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An Anthropology of Marxism$
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Cedric J. Robinson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469649917

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469649917.001.0001

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Coming to Terms with Marxian Taxonomy

Coming to Terms with Marxian Taxonomy

(p.1) 1 Coming to Terms with Marxian Taxonomy
An Anthropology of Marxism

Cedric J. Robinson

, H. L. T. Quan, Avery F. Gordon
University of North Carolina Press

In this chapter, Robinson explores the development of Western socialism—its roots in English political economy, French socialism, and German philosophy—in order to show the contextually specific origins of Marxism. Robinson argues that Marx conflates phenomena that are particular to Europe with a uniform global system—capitalism—derived through his supposedly objective mode of analysis. The chapter argues that the historical materialism and Western socialism that is often taken as a scientific discovery was instead the result of Engels’ and Lenin’s interpretations of Marx’s own contextually (and nationally) specific writings. Marxism’s profoundest mistake, Robinson argues, is the conflation of deep social critique with the work of the intelligentsia, therefore making the work of socialism that of a small group of elites. Moreover, Marx equates realizable socialism with the arrival of capitalism. Robinson argues that this effectively ties the future of socialism with the existence of capitalism, thus diminishing the paths open to effective social struggle.

Keywords:   Western socialism, historical materialism, Marxism, Marx, Engels, Lenin, German philosophy, national culture

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