Notes on Dialectic is the only extant full-length manuscript in C.L.R. James's handwriting. It was written by James between late September and early November 1948 in Nevada whence James had gone to obtain a divorce. James was employed as a landscaper and handyman at the Pyramid Lake Ranch, located on the Indian reservation at Pyramid Lake, Nevada, and worked on the manuscript in the evenings and on weekends.
According to Robert Hill, Professor of History at UCLA and Executor of the James Estate, the purpose of the manuscript was to educate the members of James’s political organization in the Hegelian and Marxist dialectic and to work out the political premises of the coming stage of revolutionary struggle on the part of the modern working-class following the end of World War II.
“In the manuscript James outlined with great clarity and prescience the course that within a few short years the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 would take against the oppressive state-capitalist bureaucracy imposed by the Soviet Union. There is no other work of its kind within either European or American Marxism,” further explained Hill.
The acquisition of Notes on Dialectic complements the extensive collection of James's papers acquired by the Library in September 2007. The arrival of the James Papers at Columbia marks the beginning of a major, multi-year initiative to further build the collection and encourage research into it. An announcement about the acquisition of the James Papers can be found at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/news/libraries/2007/2007-09-28.james.html.
When cataloged and processed, the C. L. R. James Papers will be available for research. For more information, call the RBML at 212-854-2232.
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