‘A great gift’: Margaret Randall on the Centenary of Raya Dunayevskaya

From the July-August 2010 issue of News & Letters:

‘A great gift’

Dear News & Letters:

Revolutionaries and activists for social change at the end of the twentieth century desperately needed a mind that would extend Marx’s concepts, making them more pertinent to the struggles we were waging then. We found such a mind in Raya Dunayevskaya. She combined experience with analysis. Her development of Marxist-Humanism opened Marx’s brilliant but time-circumscribed ideas and enabled us to envision a change that included feminism, understanding of race, and — most especially — the intersections of these with economic struggle. Dunayevskaya’s important books and her ongoing work with News & Letters made her contribution an ongoing conversation: powerful yet open-ended.

I cannot remember how Dunayevskaya and I began our correspondence, but I do know it was important to me. In perhaps a dozen or so exchanges I never felt she spoke down to me. Rather, while generous with her vast knowledge she always made me feel as if I too had something to say. It was a great gift and one that continues to nurture me.

I hope Dunayevskaya’s work continues to be available for younger generations of activists who have inherited, from our discoveries and failures, the struggle for a better world.

Now, more than ever, we need that world.

In gratitude,

Margaret Randall

Margaret Randall is a feminist and poet. She is the author of many books, including Gathering Rage: The Failure of Twentieth Century Revolutions to Develop a Feminist Agenda (Monthly Review Press, 1992).

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