First published:June, 1984
Published in:The essay was published as one of two articles in a News & Letters pamphlet, titled A 1980's View: The Coal Miners' General Strike of 1949-50 and the Birth of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S..
Source: Raya Dunayevskaya Archive (#8123)
Digitalisation, proof-reading & html markup: Chris Gilligan, May, 2020
The dialectic of the 1949-50 Miners’ General Strike, as it was transformed from a Lewis-authorized strike that already had lasted some six months into a challenge to John L. Lewis himself, laid the ground for new ways of thinking. The historic rejection by the miners of Lewis’ order to return to work had imbued the old slogan, “No Contract, No Work,” with new meaning because of the totally new question the miners raised: “What kind of labor should man do?” In a word, by being concerned not just with the unemployment that is always caused by new machinery, but with the unbridgeable gulf between manual and mental labor, which the continuous miner widened, they were pointing to new directions. I had for some years been developing the theory of state-capitalism. To me the Miners’ General Strike seemed to touch, at one and the same time, a concept Marx had designated as alienated labor and the absolute opposite to it, which Marx had spelled out as the end of the division between mental and manual labor.
Indeed, the todayness of Marxism shone through brilliantly in the miners’ attitude to a passage I had read to them from Marx on the “automaton”: “The lightening of the labor, even, becomes a sort of torture since the machine does not free the laborer from work, but deprives the work of all interest...”. Even the fact that the miners did not know that this passage was from Marx created a translucence when they insisted that the man who wrote that must have been in their mine, it was so perfect a description of Automation, specifically their continuous miner which they called a “man-killer.”
It led me to conclude that two new vantage points were needed for the book I had been working on, titled State-Capitalism and Marxism.1 One was that the American worker should become a point of departure not only as “root” of Marxism but as a presence today. I therefore proposed to my co-leaders in the Johnson-Forest Tendency (JFT) — C.L.R. James and Grace Lee Boggs — that a worker be present at future discussions of the drafts of the book. The second vantage point was to be the dialectic as Lenin interpreted it in his Abstract of Hegel’s Science of Logic. Four months before the strike erupted, I had finished the first-ever English translation of that historic 1914 encounter of Lenin with Hegel and, with brief comments, had transmitted it to James and Lee. A three-way correspondence resulted, centered on the relationship of the dialectic to Lenin as well as to our age.2
While we seemed to be as one on the need to work out the relationship between objective and subjective for the state-capitalist age that Lenin had worked out for the monopoly stage of capitalism, that relationship between objective and subjective was spoken of only “in general.” Now, however, with an ongoing strike in progress, what had been a discussion of ideas assumed, to me, concreteness and urgency. Indeed, it gained a whole new dimension through what the miners were doing and thinking.
On February 14, something quite momentous happened. The workers who had voted down Lewis’ order to return to work had been debating what to do next. They were already near starvation. Then, on Feb. 14, 1950, miners in Scotts Run voted for the motion that “Red” and Andy brought to a meeting to establish a committee of miners to go to the rank-and-file of other unions to ask for help. Clearly, a great deal more than just getting money was involved in that motion. The point was how to do away not only with mere “charity” donations but with dependence on union leaders. Approving this motion signified establishing labor solidarity from below. Three days later, this motion was implemented at an area-wide meeting of local unions.
The miners elected two committees, one to go East and the other West. It was to become the turning point of the whole strike. You have read Andy Phillips' account how our comrades at the university got the idea of picketing the basketball game.a It was their way to try to break down the division between the miners and the students. As one of our comrades put it, looking back to the magnificent caravan of food, clothing and money from auto and steel rank and file workers: "Let's face it. There was something about the deep philosophic probing that helped get results, and wonder of wonders, it even got the main red-baiter to stop referring to us as 'fly-by-nights, running around town' and to ask people to leave us along as we were doing a good job".
