Commemorating Marx Bicentenary with discussion on Marx's Legacy

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Marx in conversation with workers.
Marx in conversation with workers.

The Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU), in conjunction with the Departments of Sociology, History, and Economics and Economic History, is proud to commemorate Marx's Bicentenary with a discussion on Marx's legacy.

The Facilitators:

Michael Joseph began his career in Bangalore in the 1970s. As a student, activist, and academic, Michael developed his life-long interest in Marxist linguistics and pedagogy, influenced by liberation theology, the Russian scholar Lev Vygotsky and the Brazilian Scholar Paulo Freire.  After stints teaching in Pietermaritzburg (now UKZN) and Wits, Michael and his wife Esther Ramani re-located to the University of Limpopo where they pioneered the first bilingual degree where an African language (Sesotho sa Leboa) and English were jointly used as a medium of instruction. Currently Michael and Esther split their time between Rhodes University and Joza, where they do community-based engaged research into children's play and reading in the primary grades of C.M. Vellem school.

David Fryer a political economist at Rhodes University, where he teaches macroeconomics, microeconomics, and political economy & labour.  He is an Associate of the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU), and was on the steering committee of the Political Economic of Restructuring South Africa(PERSA) research programme.  He is an editor of the Journal of Contemporary African Studies and has research linkages with the HSRC's BRICS Research Centre.  David's research interests include labour economics, global macroeconomics, development economics, Marxism and Social Democracy, and economic methodology.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point however, is to change it."  Karl Marx (5 May 1818 - 14 March 1883).

Marx's legacy is twofold.  What Marx himself thought and wrote remains a rich and still only imperfectly-fathomed source for contemporary scholars and activists in the sciences, social sciences, and arts.  For example, Marx's thinking on education and culture belie the image of grey conformity of cold-war era 'official Marxism'.  The revolutionary potential of Marx's philosophical thinking (labour as the foundation of 'species-being') is of profound relevance to the pedagogy of education and hence pertinent to the current student-led struggles to decolonize education. 

Marx's other legacy is "Marxism" as political ideology.  After Marx's death "Marxism" developed an unruly life of its own. The various "Marxisms" (most notably Soviet and Chinese) had a profound influence on world history.

Marxism in its various manifestations continues to serve as the ideological keystone of the "Left". President Xi of China has recently affirmed the need Chinese officials to "grasp the power of the truth of Marxism".  South Africa's transition has been profoundly influenced by the ideology of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).  However, what is "the truth of Marxism", or to put it differently, what is radical remains contentious.  It is vitally important to recover what is vital and radical in the Marxist tradition from what is cant and dogma.


Source:  Commemorating Marx Bicentenary

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