“Scornful neglect and intemperate hostility, haughty dismissal and marginal course adoption, selective co-optation and selective bowdlerization: these are some of the strategies of establishment intellectuals over the years in response to the challenger of the thinker born 204 years ago in Trier. Yet, here we are near the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, and it sometimes seems that Karl Marx’s ideas have never been as topical, or as commanding of respect and interest, as they are today.” —Marcello Musto, from the Preface, The Marx Revival
On His Birthday, Let’s Celebrate the Old Man Karl Marx. Karl Marx’s final years of life are often overlooked as a period of intellectual and physical decline. But his thought remained vibrant to the end, as he addressed political questions that are still relevant to us today.
As Europe, broadly the West, goes to war and the media grimly predicts a third world war, this panel discussion asks pertinent questions about the meaning of this war for the working people of the world and in particular the rest of the world. The ‘third’ world or the ‘global south’ has historically been crucial in the construction of Europe as the dominant and civilized other. What are the geopolitical implications of the present war in Europe for the rest of the world? How does this war hinder the prospect of global peace and people’s security? What is the impact of the war on food security, energy security, and in general security of nations? Is there any necessity for the weaker and smaller nations and the working people to take side in the war? Must they support military alliances? Is this war, which includes weaponised policies of economic sanctions and discriminatory policies of protection of refugees, essential to save “democracy”? What, in fact, will be the definition of peace in this context? How can we articulate the politics of peace in this time?
The speakers of the panel discussion are :
Professor Marcello Musto, Professor of Sociological Theory, York University, Toronto.
Professor Sandro Mezzadra, Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Bologna, Italy.
Professor Ranabir Samaddar, Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group, India.
Professor Paula Banerjee, Professor and Head in South and South-East Asian Studies, University of Calcutta & Calcutta Research Group, India will moderate the panel discussion.
“The realm of freedom really begins only where labor determined by necessity and external expediency ends; it lies by its very nature beyond the sphere of material production proper. Just as the savage must wrestle with nature to satisfy his needs, to maintain and reproduce his life, so must civilized man, and he must do so in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. This realm of natural necessity expands with his development, because his needs do too; but the productive forces to satisfy these expand at the same time. Freedom, in this sphere, can consist only in this, that socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective control instead of being dominated by it as a blind power; accomplishing it with the least expenditure of energy and in conditions most worthy and appropriate for their human nature. But this always remains a realm of necessity. The true realm of freedom, the development of human powers as an end in itself, begins beyond it, though it can only flourish with this realm of necessity as its basis. The reduction of the working day is the basic prerequisite.” —Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume Three
The postcapitalist system of production, together with scientific–technological progress and a consequent reduction of the working day, creates the possibility for a new social formation in which the coercive, alienated labor imposed by capital and subject to its laws is gradually replaced with conscious, creative activity beyond the yoke of necessity, and in which complete social relations take the place of random, undifferentiated exchange dictated by the laws of commodities and money. It is no longer the realm of freedom for capital but the realm of genuine human freedom.
—Marcello Musto, Introduction to Karl Marx’s Writings on Alienation
Marcello Musto is a professor of Sociology at York University (Toronto, Canada) and is acknowledged globally as one of the authors who has made significant contributions to the revival of Marx studies over the last decade. His major writings comprise Another Marx: Early Manuscripts to the International (Bloomsbury, 2018); and The Last Years of Karl Marx: An Intellectual Biography (Stanford, 2020). Among his edited books there are Workers Unite! The International 150 Years Later (Bloomsbury, 2014); Marx’s Capital after 150 Years: Critique and Alternative to Capitalism, (Routledge, 2019); and The Marx Revival: Key Concepts and New Interpretations (Cambridge, 2020). His writings are available at www.marcellomusto.org and have been published in 25 languages.
MICHAEL HARDT is a professor of Literature at Duke University, and a political philosopher whose writings explore new forms of domination in the world as well as social movements and other forces of liberation that counter such domination. In the Empire trilogy—Empire (Harvard, 2000), Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire(Penguin, 2004), and Commonwealth (Harvard, 2009)—he and Antonio Negri investigate the political, legal, economic, and social aspects of globalization. Their most recent work, Assembly (Oxford, 2017), challenges social movements having traditional, centralized forms of political leadership and instead advocate a social unionism—a combination of mixing labor organizing with social movements.
En los últimos treinta años se han sucedido grandes transformaciones políticas y económicas. Los cambios sociales generados por la globalización neoliberal, el auge de las cuestiones ecológicas, una de las peores crisis económicas mundiales de la historia y la pandemia del COVID-19 nos obligan a reflexionar urgentemente sobre la necesidad de alternativas al sistema capitalista.
En su breve vida, la Asociación Internacional de Trabajadores se convirtió en el símbolo de la lucha de clases e influyó en las ideas de millones de trabajadores de todo el mundo. Los programas políticos, las resoluciones y los documentos de la Primera Internacional nos permiten aprender de las experiencias históricas de sus protagonistas y, al mismo tiempo, teorizar mejor las soluciones a nuestros problemas actuales.
In times of crisis one feels the need to return to the reading of the “classics”, that is, to those authors who, despite the passage of time, are still essential to understanding society and continue to provide critical tools to transform it. Giambattista Vico and Karl Marx certainly fall into this category and Professor Marcello Musto will give a talk on their conceptions of history, and their main contributions to social sciences.
En los últimos años de su vida, Karl Marx extendió su investigación a nuevas disciplinas, conflictos políticos, cuestiones teóricas y áreas geográficas. Marx estudió los recientes descubrimientos antropológicos, analizó las formas comunales de propiedad en las sociedades precapitalistas, apoyó la lucha del movimiento de los naródniki en Rusia, expresó críticas a la opresión colonial en India, Irlanda, Argelia y Egipto, y viajó más allá de Europa por primera y única vez. Karl Marx, 1881-1883. Marcello Musto disipa el mito de que Marx dejó de escribir en la vejez y desafía la distorsionada representación de Marx como un pensador eurocéntrico y economicista que estaba obsesionado sólo con el conflicto de clases.
In this book launch five authors of Rethinking Alternatives with Marx (edited by Marcello Musto, Palgrave, 2021) will present a Marx that is in many ways different from the one popularized by the dominant currents of twentieth-century Marxism.
The dual aim of this collective volume is to contribute to a new critical discussion of some of the classical themes of Marx’s thought and to develop a deeper analysis of certain questions to which relatively little attention has been paid until recently.
Between December 1880 and June 1881, Marx’s research interests focused on a new discipline: anthropology. He began with the study of Ancient Society (1877), a work by the U.S. anthropologist Lewis Morgan. What struck Marx most was the way in which Morgan treated production and technological factors as preconditions of social progress, and he felt moved to assemble a compilation of a hundred densely packed pages of excerpts from this book. These make up the bulk of what are known as the The Ethnological Notebooks.
They also contain excerpts from other works: Java, or How to Manage a Colony (1861) by James Money (1818-1890), a lawyer and Indonesia expert; The Aryan Village in India and Ceylon (1880) by John Phear (1825-1905), president of the supreme court of Ceylon; and Lectures on the Early History of Institutions (1875) by the historian Henry Maine (1822-1888), amounting to a total of another hundred sheets. Marx’s comparative assessments of these authors is fundamental to have a clear idea of the main theoretical preoccupations of the “late Marx” and suggests an innovative reassessment of some of his key concepts.
A Conversation between Marcello Musto, Kevin B. Anderson, Himani Bannerji & David N. Smith