Raya Dunayevskaya, a Marxist philosopher and former secretary to Leon Trotsky who broke with him over his defense of Josef Stalin’s nonaggression pact with Adolf Hitler, is dead at the age of 77.
Miss Dunayevskaya, who died Tuesday, was recognized as the founder of a philosophy called Marxist-humanism and made the fight against oppression of people in both communist and capitalist countries the focus of her life’s work.
“I am opposed to capitalism and vulgar communism,” she told the Knight News Service in a 1974 interview.
Four Major Books
She wrote four major books--"Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution;" “Marxism and Freedom, From 1776 Until Today;" “Philosophy and Revolution: From Hegel to Sartre and From Marx to Mao,” and “Women’s Liberation and the Dialectics of Revolution: Reaching for the Future.”
They were translated into Spanish, German, Japanese and French and circulated underground in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.
Philosopher Erich Fromm praised her works for their “originality, great scholarship . . . and deep passion for the freedom and growth of man.”
Miss Dunayevskaya was born in the Ukraine in Czarist Russia and came to the United States at age 12. She became an activist at an early age, leading a strike at her elementary school and demanding the principal’s removal amid charges he practiced corporal punishment and anti-Semitism.
Worked for Trotsky in Mexico
In 1937, she went to work in Mexico City for the exiled Trotsky, a leader of the Russian Revolution who until the advent of Stalin had been expected to succeed V. I. Lenin as head of the Bolsheviks. Although Stalin was to eventually have Trotsky assassinated, Trotsky defended the signing of the German nonaggression pact before World War II. Miss Dunayevskaya considered Stalin a capitalist-bureaucrat who cared nothing for the Russian people and left Trotsky’s employ.
In the 1940s, Miss Dunayevskaya, who lived in Detroit for many years, prepared English translations of works by Karl Marx and Lenin.
Miss Dunayevskaya, whose papers are housed in the Wayne State University Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in Detroit, is survived by her husband, John Dwyer, and two sisters.