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Raya Dunayevskaya 1972

On C.L.R. James Notes on Dialectics


I typed James Notes on t!e Dialectic" #ack in 19$%. &t t!at time I t!ou'!t it (as ')eat*" #ut to t!ink t!at some (!o claim to ()ite not e+planations" o, t!e dialectic* #ut di)ectly t!e dialectic itsel," -1. (ould conside) t!at out o, t!e past t(o c)itical decades* not!in' !ad eme)'ed t!at (ould demand !e )e()ite it* is su)ely sta'nant t!inkin'* especially (!en one !as ended on somet!in' so ,a) ,)om )eality as/ 0!e 1talinists a)e ove)2)unnin' C!ina. 0!ey aim at 3u)ma* 4o)ea* t!e 5alay 1tates* Indonesia* Indo2C!ina and India." 6p. 2278 0!e st)uctu)e o, t!ese 227 pa'es is ve)y lopsided* indeed. 0!us* no less t!an 79 pa'es a)e devoted to t!e :)e,aces o, ;e'els 1cience o, Lo'ic* #ut t!e (!ole Doct)ine o, 3ein' )ates a me)e 7 1<2 pa'es. 0!e Doct)ine o, =ssence 6pp. 7$211%8 (ould seem to !ave 'otten a mo)e se)ious t)eatment* e+cept t!at a )eadin' o, it s!o(s t!at James #e'an skippin' as soon as !e )eac!ed >)ound 6(!ic! is #a)ely 1ection One* muc! less 1ections 0(o and 0!)ee8. Neve)t!eless* since (e do !e)e !ave t!e advanta'e t!at t!e )e,e)ences a)e to !isto)ic pe)iodsnot only 19$%* ?1&* #ut )oamin' t!)ou'!out t!e (o)ld ,)om t!e =n'lis! Revolution o, 17$@2$% t!)ou'! t!e >)eat A)enc! Revolution* and do(n to today*" at (!ic! point t!e aut!o) sends us on a Leninist Inte)lude" 6p.9%8 (!ic! is ,ollo(ed as soon as !e ends (it! =ssence 6p.11%8 #y continuin' into Leninism and t!e Notion" 6p.1B$8(e can at least 'et to kno( (!at James t!inks. O4* t!at is a ')eat num#e) o, pa'es and contains a se)ious study o, Lenin. 3ut t!at analysis is st)ictly political. 0!e aut!o) o#viously did not kno( Lenins :!ilosop!ic Note#ooks. ;e)e is !o( !e )e,e)s to t!em. 6p.998 I )emem#e) on my Cou)neys #et(een 5issou)i and Ne( Do)k* stoppin' at Eas!in'ton and R-aya. callin' out an at2 si'!t t)anslation ,)om Lenins Russian notes* and my sc)i##lin' t!em do(n. I still !ave t!e note#ook. I 'ot plenty* #ut not nea)ly enou'!." 0!at ce)tainly is t)ue. 0!e only t(o Fuotations James )e,e)s to a)e t!e ones Lenin ()ites on Leap" a'ainst ')adualness* and !is e+citement a#out t!e dialectic as 5ovement and sel,2movement" 6()on'ly att)i#uted #y James to t!e )ema)ks in t!e Doct)ine o, =ssence (!e)eas Lenin !ad made t!ese conclusions lon' #e,o)e !e

