Skip to main content

Return to Marx

In 1967, «Marx Is Not a Has-Been in Detroit» was a Lotta Comunista headline for a memorable event, the struggle of the black proletariat in the American automotive capital. The race issue concealed class contradiction in itself; the centre of the struggle remained the factories of the metropolises in the industrialised powers, and not the countryside which should have surrounded those cities in the then fashionable myths of Maoism and Third-Worldism.

Half a century later, a lot has changed, but not that class principle. The China of Mao Zedong’s peasant populism has become an economic power playing on the same level as America and Europe; its industrial giants challenge those of the West which had once subjugated it, but hundreds of millions of Chinese proletarians have also been added to our world class. It’s been quite a while, and since the time for a modern class struggle has also come to the Asian metropolises: Marx is not a has-been in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Canton, as he is not in the other immense urban concentrations of the new Asian powers. In the USA, fifty years of social mobility have made a black bourgeoisie and a black middle class grow alongside the black proletariat, but this has not changed the fact that discrimination because of the colour of one’s skin continues to disguise class oppression. In the districts of the American metropolises it is social discrimination that links the new flows of immigrants born abroad to the Afro-American proletariat and the stratifications of white wage earners. Finally, the metropolises in Italy, Spain, France or Germany have also changed their faces: the most thankless jobs and the lowest steps on the wage scale have been entrusted to the immigrant proletariat, and also old Europe, which had even known the monsters of genocide, has rediscovered the shame of racism and xenophobia.

So then «Black lives matter»: no doubt about it, but woe betide the hypocritical denunciation of racism only in other people’s homes. The lives of the desperate who continue to drown in the Mediterranean Sea matter; the farmhands forced to live in inhuman conditions matter; and the millions without legal protection on construction sites, in factories, warehouses and hotels matter. The pandemic of the century crisis has only shown openly what was there for all to see but that no one wanted to see. So then, to fight every oppression and every exploitation means returning to Marx. It means rediscovering the principle of class unity in the scientific consciousness of communism.

Return to Marx. (2020, July). Internationalism, 12.