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Postcolonial Theory and the Making of the World Working Class

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Sociology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Feb 2016

King's Authors


This article addresses the two main roots of postcolonial criticisms of Marx as a Eurocentric thinker, that is, the closely interrelated views that his value theory is restricted to a national level and that his concept of Asiatic Mode of Production implies the inferiority of Asia. The article first investigates how classical political economy set the stage for a materialist understanding of capitalism and of history, while contradictorily grounding methodological nationalism and Eurocentrism. Drawing on the still partially unpublished Marx’s London Notebooks (1850–53), the article then argues that Marx consistently developed the labour theory of value at the international level. In the summer of 1853, moreover, he put in question Bernier’s theory of Oriental despotism, paying increasing attention to the concrete situation of the population in India and to forms of anti-colonial resistance. By overcoming atomistic and unilinear views of development, the article argues, Marx was able to recognize the material seeds of interdependence and collective power of an emerging world working class.

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