I am absolutely devastated by the sudden and tragic death of Phil. I heard the news literally 20 seconds after I first met with a Spanish Comrade Phil had contacted me about and put me in touch with. In fact we had both sent e-mails to each other just over a week ago at almost exactly the same time. As Phil himself described it
“Dear Gerry That is truly remarkable! As I sent you the mail you will have just received with Jara’s details, yours arrived! I will pass on the numbers, thanks, hope to speak to you soon.
Comradely Best Wishes Phil”
Sadly we never did get to speak again. I had only known Phil for a few years but had been inspired by his absolute commitment, his grasp of Marxist theory and his ability to explain complex ideas in easily understood and concise ways. But more than that I liked and respected Phil the man- his humanity, sense of humour, love of his family and love of his class.
Long years of experience of “so called revolutionaries” coming to Ireland to dictate to Irish republicans how to carry out their revolution had made many of us here a little bit cynical of so called “revolutionaries” tourists. One meeting with Phil was enough to convince me that here was the genuine article. Here was an internationalist, a Marxist, a comrade. He helped renew and revitalise my belief and faith in the ideas of revolutionary Marxism. He was not afraid of debate or criticism, and was always prepared to reach out to young comrades and convince them of the ideas of Socialism.
Talking politics with Phil was always a pleasure for you knew that he had thought about ideas and about life, and his conversations always left me with something extra to think about.
May I send my condolences first to his partner, his family circle, all who knew and loved and respected Phil and of course to all his comrades in Socialist Appeal and in the International Marxist Tendency. At times like this words seem inadequate to convey the sense of loss.
We have lost a comrade and friend. May his spirit live on in the struggles of the world working class and his heart rest easy in his beloved Wales.
Gerry Ruddy Political Secretary Irish Republican Socialist Party Friday November 17th 2006
I am so sorry. I had just sent Phil an e mail today! Can you forward your e mail to the IRSP web site discussion site, please? I will get back to you.
Peter Black, Belfast
I have just this very minute learned of the tragic death of our comrade Phil Mitchinson at the age of 38.
Phil gave everything to the cause of building a Marxist party capable of leading the organised proletariat to a new order. His writings, especially his annual perspectives documents, welded together so cleverly and with such attention to detail, will show, in the epoch to come how he was a master of his subject and ahead of his time. Under his influence, our journal, Socialist Appeal became recognised as the best and most powerful labour publication on the left.
And despite his great knowledge, he would listen carefully to what those of us who came nowhere near his exceptionally high standards had to say. This is how I will remember Phil; a leading comrade with the humility to indulge those of us at a lower level, and patiently explain the ideas and the theories of Marxism.
Phil had a terrific sense of duty to our Tendency, often striving way beyond the call. He also had a great sense of humour with a penchant for telling stories about past events – but never in a derogatory way.
The research and background work he put in place before he addressed the smallest of audiences was exactly the same as before he addressed thousands, here or abroad.
In spite of a heavy workload in London around the journal and other publications, Phil was always happy to travel to different areas (diary permitting) where he would speak of Marxism in the most straightforward way. My thoughts are with his partner and his 2 boys, and my condolences humbly offered to his parents and extended family at this sad time. He will be a great loss.
Kenny McGuigan, Glasgow
I heard from Pam today. This is really awful. I really liked him, he helped a lot with my planning for the socialist society at UEA and was extremely friendly and personal. I was so shocked, I am so sorry for all those at the centre who knew him and worked with him for so long. I always read and really enjoyed his British Perspectives documents, they made me understand what was happening and what may happen in Britain very well, they were very well written and displayed a lot of confidence in the subject. He was a fine example of Socialist Appeal’s brilliant comrades and they’re personal approach. This is a shocking and sad day. Daniel Morley
I heard the tragic news about Phil this afternoon. Being totally jetlagged after 28 hours without sleep, I was even more confused to read on Marxist.com about Phil’s death, which seems just so unreal. As all of you, I am extremely shocked. I can just imagine the atmosphere at the office in London now and I feel bad I cannot be there now.
Although I didn’t know Phil that well, I always had a great respect for him as the author of the editorials in the Socialist Appeal and the author of the British Perspectives. He was one of these few very precious Marxist cadres that are only built up after dozens of years of work and discussion. Phil was a key figure in the British organisation and saying that his loss is a terrible blow to all of us is a cliché but sadly enough it is very true. The loss of this political capital won’t easily be built up again so the challenge ahead is greater than ever.
