Charlie Van Gelderen Commemoration

Paul Flewers hatchet.job at
Sat Dec 8 04:04:00 MST 2001

List members are invited to this.

Paul F


Comrades and family of Charlie van Gelderen invite you to a celebration of
his life

Charlie van Gelderen

14 August 1913 -- 26 October 2001

5 January 2002, 2-5pm, Conway Hall, Red Lion Sq (near Holborn tube), London

Full buffet and soft drinks, Bring a bottle, Tickets pounds 4 from PO Box
1179, London N4 2UU, Ring 0208 800 7460 or a mail outlook at for
more information. Please book in advance if you can as it will help us with
catering arrangements

Charlie van Gelderen died in October at the age of 88 was the last survivor
of those who attended the 1938 Founding Conference of the Fourth

Charlie was a fighter for revolutionary ideas across seven decades. In his
youth in South Africa in the 1930's he was involved in setting up the
Commercial Workers Union as a multiracial union in the Cape and together
with his twin brother Herman was part of Founding the first Trotskyist group
in the country. In his 80's, as a member of the International Socialist
Group, he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Socialist Alliance election
campaign in Cambridge in June 2001.

In 1938, under the clouds of impending world war, Charlie was convinced of
the need to found the Fourth international as an alternative to the
betrayals of Stalinism, and remained so for the rest of his life. Writing at
the time of the 60th anniversary of the Fourth International he said: "The
historic conditions of the day were crying out for a new International, a
new revolutionary general command of the workers and the oppressed peoples
of the world. It was in these conditions that, urged on by Trotsky, we
launched the Fourth International."

During the Second World War Charlie joined the British Army Medical Corps
and organised Marxist educational classes on the troop ships. He
participated in the huge demonstrations after the fall of Mussolini which
put the possibility of revolution on the agenda, and witnessed the way this
potential was betrayed by the Stalinists. He helped form the first
Trotskyist group in Italy with Italian comrades and American Trotskyists
also stationed in the area.

Charlie had joined the Labour Party in September 1936 and left in March
2001. During many debates in the Trotskyist movement he had argued that that
was were revolutionaries should be active to win others to their ideas. But
the rise of new Labour closed down the possibilities and Charlie was an
enthusiastic supporter of the Socialist Alliance which he saw as one of the
most important united initiatives of t he left for many years.

One of Charlie's cause celebres was fighting the sectarianism and
fragmentation on the left. He often said that when we talk about the need
for workers of the world to unite we should look to ourselves.

Though Charlie left South Africa as a young man, he was always involved in
solidarity work and the fall of apartheid was one of the high points of his
life. Charlie never lost his deep hatred of the capitalist system and the
brutal misery it brings. The columns that he wrote for Socialist Outlook
were inspiring in their fury with the poverty, disease and death that
capitalism brings.

Charlie was a true comrade, a loyal friend and was devoted to his family. He
is missed by all who had the joy of knowing him. The best way that we can
celebrate his life is to continue the struggle to which he dedicated himself
with such energy.

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