Historian Paul Buhle reminisces about the 1960s in the latest issue of Against the Current (“Memories of [my] Syndicalism“). Buhle, author of C.L.R. James: the Artist as Revolutionary, describes his entry into the New Left via the oldest of the Old Left, the Socialist Labor Party. Buhle elsewhere (for example, in A Dreamer’s Paradise Lost, his 1995 biography of Louis Fraina) makes an interesting case for a more nuanced view of Daniel DeLeon than the predominant one, which is that he was a sectarian and a crank. While the former charge have some accuracy, DeLeon was, it must be said, a Marxist, unlike the more generally revered figure of Eugene Debs. It is from DeLeonism that Buhle builds his definition of syndicalism, one sufficiently flexible enough to encompass C.LR. James. Criticism &c. is of the opinion that neither James’s positive contributions nor his failings may be adequately described as syndicalist, but Buhle has more than earned his right to an opinion on the matter.
Buhle has a forthcoming book from Verso titled It Started In Wisconsin.