By C. L. R. James
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Additional resources for A History of Pan-African Revolt
R. James1 I We are all indebted to the Charles H. R. James’s important but little-known book, A History of Pan-African Revolt. Originally published in 1938 under the title A History of Negro Revolt, this brief but highly suggestive global history of black resistance appeared the same year as James’s magnum opus, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, and thus lived in its shadow ever since. Although it was brought back into print with a new epilogue by James in 1969, and again in 1985, by small activist publishing outlets, A History of Pan-African Revolt—as the later editions were titled—has remained one of the best kept secrets among a handful of Marxists and black militants.
But the book has the virtue that there were all sorts of problems—like the struggles of women, market women in Africa and so on—that went into it, aside from the historical things like the Haitian revolution and the blacks in the American Civil War…. The book has a peculiar history. Postgate’s name got the book sold in book-stores all over the country. When they found out what was in it some of them carefully hid it. 23 The book was hidden for good reason. 24 It was a stinging indictment of colonialism, and James took no prisoners—not even his beloved France.
His primary purpose is to indict imperialism by documenting the horrible conditions black workers throughout the world had to endure. ”14 In the end, however, the role of enlightened white workers—the progressives who had not been bought off—was to educate “backward” black workers of the futility of racial chauvinism and persuade them to cast their lot with the worldwide proletariat. It was a position James would find untenable. R. James drifted deeper into the world of Trotskyism, preparing for the Fourth International and cursing Stalinism’s betrayal of Lenin’s vision, Padmore drifted out of the Communist movement altogether.