It was on Feb. 15 — the day after the miners had taken the first action to establish that new Miners’ Relief committee — that James, Lee and I held the first meeting on the book at which a worker was present. (He happened to be the one who would soon arrange the largest meeting in Detroit to raise a caravan of help for the miners.) Here is the way I began my presentation: “Just as the 1945-46 General Strike [in the USA] transformed the abstract Russian Question on property forms into one of actual production relations, so at present the struggle of the miners and the new content they have infused into ‘No Contract, No Work’ is what gave me the impulse to go into the essential dialectical development of Marx himself”.3
I then proceeded to trace Marx’s own development 1843-73. It made clear Marx’s new historic points of departure that occurred in the 1860s. Ever since John Brown’s attack on Harpers Ferry, Marx had been talking about a new epoch that was dawning, which was sure to bring about a civil war in the U.S. In discussing how Marx began once more to rework Capital in 1865-67, I said: “There is the Jamaican Negro revolt in 1865. There was the Polish revolution, 1863. Then there are the Factory Reports. Marx asks Engels for a pamphlet on Machinery. He works out the average working wage. The whole history now becomes the history of production, not the history of theory.” I concluded, “Dialectically, the problem of form is the problem of the contract today.”
As for the second new vantage point that I proposed for the book - Lenin's Abstract of Hegel's Science of Logic - I began this way: "Lenin was, of course, a revolutionary long before he read Logic". But, I stressed, he now felt the compulsion to re-evaluate his whole methodology in analyzing subjective as well as objective events. The shocking simultaneity of the war and the collapse of the Second International resulted in a break with his own philosophic past of mechanical materialism. Now Lenin saw in the Hegelian dialectic of negativity the need for a concept of goal, the future that revolutionaries were aiming at. As Lenin put it: "Movement and self-movement... Who would believe that this is the core of 'Hegelianism', of abstract and abstruse (difficult, absurd?) Hegelianism? We must disclose this core, grasp it, save, shell it out, purify it...".b
As this discussion of Lenin further highlighted his preoccupation with the Doctrine of the Notion - that is, with the subjective as well as objective paths to liberation - the worker we had invited to the discussion summed it up: "When you don't have a notion of the future, you just counter-pose essence to form. Is that what all this means?". Clearly, the worker's presence at this first meeting on the "Marx book" went a great deal further than the "class question". The worker was grappling with the question of concepts as well as the relationship of subjective to objective.
The new form for the book which I was presenting and the discussion around it, as well as the ongoing strike, convinced me that the ground was now cleared for me to finish the book, which I now began to call "the Lenin Book". However, upon my return to Pittsburgh, I found that the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) was sufficiently worried about the red-baiting taking place and distrustful enough about the West Virginia branch and my activity with them that they called a tri-state meeting of the members from Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Ohio - where they would have a majority. We were confident that we would be vindicated when they heard the miners' own reports.
By the end of that February 16 meeting,4 their leader, Harry Braverman, said: "I believe the Morgantown comrades have done one of the finest jobs of any of our trade union fractions. Morgantown has pushed the situation from a local question and made it into a national one, and in extending the strike they also seized upon another basic issue: relief, which is the center of the question now. Everything else is set - the men have determined not to go back to work. And now in getting the relief issue and getting the backing of the district, they have seized the center of the problem again... The important thing is now to get aid from steel and other unions and to make a success of this venture... Once we act with caution and have mass backing, then we can proceed".
When Frank asked whether it would be possible for me to come down to West Virginia for several days, permission was quickly granted. This time I was there with official approval of the SWP. Indeed , the Militant published my March 6 report of the jubilation that greeted the arrival of the caravan from the UAW Local 600 workers. You have read it in Andy's report.
One point which concerns the miners' reaction when they came to hear the debate between Harry Braverman and me on the "Russian Question" (which was then going full blast in preparation for the 1950 SWP convention) is important to record, although it is not directly related to the strike. As Frank reported the incident: "When the two miners who came up with Andy and me to hear what to them was a very abstract debate, they nevertheless recognized more clearly than we did where it was all going. The conclusion they drew was: 'This means split'. They were happy about it".
