Social Scientist. v 28, no. 326-327 (July-Aug 2000) p. 1.


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Editorial Note

Aijaz Ahmad's lead article in the current number of Social Scientist characterises The CommunistManifesto as a transitional text within the overall oeuvre of Marxism. Precisely for this reason however the Manifesto is both rich and complex, in the sense of being marked by the co-presence of ideas belonging to different levels of perception and hence open to vastly divergent interpretations. The author 'illustrates this complexity with reference to the famous passage in the Manifesto where Marx and Engels talk about "national one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness" becoming "more and more impossible" and "a world literature" arising "from the numerous national and local literatures". Marx and Engels saw the movement towards the creation of a "world literature" not as the outcome of the activity of a group of high-minded intellectuals pursuing a desirable goal, but as a process inherent in the bourgeoisie's need for a constantly expanding market. Notwithstanding the remarkable perspicuity of the vision conveyed by the passage, however, it still remains open to divergent interpretations. On the one hand it can be seen simply as an anticipation of a process of globalisation in general and of an accompanying intensification of cultural exchanges to a point where something like a "world literature" begins to emerge; the Manifesto's anticipation, even on this interpretation, may appear to many to be in the process of getting realised. There is on the other hand however a hint of an awareness in the same passage of the hierarchical nature of the "globalisation" and of the "world literature" that it brings forth (in the reference for instance to the bourgeoisie's "compelling" all nations to adopt "what it calls civilisation"). It is this hierarchical process, Ahmad argues, that is getting realised today. For a true "world literature" to emerge the logic of the capitalist world market has to be transcended.

We also publish in the current number a set of articles by Russian scholars on the Russian economy, which were presented at a seminar



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