Reading Marx Politically

Arup Kumar Sen

In the orthodox/official communist and Marxist writings, Marx’s Capital is treated as a universal theory of the journey of Capital. It should be mentioned in this connection that in his preface (1867) to the first German edition of Capital, Vol. 1, Marx clarified that he used England “as the chief illustration” in the development of his theoretical ideas, as England was the “classic ground” of capitalist mode of production up to that time.

In his later writings, Marx was trying to understand the dynamics of capitalist transformations in countries outside Western Europe, particularly Russia.

In his letter to Vera Zasulich (1881), Marx analysed the capitalistic developments in Russia: “A certain sort of capitalism being brought up at the cost of the peasantry through the intervention of the state has arisen and is standing against the village community”. (Quoted in M. Tanaka, “The Narodniki and Marx on Russian Capitalism in the 1870’s-1880’s”, 1969)

The recent farmers’ protests/movement in India against the anti-farmer laws of the State propel us to argue that Marx’s writings should be read contextually for insightful understanding of  political developments of our time. The peasant question cannot be bypassed in understanding the path of capitalism being pursued in contemporary India and resistance against it.

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Jan 10, 2021

Arup Kumar Sen

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