What, however, is more important to record, to show why the miners felt so close to us, was that many of the packages sent in the relief caravan contained the name and address of the worker who had sent it and who was asking for correspondence with the miner who received it. One miner summed up the feeling of many when he said: "We have never seen anything like this before. We have never had relief operate this way". It was the rank-and-file to rank-and-file development that likewise opened a new stage in the consequences of this great movement from practice. I was anxious to continue my correspondence with some of the miners and was wondering whether I should not also work out a new essay on coal. Here are the two letters sent out on March 14, one to "Red" and the other to James:
* * *
March 14, 1950
My dear Marx is always on the spot. Yes, he was in the very latest mine strike. It now turns out that among the additions in the 1872 edition [of Capital] was the transposition of a long footnote on miners into the text itself; you will find it on pp. 541-551. As soon as I get down at least some notes on the literally dozens of books I have read on coal in these past two weeks, I will put it away for a while since there seems to be no chance for an article. Or I may decide to write a rough (very rough first) draft anyway and then just let it lie with you and me in that condition until we get ready to rework. In the meantime I will return to work on CAPITAL. (You can keep the minutes as I am being permitted the branch copy; but please do find JB's MS [Manuscript]. Will see you get all current material possible).
Meanwhile some gossip. You noted in the minutes that the initiative for the tri-state discussion was not from P'gh [Pittsburgh], but from Youngstown where people with higher trade union status of either EI or me reside. Frank had to come to town about his leg yesterday and so dropped in and told me that they now have a letter from Youngstown asking "Red" to come down there to speak to the Ohio branches, and P'gh. would be invited too. Naturally he accepted. There is no doubt that both "Red" as a new member and the importance of the strike and relief actions has made Youngstown more than wish it was closer to Morgantown; an actual tie-up that-a-way is being built up...
Back to coal for a minute; I could deal with it either in the context of a full century, 1849-1949 (the first strike and union occurs in U.S. 1849), or restrict myself to the two WW (World Wars) when all the technological changes occur. The crisis in coal, you know, began in 1924, not 1929. It seems many "friends" of miners as well as the coal barons thought that technology would eliminate the union since it would eliminate that independence of the miner and make him a button pusher even as it did the factory operative who was not organized (1925). The interlude of newness however lasted but a couple of years and the strikes recurred ever more sharply and in fact the initiative comes from the most mechanized mines, as it came in this latest one. There is no richer mine for Johnsonism than a real mine.
* * *
March 14, 1950
Sorry that I had not gotten a chance to see more of you but of course when the class struggle is active nothing else has precedence. However, the magnificent job you did plus the nearness to the masses just when both a great strike and an independent action such as relief was being accomplished ought not to be allowed to pass without some very precise and elaborate notes of every detail of the action and the reaction for future use. Always, at the end of such an action one finds how much one has grown in stature and experience, and how much more he will know the next time. The point is now not to let it disappear as the past, but to write it down carefully and reexamine later.
No doubt Frank has told you that I am working on a big article on coal. Although I have read literally dozens of books and know the history of miners for a full century, nothing will be as valuable in that article as the actual talks with rank and filers on their specific attitudes. All theory, you know, to Marxists is but the conscious expression of the "instinctive strivings of the proletariat to reconstruct society on Communist beginnings", as Trotsky pointedly put it. Moreover, the workers themselves have been the ones to "invent" new forms of organization. Take the Soviets in the good days of Lenin and Trotsky. The workers spontaneously established them and when the great Marxist theoreticians saw them, the said, "That's it" and they made their theories more concrete.
All this is merely to lead up to the necessity of make theory and practice one, not two separate departments. Hence, when I get a rough draft down in a month or so, I most definitely want you to read it and give me your comments. Also, at some later stage I will want to come down to Morgantown and I hope it will be possible for you to arrange for me to meet some of the miners and talk to them...
Do let me know what you think of the idea of the article (perhaps 9,000 words) on coal; what notes you have of the recent experience and in general what comments you have to make.
* * *
I didn't get to see "Red" then and I gave up on the idea of the article on coal as I had to engage in the debates on state-capitalism as the SWP was preparing for its convention. Although the rank-and-file miners who were direct participants when I debated Harry Braverman in Pittsburgh correctly predicted split, we didn't actually go through with it then. Just as 1950 was not over when the miners went back to work in March 1950 but er-emerged the next year when they wildcatted over seniority in September 1951, so, though the JFT had no left the SWP when we submitted our document on "State-Capitalism and World Revolution" in August 1950, we did finally leave Trotskyism for good and all in August 1951.
