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Ernest Mandel

As someone who heard Ernest Mandel speak on a number of occasions, I am surprised at Ken Coates's obituary of him [28 July], writes Keith Flett.

Mandel was an important theoretical figure on the Left and, a point Coates ignores, a leader of the Trotskyist Fourth International. But he was not a charismatic speaker. Moreover, Mandel, while sticking to his belief in revolution while others gave up, was hamstrung by his inability to decide whether the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe was a positive or negative thing for socialists.

In this sense Mandel's old sparring partner Tony Cliff, who always argued that the post-1945 East had nothing to do with self-emancipating socialism, has been proved right.