Tony Cliff often said that the case for socialism takes less than two minutes to understand – a mere glance at the world and the way it is divided into rich and poor makes that case immediately.
The characteristic which emerges from his life more than any other is single-mindedness. In spite of his wide-ranging intellect, his mastery of at least four languages and his extensive reading, he never allowed himself for a single moment of his 82 years to be deflected from his purpose. Such indomitable resolve is rare indeed among people who set out to change the world.
When Cliff was accused of lionising the greats in socialist history – Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg – he replied that, if we want to see what is happening beyond the crowd, we have to stand on the shoulders of giants.
There are quite a few of us socialists in Britain over the past 40 years or so who thank our lucky stars that we had the chance to stand on his shoulders.