The Raya Dunayevskaya Collection: Marxist-Humanist Archives

Dunayevskaya, Raya
Resource Type:  Website
Cx Number:  CX17896

The papers of Raya Dunayevskaya (1910-1987), a Marxist theoretician know for her contributions to Marxist-Humanism.



Marxist-Humanism is the overall title of the body of ideas expressed in the ten volumes and two appendices on deposit with the Labor History Archives of Wayne State University. They extend over a 40-year period from 1941 to 1981. Theoretically they have been worked out in the following major publications by Raya Dunayevskaya: Marxism and Freedom, From 1776 Until Today (1958, 1964; the latter edition contained a new chapter, “The Challenge of Mao Tse-tung”); Philosophy and Revolution: From Hegel to Sartre, and from Marx to Mao (1973); and the new book going to press, Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution.

The entire collection is divided into two Parts.

Part One covers Marxist-Humanism in its origin as State-Capitalist theory: (1) as that theory was developed by its founders, J.R. Johnson (C.L.R. James) and Freddie Forest (Raya Dunayevskaya), within the Trotskyist movement, 1941-1951; and (2) as the State-Capitalist Tendency existed independently from the Trotskyist movement, 1951-1955. The designation “State-Capitalist” was, naturally, intended for the Russian economy, not for the Tendency that made the analysis and to whom the role of labor was pivotal. Dunayevskaya, from the very beginning, analyzed labor in the form in which Marx articulated it as Alienated Labor in his now-famous 1844 Humanist Essays. (See “Labor and Society” Vol. I, Section II.) But the full development of Humanism in our age was made possible only after C.L.R. James broke from the Tendency in 1955. (See Vols. III and IV.) The twin aims of what was to become Marxism and Freedom were to discover the American roots of Marxism and to re-establish Marxism in its original form, which Marx called “a thoroughgoing Naturalism or Humanism.”

The Appendix to Part One, “Leon Trotsky: Letters, Conversations, Unpublished Documents,” includes:

(1) Leon Trotsky’s letter to Dunayevskaya that accepts her as his secretary and then acknowledges her work on behalf of the Russian Bulletin of the Left Opposition as well as some research work regarding Stalin;
(2) the translations she made during her stay in Mexico;
(3) a very rare copy of the Bulletin in the form in which it was published for underground transmission to Russia.

Part Two–which includes Volumes IV through X, and an Appendix to the whole containing the entire collection of “Two Worlds” columns–covers the period 1955 to 1981, and details the development of Marxist-Humanism as philosophy and as an organization, News and Letters Committees.

The 1955 split between the two founders of the State-Capitalist Tendency did not break the continuity of ideas. On the contrary. Between the death of Stalin in March 1953, and the spontaneous outburst of the first mass revolt under state-capitalist totalitarianism in East Berlin on June 17, 1953, came the philosophic breakthrough which discerned in Hegel’s “Absolute Idea” a movement from practice to theory as well as the movement from theory to practice. The split allowed some fresh air to come in, with the majority of the group, especially the workers, following Dunayevskaya, both theoretically on Humanism and practically in the establishment of a new paper, News & Letters, to be edited by a Black production worker, Charles Denby, author of Indignant Heart: A Black Worker’s Journal. The new paper was first published under the motto taken from Marx’s Humanist Essays: “The Root of Mankind is Man.” As the Women’s Liberation Movement arose, the motto chosen came from Marx’s Capital: “Human Power is its own End.” Women had been singled out in 1956 in the very Constitution of Marxist-Humanism as one of the four forces of the American Revolution, rank-and-file labor, Black masses, and Youth being the other three.

Volume 10, “What is Philosophy? What is Revolution? How the revolutions of our age relate to those since Marx’s age: Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution,” centers around the decision–made as Women’s Liberation became not only an Idea whose time had come but an actual movement–that the concept needed to be fully worked out historically, not only in the life of the great revolutionary theoretician Rosa Luxemburg and in the Women’s Liberation Movement of today, but within the context of the totality of Marx’s philosophy of revolution, now that our age finally has all of Marx’s works. Those works now include the heretofore unknown Ethnological Notebooks, as well as the long unknown and still undigested draft letters to Vera Zasulitch, which related Marx’s findings to a possible revolution in backward Russia in advance of the West. Hence the title of the new major work: Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution.
–Raya Dunayevskaya
February 27,1981

The above text was written when the first ten volumes of the Collection were donated. Later, Dunayevskaya organized two additional volumes, XI and XII. For the special introductions she wrote to those volumes, please see Volume 11 and Volume 12.

Volume 1:

1941-1947 — Beginnings of State-Capitalist Theory (in the Workers Party)
Volume 2:

1947-1951 — From the “Interim Period” to the Final Split from the Socialist Workers Party
Volume 3:

1949-1955 — From the Miners’ General Strike to the East German Revolt; From the Appearance of Differences in the Johnson-Forest Tendency to the Historic Reemergence of Marx’s Humanism
Appendix 1 (included with Volume III listing):

Leon Trotsky: Letters, Conversations, Unpublished Documents

Volume 4:

1955-1958 — Laying New Theoretical and Practical Foundations, Culminating in Marxism and Freedom, From 1776 Until Today
Volume 5:

1959-1964 — The Emergence of a Third Afro-Asian, Latin American World and a New Generation of Revolutionaries Also in the U.S.
Volume 6:

1964-1968 — As Against Decadent Capitalism on the Rampage, New Stages of Mass Revolt
Volume 7:

1968-1973 — Objective Crises Compelling Theoretic Clarification of Revolution, Culminating in the Work Around Philosophy and Revolution
Volume 8:

1973-1975 — Philosophy and Revolution as Book, as Characteristic of the Age
Volume 9:

1976-1978 — Forces of Revolution as Reason; Philosophy of Revolution as Force
Volume 10:

1979-1981 — What is Philosophy? What is Revolution? How the Revolutions of Our Age Relate to Those Since Marx’s Age: Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution
Appendix 2:

“Two Worlds” Columns by Raya Dunayevskaya, 1955-1981
Volume 11:

1981-1985 — Dialectics of Revolution: American Roots and World Humanist Concepts
Volume 12:

Retrospective and Perspective — The Raya Dunayevskaya Collection, 1924-1986

Up to Dunayevskaya’s death in 1987, all volumes of the Collection were organized by her. For this reason, subsequent volumes, which were organized by others, are designated as “Supplement to the Raya Dunayevskaya Collection.”
Volume 13:

Raya Dunayevskaya’s Last Writings, 1986-1987 — Toward the Dialectics of Organization And Philosophy
Volume 14:

The Writing of Raya Dunayevskaya’s “Trilogy of Revolution,” 1953-83: The “Long, Hard Trek and Process of Development” of the Marxist-Humanist Idea
Volume 15:

From the Marx Centenary Year to Women’s Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution,
and from Reagan’s Invasion of Grenada to Raya Dunayevskaya’s Work on “Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy”

Documents of the Raya Dunayevskaya Collection and Supplement to the Collection are on deposit at Wayne State University of Labor and Urban Affairs, Detroit, Michigan 48202. When donated to Wayne State, arrangements were made to make a microfilm edition of the documents and additions to the collection available. Microfilm editions are available for purchase from Wayne State. The documents are now available online at, the website of the Raya Dunayevskaya Memorial Fund. The Fund was established in July, 1987. Its trustees are Olga Sufritz and Robert French. The Fund can be reached at

News & Letters, the newspaper of the Marxist-Humanist organization, News and Letters Committees, is available 1955 to the present online at

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