CREATION OF MARXIST-HUMANISM AS ORGANIZATION NEWS AND LETTERS COMMITTEES AND AS THEORY FOR OUR AGE
VOLUME IV: 1955-1958 — LAYING NEW THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL FOUNDATIONS, CULMINATING IN MARXISM AND FREEDOM, FROM 1776 UNTIL TODAY
In the period of McCarthyism and war clouds over Formosa, on the one side, and, on the other side, the last European revolts, wildcats against Automation in America, and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-56, News and Letters Committees was founded and began its practical-critical activity. At one and the same time, it established the newspaper News & Letters and completed the writing of Marxism and Freedom by its National Chairwoman Raya Dunayevskaya, with the aim of establishing the American roots of Marxism and the re-establishment of Marxism in its original form, which Marx called a thoroughgoing Naturalism or Humanism. Marxism as the unity of theory and practice was analyzed both philosophically and politically, and shown to be in the very structure of Capital, which Marx completed under the impact of the Civil War in the U.S. and the Paris Commune.
Section I New Beginning, New Paper
(1) Conference Bulletin, No. 1,
Chairmans Report by Raya Dunayevskaya, April 1955. Her Political Organizational Report included discussion of Johnsonism, of the new book to be written, of the form of the paper, and of the political perspectives of the organization. Also included is Watkins letter. This report was translated and publishes in the Italian Marxist journal Prometeo, Spring 1956. Appendix: Letter on method of Johnsonism. (Reissued by News and Letters Committees, 1980.)
(2) News & Letters newspaper.
Vol. I No. 1 came out on June 23, 1955 commemorating the second anniversary of the East German uprising, June 17, 1953. The paper was edited by Charles Denby, the only Black production worker-editor of a Marxist paper. From its beginning the conception of News &. Letters was to be a combination of workers and intellectuals. The two focal points for the conception have been Dunayevskayas Two Worlds (TW) column and Charles Denbys Workers Journal.
(3) Lenins Abstract of Hegels Science of Logic,
first English translation, by Raya Dunayevskaya, issued Nov. 1955. This was the first pamphlet issued by News and Letters Committees. Also includes An exchange of letters on Hegel’s Absolute Idea from 1953. (See Vol. III, Sec. IE).
Section II First National Convention, First Constitution
(1) Discussion Bulletins in Preparation for First News and Letters National Convention:
a. Johnsonism: A Political Appraisal,
by OBrian (Peter Mallory), April 1956.
b. The Labor Bureaucracy and the Radical Movement, April 1956.
c. What Form of Organization, April 1956.
d. Finances: Needs & Facts & Perspectives,
by Weaver (Dunayevskaya), May 1956.
e. Reports on the Paper News & Letters,
by Denby and by Rorty, May 1956.
f. Discussion Bulletin,
(contains Preliminary Draft of Constitution), June 1956.
g. The Need for a Workers Paper, June 1956.
h. Rough Draft of International Memo,
by Raya Dunayevskaya, July 1955.
(2) Theoretical and Practical Perspectives: Where to Begin,
Report of the National Chairwoman, Raya Dunayevskaya, to the first National Convention of News and Letters Committees, July 1956. (Reissued by News and Letters Committees, 1969.)
(3) Constitution and By-Laws for News and Letters Committees,
adopted July 8, 1956, by the first national News and Letters Convention. Establishes News and Letters Committees and News & Letters newspaper, whose editor shall be a worker. Singles out workers, Black masses, women, and youth as the forces in the United States searching for totally new relations and for a fundamentally new way of life. Assigns the task of setting forth an interpretation, in book form, of Marxism for this generation.
(4) Letter from E.H. Carr to Raya Dunayevskaya, Dec. 21, 1956.
On draft of Marxism and Freedom.
(5) Speeches and Resolution
presented publicly to the plenary sessions of the national Editorial Board, News and Letters Committees, Labor Day weekend, 1957. Includes National Chairwomans Report on The Roots of Marxism in the World Today and Our Development,
Section III From the Hungarian Revolution to the Publication of Marxism and Freedom and its Ramifications
The new epoch opened by the Hungarian Revolution, which was hailed at once by Dunayevskaya in News & Letters (Nov. 13, 1956) in her Two Worlds column entitled Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Hungary, entered into the last part of Marxism and Freedom as one of the three new pages of freedom?East Germany 1953, Vorkuta 1957, and Hungary 1957?in Chapter 15, entitled The Beginning of the End of Russian Totalitarianism. Though the publication is dated 1958, Marxism and Freedom was actually off the press in 1957. Moreover, while correcting the galley proofs, another world event occurredMao’s famous speech, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People. Dunayevskaya at once added a footnote (#17) which anticipated the Sino-Soviet conflict-to-be.
(1) Marxism and Freedom . . . from 1776 until today,
by Raya Dunayevskaya, 1958, published by Bookman Associates, N.Y. and distributed in England by Vision Press, London. Preface by Herbert Marcuse. The 1958 edition included the first English publication of two of Marxs 1844 manuscripts and Lenins Abstract of Hegels Science of Logic. (Second American edition, 1964, by Twayne, contained new Introduction and an additional chapter on The Challenge of Mao Tse-tung. In 1971, Pluto Press brought out the first British edition, with a Preface by the British Marxist-Humanist Harry McShane; this edition contained a new chapter on Cultural Revolution or Maoist Reaction. Second British edition, 1975, by Pluto Press. Foreign language editions: Italian, 1962, by La Nuova Italia; Japanese, 1964, by Modern Thought; French, 1971, by Champ Libre; Spanish (Mexico), 1976, by Juan Pablos.) (The text of Marxism and Freedom is not included on the microfilm.)
(2) World Outlook
Draft Resolution for 1958 News and Letters Committees Convention, June 1958.
(3) Draft Resolution on the Book Marxism and Freedom: Method, Heritage and Principles
(4) Organization, the Paper, and Finances,
Draft Resolution, June 1958.
(5) Our Organization
Report by National Chairwoman to News and Letters Committees Convention, August 1958.