[WSMDiscuss] Warriors in movement…., Another warrior walks on… : Peter Waterman walks on, June 16 2017

JS CACIM jai.sen at cacim.net
Sat Jun 17 20:47:15 CEST 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Warriors in movement…., Another warrior walks on…

I’m writing again with a heavy heart to report that yet another wonderful warrior in the struggle for social justice, and a close friend, comrade, and compañero of mine, Peter Waterman, walked on last night, June 16 2017, in The Hague, The Netherlands :

Peter Waterman walks on, June 16 2017

Peter was someone who was widely loved and respected, and others have already posted on him; I’m presently in Canada and so got the news a little later – and so my apologies in advance for any duplications.

Peter was 81, and lived a full and rich life, and I understand died peacefully in his sleep.  He had been suffering serious heart and bone marrow problems for some years now, but had – as people on listserves he was on, such as Debate and WSMDiscuss know well – continued to post till very recently (his last one on WSMDiscuss was, I think, just ten days ago, on June 7); but his condition apparently suddenly worsened yesterday, and he declined to take more serious treatment such as chemotherapy, and walked on in the night.

Here are just a few tributes to him so far; I’m sure that there will be many more in the days to come :

As Raphael Hoetmer, a close friend of his both in The Netherlands and in Peru, wrote to tell some of us :

I am writing you to let you know, that our dear friend Peter Waterman left this live some hours ago in the Dutch night... He had suffered some health issues that rapidly worsened the last days... Gina has been with Peter in the last weeks, and let us/me know just today that Peter's situation had gotten worse just yesterday... 

Peter was very important to us, and will be remembered and present, through his great sense of humour, intellectual creativity and sharpness, and most of all as a very generous, original and humble person...

As Patrick Bond posted on Debate :

Very sad news that our most active e-debater (and who else has been more feisty and friendly over the years?!), Peter, died last night, peacefully. 

    His partner Gina Vargas notified me this morning that Peter was in hospital, with heart disease and leukemia, and took morphine for the pain. I'm guessing that he was also impatiently surveying the world scene until the last hours, typing out critiques and pushing us all harder to be simultaneously more rigorous and more radical.

    But if we all let him down by never working quite passionately enough for the multi-faceted emancipation he insisted upon, as you see below in his last words to us, nevertheless I don't think I've ever met such a convivial, witty and charming comrade in the lefty-internationalist scene as Peter. 

As Laurence Cox also wrote in to tell me this morning :

In case you haven’t already heard: 

Peter’s companera Gina Vargas just told me that Peter died last night in his sleep, aged 81. He had been having heart problems and issues with bone marrow. He had decided not to have further treatment other than painkillers. He was still very communicative before going to sleep.

It is a huge loss for all of us.

For my part, I knew Peter from the early 1980s, when I contacted him because of his work on labour internationalism, and in a way I treasure the fact that after nearly a decade of rich exchange, we then later on fell heavily apart, I think in the early nineties.  I treasure this because we then also came together again in the early 2000s, through the WSF, and among many other things collaborated in the production of World Social Forum : Challenging Empires (first edition together with Arturo Escobar and Anita Anand, 2004; and second edition 2008), and went on to become Series Editors for the Challenging Empires series.  I say this because I believe that our experience of falling part only deepened our later connection, and made it so much stronger – and where I suspect that this might well have happened in his relationships with some others, too.  That was Peter.      

I have so many great memories of him – including having breakfast together with him and Gina in Belem in 2009, on January 26, where it slowly dawned on all of us that he and I were both celebrating our birthdays on that day, with a small matter of just a perfect decade separating us ! 

One of Peter’s great qualities was his way of words.  One among so many other instances of this was the very recent post of his on WSMDiscuss that I mention above, where while commiserating the passing of another great warrior, François Houtart, and celebrating his life, he also gently, politely, but firmly made mention of a very awkward aspect of François’ life.  In my experience anyway, very few people have this artful quality.  For Peter, language, and politics, was an art; and indeed life itself was an art.  And he lived an artful life like few others.

Thankfully, Peter was among many other things also an indefatigable archivist – and so has already posted perhaps all of his work.  Characteristically, he self-published his autob (as he fondly called it) in 2014, From Coldwar Communism to the Global Emancipatory Movement : Itinerary of a Long-Distance Internationalist (available @ http://www.into-ebooks.com/download/498/ <http://www.into-ebooks.com/download/498/>); which I strongly recommend as an exhaustive but fun and rewarding read of an extraordinary life in extraordinary times. (I also attach a document here that gives the Table of Contents.)  And for those interested, to access all his recent work I reproduce here his indomitable signature line, in all his posts and emails :

