Obituaries

Punk bassist Steve Soto dead at 54

By Josh Varlin, 10 July 2018

Soto was best known for his work with the seminal hardcore punk band Adolescents.

The death of Ed Sadlowski and the demise of trade union reformism

By Shannon Jones, 19 June 2018

The failure of the reform movement headed by Sadlowski in the United Steelworkers and similar efforts in other unions foundered on the conflict between the needs of workers and the pro-capitalist program to which the unions are wedded.

The late American novelist Philip Roth attacked as a “misogynist”

By David Walsh, 18 June 2018

In the wake of writer Philip Roth’s death May 22, numerous commentaries have appeared accusing him of misunderstanding or being hostile to women and related failings.

CIA terrorist Posada Carriles dead at 90

By Bill Van Auken, 24 May 2018

Protected by the US government until the end, Posada Carriles was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocity committed in the Americas in the twentieth century.

The death of rapper-producer Alias and the fate of “avant-garde” hip hop

By Nick Barrickman, 13 April 2018

Brendon Whitney (“Alias”) was a founding member of the experimental hip hop/electronic music label Anticon.

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking dies at 76

By Bryan Dyne, 15 March 2018

Hawking, who lived much of his life debilitated by Lou Gehrig’s disease, was one of the world’s most significant cosmologists and a renowned popularizer of physics.

Ursula K. Le Guin: Prominent science fiction and fantasy writer (1929-2018)

By Sandy English, 8 March 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the most significant and popular English-language writers of speculative fiction, associated with feminism and utopianism, died January 28 at the age of 88.

Veteran investigative reporter Robert Parry dies at 68

By Bill Van Auken, 5 February 2018

Parry, who won journalism awards for exposing CIA crimes in Nicaragua, founded Consortiumnews.com after confronting the corporate media’s impediments to serious investigative journalism.

Patricia Noonan Jukovsky (1947-2017)

By Fred Mazelis, 11 December 2017

Pat Jukovsky was an active member of the US Workers League in its early years, and the wife of Marty Jukovsky, a devoted supporter of the Socialist Equality Party.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962-2017), one of opera’s greatest baritones

By Fred Mazelis, 11 December 2017

The Siberian-born singer, who was known especially for his Verdi and Tchaikovsky roles, had performed in nearly every major opera house in the world.

Remembering Fats Domino

By Hiram Lee, 4 November 2017

Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Fats Domino died October 24 at the age of 89. The gifted pianist was second only to Elvis Presley in popularity during the early days of the genre.

A remembrance of my sister, Cynthia Brust Moore

By Steven Brust, 12 September 2017

This remembrance of Cynthia Brust Moore was sent to the WSWS by her brother, Steven Brust. Cynthia, a lifelong supporter of the Trotskyist movement, passed away on September 1.

Cynthia Brust Moore (1944-2017): A steadfast supporter of the Trotskyist movement

By Fred Mazelis, 5 September 2017

Cynthia was the daughter of Bill and Jean Brust, who joined the revolutionary movement in the 1930s and were founding members of the Workers League, predecessor organization of the Socialist Equality Party.

On the death of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl

By Peter Schwarz, 19 June 2017

The hymns of praise for Helmut Kohl, who served as German Chancellor from 1982 to 1998 and died Friday aged 87, have less to do with the real Kohl than with the current requirements of the ruling elite.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of the catastrophe in Afghanistan, dead at 89

By Bill Van Auken, 29 May 2017

“What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe?” the former national security adviser said of the CIA alliance with Al Qaeda.

The Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) and the fate of the ‘60s generation

By Vladimir Volkov, 3 May 2017

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the best-known Soviet poet from the 1960s to the 1980s, died at 85 from cancer on April 1, 2017, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bob White, trade union bureaucrat who led Canadian split from UAW, dies aged 81

By Carl Bronski, 8 April 2017

White’s 1985 breakaway from the UAW was a nationalist maneuver, aimed at protecting the union bureaucracy and blocking a joint struggle of North American autoworkers against all concessions and job cuts.

Beryl Hood: 29 November 1938–21 March 2017

By Mike Head, 25 March 2017

A Trotskyist for four decades, Comrade Beryl was a fine and steadfast representative of the most advanced layers of the working class, attracted, above all, to internationalism.

The real legacy of Martin McGuiness: Sectarianism and austerity

By Paul Mitchell, 24 March 2017

McGuinness’s evolution from gunman to bourgeois politician was not a break from his republican principles, but the outcome of the petty-bourgeois nationalist perspective of republicanism.

Civil liberties lawyer Lynne Stewart dies at 77

By Fred Mazelis, 11 March 2017

The attorney was convicted in 2005 by the US government on fraudulent charges as part of an effort to intimidate anyone opposed to the “war on terror.”

Civil liberties attorney Jon Posner dies at 73

By Jerry White, 19 January 2017

A well-respected criminal defense attorney in Detroit, Posner defended the Workers League, the forerunner of the Socialist Equality Party, in dozens of cases in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Greg Lake, pioneer of progressive rock music, dies at 69

By Kevin Reed, 17 December 2016

Greg Lake was a founder, along with schoolmate Robert Fripp, of the British band King Crimson in 1968 and later the 1970s’ supergroup Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

The political legacy of Fidel Castro

By Bill Van Auken, 28 November 2016

Castro’s legacy cannot be evaluated solely through the prism of Cuba, but must take into account the impact of his politics internationally and, above all, in Latin America.

Janet Reno, attorney general who gave order for mass murder in Waco, Texas, dead at 78

By Fred Mazelis, 8 November 2016

Only two months after her nomination to head the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton, Reno presided over the horrific attack that killed more than 80 people, including 21 children.

Stylianos Pattakos (1912-2016): Leader of Greece’s CIA-backed military junta

By John Vassilopoulos, 7 November 2016

Pattakos was tried and convicted for his crimes during the military junta, but the Greek Stalinists and Syriza allowed him to return to political life.

Albert Dragstedt (1933-2016)

By Fred Williams, 2 November 2016

A long-time member of the Workers League, which he joined in the early 1970s, and a supporter of the Socialist Equality Party, Albert combined immense erudition with an unwavering dedication to Marxism.

Shimon Peres (1923-2016)

By Patrick Martin, 1 October 2016

The state funeral for Shimon Peres, former Israeli president and prime minister, brought leaders from around the world to pay tribute, not so much to the individual as to the rapacious, land-grabbing, militaristic state he did so much to construct.

On the death of German historian Ernst Nolte

By Christoph Vandreier and Peter Schwarz, 20 August 2016

Nolte is infamous for initiating the Historikerstreit (Historians’ Dispute) in 1986 with his downplaying of National Socialism and the worst crimes in human history.

The life and career of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami

By David Walsh, 14 July 2016

The Iranian director will be best remembered and long honored for the series of feature films, including documentaries, that he made between 1987 and 1997.

Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate, dead at 77

By David Walsh, 7 July 2016

Cimino is best known as the director of The Deer Hunter (1978), which won numerous Academy Awards, and Heaven’s Gate (1980), which was denounced by leading critics, lost a great deal of money and severely damaged Cimino’s career.

Oversaw 1979 Chrysler concessions

Former UAW official Marc Stepp dies

By Shannon Jones, 7 July 2016

The sweeping concessions Stepp and other union officials imposed on Chrysler workers were a milestone in the corporatist degeneration of the UAW and the American labor movement as a whole.

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley dead at 89

By Hiram Lee, 6 July 2016

Ralph Stanley led one of the most remarkable groups in Bluegrass music and was among the genre’s greatest banjo players and singers.

Dr. Coley P. O’Doherty

June 6, 1969 - May 29, 2016

By Helen Hayes, 9 June 2016

Comrade Coley joined the Socialist Equality Party in 2005 and remained loyal to the fight for socialist principles until his death.

Who will follow the example of Muhammad Ali’s principled stand in our day?

By David Walsh, 6 June 2016

The former heavyweight boxing champion, who died June 3, made his chief mark on history and popular consciousness by his courageous opposition to the Vietnam War.

David King 1943-2016: Revolutionary socialist, artist and defender of historical truth

By David North, 14 May 2016

David King, who devoted his extraordinary gifts as an artist to salvaging the historical truth of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its aftermath from beneath the vast edifice of Stalinist crimes and lies, died suddenly in London on May 11.

Hans-Dietrich Genscher: Trailblazer for German great power politics

By Peter Schwarz, 2 April 2016

The former foreign minister and FDP chairman Hans-Dietrich Genscher died Thursday at age 89.

The death of Nancy Reagan

By David Walsh, 9 March 2016

The American political and media establishment has responded in predictably fawning and dishonest fashion to the death of Nancy Reagan on March 6.

The legacy of Antonin Scalia

By Tom Carter, 15 February 2016

Scalia has personified the rightward march of the American political establishment over the past three decades, as it jettisoned what remained of its commitment to democratic institutions.

Julian Bond, veteran of early civil rights struggle and pillar of establishment, dies at 75

By Fred Mazelis, 19 August 2015

The outpouring of official tributes illustrates the political trajectory of the leaders of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

E. L. Doctorow, 1931-2015: A novelist who tackled American history

By Sandy English, 27 July 2015

E.L. Doctorow, the prominent American novelist and author of Ragtime, Billy Bathgate and The March, among other works, died on July 21 at the age of 84.

Free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman dead at 85

By Hiram Lee, 18 June 2015

Saxophonist Ornette Coleman helped to define the free jazz movement during an often controversial career spanning half a century.

Blues musician B.B. King, 1925-2015

By James Brewer, 18 May 2015

The iconic American blues artist died May 15 at 89, after dozens of albums and decades of intensive touring.

Media tributes for Victor Gotbaum, union leader who saved banks in 1975 New York City fiscal crisis

By Fred Mazelis, 13 April 2015

Gotbaum’s precedent-setting surrender of New York City workers’ rights in the 1970s paved the way for the American ruling class’ offensive against workers throughout the US and the record inequality of today.

Malcolm Fraser (1930–2015): A political assessment

By Nick Beams, 25 March 2015

Fraser’s name is indelibly etched in history for his role in the ousting of the Whitlam government in the 1975 Canberra Coup.

Former German President Richard von Weizsäcker dies

By Peter Schwarz, 2 February 2015

The glorification of Weizsäcker has less to do with his actual role than with the current political situation, amidst a resurgence of German militarism.

Leading German historian Hermann Weber dies

By Wolfgang Weber, 10 January 2015

The World Socialist Web Site is reposting an interview it conducted with the noted German historian Hermann Weber in November of 2011.

Former Washington mayor Marion Barry mourned in US ruling class circles

By Fred Mazelis, 29 November 2014

Barry typified the layer that came to prominence in the ebb and decline of the mass civil rights movement.

Film and theater director Mike Nichols dies at 83

By David Walsh, 22 November 2014

Nichols, whose career spanned five decades, was undoubtedly an artistically gifted individual, known for his sharp wit and urbanity as well as his considerable skill with actors.

Australian Labor leader Gough Whitlam (1916–2014)

By Nick Beams, 31 October 2014

Nothing of value can be learned from the official outpourings that have followed the death of Australian Labor Party leader Gough Whitlam

Tatiana Ivarovna Smilga-Poluyan: May 22, 1919 – September 27, 2014

By Clara Weiss, 21 October 2014

Tatiana Ivarovna Smilga-Poluyan, daughter of the Left Oppositionist Ivar Smilga, dedicated her life to restoring historical truth about those who had been murdered and whose names had been besmirched by Stalinist reaction.

David Greenglass, star witness against the Rosenbergs, dies at 92

By Fred Mazelis, 16 October 2014

The Rosenberg case must serve as a warning in the current climate of preparation for war.

