group Solidarity from 1960 until the early 1980s.
According to David Goodway's introduction to a recent collection of his work:
He was born in India in 1923 to a distinguished Anglo-Greek family. When his father decided to retire and return to Europe, he chose to settle in Switzerland and in consequence Brinton received most of his schooling there, becoming fluent in not only English and Greek but also French. He went up to Oxford University in 1941 to read medicine and instantly joined the Communist Party of Great Britain but was almost immediately expelled on account of his criticism of its policy on the second world war. He therefore moved on to Trotskyism and support of the Revolutionary Communist Party until 1946.
He then dropped out of politics for a decade while he pursued his medical career, but in 1957 joined the Trotskyist group led by Gerry Healy, the Club, which in 1959 became the Socialist Labour League. He was expelled by Healy in 1960 and with a group of other ex-members of the SLL immediately set up Solidarity. Like a number of other former members of the SLL he was also involved with the journal International Socialism in the early 1960s.
For the next 20 years, he combined a distinguished medical career under his real name with pseudonymous revolutionary socialist writing and translation. His work includes several eyewitness accounts of key moments in European left politics (the Belgian general strike of 1960, Paris in May 1968, Portugal Carnation Revolution in 1974-75), a substantial body of English translations of the work of Cornelius Castoriadis, the main thinker of the French group Socialisme ou Barbarie, and two short books â€” one (The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control, 1970) on the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, and one (The Irrational in Politics, 1974) on sexual politics.
The publishers of a recent online edition of The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control describe it as follows:
The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control is a remarkable pamphlet by Maurice Brinton exposing the struggle that took place over the running of workplaces in the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution. In doing so not only does it demolish the romantic Leninist 'history' of the relationship between the working class and their party during these years (1917-21) but it also provides a backbone to understanding why the Russian revolution failed in the way it did. From this understanding flows alternative possibilities of revolutionary organisation and some 26 years after the original was written this is perhaps its greatest contribution today. For this reason alone this text deserves the greatest possible circulation today and we encourage you to link to it, download the text or otherwise circulate it.
Chris Pallis died in March 2005; an obituary can be read on Paul Anderson's blog.
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