As this issue
is being assembled, the opposition to the war on Iraq continues to grow, in the United States and around the world. Millions of citizens have protested the U.S.-led preparations for war in the streets of New York and Washington, D.C., in major cities and small towns across the globe, on college and university campuses, and via the internet. Alongside familiar themes (such as opposition to shedding blood for oil, fear for the many lives that would be lost in the war and subsequent occupation, and worrying about the threats to civil liberties and political expression within the belligerent countries themselves), the Left now founds itself in the position of retrieving the banner of antiimperialism. Aided by the imperial designs clearly set forth in the speeches and memoranda of the Bush administration, it appears that left-wing intellectuals and activists are beginning to reacquaint themselves with the rich Marxian tradition of theorizing and confronting imperialism. This is an important opportunityâ€”not only to return to that tradition for intellectual and political inspiration but also to rethink it, to take up the challenge of analyzing and articulating what imperialism means in the concrete circumstances of the current conjuncture. One of the aims is, of course, is to stop the war on Iraq, by critically examining its conditions and consequences. But we cannot lose sight of another goal: to demonstrate that other ways of organizing the society in which we live are both necessary and attainable. That was precisely the theme of the third World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil: â€śAnother World Is Possible.â€ť More than 80,000 (up to 100,00, according to some observers) individuals from Brazil, Latin America, and many other nations (including 1500 from the United States) gathered to protest the policies and practices of global capitalism, especially the impending war and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (the FTAA, or ALCA in Spanish and Portuguese). While the speeches and demonstrations focused on those themes, many of the workshops and panel discussions were devoted to discussing and developing alternativesâ€”particularly noncapitalist forms of economic and social organization. The rubrics under which this discussion took place were diverse (economy
of solidarity, gift economy, subsidiarity, local reproduction, participatory socialism, etc.), with as many different goals (an end to exploitation, full employment, access to basic human services, respect for biodiversity, etc.). In the view of many, these are the kinds of contributions to a new economic and social imaginary that need to be nurtured through and beyond the current campaign against imperialism and its bellicose trajectory.
Daniel Moshenberg suggests that the path to other possible worlds runs through the work of creating a new literacy of modernity. Beginning with a staged conversation among some of the key contexts of postcolonial studies (by Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Arjun Appadurai, and Gayatri Spivak), and then interrogating the gender dimensions of key news items that appeared in the New York Times during Fashion Week 2001, Moshenberg advances his central thesis: â€śthat we follow the invisible threads of sweated homeworkers as a foundation for any reading, and writing, of modernity.â€ť This version of modernity includes womenâ€™s wage homework not as an afterthought or remnant but as a central, constitutive component. Taking a page from Marxâ€™s discussion of â€śmodern industry,â€ť Moshenberg argues that women are converted into â€ścheap laborâ€ť and that, in general, focusing on â€śsweated laborâ€ť (not just labor that takes place in the factory, which has often been taken to be the principle trope of modernity) leads to a way of inscribing modernity from the perspective of women workers. Finally, he draws out the implications of this new approach with four sample readings from the garment, textiles, and fashion industriesâ€”demonstrating the point that, across the world, â€śmodern domestic industry produces, works and fashions, modernity.â€ť
Scholars of Marxism have long relied on the Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe or MEGA, the collected writings of Marx and Engels, and its successor, MEGA 2 . The project itself has been both ambitious (encompassing all of the major works, articles, drafts, correspondence, excerpts, and so on by both writers) and contentious (across the travails of the international communist movement, from the 1931 arrest of David Riazonov, the first editor, through Stalinâ€™s death in 1953 and the fall of the Wall in 1989 to the present day). In this issue, we are pleased to publish the contributions to a symposium, organized by Norman Levine and JĂĽrgen Rojahn, at the Marxism 2000 international gala conference sponsored by RM, which sought to tease out the lessons for contemporary Marxism of the texts that have been made available in the MEGA 2 .
For Rojahn, studying Marxâ€™s notebooks (in which he copied out extracts from other texts and composed his own summaries and reflections) is one of the keys to understanding the development of his method over time, to see â€śMarxâ€™s work as a process of lifelong, uncompleted studies.â€ť This is especially true of the so-called Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, which caused such sensation among Marxist thinkers after their publication in 1932. For Rojahn, the 1844 manuscripts do not represent a coherent text but, instead, a series of notes, extracts, and fragments of a systematic text. That does not diminish their importance, however. Read alongside Marxâ€™s notebooks, they serve to show â€śMarxâ€™s thought in motion,â€ť during a period in which he took up the study of political economy, embraced communism, and began to focus on and to produce the elements of a new approach to class analysis.
