Understanding the relationship between exploitation and different forms of oppression has long been a contentious issue for Marxists. In this extract from the concluding chapter of Revolutionary rehearsals in the neoliberal age, Neil Davidson uses the Hungarian Marxist György Lukács’ concept of ‘the actuality of the revolution’ to suggest more fruitful ways of drawing the struggles together. We are grateful to Haymarket Books for their permission to reproduce this extract.

From Revolutionary Rehearsals in the Neoliberal Age, eds. Colin Barker, Gareth Dale and Neil Davidson (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2021)

There is no such thing as an undifferentiated “oppression”: there are several types, all of which take different forms and involve different experiences. Is it nevertheless still possible to establish a relationship between exploitation and oppression “in general”? In a book by socialist-feminist Juliet Mitchell published in 1971, early in the emergence of what is now usually called “second-wave” feminism, the author asks:

Is the feminist concept of women as the most fundamentally oppressed people and hence potentially the most revolutionary to be counterposed to the Marxist position of the working class as the revolutionary class under capitalism? If so, with what consequences? What is the relationship between class struggle and the struggles of the oppressed? What are the politics of oppression? [1]

These are good questions, but the assumption underlying them is that the class struggle against exploitation occurs in one place, and the struggle of oppressed groups against their oppression occurs in a series of other places; but as we shall see, this involves a misunderstanding, or at least a very restricted definition of what exploitation involves. Tithi Bhattacharya has rightly asked whether “the relationship between exploitation (normally tethered to class) and oppression (normally understood through gender, race, etc.) . . . adequately expresses the complications of an abstract level of analysis where we forge our conceptual equipment, and a concrete level of analysis, i.e., the historical reality where we apply those tools.”[2] I agree with Bhattacharya that the answer is “no.” In searching for a more adequate analytic framework, Lukács may once again be a useful starting point, in particular his discussion of totality in History and Class Consciousness:

The dialectical method is distinguished from bourgeois thought not only by the fact that it alone can lead to a knowledge of totality; it is also significant that such knowledge is only attainable because the relationship between parts and whole has become fundamentally different from what it is in thought based on the categories of reflection. In brief, from this point of view, the essence of the dialectical method lies in the fact that in every aspect correctly grasped by the dialectic the whole totality is comprehended and that the whole method can be unraveled from every single aspect.[3]

Of all subsequent writers on the subject of totality, Bertell Ollman has perhaps done most to develop these insights and—for those not schooled in the categories of German Idealist philosophy—present them in slightly more comprehensible terms:

Few people would deny that everything in the world is related to everything else—directly or indirectly—as causes, conditions, and results; and many insist that the world is unintelligible save in terms of such relations. Marx goes a step further in interiorizing this interdependence within each element, so that the conditions of existence are taken to be part of what it is.[4]

What does this mean for the relationship between exploitation and oppression? Do they constitute different aspects of capitalist totality or, on the contrary, do the various forms of the latter have a purely contingent relationship to capitalism? The problem is not a new one and can be traced back to Marx’s own lifetime. Angela Davis once noted of the early feminists in the US immediately before the Civil War: “The leaders of the women’s rights movement did not suspect that the enslavement of Black people in the South, the economic exploitation of Northern workers and the social oppression of women might be systematically related.”[5] Davis found this incomprehension regrettable, although it was perhaps understandable in the context of the time; it is less so over 150 years later, but is nevertheless considerably more widespread.

In contemporary discussions, Marxist emphasis on the role of the working class—“privileging” it, so to speak—is criticized on the grounds that doing so either ignores struggles against oppression, or at least relegates them to a secondary level of importance. It is important to understand what is being criticized here. It is perfectly legitimate to point out, for example, that Capital itself does not encompass all aspects of human experience in capitalist society. Edward Thompson famously argued that this was because Marx was to an extent still trapped in the categories of his adversary, Political Economy—the problem being that “the whole society comprises many activities and relations (of power, of consciousness, sexual, cultural, normative) which are not the concern of Political Economy, which have been defined out of political economy, and for which it has no terms.”[6] Thompson may have been correct in this assessment, or, as I believe, he may have been expecting Capital to do more than Marx ever intended it to do; or, it may simply be that Capital would have dealt with the absent “activities and relations” had Marx actually succeeded in completing it.[7] But the critiques to which I refer here do not argue that Marx omitted discussion of oppression because of his particular focus in Capital or for contingent reasons connected with its composition; they argue instead that Marx, and subsequent Marxists, do not regard oppression as particularly important compared to working-class exploitation. For some of these critics, Marxists supposedly think that working-class exploitation trumps separate and autonomous forms of group oppression.[8] For others, Marxists apparently regard oppressed groups as subsets of the working class, which has priority for that reason.[9] Neither position corresponds to what either Marx or his genuine followers actually believed or believe.

