Marx's intersectionality

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By MARIO SOARES NETO*

Preliminary translation note of Kevin B. Anderson's newly published work.

The work that we present to the Brazilian readership is the translation into Portuguese of Class, Gender, Race & Colonialism: The 'Intersectionality' of Marx, book-pamphlet authored by Professor Dr. Kevin B. Anderson. Originally published in the series Thinking Freedom Pamphlet from the publishing house Daraja Press in 2002, the aforementioned writing received a new edition made in partnership with Monthly Review Press, in the year 2020.[1]

In this reflection, Kevin Anderson operates against the theoretical common sense that tries to reduce a thinker of the theoretical and political stature of Karl Marx (1818-1883) to Eurocentrism and economism. Contrary to these well-known distorting views, Professor Anderson's research shows Marx as a global theorist, a philosopher and a militant dedicated to social struggles against multiple forms of exploitation and oppression. In his fruitful investigation, Anderson highlights the revolutionary praxis of Marx and Marxism as constructions that are absolutely relevant to contemporaneity.

Professor Kevin Anderson is a leading Marxist scholar in the United States, teaching Sociology, Political Science and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His intervention is not restricted to academic work. With a strong political presence in the struggles of social movements for social justice, he articulates the International Marxist-Humanist Organization (IMHO) [International Marxist-Humanist Organization].

Anderson is the author of numerous works, among which we highlight: Lenin, Hegel, and Western Marxism: A Critical Study (University of Illinois Press, 1995); Marx on the Margins: Nationalism, Ethnicities, and Non-Western Societies. (Boitempo, 2019) and Hegel, Marxism, and its critics through a lens of race, class, gender, and colonialism (Daraja Press, 2020). Furthermore, in partnership with Professor Peter Hudis, Anderson edited the work The Rosa Luxemburg Reader (Monthly Review Press, 2004), as well as the book that brings together a set of writings by the philosopher Raya Dunayevskaya (1910-1987), in an edition entitled The Power of Negativity: Selected Writings on the Dialectic in Hegel and Marx (Lexington Books, 2002).

With regard to the present translation, we emphasize that the title of this work could not be more literal, Class, Gender, Race & Colonialism: Marx's 'Intersectionality'. Certainly, the main objective of every translation is to achieve the greatest possible fidelity to the original. Despite its result in the elaboration of a new text, with relative autonomy compared to the first, it is always necessary to go through the purpose of the faithful expression of the author's ideas. However, it should be noted that no translation is capable of reproducing ipisis litteris identity with the original text. All translation consists of reading, research and interpretation that aims to articulate similarities and differences in the light of historical, cultural and linguistic complexities. Thus, translation constitutes a mediation between author and reader. The subject who translates is, at the same time, a reader of the original and an author of a new text. Therefore, the act of translation expresses a task aimed at making life easier for new readers. [2]

One aspect regarding the content of this translation needs to be highlighted. We became aware of the present work of Professor Kevin Anderson in the broad process of a research that we undertook on the subject of the critique of the political economy of racism, in the comparison of the works of Marx, but also of authors such as August Nimtz, Claudia Jones, Melvin M. Leiman , among others. In this investigation, we are faced with fundamental works (still unpublished in Brazil), such as The Political Economy of Racism (Pluto Press, 1993), Marx, Tocqueville, and race in America (Lexington Books, 2003) and Left of Karl Marx: The political life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Duke University Press, 2007) (just to name a few examples).

Assuming that translation work is fundamentally a research and investigation effort, we consider it crucial to alert the readership that the aforementioned works can contribute to the issues so well addressed by Professor Kevin Anderson. Furthermore, reading and debating these authors makes us face the need for a constant “return” – which actually aims at deepening – the social praxis of Marx and Marxism.

