Spartacist English edition No. 66

Spring 2020


Edward Cliffel


Our comrade Ed Cliffel died in Orlando, Florida, on 23 September 2017, three weeks after a diagnosis of aggressive metastatic cancer. Ed was a leader of our tendency for nearly four and a half decades. At the time of his death at age 78, he was a full member of the Spartacist League/U.S. Central Committee and a consultative member of the ICL’s International Executive Committee.

Ed joined the party in 1973 as part of a fusion process between the Spartacist League and the Cleveland Marxist Caucus, a loose collective of friends and sometime cothinkers who were moving toward systematic study of Marxism. In 1974, he moved to New York City, where he played a leading role in the SL local, including as education director. Ed transferred to Chicago in 1979 and over time became that branch’s political leader.

A frequent and effective public spokesman, Ed was arguably Workers Vanguard’s best writer and drafted many of its front-page articles. His prose was always eloquent and persuasive, drawing on sources like Shakespeare, the King James Bible and popular movies. He presented complex issues concisely and often with mordant humor.

Ed was a presence, his booming laugh irresistible. He thought outside the box and was one of the most creative, independent and critical Marxist thinkers in our party. Ed always sought out political discussion and debate, usually over copious amounts of alcohol. His mind was brilliant and his spirit kindly belligerent; his gusto for life was Falstaffian. He had a deep sense of the human condition.

Ed’s death is a great loss to the ICL. He lived as he had wanted to and died with his boots on, in the trenches of the struggle for a communist future.

A fuller obituary for Ed was printed in Workers Vanguard No. 1119 (6 October 2017).