Blog post

Walter Rodney: What They Don’t Want You to Know

Walter Rodney’s life and legacy — explored in literature and on screen.

Verso Books17 October 2022

Walter Rodney: What They Don’t Want You to Know

Walter Rodney, the Guyanese historian and revolutionary intellectual, was a pivotal figure in 20th century black radical politics. He cut a singular profile, combining in his person over his short life both remarkable historical and theoretical work with the everyday spadework of grassroots politics, and not only in his country of birth, Guyana, but across the African continent and diaspora. Verso has been proud to publish work with the Walter Rodney Foundation, both new books and classic texts, that reflects the braided political and scholarly commitments of Walter Rodney's remarkably internationalist thinking. 

To date, our series has launched four books, starting with a previously unpublished study of the Russian Revolution. Edited by Robin D.G. Kelley and Jesse Benjamin, it offers a balanced assessment of the conflicting tendencies in socialist construction, whether in the Soviet Union, in Ujamaa socialism, and in anti-imperialist state building more broadly. It was followed by a new edition of Rodney's classic study of the structure and trajectory of European colonialism on the African continent, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, complete with a preface from Angela Davis, and a new edition of The Groundings with My Brothers. The latter presented his global vision of Black Power as a unique blend of Marxism and Pan-Africanism, as well as his conception of the spillover between radical intellectual practice and grassroots political forms. 

As of this year, we have started to publish a new trio of posthumously assembled books. Two forthcoming books are thematically bound by the historical trajectory of the masses on the African continent on the one hand, and organizing working people in the black diaspora on the other. The first of these was Decolonial Marxism. It is a collection of essays and lectures from "the high water mark" of Pan-African revolution, and in particular, his writings on the meaning of marxism in national liberation struggles. Tracing the arc of both his own practice as well as the evolving political struggle in pre- and post-independence contexts, Rodney details the shifting loci of anti-colonial politics, as the struggle for self-determination continues even after African nations achieved independence. In turn, he thinks through the difficulties of building socialism within conditions of underdevelopment, and what socialism requires in such a context. They are, in other words, essays on the challenges of socialist transition and the central place that the great mass of everyday people have in such a process, one that begins prior to and continues after the achievement of 'state power.' Through this first book, Rodney orients marxist theory decisively towards these difficult questions, which are still our own' . 

We are excited to share that the BFI will be hosting the world premiere of a new documentary exploring the life of the civil right campaigner — Walter Rodney: ‘What They Don’t Want you to Know’ — Sunday 23 October 2022 18:30. Filmed in Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica, Tanzania, the US and the UK, featuring revelatory interviews, it examines the life of a man who sought unity in the face of division and whose ideals lie at the heart of global struggles today.

Following the premiere will be a Q+A with Dr Patricia Rodney (CEO of The Walter Rodney Foundation, academic and author), Gina Nadira Miller (activist politician and business woman), Lavinya Stennett (founder of Black Curriculum), Arlen and Daniyal Harris-Vajda (directors). The discussion will be chaired by David Dabydeen (broadcaster, novelist, poet and academic, UNESCO Exec Board).

Book tickets here!

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Decolonial Marxism

Decolonial Marxism

Early in life, Walter Rodney became a major revolutionary figure in a dizzying range of locales that traversed the breadth of the Black diaspora: in North America and Europe, in the Caribbean and o...