Harriss decades of political activity began as a young worker in Britain as a member of the Womens Land Army (WLA) during the Second World War. The WLA had been established by the British capitalists to allow them to draft the male agricultural workers into the armed forces and send them to fight in the imperialist slaughter. Facing abysmal wages and living conditions, and backbreaking work, Harris joined the Agricultural Workers Union and then helped sign up other women to the union.
In the course of her activity in the labor movement, Harris met and joined communists who were affiliated with the Fourth International. That was the international organization founded in 1938 by Leon Trotsky, a central leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, to continue the course of V.I. Lenin and of the Communist International during its first five years. Harris participated in the 1944 founding of the Revolutionary Communist Party in Britain, an affiliate of the Fourth International in the UK. The organization was linked politically to the same current as the Socialist Workers Party in the United States.
Her decades of activity spanned the postwar upsurge and the later decline in workers struggles. Inspired by the revolution in Yugoslavia in the 1940s, she took part in a work brigade to that country in the early 50s. She actively joined in defending the Cuban Revolution, which triumphed in 1959. During the political radicalization of the 1960s and early 70s Harris was on the front lines of the international movement against the Vietnam War in both Britain and Canada, where she lived for a time. She campaigned against Londons and Ottawas complicity with the U.S.-organized assault on the Vietnamese peoples national liberation struggle. She was an enthusiastic participant in the rise of the womens movement in Britain in the 1970s.
Harris helped organize solidarity with the struggles of coal miners and other workers against the onslaught by the UK rulers in the 1980s, spearheaded by the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher, and with the new rise of the ANC-led movement to overthrow the apartheid regime in South Africa.
She was elected to and actively served for years on the International Control Commission of the international communist movement.
From the 1960s until her retirement in the early 1990s, Harris shouldered central responsibility in organizing the distribution of Pathfinder Press and related revolutionary-socialist literature throughout the UK, Europe, and other parts of the globe. This work began in the early 1960s as the Pioneer Book Service operating out of an apartment in south London. It was run by Connie and her husband and comrade, Alan Harris, himself a many decades-long leader of the communist movement in Canada, the UK, and internationally.
Today Pathfinder Books in east Londona retail bookshop and wider book-distribution service to commercial shops and librariesis a product of those early efforts to systematically circulate books containing the hard-won lessons of the international working-class movement. Those are the written materials that above all help generation after generation of revolutionary workers and youth to understand what communism is: organized action as part of the vanguard of those advancing along the line of march of the working class worldwide to political power, and the generalization of the hard-fought lessons of those struggles.
The January 13 meeting here will feature an international platform of speakers. The panel will include Pete Clifford, an early collaborator in the Pathfinder distribution service, who will speak on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist League in the UK; Jack Barnes, the national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party in the United States; Jo OBrien, a member of the organizing committee of the first national womens liberation conference in the UK that took place in 1970; and a representative of the Young Socialists in the UK. Jonathan Silberman of the Communist League and Mary-Alice Waters of the U.S. SWP will cochair the meeting.
Messages to the event can be sent by email to the Communist League at email@example.com or by regular mail to CL UK, First Floor, 120 Bethnal Green Road, (Entrance in Brick Lane), London, E2 6DG, UK. Messages can also be sent by fax to: +44 20 7613 3855.
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