An evaluation of South African novelist Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014)

By Sandy English, 30 September 2014

Writer Nadine Gordimer, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature, died in Johannesburg at the age of 90 on July 13.

Robert Poli, blacklisted leader of PATCO union, dies at 78

By Tom Mackaman, 25 September 2014

Poli led the 1981 strike of air traffic controllers that was crushed by the Reagan administration with the connivance of the AFL-CIO

Condolences on the death of Guy Charron

12 August 2014

In the two weeks since Comrade Guy Charron’s tragic death, the SEP (Canada) has received many condolence letters from comrades around the world.

Guy Charron, 1962-2014: Canadian fighter for Trotskyism

By Keith Jones, 2 August 2014

It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of Guy Charron, a leader of the Socialist Equality Party (Canada) and a daily collaborator in the work of the WSWS.

American film and television actor James Garner (1928-2014)

By David Walsh, 24 July 2014

Over the course of nearly five decades, and for the benefit of several generations, Garner represented something generous, affable and skeptical of authority in film and television.

1928-2014: Maya Angelou, writer, performer and participant in the civil rights movement

By Isaac Finn and Sandy English, 18 June 2014

Angelou had an astonishingly varied and eventful life, residing in different parts of the world, taking up numerous professions and art forms, throwing herself into personal and intellectual relationships of all sorts.

Letter to Kathryn Davron from WSWS Chairman David North

9 May 2014

Below we republish the letter sent by David North, Chairman of the World Socialist Web Site, to Kathryn Davron on April 13, 2014—the day after she had been told that there was nothing medically that could be done to prolong her life after a four-year struggle with cancer.

Kathryn Davron: March 2, 1950—May 1, 2014

By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 7 May 2014

Kath was a Trotskyist all her adult life. Her death follows a four-year struggle against cancer, throughout which she displayed her usual attributes of courage and determination.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter: 1937-2014

By James Brewer, 22 April 2014

Hurricane Carter, one-time contender for the world middleweight boxing title, spent 20 years of his life in prison, fighting against the frameup which put him there.

Veteran Labour “left” Tony Benn dead at 88

15 March 2014

Tony Benn, the former Labour Party MP, died yesterday, aged 88. Benn was the figure most closely associated with the left of the party, particularly in the decades since the 1970s.

Ariel Sharon, war criminal (February 26, 1928-January 11, 2014)

By Jean Shaoul, 13 January 2014

Sharon is justly reviled by millions for his policies of provocation, murder and ethnic cleansing.

David Edward Hyland: March 7, 1947 — December 8, 2013

By Chris Marsden, 10 December 2013

Dave Hyland’s lasting political legacy is that in 1985-1986 he led the faction of the Workers Revolutionary Party that declared its support for the International Committee of the Fourth International and opposed the efforts of the party’s central leadership, Gerry Healy, Cliff Slaughter and Mike Banda, to liquidate the Trotskyist movement in Britain and internationally.

Vo Nguyen Giap (1911-2013)

Military leader of Vietnamese anti-colonial struggle

By Patrick Martin, 15 October 2013

Giap led Vietnamese nationalist revolutionary forces in military conflicts with French, Japanese and American imperialism.

A fighter for revolutionary socialism

Raúl Rizik: 1947-2013

By Rafael Azul, 7 October 2013

SEP member Raúl Rizik (who wrote under the name of Ramón Valle) died last Wednesday, after more than 40 years as a supporter of the Trotskyist movement internationally.

Germany: Lothar Bisky, leading member of the Left Party, dies

By Peter Schwarz, 16 August 2013

Lothar Bisky played a key role in cementing the post-Stalinist PDS to the bourgeois state and ridding the party of all remnants of Marxist rhetoric.

India: NLC contract worker and WSWS supporter Sivakumar dies at 42

By Arun Kumar, 14 August 2013

Sivakumar belonged to the most abused and exploited section of the working class in India.

Veteran correspondent Helen Thomas, banished for anti-Israel remarks in 2010, dies at 92

By Patrick Martin, 22 July 2013

The longtime journalist was forced to resign in 2010. She had already earned the ire of the establishment for her pointed questions to White House officials about US Middle East policy. We repost here our 2010 comment.

