One founding member of what became the Socialist Worker’s Party has written a brief and lively memoir of her life in politics.
Chanie Rosenberg is now in her nineties and still an active revolutionary socialist. She wants her book to show that “revolutionaries are people like anyone else” with families, social lives, and interests.
It is effective and very funny.
Raised in South Africa, Chanie experienced antisemitism and of course saw the racism of apartheid. She learnt how racism and nationalism functioned. She also got too much attention from the police and had to leave for Palestine.
Chanie lived in a kibbutz collective farm. Her experience there both showed her a model for a socialist society and exposed the worst of Zionism.
Later she moved to Britain and worked as a teacher in Hackney. She organised at work and in the
anti-fascist movement. Chanie tells some amazing anecdotes and her life was hard in very many ways.
But it was also shaped by intervening in history. This really does show why people become revolutionaries in the first place.
Also included in the book is her pamphlet on Russian revolutionary artist Kazimir Malevich. It is a good example of how an apparently separate aspect of her life—making art—is inextricably tied to her politics.
As socialists there is no aspect of our lives that truly goes untouched by our politics. This can be difficult, but as this memoir proves, it can also be enriching.
Just as a revolution would change everything—about how we work, relate to our families and friends, raise our children and set our priorities—so does the experience of fighting for it.