In the course of preparing this translation, we were able to achieve one of those true research “findings”. Starting from Anderson, we turn to the reading of one of the volumes of the Collected Works, by Marx and Engels. Among the documents, our attention was drawn to Letter from Marx to Laura and Lafargue on March 5, 1870. In this correspondence, Marx vehemently disagreed with the pseudoscientific notion that the white race was a kind of god among the other human races. For Marx, the author of this infamous thesis – Arthur de Gobineau – harbored an extreme “grudge against the black race”. And he continued in his explanation, "For these people, it's always a source of satisfaction to have someone they think they have the right to [disparage]." [3]

The aforementioned passage from Marx's personal collection, in communication with his daughter Laura and son-in-law Lafargue is just one among many other references that reinforce the set of arguments articulated in this writing now in Portuguese, in the sense of demonstrating the philosophical and political rejection of Marx against the racist and colonialist paradigm and, particularly, highlighting his opposition to the notion of white racial supremacy. [4] The myth of the racist and Eurocentric Marx can be read according to the sentence “everything that was solid and stable melts into air”. [5] just read Love and Capital to conclude that: “it is very evident that Marx and Jenny were not racist, because they did not oppose their daughter's marriage to a mixed-race man, and because Marx strongly expressed his position against slavery”. [6] [7]

Finally, it should be mentioned that the present translation was facilitated by the author's accurate writing, commonly based on important bibliographic sources. In very rare moments, however, only when we deem it strictly necessary, we opted for the insertion of translation notes, with the aim of helping in the best possible understanding of its elaboration. We have preserved the notes and bibliographical references as they were presented in the original English text. However, we added references already translated and published in Portuguese to the text. Quotations made by the author, whenever possible, reproduced the way they were translated in editions published in Brazil.

Certainly, the work that at this moment comes to light through the edition carried out by Law & Praxis Magazine it will be a crucial reference to illuminate reflections and actions inscribed in the perspective of overcoming capital-imperialism and racial and gender cleavages.

* Mario Soares Neto He is a lawyer, professor and researcher. Master in Law from the Graduate Program in Law at the Federal University of Bahia (PPGD/UFBA).

Notes


[1] ANDERSON, Kevin B. Class, Gender, Race, & Colonialism: Marx's 'Intersectionality'. [Translation by Mario Soares Neto. Review by Rhaysa Ruas]. Law and Praxis Magazine, Rio de Janeiro, Volume 12, Number 2, 2021, pp. 1499-1526. Available in: https://www.e-publicacoes.uerj.br/index.php/revistaceaju/issue/view/2462

Original version (in English): ANDERSON, Kevin B. Class, Gender, Race & Colonialism: The 'Intersectionality' of Marx – Thinking Freedom Pamphlet. Daraja Press and Monthly Review Press, 2020. Available at: https://mronline.org/2021/02/08/the-intersectionality-of-marx/

[2] On the issue of translation methodology, see: KOTHE, F. R; SINGER, P; BARBOSA, R. Concerning the Translation of Capital. IN: MARX, Karl. Capital: Critique of Political Economy. Volume I. Book One. Volume I. São Paulo: Nova Cultural, 1988, pp. 9-11.

[3] MARX, Karl; ENGELS, Friedrich. Marx & Engels Collected Works. Volume 43. Letters 1868-70. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2010, p. 449.

[4] See: MARX, Karl; ENGELS, Friedrich. Writings on the American Civil War. Londrina/São Paulo: Aetia Editorial| Fight, 2020.

[5] MARX, Karl; ENGELS, Friedrich. Communist Manifesto. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2005, p. 43.

[6] GABRIEL, Mary. Love and Capital. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2011, p. 14.

[7] NIMTZ JR, August H. Marxism, anti-racism and the revolutionary project [Interview given to] Mario Soares Neto. Santa Catarina: UFSC Institutional Repository, 2021. Available at: https://repositorio.ufsc.br/handle/123456789/221550. This article was also published on the website of the newspaper Brasil247. Available in: https://www.brasil247.com/ideias/marxismo-antirracismo-e-projeto-revolucionario-entrevista-com-o-professor-august-h-nimtz-jr

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