Socialism and Democracy in W. E. B. Du Bois’ Life, Thought, and Legacy

Phillip Luke Sinitiere's picture

Socialism and Democracy in W. E. B. Du Bois’ Life, Thought, and Legacy

Socialism and Democracy ​Du Bois Issue Guest Co-editors: Edward Carson, Gerald Horne, and Phillip Luke Sinitiere  

The 150th anniversary of W. E. B. Du Bois’ birth, 2018, offers an opportune moment to reflect on his remarkable life and legacy in light of his specific commitments to socialism and democracy. Moreover, the current political moment calls on activists/scholars to explore how Du Bois’ socialist and Marxist commitments can inform our praxis. The deficiencies of racial capitalism are clear and undeniable; therefore, we ask how Du Bois’ radicalism can shape our historical understanding and infuse our reflections about the future?

Devoting a Socialism and Democracy issue to Du Bois taps into a vibrant and growing stream of incredibly important work on the black intellectual that addresses both the origins and outcomes, indeed the transformation of his political and intellectual work from a reform-minded progressive in his early days to a genuine radical during the Cold War. Reflecting this sense of change over time with clear reflections on how and why it matters today, we envision a Socialism and Democracy special issue that illuminates the range and evolution, the shifts and changes in Du Bois’ commitment to historical materialism as a political and interpretive framework. Put another way, contributors might consider Du Bois’ political radicalism, anti-capitalist thought, Pan-Africanism, and Marxism in both their historical context and their meaning for our own day. To these ends, we invite 5,000 - 7,000-word essays that recover and reassess the relationship between Du Bois, socialism, and democracy, broadly defined, spanning across his lifetime. Topics to consider include, but are not limited to:

·         Du Bois and socialism in Germany as a student

·         Du Bois and his brief membership in US Socialist Party

·         Du Bois and The Crisis on Communism and Marxism (i.e., articles he wrote, and articles published on these subjects when he was editor, ca. 1910-1934)

·         Du Bois, the Talented Tenth (in both its original and revised conceptions), and socialism and democracy

·         Du Bois’ anti-imperialist thought and World War I in relation to Lenin’s thesis

·         Du Bois, Marxism, and Black Reconstruction

·         Du Bois’ Atlanta University courses (ca. 1934-1944) and teaching Marx and Marxism

·         Socialism, communism, and Marxism in Du Bois’ autobiographical writings (e.g., Dusk of Dawn, Autobiography, etc.)

·         Socialism, communism, and Marxism in Du Bois’ creative writings (e.g., poetry, novels, etc.)

·         Anticommunism and Du Bois’ engagement with socialism, communism, and Marxism (e.g., newspaper columns, speeches, correspondence, etc.)

·         Du Bois and Cold War-era peace activism

·         Du Bois, Pan-Africanism, Colonialism, Anticolonialism vis-à-vis socialism, communism, and Marxism in global perspective

·         Du Bois and his classes at the Jefferson School of Social Science

·         Du Bois’ travels to Russia, China, Africa, and Europe, etc. in relation to his developing ideas on socialism, communism, and Marxism

·         Shirley Graham Du Bois’ influence on Du Bois’ leftist radicalism (i.e., the network of radicals with whom Du Bois had contact during his late career)

·         Du Bois’ later years and socialism, communism, and Marxism ca. 1930s-1960s (e.g., membership in CPUSA)

·         Du Bois’ radicalism and his exclusion from the academy

·         Du Bois’ legacy in light of socialism, communism, and Marxism

·         Du Bois and the Black Radical Tradition for today

·         Du Bois and ideology (e.g., double consciousness, color line as 20th century’s main problem, etc.)


·         Feb 28, 2018: contributor 500-word abstracts due to editors

·         June 1, 2018: articles due to editors

·         June: editors edit articles and send to contributors

·         July-August: contributors edit for final revisions

·         Sept 1: hard deadline for final version of articles               

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