“No human is a stranger”

There is no philosopher more abused and misunderstood than Marx. There is no philosophy like Marxism more demonized on a regular basis. The blind smear campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The portrayal of Marxism as a diabolical doctrine shows its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces that demonize it.

Marxism is a philosophy of practice that helps us understand the centrality of the creative power of labor in the production of socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyze the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, prices and private property in the development of class society.

A humanist philosophy, Marxism helps to understand the historical processes of class formation, mass alienation and class conflict. It informs us of the subjective and objective conditions and causes of inequalities, exploitation and injustice.

Many detractors, distractors of Marx have tried to reduce Marx to being a European philosopher and Marxism to a European philosophy. But for Marx, “no human is a stranger”. He wrote for the emancipation of every human being on the planet. Marxism is not only a critique of the capitalist system, it proposes alternative systems of compassion, humanism, equality, justice, freedom and democracy.

It is impossible to provincialize Marx. He is the first European philosopher to move away from the domination of Cartesian dualism within European traditions of knowledge and to revolutionize it with dialectics.

Dialectical knowledge traditions are based on differentiation, which moves away from the narrow silos of casual causal analysis and focuses on the conditions or relationships between different factors in history, economics, politics, culture, religion, traditions, science and secularism. The dialectical tradition of knowledge accommodates contradictions, diversities, debates, discourses, dilemmas, oppositions and negations based on different contexts. In this way, the dialectical tradition of Marxism fundamentally opposes the dualities of European knowledge traditions and their universalizing manifestations during and after colonialism.

“The knowledge that emanates from Europe is science while the African, Asian and American traditions of knowledge are ethnography. European knowledge is reason and other traditions of knowledge are mystical, cultural and religious beliefs”. These false dualities of distinction within Eurocentric traditions of knowledge are not only reductionist but racist.

European colonialism universalizes its traditions of knowledge based on Cartesian duality by silencing the multiple traditions of knowledge inside and outside of North-Western Europe. It is in this context that issues of class consciousness, class organization and class struggle must be tackled from Marxist perspectives that move away from the narrow silos of dualities.

The dynamism of capital and its global system has created conditions where the concept of “class” is very different from the concept of “class and class-based” exploitation in the 19th century. There are different layers of class-based exploitation today. These layers of exploitation are based on gender, sex, race, religious and linguistic marginalization. These multiple and intertwined forms of exploitation, violence and oppression are not independent but intersect within a capitalist system.

Capitalism has used these layers as fragmented fault lines to divide and demonize all class-based emancipation politics. Therefore, the politics of emancipation from intersectionality must be inclusive and engage with the pre-existing unequal social, economic, political, religious, regional and cultural relations that shape production and reproduction in different forms of capitalism. It is important to examine contemporary issues in historical terms and to locate and critique the systems of exploitation inherently promoted by capitalism.

A pluriversal Marxist is not an intersectional Marxist. Intersectionality helps to understand multiple and interwoven forms of exploitation and oppression. It helps to understand the different layers of violence in the capitalist system integrated with reactionary social, cultural, political, religious and economic forces. But the politics of intersectionality ignores preexisting social relations and economic conditions that continue to exist and are accelerated by capitalism.

The politics of mere representation is not radical enough to change these unequal conditions. Intersectionists try to find answers within capitalism. Reform not revolution is their motto. They thus reproduce inequalities in different forms. They offered no alternatives and failed to create alternative struggle sites. Deradicalization is an unintended result of libertarian and liberal intersectionality as a political approach to emancipatory struggles.

For a successful mass struggle, pluriversal Marxism will have to engage with specific conditions and understand the different layers, structures and institutions of capitalism and its reactionary culture in different spheres of life in a class-based capitalist society. It means embracing everything on our planet where all live in harmony with nature and with each other. It means the solidarity of all marginalized voices around the world to ensure shared peace, prosperity and non-discriminatory coexistence with equal access to resources.

Pluriversal Marxism challenges all forms of dominant narratives, power relations, institutions and structures established by capitalism and its undemocratic customs and traditions. A pluriversal consciousness helps Marxism establish co-relationships between multiple forms of existence within an inclusive dialectical mode of thought in mind and action. It helps Marxism to overcome its myopic linearity, its empiricist tendencies and its functionalist formalisms.

We must understand the pluriversal nature of the capitalist world to fight for another world free from all forms of exploitation, inequality, oppression and violence. A pluriversal Marxism can only establish and intersect diverse issues and multiple conditions in a thread of solidarity for a radically emancipatory future.

The writers note: A very well-meaning comrade called me a multi-versal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while presiding over my book publishing function at the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to him.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak is Professor of Business Management at the University of Glasgow, UK.

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