” Facing reality” CLR James and Grace Lee Boggs

book facing_reality

Marxist who can think critically & self-critically are vital to the Socialist movement

I called this blog “Facing Reality” simply because I’d heard a little of those Marxists around CLR James and Raya Dunayevskaya who’d rejected the more authoritarian aspects influencing Marxism in the 1950s.

Facing Reality, the book, is available, complete, here

You can now like my facebook page.

I also discovered, initially as a pseudonym for my facebook profile, Grace Boggs, a Chinese American woman and a key part of the Facing Reality group.

But it turned out she’s still alive and at 98 is still involved in radical politics in Detroit!. 

She’s even had a film made about her called What does it mean to be an American revolutionary today?

I’ve reproduced here a piece from Libcom. No doubt the link to libcom and the political path of CLR James and co after they moved away from Trotskyism will be seized on by some of proof that I’ve drifted all over the place since I left the SWP in March 2013. I prefer to have a wide range of ideas debated, especially now.

Writing in collaboration with Cornelius Castoriadis and Grace Lee, James examines the practical process of social revolution in the modern world.

“Springing forth from the utopian flames of self-emancipation kindled by the workers councils of the Hungarian Revolution, this pivotal book offers a socialist indictment of the miserabilism of state capitalism and calls for the ongoing rejection of both vanguardism and the bureaucratic rationalism of state power.” – Ron Sakolsky, author of Creating Anarchy

In this celebrated “underground classic,” also known as “C. L. R. James’s most anarchist book,” the author of The Black Jacobins, History of Pan-African Revolt and Beyond a Boundary examines the practical process of social revolution in the modern world. Inspired by the October 1956 Hungarian workers’ revolution against Stalinist oppression, as well as the U.S. workers’ “wild-cat” strikes (against Capital and the union bureaucracies), James and his co-authors looked ahead to the rise of new mass emancipatory movements by African Americans as well as anti-colonialist/anti-imperialist currents in Africa and Asia. Virtually alone among the radical texts of the time, Facing Reality also rejected modern society’s mania for “conquering nature,” and welcomed women’s struggles “for new relations between the sexes.”

First published in 1958 by a tiny group of James’s supporters in Detroit, Facing Reality was popularized by the Chicago Rebel Worker group, Solidarity Bookshop, and other anti-authoritarians all through the 1960s. Later taken up by the SDS journal Radical America in its early IWW/surrealist-oriented period, Facing Reality became -like the works of Herbert Marcuse and E. P. Thompson -one of the most discussed and debated books of revolutionary theory in the late 20th century.

This new 21st-century edition includes a new introduction by James’s longtime friend, John H. Bracey, situating the book in its 1950s/60s context, and accenting its continued relevance in our time.

“Among the most forward-looking books of the 1950s, Facing Reality is not only a merciless critique of the reactionary rationalism that then passed for Marxism, but also a passionate celebration of workingclass creativity and revolutionary internationalism at their inspired best.” -Franklin Rosemont, author of Revolution in the Service of the Marvelous (2004).

“Facing Reality was written in response to specific historical circumstances half a century ago, but recent events insist on reminding us why issues of class, race, state authority, and military aggression are as urgent now as they were in 1958. It is a keen and relevant text for readers of today who are troubled by the globalized violence of neoliberal avarice and neoconservative hubris. Facing Reality poses the kinds of questions about freedom that need to be asked openly and repeatedly during miserable times.” – Don LaCoss, co-editor of Surrealism, Politics & Culture (2003)

One thought on “” Facing reality” CLR James and Grace Lee Boggs

  1. Great read, your blog is really interesting. I thought you might be interested in ‘Filmed Public Lecture: The Abolition of Slavery Debate’. An alternative lecture and discussion on factors which lead to the end of slavery. Were C.L.R James and Eric Williams right? Despite its profits, was slavery an inherently unstable system and outdated mode of production? With slaves dying like flies and rebellion on the cards was abolition ultimately a matter of economics? What role did moral objections play and what did William Wilberforce really have to do with it?
    In his seminal work Black Jacobins C.L.R. James tells us “Despite the names that were to become so famous….we must beware of thinking that the ‘Friends of the Negro’ represented a force.”
    Eric Williams in his book Capitalism and Slavery tells us “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”
    The education charity WORLDwrite and its Citizen TV station WORLDbytes are delighted to be hosting this filmed public lecture on Wednesday 27th May at 7.00pm at the exciting venue, known as Chats Palace, (42-44 Brooksby’s Walk, London E9 6DF. see google map ). The lecture will be introduced by journalist, lecturer and author James Heartfield and forms part of the charity’s multi-media project on C.L.R. James entitled, ‘Every Cook Can Govern: Documenting the life, impact & works of C.L.R. James’.
    Please arrive in time for drinks and complimentary snacks. The entrance fee will help towards venue and film costs for this exciting event.

    Tickets cost £7/£4 for this event and as spaces are limited, it is wise to book as soon as possible.

    Tickets can be booked online via

    For more details about the project visit our website http://www.clrjames.uk/ or get in touch via emailworld.write@btconnect.com

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