The CLR James Journal

Volume 27, Issue 1/2, Fall 2021

Decolonizing Spiritualities

Paget Henry
Pages 143-168

René Ménil’s Aesthetic Marxism and the Caribbean Philosophical Tradition

This paper is an attempt to introduce the thought of the Martinican philosopher, René Ménil to the English-speaking world. It suggests that his philosophy can best be characterized as an aesthetic Marxism, which moved through three crucial phases: (1) a surrealist/French communist phase; (2) a Black poeticist/French communist phase; and (3) a critical poeticist/Martinican communist phase. The passage through these three phases was marked by an increasing and more fixed centering of the aesthetic that created very real tensions with its politico-economic base. The paper explores these tensions through a comparative analysis with other Caribbean aesthetic Marxists or aesthetic historicists such as CLR James, Nicolás Guillén, and Kamau Brathwaite.