The shock was that it was also the beginning of the end of a united Johnson-Forest Tendency. Where I proposed that the first issue of the new paper we planned to issue should be devoted to the new miners’ seniority strike, Johnson (James) opposed. He insisted that “our membership and their friends are the only audience I have in mind for the paper. If a mighty bubble broke out, 500,000 miners vs. John L. Lewis, and shook the mine fields, I would not budge an inch from our program.” We then went “underground,” publishing only a mimeographed paper until 1953. It was during this period, 1951-52, that I continued my work on both philosophy and the book, writing a 54-page outline5 which I developed on the basis of the Feb. 15, 1950, meeting.
The differences that developed between Forest and Johnson occurred, after all, in a most critical period both internationally and nationally — 1950-53. The Korean War and McCarthyism were raging and the death of Stalin brought it to a climax.
The death of Stalin lifted an incubus from my brain, and it was inconceivable to me that it wouldn’t do that for the Russian and East European workers. I looked forward to great explosions. Charles Denby (the Black production worker who was to become editor of News & Letters when finally the break between me and Johnson occurred) called as soon as his shift ended to tell me of the excitement in his factory as the radio blared the news of Stalin’s death. Each worker was saying that he had just the person to take Stalin’s place—his foreman. I asked Denby to come over for a discussion.
When he came over we spent several ours talking about Stalin's death and the affinity the American workers felt with the Russian workers, especially on the trade union question. The discussion made it clear to me that, far from the American workers considering this a "Russian Question", they were relating it to their own working conditions in the shop and their relationship to their own bosses and union bureaucrats. Denby asked me whether I remembered the chapter he had written on the UAW in his autobiography,6 where he had described the ever-widening gulf between leaders and ranks. The conclusions he had drawn had been intensified by his run-in with those bureaucrats when the rank-and-file miners had come to his local to ask for the auto workers' help during the Miners' General Strike. The miners, too, had learned how crucial it was to deal directly with the rank-and-file, who forced the bureaucrats to triple the amount they had intended to give.
Denby felt the workers he knew would not only understand the problems the Russian workers faced, but that they would find lessons for their own struggles against both the union bureaucrats and the company. He raised the question I had been discussing with him sometime before, on the 1920-21 Trade Union debate between Lenin and Trotsky. He said that if I could put that story in the framework of what the workers were experiencing right then, he would by happy to distribute it to his fellow workers and tell me their comments. Outside of the two days it took me to write the political analysis of Stalin's death, I spent the next few weeks writing the essay on that debate, which I called “Then and Now”.7 I decided also to send it to West Virginia and asked that our comrades there should try to get the reactions of the miners to both Stalin’s death and the trade union debate.
Once again I felt the compulsion to return to work on the Hegelian dialectic. What had begun in 1948 with the translation of Lenin’s Philosophic Notebooks, and continued through 1951,8 made me go this time directly to the Absolute Idea itself, six weeks before the actual first rebellion from under totalitarianism did erupt in East Germany on June 17, 1953, to be followed very shortly by revolt within Russia itself, in Vorkuta.
In a letter on Hegel’s Science of Logic, I wrote to Grace on May 12, 1953:9
“I am shaking all over for we have come to where we part from Lenin. I mentioned before that although in the approach to the Absolute Idea Lenin had mentioned that man’s cognition not only reflects the objective world but creates it, within the chapter he never developed it.” In disagreeing with Lenin for telling us that the last half of the final paragraph of Hegel’s Logic is unimportant, I argued: “But, my dear Vladimir Ilyitch, it is not true; the end of that page is important; we of 1953, we who have lived three decades after you and tried to absorb all you have left us, we can tell you that. You didn’t have Stalinism to overcome, when transitions, revolutions seemed sufficient to bring the new society. Now everyone looks at the totalitarian one-party state; that is the new which must be overcome by a totally new revolt in which everyone experiences ‘absolute liberation.’”
