Forwarded from Jurriaan (Trotsky and imperialism)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 5 13:17:19 MDT 2001


>CB: Did Marx have enough evidence to "account" for the modes of production
that existed before colonialism in the Western Hemisphere?  _ Morgan's
_Ancient Society_ was published in 1877, ten years after _Capital_.  To
account for those modes in 1867, wouldn't Marx have had to engage in mostly
speculation ?

Yes, not only was the evidence not there, he was simply too steeped in
other controversies to really deal with such questions. Marx, unlike the
sort of people who write for Science and Society or New Left Review, wrote
in order to solve specific problems in the class struggle--that is, once he
had completed his theoretical work in Capital. He was preoccupied with
questions of strategy in France, German and England. When the Western
European class struggle ebbed, he turned his attention to Russia and began
studying populist literature and statistical handbooks in the ORIGINAL
Russian. Russia loomed so large in his political calculations late in life
that he taught himself the language. Nothing equivalent ever occurred for
Marx with respect to Africa, Asia or Latin America. Africa, Latin America
and the New World remained undertheorized. It took DuBois, Eric Williams,
Mariategui, Walter Rodney, the dependency theorists, obscure Trotskyists
here and there, etc. to develop an analysis that was lacking in Marx. From
Marx you get the tools; from the others you get the actual research. Just
as Lenin developed a study of the character of agrarian capitalism
developing in Russia, so did the others begin to fill in the blanks about
"the virgin soil" of their native lands.


Louis Proyect
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