#attled (it! t!e Doct)ine o, =ssence.8 0!is is no simplistic matte) a#out Fuotations." 0!e point is t!at t!e one leap" James makes is in t!e Doct)ine o, =ssence* and so in love is !e (it! ;e'els p)o,ound analysis o, Cont)adiction t!at even in t!e 1971 edition"-2. !e !as t!e t!i)d O#se)vation #y ;e'el )etyped as &ppendi+." 3ut* as James keeps )epeatin' ove) and ove) a'ain* t!at (as not t!e ne(" ,o) ou) a'e* ,o) ou) 0endencyG-B. !is task (as supposed to #e to (o)k out t!e Doct)ine o, t!e Notion. 3ut t!e only 6and it is t!e ac!ievement* t!e only one James can c!alk up8 (o)kin' out" is t!e )eco'nition t!at Lenins slo'an* to a man*" (as t!e ne( ?nive)sal. 3ut (!at does !e do (it! t!e doct)ine o, t!e Notion and* on t!at (!ic! !e speci,ied as !is 'oal* t!at is* t!e )elations!ip #et(een spontaneity and o)'aniHationI Eell* ,i)st* !e says* Ee !ave to 'et !old o, t!e Notion o, t!e &#solute Idea* #e,o)e (e can see t!is )elation #et(een o)'aniHation and spontaneity in its conc)ete t)ut!." 6p.1198 0!en 6pp.119219@8* (!e)e !e is supposed to develop t!e matte)* (e 'et no ,u)t!e) t!an a !eavy )eliance on =n'els Dialectics o, Natu)e/ =n'els !as (!at is in my modest opinion a ve)y satis,yin' passa'e on t!e Cud'ment." 6p.1218 ;e #a)ely )eac!es ,u)t!e) t!an Cust t!e cate'o)ies t!emselves/ ?nive)sal* :a)ticula)* Individual. &s usual* Cust as !e comes to a di,,icult passa'e in ;e'el* !e depa)ts to t!e :a)ticula)* in t!is case 0)otskys t!eo)y o, pe)manent )evolution. ?n,o)tunately* t!ou'! !e ac!ieves somet!in' #y applyin'" t!e ,i+ed pa)ticula) to 0)otskys t!eo)y o, nationaliHed p)ope)tyJsocialism* !e seems to #e a#le to do not!in' at all (it! !is t!eo)y o, pe)manent )evolution. Indeed* !e no( claims t!at t!e peasant)y is t!e )evolutiona)y ,o)ce* (!ic! !e discove)ed. Det* as (e can see ,)om t!ese Notes* #ack in 19$%* !e leaves out enti)ely t!at c)itical Fuestion* t!e )ole o, t!e peasant)y on (!ic! 0)otsky (as most assu)edly al(ays ()on'. 3ut (!at !e claims in 1971 (as t!e ,u)t!est ,)om !is mind in 19$%. &s ,o) ;e'el !imsel, on t!e Doct)ine o, t!e Notion* !e !a)dly 'oes #eyond t!at ,i)st c!apte) 6p.297 to #e e+act8-$..;e !ad taken so many inte)ludes on politics* (it!out ans(e)in' !is Fuestion E!at Ee 1!all Do*" at (!ic! point !e does de,ine 0)otsky as 1ynt!etic Co'nition" 6pp.19721728. &t t!at point it (ould appea)* (e (ill deal (it! &#solute Idea* i, not (it! all t!at comes #et(een p.297 and p.$77. 3ut !e)e (e !ave an a#undance o, Fuotations (it! !a)dly anyt!in' di)ect" ,)om James* unless #y

di)ectly" James meant Fuotin' ;e'el di)ectly. Eell and 'oodK 3ut t!e misplaced paean o, p)aise to =n'els !a)dly s!o(s James kno(s muc! a#out t!e &#solute Idea* ,o) it is #utt)essed #y/ =n'els !as summed it up once and ,o) all* despite all t!at mode)n p!ilosop!e)s ()ite/ t!e ,undamental distinction in p!ilosop!y is t!e p)imacy o, mate)ialism* #ein'* o) idealism<kno(in'." 6pp.17227B8 Is t!at allI &nd i, t!at is all on t!e dialectic* t!en (!at a#out James o(n 'oal a#out spontaneity and o)'aniHationI 0!e :a)ty is t!e kno(in' o, t!e p)oleta)iat as #ein'. Eit!out t!e pa)ty t!e p)oleta)iat kno(s not!in'." 6p.1728 0!at sounds a#solutely un#elieva#le in vie( o, t!e ,act t!at t!e (!ole section is* )i'!tly* devoted to t!e e+pose o, t!e de'ene)acy o, t!e pa)ty and t!e need ,o) spontaneity* al(ays ')eatly p)aised. ;o(* t!en* can suc! !ype)#oles 6so c!a)acte)istic o, James8 commit so ,antastic a cont)adiction as to claim t!at Eit!out t!e pa)ty t!e p)oleta)iat kno(s not!in'"I Im a,)aid you (ill !ave to ask !im. Just suc! nonsensical ,o)mulations peppe) t!e #ook*" and* i, you s!ould call t!is to !is attention* !ell ,ind t!e e+act opposite on some ot!e) pa'e to Fuote* not t!e least o, (!ic! is t!e sudden and endless dive)sion to t!e =n'lis! Revolution o, 17$@2$%* t!en to A)ance 17%929B (!e)e* #elieve it o) not* !e says t!e em#)yo o, state2 capitalism (as #o)nK I must no( 'et #ack to (!y I )e,e))ed to you) lette) as a st)an'e one* (!y James (ould !a)dly app)eciate my advice*" as you put it* and (!y* in 19$%* I did conside) t!e Notes ')eat." It (as* as James does admit on p.1B9 en ,amille"G it se)ved as stimulus to ou)selves" 'ettin' do(n to ;e'el. I* ,o) e+ample* p)omptly 'ot do(n to t)anslatin' Lenins :!ilosop!ic Note#ooks in ()itten ,o)m. I am t!at !al, o, Jo!nson2Ao)est t!at ,ounded t!e state2capitalist 0endency in t!e ?.1. t!at neve) once sepa)ated t!e economic analysis o, t!e ne( sta'e o, (o)ld capitalism ,)om its opposite* t!e sta'e o, (o)ke)s )evolt* and t!us p)esented it as a dialectic unity o, t!e concept o, (o)ld )evolution. >)ace Lee 6Ria 1tone8 (as t!e t!i)d in t!e t)io o, leade)s!ip. 1!e did not occupy a ,o)mal post o, leade) in t!e 1E:* #ut !e) name did appea) on some 0endency documents* and* in any case* s!e (as t!e only one (!o !ad a ,o)mal p!ilosop!ic de')ee and ca))ied on a pe)sonal co))espondence (it! Jo!nson* and c)iticiHed !is Notes on t!e Dialectic as academician." 0!e t!i)d step in t!at di''in' into ;e'el ,ollo(ed in 19$%29@ #et(een James* Lee and mysel,* t!is time on a muc! mo)e p)ecise

