Leo Panitch and the Socialist Project

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Leo Panitch and the Socialist Project

Stephen Maher

The death of Leo Panitch has made the world a darker place. His writings have carried us through some of the most difficult periods in the history of the socialist left, as wave after wave of the neoliberal onslaught broke workers’ organizations, serving up one defeat after the next. Leo’s work sustained so many of us during these years, pushing us on and pointing the way through the storm.

This was not because he sowed illusions about just how bad things have been. Rather it was because, even as other erstwhile New Leftists lamented the “God That Failed,” he devoted himself to... demonstrating the necessity of a democratic socialist society that would neither fall prey to the shortcomings of social democracy nor those of Soviet-style Communism.

Over the decade I knew Leo, he was my teacher, supervisor, and comrade. He was also a close friend. Aside from completing what ended up being the final doctoral dissertation under his supervision, I worked with him to build the Toronto-based Socialist Project, and collaborated on the past eight volumes of the Socialist Register he co-edited with Greg Albo. Leo saw the latter as a sacred covenant, the living link to the politics of the New Left and to his own mentor, Ralph Miliband, who founded the journal with John Saville in 1964.

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