Battering Down The Wall From Both Sides - Winston James on Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik (part 2)

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This is the continuation of our conversation with Winston James about his latest work Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik. In part 1 we talked about McKay’s origins in Jamaica up through the Red Summer of 1919 when he would pen his famous poem “If We Must Die.”

In this conversation we talk about McKay’s time in Harlem, his relationship with Hubert Harrison, his support of - and political differences with - the Garvey movement or the UNIA. In that vein we also talk about McKay’s theorization of the relationship between class struggle, anticolonial struggle, and anticapitalist revolution. And relatedly his support of movements for Irish nationalism, Indian independence, and Black Nationalism.

James also shares McKay’s experiences as a worker, as a member of the Wobblies or the IWW, and as a member of Sylvia Pankhurst’s Workers Socialist Federation in the UK and some associated discussion of syndicalism and leftwing communism. We close with some reflections on McKay’s attitudes towards Bolshevism over time, especially after Lenin.

We really enjoyed Winston James book and highly recommend it to people who are interested in McKay’s life or just in history including debates of the Black left - and communist left - in the early 20th century. You can pick up Winston James' Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik which is currently on sale from our friends at Massive Bookshop.

A final reminder as this is likely to be our final episode of this month. October is the 5 year anniversary of Millennials Are Killing Capitalism. We had set a goal of adding 50 patrons this month. And with 2 days left is attainable. We need just 4 more patrons to hit that goal. You can help us hit that goal for as little as $1 a month or $10.80 per year at patreon.com/millennialsarekillingcapitalism. A new post will be up on patreon about it this week, but our Black Marxism study group will start up in November, and our 5 year anniversary episode is still on its way.

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