Over the last six months we had been in touch on a regular basis as he learned how to update the Socialist Appeal website, which he had really taken on board. We were about to discuss the reorganisation of the website and during various tea breaks we had brainstormed about plans to expand it. The least I can do now is to put Phil’s obituary on the socialist.net website.
Yours for socialism,
This is such sad news Steve, it really is. I was just about to contact Phil re meetings in Greenwich as well. Please pass on my condolences.
Lynne Faulkes (London)
What tragic news, my very deepest sympathies with all his Comrades and Relatives. We will remember him.
This is just the most shocking news. What a devastating loss. Please keep us informed of any arrangements.
A poem from London
In memory of Phil
Balding, happy and optimistic, singing his way through ideas and work, essential work for a movement which spans the continents.
Raised up by each victory. shrugging off defeats with a smile and a perspective. Too optimistic? How many adults can be accused of that?
Years of plodding work. essential work. for a movement which spans the centuries
We just buried our grandfather, now a grandson dies, having given his life, to a movement which is alive and reaching forward.
By Heiko Khoo
Dear comrades, I am very sorry to hear about the death of Phil. I first met him when he came to Sweden during the split in the old Militant, to participate in the debates. He immediately struck me as an honest, modest, and dedicated comrade, who could be trusted. I always enjoyed his company and good sense of humour. A true loss – to me personally and the whole International. Jonathan
What sad news. What a terrible blow. For many of us the passing of Ted has not yet sunk in. And now this! First Ted, now Phil. Two of our finest comrades in such a short time. I don’t think it is just a work of my imagination, but I saw a lot of Ted in Phil. When I thought about what Ted must have been like when he was younger I saw the image of Phil. It is hard to deal with death, especially when death comes at an early age. The contrast between man’s wish for eternal life and not even given the opportunity to live a full lifetime is heartbreaking. Yesterday I was going through a photo exhibition of Swedish volunteers in the International Brigade in the Spanish civil war. What struck me was that in all demonstrations in Sweden against fascism in Spain they had banners with the names and portraits of all the comrades that fell in the struggle. The inscription of the banners were ‘They will march with us forever’. It seems that eternal life does not come to those who pray and go to church every Sunday. It comes to revolutionary Marxists – atheists! – who fight for the working class. Because they live forever in the memory of the working class and the organisations of the class. And when the working class march again one of the banners will carry the name of Phil Mitchinson.
What a shock! I was not as close to Phil as you were, but I have seen him stand firm during the tough years of the British section and carry a lot of responsibilities. I had the impression that he (and other leading comrades in Britain) now felt that they could reap what they had been sowing for a long time. The successes with trade union work and Hands of Venezuela. And now this! It’s so incredibly sad.
Yours in solidarity
I received a text message from comrade Maziar Razi while at work. It said that comrade Phil had died. I could not make sense of this text and phoned Maziar to try to find out what he meant. I was deeply saddened to hear that it was indeed comrade Phil Mitchinson – as I had feared – who had died.
I first met Phil on a May Day rally in London. He was selling copies of Socialist Appeal and I approached him. He introduced himself as ‘Phil Mitchinson’ and I immediately knew that this was the person who had written many important articles published in Socialist Appeal and on Marxist.com. I was impressed with him and his tendency – for there are not many left-wing groups that have leading members performing ‘simple’ tasks like selling papers.
I last met Phil at Ted Grant’s funeral. He was trying to get help from Pakistani comrades to contact British youth of Pakistani origin. He passionately wanted to stop their discontent with the inequalities and prejudices of life under British capitalism, and its imperialist foreign policy, being exploited by Islamic extremists.
That is how I will remember Phil: for him the loss of a comrade, however painful, could be overcome by re-doubling our efforts to build the socialist alternative within the workers’ movement.
I send my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends who have been robbed of his love and companionship at such a young age.
Iranian Revolutionary Socialists’ League
My condolences to all the comrades – and also his family – for the death of comrade Phil. I believe it is a great loss for the International and for the British group. I know that he was the main theoretician of the British group. I don’t know what relationship you had with him, but to see the death of a comrade at only 38 years of age leaves one very shocked, and I think that for someone like you who know and worked with him for years the shock must be even greater.
Dear comrades, For two days, since I heard of the news of the death of Phil, I have been trying to get access to my email to send a message. I am without words. I’m just sorry not to be there with you all. The last few days have been terrible. I send an embrace to all of you.
