T.A. JACKSON & 1930S BRITISH COMMUNISM

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Mon Feb 19 20:26:37 MST 1996


For some reason, while my eyes grazed my bookshelves momentarily
today, I was moved to pull out my raggedy, old yet still unread
copy of DIALECTICS by T.A. Jackson (International Publishers,
1936).  I keep in on the shelf with my literature on sociology of
knowledge, autodidacts, and my other Commonwealth heroes Jack
Lindsay, Christopher Caudwell, and E.P. Thompson.  Jackson was a
British working class autodidact who was active in the Communist
Party in the 1930s.

So I just started to read the opening pages of the book, and I was
spellbound.  Except for the paean to Stalin, it was great stuff,
and I loved the style.  I don't think I am going to find the time
soon to read all 640 pages plus, but I do have some burning
historical questions.  Jackson seems to have filled a vacuum -- he
claims he does at any rate -- in British Marxism.  He claims to
treat of the grossly neglected methodology of Marxism.  He even
starts out with Hegel.  From the beginning the book seems to be
far more sophisticated than the average diamat textbook.

Now here is my questionnaire.  What is the intellectual
relationship between Jackson and the real pros among the CPGB
intellectuals, esp. the scientists, philosophers, and
mathematicians such as J.D. Bernal, J.B.S. Haldane, Lancelot
Hogben, David Guest, Hyman Levy, and such?  Did they read his
work?  Did they respect it?  How does his philosophical work hold
up in comparison with theirs?  Does Jackson cover ground that the
others do not?  Who else in Britain did what Jackson did?

Bonus question.  It is known that C.L.R. James was a holy terror
to the British Communist Party.  But I can't remember what he may
have read of their theoretical literature.  I need to check my own
sources, but has anyone read that anything that says James read
Jackson's work in the 1930s, or indeed other philosophical
literature written by British Communists?


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