C.L.R. James viewing an enlargement of the Barbados Cricket Buckle at his home in Brixton, London. 1988. Foto: Hill123.
C.L.R. James viewing an enlargement of the Barbados Cricket Buckle at his home in Brixton, London. 1988. Foto: Hill123. (CC BY-SA 3.0). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

C.L.R. James (1901-1989), vestindisk-britisk-amerikansk socialist, historiker og kulturkritiker. Cyril Lionel Robert James (4. januar 1901 – 31. maj 1989). Født i Tunapuna, Trinidad, britisk koloni og flyttede til London i 1933.




Cyril Lionel Robert James (4. januar 1901 – 31. maj 1989). Født i Tunapuna, Trinidad, britisk koloni og flyttede til London i 1933. Her var han aktiv i den socialistiske og trotskistiske bevægelse og senere i USA (1938-1953, da han blev udvist og tog til England). Han brød med trotskismen i 1950’erne og blev libertær marxist. C.L.R. James spændte bredt: kricketjournalist, litteraturkritiker, politisk aktivist og teoretiker, historiker og tidligt aktiv i de sortes organisering og befrielseskamp.

Se nedenfor om hans klassiske værk The Black Jacobins fra 1938 om Toussaint L’Ouverture og det store slaveoprør på Haiti (1791-1804).

Bjarne A. Frandsen.
Påbegyndt maj 2009. Revideret maj 2019.


Biografier / Biographies


Sites etc

  • C.L.R. James (Libcom.org). “Highly influential Trinidadian libertarian Marxist, part of the US Johnson-Forest and Facing Reality groups. Settled in London after being deported from America in 1953.”
  • Cyril Lionel Robert James (Lubitz Trotskyana Net). Material about selected deceased Trotskyists.
  • C.L.R. James Archive (Marxists Intenet Archive). Biography – Works – Articles and books on Marxism, revolution and black history.
  • C.L.R. James (Wikipedia.org). Writings on cricket, bibliography, external links and further readings.


Artikler om C.L.R. James / Articles about …

Friktion: Magasin for Køn, Krop og Kultur

  • Yannick Nehemiah Antonio Harrison: C.L.R. James – den sorte jakobiner (1. oktober 2016)
    “C.L.R. James var en af det 20. århundredes vigtigste historikere … Følgende er et forsøg på at vise vejen frem mod en sort internationalisme, gennem et engagement med blot én af perioderne i James’ liv – perioden omkring værket The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938).”

Against the Current

  • Jason Schulman: The making of C.L.R. James (Issue 195, July-August 2018). Review of The Young C.L.R. James: A Graphic Novelette. Illustrated by Milton Knight and edited by Paul Buhle and Lawrence Ware (PM Press, 2018, 43 p.): “This pamphlet is a delight … [it] mainly concentrates on the relatively little-known details of James’ early life.”
  • Anthony Bogues: C.L.R. James and his times (Issue 188, May-June 2017). Review of Every Cook Can Govern: The Life, Impact and the Works of C.L.R. James. A Worldwrite documentary “with rare photo montages as well as footage of James himself speaking. This footage and photographs are supplemented with extensive interviews with scholars.”
  • Paul Ortiz: C.L.R. James’ visionary legacy (Issue 156, January-February 2012)
    “C.L.R. James was a product of the African Diaspora. He was the consummate revolutionary and, I believe, by far the most important Marxist for the 21st century.”
  • Grant Farred: C.L.R. James and Anti-/Postcolonialism (No.90, January/February 2001)
    “This essay will focus on two modes of thinking and locales that are dialectically related: the presence and absence of anti-/postcolonialism in James’ work.”
  • Paul Le Blanc: The Marxism of C.L.R. James (No.60, January/February 1996)
    “C.L.R. James offered penetrating analyses on the interrelationships of class, race and gender, and his discussions of colonialism and anti-colonialism could be brilliant. But he also embraced the heritage of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, the working-class and socialist movements of Europe and North America, and the Bolshevism of Lenin and Trotsky …”

The C.L.R. James Institute

  • Anna Grimshaw: C.L.R. James: A revolutionary vision for the 20th century (April 1991, 44 p.; online at Marxists Internet Archive)
    “James’s distinctive contribution to the understanding of civilization emerged from a world filled with war, division, fear, suppression and unprecedented brutality … This theme, what James later called the struggle between socialism and barbarism, was the foundation of his life’s work.”