From the USA
Today, as I sat in the local cafe doing my usual check of IDOM, I was struck by a headline declaring the death of comrade Phil Mitchinson. I was in total shock for a few moments. I had seen pictures of Phil and knew that he was very young and appeared in quite good health.
Although I never knew Phil, I feel horrible that I have lost a comrade and a brother. Phil’s writings, and particularly his great essay on Marxism and War, were huge influences in my earliest political education. I send my heart out to all of our British comrades, and all of Phil’s family around the globe. Our dear comrade will be missed.
we have just received, with great sorrow, the sad news of the death of Comrade Phil Mitchinson. All the comrades of the Revolutionary Marxist Current (CMR) in Venezuela send our condolences, support and solidarity to all the comrades that worked closely with Phil as well as to his parents, partner and children, family and friends.
Phil was an example of what it takes to be a revolutionary. Everyone who knew him and who took part alongside him in the struggle for the building of the International Marxist Tendency deeply feel his loss. However at the same time, and above all, we are ready to redouble efforts so that the socialist society – without classes, without class exploitation, that Phil fought for becomes a reality.
Farewell, Phil! Your example will be with us in the struggle! Long live the international struggle of the working class! Long live the world socialist revolution!
From the Editorial Board of the CMR
With great astonishment I have received the sad news of the departure of comrade Phil Mitchinson. At first I wanted to be believe it was some sort of mistake on the website, that something had gone wrong and the title had been misspelled or something. Unfortunately, as the link opened, the picture of comrade Phil was displayed and there were no more doubts, it was him who had died.
At this moment I am still in shock from receiving such sad news, but still want to extend my condolences to his family and also to all comrades of the IMT, specially those who had the joy of being more in contact with him.
I remember first meeting Phil in Barcelona in Summer 2003, when I was attending an international meeting (a summer school, actually) of the IMT. Reading this heartfelt obituary that you have written, I could vividly remember how accurate your description of him as someone with “a great sense of humour, a contagious laugh and got on well with comrades on a personal level” is. That summer we were just meeting, and he had no problem discussing with me about all sorts of things, from Marxism and Ecology as well as about Asterix & Obelix, which he told me his kids loved.
Alongside with comrade Ted Grant’s departure earlier this year, this is also very sad news to hear. Nevertheless, as you correctly put it, comrade Phil would be the first to say “don’t mourn, help us succeed in this struggle for socialism”. Even though at this moment I am not active in the IMT, in its Venezuelan section, the CMR, I am most convinced that the ideas, methods and programmes that this International defends and stands for are the only way possible to achieve the ultimate goal of our struggle, the overthrowing of this rotten, decadent system that is capitalism. The only way to pay tribute to those comrades who are no longer with us in this fight, is to keep fighting with even more energy. The very best thing we can do for Phil’s sons, as well as for all the children of the working class, is to prepare the road for them to construct a better world in a socialist society. That road is the coming to power of the working class and the crushing of the bourgeois state, along with the nationalization under workers’ control of the banking system, the land and the main industries. And we will accomplish this with the ideas, methods and programme that the IMT stands for. Long live the legacy of comrade Phil Mitchinson!
Long live the IMT!
PS: My parents, Alba and Egon, have also asked me to extend this condolence note in their name.
(now in Spanish)
Con gran asombro he recibido la triste noticia de la muerte del camarada Phil Mitchinson. En un primer momento quise creer que se trata de algún tipo de error en la web, que algo había fallado y que el titular del artículo estaba mal escrito o algo por el estilo. Desafortunadamente, cuando se abrió la página, ví la foto del camarada Phil y ya no hubo lugar a dudas, era él quienhabía fallecido. En estos momentos aún estoy en shock por tan lamentable noticia, pero a pesar de ello quisiera extender mis condolencias a su familia, así como a todos los camaradas de la CMI, especialmente a todos aquellos que tuvieron el privilegio de compartir y militar más seguido con él.
Recuerdo la primera vez que conocí a Phil en Agosto de 2003, en Barcelona, cuando viajé para un encuentro de la internacional (una escuela de verano, de hecho). Leyendo este sentido obituario que le han dedicado, pude recordar vivamente cuán acertadas son sus palabrasal describirlo como una persona con un gran sentido del humor, una contagiosa risa y que se llevaba bien con los camaradas a nivel personal. Ese verano en el que apenas nos estábamos conociendo, Phil no tuvo problemas en discutir conmigo sobre todo tipo de temas, desde Marxismo y Ecología hasta sobre los comics de Asterix & Obelix, los cuales me contó que le encantaban a sus hijos. Junto a la muerte del camarada Ted Grant este mismo año, éstas son unas noticias lamentables de recibir.
