Item #7967 Why Negroes Should Oppose the War. J. R. Johnson, C. L. R. James.
Why Negroes Should Oppose the War.
Why Negroes Should Oppose the War.

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Johnson, J. R. [C. L. R. James.]

Why Negroes Should Oppose the War.

New York: Pioneer Publishers for the Socialist Workers Party and the Young People’s Socialist League (Fourth International), [1939]. 8vo (8.2” x 5.4”), printed self-wrappers. 30, [1], pp. CONDITION: Very good, light wear, contents bright and clean.

A pamphlet comprising a series of articles on “the Negro and War” that C. L. R. James originally published in the Socialist Appeal (a newspaper published by American Trotskyists from 1935 to 1941). These writings were informed by James’s 1939 conversations with Leon Trotsky in Mexico.

C. L. R. James (1901–1989), who writes here under his pseudonym J. R. Johnson, described the present pamphlet along with the manifesto “A Warning to the Colonial Peoples” (1939) by the British Centre Against Imperialism as “events of major importance in the political crystallization of the Negro instinct for revolutionary struggle.” In this work, James argues that Black people should unite with white workers but also capitalize on the contradictions within white society. He does not consider these actions as opposed to each other but instead as complementary. Both lines of thought are notably present in his 1939 conversations with Leon Trotsky in Mexico (parts of which were transcribed), only a few months after which James is thought to have written the articles comprising Why Negroes Should Oppose the War. While Trotsky saw the Trotskyist Party (the Fourth International) as offering leadership to the Black community (much in the way the Bolsheviks provided guidance to ethnic minorities in Russia during the Russian Revolution), James suggested that the self-organized struggle of African Americans would precipitate a much broader radical social movement. In the section “The Situation in America,” James looks forward to a second civil war in America which will complete the emancipation of Black people. “Negroes in the last civil war made one great step forward, and so, in this coming civil war, the worker’s war, Negroes have a great chance to complete their long journey to full freedom.”

Other sections of the pamphlet include: “Negroes wanted for cannon-fodder”; “Roosevelt's party rules in the South”; “What these Democrats did to Ethiopia”; “The “democratic” rule in Africa”; “Remember what they did in 1914”; “Discrimination in Harlem; Revolutionists no longer rule Russia”; “What happened to Negroes in 1917”; “Soldiers, but Jim-Crowed”; “Uncle Tom Negroes,” and “Real enemy is at Home.”

Pioneer Publishers was the publishing house established by the Communist League of America in 1930. It later served the Socialist Workers Party and in 1965 was replaced by Merit Publishers.

The back wrapper features ads for the weekly Socialist Appeal, the monthly The New International, and The Challenge of Youth, which was published bimonthly.

REFERENCES: James, C. L. R. “The Place of the Negro Is in the Vanguard” at Left Voice online; Martin, Tony. “C. L. R. James and the Race/Class Question” at University of Michigan online. 

Item #7967

Price: $275.00

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