  • Dave Renton: C.L.R. James (2007; online at Internet Archive)
    “Cyril Lionel Robert James was the great intellectual of the African revolution. He was a friend and inspiration to Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere, the two leaders of the first generation of independence struggles.” About Dave Renton’s book: C.L.R. James: Cricket’s Philosopher King (Haus Books, 2007, 202 p.)

Insurgent Notes

  • Matthew Quest: C.L.R. James on Pan-Africanism (Issue 6, June 2012)
    “A small and dangerous volume, this republication of C.L.R. James’s A History of Pan-African Revolt is a concise survey of Black freedom struggles in the United States, the Caribbean, and on the African continent from 1739–1969.”

International Socialism

  • Rhys Williams: In the belly of the beast (Issue 150, Spring 2016). Review of Christian Høgsbjerg, C L R James in Imperial Britain (Duke University Press, 2014, 312 p.)
    “As Høgsbjerg skilfully shows in this biography, during his six years in the ‘imperial metropole’ James developed a class-based approach to anti-imperialism and the liberation struggles of colonial people.”
  • CLR James and the Black Jacobins (Issue 126, Spring 2010, p.95-120)
    “Christian Høgsbjerg discusses The Black Jacobins, CLR James’s path-breaking history of the great Haitian Revolution of the late 18th century.”
  • Christian Høgsbjerg: C L R James: the revolutionary as artist (Issue 112, Autumn 2006)
    “I will give a necessarily condensed overview of his life, in particular focusing on his early political thought, before turning to the question of how Marxists today might try to build on the best elements of James’s rich and inspiring legacy.”

Irish Marxist Review

Christian Høgsbjerg: CLR James and the Irish revolutionary tradition (Vol.8, No.23, 2019, p.60-62)
“… in 1934 James would have begun to meet Irish radicals and nationalists in London at various meetings.”

Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

Vincenzo Maria Di Mino: C.L.R. James and Revolutionary Marxism (12 June 2019). Review of Scott McLemee and Paul Le Blanc (eds.), C.L.R. James and Revolutionary Marxism: Selected Writings of CLR James, 1939-1949 (Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2018, 272 p.) “The themes that emerge from the writings essentially belong to topics of apical importance in the economy of the thought of the revolutionary.”

Monthly Review

  • Yasmin Nair: Cricket and revolutions: C.L.R. James’s early British years (Vol.66, No.10, March 2015). Review of Christian Høgsbjerg, C.L.R. James in Imperial Britain (Duke University Press, 2014, 294 p.). See the books Introduction (Scribd.org) + review by Brian Richardson (Socialist Review, Issue 392, June 2014)
  • Paul Buhle: The neglected C.L.R. James (Vol.52, No.5, October 2000). Review of Martin Glaberman, Marxism for Our Times: C. L. R. James on Revolutionary Organization (Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 1999)
    “Martin Glaberman, a longtime disciple who maintained several groups in Detroit around James’ ideas, gives us material that has practically never seen the light of day.”

