It's time that Robinson's work receives the attention it deserves. No other book on African and African American thought that I know of shows such a keen ability, or even acknowledges the need for, a contextualization of black radicalism within the larger currents of world history. Unlike most intellectual histories which restrict themselves to national or racial boundaries, Robinson addresses the emergence of Marxism within western civilization, reaching back to the medieval and even classical periods, and shows how its thinkers were guided by ethnocentric and universalistic tendencies that caused them to miss the way that class solidarity has been thwarted by nationalism and ethnicity, and of how socialism as envisioned by European radicals has never been monolithic but has adapted itself to local and regional folkways. My only criticism of this work is that Franz Fanon is not included in the list of important black thinkers (Du Bois, James and Wright) to be discussed...
Upon completion of this treatise all readers should receive a Master's Degree in Black Studies. Robinson provides a detailed and complex study of Black Radicalism and Marxism's relation to it. This book works on a number of levels; Historical, Sociological and Philosophical. I think one of the book's strong points is that it broadens the reader's mind to other interpretations of Black Radicalism. His analysis of DuBois, and C.L.R. James' transformation is interesting along with his dissection of Marxian / Lenin dogma. Also, the way he traces the origins of racism in European culture to early Ethnic Group stratification in anitquity is insightful.
In some instances, the sources that Robinson quotes from the 1800s are easier to understand and are more to the point than his interpretation of events. He's done a wonderful job of providing historical context.
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