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Appendix 4. Marx’s Shift of Attention Towards Agrarian Communities

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Chapter Summary

There is good reason to suggest that Marx's shift of attention towards pre-capitalist societies is a particular case of a general phenomenon affecting the European intellectual scene in the final third of the nineteenth century. In our understanding, and particularly if we look at Marx's case, his growing interest in the theory and history of the rural commune implied an opening towards subaltern peoples, one with unforeseeable effects on Marxist theory itself. From this perspective, the fact that the Marxism of the Second International chose to dodge this question, of such fundamental importance to Marx, entailed malign consequences for the study of problems as significant as the peasant-question and the national and colonial question, thus gravely affecting even the Marxist theory of society and the state. In the 1890s the 'voluntarist' Marx gave way to the 'objectivist' Engels, and through him, there spread in Russia the ideology of 'legal' Marxism.

Keywords: Agrarian communities; Marx; pre-capitalist societies; Russian capitalism



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