To the editors:
Regarding David Futrelle's article: "Reading: Splitting Hairs With the Sparts" (April 16). I am not the least bit interested in the dogmas of the Workers Vanguard or the various Maoist newspapers that he refers to in detail. But I was deeply offended by his characterization of the Marxist-Humanist newspaper News and Letters as "surrealistic" and his sexist as well as ignorant characterization of its founder Raya Dunayevskaya as an "obscure Trotskyist Madame Blavatsky."
News and Letters has been published in the U.S. for 38 years. It has deep roots in the U.S. rank and file labor movement, the Women's Liberation Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and antiwar youth struggles. It was the first Marxist newspaper to have as its editor a Black production worker, Charles Denby, whose autobiography, Indignant Heart: a Black Worker's Journal, is a classic in Black Studies literature. Far from being concerned with mysticism, the aim of News and Letters is to end the division between mental and manual labor, which is the mark of capitalism.
Raya Dunayevskaya is a figure of world stature. She was the first Marxist to develop the critique of the former Soviet Union as a state-capitalist society, as early as 1940 after her break with Leon Trotsky. She developed the philosophy of Marxist-Humanism as a challenge to state capitalism and in dialogue with the post-World War II liberation movements in the East and the West. The long overdue collapse of Communism and the current crisis of state and private capitalism on a world scale has further proved the relevance of her body of ideas. Her works have been translated into many languages, including Spanish, Persian, and Japanese. Currently, new translations of her Philosophy and Revolution are appearing in Russia and Slovakia. A new translation of her book Women's Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution just came off the press in Mexico City. In contrast to the sexist dismissal manifested by David Futrelle, it is today's Women's Liberation Movement that is showing a deep interest in Dunayevskaya's works. The acclaimed feminist poet and theorist Adrienne Rich wrote the following in her preface to the 1991 University of Illinois Press edition of Dunayevskaya's Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution: "Dunayevskaya vehemently opposes the notion that Marx's Marxism means class struggle is primary or that racism and male supremacism will end when capitalism falls. "What happens after?' she says, is the question we have to be asking all along. And this, she sees in the Women's Liberation Movement, both women of color and white women have insisted on asking" (p. xviii).
I hope that in the future you would try to present a more intelligent journalism in your articles instead of ignorant comments about subjects which you haven't bothered to explore.
E. Van Buren