Aimé Césaire's Lettre à Maurice Thorez, which appears here in a new translation by Chike Jeffers, is the Martinican poet, playwright, theorist, and politician's letter of resignation from the French Communist Party (PCF). He first explains his resignation by making reference to the revelations concerning Stalin in Khrushchev's famous “Secret Speech” and to the PCF's reluctance to deStalinize. He soon turns, however, to considerations related to his “position as a man of color.” He claims that it has become clear to him that the struggle against racism and colonialism cannot be reduced to the class struggle. He criticizes the European Left's imperialist tendencies and argues against dividing progressive forces in places like Martinique along dogmatic ideological lines. Césaire thus treats his break with the Communists as a declaration of independence and reclamation of initiative on the part of black people. He ends with provocative thoughts on the relationship between universalism and particularism.
Aimé Césaire; Letter to Maurice Thorez. Social Text 1 June 2010; 28 (2 (103)): 145–152. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-2009-072
Download citation file: