As we have seen in posts from 1/6/2014 to 1/14/2014, Marx forged a synthesis of British political economy and German philosophy from the vantage point of the worker. On a foundation of encounter with the emerging proletarian movement, Marx discerned meaning in human history, and he envisioned a future society established on a foundation of automated industry and characterized by versatile work and by the reduction of labor time. His work represented the most advanced formulation of his era, overcoming the idealism of German philosophy and the ahistorical empiricism of British political economy, and analyzing human history and capitalism from the vantage point of the exploited and dominated class.
Writing after the emergence of the proletarian movement, he discerned what German philosophy and British political economy could not see: the role of class domination in human history; and the role of class interests in political conflicts. But writing before the emergence of the anti-colonial and anti-neocolonial movements of the Third World, he did not discern that integrated with the axis of class domination, there is an equally powerful axis of colonial domination. Although aware that colonial domination was important in promoting the economic development of the West, he was unable to forge a theoretical system that was based on a foundation of the two axes of domination and that therefore could keep consistently in view the world-wide process of colonial domination.
This limitation of Marx, rooted in the historical and social context in which he wrote, led him to erroneously believe that the Western proletariat would become a revolutionary class that would act politically to establish a socialist society. He did not foresee the capacity of the capitalist class to utilize the material benefits resulting from colonial domination to make concessions to the proletariat of the nations of the core, thus channeling Western proletarian movement in a reformist direction, nullifying its revolutionary potential.
With the reformist orientation of the working class organizations of the West since 1875, the revolutionary torch has been passed to the colonized people of the Third World, where movements led by charismatic leaders could discern the axis of colonial domination as well as the axis of class exploitation, inasmuch as both were integral to the colonial situation. Third World charismatic leaders thus have left an intellectual legacy that has constituted a reformulation and a further development of the important insights of Marx. They have left sacred texts, the study of which is a necessary intellectual work, integral to the development of a more just, democratic, and sustainable world-system.
The factors that made possible working-class reformism have come to an end. The world-system has reached the geographical and ecological limits of the earth, and it can no longer expand through domination of new lands and peoples, as it did for nearly five centuries. The world-system thus has entered a structural crisis, which it cannot resolve without bringing to an end the double axis of class and colonial domination, a resolution which the global elite is ideologically and politically unprepared to undertake.
Thus a global revolutionary situation has been established. The Third World anti-neocolonial revolutions have been renewed, and the peoples of the earth are in movement. It is a movement by humanity in defense of itself, and it is constructing an alternative world-system. The Third World has taken the lead, but it will soon spread to the nations of the North. It is not a proletarian revolution centered in the core, but a multi-class popular revolution with its most advanced expression in the Third World. Although it has characteristics that he could not fully see, the revolutionary transformation anticipated by Marx is now at hand.
While the work of further developing an emancipatory and integral historical-philosophical-social science, the foundation of which was established by Marx, has proceeded in the breast of social movements seeking social justice, the Western universities have demonstrated their indifference to the advances in human understanding that Marx’s work represents. Controlled by corporate interests, the universities have established fragmentation in the study of history, philosophy, and the social sciences, facilitating the marginalization of Marx’s work.
Those of us who are intellectuals and academics of the North should follow the example of Marx: seek cross-horizon encounter with the social movements of our time, that is, the social movements formed by the neocolonized of the Third World. Such encounter would require personal emancipation from the assumptions of the academic disciplines and from the bureaucratic control of the academic departments. Personal emancipation would enable us to prepare ourselves to fulfill the duty that history has bestowed on us: to make a necessary contribution to the emerging global revolution that will soon envelop our own lands.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marx, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, world-system, world-economy, development, underdevelopment, colonial, neocolonial, blog Third World perspective, proletarian revolution, working class