First, the central category for Marxists is not class, but mode of production. Marx was far from being the first person to identify the existence of social classes, nor to understand that they had antagonistic relationships; he was, however, the first to discover that historically specific ways of organizing material production determined the nature of these classes through the exploitation of one by another.[10] There is, in other words, a difference between saying that, on the one hand, various oppressions are produced within the concrete expressions (societies or social formations) of specific modes of  production and, on the other, saying that they are “really” forms of class oppression. Some forms of oppression, like those based on gender, seem to have existed for as long as exploitative modes of production have done; others, like those based on “race,” have been much more restricted to the capitalist era. Neither is directly based on class relations: the question is whether or not they are now necessary for the maintenance of the existing capitalist order.

Second, as the previous paragraph suggests, Marx did not “reduce” all forms of oppression to class, although some vulgar Marxists have done so; for one thing, he did not think of human beings as being solely defined by their relationship to production. To be a worker is to occupy a social role, but the occupants do not exist solely in relation to the means of production, even though that relationship suffuses all others. To imagine otherwise is precisely to adopt the perspective of the capitalist, for whom people only exist as workers, or possibly as consumers. In his discussion of rights, for example, Marx dismisses an approach in which workers “are grasped from one particular side, e.g., if . . . they are regarded only as workers and nothing else is seen in them, everything else is ignored.”[11] Workers also belong to national groups, subscribe to religious beliefs, and have particular sexual orientations: there are of course working-class ways of fighting for the rights associated with these aspects of social being, but they themselves are not products of the workplace, nor can they necessarily be resolved there. Moreover, the experience of being a worker is channeled and filtered through these other social identities. As Stuart Hall wrote of race, it is “the modality in which class is ‘lived,’” the medium through which class relations are experienced, the form in which it is appropriated and “fought through.”[12] It is also true that the majority of people who belong to national groups, subscribe to religious beliefs, or have particular sexual orientations will also be members of the working class, since it now constitutes the majority of the global population.

Third, workers are not, however, only oppressed because they happen to belong to groups who are oppressed for other reasons; their oppression is an integral part of the process of exploitation. Part of the difficulty here is that “exploitation” is a category of political economy that describes a process undergone and resisted by slaves, peasants, and workers; but whatever was the case for the first two of these classes, no one experiences capitalist exploitation any more than they experience the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. They experience instead the oppression which exploitation involves. Marx suggested this at various points throughout his career, starting in the mid-1840s:

What constitutes the alienation of labor? Firstly, the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e. does not belong to his essential being; that he therefore does not confirm himself in his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy, does not develop free mental and physical energy, but mortifies his flesh and ruins his mind. Hence the worker feels himself only when he is not working; when he is working he does not feel himself. . . . His labor is therefore not voluntary but forced, it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside of itself.[13]

By the publication of Volume 1 of Capital, over twenty years later, hislanguage had if anything grown even more extreme. Capitalist manufacture proper “converts the laborer into a crippled monstrosity by furthering his particular skill as in a forcing-house, through the suppression of a whole world of productive drives and inclination. . . . It mutilates the worker, turning him into a fragment of himself.”[14]

