Many of us are accustomed to a conversation about radicality that impulsively centers European articulations and analyses of political resistance. Especially in the midst of the ongoing Black liberation struggle, a realignment is necessary. Cedric Robinson's 1983 classic defines and reasserts the Black Radical Tradition both through broad histories and biographical explorations (Richard Wright, C.L.R. James, W.E.B. DuBois). Robinson's theory of "racial capitalism" contextualizes the history of Black resistance he outlines, and as well (necessarily) the arresting history of European radicalism and racialization that is the first third of this book. It's not just Marxism that's challenged here, it's the entire premise of what radicality can/should look like, what can be achieved, and who would benefit.
— From Gleb
In this ambitious work, first published in 1983, Cedric Robinson demonstrates that efforts to understand Black people's history of resistance solely through the prism of Marxist theory are incomplete and inaccurate. Marxist analyses tend to presuppose European models of history and experience that downplay the significance of Black people and Black communities as agents of change and resistance. Black radicalism, Robinson argues, must be linked to the traditions of Africa and the unique experiences of Blacks on Western continents, and any analyses of African American history need to acknowledge this.
To illustrate his argument, Robinson traces the emergence of Marxist ideology in Europe, the resistance by Blacks in historically oppressive environments, and the influence of both of these traditions on such important twentieth-century Black radical thinkers as W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, and Richard Wright. This revised and updated third edition includes a new preface by Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, and a new foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley.