Marxism and Migration


Racism in and for the Welfare State


Intellectuals and Communist Culture


Branko Milanovic, Intervention. Journalism as Emancipation

The literature on the Third, or Old, Marx, by which I mean the literature that deals with the last 16 years of his life (approximately from the publication of “Capital” in 1867 to his death in 1883) is becoming increasingly frequent and influential. I have already reviewed Kevin Anderson’s excellent “Marx at the Margins”. Marcello Musto’s “Les dernieres annees de Karl Marx” (I read the book in French) or “The last years of Karl Marx” is an important addition. Musto’s original was published in 2016 in Italian, and, as he writes in the preface, has already been translated into twenty languages.
Musto’s main thesis, like in other books on the Third Marx, is that Marx’s last years, far from being barren as the common view holds, have been filled with uninterrupted readings in all areas, from ethnography and anthropology to physics, increasing interest in mathematics (which Marx used mostly as a passe-temps) and, most importantly, political and economic discussions that led him further away from the Eurocentric stadial philosophy of history. It is this last part that is, for obvious reasons, most relevant for us today. It “creates” the third Marx: the first being the one of human condition, of “Philosophic and Economic Manuscripts” and “German Ideology”, the second, and best known, the one of “Capital” and other economic writings, and the third, the Marx of globalization.
Despite what Musto attempts to prove, namely that Marx was intellectually very active until almost the end of his life, the reader remains somewhat unconvinced by the argument. In fact, as the detailed chronological review of the last years (and especially of the last two years) shows Marx suffered a lot due to his bad health, deaths in the family (of his wife in 1881, and then just before his own death of his oldest daughter), continued to read and make copious notes across disciplines, but did not really produce much. His objective of finishing at least volume 2 of “Capital” was unfulfilled. Finishing volume 3 was not even on the horizon.
The last intellectually significant contribution was Marx’s discussion in the seventies, with several Russian authors, of Russia’s transition to socialism. That discussion is not only important because of what happened later but because Marx was, for the first time, faced with the question whether his stadial theory of history and ineluctability of socialism, meant also that very diverse societies had to go through the same stages as Western Europe or not. Marx became quite aware of the problem, and papered it over by writing that his schemata were based on West European experience only. This is the non-dogmatic Marx that Musto privileges in his interpretation.
However, the danger of being non-dogmatic is the following: if one admis a multitude of economic systems, or that similar conditions may lead to very different outcomes, one eventually remains without any distinct socio-economic theory, but with many individual case studies. They can be discussed in great detail one by one, and very reasonably so, but this “segmentation” also rules out the inevitability of the ultimate aim that Marx entertained throughout his life: the emancipation of labor, or in other words, socialization of the means of production. If anything can happen, why are we convinced that emancipation of labor is ineluctable?
Looking at the caution with which Marx approached the Russian question (can land held in common be the basis for communist development? does Russia need to develop capitalism first?), one can easily see how very conscient Marx was of the problem. Insisting on Western European stages of history meant irrelevance of his theory for the rest of the world (including India into which Marx was quite interested), but “diluting” his theory too much meant undermining the historical necessity of the ultimate objective. It is only thus that we can understand Marx’s hesitation on the Russian question, and numerous drafts of his famous reply to Vera Zasulich’s letter.
Musto comes to the conclusion that Marx accepted the Russian populists’ view that the commune can provide the basis for direct transition to communism, and against the view that Russian socialists need do nothing but cheer the advance of capitalism in the hope that, when capitalism is sufficiently advanced, it would lead the country automatically to socialism. In other words, Marx accepted the multiplicity of the paths to socialism, and even the political way of achieving this through insurrection and revolution. The multiplicity of the ways to socialism is therefore ideologically compatible with Blanquism or Leninism: audacious political action that may not be fully supported by the “objective” economic conditions, as a way to force history. Lenin’s and later Mao’s interpretations of Marxism are certainly consistent with this view.
A different interpretation is also possible, but its political implication is “attentisme”, that is reformism and pragmatism that eventually took over German Social-democracy and Eduard Bernstein, whom both Marx and Engels thought to be its most promising leader. The two aspects of Marx that are, in theory, indissoluble: a student of historical processes and a political activist, collide. One has to choose what to do: to be a Fabian or a Leninist.
Choosing the latter, that is, “forcing history” leads to some unpleasant conclusions. Not only can “reasonable” voluntarism be endorsed, but even much more “costly” measures too. If it makes sense to use common ownership of land as in the Russian obshchina to build upon it a much more developed, but collectively owned, system, it does make sense, as Stalin did, to proceed to collectivization. Collectivization can be seen not solely as a means to increase agricultural output through economies of scale but to solve the socio-economic puzzle. Stolypin’s reforms and then, after 1917, the seizure of land belonging to nobility had created a very numerous small-holding peasantry. The obshchina mode of production was spontaneously and naturally transformed into a small-scale and increasingly capitalist mode of production. But if a short-cut to socialism is possible, would not the argument that this multitude of small holdings should be combined into a more general collective ownership, supported by more advanced technology, be valid?
The statement on the feasibility of different ways of transition to socialism thus leads one to the acceptance of revolutionary practice as a “midwife” of new economic formations which in turn allows for ever more voluntaristic, or politically-motivated, moves.
Musto does not seem, in my opinion, to fully realize that what seems, from today’s perspective, open-mindedness and non-dogmatism of Marx, can lead to the outcomes like collectivization that he rightly deplores. This is the dilemma faced even today: if everything (or most) is a matter of political will, then, with skillful leaders, the underlying economic and social conditions become less important, and one enters the realm of arbitrariness. But if everything is decided by the social “fundamentals”, then there is no role for politics, or there is only a role for the politics of the possible which is timid, boring and self-limiting.


