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Another Look at Marxism – By Arnold A. Alalibo

By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | Jan. 24, 2013 – Prior to the close of the last century, the influence of Marxist thinking on the industrialised world had been the subject of exhaustive analysis by historians and scholars. But very few attempts were made to gauge its impact on certain contemporary realities of developing countries.

While it is correct that historically Marx’s work must be seen in a predominantly western context originating in the Age of Enlightenment, his ideas underwent the three fold influence of German philosophy, English political economics and French Utopian socialism. Above all, Marx concentrated his efforts on a critical analysis of modern capitalism precisely in that part of the world where it first came into being.

This is why Marx tended to see the rest of the world through the prism of his own society, and simply held it as a section of mankind which had not yet reached the stage of capitalism, and which, though lagging historically behind Europe, was bound to follow its footsteps eventually.

Several generations of European Marxists believed that it was their privileged role to blaze a trail for the peoples of the world, and to show them the one and only way forward. But such attitudes are now irrelevant. The peoples of the developing world have taken their fate in their oven hands.

They now attempt to define their further themselves, and in order to do so, they look with a fresh eye at theories elaborated elsewhere and attempt to relate them to their oven experience.

It is no exaggeration to state that in a number of cases, Marx’s ideas made notable contributions to this shift of perspective inherent in the new relationship between former colonized peoples and their colonizers, which means that the various religions of the world can at last establish dialogue with each other and benefit mutually from their respective contributions to human civilisation.

Marx’s ideology was originally conceived by many third world countries first as a philosophy of change, as a method of thinking not only about action but in order to act so as to transform the reality of their daily lives. But the question arises that why did a philosophy so deeply rooted in the history of 19th century Europe, became, in the majority of cases, embodied in ventures embarked upon in the 20th century third world?

Perhaps because the movement of the most blatant contradictions engendered by rampant capitalism was from its centres towards its periphery, and because the revolutionary dialectic it set in motion, came to a head at backyards of individual society rather than at its headquarters.

During the century that elapsed between the communist Manifesto and the Chinese Revolution, capitalism gradually spread as a net work of interest girdling the whole world, and whose contradictory dynamics had global repercussions. It attracted towards the nerve centres of industrial society an increasing proportion of resources produced else where, thus creating social, economic, cultural and political tension in colonized or dependent countries or aggravating any tension that was already appearing.

In these societies where certain traditional structures had been severely disrupted and which were underging alienation and exploitation, many intellectuals felt the certainty that made up their universe had become shaky. They then sought a direction in a world that had been imposed on them, penetrating the innermost recesses of their, universe and subverting it from within.

They strove to find new existential bearings and moorings in an ever changing situation, new levers to enable their peoples to regain destinies. In that context, Marx’s thought was perceived by those intellectuals above all as a system by which they could obtain a comprehensive understanding of reality and a reality in which they would no longer be the victims of history, but become one of the driving forces.

It interests me to ask why it is Marx’s thought in particular that Third World intellectuals are most interested in when several of its basic tenets are also found in the thinking of philosophers who were his precursors or contemporaries? Why did they not turn to Hege whose methods were initiated by Marx, and who based his philosophy of, history on a dialectic of master and slave which eventually led to the victory of the slave.

It would seem that in the eyes of the Third World two decisive factors distinguish Marx’s historical vision from all others. First , it was no longer the sole property of the Western world, it became universally valid.

Secondly, Marx’s vision shared in the scientific effort of his time, relating the laws of history to those of nature and conferring on them a rational and universal character accessible to people of the most diverse mentalities. When Marx moved the arena in which historical conflicts are resolved from the metaphysical to the economic , he simultaneously created the setting in which men could act and take a hand in forging their own destiny.

Pleasantly, after the second World War, Marxism became even more attractive as it embodied in the particular experience a model for Third World Countries. Therefore, those developing nations struggling with poverty could take a look at Marxism for the solution to their myriads of problems. I believe Marxism can answer the multitude of questions they face, especially concerning the forms of political organisation to be installed, economic structures to be established, investment priorities to be set and social, reforms to be carried out.

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Posted by on Jan 24 2013. Filed under Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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