WORKING CLASS SUBJECTIVITY, RICHARD WRIGHT, CLR JAMES
glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Thu Feb 8 19:28:43 MST 1996
Ralph Dumain wrote:
> The writings of James and Dunayevskaya also need to be understood
> as a struggle against the Trotskyism in which they were immersed,
> as well as against Stalinism.
Historically, it is certainly true that the J-F tendency was a revolt in
part against Trotsky, and the SWP leadership under J.P. Cannon which held
that the USSR was a "degenerated workers state" which had to be defended
against imperialist invasion. It seems that there were other differences
as well, but the "split question" was over "state capitalism" I think.
> I would not underestimate novelists. Some of them have been very
> philosophically astute, such as Richard Wright and James T.
No doubt, but that's more your field than mine.
> I would say that literature and philosophy are two
> methods by which to explore the nature of character and its
> relation to environment. It's possible to be able to have a
> command of both methodologies even if one chooses one of them to
> work in.
Sounds like a rich line of investigation.
> I've never read Sartre's novels, by the way. Are they
> any good?
Can't really say. Others on the li*st would probably be able to speak to
> Creative writers of all kinds are often very conceptually
> sophisticated. I think that is because their medium is language
> and they constantly have to think about how to express everything
> verbally. Years ago I used to work in the areas of dance and
> theater. Dancers, actors, and musicians are not intellectuals.
They *can* be.
> Do you know about the
> intellectual influences on Wright -- Kierkegaard, Husserl,
> surrealism, and eventually his friendship with Sartre and
> One remarkable thing about Johnson-Forest was their constant
> emphasis on workers' resistance rather than on victimage and
> dehumanization at the hands of the system. Sometimes I too think
> James's optimism is unreal, but there is a way of looking at
> reality behind it and a conscious choice that is made.
I think that most revolutionaries are optimists. I suppose it is a
character trait which is necessary for surviving certain periods. I also
believe that most Marxist organizations are optimistic programmatically.
Here's where I think there *can* be a problem. Revolutionaries, and
people in general, need hope. But, their political judgment should not be
clouded by their optimism.
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