C.L.R. James was a leading figure in the independence movement in the West Indies, and the black and working-class movements in both Britain and the United States. As a major contributor to Marxist and revolutionary theory, his project was to discover, document, and elaborate the aspects of working-class activity that constitute the revolution in today’s world. In this volume, Noel Ignatiev, author of How the Irish Became White, provides an extensive introduction to James’ life and thought, before presenting two critical works that together illustrate the tremendous breadth and depth of James’ worldview.
“The Invading Socialist Society,” for James the fundamental document of his political tendency, shows clearly the power of James’ political acumen and its relevance in today’s world with a clarity of analysis that anticipated future events to a remarkable extent. “Every Cook Can Govern,” is a short and eminently readable piece counterpoising direct with representative democracy, and getting to the heart of how we should relate to one another. Together these two works represent the principal themes that run through James’s life: implacable hostility toward all “condescending saviors” of the working class, and undying faith in the power of ordinary people to build a new world.