New Politics

  • C.L.R. James on Oliver Cox’s Caste, Class, and Race (Issue 60, Winter 2016). With Introduction by Derrick White and Paul Ortiz + C.L.R. James’s 1971 review article: “The Class Basis of the Race Question in the United States.”
  • Kent Worcester: Renegades and Castaways (Issue 57, Summer 2014). Review of three books by Christian Høgsbjerg.
    “More than any other contemporary writer on James, Christian Høgsbjerg appreciates how provisional and incomplete our understanding of this intellectual agenda has actually been. Given the proliferation of fresh editions of James’s books and essays, and the availability of several biographies, it would seem as if this ground would have been thoroughly canvassed. But the gaps are enormous …”

New Society

  • David Widgery: A meeting with comrade James (June 26, 1980; online at Marxists Internet Archive)
    “To the best of my ability, I have attempted not to hero-worship this man who, if Marxists believed in such things, would be the greatest living Marxist.”


  • Kenan Malik: Beyond a Boundry (May 19, 2013)
    “This year marks the 50th anniversary of CLR James’ wonderful, groundbreaking work Beyond a Boundary. To call it a book about cricket is a bit like calling cricket a ‘game’. Beyond the Boundary blends politics and memoir, history and journalism, biography and reportage, in a manner that transcends literary, sporting and political boundaries.”
  • Kenan Malik: CLR James, Frantz Fanon and the meaning of liberation (April 16, 2012)
    “Novelist and orator, philosopher and cricketer, historian and revolutionary, Trotskyist and Pan-Africanist – there are few modern figures who can match his intellectual depth, cultural breadth or sheer political contrariness.”


The revolutionary answers of C.L.R. James (September 11, 2020)
“Bill Mullen argues the works of Trinidadian socialist and revolutionary C.L.R. James help us grapple with the key debates in the Black Lives Matter movement, and argues the need for anti-racist organising to be at the centre of the struggle against capitalism.”

Revolutionary History

  • Anna Grimshaw: CLR James (1901-1989) (Vol.2, No.3, Autumn 1989)
    “… we could label the five main periods of James’s life as follows: 1901-32 Trinidad, the making of a colonial intellectual; 1932-38 Britain, Trotskyist and Pan-Africanist; 1938-53 America, Marxist theoretician and Black activist; 1953-66 Africa and the Caribbean, the struggle for independence; 1967-89 International, teacher and mentor.”
  • CLR James and British Trotskyism (1986)
    An interview given by CLR James to Al Richardson, Clarence Chrysostom and Anna Grimshaw on Sunday 8th June & 16th November 1986 in South London.

Searchlight South Africa

  • Baruch Hirson: Communinalism and socialism in Africa: the misdirection of C.L.R. James  (No.4, February 1990, p.64-73; online at Marxists Internet Archive)
    “James straddled two political philosophies: that of nationalism in his African writings, and that of Marxism in his writings on Europe.”

Socialist Challenge

  • Tariq Ali and C.L.R. James: A conversation (3 July 1980; online at Marxists Internet Archive)
    “He is presently in London for the publication of a number of his writings by Allison and Busby, including a revised edition of his classic The Black Jacobins. I met him last week in his hotel room. He stipulated one condition for the interview. It must end as the Second Test Match began, as he did not want to miss a single minute of cricket.”


  • Paul Buhle: Uncovering a C.L.R. James treasure trove (March 19, 2018)
    Review of C.L.R. James and Revolutionary Marxism: Selected Writings of C.L.R. James, 1939-49, edited by Scott McLemee and Paul Le Blanc (Haymarket Books, 2018, 238 p./Humanity Books, 1994). “This reprint of essays and documents restores to readers a valuable and interesting text that is both relevant today and a part of socialist history that is barely understood.”
  • Don Lash: The lessons of cricket (April 16, 2014)
    “In addition to its lessons about sports, C.L.R. James’ memoir about cricket explains a lot about the political development of the great revolutionary.”
  • On the stage of history (February 21, 2013)
    “In his column for Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee reviews a recently rediscovered play written by the great historian and revolutionary C.L.R. James.”
  • Save the C.L.R. James library (September 23, 2010)
    “Scott McLemee explains the legacy of writer and historian C.L.R. James – and why people are challenging the renaming of the C.L.R. James Library in London.”