level* section #y section in ;e'els 1cience o, Lo'ic and its )elevance ,o) ou) a'e. It stopped in 199@ (!en* on t!e one !and* it all !elped in ,o)mulatin' 1tate Capitalism and Eo)ld Revolution*L and* on t!e ot!e) !and* t!e >ene)al 1t)ike o, 5ine)s (as on. I p)oceeded to Eest Mi)'inia to pa)ticipate in it. 65y )epo)ts on t!at st)ike and )ole o, (omen (e)e pu#lis!ed in 0!e 5ilitant* and t!en* as inte)vie(s (it! mine)s #attlin' &utomation #e,o)e eve) t!at (o)d (as invented* t!ey #ecame pivotal to t!e ,inal c!apte) o, 5a)+ism and A)eedom* &utomation and t!e Ne( ;umanism." 8-9. Ainally* in 199B* (!en 1talin died* I (as elated enou'! to #)eak do(n t!e &#solute Idea as t!e movement ,)om p)actice to t!eo)y and a ne( society. 0!at (as si+ (eeks #e,o)e t!e !isto)ic June 17 =ast >e)man Revolution. 0!ese lette)s o, 5ay 12 and 5ay 2@ 6included in t!e La#o) &)c!ives o, Eayne 1tate ?nive)sity* (!e)e t!e Raya Dunayevskaya Collection is deposited* as ()itten* not as )e()itten #y James some t(o decades a,te) t!e events8 so e+cited >)ace t!at* (it! !e) usual !ype)#oles* s!e ()ote t!at (!at Lenins :!ilosop!ic Note#ooks ac!ieved in 191$* t!e 5ay 12 and 2@ lette)s on t!e &#solute Idea (ould do ,o) t!e 5ovement in 199B. 0!at (as t!e #e'innin' o, t!e end o, t!e Jo!nson2Ao)est 0endency* alt!ou'! t!e actual #)eak2up occu))ed a,te) t!e 'ove)nment decided to make t!e listin'...-7. Dou)s* Raya
L6&DD=ND?5 ()itten July* 1972 RD8

James !ad t(ice )ep)oduced 1tate2Capitalism and Eo)ld Revolution* once in =n'land in 1997* to (!ic! (as attac!ed a ')oup o, names t!at !ad a#solutely not!in' to do (it! its ()itin'* muc! less its state2capitalist t!eo)y and t!e second time* in t!e 197@s unde) !is o(n name* (!ic!* ,o) t!e C.L.R. James o, 1972 )emains t!e ,undamental document. No(* supposin'* ,o) t!e sake o, a)'ument* (e !ad said not!in' a#out t!e ,act t!at it (as not a pe)sonal* #ut a 0endency document* and !ad not made a point a#out t!e ,act t!at Aacin' Reality -7. did not lo'ically ,lo( ,)om it* #ut* in t)ut!* (as p)oduced only a,te) Jo!nson and Ao)est (ent t!ei) sepa)ate (aysG supposin'* ,u)t!e)mo)e* t!at (e also (ould not !ave called attention to t!e ,act t!at #e,o)e t!e t!i)d" 1977 document on t!e peasant)y could #e pu#lis!ed* (!at !ad )emained o, t!e Jo!nsonites" !ad unde)'one still anot!e) split* t!is time (it! >)ace LeeG and supposin'* ,inally* (e allo(ed James to ,o)'et t!e not2so2accidental #)eak (it! !is co2,ounde)!o( could all t!at

