Marxism for Our Times
C. L. R. James on Revolutionary Organization
Publication Year: 1999
Rarely as in the collection here can one encounter an essayist, novelist, historian, and political leader like the late C. L. R. James in the working throes of forming and then fomenting personal political theory. In Marxism for Our Times, editor Martin Glaberman has gathered the writings and theoretical discussions of this noted Caribbean writer. These pamphlets, mimeographs, letters, and lectures by James were nearly inaccessible until now.
Within these works, James works to situate himself within the classical Marxist tradition while rejecting the Vanguard Party as unsuitable for our times. The writings in this collection begin in the 1940s, when Marxists were wrestling with acts that many deemed betrayals of the revolution, Stalin's pact with Hitler and the war in Europe. They end in the late sixties just before the dissolution of Facing Reality, the final form of the American Marxist organization founded on James's principles.
For many years James, born in Trinidad and Tobago, was leader of the Trotskyists in the United States. He continued his work even after his exile from America. Of great value to scholars of Marxism are the papers in which James examines Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky and applies their theories to the class conflicts he was witnessing at mid-century and to changes he foresaw in the future. James argues for the rejection of historical principles and theories and urges Marxists to adapt themselves to changes occurring in capitalism and the working class.
Glaberman worked alongside James but sometimes disagreed with him in the movement James founded. They were close associates for 45 years. With Marxism for Our Times Glaberman not only has preserved and made available the political theories of a noted writer but he also has created a window on a turbulent period of optimism and failure, a failure Glaberman calls, "rich in meanings and lessons for anyone interested in a democratic, revolutionary Marxism."
C. L. R. James is the author of the novel Minty Alley and The Black Jacobins, the classic history of the Haitian Revolution, and many other works.
Martin Glaberman is a professor emeritus at Wayne State University in Detroit. He joined the socialist movement at age thirteen and worked for twenty years in the auto industry and as an active union member.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
Cover, Title page, Copyright
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I would like to express my appreciation to Seymour Faber, Robert A. Hill, Selma James, Nettie Kravitz, Kathryne V. Lindberg, Scott McLemee, Aldon L. Nielsen, and Diane R. Voss for the help and support they provided for this book. Discussions with Alice and Staughton Lynd always helped to clarify ideas. ...
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I first saw C. L. R. James when he came to the United States in 1938. He was a leader of the British Trotskyist group and a prominent figure in the international Trotskyist movement. He had already published Minty Alley, a novel; The Block Jacobins, the classic history of the Haitian revolution; ...
1. Education, Propaganda, Agitation: Post-War America and Bolshevism
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We have found it necessary to make the main item on the plenum1 agenda the organizational question. The cause is a widespread recognition of the fact that after three years of grinding work in the factories the recruiting of new members has not only been far below expectations, but from all appearances is likely to continue so. ...
2. Marxism for Our Times
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I speak as a close sympathiser of a Marxist organization whose headquarters are in the United States, and what I shall say this afternoon will try to explain an experience of it, where it is, how it has arrived there, and most essential thing, the relation of Marxism not only to politics but the way of life and thought of those who profess to live by its doctrines. ...
3. Letters on Organization
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I have to write you a series of letters. They will be one a week unless you ask me to make them two. In them I shall be taking up fundamental problems of our movement, both in a general and a specific manner applied to the specific American situation. I shall send you two copies of all these letters. ...
4. Perspectives and Proposals
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Ladies and gentlemen, I want to make clear that there are particular reasons why I have asked you to come to this particular meeting. First, you must be clear about one thing: I don't propose to ask you to join anything. I have nothing which you can join. Secondly, I not only do not propose to ask you to join anything with which I am associated, ...
Appendix: Theory and Practice
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Publication Year: 1999