By Alex Callinicos (Open University Press, 1990)

  • Chapter 4.2: C.L.R. James and the virtues of spontaneity
    “C.L.R. James is one of the most important counter-examples to the charge of Eurocentrism sometimes made against the Trotskyist movement … James was, however, in a class all his own.”

Urgent Tasks

  • C.L.R. James: His life and work (Issue 12, Summer 1981; online at Marxists Internet Archive)
    “[It] provides an invaluable perspective on the rich diversity of James’s work, assessed in articles, memoirs, interviews and reviews by a wide range of well-respected contributors.” See Introduction by Paul Buhle.

Workers’ Liberty

  • What is Trotskyism? The debate on our fragmented traditions: Max Shachtman, Hal Draper, C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya (4 May, 2007)


Bogen The Black Jacobins

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. By C.L.R. James (1938, rev. ed. 1963)
The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. By C.L.R. James (1938, rev. ed. 1963)


The book online (pdf) (Libcom.org)
See also selections from the book:

Jackqueline Frost: Revolutions of the past and future (Radical Philosophy, Issue 8, Autumn 2020). Review of Rachel Douglas, Making The Black Jacobins: C.L.R. James and the Drama of History (Duke University Press, 2019, 320 p.)
“[The book] synthesises the many versions and marginalia of James’ work on the Haitian Revolution.” See also interview with Rachel Douglas: How C.L.R. James wrote the definitive history of the Haitian Revolution (Jacobin, January 4, 2021).

The Black Jacobins: the Haitian revolution against slavery (Workers’ Liberty, 26 August 2020)
“This is a speech by Dan Davison for a talk on C.L.R. James and the Haitian Revolution held in July 2020.”

Brian Richardson: The Black Jacobins Reader (Socialist Review, Issue 424, May 2017)
Review of Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg’s (eds.) book (Duke University Press, 2017, 464 p.). See the book online (Libcom.org).
“This collection of essays emerged out of a conference held to mark the 70th anniversary of The Black Jacobins’s publication.”

Yannick Nehemiah Antonio Harrison: C.L.R. James – den sorte jakobiner (Friktion: Magasin for Køn, Krop og Kultur, 1. oktober 2016)
“Følgende er et forsøg på at vise vejen frem mod en sort internationalisme, gennem et engagement med blot én af perioderne i James’ liv – perioden omkring værket The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938).”

Kenan Malik: CLR James the Black Jacobins (Kenanmalik.com, 17 August 2010)
“‘The Black Jacobins’, the story of the Haitian Revolution and of its tragically flawed leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, is James’ masterpiece. An extraordinary synthesis of novelistic narrative and factual reconstruction.”

CLR James and the Black Jacobins (International Socialism, Issue 126, Spring 2010, p.95-120)
“Christian Høgsbjerg discusses ‘The Black Jacobins’, CLR James’s path-breaking history of the great Haitian Revolution of the late 18th century.”

Classics of Marxism: The Black Jacobins (International Socialist Review, Issue 63, January-February 2009)
“Ashley Smith reviews C. L. R. James’s classic account of Haiti’s slave revolt.”

Manuel Yang: The Black Jacobins 70 years later (MR Online, February 3, 2008)
“This classic account of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803 is one of the greatest books in the twentieth century.”

David Renton: Man’s unconquerable mind: CLR James and The Black Jacobins   (Dkrenton.co.uk, 24 March 2007; online at Internet Archive)
“The book has had a very wide audience, wherever similar struggle haves remained alive. The censors of apartheid South Africa would later ban The Black Jacobins.”


Se også / See also:

C.L.R. James’ anti-stalinistiske bog fra 1937 (online): World Revolution 1917-1936: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International. With an Introduction to 1993 Humanities Press Edition by Al Richardson. See also new edition introduced by Christian Høgsberg (Duke University Press, 1975, 544 p.). With Introduction online (p.1-57) + review by Chris Gilligan (Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, 2 May 2018).


Se på Socialistisk Bibliotek / See at Socialist Library: