Hamza Alavi

On behalf of the editorial collective and all friends of the Socialist Register, we would like to express our sadness at the death of Hamza Alavi, and our deep sense of intellectual indebtedness to him.

He not only contributed his path-breaking essay ˝ 'Imperialism Old and New' ˝ to the Register's first volume in 1964, but also wrote two further essays for it in the following decade, 'Bangla Desh and the Crises of Pakistan' in 1971, and 'India and the Colonial Mode of Production' in 1975 ˝ the last of these, especially, becoming almost as well known and influential as the first.

A measure of his lasting impact on progressive thinking is the fact that in the new 2004 volume of the Register, entitled The New Imperial Challenge, Gregory Albo begins a major contribution on 'The Economics of the New Imperialism' with an extended quotation from Hamza's 1964 essay, noting that its central insight, 'at once theoretical and political, remains central to the analysis of the new imperialism todayÍ'

As everyone who knew him and his work has pointed out, his scholarship was marked not just by its socialist and democratic commitment, but also by the way it reflected his practical experience as an activist. His originality ˝ and readability ˝ were direct consequences of this, and it was exactly this kind of work that Ralph Miliband and John Saville founded the Socialist Register to encourage and popularise.

Hamza's consistent opposition to authoritarianism, fundamentalism and capitalism was not calculated to earn him honours of the conventional kind, and his modesty would probably have made him quite resistant to them had they been offered. But in the annals of the left he will surely be remembered with pride and affection as one of its most exemplary thinkers and fighters. We are proud that he published some of his most noted work in the Register, and send our sincere condolences to all those who had the good fortune to be close to him.

Leo Panitch and Colin Leys
Editors of The Socialist Register

[16 December 2003]


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