Daniel Guérin

CFP: Loughborough University

Conference on Daniel Guérin (1904-88)
Loughborough University, 17-19 September 2004

On the 100th anniversary of his birth, the purpose of this conference is to celebrate and critically examine the life and work of Daniel Guérin.

Guérin was a unique and outstanding figure on the French Left, both as a selfless and committed activist and as a writer: he made significant theoretical contributions in fields as diverse as the interpretation of fascism (La Peste brune a passé par là, 1932-33; Fascisme et grand capital, 1936), the historiography of the French Revolution (La Lutte de classes sous la première République, 1946), colonialism (eg. Au service des colonisés, 1954; Les assassins de Ben Barka, 1975), sexuality, (homo)sexual liberation and socialism (eg. Kinsey et la sexualité, 1955; Shakespeare et Gide en correctionnelle?, 1959 and articles and pamphlets on Fourier and Proudhon), the critique of Leninism and the synthesis of Marxism and libertarianism (Jeunesse du socialisme libertaire, 1959; L'Anarchisme, de la doctrine à la pratique, 1965; Rosa Luxemburg et la spontanéïté révolutionnaire, 1971). Some of his works have been reprinted repeatedly (eg. Ni Dieu ni Maître, 1970-99); many have been published recently in new editions (Ben Barka, ses assassins, 1975/1991; La peste brune, 1932-33/1996; Front populaire, révolution manquée, 1970/1997; Bourgeois et bras nus: la guerre sociale sous la Révolution 1793-1795, 1973/1998; Fascisme et grand capital, 1936/1999; Proudhon, un refoulé sexuel, 1969/2000; Tahiti malade de la bombe, 1972/2000). This is testimony to the widespread and enduring interest in the man and his work, and also to Guérin's extraordinary knack both for being years ahead of his time in so many domains, and also for tackling subjects which have kept their contemporary relevance. Guérin was also without doubt an incisive intellect. The exiled Trotsky treated him as a privileged interlocutor in the Socialist Party in the 1930s, seeing in him one of the sharpest minds on the Left in France. For Sartre - with whom he would share many a platform and sign many an appeal - Guérin's study of the Revolution was the only work to appear in the post-war years to have made an original contribution to Marxist historiography.

Despite the evident value of Guérin's work and the leading contribution he made as an activist, he has suffered a thoroughly undeserved neglect on the part of researchers. This neglect is all the more surprising when one takes into account the fact that there is clearly a great deal of interest in Guérin's life and work outside of academic circles.

It is hoped that this conference will bring together many of those in Britain, France and elsewhere who knew and/or worked with Guérin, or who have engaged either with his historical studies or with his more theoretical political analyses. It is envisaged that there will be sessions on all of Guérin's main areas of interest, from sexuality to racism and fascism, from Popular Frontism to anticolonial movements, from historical materialism to anarchism...

If you would like to offer a paper, please send a provisional title, a short summary and some brief biographical details to Dave Berry (d.g.berry@lboro.ac.uk or Department of Politics, International Relations & European Studies, Loughborough University, LE113TU, GB).

In order to help the organizers estimate possible numbers and plan accordingly, and in order to be put on the mailing list, it would also be helpful if anyone interested in attending would e-mail d.g.berry@lboro.ac.uk.

For further information, including a provisional list of speakers, see www-staff.lboro.ac.uk/~eudgb/DG.htm.