We pay tribute to two individuals who have greatly contributed to our work and who died recently--Ellen Meiksins Wood and Richard Levins.
Ellen Meiksins Wood was a leading Marxist political theorist. Her rigorous polemics reminded us of the centrality of class struggle to political conflict. Her studies shed light on the origin of capitalism and on the social history of political theory. She explained, for example, the impact of John Locke’s notion of “improvement” – the idea that those who add value to the land through their labor (or that of their slaves) have the right to own it – in rationalizing the encroachment of English colonists on Native lands in North America – a doctrine with fateful consequences for Indigenous and working people everywhere.
Richard Levins was a Marxist biologist. He applied dialectics to the study of both natural and social processes, illuminating the interplay between organism and environment – and between theory and practice – at every level. He was a farmer in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and later made almost annual trips to Cuba in the role of agricultural adviser to the revolutionary government. He contributed two important articles to S&D: “Rearming the Revolution: The Tasks of Theory for Hard Times,” in no. 23/24 (1998), and “Progressive Cuba-Bashing,” in no. 37 (2005) located on our website at: (http://sdonline.org/37/progressive-cuba-bashing/). [No. 23/24 is not available on our website but can be accessed via library at our publisher’s site (http://tandfonline.com/toc/csad20/12/1).]
Both Ellen Meiksins Wood and Richard Levins participated in the historic “Manifestivity” roundtable in New York, organized by the Brecht Forum in 1998 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. The transcript of the roundtable, whose participants also included Maria Helena Moreira Alves, Barbara Fields, Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Singer, and Cornel West, was published in S&D no. 25 (1999) (http://sdonline.org/25/roundtable-on-the-future-of-the-left-2/).
George Comninel, Hester Eisenstein, and Victor Wallis