Two Forthcoming Titles By C.L.R. James

The Dialectics of State Capitalism: Writings on Marxist Theory, 1940-1956
Edited by Scott McLemee
Haymarket Books, July 2012

Scott McLemee has been a literary champion of James’s Johnson-Forest Tendency period since the early 1990s and has edited two valuable collections of his writings, C.L.R. James and Revolutionary Marxism (with Paul LeBlanc, 1994) and C.L.R. James and the ‘Negro Question’ (1996). This new one appears to be of James’s writings on economics from the JFT-Correspondence period. Criticism &c. awaits this volume with great anticipation both for the texts themselves and because McLemee has been consistently—we’ll say, uncharitable—towards Raya Dunayevskaya’s contributions to Marxism, going as far as accusing her of intellectual larceny in a footnote (that’s right, a footnote) to the 1994 collection. The charge he levels there is without merit—Dunayevskaya was the sole author of two extensive drafts of what was to become Marxism and Freedom before the 1955 split with James and Grace Lee (see The Raya Dunayevskaya Collection, microfilm numbers #472-503 and #1735-1796 for the texts, from 1947 and 1952). In McLemee’s 1994 footnote, he expressed an aspiration to “publish a study of her career that will include an account of the financial dispute which was the real basis of the 1955 split.” The study hasn’t appeared.

• • •

History of Pan-African Revolt
Introduction by Robin D.G. Kelley
PM Press, July 2012

PM Press is reissuing the 1995 Charles H. Kerr edition of James’s work, originally published in 1938 in Britain. Let’s hope PM takes better care with the text than they did with A New Notion (2010), which combined The Invading Socialist Society (1947) and Every Cook Can Govern (1956). A New Notion was rife with serious editing errors. In the interest of textual integrity (such things are important), Criticism &c. provides some of them below.

Textual Errors in the PM Press title, A New Notion (2010) by C.L.R. James:

Page 22:    “after early document” (sentence is unintelligible as printed)

Page 59:    Engels’s quote contains at least two extraneous punctuation marks

Page 83:    “The Fascist?” should be “fascists”

Page: 100:    “Germain’s revolution” (missing punctuation)

Page 102:    “new even boasting” should read “now”

Page 107:    missing punctuation “different Whoever” should read “different. Whoever”

Page 116:    ” an derail plan” should read “a detailed plan”

Page 119:    “If loses itself” should read “It loses itself”

Page 149:    “pre-1914” should read “pre-1941”

Page 227:    “minions” should read “millions”


2 thoughts on “Two Forthcoming Titles By C.L.R. James

  1. Who will proofread the proofreaders? A close reader of Criticism &c. writes, “Some corrections to your corrections: p. 22 is actually just an awkward phrasing, a way of saying “document after document,” but about the early ones. p. 119 the word is “bases” not “loses.” What you have as p. 149 is from p. 49 and 227 is 127.”

  2. Needless to say I have looked at the “two extensive drafts” you mention. Yes, she used her own earlier manuscripts while writing the M&F. That doesn’t change the fact that the book incorporates the ideas, arguments, and research of James, Grace Lee, William Gorman, and others without acknowledgment. I stand by the statement.

    Sorry not to followed up, yet, on that footnote promising to write an account of what really happened in 1955. Unfortunately there are three more archival collections that bear exploring before I can do so. But one set of material that I have had the chance to examine yielded a couple of hundred pages from 1951-55, including a portion of the material exchanged between January and April 1955, during the internal conflict that resulted in a split. Of course I have examined the Dunayevskaya collection as well. (The microfilm of it is on my shelves.)

    A striking thing about the publicly available Dunayevskaya archives is that it contains not a single document from early 1955. For that matter, it offers very little at all from the three years or so before the split. Once you know what is being carefully kept out of the record, this is, shall we say, understandable.

    True, I should have made finishing this work a priority. Then again, 17 years is not even a third as long a period as Dunayevskaya and acolytes have obfuscated and concealed.

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