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Symposium aims to adapt Marxism to needs of changing global landscape
Author :  Niu Dongjie Source : Chinese Social Sciences Today 2016-05-20
Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a landmark in the development of scientific socialism and Marxism globally, Chinese scholars said at a recent international symposium on Marxism in the 21st century.
At an international symposium on Marxism in the 21st century held in Beijing from May 5 to 6, Chinese and Western academics gathered to exchange ideas about the future of Marxist studies.
Ricardo Antunes, a professor from the School of Philosophy and Human Sciences at the University of Campinas in Brazil, called for more research on the human factors of surplus value.
Because services account for an increasingly large share of the global economy, Marxist studies must pay attention to workers in this sector, Antunes said. Although they are not directly involved in material production, they contribute to the production of surplus value, constituting a new type of working class, he said.
A deep knowledge of new types of workers is essential to understanding capital flows and the nature of exploitation in the capitalist system, Antunes added.
“In the 21st century, socialism has remained the major trend of world historical development since the October Revolution,” said Liang Shufa, a professor from the School of Marxism at Renmin University of China. The conditions for the existence and development of Marxism are still there. Marxism will continue to be localized and nationalized, he said.
“Today, localizing and nationalizing Marxism is not about integrating general Marxist principles into actual conditions of the countries involved. Socialized states and nations should, based on new conditions and general Marxist principles, seek new development paths or develop a ‘constructive Marxism,’” Liang said.
Qin Xuan, another professor from Renmin University’s School of Marxism, called on Marxist researchers to provide reasonable explanations for the root causes of the international financial crisis.
In the 21st century, it is vital to scientifically analyze new features of contemporary capitalism while exploring the prospects of socialism, Qin said.
“Facing the reality, we need to go back to Marxism and read it again. Facing major theoretical issues, especially Marxist classics, we need to spell out Marxism. Facing developmental problems and the future, we must go beyond Marxism,” he added.
Gilbert Achcar, a professor from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and Victor Wallis, a professor from the Liberal Arts Department at the Berklee College of Music in the United States, noted that a growing number of young people in Western developed countries have taken an interest in studying Marxism.
A common theme of the symposium was Marxist innovation in an era of globalization dominated by capitalism. Some scholars argued that it is necessary to comprehend the contradictions at work—in particular the long-term relationship between capitalism and socialism. There is also a tension between the seeming rationality of capitalism and potential rationality of socialism, which will ultimately lead civilizations to choose the socialist path.
Chinese scholars also stressed that socialism with Chinese characteristics, the newest form of localized Marxism in China, is far superior to traditional socialism in theoretical and practical terms. It has not only become the main content and trend of Chinese social development in the 21st century, but is also a landmark in the development of scientific socialism and Marxism globally, they said.