Peter Sedgwick

Peter Sedgwick

Peter Sedgwick (1934–1983) was a translator of Victor Serge, author of a number of books including "PsychoPolitics" and a revolutionary socialist activist.


Peter Sedgwick grew up in Liverpool, and won a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. In 1956, after the Hungarian Revolution he left and joined the Socialist Review Group, later the International Socialists (forerunner to the Socialist Workers Party) He wrote for the group’s press whilst also involved in the activities of rank-and-file members. He was opposed to the International Socialism group's renaming itself as the Socialist Workers Party in 1976, refusing to join the new organisation while always remaining a man dedicated to the far left. (Christopher Hitchens called him "a noble remnant of the libertarian left".) [Alexander Linklater, " [ Christopher Hitchens] ", "Prospect", May 2008 (accessed August 6, 2008).]

Peter Sedgwick wrote a book on psychiatry called "PsychoPolitics". In many respects this book predicted and explained the severe Thatcher/Reagan–era reductions in USA and UK National Health Service psychiatric services, especially in the number of NHS beds for the mentally ill which were reduced by 80,000 in the UK during the 1980s. Peter Sedgwick identified that "politically correct" conceptions of mental illness, such as those of the anti-psychiatry writers Michel Foucault, R.D. Laing and Thomas Szasz, could be exploited by the right wing to reduce services.

He argued that the Marxist left should argue for more and better psychiatry, not less. Sedgwick did not view mental illness being primarily as a product of social stress, although he was only too aware of concepts of alienation and existential explanations as the cause of schizophrenia and other conditions. He just dismissed these on the grounds that they did not fit his experience.Fact|date=August 2008 He also wrote brilliantly on Chinese politics and was generally a polymath.

Peter Sedgwick was found dead in a canal in Northern England. Suicide was suspected. He was editing the works of Victor Serge at the time of his death.

elected articles/works

* [ Introduction to Victor Serge "Memoirs of a Revolutionary"] (1963)
*" [ George Orwell: International Socialist?] " (1969)
*"PsychoPolitics" (1982; 2nd ed. 1987)
*" [ The Unhappy Elitist: Victor Serge’s Early Bolshevism] " (1984)


External links

* [ Peter Sedgwick Archive]
* [ Peter Sedgwick Internet Archive]

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