Prof Callinicos suffers “personal inconvenience”

March 27, 2013 at 12:28 am (Asshole, Beyond parody, Jim D, misogyny, SWP)

Above: this man has been personally inconvenienced

The organisers of a Marxist Conference (‘Historical Materialism’) in India have withdrawn their invitation to Professor Callinicos. He seems to be quite upset, and has tweeted  ( as follows:

Dear Organizing Committee,

I was very surprised to receive your communication. You ask me ‘to withdraw [my] decision to attend’. But I only made that decision in response to an invitation to participate in your conference. So what you are in fact doing is withdrawing your invitation, as is indicated by the fact that you have already deleted me from the conference programme. I think you should take full responsibility for the decision you are actually taking.

I understand of course how important the issue of rape and sexual violence is in India, especially after last December’s gang rape and murder in Delhi. It is also a very important question in Britain, and for me personally, as it is for the Socialist Workers Party. We are strongly committed to women’s liberation. We took the rape allegations against a leading member extremely seriously; the controversy over how the party handled these allegations is indicative of that seriousness. The special conference that we recently held to resolve this controversy has set up a committee to review our procedures, and we intend to use this to reinforce our efforts to combat the oppression of women.

It is not for me to judge how grave the danger of disruption to your conference is. But an appeal circulated by an academic at JNU does not reflect well intellectually or morally on those agitating against my presence at the conference. This document is a farrago of nonsense that treats allegations as proven fact, cites tendentious opinion pieces as ‘reports’, and includes the laughable assertion that ‘the journal Historical Materialism is allied, and  … is known to be principally operated by Socialist Workers Party members and supporters’.

Since this is a conference sponsored by Historical Materialism, let me remind you that I am a longstanding supporter of the journal and, along with Marxist intellectuals of many political tendencies, a member of its International Advisory Board. I have tried to support HM’s development both in Britain and internationally. Your decision damages HM’s commitment to promote Marxist theoretical development independently of organized political alignments.

So I regret your decision – not just for this reason, but also because I value my long-standing connections with the Marxist intellectual left in India. In taking this decision, based directly or indirectly on interested misrepresentations of debates inside the SWP, you run the risk of compromising your own intellectual and political integrity.

This is to say nothing of the personal inconvenience and expense you are exposing me to by withdrawing your invitation a week after you had circulated a programme that included me as chairing one session and speaking at another, and barely a week before I was due to fly to India. This is quite unacceptable in what is meant to be an academic conference, and it is also not how socialists should behave towards one another.

In comradeship,
Alex Callinicos

[NB: Statement from the organising group of the Delhi HM Conference, here]


  1. Matt said,

    “it is also not how socialists should behave towards one another.”


  2. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Actually the key phrase is expense you are exposing me to “

    The Middle Classes have a peculiar way of quantifying things under capitalism, in terms of expense, money they will have to spend, etc

    Their relationship to things is largely based on this approach, more so for blue blooded types, like Callinicos.

    Primarily, that’s what they understand, pounds shillings and pence, and are often so lacking in self-awareness with subtler propositions as relationships and human interaction.

    If such interactions can’t be quantified (or to use the awful modern expression, monetized) then the likes of Callinicos can’t fully understand them.

    That’s why they come across as shallow and unfeeling, or in Callinicos’s case as stupid. I am sure Marx has said something similar!

  3. Andrew Coates said,

    One is truly sorry for Professor Callinico’s inconvenience.

    But one must ask on what evidence he denies the claim that, “The journal Historical Materialism is allied, and … is known to be principally operated by Socialist Workers Party members and supporters’.

    If HM is not basically SWP I would be interested to hear from Sebastian Budgen (as in posh shops, Budgen), and a SWP stalwart on the HM Board (I could list a few others as well) to say otherwise.

    Perhaps the Professor could console himself with a Budgen hamper.

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