Click here for Peter's recent writings <https://www.dropbox.com/s/o8s52g2y905rq6w/WatermanGmailSignaturePanel%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Updated.docx?dl=0>
To end this tribute, I am pasting on here below two bios for him – so that you have two somewhat different refractions of this extraordinary personality : One, a modified / updated version of the bio that he himself prepared for a forthcoming edited volume of mine for which he was Contributing Editor (The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press) and to which he also contributed an essay, ‘The Networked Internationalism of Labour’s Others’; and another, that Patrick Bond posted this morning on Debate : 

The late Peter Waterman (1936-2017), after retirement from the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, in 1998, published various monographs, (co-)edited compilations and numerous academic and political papers – the latter almost all to be found online -, and self-published his autobiography (From Coldwar Communism to the Global Emancipatory Movement : Itinerary of a Long-Distance Internationalist, available @ http://www.into-ebooks.com/download/498/ <http://www.into-ebooks.com/download/498/>).  His work was published in English (UK, USA, Canada, India), Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean.  He had papers posted on the Montevideo-based Choike <http://www.choike.org/2009/eng/informes/4620.html> portal and compilations on the Finland-based Into <http://www.into-ebooks.com/author/waterman_peter/> website, and a blog on UnionBook <http://www.unionbook.org/profiles/blog/list?user=1xfzxau0we6p5&xg_source=activity>. He was currently associated with, amongst others, the Programa Democracia y Transformación Global <http://www.democraciaglobal.org/> (Lima), with two online journals, Interface : a Journal for and about Social Movements <http://www.interfacejournal.net/>, the Global Labour Journal <http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/globallabour/>, and with the Indian Institute for Critical Action - Centre in Movement (CACIM) <http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-index.php?page=CACIMHome> in New Delhi. Here he co-edited books on the World Social Forums.  After retirement he had invitations for teaching, lectures, and seminars from universities and/or movement-oriented bodies in Peru, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, Hong Kong, Germany, South Korea, the US, Ireland, and the UK.


Peter Waterman was born into a middle-class London Jewish Communist family, his father being at one time general manager of the major UK Communist bookstore, his mother the eventual author of two semi-autobiographical novels. After much Young Communist activity and a one-year course in journalism in London he became the English and Chief Sub-Editor of the monthly of the International Union of Students in Communist Prague (1955-8). Following compulsory UK military service (1959-60) he became a student at the union-identified Ruskin College, Oxford (1961-3), and then did a bachelor’s degree at the university itself (1964-5). Now with a wife and two small children, he worked as a labour educator for the World Federation of Trade Unions, again in Prague (1966-9). After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1968, he ‘left both the Communist World and the World of Communism’. He did a one-year Master’s in West African Studies, Birmingham (1969-70) and first became an academic at Ahmadu Bello University in Northern Nigeria (1970-72). From then until 1998 he taught at an institute of ‘development studies’, in The Hague, first on Third World unions, later on labour and other social movements, their internationalisms and on (computer) communications in relation to such. He was editor of the Newsletter of International Labour Studies through the 1980s, and has been (co-)author of numerous books and articles, published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Korean, Japanese and Dutch. He has played a major role in exchanges on ‘social movement unionism’ and the ‘new labour internationalisms’. More recently he has written his own autobio and he been involved with DemocraciaGlobal in Peru (where his longtime compañera, present wife, the international feminist writer/activist Virginia Vargas lives) with the free, online, social movement journal, Interface, and has been trying out the new online social movements project, Intercoll.


In tribute to and in memory of a very special person, and friend, and with the most profound sympathies to his compañera Gina and to his son Daniel -



Peter Waterman, November 2014 - 'From Coldwar Communism to the Global Emancipatory Movement - Itinerary of a Long-Distance Internationalist' AutoLeaflet x pw191114.docx


Jai Sen

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
www.cacim.net <http://www.cacim.net/> / http://www.openword.net.in

Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded Algonquin territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

Recent publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2016  – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (forthcoming in 2017 from New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press), ADVANCE PREFINAL ONLINE MOVEMENT EDITION @ www.cacim.net <http://www.cacim.net/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2013 – The Movements of Movements : Struggles for Other Worlds, Part I. Prefinal version of Volume 4 Part I in the Challenging Empires series. New Delhi : OpenWord.  Prefinal version 1.0 available @ http://www.into-ebooks.com/book/the_movements_of_movements/ <http://www.into-ebooks.com/book/the_movements_of_movements/>

Jai Sen, ed, 2017a – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  Volume 4 in the Challenging Empires series (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press).  Available for pre-order at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>

Jai Sen, ed, 2017b – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance.  Volume 5 in the Challenging Empires series (New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press)

CHECK OUT CACIM @ www.cacim.net <http://www.cacim.net/>, OpenWord @ http://www.openword.net.in <http://www.openword.net.in/>, and OpenSpaceForum @ www.openspaceforum.net <http://www.openspaceforum.net/>
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