Social Scientist. v 14, no. 152 (Jan 1986) p. 48.


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Academic Marxism Today

DIPTENDRA BANERJEE (ed.). MARXIAN THEORY AND THE THIRD WORLD, Sag,e Publications,' pp. 325 Rs. 195.00.

THIS VOLUME is a selection from papers presented at the three-day Karl Marx Centennial International Seminar held at Burdwan University in 1983. The most important contribution of this book is that it shows one how the Marxist approach is constantly conquering new fields, even in the academic sphere, especially in anthropology and development studies, so long the bastion of imperialist ideology.

This should not surprise us. It is a reflection of the success of the national liberation movements since the end of World War II and the phenomenal transformations achieved by those countries which advanced from national liberation to socialism under various class-alliances led by working class parties. However, this does not mean that all those academics who are part and parcel of this trend are actually conscious of this.

For example, Cyril Levitt, in a paper entitled : Marx's Anthropology and the Problems of Evolutionism^ speaks of "the failure of socialist movements in the twentieth century"' when it is precisely in this centurv that the first socialist state, the USSR, was born; it survived a protracted civil war, imperialist invasions and went on to become the main force to defeat world fascism in 1945; it is in this century too that a powerful socialist camp is astride the world, from the Western Atlantic outpost of Cuba to China in the Eastern Pacific, and the world Empires have all crumbled away before the tide of national liberation which could never have survived without the triumph of socialism on a wdrld scale. Still, unaware though Anglo-Saxon academics may be of these historic transformations, their work has had to come to terms with the revolutionary thinker who foretold the collapse of world capitalism and its replacement by socialism : Karl Marx.

The most significant contribution of this volume is to bury the old myths about Marx being Eurocentric, an apologist of colonial rule, an economic determinist, or that he was, in fact, not serious about the mapping out of a distinct path of development for Asiatic and African nationalities and peoples as his main concern was to score a point over an American economist, Carey. In fact, only Heinz Lubasz's paper: Marx's Concept of the Asiatic Mode of Production ^A Genetic Analysis, still echoes many of these themes and comes to the conclusion that the Asiatic Mode "tells us little of value about Asia or,, by extension, the rest of the non-European world."2 It is



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