One of the difficulties we face in relation to the last point is that neither Marx nor other figures of the classical Marxist tradition used the concepts of exploitation and oppression in the way that became established in the 1960s. Indeed, on some occasions they suggested that exploitation not only involved oppression but was an example of it; in effect, they use the terms “exploitation” and “oppression” interchangeably, except where the former is being used in a technical sense, as in calculations of the rate of exploitation.[15] Thus, in Capital Marx described piece-wages as involving “a hierarchically organized system of exploitation and oppression.”[16] On the eve of 1848 Engels looked forward to working-class organizations achieving “the freeing of labor from the oppression of capital.”[17] In 1899 Lenin wrote of how strikes brought “thoughts of the struggle of the entire working class for emancipation from the oppression of capital.”[18] And during the 1905 revolution he argued: “The economic oppression of the workers inevitably calls forth and engenders every kind of political oppression and social humiliation, the coarsening and darkening of the spiritual and moral life of the masses.”[19] But here Lenin seems to be thinking of the workplace supervision, police repression, and alcoholic self-medication involved in keeping workers under control rather than specific oppressions based on identity with which we are now familiar.[20]

Marx, Engels, and Lenin were specifically referring to the experience of factory manufacture, now shrinking in the West, but growing to embrace millions of new workers in China and other areas of the global South, often under conditions equal in their horror to those Marx observed during his exile in Britain.[21] But different forms of “mutilation” also occur today in the  original sites of capitalist development, where the old collieries and factories have been replaced by the new call centers and dispatch warehouses. James Bloodworth has recounted his experiences working in one of the latter, Amazon in Rugeley, Staffordshire. The oppression suffered by Bloodworth and his fellow workers did not simply involve the body searches at the beginning and end of a shift, or the electronic surveillance of how quickly they were performing their tasks, but the way it penetrated every aspect of their lives:

You get up each morning at eleven, you have breakfast, shower and prepare your feet for the day ahead—several sticking plasters, two pairs of socks—and then you drag your body out of the door by twelve thirty. You return home at midnight and you are usually in bed by one. Wash, rinse, repeat. Fastidiousness goes out the window. You have two meals a day and it is incumbent on you to get as much food inside you as possible at each sitting because it is impossible to know when you will next get the chance to eat a proper meal. Some snare-up in the security line on your lunch break could easily result in you missing out on a hot meal that day. . . . The need to offset the physical and emotional drain of manual work is one thing—fags, booze and junk food are some of the few pleasures left to you. But time is another. The speedy efficiency which characterizes middle-class life is non-existent in many working-class homes. Poverty is the thief of time. You wait around for buses and landlords. You are forced to do overtime at the drop of a hat. You hang around for an eternity waiting for the person who has told you they will sort out the administrative error in your pay slip. You go searching for a shop to print the wad of documents you need to start work. You must traipse around the supermarket looking for special offers with the diligence of a librarian searching for that rare first edition. You have to walk home afterwards.[22]

Two points need to be added here.

First, as in the case of Amazon employees, not every worker employed by capital is involved in producing surplus-value (“productive labor”)—in fact it is only a minority who have ever done so; others (“unproductive labor”) are involved in realizing value by, for example, transporting commodities or selling them; others still maintain the functioning of capitalist society as a whole by policing or educating the working class. But as the case of Amazon also shows, they are still subject to oppression.

Second, that oppression does not necessarily involve the kind of physically draining or damaging workplace conditions that the term immediately suggests. Arlie Russell Hochschild compares the seven-year-old child working sixteen hours a day in a wallpaper factory described by Marx in Capital with a twenty-year-old flight attendant today. The latter is paid far more, works far fewer hours, and will almost certainly live longer, and yet, as Hochschild writes, “a close examination of the differences between the two can led us to some unexpected common ground,” for both are under the domination of an alien power:

The work done by the boy in the wallpaper factory called for a coordination of mind and arm, mind and finger, and mind and shoulder. We refer to it simply as physical labor. The flight attendant does physical labor when she pushes heavy meal carts through the aisles, but she does mental work when she prepares for and actually organizes emergency landings and evacuations. But in the course of doing this physical and mental labor, she is also doing something more, something I define as emotional labor. . . . The reason for comparing these dissimilar jobs is that the modern assembly-line worker has for some time been an outmoded symbol of modern industrial labor; fewer than 6 percent of workers now work on assembly lines. Another kind of labor has now come into symbolic prominence—the voice-to-voice or face-to-face delivery of service—and the flight attendant is an appropriate model for it. . . . Though the flight attendant’s job is no worse and in many ways better than other service jobs, it makes the worker more vulnerable to the social engineering of her emotional labor and reduces her control over that labor. Her problems, therefore, may be a sign of what is to come in other such jobs.[23]

