The writings of a Marxist at work
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.