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A Theory of Defeat. Marx and the Evidence of the Nineteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

The engagement with Marx's critique of political economy has two implicit social-historical assumptions. First, the concept of the working class employed by Marx was not suitable for the breadth and heterogeneity of the proletarian class-composition of the middle of the nineteenth century just as, incidentally, it was also never suitable for the class-relations in revolutionary Russia or at the time of the tricontinental liberation-movements in the twentieth century. Second, it is evident that Marx's theory was not able to take up the virulence of the anti-capitalist struggles and the massive social challenges from below as they appeared above all in the European subsistence-revolts up until 1848. Marxism represents a left variant of bourgeois answers and of the expropriation of the social movements on the stage of 1848, it formulates only the defeat of a generation of class-struggles.

Keywords: class-struggles; defeat theory; Marx; nineteenth century; revolutionary Russia; tricontinental liberation-movements



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