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CLR James Interview – ‘You never know when it’s going to explode’


To mark the launch of WORLDwrite and WORLDbytes multi-media project on the life and works of CLR James at the Kia Oval on 23rd November, an article based on an interview of CLR James by John Fitzpatrick has been recorded as a podcast. Read by Andrew Hirst it is intercut with CLR James himself from the original recording. John Fitzpatrick interviewed CLR James in Brixton in April 1989, probably the last interview he gave, before James’ sad demise in May 1989. The interview covers subjects ranging from Margaret Thatcher to revolution to Stalinism.  A thrill to listen to, always lucid and articulate James summarises his attitude towards politics with Marxism as a guide, “properly thought of, always with the feeling that history brings things new, that you didn’t see before” he explains “we can view the future with a certain confidence; we have a method that is aware of the past but open to the future.” WORLDwrite’s project launch on November 23rd will feature a debate on CLR James and the canon. The speakers are: Selma James, Selwyn Cudjoe, Alan Hudson and Claire Fox. Full details and tickets are available at

Related topics: History

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CLR James: Conversations and Interviews, 1938-1989 | Moorbey'z Blog said:

[…] John Fitzpatrick, “You never know when it’s going to explode (CLR James interviewed in Brixton, April 1989),” Living Marxism (April 1989). Podcast available here. […]

CLR James: Conversations and Interviews, 1938-1989 said:

[…] John Fitzpatrick, “You never know when it’s going to explode (CLR James interviewed in Brixton, April 1989),” Living Marxism (April 1989). Podcast available here. […]

Emma said:

This is the best podcast I have listened to in ages! CLR James is hypnotic to listen to, and the knowledge and conviction with which he speaks sounds completely unlike almost any political discussions today. I am so glad that this recording exists and was put together in this way which made it coherent and easy to listen to :)

Di said:

Oh wow, CLR James died on the day I was born!!!

WORLDbytes – The School of Citizen TV » Every Cook Can Govern: CLR James & the canon said:

[…] WORLDbytes podcast: CLR James last interview […]

Rossa said:

What an extraordinary recording, even at the end of his life James’ words were so lucid and consistent with what he had been writing over the previous five decades. Can’t wait for the launch in the Oval on the 23rd.

simba chioto said:

Big up Worldwrite!

Sanjeeda Jalil said:

CLR James seemingly was an influential and significant figure of the 20th century. His last interview conveys his perceptions towards Marxism and his attitudes towards Margaret Thatcher and the ideology of history. Hearing his last interview has intrigued me because of his intellectual perspective and he seems as a remarkable person.

Pooja said:

I found it very interesting as i have studied about Stalin and Trotsky in GCSE history.

Tamanna said:

CLR James is a very interesting figure in history. I think he could influence people who study world war and topics people study on Stalin and Trotsky.

Hotchik-ouuufffttt247 said:

His soooooo intrestimg yeah man

Sonja P said:

I haven’t read any CLR James but sounds like I should, why don’t we hear of him is it because he was so radical?

J Anderton said:

Thank you so much WORLDbytes for bringing us this, truely inspiring to hear the man himslef.