Sin embargo, como ustedes muy bien lo dicen, el camarada Phil sería el primero “no me lloren, ayúdennos a tener éxito en la lucha por el socialismo”. Aún cuando en estos momentos no soy militante de la CMI, de su sección venezolana, la CMR, estoy más que convencido que las ideas, métodos y programa que defiende esta internacional son el único camino para lograr nuestra principal meta: el derrocamiento de este putrefacto y decadente sistema que es el capitalismo. La única forma de rendirles tributo a aquellos camaradas que ya no nos acompañan en esta lucha, es continuar luchando con más ganas. Lo mejor que podemos por los hijos de Phil, así como por todos los hijos de la clase obrera, es preparar el camino para que ellos construyan un mejor mundo en el marco de una sociedad socialista. Ese camino es la toma del poder por parte de la clase obrera y el aplastamiento del Estado burgués, junto a la nacionalización bajo control obrero del sistema bancario, los latifundios y los grandes monopolios. Y esto lo lograremos con las ideas, programa y métodos que defiende la Corriente Marxista Internacional.
Larga vida al legado del camarada Phil Mitchinson!
Larga vida a la Corriente Marxista Internacional!
PD: Mis padres, Alba y Egon, me han pedido que les haga extensivas en su nombre estas palabras de condolencia.
It was a shock for the comrades in Austria to hear about the sudden death of comrade Phil, and it still feels so unreal. What dark hours!
We send our warmest greetings to the comrades, friends and family all over the world, who used to live and struggle alongside with Phil. We remember his great “British” sense of humour and his passion for life. What a fighter! Phil dedicated his whole life to the cause of the working class, and was ever proud to be the offspring of a miners’ family. He was an excellent representative of our class, deeply confident in its cause´,based on a profound understanding of the ebbs and flows of the classs truggle. No words can describe the loss of such a young, talented and inspiring comrade.
We will keep up the fight for a better world and we will remember Phil every time the red flags are flying.
Editorial board of “Der Funke”
Queridos camaradas, Profundamente impactado se me hace difícil aceptar los hechos. Phil a su vez y a su manera tan especial hubiera dicho: No te hagas el preso de los pocos hechos en la vida que se no puede desafiar, y concéntrate en las cosas que sólo al aparecer son inalterables, que, sin embargo, el ser humano – movilizado, concientizado y en lucha colectiva – puede superar: la injusticia, la opresión, la explotación, el actual sistema social. Hay personas muy lúcidas y educadas en marxismo, hay luchadores y agitadores excepcionales, pero pocas veces hay personas que con facilidad natural saben vincular los ámbitos abstractos y teoricos con lo particular, lo vivo, lo cotidiano. Y además con un sentido rico de humor y una sensibilidad profunda para el “nada de lo humano me es ajeno”. Que vulnerables somos: Como individuos dependemos de nuestros cuerpos, como corriente política de personas excepcionales como Phil. Que invulnerables somos: Como individuos perduramos en la memoria de nuestros queridos y compañeros, como corriente que se basa en la idea más noble de hoy en día – la lucha por el socialismo – ninguna pérdida, lo más dolorosa que sea, nos puede impedir que continuemos. Fuertes abrazos David Mayer
The news that comrade Phil who dedicated his life to the struggle of defending Marxism on an international level is dead has driven us all into a deep sadness. Putting an end to physical life, death has taken Phil Mitchinson from us at an early age. It stroke the final blow to the comrade’s heart who would dedicate his many years to come to the struggle.
Phil Mitchinson’s sudden death is a great loss for the In Defence of Marxism, of which he was one of the prominent writers, and for the international struggle. We share the grief of this unexpected death with all his comrades in struggle.
A heart that believed in Marxism and that beat for the strengthening of Marxism on an international level stopped. But Marxist ideas that he believed in will live on in the heartbeats of many who share the same road of struggle. As they say upon news of death that come at a young age: “you, treacherous death!” Dear comrade Phil, your revolutionary memory will live on in the live blood vessels of Marxist struggle!
We in Israel have learned the sad news of the death of comrade Phil Mitchinson. He was a friend and a leading figure in our movement. It is shocking to know how young he was when he died. We will miss him and his contributions.