An Appreciation of Juanita Tyler

December 13, 1932-November 5, 2012

By Helen Halyard, 18 March 2013

The mother of Louisiana frame-up victim Gary Tyler, Juanita Tyler embodied the best qualities of the working class and never wavered in the fight for her son’s freedom.

Ed Koch: The right-wing trajectory of a Democratic politician

By Fred Mazelis, 6 February 2013

Koch’s political trajectory reflected the sharp turn to the right of a broad social layer, beginning in the 1970s.

Baseball great Stan Musial dead at 92

By Alan Gilman, 23 January 2013

During his career Musial won seven batting titles, three World Series titles, was voted the National League’s most valuable player three times and was named to a record-tying 24 All-Star teams.

On the death of German SPD leader Peter Struck (1943-2012)

By Sven Heymann, 7 January 2013

Peter Struck, the former German defence minister and longtime parliamentary leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), died December 19 in Berlin at the age of 69.

In Memory of Keerthi Balasuriya

By David North, 18 December 2012

This article was originally posted on the WSWS in two parts on December 18-19, 2007.

George McGovern: Liberal standard-bearer at a turning point in US politics

By Patrick Martin, 26 October 2012

The McGovern campaign marked the rise of identity politics as the principal platform of the Democratic Party.

Santiago Carrillo, butcher of the Spanish Revolution

By Vicky Short, 4 October 2012

The ex-General Secretary of the Stalinist Communist Party of Spain, Santiago Carrillo, died on Tuesday September 18 at the age of 97.

Radical journalist Alexander Cockburn, 1941-2012

By David Walsh, 14 August 2012

Journalist Alexander Cockburn, co-editor of CounterPunch, died July 21 at the age of 71. Cockburn’s active political history extended back to the New Left and the anti-Vietnam War protest movement in Britain in the 1960s.

Ruth Keedy Benjamin (June 4, 1947—June 29, 2012)

18 July 2012

On June 29, Ruth Keedy Benjamin, a member of the American Trotskyist movement for over 40 years, succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

Rodney King: An individual and social tragedy

By David Brown, 21 June 2012

Rodney King, 47, died last Sunday, 20 years after his brutal beating by the Los Angeles Police Department.

US television personality Mike Wallace dead at 93

By David Walsh, 12 April 2012

Mike Wallace, the longtime American television journalist best known for his almost four decades on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” died April 7 at the age of 93.

The death of Joe Paterno and the Penn State scandal

By Hiram Lee, 27 January 2012

Legendary college football coach Joe Paterno, demonized in the media for his role in the Penn State scandal, died January 22 at the age of 85.

On the death of Václav Havel

By Peter Schwarz, 21 December 2011

Havel’s anti-communism, his arrogance towards working people and his unconditional support for the wars of NATO and the US made ​​him the darling of international politics and the media.

Journalist, scoundrel Christopher Hitchens dies at 62

By David Walsh, 17 December 2011

Christopher Hitchens began his public life as a “left” journalist in Britain and moved on, without undergoing any apparent internal struggle, to become a proponent of imperialist war and oppression, residing in Washington, D.C.

Bob Gould 1937-2011: A political assessment

By Nick Beams, 13 June 2011

For almost his entire political career, Gould functioned as a particular Australian representative of the political trend known as Pabloism.

Richard Holbrooke: Long-time operative for US imperialism

By Patrick Martin, 15 December 2010

The veteran US diplomat was steeped in the commission and cover-up of bloody crimes.

SEP (Sri Lanka) holds funeral for comrade Piyaseeli Wijegunasingha

By our correspondents, 14 September 2010

Hundreds attended the funeral in Colombo to pay their last respects to a lifelong Trotskyist and Marxist literary critic.

Jimmy Reid, Stalinist union leader who betrayed Scottish shipyard struggle, dies at 78

By Steve James, 25 August 2010

Jimmy Reid, the leader of the famous 1971 “work-in” at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) in Glasgow, Scotland, died on August 10.

