Obituary: Vic Brain

Vic Brain has died at the age of 95. He had been a member of the Socialist Party for nearly 60 years, having joined Swansea Group in 1952. In the following year he helped form a fully-fledged Swansea branch, of which he remained a member until his death in December 2009.

Vic had been a member of the Communist Party in the early years of the Cold War period but always said that he had never found it comfortable doing what CP members had to do – support Stalin and the Soviet Union. So when he came into contact with the SPGB, he quickly realised that the CP’s version of ‘socialism’ was effectively a form of capitalism – state capitalism – and that far more congenial to his optimistic hopes for the future of humanity was the classless, stateless, moneyless society of free access advocated by the Socialist Party but never mentioned in the CP.
From then on he never looked back. Over the next 30 years he was an active member of Swansea Branch, involving himself enthusiastically in local activity, fearlessly stating the socialist case wherever he went, writing articles for the Socialist Standard, and giving ebullient talks on subjects that especially interested him such as art and socialism, Welsh nationalism, and the nature of the Labour Party.

With very little formal education, Vic had trained later in life to become an art teacher and was a keen painter who would offer his excellent water colours as presents to branch members. He was a keen rambler and cyclist and, even in later life, thought nothing of cycling the 25 miles from Llanelli to Swansea and back to visit other members. As a first language Welsh speaker, he was also a keen enthusiast of the language but, rather than take the narrow view of minority language survival taken by nationalists, Vic’s take was that it was good for such languages to survive because of the cultural diversity they expressed. Such diversity – and this was a view that he was particularly keen to express to fellow socialists – was being eaten up by capitalism but, if it managed to survive the ravages of the current system, it would flourish and be a positive feature of a Socialist world.

In his later years, Vic’s activity inevitably diminished but he was always ready to talk to members who visited him about what was happening in the world and – the perennial question – when would we get socialism. He will be remembered with great affection by those who knew him. We offer our condolences to his wife Anne, his son Chris and his daughter Pat.

Howard Moss  

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