The death of Phil, coming not long after Ted, is a real shock. I remember meeting Phil as one of the few young comrades to come out of the split in Militant and he above all of us was as solid as a rock. The first speech of Phil’s that I remember was at a meeting of Labour Youth in Newcastle – in discussion with one of the young activists he said, “We socialists don’t want much, we only want the Earth.” I think such understated humour and poetry were typical of him and is the best example of how to make the ideas of Marxism accessible to youth and workers. He will be sorely missed by the too-few Canadian comrades who met him and the loss of his ideas, his ability and his future is a blow to the working class all over the world. To Jack and Sam, this must be incredibly hard. Phil was lucky enough to have a revolutionary family that reaches to all corners of the globe, remember that this is your family too.
For the Canadian Marxist Journal Fightback, Toronto
The death of comrade Phil Mitchinson comes as a great shock to all of us. Phil was a passionate socialist fighter who dedicated his entire adult life to the cause. Phil was not only a well versed Marxist, capable of giving the most inspiring speech at a moment’s notice, but also a passionate caring man. He had a way of bringing a warmness and friendly feeling to every conversation.
I remember in Barcelona in 2004 I spent a couple of evenings with Phil. We sang socialist songs and talked politics along with so many other comrades. I had my guitar out and was playing a song called “The Dying Miner”, when Phil with tears welling up in his eyes asked me to stop. He came from a coal-mining family and had several friends and family members that died in the mines. This was Phil’s strength. His socialist conviction came not from a book, but from his own life.
The world has lost a wonderful person. The struggle carries on,
Mike Palecek, Vancouver
I am still in shock. The loss of anyone from our ranks is a tragedy, but someone like Phil will be very sorely missed. I have known him for at least 15 years and have always had the highest regard for his political level, his brilliance in putting our ideas on both paper and into words that were Inspiring and very easy to understand in his speeches.
I will never forget his patience in a variety of controversial discussions over the last 15 years when Lenin’s advice to “patiently explain” was frequently put into practice by Phil. Still, for me personally the biggest pleasure was always in his oratory. I sat back and enjoyed listening to him leading off, the clarity and passion always making this or that point with emphasis and brilliance. His Welsh gift of the gab always coming through as well as his great sense of humour and his penchant for a clever turn of phrase or quotation.
I send my sincerest condolences to his family and to all the comrades in Britain for what is a most unexpected and tragic loss.
It is with great sadness of heart that I write these few lines to you. I have just learnt of the tragic and untimely passing of my beloved friend and comrade Phil Mitchinson. Phil was one of the first leading comrades that I ever spoke to and one of those I appreciated the most.
I will always remember Phil as a dedicated Marxist and as a warm and loving comrade. I very much appreciated Phil’s various articles on Ireland and the Labour Party, all of them a great piece of Marxist analysis and a genuine source of inspiration and hope for the future, the socialist future which will be ours, and as comrade Greg Oxley says, his. For all this and ever so much more I shall sorely my beloved comrade Phil Mitchinson. For all this, I will never be able to speak of him in the past tense, for he will be with us in our struggle forever on.
My grief and condolences are of course extended to his son Jack, whom I consider, though I do not often see him, as one of my most valued and closest friends. Dear Phil, you were always an inspiration to me, both as a comrade and a Marxist.
Yours forever in the struggle,
Mikael Duthu, Madrid
I am so sad to hear the news – Phil was a very good comrade, and we will greatly miss him. I hope you are all doing ok considering the circumstances. My thoughts go to all of you.
We were really shocked to hear the news of Phil’s death. He was too young to die, and was a very good and important comrade. This is a blow for all of us. We will not forget him and his revolutioanary example. Please keep us informed of any arrangements.
Dear comrades of the IMT, We are sending you our heartfelt feelings and our solidarity in the face of the tragic loss of comrade Phil Mitchinson. The loss of a proletarian fighter against the regime of private property of the means of production is always a loss for the international labour movement. A leader like Phil is the product of years of struggle and his loss is undoubtedly a hard blow for your organisation and for all of you. But the vitality and enthusiasm, the hard work and serious approach of your comrades leaves us with no doubt that you will know how to fill the gap left by Phil. We send you our fraternal greetings. Please forward our feelings to Phil’s family. Serge Goulart, For the National Executive of the O Trabalho (Majority) group, Tendency within the PT, Brazil