C. L. R. James

Cyril Lionel Robert James TC ( born January 4, 1901 in Tunapuna, Trinidad, † May 19 1989 in London) was a cultural critic, journalist, and an important socialist theorist and writer.


CLR James graduated in 1918 at Queens Royal College in Port of Spain and wrote in the 30s as a sports correspondent for the Manchester Guardian about cricket.

In 1933, James moved to London, where he wrote a play about the liberation fighters Toussaint L' Ouverture, which was premiered in the West End. There he wrote his well-known scientific works on the history of the Communist International in World Revolution ( 1937) - a book about Leon Trotsky was very complimentary - as well as the work of The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L' Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution ( 1938) about the revolution in Haiti, which became the standard work for the study of the black diaspora. In London he joined the Trotskyist groups.

In 1938 James then in the United States and has written important cultural and scientific papers on the United States. He saw himself as a Leninist, even though he (from about 1949) Lenin's concept of party rejected later as a revolutionary vanguard. He joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP ) and stood in their division on the assessment of the social character of the Soviet Union in 1940 on the side of the minority led by Max Shachtman and Martin Abern who founded the Workers' Party. In this he teamed up with Raya Dunayevskaya and other party members an internal grouping, the Johnson - Forrest Tendency (Johnson and Forrest were the pseudonyms of James and Dunayevskaya ), which developed an estimate of the Soviet Union as state capitalist society. The Johnson Forrest Tendency returned in 1947 in the SWP back, left this but already in 1949 and was constituted as a separate organization under the name of Correspondence Publishing Committee. This tendency had close relations with Socialisme ou Barbarie in France.

James' attention was in this time of increasingly important black nationalist movement, along with the fighting in industrial enterprises and the women's movement. During the McCarthy era, he was expelled in 1952 and spent some time on Ellis Iceland, where he completed his book on Herman Melville. He was involved in the Pan- African movement, and saw in the Revolution of Ghana an important role model for international revolutionaries. In 1970 he was allowed to return to the U.S. and was appointed to the Federal City College in Washington. He later moved again to London, where he remained until his death. CLR James' works inspired many Caribbean socialists like Eric Eustace Williams ( with this James interrupted after Williams Prime Minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago, and there was made ​​a little radical politics ), Maurice Bishop, Walter Rodney and the sociologist, poet and reggae musicians Linton Kwesi Johnson.


CLR James was awarded the Trinity Cross, the highest award of the State of Trinidad and Tobago.

Works (selection)

  • Minty Alley. A novel. New Beacon Books, London 1971, ISBN 0-9012-4107-5 ( Nachdr d ed London 1936).
  • Beyond a Boundary. Yellow Jersey Press, London 2005, ISBN 0-224-07427- X ( Nachdr d ed London 1963).
  • Cricket. Selected writings. Allison & Busby 2nd edition, London, 1989, ISBN 0-85031-786- X.
  • Facing Reality. The new society; where to look for it and how to bring it closer. ak press, Chicago, Ill. 2006, ISBN 978-0-88286-308-5 ( Nachdr d ed Chicago, Ill. 1958, together with Cornelius Castoriadis and Grace Lee Boggs ).
  • The Life of Captain Cipriani. An Account of the British Government in the West Indies. UMI Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.. 2002 ( d Nachdr Ed Nelson 1932).
  • Mariners, Renegades and Castaways. The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH 2001, ISBN 1-58465-094- X ( Nachdr d ed New York 1952).
  • Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution. Allison & Busby, London 1982, ISBN 0-85031-461-5 ( Nachdr d ed London 1977).
  • Notes on Dialectics. Hegel, Marx and Lenin. Allison & Busby, London 1980, ISBN 0-85031-150-0 ( Nachdr d ed London 1948).
  • Party Politics in the West Indies. 2nd ed Imprint Caribbean, San Juan, Trinidad 1984 ( Nachdr d ed 1962).
  • The Black Jacobins. Toussaint L' Ouverture and the independence of the Haitian Revolution ( "The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L' Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution"). Publisher Pahl - Rugenstein, Cologne 1984, ISBN 3-7609-0911-6 ( Small library; 341 ).
  • State Capitalism and World Revolution. Kerr Publ, Chicago, Ill., 1986, ISBN 0-88286-079-8 ( Nachdr d ed New York 1950).
  • World Revolution 1917-1936. The Rise and Fall of the Communist International. Kraus Reprint, Nendeln 1970 ( Nachdr d ed London 1937).
  • Scott McLemee, Paul Le Blanc ( eds.): CLR James and Revolutionary Marxism. Selected Writings of C. L. R. James, 1939-1949. Humanity Books, Amherst, NY 1994, ISBN 1-5739-2371-0 ( paperback edition ).

Pictures of C. L. R. James