From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya
Additions to Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution
Foundations of Marxist-Humanism
After publishing Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution, Dunayevskaya went on a national tour in the Marx centenary, 1983. In her Aug. 26, 1983, letter excerpted here, she summed up paragraphs she had written during the tour to expand on the book. Footnotes below were added by the editor. The letter can be found in the Raya Dunayevskaya Collection, #15370-74. Excerpts of the letter with added material are included in the second edition of the book. See pp. xxxiii-xxxviii.
To all N&L Committees, Dear Comrades:
Because I think it is incumbent upon a Constitutional Convention which has as a focal point the inclusion in its very constitution of the latest theoretical work, Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution, to see in it a great deal more than just a paragraph, I would like to explain all the paragraphs that were added after its publication, in the following context:
1) That it is no accident that it is the Marx centenary which prompted the new publication of our other two fundamental works, Marxism and Freedom and Philosophy and Revolution, and
2) That this led us to call the theoretical foundations of Marxist-Humanism, as a totality, a trilogy of revolution.
Here, then, are the paragraphs as they were added to each section:
IN THE INTRODUCTION just before the final paragraphs, I saw a need not to have the reader wait for the final chapter to know that we are challenging post-Marx Marxists. With that in mind, the added paragraph makes clear at once that the very first point misunderstood by post-Marx Marxists, beginning with Frederick Engels, was Marx's work in the last decade regarding what we now call the Third World, and what Marx called, in the Grundrisse, "the Asiatic mode of production" as well as commenting on it as he read Morgan's Ancient Society....
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CHAPTER III OF PART ONE jams up the different views of Luxemburg and Marx on "Accumulation of Capital" in order to show that the new events which Luxemburg called "reality," which she contrasted to Marx's "theory," could have been so contrasted because she failed to fully work out dialectic methodology--which would have revealed a single dialectic in both objective and subjective worlds. To that end, the whole subject of methodology was expanded to reveal the difference between how Absolute appeared in the phenomenal world (and the phenomenon she had in mind was imperialism) and how Absolute was worked out in [Hegel's] Philosophy of Mind, where it cannot possibly be separated from Subject, i.e., revolutionary force as Reason....
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IN PART TWO ON THE Women's Liberation Movement, especially the section on the "Unfinished Task," the point I chose to elaborate was, once again, the conception of Women's Liberation not just as force but as Reason. The new here, however, was that the "proof" came from history itself--Feb. 23, 1917 [March 8 on the Western calendar]. This was for purposes of showing that the women were the ones who initiated that revolution. Even now I am not sure that we totally understand that that, in turn, depends on women practicing the immediate problems inseparable from the philosophic context. This is why I have two final suggestions: 1) Do, please, consider the paper worked out for the anthropology conference, "Marx's 'New Humanism' and the Dialectics of Women's Liberation in Primitive and Modern Societies," as well as the talk I gave at the Third World Women's Conference, as integral to and expansion of Part Two.
2) The second and key suggestion is the imperativeness of a study of Part Three, without which there can be no total comprehension not just of Part Three, in and for itself, but of the fact that it is that Part that informs the whole work. It is Marx's Marxism as a totality after it has gone through combat with the greatest revolutionaries of the post-Marx period--Lenin and Luxemburg, without whom we could not have reached the new stage we have achieved....
(And to the end of the next, the penultimate paragraph, one sentence is added, after the sentence ending: "...which do not separate practice from theory.")
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IT IS NO ACCIDENT that the paragraph that was added to Chapter XII on the Black dimension is the one that at once became urgent to the National Tour itself--so much so that I read it out as if it actually were in the book, in my talks on the Black dimension. Nor is it an accident that Charles Denby suggested it be the center of the new introduction for American Civilization on Trial. At the same time, by considering all that Marx had said in a single place rather than separately as they had been expressed in each specific decade, you could see the totality, so that it became inseparable from his concept of "revolution in permanence," including his very last work, the Ethnological Notebooks....
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(Finally, on p. 195 just before the final paragraph...)
With this final addition we have come to the question of Organization as likewise inseparable from the concept of "revolution in permanence." By using that as ground for organization, we must under no circumstances fall into the trap of substitutionism--as if the ground was the actuality of organizational growth. Without becoming a dogma, "revolution in permanence" must at one and the same time underline the imperativeness of organizational growth at this crucial period.
1. Both pieces are included in Dunayevskaya's Women's Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution.
2. Apartidarismo, literally "non-partyism," involves autonomy from vanguard parties. See "Will the Revolution in Portugal Advance?" in Dunayevskaya's Women's Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution.
3. The 1982-83 Perspectives Thesis for News and Letters Committees, titled "What to Do: Facing the Depth of Recession and the Myriad Global Political Crises as well as the Philosophic Void," can be found in the Raya Dunayeskaya Collection, #7515-38.
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