Biography:Alex Callinicos

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Short description: British political theorist (born 1950)
Alex Callinicos
Alex Callinicos 2009.jpg
Alex Callinicos in 2009
Alexander Theodore Callinicos

(1950-07-24) 24 July 1950 (age 72)
Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests

Alexander Theodore Callinicos (born 24 July 1950) is a Rhodesian-born British political theorist and activist. An adherent of Trotskyism, he is a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and serves as its International Secretary. He is also editor of International Socialism, the SWP's theoretical journal, and has published a number of books.


Early life

Callinicos's mother, the Honorable Ædgyth Lyon-Dalberg-Acton, was the daughter of the 2nd Lord Acton, descended from the 19th-century English historian Lord Acton. Callinicos's Greek father was active in the Greek Resistance to Nazi occupation during World War II.[1]

Callinicos was educated at St George's College, Salisbury (now Harare).

He became involved in revolutionary politics as a student at Balliol College, Oxford, where he read for his BA and came to know Christopher Hitchens, then himself active in the International Socialists (the SWP's forerunner).[2] He also received his DPhil at Oxford. The earliest writing by Callinicos for the International Socialists was an analysis of the student movement of the period. His other early writings focused on southern Africa and the French structuralist-Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. In 1977, Callinicos married Joanna Seddon,[1] a fellow Oxford doctoral student.

Career and activism

Callinicos participated in the Counter-Summit to the IMF/World Bank Meeting in Prague, September 2000 and the demonstration against the G8 in Genoa, June 2001. He has also been involved in organising the Social Forum movement in Europe. He was a contributor to Dictionnaire Marx Contemporain (2001),[3] and has written articles in New Left Review.

He was Professor of Politics at the University of York before being appointed Professor of European Studies at King's College London in September 2005. He succeeded Chris Harman as editor of International Socialism in January 2010 shortly after Harman died and is a British correspondent for Actuel Marx. Callinicos joined the central committee of the SWP in the late 1970s; he retains this position.

In January 2013, in the context of a serious crisis inside the UK Socialist Workers Party (SWP) associated with the party's response to an allegation of rape against a leading member of the party, known as Comrade Delta, and with the demand for changes to the existing form of the system of democratic centralism within the SWP, he wrote a defence of Leninism and democratic centralism. Callinicos disagreed with those who argued for the need to change the existing system.[4] He called the allegation of rape a "difficult disciplinary case",[4] a comment for which socialist feminist Laurie Penny thought he "[mistook] a plea for some basic respect for women's sexual autonomy as an attempt to undermine the revolution from within."[5]

Callinicos also took a prominent position on another issue which had divided the Socialist Workers Party (SWP): the use of the Internet in disagreements about confidential party issues. He complained about "the dark side of the Internet" in which individuals have "used blogs and social media to launch a campaign within the SWP".[4]

In order to disentangle a conference organised by the Historical Materialism journal in Delhi during 2013 from the SWP crisis, his invitation to the conference was withdrawn in March 2013.[6]


Books / pamphlets

  • 1976: Althusser's Marxism (London: Pluto Press) ISBN:0-904383-02-4
  • 1977: Southern Africa after Soweto (with John Rogers) (London: Pluto Press), ISBN:0-904383-42-3
  • 1981: Southern Africa after Zimbabwe (London: Pluto) ISBN:0-86104-336-7
  • 1982: Is there a future for Marxism? (London: Macmillan). ISBN:0-333-28477-1
  • 1983: Marxism and Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon). ISBN:0-19-876126-0
  • 1983: The revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx (London: Bookmarks). ISBN:0-906224-09-8
  • 1983: The Revolutionary Road to Socialism (London: Socialist Workers Party). ISBN:0-905998-53-7
  • 1985: South Africa: the Road to Revolution (Toronto: International Socialists). ISBN:0-905998-55-3
  • 1985: The Great Strike : the miners’ strike of 1984-5 and its lessons (with Mike Simons) (London: Socialist Worker) ISBN:0-905998-50-2
  • 1987: The Changing Working Class: Essays on Class Structure Today (with Chris Harman) (London: Bookmarks) ISBN:0-906224-40-3
  • 1988: South Africa Between Reform and Revolution (London: Bookmarks). ISBN:0-906224-46-2
  • 1988: Making History: Agency, Structure, and Change in Social Theory (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press). ISBN:0-8014-2121-7
  • 1989: Marxist Theory (editor) (Oxford: Oxford University Press). ISBN:0-19-827294-4
  • 1990: Trotskyism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). ISBN:0-8166-1904-2
  • 1991: The Revenge of History: Marxism and the East European Revolutions ISBN:0-271-00767-2
  • 1991: Against Postmodernism: a Marxist critique (Cambridge: Polity Press). ISBN:0-312-04224-8
  • 1992: Between Apartheid and Capitalism: conversations with South African socialists (editor) (London: Bookmarks). ISBN:0-906224-68-3
  • 1994: Marxism and the New Imperialism (London ; Chicago, Ill. : Bookmarks). ISBN:0-906224-81-0
  • 1995: Theories and Narratives (Cambridge: Polity Press). ISBN:0-7456-1201-6
  • 1995: Race and Class (London: Bookmark Publications). ISBN:0-906224-83-7
  • 1995: Socialists in the trade unions (London: Bookmarks) ISBN:1-898876-01-0
  • 1996: New Labour or socialism? (London: Bookmarks) ISBN:1898877076
  • 1999: Social Theory: Historical Introduction (New York: New York University Press). ISBN:0-8147-1593-1
  • 2000: Equality (Themes for the 21st Century) (Cambridge: Polity Press). ISBN:0-7456-2324-7
  • 2002: Against the Third Way (Cambridge: Polity Press). ISBN:0-7456-2674-2
  • 2003: An anti-Capitalist manifesto (Cambridge: Polity Press). ISBN:0-7456-2903-2
  • 2003: New Mandarins of American Power: the Bush administration’s plans for the world (Cambridge: Polity Press). ISBN:0-7456-3274-2
  • 2006: Universities in a Neoliberal World (London: Bookmarks) ISBN:1898877467
  • 2006: The Resources of Critique (Cambridge: Polity). ISBN:0-7456-3160-6
  • 2009: Imperialism and Global Political Economy (Cambridge, Polity). ISBN:0-7456-4045-1
  • 2010: Bonfire of Illusions: The Twin Crises of the Liberal World (Polity). ISBN:0-7456-4876-2
  • 2012: The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx (Haymarket) ISBN:978-1-6084-6138-7
  • 2014: Deciphering Capital: Marx's Capital and its destiny (London: Bookmarks).



  1. 1.0 1.1 The
  2. Callinicos, Alex (16 December 2011). "Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011)". Socialist Worker (2283). 
  3. J. Bidet and E. Kouvelakis, eds., Dictionnaire Marx Contemporain Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2001
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Alex Callinicos, "Is Leninism finished?" Socialist Review, February 2013, posted on 28 January 2013.
  5. Laurie Penny, "The SWP and rape: why I care about this Marxist-Leninist implosion", The Guardian, 12 March 2013.
  6. Hugh Muir, "Diary: A message to the SWP from Delhi: stay away", The Guardian, 27 March 2013.

External links