I concluded the letter of May 12 by insisting that I agreed with Lenin’s interpretation of Nature as practice and could see why he was so attracted to it and stopped there, but that I would continue, as Hegel advised, to the other “sciences” where he first concludes his view of the Absolute, Nature and Mind. The next week, on May 20, I concentrated on the final three Syllogisms of Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind — paragraphs 575, 576 and 577. Where Para. 575 at once established that practice, too, is “implicitly the Idea,” and in Para. 576 Hegel still says “philosophy appears as a subjective cognition,” it is only in Para. 577 that the unification of the two — theory and practice, subjective and objective — takes place. And while I was excited enough to then say: “We have entered the new society,” the new for our age was the fact that practice, as “implicitly the Idea”, meant to me that mass practice is itself a form of theory.
Silence on the part of my co-leader became intolerable once I had written those letters — that is to say, once I had written out all that had been churning in me ever since 1948 and my translation of Lenin’s Abstract of Hegel’s Science of Logic; once I had experienced in the post-World War II period what Lenin had undergone at the simultaneity of World War I and the collapse of the established (Second) International; once I had grasped the concept of philosophy as action, as giving action its direction, and the following year had experienced that magnificent Miners’ General Strike; once spontaneity appeared in an altogether different form in 1953 in East Germany, where the first revolt ever from under the heel of Stalinism raised the new slogan of “Bread and Freedom.”
I tried not just philosophically but concretely to work out what these new movements from practice signified. I didn’t fear the “Absolute” once I saw it as so new a unity of theory and practice as to signify both totality and new beginning. It was, indeed, this new conception of the movement from practice that was itself a form of theory that dictated the form in which I cast the work on which I had been laboring for some ten years. The book I had variously referred to as “Marxism and State-Capitalism”, “the Marx book”, and “the Lenin book”, I now (in 1957, when I was free of Johnsonism and no longer restricted by factionalism) called Marxism and Freedom, from 1776 Until Today.
I could then openly dialectically declare: “This book aims to reestablish Marxism in its original form, which Marx called ‘a thoroughgoing Naturalism or Humanism.’” Moreover, the Introduction proceeded to explain the new way of writing: “No theoretician, today more than ever before, can write out of his own head. Theory requires a constant shaping and reshaping of ideas on the basis of what the workers themselves are doing and thinking. At least, it dictated the method by which this book was written. This work is therefore dedicated to the autoworkers, miners, steelworkers and student youth who have participated so fully in the writing of this book. They are its co-authors.”
So many new voices and revolutionary actions by Blacks, women and youth erupted in the 1960s that the very recording of them led to many new discoveries. Thus, in Mississippi, where the first Freedom Riders filled the jails, a totally new organization called "Woman Power Unlimited" was formed (years before the Women's Liberation Movement of today arose) to bring human comfort to those in the jails and give them a place to stay when they were released.10 Thus, the Freedom Schools raised a whole new concept of education which not only made life and learning one, but taught the Northern white youth who had come down to participate in the freedom struggles of the Souther Blacks what history really is: human beings shaping their own destinies.11 Thus, "Black is beautiful" was not only an emotional manifestation of pride but the actual history of the U.S. in which Black masses in motion have always been the touchstone.12
When new developments brought forth a worldwide, massive, anti-war movement, a new generation of revolutionaries, and a whole new Third World, it seemed to many that we were, indeed, on the threshold of revolution. The youth who thought so, however, and who had very nearly dismissed theory as something that can be "picked up en route", found their revolution aborted at the very highest point of action - Paris, May 1968. Activities by themselves are as one-sided as theory by itself. Only in their unity - in a new relationship that is rooted where the action is - can we rise to the challenge of the times.
There did, indeed, arise in the 1970s a search for a philosophy of revolution. It is these new passions and forces that led us to spell out what we had been working on ever since 1953 when we broke through on the Absolute Idea. It was a return to the Hegelian dialectic "in and for itself", as well as working it out for our age. We called it Philosophy and Revolution, from Hegel to Sartre and from Marx to Mao. The 200 years since the birth of the machine age, which had been spelled out in Marxism and Freedom as a movement from practice, was now spelled out as a movement from theory. What was distinctive was the fact that the last chapter - entitled: "New Passions and New Forces: The Black Dimension, the Anti-Vietnam War Youth, Rank-and-File Labor, Women's Liberation" - was seen as inseparable from the very first chapter: "Absolute Negativity as new Beginning - The Ceaseless Movement of Ideas and of History".
