Just finished Living For Change by Grace Lee Boggs, which will become my book to recommend for any activists going through burnout. She goes from philosophy student to hardcore Trot to being at the frontlines of the Black liberation struggle. She organized events for Malcolm to speak at in Detroit, authored books by C.L.R. James, was asked for marriage by Kwame Nkrumah, and married and worked with James Boggs for decades. Her book rocks socks and is inspiring. I'm not a reviewer and I can't do it justice. You can find the book and some of her more recent work at the Boggs Center
In other inspiring news, read some of Tony Bogues' "Black Heretics, Black Prophets: Radical Political Intellectuals," namely the beginning of his stuff on Walter Rodney. Added some new stuff (including different front pictures!) such as June Jordan's speech on the 1991 gulf war
, The League of Revolutionary Black Workers: A Historical Study
by Max Stanford/Muhammad Ahmad, a letter from Ellen Willis
, the lyrics to Strange Fruit
, King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail
, and Huey Newton's statement on the women's liberation movement and the gay liberation movement
. Also, some Mary Lease
Future updates are going to include some of Rodney's "Marxism in Africa" essay/talk and selected oral histories from "Even the Women fight" from vietnamese women. What I'm looking for includes:
1) Walter Rodney's Sign Of The Times speech (his last one) as well as his "Some thoughts on the political economy of the caribbean" talk.
2) mp3 or wav. audio of Fred Hampton or James Boggs.
3) A much more extended audio section.
4) I'd be surprised if Malcolm's message to the grassroots isn't up here within a week.
5) more Max Stanford/ Muhammad Ahmad work. If you're wondering why I'm so interested in him all of a sudden, type his name into google. He pivoted in an interesting place at a time I'm very interested by.
6)an OCR program for Macs. Does this even exist.
7) a significant chunk of Walter Rodney speaks.
Here's the Beginning of Marxism in Africa, to whet the appetite (I'm typing the whole thing in):
First of all we must understand the background of this kind of debate. When is asked to speak on the relevance of Marxism to Africa at this particular point in time, one is being asked to involve oneself in a historical debate, an ongoing debate in this country, particularly among the Black population. It is a debate which has heightened over the last year and, from my own personal observations, is being waged in a large number of places across this country. Sometimes it appears in the guise of the so-called nationalist versus the marxist; sometimes it appears in the guise of those who claim to espouse a class position as opposed to those who claim to espouse a race position. Thus it would not be possible for us in a single session to enter into all the ramifications of that debate but it does form the background for our discussions.
It is an important debate, it is an important fact that such issues are being debated in this country today, just as they're being debated in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America and in many parts of the metropolitan world, in western Europe and in Japan, because the widespread nature of the debate and its intensity at this time is a reflection of the crisis in the capitalist-imperialist mode of production. Ideas and discussions do not just drop from the sky. It is not simply a plot on the part of certain individuals to engage others in a meaningless-debate. Whatever the outcome of the debate, whatever the posture the different participants adopt, the very fact of the debate is representative of the crisis in capitalism and imperialism today and, as the crisis deepens, people find it more and more difficult to accept the old modes of thought which rationalize the system which is collapsing; hence the need to search for new directions and, quite clearly, Marxism and Scientific Socialism pose themselves as one of the most obvious available options.
The question is not new to Africa or to the black people as a whole - that is perhaps essential to understand. Many of us have before raised the question of the relevance of Marxism to this or that. Its relevance to Europe; many European intellectuals debated its relevance to their own society. Its relevance to Asia was debated by Asians; and, to look at it geographically, its relevance to Latin America was debated by Latin Americans. Individuals have debated the relevance of Marxism to their own time. Was it relevant to the 19th century? If so, was it still relevant to the 20th century. One can debate its relevance to a given facet of the culture of a society, or to its law or culture as a whole. These are all issues that have been debated before and we should have some sense of history when we approach this question today, because with that sense of history we can ask, why it is that the question of the relevance of Marxism always crops up? And, a very brief answer. I would suggest that what is common to the abdication of the question is, first of all, a condition of crisis, a condition of struggle, a condition in which people are dissatisfied with the dominant mode of perceiving reality. At that point they ask about the relevance of Marxism.
More than that, the second condition is people do ask the question because of their own bourgeois framework. Because one starts out located within the dominant mode of reasoning, which is the mode of reasoning that supports capitalism and which we will call a bourgeois framework of perception, because one starts out that way, it becomes necessary to raise the question of Marxism. After one is advanced, it is probably more accurate to raise the question of the relevance of bourgeois thought because the shoe would be on the other foot! But initially it is true that however much the bourgeoisie disagree, there is one common uniting strand to all bourgeois thought: they make common cause in questioning the relevance, the logic, and so on, of Marxist thought. And therefore, in a sense, unfortunately, when we ask that question, we are also fitting into that framework and pattern. We are also, in some way, still embedded to a greater or lesser extent in the framework of bourgeois thought, and from that framework we ask with a great degree of hesitancy and uncertainty, what is the relevance of Marxism.
It is particularly true in our parts of the world, that is, the English-speaking parts of the world, because the Anglo-American tradition is one of intense hostility philosophically speaking, towards Marxism, a hostility that manifests itself by trying to dissociate itself even from the study of Marxism. If you were to check on the continental tradition of Europe, you would find it is not the same. French, German and Belgian intellectuals whatever their perspective, understand the importance of Marxism. They study it, they relate to it, they understand the body of thought which is called Marxism and they take a position vis-a-vis that body of thought. In the english tradition, which was also handed down to this part of the world, to the Caribbean, to many parts of Africa it is fashionable to disavow any knowledge of Marxism. It is fashionable to glory in one's ignorance, to say that we are against Marxism. When pressed about it one says but why bother to read it? It is obviously absurd. So one knows it is absurd without reading it and one doesn't read it because one knows it is absurd, and therefore one, as I said, glories in one's ignorance of the position. It is rather difficult to seriously address the question about the relevance of Marxism unless one does the basic minimum of accepting that one should attempt to enter into the full body of thought, because it is a tremendous body of literature and analysis, and from the outside as it were, it is extremely difficult, indeed, I would say it is pointless, strictly from the outside, without ever having moved towards trying to grapple with what it is, to ask what is its relevance is almost an unaswerable question, and I think in all modesty, those of us who come from a certain background, and we all come from that background, one of the first things we have to do is establish a basis of familiarity with the different intellectual traditions, and as we become familiar with them we can then be in a better position to evaluate Marxism's relevance or irrelevance as the case might be.
Now I will proceed on the assumption that what we are trying to discern in this discussion is whether the variants of time and place are relevant or, let me put it another way, whether the variants of time and place, make a difference to whether Marxism is relevant or not. In a sense we would almost have to assume its validity for the place in which it originated, western Europe. We don't have the time to deal with that in detail. But we can then ask, assuming that Marxism has a relevance, has a meaning, has an applicability to western Europe, or had in the 19th century, to what extent does its validity extend geographically? To what extent does it validity extend across time? These are two variable, time and place, and those can be translated to mean historical circumstances, time - and culture, which means place, and what social and cultural conditions exist in each particular place. For us, to make it more precise, black people, no doubt, well-meaning Black people, will ask the question whether an ideology which was historically generated within the culture of western Europe in the 19th century is, today, still valid for another part of the world, namely Africa, or the Caribbean or Black people in this country; whether is is valid to other societies at other times? And this is the kind of formulation which I wish to present (for discussion).