Polish president Lech Kaczynski (1949–2010)—from Solidarity advisor to right-wing politician

By Marius Hauser, 13 April 2010

Poland’s late president Lech Kaczynski, who died Saturday in a plane crash, was a loyal representative of the country’s ruling elite and sought to establish authoritarian forms of rule based on reactionary Polish chauvinism.

Former British Labour Party leader Michael Foot dies

By Chris Marsden, 4 March 2010

Former Labour Party leader Michael Foot died yesterday. His political legacy is best measured by the fact that the working class, in a political sense, is far weaker today than it was at the time of his birth 96 years ago.

Alexander Haig (1924-2010): Long-time enforcer for American imperialism

By Patrick Martin, 22 February 2010

Alexander Haig was a trailblazer for a modern reactionary type, the political general, who crosses over from the uniformed military to high political office. Haig played a central role during two critical periods for American imperialism: as Nixon’s White House chief of staff in 1973-74, and Reagan’s secretary of state in 1981-82.

Howard Zinn, 1922-2010

An assessment of A People’s History of the United States

By Tom Eley, 15 February 2010

Howard Zinn died on January 28 at the age of 87. Any serious evaluation of Zinn requires consideration be given his book, A People’s History of the United States.

An appreciation of the life of Paula Claire Schuman (1948-2010)

By Helen Halyard, 12 February 2010

Paula Schuman, a former member of the Workers League (forerunner to the Socialist Equality Party) and specialist in infectious diseases and AIDS, died on January 10, 2010 at her home in Davenport, Iowa.

Jyoti Basu: elder statesman of Indian Stalinism dies at 95

By Kranti Kumara and Keith Jones, 19 January 2010

Jyoti Basu, the reputed elder statesman of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and for 23 years the Chief Minister of West Bengal, died Sunday. His death has occasioned numerous gushing tributes from India’s political establishment, beginning with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

Egor Gaidar (1956-2009): Architect of capitalist restoration in Russia

By Vladimir Volkov and Andrea Peters, 18 January 2010

One month ago, Egor Gaidar, a leading figure in the restoration of capitalism in Russia, died of a heart attack. The policies he implemented had a disastrous impact on the country and resulted in an immense growth in social inequality.

The death of Miep Gies (February 15, 1909—January 10, 2010)

Protected Anne Frank from the Nazis

By Sybille Fuchs, 15 January 2010

Miep Gies, the last survivor of those who helped young Anne Frank in the Netherlands during World War II, died on Sunday at the age of 100.

Gabonese President Omar Bongo (1935-2009)

A tool of French imperialism in Africa

By Olivier Laurent, 5 September 2009

Gabonese President Omar Bongo died on June 7 after spending nearly 42 years in power defending French imperialism's interests in sub-Saharan Africa.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung dies

By John Chan, 3 September 2009

Behind the rhetoric about “democracy” and “peace”, Kim represented the interests of sections of the Korean bourgeoisie who had been marginalised under the US-backed military dictatorship.

Ted Kennedy and the decay of American liberalism

By Barry Grey, 27 August 2009

The death of Massachusetts Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy on Tuesday marks the end of the Kennedy family’s role as a major force in American politics.

Writer Budd Schulberg, unrepentant informer, dead at 95

By David Walsh, 7 August 2009

Schulberg was a member of the Communist Party in the late 1930s and subsequently “named names” before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in May 1951. To the end of his life he defended his informing, and that experience largely defines his legacy.

Walter Cronkite and the US news media

By David Walsh, 20 July 2009

Walter Cronkite, a fixture in a great many American homes as anchorman of the CBS evening news from 1962 to 1981, died in New York City July 17 at the age of 92.

Robert S. McNamara, 1916-2009

Pentagon chief during Vietnam War escalation dead at 93

By Patrick Martin, 8 July 2009

Robert S. McNamara, one of the principal architects of the US war in Vietnam, died Monday morning at the age of 93.