That the movement from practice was, indeed, showing itself to be a form of theory had come to the fore in the 1970s as the Women#s Liberation Movement was searching for a decentralized form of organization that would be founded on an organizing Idea. It inspired new digging into Rosa Luxemburg's concept of spontaneity and the relationship of Marx's philosophy of revolution to his organizational practice.
The 1970s also saw, for the first time, a transcription of Marx's last writings, his Ethnological Notebooks, which disclosed the new moments Marx experienced in the last decade of his life. It was in that decade - 1873-1883 - that Marx spelled out: 1) in his Ethnological Notebooks, a new concept of pre-capitalist societies and what he called the Asiatic Mode of Production (which we now refer to as the Third World); 2) in drafts of a letter to Vera Zasulich as well as in a new Preface to the Russian edition of the Communist Manifesto, the possibility of revolution coming first in the technologically underdeveloped East before the West; 3) in his Critique of the Gotha Program, the principles of a revolutionary organization that must not be separate from a total philosophy of revolution.
These so illuminated our state-capitalist age and its total opposite, the new passions and forces for creating a new society, that we rushed to complete our latest theoretical work, Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution, for the Marx centenary.
Heretofore, Marxists have acted as though Marx had no concept of organization, as though there had been no theory of organization until Lenin. Since the rise of Stalinism had likewise been analyzed as mere bureaucratization rather than as a class transformation of a workers' state into its opposite - a state-capitalist society - no fundamentally new foundation was laid for the next generation of revolutionaries.
What became imperative for revolutionaries in the state-capitalist age was to recognize the class nature of state-capitalism and not to limit the discussion of organization to "democracy" vs. "bureaucracy". What was needed was not just a political rejection of the "party to lead" but a whole philosophy of revolution as it related to organization.
In focusing on the last decade of Marx's life, Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution challenged all post-Marx Marxists, beginning with Engels, not only on what they couldn't have known (the Ethnological Notebooks had not yet been transcribed) but on the separation they all introduced between spontaneity, organization and philosophy.
* * *
As Andy Phillips put it at the end of his account of the unfolding of the Miners' General Strike of 1949-50: “To some, many of the things the miners did seemed spontaneous, as though the actions came from nowhere. Just the opposite is true. The spontaneity of the miners flowed from their own repeated collective thought and action that preceded their ‘spontaneous’ activity’”. It is long past that the full story be told, and it must be recorded both as it happened and as the crucial relationship of theory to practice illuminates it.
The impulse to finally record this missing page of American labor history, as the Preface states: "was born when Raya Dunayevskaya began her Marx centenary tour with a lecture at West Virginia University which linked Marx's American roots directly to West Virginia in his hailing of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry as 'the signal' that had been given for a whole new epoch - and Marxist-Humanism's roots directly to the 1949-50 Miners' General Strike which had pointed to a whole new movement from practice to theory which is itself a form of theory".
But that does not tell the whole story. The telling of it today shows that it was in our activities in that historic 1949-50 strike - where our theoretical and practical work were inseparable - the we find the roots of what became the whole body of ideas we call Marxist-Humanism which has been developed over the full 35 year period since. As the News and Letters Committees Perspectives for 1984-85 states:13
Marx's Marxism, from the very beginning of his break with bourgeois society, disclosed that no concept of his was separate from that of permanent revolution - from 1843-1883. Our projection of Marx's Marxism as a totality disclosed that Marx's philosophy of 'revolution in permanence' was ground also for organization, a concept we consider most pertinent for our age".
The 35 letters between Raya Dunayevskaya, CLR James and Grace Lee (Boggs), written form February 1949 through January 1951, listed below, are included in the Raya Dunayevskaya Collection of the Wayne State University Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs, pp. 1595-1734.
1. Feb. 18, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin's Notebooks on Hegel's Science of Logic (Doctrine of Being).
