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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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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

The Social Origins of Materialism and Socialism

The Social Origins of Materialism and Socialism

Chapter:
(p.18) 2 The Social Origins of Materialism and Socialism
Source:
An Anthropology of Marxism
Author(s):

Cedric J. Robinson

, H. L. T. Quan, Avery F. Gordon
Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469649917.003.0002

In this chapter, Robinson takes on what he sees as Marx’s fallacious assumption that socialism requires the existence of full-blown capitalism. Instead, Robinson explores the history of materialism and political economy in Europe in relation to late medieval Christianity and the Roman Church as a way to uncover other lineages of Western socialism. He traces the genealogy of materialism upon which Marx himself relied—drawing from German idealists and eighteenth century bourgeois ideas—and contrasts this with an alternative genealogy of modern materialist discourse (Aristotelianism, Dualism, Classical materialism, historical materialism). He shows how bourgeois resistance against the Church’s political order in the thirteenth century took the form of socialist communities. This socialist-oriented resistance was then repressed and co-opted by Church leaders before reappearing in the popular impulses of the French Revolution, eventually leading to Marx’s secular expression of socialism. Robinson argues that Marxism ignores this history of non-industrial socialism, accepting many assumptions of bourgeois historiography and leading him to assume that full industrial, bourgeois society is necessary to the establishment of socialism. This effaces the thirteenth century precedents to nineteenth century Western socialism.

Keywords:   Marxism, Marx, Christianity, materialism, Western socialism, bourgeoisie, socialist community, secularism

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