ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Marx at 200

Beyond Capital and Class Alone

As we mark Karl Marx’s 200th birth anniversary, it is clear that the emancipation of labour from capitalist alienation and exploitation is a task that still confronts us. Marx’s concept of the worker is not limited to European white males, but includes Irish and Black super-exploited and therefore doubly revolutionary workers, as well as women of all races and nations. But, his research and his concept of revolution go further, incorporating a wide range of agrarian non-capitalist societies of his time, from India to Russia and from Algeria to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, often emphasising their gender relations. In his last, still partially unpublished writings, he turns his gaze Eastward and Southward. In these regions outside Western Europe, he finds important revolutionary possibilities among peasants and their ancient communistic social structures, even as these are being undermined by their formal subsumption under the rule of capital. In his last published text, he envisions an alliance between these non-working-class strata and the Western European working class.

“Proletarians [Proletarier] of all countries, unite!” It is with these ringing words that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels famously conclude their Communist Manifesto in 1848 (MECW 6: 519; MEW 4: 493, sometimes my translation). This suggests a broad class struggle involving millions of workers across national and regional boundaries against their collective enemies, capital and landed property. In that same Manifesto, Marx and Engels also write, in another well-known passage, that “the workers have no country,” and further that “national differences and antagonisms between peoples [Völker] are shrinking more and more” with the development of the capitalist world market (MECW 6: 502–03; MEW 4: 479).

An Abstract, General Theory of Capital and Labour

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Updated On : 5th May, 2021
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