If Karl Marx were alive today, would he support corporate land grabs in the global south as progressive measures? Did he believe that all societies must pass through a predetermined sequence of stages to fully developed capitalism, so resistance to privatization and enclosure was futile or even reactionary?
In her 2018 book on “new enclosures,” Sylvia Federici argues that Marxism offers no guidance to opponents of land grabbing. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, she writes, “fail at this moment of the new enclosures. The Marx of Capital would understand the new enclosures as he did the old, as a stage in the ‘progressive nature’ of capitalist development preparing the material conditions for a communist society.”
A more accurate picture of Marx’s views on the subject can be found in his response to the destruction of commons-based peasant communities in Russia — while it was actually happening.
Click to read Marx and Engels and Russia’s Peasant Communes, by Ian Angus, in the current issue of Monthly Review.