Manning Marable, who died last April 1, aged sixty, was the quintessential radical academic/activist. A friend of Monthly Review for many years, he wrote numerous articles for the magazine and chapters for Monthly Review Press books. Manning was a committed Marxist and socialist. He unflinchingly engaged with issues of race and class, most recently working with younger artists of color organizing for social change as a founder of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network. He was also a much loved teacher and mentor to his students at Columbia University. His scholarly work comprised hundreds of articles and nearly twenty books, including How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America and The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life. He also wrote a column, “Along the Color Line,” widely syndicated in the black press. Marable was quick to put new media to work, designing Web courses on Malcolm X and W.E.B. Du Bois. He is considered by many to be Du Bois’s intellectual heir.
Pages have been written about his recently published Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, but we should also remember his work with labor, civil rights, and social justice groups, especially the courses he taught for prisoners at Rikers Island jail complex and Sing Sing prison. In MR‘s July-August 1995 issue Marable posed this challenge:
Americans continue to perceive social reality in a manner which grossly underestimates the role of social class, and legitimates the categories of race as central to the ways in which privilege and authority are organized. We must provide the basis for a progressive alternative to an interpretation of race relations, moving the political culture of black United States from a racialized discourse and analysis to a critique of inequality which has the capacity and potential to speak to the majority of American people. This leap for theory and social analysis must be made if black United States is to have any hope for transcending its current impasse of powerlessness and systemic inequality. As C.L.R. James astutely observed: “The race question is subsidiary to the class question in politics, and to think of imperialism in terms of race is disastrous. But to neglect the racial factor as merely incidental is an error only less grave than to make it fundamental.”
Manning Marable was a kindly and gentle man but with a steely determination to eradicate the causes of racial and class exploitation he understood so well.
Our hats are off to MR‘s friend and Manning Marable’s Columbia colleague Eric Foner, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer prize for History for his masterly The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. The book joins his Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 as one of the central texts explicating the creation of the modern U.S. nation.
In March John Bellamy Foster travelled to Caracas as the U.S. representative to Grupo Internacional de Reflexión Crítica, a small, international group of intellectuals (including MR authors István Mészáros and Atilio Boron) brought together by the Venezuelan government to provide critical reflections and advice on the Bolivarian process in Latin America. Meetings were held with top government officials, including Vice President Elias Jaua (President Hugo Chávez, who sent his greetings, was out of the country), and information and ideas were exchanged. MR’s attitude toward Venezuela’s struggles was made clear. Paraphrasing C. Wright Mills’s famous statement on Cuba in Listen, Yankee!, we do not worry about the Bolivarian Revolution, we worry with it.
We were delighted to see the first three issues of Traimasik Sameekshatmak, a quarterly collection of articles from Monthly Review in Hindi. The fourth issue collects articles on the environment, with an introduction to the issue by the committed intellectual and peace activist Praful Bidwai. The hard work of translation is being carried out by an outstanding team of volunteers, and we salute them. The community of friends of Monthly Review in the subcontinent publishes the affordable English edition, Analytical Monthly Review, the Bengali translation, Bangla Monthly Review, and now Traimasik Sameekshatmak in Hindi. To subscribe to Traimasik Sameekshatmak, or to help this excellent effort in any way, contact Samiksha Publication Trust and Rainbow Publications, 11A, Savitri Sahani Enclave, Lucknow 226 001, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Correction: In John Bellamy Foster’s “On the Laws of Capitalism,” Monthly Review, May 2011, page 1, paragraph 1, lines 8-9, it should have read, “upper-right-hand corner.”