The C.L.R. James Institute

Martin Glaberman (1918-2001): First Obituaries

From: Bradley Duncan <spirit1848@hotmail.com>
To: sldrty-l@igc.topica.com, cfc@igc.org, tl-talk@igc.topica.com
Date: 12/18/01 7:55:05 AM

Solidarity mourns the passing of a life-long partisan of workers struggle and the Marxist movement, Martin Glaberman. Marty died of an heart attack at a friends house in Detroit on Sunday, he was 83.

Born in 1918, Marty was an influential Marxist historian, labor educator, and activist. Long associated with the Marxist thinker CLR James, Marty was at the center of keeping that tradition alive for decades. Marty was involved with countless worker education projects over his many years in the workers movement, and even taught Marixsm to the young militants who would go on to form the influential League of Revolutionary Black Workers in Detroit in the late 1960's.

He continued helping people understand Marxism until the end of his life, including participating in a study of Marx's Capital with activists in the 20's all through the last year.

He will be greatly missed by revolutionaries around the world.

— Brad D, for the Solidarity National Office


From: "Alex LoCascio" <alexlocascio@mail.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 23:59:48 +0800

Comrades,

I'm very saddened to announce the passing of a veteran of American radicalism.

Martin Glaberman, professor emeritus of Social Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, passed away on Sunday. An autoworker, shop steward, and union comitteeman for twenty years, Marty was one of the greats of the generation of radicals who had come to politics through the American Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s.

A comrade of the West Indian Marxist C.L.R. James, Marty had left the Socialist Workers Party twice with his political co-thinkers. When they broke with the Trotskyist movement definitively in the early 1950s, they set about to reinvent Marxism in light of conditions in post-WWII America. Inspired by the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, they had an unflagging faith in the revolutionary potential of the working class, and denounced the bureaucratic societies of the Eastern Bloc as simply another form of capitalism.

Author of an innovative study of the Wildcat strikes in the American auto industry during WWII, Marty was legendary in Detroit radical circles. The black revolutionaries who would go on to found the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and League of Revolutionary Black Workers had studied Capital with Marty, and without a doubt his ideas about the self-liberation of the working class made its mark on the RUM projects.

Recently, some comrades and I in Detroit had befriended Marty, and like those revolutionaries before us, were in the midst of a study of Marx's Capital. We remember with fondness our Sunday afternoon discussions about class composition, the nature of Soviet society, and the race question. Marty had an encyclopedic knowledge of Marx, Lenin, and his comrade James, was delightfully adverse to bullshit and cant, and had a wonderful sense of humor. He will be sorely missed.


Martin Glaberman, 1918-2001

We were saddened to learn that our friend Marty Glaberman passed away on December 16, 2001. A twenty-year veteran of Detroit auto plants, and a sixty-year veteran of the socialist movement, Marty Glaberman lived an unusually rich and full life. He was the author of Wartime Strikes (1980), and Working for Wages (1998, with Seymour Faber), as well as numerous pamphlets and articles on various aspects of industrial relations, labor history, and working-class life. He was also a poet, a small press publisher, and a specialist in Marx's Das Kapital. For many years he sought to promote the ideas and writings of C.L.R. James, and in 1999 the University Press of Mississippi published his collection of James's essays on politics and organization. At the time of his death he was a professor emeritus at Wayne State University. Marty Glaberman was a sponsor of New Politics, a sometime contributor, and a personal friend to several of its editors. He will be missed.

New Politics, no. 32 (new series, vol. 8, no. 4), Winter 2002, p. 4.


Martin Glaberman, Professor Emeritus in the Interdisciplinary Studies program, Social Science Division, of the College of Life Long Learning at Wayne State University died Monday, December 17 in Detroit. He was 83.

Prof. Glaberman worked for 20 years in auto plants, and brought that experience to his distinguished political journalism, his teaching, and his work as a labor historian. A Socialist since the age of thirteen, he was a life long Marxist who never lost faith in the transforming power of the working class. He was associated since 1940 with the Johnson-Forest Tendency, the organization formed and led by C.L.R.James, noted Marxist historian. It broke with Trotskyism, concluding that the Soviet Union was not a workers' state, but a state capitalist society; and it rejected the Vanguard Party: the idea that elites were needed to organize social change. They found great hope in the Workers' Councils of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 as a basis for reorganizing society. In the early l950's despite the McCarthyite witch-hunt the group began publishing Correspondence, a newspaper that was a forum for the expression of working class views and activities. It was a forerunner of the grass roots newspapers that flourished in the 1960's. Prof. Glaberman was its editor.

Prof. Glaberman and Jessie Glaberman, in their marriage of over thirty years, kept a house that was open to the world as a way station, a meeting place, and a refuge. In 1957 the Glabermans and a neighbor, Mrs. Winifred Jenkins, started the nation's first inner city Little League, the North Detroit Little League. Prof. Glaberman acted as league president, keeping the bats and balls in his basement.

In the 60's Prof. Glaberman quit factory work and resumed an academic career that had been interrupted when he dropped out of the master's degree program in Economics at Columbia University to more fully engage in political work. He received a master's degree from the University of Detroit and a Doctorate from Union Graduate School. He retired from Wayne State University in 1989, continuing to teach part time.

From the 1970's until his death, Prof. Glaberman gave classes in Marx's Capital to interested young people, and ran Bewick Editions, which published and distributed the works of C.L.R. James long before their value was acknowledged by world scholars.

Martin Glaberman was the author of many books, pamphlets, essays, and poems including Wartime Strikes, Working For Wages, The Roots of Insurgency (with Seymour Faber), Unions and Workers: Limitations and Possibilities, Be His Payment High or Low: The American Working Class in the Sixties, Mao as a Dialectician, Punching Out, and The Factory Songs of Mr. Toad. Staughton Lynd is editing a collection of Prof Glaberman's essays, to be published in late 2002 by Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co. of Chicago, which will also carry the Bewick Editions list.

Prof Glaberman was a keynote speaker this year at C.L.R. James centenary conferences first at the Charles H Wright Museum of African-American History and Wayne State University in Detroit, and then at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, James's home country.

He is survived by his companion, Prof. Diane Voss of Grosse Pointe Park MI; a son, Peter Glaberman, of Ann Arbor MI; a brother, Eugene Glaberman, of New York; foster sons Ralph Hamann of Venice FL., Gary Hamann of Los Angeles, and Farrell Hamann of Sacramento; granddaughters Ursa Brown Glaberman of Albuquerque NM and Rosaruby Glaberman of Brooklyn NY; and many friends and comrades worldwide. There will be a memorial meeting at Wayne State University on February 17, 2002.

(Announcement from Seymour Faber, January 8, 2002)

We Remember Marty...

Bewick Editions

Martin Glaberman Archive (Red & Black Notes)


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