Dwi Rezki Hardianto, Tribun-Timur

TRIBUN-TIMUR.COM, MAKASSAR – Pengkaji ulung sosiologi pasti tak asing dengan nama Marcello Musto. Ia adalah Profesor Sosiologi York University, Toronto, Kanada.

Bagi Etienne Balibar, Filsuf Kontemporer Prancis Musto adalah pemikir besar yang berkontribusi pada pengkajian kehidupan Marx.

Selama 25 tahun, dirinya bersenggama dengan Marx.

Perjumpaan awal saya dengan beliau melalui dua bukunya Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International (2018) dan The Last Years of Karl Marx: An Intellectual Biography (2020). Perjumpaan itu terjadi pada awal tahun ini.

Kemudian kedua adalah perjumpaan langsung. Dalam perjumpaan ini, saya tentu berterima kasih dengan Ronny Agustinus (Pendiri Marjin Kiri) karena telah menghubungkan kami, sehingga pada 21 Juli 2023, Universitas Sawerigading menjadi kampus yang berkesan bagi Musto.

Dari kedua perjumpaan itu saya mampu memahami Marx dengan arah intelektual lain yang tidak hanya berbicara persoalan perjuangan kelas, determinasi ekonomi, dan hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan sejarah Eropa.

Melainkan berbicara tentang kolonialisme, antropologi, gender, perkembangan kapitalisme di Amerika Serikat, kondisi Rusia, bahkan tentang masyarakat Muslim (Arab).

Studi Marx dengan beberapa topik itu dapat ditemui pada rentan tahun 1879-1882 atau 3 tahun terakhir dari hidup Marx melalui buku-buku, catatan-catatan, dan surat-suratnya, baik yang terpublikasi maupun yang tidak terpublikasi.

Tentang Kolonialisme

Studi Marx tentang kolonialisme berkutat pada tahun 1879-1881.

Kajiannya meliputi kolonialisasi Spanyol di Amerika Latin, Inggris di India, dan Prancis di Aljazair.

Marx melihat bahwa bentuk kolonialisasi tersebut dilakukan atas kepentingan penguasaan tanah penduduk setempat.

Bagi Marx, bentuk pendudukan tersebut sangat beragam. Spanyol, misalnya, langkah pertama adalah menaklukkan orang indian (Redskins) dan selanjutnya mempekerjakan mereka untuk mengeruk emas di tanahnya sendiri.

Di India, masyarakat kolektif tetap diberikan kebebasan untuk mengelolah tanahnya, tetapi kepemlikan tersebut diatur melalui regulasi Inggris, seperti pembayaran sewa atas tanahnya sendiri.

Kemudian di Aljazair, langkah utama yang ditempuh oleh Prancis adalah melemahkan kolektivitas masyarakat. kedua, mengalihkan tanah mereka menjadi objek perdagangan bebas melalui regulasi dan mengoversinya menjadi tanah pemerintah.

Dari ketiga lokasi geografis tersebut, Marx lebih condong membahas persoalan India melalui bukunya Notebooks on Indian History (664-1858) yang disusun pada 1879-1880. Dan dari India, Marx dalam suratnya kepada Nikolai Danielson pada Februari 1881 melihat bahwa persoalan yang disebabkan oleh Inggris, justru melahirkan kolektivitas kuat (antara hindu dan muslim) di India untuk melawannya.

Ketiga lokasi geografis itu, sama sekali belum terjamah oleh kapitalisme Eropa, sehingga sangat memungkinkan revolusi terjadi tanpa kehadiran kapitalisme.