possi#y e+plain 18 t!e )ep)oduction o, t!e 0endencys 199@ document* 1tate Capitalism and Eo)ld Revolution as is" as i, t!e su#seFuent t(o c)itical decades !ad p)oduced not!in' ne( in t!e t!eo)y o, state2capitalismG and 28 !o( could it possi#ly a#solve James o, t!e conspi)acy o, silence* not only a)ound 5a)+ism and A)eedom* #ut a#out t!e ,act t!at t!e maCo)ity o, t!e 0endency (!o !ad (o)ked out t!at document !e is so p)oud to keep )ep)oducin' !ad #)oken (it! !im* to esta#lis! t!e 5a)+ist2;umanist pape) edited #y a 3lack p)oduction (o)ke)* t!e 3lack auto (o)ke) (!ose auto#io')ap!y 6Indi'nant ;ea)t8 -%. si'nalled t!e #e'innin' o, t!at ne( dimension t!at made it possi#le* ,inally* to #e totally independent o, 0)otskyismI In a (o)d* 1tate Capitalism and Eo)ld Revolution is old !at not only in t!e sense t!at it (as ()itten in 199@* #ut in t!e mo)e ,undamental sense t!at it (as a)'ued (it!in a 0)otskyist ,)ame(o)k* since t!e 0endency (as t!en still pa)t o, t!e 1E:.

Notes
1. James !ad ()itten to ONeill/ I take t!e li#e)ty o, sendin' you a (o)k o, my o(n...a study o, t!e dialectic o, ;e'el* not e+planations o, t!e dialectic #ut di)ectly t!e dialectic itsel,...I )e')et to say t!at it is t!e only di)ect study o, t!e dialectic t!at I kno(...I am conce)ned (it! t)yin' to ,ind out (!at Fuali,ied people t!ink o, my #ook and t!e possi#ility o, no)mal pu#lication." 2. James called (!at !ad #een mimeo')ap!ed #y A)iends o, Aacin' Reality" in 1971 a second edition" o, !is 19$% (o)k B. C.L.R. James 6J.R. Jo!nson8 and Raya Dunayevskaya 6A)eddie Ao)est8 !ad co2,ounded an opposition 1tate2Capitalist 0endency (it!in t!e &me)ican 0)otskyist movement* (!ic! (as named t!e Jo!nson2Ao)est 0endency in Decem#e) 19$9. $. James )e,e)ence in !is Notes" a)e to ;e'els* 1cience o, Lo'ic* t)anslated #y Jo!nston and 1t)ut!e)s* Mol. II. 9. Ao) a ,ull discussion o, t!e events o, 19$929@* see 0!e Coal 5ine)s >ene)al 1t)ike o, 19$929@ and t!e 3i)t! o, 5a)+ist2 ;umanism in t!e ?.1.* pu#lis!ed #y Ne(s and Lette)s in 19%$.

7. In Decem#e) 199$* at t!e !ei'!t o, 5cCa)t!yism* Jo!nson2 Ao)est (e)e placed on t!e &tto)ney >ene)als su#ve)sive list. Ao) mo)e on t!is pe)iod see 29 Dea)s o, 5a)+ist2;umanism in t!e ?.1.* pp.12$. 7. Aacin' Reality* #y >)ace C. Lee* :ie))e C!aulieu and J.R. Jo!nson* came o,, t!e p)ess in 199%. %. In 197%* t!is 1992 auto#io')ap!y o, C!a)les Den#y appea)ed as :a)t I o, Indi'nant ;ea)t/ & 3lack Eo)ke)s Jou)nal* in :a)t II o, (!ic! Den#y continued !is li,e sto)y a,te) !e #ecame edito) o, t!e 5a)+ist2;umanist Cou)nal* Ne(s N Lette)s.