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Noel Ignatiev


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Noel Ignatiev has been trying for over fifty years, without apparent success, to make a revolution. In addition to contributing to A New Notion, he wrote How the Irish Became White, co-founded and co-edited Race Traitor (American Book Award winner), and edited Lesson of the Hour: Wendell Phillips on Abolition and Strategy. He has written countless articles, leaflets and pamphlets, and lectures widely to both popular and scholarly audiences. He is now back at his day job at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, having recently returned from Lebanon, where he was Edward Said Visiting Professor of American Studies at the American University of Beirut. Rolling Stone magazine named him a “dangerous mind." Before entering the academy he worked for over twenty years in steel mills, farm equipment plants and machine-tool factories. He has two children, Rachel and John Henry.

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A New Notion: Two Works by C.L.R. James: "Every Cook Can Govern" and "The Invading Socialist Society"

Author: C.L.R. James Edited by Noel Ignatiev
ISBN: 978-1-60486-047-4
Published Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 160 Pages
Size: 8.5 by 5.5
Subjects: Politicial Science, Marxism, History


C.L.R. James was a leading figure in the independence movement in the West Indies, and the black and working-class movements in both Britain and the United States. As a major contributor to Marxist and revolutionary theory, his project was to discover, document, and elaborate the aspects of working-class activity that constitute the revolution in today's world. In this volume, Noel Ignatiev, author of How the Irish Became White, provides an extensive introduction to James’ life and thought, before presenting two critical works that together illustrate the tremendous breadth and depth of James’ worldview.

"The Invading Socialist Society," for James the fundamental document of his political tendency, shows clearly the power of James’ political acumen and its relevance in today’s world with a clarity of analysis that anticipated future events to a remarkable extent. "Every Cook Can Govern," is a short and eminently readable piece counterpoising direct with representative democracy, and getting to the heart of how we should relate to one another. Together these two works represent the principal themes that run through James’s life: implacable hostility toward all “condescending saviors” of the working class, and undying faith in the power of ordinary people to build a new world.


 “It would take a person with great confidence, and good judgment, to select from the substantial writings of C.L.R. James just two items to represent the 'principal themes' in James' life and thought. Fortunately, Noel Ignatiev is such a person.  With a concise, but thorough introduction, Ignatiev sets the stage and C.L.R. James does the rest. In these often confusing times one way to keep one’s head on straight and to chart a clear path to the future is to engage the analytical methods and theoretical insights of C.L.R. James. What you hold in your hands is an excellent starting point.”

---John H. Bracey Jr., professor of African-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and co-editor of Strangers & Neighbors: Relations Between Blacks & Jews in the United States.

“C.L.R. James has arguably had a greater influence on the underlying thinking of independence movements in the West Indies and Africa than any living man.”
--Sunday Times

“It remains remarkable how far ahead of his time he was on so many issues.”
--New Society

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For a calendar of speaking events, please click here


  • Poked in the eye with a sharp stick
    I loathe public life and politicians. This aversion has not saved me from prolonged brushes with the species, but it has exempted me from run-of-the-mill mandates, the ones accepted by the look-at-me-types who jostle for places on the platform. Ev...
  • My dream
    Sparked by a telephone conversation


Read all of Noel's past blog postings by clicking here.

What others are saying...

C.L.R. James’ A New Notion Reviewed in Radical Philosophy Review
By Paul Buhle
Swans Commentary
July 2nd, 2012

In the twenty-three years since the death of C.L.R. James (1901-1989), the drumbeat of new books describing and anthologizing his writings has been steady and at times almost deafening to those who listen with rapt attention. Not that the books are in any way unwelcome, or in danger of exhausting the canon (next fall actually sees the appearance of Toussaint L'Ouverture, the 1936 play performed in England but never before published, by Duke University Press). Nor that the waning of deconstruction, once the major source of new books and essays on James, is anything but welcome. But keeping up is at best a chore. As the authorized biographer of James, it is a chore that I cannot quite abandon for very long without guilt.

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C.L.R. James’ A New Notion Reviewed in Radical Philosophy Review
by Matthew Quest
Radical Philosophy Review
Volume 13, number 2 (2010) 191-195

C.L.R. James’ A New Notion, a compiled republication of two of his most engaging and neglected works, which are central to his political thought, will captivate readers concerned with current problems of world war, economic crisis, thin conceptions of democracy, and retrogression from socialist principles. While race and color are not addressed here by this notable Pan-African from Trinidad, it would be a mistake to think they do not address the empire of capital in terms of both imperial and peripheral nations’ experiences.

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