Notes on Dialectics: Hegel, Marx, Lenin


C.L.R. James is one of the leading Marxist interpreters of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle in the 20th century. Famous for his literary and cultural, as well as theoretical, writings, his thinking engaged with a vast range of issues including civil rights, race, class, socialism, cricket, and cultural production.

Notes on Dialectics, first published in 1948, is his key theoretical work. It is one of the most complex and original Marxist documents ever to come out of the U.S., where James lived for 15 years. It provides a thorough reexamination of of the Hegelian foundations of Marxist theory and a new interpretation of the history of the labor movement through a close engagement with Hegel’s Logic.

To this day, the book represents a brilliant example of a living, productive engagement with Marxist theory and politics. Its influence has been deeply felt through privately circulated mimeographed editions. This edition, with a new introduction from leading James scholars, ensures that this classic books will continue to reach a new generation of scholars and students of Marxist theory as well as activists.

James aims at making Hegel’s Logic — a thorough study of which Lenin saw as essential for understanding Marx’s Capital — ‘a part of our Marxist thinking today’. Close textual and explanatory reference to the Science of Logic itself, and to Marx’s and Lenin’s use of ‘dialectic’, provide a conceptual framework for examining the history of the workers’ movement and the Internationals; and James concludes that Trotsky’s Marxism, that of the Fourth International, was inadequate for the post-war world.

This book’s central and prophetic concerns—the revolutionary nature of the proletariat, the state and the party—are just as important in the present world crisis as they were when it was first written.


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