Levine focuses his attention on the workbooks that were used in preparing Capital , in order to solve the riddle of the decisive influence that Hegelian philosophy exerted over the method of Marxâ€™s magnum opus . Levine proceeds by examining the role of the category of essence in Hegelâ€™s Science of Logic , which is treated as the permanence underlying Appearance, the â€śpersistent tendencyâ€ť upon which the movement from Being to Absolute Idea takes place. He then reads Marxâ€™s notebooks of the 1860-63 period as fully embracing the Hegelian doctrine of essence. In particular, Levine argues, Marx is able to break from Adam Smith and arrive at a new definition of capitalism (as a process of valorization) only by utilizing essence as a way of conceiving capitalism â€śas a self-contained organism driven forward by inherent tendencies.â€ť
The materials published in the MEGA are a rich source not only for interpreting Marxâ€™s method but also for examining the collaboration of Marx and Engels. Regina Roth chooses a specific example of their working together, the preparation of volume three of Capital (which Engels edited from Marxâ€™s incomplete manuscripts). By comparing the published version with the original manuscripts (and by taking into account their correspondence), Roth discovers both â€ścommon notions and remarkable differencesâ€ť between the approaches of the two men. Yet, because Marx did not leave any â€śauthorized versionâ€ť of the manuscripts, and because there is ample warrant in the manuscripts for the editorial choices that Engels made, Roth concludes that it is pointless to attempt to decide whether or not Marxâ€™s views were distorted by Engels. What scholars who consult the MEGA will eventually be able to do is ask if Engelsâ€™s decisions â€śwere the only possible ones, if there is not another manner in which Marx may be understood.â€ť
Did Marxâ€™s foray into ethnology late in his life represent an abrupt departure (or, less dramatically, a turning away) from his previous theoretical and political work or was it an extension of that work? The answer proposed by David Norman Smith (whose edited volume of Marxâ€™s ethnological notebooks will soon be published) is that, when appropriately situated in the context of his other writings and other activities of that period, Marxâ€™s interest in clan societies was inextricably related to his ongoing work. For Smith, Marxâ€™s annotated commentary on Lewis Henry Morganâ€™s Ancient Society (an interest then taken up by Engels, resulting in his famous small book The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State ) was directly connected to his three major tasks at the time: confronting state socialism in the name of working-class self-emancipation, defending Capital against its critics, and continuing to write the second volume of Capital . Thus, Marxâ€™s readings in the ethnology of global cultures were just not an attempt to understand the past but a way of making sense â€śof the world that capitalism actually faced in Marxâ€™s day.â€ť
In fact, Marx studied and wrote about non-Western societies at two different points in his lifeâ€”in the 1850s and, then again, after 1872. According to Kevin B. Anderson, the later writings (many of which remain unpublished, but are planned for later volumes of MEGA 2 ) â€ślend support to the notion that Marx moved away from the unilinear and often Eurocentric perspectivesâ€ť that are often invoked in criticisms of his work. Even the earlier writings on nationalism, ethnicity, and colonialism (especially in India, China, and Russia) can be read in a more nuanced, less-one-sided fashion. But it is in the later texts, composed after the defeat of the Paris Commune, in which Anderson finds Marx preoccupied with a variety of new themesâ€”among them a multilinear conception of social change, family and gender relations, the history of communal and private property, and the rise of classes within tribal societiesâ€”which suggest a â€śturn away from the modernist models of social development espoused in the Communist Manifesto .â€ť
Much ink has been spilt in arguing that social classesâ€”and, with them, the basic categories of Marxian class analysisâ€”are increasingly irrelevant for making sense of contemporary society and politics. Arguments along these lines rest on the idea either that two basic opposing classes have splintered into â€śindeterminateâ€ť social groupings (such that there is no single dominant or dominated class) or that class identities have weakened (in favor of individual forms of social mobility). In his article, Spyros Sakellaropoulos sets out to challenge these views and, in particular, to demonstrate both the continued â€śprimacy, both quantitatively and qualitatively, of the working-class in the division of laborâ€ť and, despite that primacy, the conditions whereby the working-class remains dominated and exploited. On the first issue, Sakellaropoulos argues that the working-class can be located in the sectors of services and commerce as well as industry and that, because of the extension of capitalism into new sectors, the working-class is in fact increasing in size. His analysis of the second issue looks to the strengthening of relations of domination, together with the weaknesses that characterize the political representation of the working-class. For Sakellaropoulos, the resurgence of working-class struggles in the current conjuncture must pass through a fundamental reorientation with respect to changes in the production process and the character of the state.
In the correspondence section, David Kotz responds to George DeMartinoâ€™s commentary on his article on â€śGlobalization and Neoliberalismâ€ť (both of which were published in the Summer 2002 issue). He reiterates the major contours of his analysis with respect to various points raised by DeMartino, concluding with a discussion of the political implications of his approach. For Kotz, the prospects of socialism are improved precisely because, on one hand, the neoliberal stance of big business stems from structural changes in capitalism and, on the other hand, the neoliberal version of capitalism â€śposes problems for the survival of capitalism.â€ť
Brian Green, in his contribution to the Remarx section, explores the potential contributions of queer theory to a Marxian conception of class relations. Green begins by drawing a parallel between the two theories, suggesting that â€śqueer theory does for our understanding of identity struggle what Marx did for our understanding of economic struggleâ€”historicizing its assumptions, identifying its perversions, articulating its always-already existing potentials.â€ť In his view, queer theory seeks to draw attention both to questions of identity and the ways in which social relationships are produced and reproduced in partial and incomplete ways. Politically, Green writes, the significance of queer theory lies in its emphasis on producing alternative alliances and strategies, a focus on â€śprocess rather than product, subversive potential rather than end-goal.â€ť