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May 1: Raya Dunayevskaya and Marxist Humanism

April 30, 2016

RD-with-Marx-pin019Raya Dunayevskaya, a lifelong Marxist who served Leon Trotsky as secretary during his Mexican exile and broke with him over his defense of the USSR as a “workers’ state” following the Hitler-Stalin Pact (she insisted that the Soviet Union practiced “state capitalism”), was born Raya Shpigel in the Ukraine on this date in 1910. In 1955, after decades of sectarian struggle within the American left, she created her own organization, the News and Letters Committees, with the slogan, “Another World is Possible,” and a Marxist-Humanist newspaper, News & Letters, which promotes the “philosophy of liberation” of Karl Marx. Dunayevskaya was a prolific writer, widely known by her pseudonym, Freddie Forest, whose books included Marxism and Freedom, from 1776 until Today (1958), Philosophy and Revolution: from Hegel to Sartre and from Marx to Mao (1973), and Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution (1982). She died in 1987 at 77. A posthumous collection of her essays, Women’s Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution, was published in 1996.

“Humanism wasn’t just a stage Marx ‘passed through’ on his voyage of discovery to ‘scientific economics’ or ‘real revolutionary politics.’ Humanist philosophy is the very foundation of the integral unity of Marxian theory, which cannot be fragmented into ‘economics,’ ‘politics,’ ‘sociology,’ much less identified with the Stalinist monolithic creation, held onto so firmly by Khrushchev and Mao Zedong.” —Raya Dunayevskaya