This essay explores some of the complexities of the black Trinidadian Marxist historian and activist C.L.R. James's insider–outsider relationship to continental Europe, in particular the Spanish Civil War. The eruption of the Spanish Revolution in 1936 after a coup by General Franco overthrew the newly democratically elected Popular Front government was of tremendous hope to all those concerned about the rise of fascism. As a black colonial subject and Pan-Africanist thinker, James's understanding of the Spanish Civil War was also viewed through the lens of colour, allowing us an important insight into how race and the colonial dimension of metropolitan politics manifested themselves in Europe during the 1930s. This essay will use James's little discussed writings for the Trotskyist and Pan-Africanist press during this period to elucidate his attempt to help build solidarity with the Spanish Revolution. In particular, as well as drawing inspiration from the eyewitness accounts of workers power in revolutionary Barcelona, James highlighted the importance of the colonial dimension to the Spanish Civil War with respect to the question of Morocco. Finally the question of how the Spanish Civil War shaped James's classic 1938 history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, will be explored.
Bibliographical noteThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory on 31/05/2016, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/03017605.2016.1187858
- C.L.R. James
- Haitian Revolution
- Spanish Civil War