Alex Callinicos

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Alex Callinicos
Alex Callinicos 2009.jpg
Alex Callinicos in 2009
Born Alexander Theodore Callinicos
(1950-07-24) 24 July 1950 (age 72)
Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
Era 20th- / 21st-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Marxism
Main interests
Politics  · Political economy  · Social theory

Alexander Theodore Callinicos (born 24 July 1950) is a Zimbabwean-born British political theorist and activist. In an academic capacity, he serves as Professor of European Studies at King's College London. An adherent of Trotskyism, he is a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and serves as its International Secretary. He is also editor of International Socialism, the SWP's theoretical journal, and has published a number of books.


Callinicos is a descendant, through his mother, of the 19th century English historian Lord Acton. During World War II his Greek father was active in the Greek Resistance to Nazi occupation, whilst his mother, the Hon. Ædgyth Bertha Milburg Mary Antonia Frances Lyon-Dalberg-Acton, was the daughter of the 2nd Lord Acton.[1] He was educated at St George's College, Salisbury (now Harare).[citation needed]

Callinicos himself first became involved in revolutionary politics as a student at Balliol College, Oxford, where he read for his BA and encountered Christopher Hitchens.[2] He also received his DPhil at Oxford. His first writing for the International Socialists (the SWP's forerunner) was an analysis of the student movement of the period. His other early writings focused on southern Africa and the French structuralist-Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser. In 1977, Callinicos married Joanna Seddon,[1] a fellow Oxford doctoral student.

Callinicos participated in the Counter-Summit to the IMF/World Bank Meeting in Prague, September 2000 and the demonstration against the G8 in Genoa, June 2001. He has also been involved in organising the Social Forum movement in Europe. He was a contributor to Dictionnaire Marx Contemporain (2001),[3] and has written articles in New Left Review.

He was Professor of Politics at the University of York before being appointed Professor of European Studies at King's College London in September 2005. He succeeded Chris Harman as editor of International Socialism in January 2010 shortly after Harman died and is a British correspondent for Actuel Marx. Callinicos joined the central committee of the SWP in the late 1970s; he retains this position.

In January 2013, in the context of a serious internal crisis in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) associated with the party's response to an allegation of rape against a leading member of the party, known as Comrade Delta, and with the demand for changes to the existing form of the system of democratic centralism within the SWP, he wrote a defence of Leninism and 'Democratic Centralism'. Callinicos disagreed with those who argued for the need to change the existing system.[4]

Callinicos has taken a prominent position in the arguments about another issue which has divided the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the use of the internet in disagreements concerning internal and confidential party issues. He has complained about "the dark side of the Internet" in which individuals have "used blogs and social media to launch a campaign within the SWP".[4] Callinicos referred to the allegation of rape against a leading SWP member as a "difficult disciplinary case" shortly after the party's January 2013 annual conference,[4] a comment for which socialist feminist Laurie Penny thought he had managed "to mistake a plea for some basic respect for women's sexual autonomy as an attempt to undermine the revolution from within."[5]

In order to disentangle a conference organised by the Historical Materialism journal in Delhi during 2013 from the SWP crisis, his invitation to the conference was withdrawn in March 2013.[6]


Books / pamphlets



  1. 1.0 1.1 The
  3. J. Bidet and E. Kouvelakis, eds., Dictionnaire Marx Contemporain Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2001
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Alex Callinicos "Is Leninism finished?" Socialist Review, February 2013, posted on 28 January 2013
  5. Laurie Penny "The SWP and rape: why I care about this Marxist-Leninist implosion", The Guardian, 12 March 2013
  6. Hugh Muir "Diary: A message to the SWP from Delhi: stay away", The Guardian, 27 March 2013

External links