Paul Le Blanc

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This article is about the historian. For the make-up artist, see Paul LeBlanc.
For other uses, see Paul LeBlanc (disambiguation).
Paul Le Blanc
Born 1947 (age 67–68)
Alma mater University of Pittsburgh
Occupation Historian

Paul Joseph Le Blanc (born 1947) is an American historian and activist. Professor of History at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA), he has written and edited more than 20 books, mostly dealing with the labor and socialist movements, in which he has been active.


Among Le Blanc's better known works are A Freedom Budget for All Americans (co-authored with Michael Yates, 2013), A Short History of the U.S. Working Class (1999), and Lenin and the Revolutionary Party (1990). The latter title, plus his selection of Lenin’s writings – Revolution, Democracy, Socialism (2009), and the essays gathered in Unfinished Leninism: The Rise and Return of a Revolutionary Doctrine (2014) – place him among a group of scholars articulating a critical-minded but positive interpretation of the role of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin in history.[1]

Le Blanc's book Marx, Lenin and the Revolutionary Experience: Studies of Communism and Radicalism in the Age of Globalization (2006), bringing together views from diverse traditions (anarchist, Christian, conservative, “new left,” and socialist), examines both critically and positively the impact of modern Communism.[2] Serving as primary associate editor of the eight-volume, 4280 page International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest, edited by Immanuel Ness, he has also produced a major collection of writings, Work and Struggle: Voices From U.S. Labor Radicalism (2011), presenting fourteen prominent figures associated with revolutionary currents within U.S. labor – including Tom Paine, Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones), Eugene V. Debs, A. Philip Randolph, and others. His contribution "The Third American Revolution" to the best-selling collection Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA, edited by Frances Goldin, Michael Smith and Debby Smith (2014) was singled out by Kirkus Reviews as "persuasive . . . cogent, well-informed."[3]

Le Blanc has also been involved in helping to popularize and promote the writings of Rosa Luxemburg, editing Rosa Luxemburg: Reflections and Writings (1999) and, with Helen C. Scott, Socialism or Barbarism: Selected Writings of Rosa Luxemburg (2011) – and he has spoken around the world (including in South Africa, Turkey, and China) about her ideas. With Peter Hudis and others, he is currently a member of the editorial board of a project, associated with Verso Books, to produce an English-language edition of Luxemburg’s complete works. He has also given attention to the theories, writings and the historical role of Leon Trotsky.[4]

Educational and Occupational Background[edit]

Le Blanc studied at the University of Pittsburgh, focusing on History and receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971, a Master of Arts degree in 1980, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1989. He has engaged in a number of occupations (agricultural worker, dishwasher, shipyard worker, autoworker, health care worker, social service worker, etc.) but since 1989 he has worked as a college and university teacher. His teaching has primarily been at Slippery Rock University and Carlow College (now Carlow University) and, since 2000, at La Roche College. At La Roche he served as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 2003 to 2009, and he currently is a Professor of History there.[5] While a Dean at La Roche College, Le Blanc initiated an annual Global Problems, Global Solutions conference, carried out by a partnership of educational institutions, drawing a number of prominent speakers and hundreds of participants to its gatherings. In part because of these efforts, La Roche College was awarded in 2010 the prestigious Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for outstanding initiatives in internationalization.[6] Le Blanc has also been active in the field of labor education, and was a consultant for the award-winning Allegheny County Labor Council website, for which he wrote a number of articles on Pittsburgh labor history.[7]

Political Involvement[edit]

Le Blanc has been actively involved in the Thomas Merton Center, particularly in activities having to do with human rights, peace, and economic justice. A Trotskyist, Le Blanc was previously a member of Students for a Democratic Society, the Socialist Workers Party, Fourth Internationalist Tendency, and Solidarity. He joined the International Socialist Organization in 2009.[8] Michael Yates described Le Blanc as "an 'organic intellectual,' a scholar and activist who has risen directly out of the working class."[9]

Personal Life[edit]

Born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania and living from the ages of 3 to 18 in Clearfield, Pennsylvania (where his parents, Gaston Le Blanc and Shirley Harris Le Blanc, were central figures in the labor movement), Le Blanc has lived most of his life in Pittsburgh. He has two sisters, two sons from different marriages, and two grandchildren.

Books (partial list)[edit]

  • 1990: Lenin and the Revolutionary Party
  • 1994: Selected Writings of C.L.R James, 1939–1949 (edited with Scott McLemee)
  • 1996: Trotskyism in the United States: Historical Essays and Reconsiderations (with George Breitman and Alan Wald)
  • 1996: From Marx to Gramsci (edited with major introductory essay)
  • 1999: A Short History of the U.S. Working Class
  • 1999: Rosa Luxemburg: Reflections and Writings (edited with major introductory essay)
  • 2000: U.S. Labor in the Twentieth Century (edited with John Hinshaw)
  • 2000: The Working-Class Movement in America, by Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling (edited with major introductory essay)
  • 2003: Black Liberation and the American Dream (edited with major introductory essay)
  • 2006: Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience: Studies of Communism and Radicalism in the Age of Globalization
  • 2008: Lenin: Revolution, Democracy, Socialism: Selected Writings (edited with major introductory essay)
  • 2011: Work and Struggle: Voices from U.S. Labor Radicalism (edited with major introductory essays)
  • 2011: Socialism or Barbarism: Selected Writings of Rosa Luxemburg (co-edited with Helen C. Scott)
  • 2012: Leon Trotsky: Writings From Exile (co-edited with Kunal Chattopadhyay)
  • 2013: A Freedom Budget for All Americans: Recapturing the Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Struggle for Economic Justice Today (with Michael D. Yates)
  • 2014: Unfinished Leninism: The Rise and Return of a Revolutionary Doctrine
  • 2014: Leon Trotsky and the Organizational Principles of the Revolutionary Party (with Dianne Feeley and Thomas Twiss)


  1. ^ On this phenomenon, see: Sebastien Budgen, Strathis Kouvelakis, Slavoj Zizek, eds., Lenin Reloaded: Towards a Politics of Truth (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007); Paul Le Blanc, “Lenin’s Return,” WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society, September 2007, vol. 10, issue 3, 273-285; also see and
  2. ^ See substantial interview with Michael Yates
  3. ^
  4. ^ On the Luxemburg Complete Works project, see: and,-letters-and-legacy-of-rosa-luxemburg; on Trotsky, see Paul Le Blanc, "The Second Assassination of Trotsky," Links (2010), and Paul Le Blanc, "Trotsky -- Truth and Fiction," International Socialist Review 75, January-February 2011
  5. ^ See: and
  6. ^ See: Pam Wigley, "Making Your World Our World," La Roche Magazine, Summer 2010, p. 9, and
  7. ^ See Allegheny County Labor Council website:
  8. ^ "Paul Le Blanc - Why I'm joining the US International Socialist Organization: Intensifying the struggle for social change | Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal". Retrieved 2013-10-01. 
  9. ^ Yoshie Furuhashi. "Michael D. Yates, "Interview with Paul LeBlanc"". Retrieved 2013-10-01.