Losurdo: presence and permanence

Image: Elyeser Szturm, from the series Nós


Commentary on the book organized by João Quartim de Moraes

The distinction between “house niggers” and “country niggers” became famous with Malcolm X. The former identified himself with the slave owner — and stood against the anti-slavery struggle — given his life and work conditions a little less brutal in the big house than the situation in which the enslaved lived in the plantations. Malcolm X spoke of co-option and servitude to established power in a non-complex slave society. The bourgeois order created several possibilities of co-option and servitude to power that were impossible to imagine in slavery. If in Malcolm's example the political positions and commitments of each subject were transparent, capitalism makes the issue much more intricate.

Capitalism and its complex network of ideological apparatuses conceived the possibility of serving the lords of capital by presenting itself as neutral, as a researcher disinterested in politics who makes science, concerned only with the well-being of his academic institution. A kind of science that exists in a space-time vacuum without touching or looking at the miseries of the world. In other times, the same academic space that today provides this ideological illusion also conditioned future bourgeoisie technocrats to present themselves as Marxist intellectuals, who spoke of class struggle, socialism, revolution.

With the overthrow of the Soviet Union, the socialist transition experiences and projects of popular nationalism, combined with the end of several communist parties, in the long neoliberal and neocolonial night, several of these intellectuals were able to calmly say: forget what I wrote! That was the moment to reinforce the myth of the neutral, “non-ideological” and modern intellectual, which meant accepting that the “universal values” of bourgeois democracy (not very democratic and very bourgeois), the market economy (in fact, a handful of global monopolies) and, of course, the “perpetual peace” of NATO gunboats had won out. Goodbye not only to Lenin, but also to Marx, Rousseau, Hegel and, why not, Plato.

Some intellectuals, however, refused to accept the wave of reactionary single thinking. Not only did they remain Marxists, believing that their task in the world was to produce a revolutionary theory to create revolutionary practice, but they also courageously and honorably accepted the defeat symbolized by the end of the USSR and set out, without any ideological subalternity, to completely rethink the Marxism, to rebuild historical materialism, to address in depth all the problems of the revolutionary struggle at the end of the XNUMXth century and in the XNUMXst century.

In the list of men and women who accepted the challenge of saying no to the reactionary spirit of the time, in a prominent place is Domenico Losurdo. The Italian was not just an intellectual who accepted the challenge of reflecting with deep historical-concrete sense, rich philosophical density and acute political sense on the defense and reconstruction of Marxism. He, not satisfied with the size of his challenge, or precisely to fulfill it better, sought to study with unique scientific rigor and militant dedication the entire democratic-radical tradition of bourgeois modernity: the French and Haitian Revolutions, Jacobinism, the thought of Hegel, the abolitionist struggles, etc. Losurd's work is also a daring and incredible story against the grain of modernity in general and of the XNUMXth century in particular (with emphasis on the contributions of a new balance of the history of the communist movement without autophobia).

His premature death in 2018 interrupted the progress of one of the most daring and refined theoretical-political projects of recent decades. But every great thinker dies and leaves his ideas living on earth forever. It is up to those who remain to continue their legacy and overcome their possible mistakes and shortcomings. The first initiative in Brazil to assess and evaluate the Losurdian legacy is the book Losurdo: presence and permanence, organized by João Quartim de Moraes.

The book contains a rich and qualified writing by Stefano Azzarà, which takes stock of the work of the Italian communist, demonstrating the literary fortune of Losurd's production and the diversity of themes addressed by the thinker in the several decades of theoretical and political action. Next, we have the article by João Quartim de Morares, “Introductory study”, which takes stock of Losurd's work as a whole and helps to locate the theoretical and thematic evolution in the author's production.

Professors Diego Pautasso, Marcelo Fernandes and Gaio Doria reflect on Domenico Losurdo's contribution to Marxism and the national question. The national issue is a problem that permeates the body of work of this author, who, by continuing the fundamental contributions of Antonio Gramsci, manages to develop a dialectic between the national and the international that proves to be indispensable for the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggles of the our time.

Finally, the book offers us two articles by Losurdo himself: “Marx, Christopher Columbus and the October Revolution – historical materialism and analysis of revolutions” and “Gramsci and Soviet Russia: historical materialism and the critique of populism”. The two articles offer the reader a beautiful example of the historical erudition, philosophical complexity and revolutionary political realism so characteristic of the Losurdian way of doing science and politics — with a view, I emphasize, to the (re)construction of revolutionary theory. These two articles are also excellent examples of how our author was not afraid to swim against the current, questioning and dismantling with fine argumentative daring the consensus, left and right, on various philosophical and political problems.

This book should fulfill the task of initiating a series of publications on the many dimensions of Losur's work. Barriers and stigmas, such as accusing the great thinker of being “justificationist of repression” or — the most ridiculous of all — “neo-Stalinist”, will not prevent Brazilian social fighters from knowing the legacy of Domenico, that weapon of criticism so necessary in our time.

Too soon he left, but his commitment to the damned of the earth left fruit that will grow and produce many trees of emancipation. The brilliance of boldness, courage, scientific rigor and commitment to those who suffer and bleed that mark each page written by Domenico Losurdo will echo for many years to come.

*Jones Manuel He is a historian, Master in Social Work from UFPE, educator and popular communicator.

Originally published in the magazine Basic


João Quartim de Moraes. Losurdo: presence and permanence. São Paulo, Anita Garibaldi / Maurício Grabois Foundation, 2020.




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