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Rosa Luxemburg: The unsung hero of postcolonial theory

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12.05.2018

The world at large is these days celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx (May 5, 1818 - March 14, 1883) the revolutionary political economist who, with a single act of theoretical genius, redefined our enduring understanding of the material foundations of our economic class, social life, political positions, and ideological proclivities in his three-volume magnum opus, Das Kapital (1867–1883) . His very vocabulary of theorising the economic foregrounding of social and political (and even religious) forces have now become integral to the social sciences and the humanities - used and abused by friends and foes alike.

In a world ravaged by the wanton cruelty of predatory capitalism - now most notoriously led by the imperial presidency of Donald Trump and his billionaires' cabinet, aided and abetted by their European and regional allies - the enduring wisdom of Marx's theory of capital and its political consequences continue to guide the course of our struggles for global justice.

Marx, however, was incurably Eurocentric in the very cast of his critical thinking. Although he was aware of the expansionist proclivities of a capitalist economy, Marx never fully developed a theory of how colonialism was the modus operandi of this capitalist tendency. Although in the 1850s, Marx wrote brilliantly in his essays for New York Daily Tribune on various aspects of European colonialism, his Eurocentric blind spot led him to his notorious notion of "Oriental Despotism" and the scandalous argument that colonialism was actually good for India because it "modernised" the subcontinent.

Such theoretical blinders and political blunders barred the extension of his own insights into a more global theory of capital and its political consequences. When it came to his perception of the non-European world, Marx was as much an Orientalist as the rest of his European contemporaries - though he, of course, wished to see the world liberated globally........

© Al Jazeera