9th Mar 2017 6:30pm
G7 Pavilion Parade
Dr Christian Høgsbjerg, University College London.
The Russian Revolution was not only one of the most critical events of the twentieth century in its own right but an inspirational event across the ‘black Atlantic’ as a blow against racism and imperialism. For colonial subjects of European empires internationally as well as black Americans, it promised the hope of a world without oppression and exploitation. This paper will examine the relationship of one black colonial subject, the Trinidadian writer and thinker C.L.R. James (1901-89) - to the Russian Revolution over the course of his life. It will explore James's limited understanding of the Russian Revolution while growing up as a black colonial subject in Trinidad and then his journey to Britain and turn to Trotskyism and research and writing of his pioneering work World Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International (1937) (including down in Brighton). Finally it will explore James's later break with orthodox Trotskyism and critically discuss how his attempt to develop Marxist theory to face up to the realities of the post-Second World War world in works like State Capitalism and World Revolution (1950) led him to emerge as one of the most creative anti-Stalinist socialist theorists of the twentieth century but also crucially fundamentally re-shaped his understanding of both the legacy of Leninism and the place of the Russian Revolution in world history.
Christian is the author of C. L. R. James in Imperial Britain (2014),Mariner, Renegade and Castaway: Chris Braithwaite: Seamen's Organiser, Socialist and Militant Pan-Africanist (2014) and Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions [Revolutionary Lives] (2017)