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The Marxist legacy is rich, plural, and contradictory. It is characterized by complexity and difference, but it can also be understood as bifurcated. There are two souls of socialism. One leads to domination; the other seeks out emancipation. This chapter seeks to map both the dualism and the diversity that have been suggested by thinkers ranging from Marx himself through to his remaining followers today.
Peter Beilharz is Professor of Culture and Society at Curtin University, Western Australia, and Professor of Critical Theory at Sichuan University. He is the author of 30 books and 200 papers. He founded the journal Thesis Eleven in 1980.
This chapter examines calls to end work, contextualising contemporary understandings of sex work in light of recent developments in labour studies. Using texts from gender and sexuality studies, sex worker activism, and materialist feminism, we insist upon the importance of factoring sex work into postwork perspectives, whilst critiquing the stakes involved in feminist drives to abolish sex work. We examine sex worker demands for improved working conditions; the dangers criminalisation and abolitionism pose to sex worker rights, health and safety; the role of helping professions in displacing sex workers into ‘reputable’ forms of labour; and their focus upon abolishing sex work in particular rather than the interrogation of work in general. We argue that sex worker activists, who advocate for decriminalisation and destigmatisation, display a more sophisticated and critical approach to work than sex work abolitionists. The goal of sex worker advocacy is not to reify work, but rather to make visible under-recognised labour as part of a longer-term project to resist it. The recognition that sex work is work demands to be seen, not as an endpoint, but as a lever.
The capitalist system cannot exist without unlimited “development,” “growth,” “expansion,” and it is leading, in the next few decades, to an ecological catastrophe without precedent in human history. A radical alternative must therefore be an anticapitalist one. Ecosocialism is one such antisystemic alternative. It is a current of ecological thought and action that appropriates the fundamental gains proposed in Marxism, while shaking off any productivist dross. Ecosocialists see both the logic of markets and the logic of bureaucratic authoritarianism, as it existed in the former USSR, as incompatible with the need to safeguard the environment in general and the climate in particular. Ecosocialism is an attempt to provide a radical civilizational alternative, based on the basic arguments of the ecological movement, and of the Marxist critique of political economy.
This article contributes to recent discussions of temporality in relation to the concept of “world,” and especially, to how thinking “world” with “time” can rejuvenate postcolonial figurations of futurity. The theoretical texts I discuss include Pheng Cheah’s What Is a World?, Darieck Scott’s Extravagant Abjection, and Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Provincializing Europe. I retrieve the distinction in these works between the structural dislocations that “found” human being and decompose linear time, and more properly historical decenterings in which the heterotemporal is an effect of social processes of exploitation and (colonial-capitalist) domination. To honor this distinction, I place recent thinkers into dialogue with Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse, suggesting that a post-poststructuralist reclamation of the latter is particularly overdue. The article culminates in an explication of Zoë Wicomb’s David’s Story—a work that asks us to live through its form that postcolonial mode of the nonsynchronous with which my argument is concerned.
This chapter considers the concept of emotional labour in relation to Shakespearean drama. Emotional labour, a term coined by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild in her pioneering study of flight attendants, describes the skilled management of feeling by service and care workers. The concept has recent been taken up by critics of Shakespeare to characterise the work of the theatre in manipulating the emotions of its audience, a natural development given that theorists like Hochschild were themselves inspired by work on the performing arts. Against conceptions of emotional labour as evanescent and lacking in surplus value, the chapter argues that the emotional work of the stage has enduring effects on the bearing and sensibilities of its audience. Through readings of metatheatrical moments in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ben Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour, it contends that early modern plays were not only concerned with the expression and solicitation of emotion: they also explicitly sought to condition the emotional practice of their spectators.
The political economy of crime and harm is a vast topic covering diverse issues and, as with many approaches to crime, cannot be neatly categorised according to one or another theory (Reiner 2017). This chapter focuses on how critical criminology understands the political economic framing of crime, in particular as it relates to the powerful. It examines a range of approaches based largely, though not exclusively, on Marxist-related theories and their various interpretations, to include radical criminology (Taylor et al. 1973), left realism (Young & Lea 1984), subcultural conflict theory emerging from research conducted by members of the British Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (Hall et al. 1978) and the emergence of theories of crimes of the powerful developed from the 1970s onwards by scholars such as Pearce (1976), Box (1983) and Reiman (1979). As these approaches interrogate the structures of power, they also question how crime is defined, and in whose interests. Hence a common feature in the study of crimes of the powerful is the inclusion of acts which are not legally proscribed but rather constitute ‘social harms’.
W. E. B. Du Bois’s engagement with the thought of Karl Marx forms an important aspect of his intellectual biography, yet its contours crystallize explicitly only late in his written work, and its development prior to the 1930s remains insufficiently understood. In order to bring to light the mix of criticisms, reservations, ideals, and inspirations that shape this reception, this article explores its trajectory as exhaustively as the available documentation permits, beginning from Du Bois’s early training in economics as a university student, continuing through his increasing attention to socialism in the early 1900s and his embrace of Soviet communism in the 1920s, and culminating in the 1930s in his teaching of Marx at Atlanta University and the overtly Marxian positions he adopts in Black Reconstruction (1935).
“Cold Wars and Hot” situates the 1960s in Europe in the twin contexts of Third World decolonization struggles and the global Cold War, tracing its roots in the anti-fascist struggles of the postwar period and the anti-Stalinist rebellions of the 1950s. The latter, in Hungary and Poland especially, sought not a return to capitalism but a path forward to socialist workers’ democracy that, even if stillborn in the East, placed key items on the agenda for the European 1960s. Even in the face of the post-1945 persistence of fascist structures and ideas, meanwhile, key moments in European revolutionary history—above all the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s—continued to reverberate in the radical imagination of the 1960s. The chapter concludes with an examination of the emergence of an anti-Stalinist New Left, in Great Britain and elsewhere, which in the late 1950s and early 1960s laid the indispensable foundation for the student and countercultural rebellions of later in the decade.
This chapter turns to the nationalist critique of the British state from the 1960s. It demonstrates how indebted independence supporters have been to the writings of Tom Nairn and the wider New Left’s characterisation of Britain as an antediluvian relic that historically evaded an adequate process of modernisation. In particular, the chapter demonstrates the importance of ‘imperialism’ to nationalist thinking, insofar as nationalists saw the fundamental weakness of British national identity as its close connection with empire and the economic ‘decline’ of the British state as related to its loss of colonial possessions. However, the chapter also documents the fading away of the Marxist and economistic elements of this critique of Britain over the course of the 1980s and 1990s, to be replaced by a robust, but avowedly political, democratic republicanism, which identified the British state’s chief shortcoming as a failure to become a proper bourgeois democracy.
Chapter 2 explains how the constructions of blackness in Mexican history and society described in Chapter 1 coalesced in the 1930s, when Mexican politics radicalized and Marxist historical materialism established a basis for new social justice initiatives and a revised national narrative. With class conflict animating Mexican historiography and political and economic reforms, African slaves and their descendants entered a national pantheon that embraced blackness for the first time. Amid this historiographic consensus, slave resistance, epitomized by the maroon community founded by Gaspar Yanga, laid the foundation for Mexican anticolonialism and independence, the liberal claim to racial egalitarianism, and the Mexican Revolution. Focusing on the 1930s, this chapter argues that historians and historically oriented intellectuals -- chiefly Andrés Molina Enríquez, Rafael Ramos Pedrueza, Alfonso Teja Zabre, and José Mancisidor -- celebrated black bellicosity within a broader cross-class rejection of racial exploitation. With a materialist scaffolding to construct blackness as Mexican, they depicted historical figures, such as José María Morelos and Emiliano Zapata, as African-descended national heroes, symbols of the 1910 Revolution, and political theorists who set the stage for socialism in the not too distant future.
The introductory chapter traces the various theoretical and empirical questions the book explores. Connecting the two revolutions of 1952 and 2011, I suggest that they should be understood as part of one historical trajectory. I sketch out the broader debates that have taken place between Marxism and postcolonialism, before delving into the particular conversation Gramsci and Fanon have throughout the book. I argue that while there are important tensions in how Gramsci and Fanon conceptualize political and social change, there is something productive in bringing them together through Fanon’s call to ‘stretch Marxism’. The chapter further explores travelling theory more broadly, as well as the specifics of hegemony as a travelling theory, before presenting an outline of the book.
This study presents an alternative story of the 2011 Egyptian revolution by revisiting Egypt's moment of decolonisation in the mid-twentieth century. Anticolonial Afterlives in Egypt explores the country's first postcolonial project, arguing that the enduring afterlives of anticolonial politics, connected to questions of nationalism, military rule, capitalist development and violence, are central to understanding political events in Egypt today. Through an imagined conversation between Antonio Gramsci and Frantz Fanon, two foundational theorists of anti-capitalism and anticolonialism, Anticolonial Afterlives in Egypt focuses on issues of resistance, revolution, mastery and liberation to show how the Nasserist project, created by Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Free Officers in 1952, remains the only instance of hegemony in modern Egyptian history. In suggesting that Nasserism was made possible through local, regional and global anticolonial politics, even as it reproduced colonial ways of governing that continue to reverberate into Egypt's present, this interdisciplinary study thinks through questions of traveling theory, global politics, and resistance and revolution in the postcolonial world.
The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century US economy maimed and killed employees at an astronomically high rate, while the legal system left the injured and their loved ones with little recourse. In the 1910s, US states enacted workers' compensation laws, which required employers to pay a portion of the financial costs of workplace injuries. Nate Holdren uses a range of archival materials, interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives, and compelling narration to criticize the shortcomings of these laws. While compensation laws were a limited improvement for employees in economic terms, Holdren argues that these laws created new forms of inequality, causing people with disabilities to lose their jobs, while also resulting in new forms of inhumanity. Ultimately, this study raises questions about law and class and about when and whether our economy and our legal system produce justice or injustice.
Chapter one presents the conceptual framework for the book through an examination of the relationship between capitalist development and democratization. In doing so, it challenges the assumption, pervasive in much of the literature on economic liberalization in the Global South, that the liberalization of markets facilitates the growth of democratization. The chapter articulates an alternative analytical framework rooted in class analysis. This framework does two things. First, it conceptualizes the main actors among Egypt’s elite as competing fractions of capital, vying for dominance in a context of profound socio-economic change. Secondly, it conceptualizes neoliberalism as a form of capitalism rooted in strategies of accumulation predicated upon the dispossession of the popular classes. In doing so, this chapter articulates the concept of neoliberal authoritarianism as a framework for understanding Egypt’s process of economic liberalization
Some might question the rationale for including liberation theology in this book. It is rarely discussed in international relations, most scholars having left it to the subfield of comparative politics. Even there, it has played a subservient role in studies of democratic change in Latin America.1 As a movement of church renewal, its growth has been far surpassed by Pentecostalism and charismatic Catholicism since the 1980s.2
Chapter 1 deals with those pre-twentieth-century Russian thinkers who developed their views of personhood and of freedom in dialogue with Western philosophy, and articulated the broad framework for later liberalisms. With the exception of Boris Chicherin, the men discussed in this chapter did not self-identify readily as liberals, but their engagement with both the value of negative freedom enshrined in law, and the idea of a social, ethical project, provided a powerful legacy on which their successors drew. While the possibilities for political participation increased towards the end of the century, the engagement with liberalism during this period was largely an intellectual endeavour.
This chapter examines the critique of the production of affect advanced by a range of thinkers in the Marxist tradition, above all, Theodor Adorno, but also including Herbert Marcuse, Raymond Williams, and E. P. Thompson. It focuses in particular on what Adorno describes as the ‘diversionary function’ of ostensibly positive affective states – especially what he calls ‘fun’, a multiply freighted word, as the chapter shows – and asks what it means to categorise such states as ‘false’. The degree to which affective states are open to misinterpretation by those undergoing them is, therefore, a central question in this chapter. Drawing on Keston Sutherland’s recent emphasis on the role of disgust in Marx’s satirical account of capitalist production, the chapter will in conclusion emphasise the affective charge of the Marxist critique of affect itself.
takes up the issue of human ‘self-education’ first raised in the Preface. The Marxist theory of self-education is compared with the approach of utilitarians/consequentialists to human agency that underpins (at least to some extent) much of the recent work in the field of economic psychology. It is argued that these two approaches are not as incompatible as is often assumed. More broadly, the author engages with recent work in the psychology of cooperation, which intersects in important ways with both Marxist and consequentialist approaches.
The fall of the Qing dynasty was followed by the successive creation of two republics: the Republic of China (‘ROC’), established in 1912 and ultimately dominated by the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the People’s Republic of China (‘PRC’), established in 1949 by the Chinese Communist Party (‘CCP’) headed by Mao Zedong. Treatment of the two Chinas in the international arena could hardly have been more different. Never exercising more than nominal control over the entirety of the territory it claimed, the ROC was riven by an endless succession of warlords, an even greater number of Westerners holding onto semi-colonial privileges they claimed to have inherited from the Qing, a civil war between Nationalists and Communists, and a brutal occupation by Japan. Nevertheless, while there was no shortage of people in China rejecting the claims of the Nationalist Government, internationally no one doubted its legal existence, even when contradicted by facts.