2. Feb. 25, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin's Notebooks on Logic (Doctrine of Essence).
3. March 12, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin's Notebooks on Logic (Doctrine of Notion).
4. May 14, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on "circumstances surrounding" Lenin's Notebooks.
5. May 17, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin and the "actualization of the dialectic proper".
6. May 18, 1949. Dunayevsakay to Lee, on Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.
7. May 20 (?), 1949. James to Lee, on Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism and the Philosophic Notebooks.
8. May 27, 19949. Discussion notes: James and Lee.
9. June 8, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin's Notebooks on Imperialism.
10. June 10, 1949. James to Dunayevskaya, first response to the correspondence thus far.
11. June 13, 1949. James to Dunayevskaya, on Lenin's Notebooks and the period 1914-1923.
12. June 19 (?), 1949. James to Lee, on Lenin's method and the method of his correspondence.
13. June 20, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on the Logic, Marx's Capital and the new stage of capitalism (imperialism).
14. June 24, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on the article for Marcuse - notes.
15. June 28, 1949. James to Dunayevskaya, on the article for Marcuse - notes (continued).
16. June (?), 1949. James to Dunayevskaya, on abstraction in Lenin's thought.
17. July 2, 1949. James to Lee, on abstraction in Lenin's thought.
18. July 5, 1949. Lee to James, on abstract and concrete in Lenin.
19. July 5, 1949. James to William G., on conversations with Novack and articles in progress.
20. July 6, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin before and after 1914; on monopoly.
21. July 9, 1949. Lee to James, on Lenin and Bukharin; the Taylor system.
22. July 15, 1949. James to Lee, reply to letter on Bukharin.
23. July 20, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin 1914-1917.
24. July 25, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin as "revolutionary dialectician and thinking Kautskyian".
25. July 29, 1949. Lee to James, on Lenin's Notebooks on the Logic.
26. August 16, 1949. Lee to James, on Hegel's categories of Universal, Particular and Individual.
27. August 25, 1949. James to "everybody" on Lee's letter of August 16, 1949.
28. August 29, 1949. James to Lee, further comments on Lee's letter of August 16, 1949.
29. August 30, 1949. Dunayevskaya to James, on Lenin's approach to dialectics: 1900-1902; 1914-1916.
30. September 4, 1949. Lee to James, on Hegel's Logic: Doctrine of Essence and "the revolt".
31. January 24, 1950. Dunayevskaya to James, on the structure of Capital.
32. January 30, 1950. Dunayevskaya to James, on Marx's plans for Capital.
33. March 14, 1950. Dunayevskaya to James, on the miner's strike and Marx's writings on coal.
34. June 7, 1950. Dunayevskaya to James, on the structure of Capital.
35. January 15, 1951. Dunayevskaya to James, on Vol. III of Capital.
June 16, 1951
How wonderfully everything is working out for our work on Dialectic! I have just found the letter of Lenin's which places precisely the date of his LEAP ... Here are the facts:
1) It is true he began the study of the Logic while working on the Marx Essay, but
2) The real break came when he reached the Syllogism (Note to Grace: please try to work out pp. 43-50 of Lenin's Philsophic Notebooks in strict relationship to the section of the Logic he is working on. Note that on p. 43 his reference to Plekhanov is still complementary; then he is through with cause and begins with Subjectivity and 6 short pages thereafter he has all those terrific aphorisms on all Marxists didn't understand, on Plekhanov being a Feuerbachian, etc., etc. I hope you'll have it worked out for the session on the book).
3) Now I find a letter in the Russian Complete Works dated January 4, 1915. It is addressed to the encyclopedia Granat which has just accepted his Essay and it says: "is it possible still to include some corrections to the part on the dialectic? Perhaps you will drop me a line when precisely it will go to press and when is the final date for presenting corrections. It is precisely with this question that I have been occupied for the last month and a half and I think that I could add something if there were time".
Evidently there was no time. The Encyclopedia had cut out the sections on Socialism and Tactics of the Class Struggle and published. It was published first in its complete form (that is, without the omissions, but with no additions either) in 1925.