Namun, ramalan kaum Marxis generasi justru melihatnya sangat mekanik dan bertahap. Pandangan ini dikutuk oleh Marx.

Menolak Historisisme: Marx Melampaui Zaman Post?

Dalam studi Antropologi Marx, melalui buku The Ethnological Notebooks, Ia mengkritik dengan lantang para antropolog dan etnolog abad 19 dan yang mendaku sebagai Marxis.

Bagi Marx, tatapan mereka terhadap sejarah sangat kaku dan mekanis, mereka seolah-olah menjadikan dunia kapitalis sebagai tujuan yang seragam.

Mereka menggap bahwa sejarah memiliki rentetan tahapan yang tak terhindarkan. Bagi Marx, pandangan seperti ini justru melahirkan kenaifan dan kepasifan. Hal tersebut justru melemahkan gerakan sosial dan politik masyarakat.

Marx dengan tegas menolak seruan historisisme satu arah dan dirinya justru mempertahankan pandangannya bahwa sejarah berlaku fleksibel dan plural.

Dalam posisi ini, Marx kemudian berupaya mendekonstruksi sejarah yang kompleks dari perjalanan zaman primitif hingga kapitalisme. Bahwa kehadiran kapitalisme sebagai tahapan belum tentu hadir di belahan dunia lain.

Pandangan Marx yang seperti itu mengingatkan saya dengan Michel Foucault Filsuf Poststrukturalisme, yang melihat sejarah secara diskontinuitas. Sebab, setiap sejarah memiliki pengetahuan dan rezim kekuasannya masing-masing.

Selain itu, Marx juga menolak adanya hubungan yang mapan (pasti) antara perubahan sosial dengan transformasi ekonomi saja.

Menurut Musto, Marx pada saat itu melepaskan dirinya dari jebakan determinisme ekonomi.

Pandangan itu, mengingatkan saya dengan Antonio Gramsci—sebagai postmarxisme, yang menolak determinisme sturkutur ekonomi dalam mengubah sejarah manusia.

Selain ini, ketika saya berdiskusi dengan Musto, Ia mengatkan bahwa konsep yang digagas oleh Baudrillard soal ekonomi tanda, juga ada di zaman Marx.

Menurutnya, saat itu Marx melihat bahwa mayoritas masyarakat tidak lagi membeli produk karena nilai guna dan nilai tukarnya, tetapi nilai tanda yang melekat pada produk tersebut.

Dari fakta-fakta tersebut, saya menyimpulkan, Marx melampaui zamannya.

Marx di Aljazair: Mengagumi Hubungan Sosial Umat Muslim

Banyak yang mengatakan bahwa Marx sangat membenci agama. Namun, pandangan itu dinegasi melalui perjalanan Marx di Aljazair pada tahun 1882.

Perjalanan itu memiliki dua tujuan: mengobati penyakit Bronkitis akutnya, dan melihat langsung realitas masyarakat muslim. Selama 72 hari Marx bermukim di tepi selatan Mediterania.

Marx melihat bahwa kepemilikan kolektif sangat kuat di kalangan orang-orang arab, pembawaannya yang rendah hati, dan kesetaraan mutlak di antara mereka.

Dalam surat menyuratnya dengan Engels pada 22-25 Februari 1882, Marx mengagumi konsep masyarakat kaum muslim, “Bagi Kaum Muslim tidak ada yang namanya subordinasi, mereka bukan subjek atau warga negara, tidak ada otoritas kecuali dalam politik, sesuatu yang gagal dipahami oleh orang Eropa”.

Marx dalam hal ini justru menyerang pandangan orang-orang Eropa yang sangat angkuh di hadapan kaum Muslim.

Ketika saya berdiskusi dengan Musto, Ia lebih tegas mengatakan bahwa Marx sebenarnya tidak membenci agama. Ia berupaya agar agama tidak dijadikan sebagai sebagai opium, dan biarlah agama menjadi hal privat bagi seseorang.

Objek kritik dari Marx adalah ketika masyarakat sangat konservatif dengan agamanya. Marx berharap agama menjadi alat yang sangat progresif, sebagaiaman yang terjadi di Aljazair.

Sejalan dengan harapan Marx dalam bukunya A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843), masyarakat yang beragama seharusnya menjadikan kritik surga menjadi kritik bumi, kritik agama menjadi kritik hukum, dan kritik teologi menjadi kritik politik. Inilah harapan Marx.

Dan Aljazair menjadi perjalanan terakhir Marx. Subhanallah! (*)



El trabajo alienado en Karl Marx