Michael Kidron, the most prominent of the many leading lights of the British International Socialists who left them in the few years before they became the Socialist Workers' Party, has died at the age of 72. Click here for Richard Kuper's obituary in the Guardian. Kidron was the brains behind the IS, the editor of International Socialism for many years and the author of several of the key texts that marked the group's break from orthodox Trotskyism, in particular from the idea that capitalism had entered a phase of terminal crisis.
From the early 1960s, Kidron emphasised how spending by the advanced western capitalist economies on arms had created a level of bouyant demand that postponed crisis perhaps indefinitely - the "permanent arms economy", as he called it - and as such was one of the first British Marxists to recognise just how far Keynesian economics had transformed the prospects of capitalism. IS and Kidron never went a far as Cornelius Castoriadis and Socialisme ou Barbarie in France in challenging the tenets of left orthodoxy (for which see here), but they played an honourable part in creating a vibrant British libertarian Marxism. In the 1970s and 1980s, Kidron played a key role in Pluto Press, the radical publisher that was for a dozen or more years the jewel in the British intellectual left's crown. He is best known for putting together The State of the World Atlas, a pioneering reference work that (together with various spin-offs) has been a massively important reference work for several generations of students, researchers and journalists.
A few of Kidron’s key articles from his IS and immediately post-IS days are online. Click here for "Imperialism - highest stage but one" (1962), here for "A permanent arms economy" (1967) and here for "Two insights don't make a theory" (1977).