*This essay was published as one of two articles in a News & Letters pamphlet, titled A 1980's View: The Coal Miners' General Strike of 1949-50 and the Birth of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S., published in 1984. The other essay was an account by Andy Phillips of "A Missing Page from American Labor History", the essay by Raya Dunayevskaya on "The Emergence of a New Movement from Practice that is Itself a Form of Theory" was accompanied by two appendices, both of which are included here. The first of these listed 35 letters from the 1949-50 philosophic correspondence between Raya Dunayevskaya, C.L.R. James and Grace Lee (Boggs). That appendix, but not the 35 letters themselves, is included in this e-version of the essay.
1 This first version of what was to become Marxism and Freedom was submitted to Oxford University Press in 1947. I then sent it to Prof. Joan Robinson. (The outline I sent her with her critique noted on it is included in the Wayne State University Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Raya Dunayevskaya Collection, pp. 472-503). It was the year that I first visited West Virginia with the aim of establishing a new local there of miners and students. The following year (on my return from France, where I present my state-capitalist position in a debate with Ernest Mandel before a conference of the Fourth International), I moved to Pittsburgh so I could work with both steel workers in Pittsburgh and miners in West Virginia.
2 See Appendix A to this pamphlet for a descriptive chronology of 35 letters written between Feb. 18, 1949 and Jan. 15, 1951. The full text of all these letters is included in the Archives collection, pp. 1595-1734.
3 The minutes of this meeting are included in the Archives collection, pp. 1585-1594. Available on the MIA website at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/dunayevskaya/archives/1585.pdf
4 See Minutes of Tri-State Meeting included in the Archives collection, pp. 1485-1491.
5 This second draft of the book which I was then calling "the Lenin book" is included in the Archives collection, pp. 1735-1796.
6 Indignant Heart was written under the pen name of Matthew Ward, and was published in 1952. This became Part I of the new edition published in 1978 under the title Indignant Heart: A Black Workers Journal, in which Charles Denby included a whole new Part II that began with the events around the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, the year News & Letters was born and he became its Black worker-editor.
7 These articles are both included in the Archives collection, pp. 2180-2199, "Then and Now" appeared in mimeographed Correspondence of April 16, 1953. A greatly edited version of my articles on Stalin's death had appeared in the March 19, 1953 issue and initiated a dispute with Grace Lee who had edited it. It was printed as I wrote it in the issue of April 30, 1953.
8 A letter I wrote to James on June 16, 1951 shows how detailed was my study of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks, in relation both to the specific sections in Hegel that Lenin was commenting on, and to the political repercussions of his study. Because I have just rediscovered it, this letter has not been included in the Archive collection as of this date, and is therefore reproduced here as Appendix B.[[
9 My "Letters on the Absolute Idea" of May 12 and May 20, 1953 were published along with my translation of Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks as the very first publication of News and Letters Committees. They are part of my pamphlet, Dialectics of Liberation, available from News & Letters.
10 See the News & Letters pamphlet, Freedom Riders Speak for Themselves, by Mary Hamilton, Louise Inghram, and others, published in 1961.
11 See especially "Robert Moses on Education in the South" in the 1965 News & Letters pamphlet, The Free Speech Movement and the Negro Revolution by Mario Savio, Eugene Walker and Raya Dunayevskaya.
12 The first edition of American Civilization on Trial appeared in 1963, three months before the famous civil rights March on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1983, on its 20th anniversary, a new, fourth edition was published by News & Letters, expanded to include my essay on "A 1980s View of the Two-Way Road Between the U.S. and Africa".
13 All Perspectives Draft Theses of News and Letters Committees have been printed directly in News & Letters since 1975. This 1984-85 Thesis appears in the May 1984 issue, and is entitled: "Where are the 1980s Going? The Imperative Need for a Totally New Direction in Uprooting Capitalism-Imperialism".
a Dunayevskaya is referring to the account by Andy Phillips of the miners' strike in, "A Missing Page from American Labor History" which was the lead article in the News & Letters pamphlet, titled A 1980's View: The Coal Miners' General Strike of 1949-50 and the Birth of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S., published in 1984. The other article in the pamphlet was the essay by Dunayevskaya that you are reading.
b Dunayevskaya's translation of sections from Lenin's Philosophic Notebooks can be found on the MIA, in the pamphlet Philosophic Notes, the first pamphlet ever published by News & Letters, (in November 1955), at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/dunayevskaya/archives/2431.pdf