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.

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. 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 1950erne 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


Biografier / Biographies

Sites etc

C.L.R. James with Raya Dunayevskaya and Grace Lee during the 1940s. They were leaders in the Johnson-Forrest Tendency of the Fourth International.
C.L.R. James with Raya Dunayevskaya and Grace Lee during the 1940s. They were leaders in the Johnson-Forrest Tendency of the Fourth International.

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

  • The making of C.L.R. James. By Jason Schulman (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

  • C.L.R. James: A revolutionary vision for the 20th century. By Anna Grimshaw (April 1991, 44 p.)
    “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)
    “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.)
  • 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.”

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.”

Permanent Revolution

  • Obituary: C L R James 1901-1989 (September 2007)
    “James’ legacy is considerable. His cultural work alone makes him an important figure for the new generation … And in developing a Trotskyist pro­gramme for anti-imperialist revo­lution and for black liberation, revolutionary Marxists have to analyse and criticise James’ work. He is a part of our heri­tage – and one of our most formidable opponents.”

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

  • Communinalism and socialism in Africa: the misdirection of C.L.R. James. By Baruch Hirson (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.”


  • Uncovering a C.L.R. James treasure trove. By Paul Buhle (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.”
  • The lessons of cricket. By Don Lash (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

  • Revolutionary Artist. By Stanley Weir (No.12, Summer 1981)
    Personal memory and political history of C.L.R. James.

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) (Online University of the Left, 220 p.)
Selections from the book:

Toussaint Louverture, leader of the Haitian revolution (Charnel-House, May 20, 2017). “You can read a number of books, essays, and articles by clicking on the links below.” Inclusive C.L.R. James’ book etc.

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

C.L.R. James – den sorte jakobiner. Af Yannick Nehemiah Antonio Harrison (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).”

CLR James the Black Jacobins. By Kenan Malik (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.”

The Black Jacobins 70 years later. By Manuel Yang (MR Zine, 03/02/08)
“This classic account of the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803 is one of the greatest books in the twentieth century.”

Man’s unconquerable mind: CLR James and The Black Jacobins. By David Renton (Dkrenton.co.uk, 24 March 2007; online at Internet Archive WayBackMachine)
“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.”

Toussaint L’Ouverture: The Gilded African (Socialist Review, February 2010)
“Locked in an Alpine castle, Toussaint L’Ouverture died in April 1803 having led the slave insurrection of Saint-Domingue and challenged French domination of the Caribbean.”

The tragedy of Toussaint L’Ouverture: Haiti’s Robespierre. By Björn Kumm (CounterPunch, January 19, 2010)
“C.L.R. James sadly concludes that Toussaint L’Ouverture, Haiti´s revolutionary leader, was in fact a Black Jacobin, a Caribbean Robespierre, radical but authoritarian, not inclined to listen to his people.”

Toussaint & Lenin: The Haitian & Russian Revolutions (ChickenBones, 8 December 2008)
“What should Toussaint have done? A hundred and fifty years of history and the scientific study of revolution begun by Marx and Engels, and amplified by Lenin and Trotsky, justify us in pointing to an alternative course.”

Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Haitian Revolution (Workers Power, Issue 284, March 2004)
“In November 1803, Haiti was declared an independent republic, the world’s oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States.”

Toussaint L’Ouverture and the great Haitian slave revolt. By Paul Foot (Socialist Worker, No.1885, 24 January 2004)
“This month saw the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Caribbean republic of Haiti after a revolutionary uprising against slavery.”

Se også / See also:

  • Tidslinjen 1. januar 1804 om Haitis slaveoprør og Toussaint L’Ouverture (Modkraft Biblioteket)
  • 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).
  • Links om Raya Dunayevskaya på Tidslinjen 1. maj 1910
  • Emnebox om Slaveri / Slavery (Modkraft Biblioteket)




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