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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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Reality and Its Representation

Reality and Its Representation

(p.117) 5 Reality and Its Representation
An Anthropology of Marxism

Cedric J. Robinson

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

In the final chapter, Robinson summarizes the implications of his anthropology of Marxist thought and his alternative history of Western socialism. He argues that the iconography of Marxism effaces the longer history of Western socialism, instead displacing all potential for radical change to the proletariat in the era of capitalism. The fetishization of industrial labor by Marx, Engels, and Lenin then has the effect, he argues, of excluding all socialist revolt that takes place outside of the urban proletariat—radical action in Algeria, Cuba, Iran, etc.—from the history of socialism, making socialism into an idea for the future rather than something that could also exist in the past. Mistakenly transfixing the origins of socialist theory to Marx or making his ideas into universals rather than contextually specific philosophy in fact restricts the theoretical and practical development of socialism. The history of Western socialism radiated from the desperation, rage, and anguish of the oppressed long before Marx identified it in the French Revolution and will survive Marxism’s conceits because, Robinson argues, socialist discourse is an irrepressible response to social injustice in world history.

Keywords:   Western socialism, Marxism, Marx, Engels, Lenin, socialist discourse, capitalism, industrial labor

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