A flight attendant does at least perform a necessary function, assuming that flying is going to be undertaken at all. But what of those occupations, christened by David Graeber as “bullshit jobs,” which have no real purpose and whose occupants are aware of this fact? As Graeber points out: “There is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of the dignity of labor when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist?” Such knowledge will tend to produce “a sense of deep rage and resentment.”[24]

Treating the experience of the working class as primarily one of oppression, however, does not mean that it can be treated on the same basis as racism or sexism. For Chuck Barone: “Like other forms of oppression, classism at the intergroup (meso) level consists of prejudice based on negative attitudes toward and classist stereotypes of working-class people, and discrimination based on overt behaviors that distance, avoid, and/or exclude on the basis of class distinctions.”[25] There are, however, a number of reasons for being suspicious of this concept of classism, not least because it seems to have been first used by Friedrich von Hayek.[26]

The main substantive objection to it is, however, that belonging to a social class is not primarily about having an “identity” that can be subject to prejudice or discrimination. The point has been well made by Eagleton:

On the surface, the class-race-gender triplet appears convincing enough. Some people are oppressed because of their gender, some on account of their race, and others by virtue of their class. But this is a deeply misleading formulation. For it is not as though some individuals display certain characteristics known as “class,” which then result in their oppression. On the contrary, Marxists have considered that to belong to a class just is to be oppressed, or to be an oppressor. Class is in this sense a wholly social category, as being female or having a certain skin pigmentation is not. These things, which are not to be mistaken for being feminine or African American, are a matter of the kind of body you have rather than the sort of culture you belong to. . . . There can be liberated women, in the sense of individuals who are both female and emancipated, but there cannot be liberated wage-slaves in the sense of people who are both at the same time.[27]

And there is a further, related reason why Marxists regards class exploitation as different in kind from non-economic forms of oppression: the implications of ending them, as Ellen Meiksins Wood has pointed out. Clearly, she writes:

class equality means something different and requires different conditions from gender or racial equality. In particular, the abolition of class inequality would by definition mean the end of capitalism. But is the same necessarily true about the abolition of gender or racial inequality? Gender and racial inequality are not in principle incompatible with capitalism. The disappearance of class inequalities, on the other hand, by definition is incompatible with capitalism. At the same time, although class exploitation is constitutive of capitalism as gender or racial inequality are not, capitalism subjects all social relations to its requirements. It can co-opt and reinforce inequalities and oppressions which it did not create and use them in the interests of class exploitation.[28]

It is possible to imagine a capitalist world in which women are not oppressed, but it is not possible to imagine a capitalist world in which workers are not exploited or, since it flows from their exploitation, oppressed.

At this point, however, some care is required; because, from this correct starting point, some Marxists, including Wood herself, have pushed the argument to conclusions which by no means follow, as in this case when writing specifically about the oppression of women:

Capitalism could survive the eradication of all oppressions specific to women as women—while it would not, by definition, survive the eradication of class exploitation. This does not mean that capitalism has made the liberation of women necessary or inevitable. But it does mean that there is no specific structural necessity for, or even a strong systemic disposition to, gender oppression in capitalism.[29]

Wendy Brown, a thinker in many respects quite different to Wood, nevertheless agrees on this point, writing that “the feminist ambition to eliminate gender as a site of subordination could technically be met within a capitalist life form—that is, there is nothing in sexed bodies or even in gender subordination that capitalism cannot live without.” Her conclusion is: “Capitalism neither loves nor hates social differences. Rather it exploits them in the short run and erodes them in the long run.”[30]

In purely abstract terms, Wood and Brown are right, but I wrote “imagine a capitalist world in which women are not oppressed” above because, although it is theoretically possible to conceive of capitalism without nonclass oppressions, and the ideology of social neoliberalism is essentially based on such as vision, in reality it would be impossible to achieve as these are integral to the maintenance of ruling-class power, as social reproduction theorists rightly remind us. David McNally notes in the specific case of racism that it is pointless to engage in abstract debates about whether or not it is theoretically necessary to capitalism: “What we can say is that the actual historical process by which capitalism emerged in our world integrally involved social relations of race and racial domination.”[31] And the argument can be generalized, as Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancioğlu have done in their account of the historical origins of Western dominance:

The conquest, ecological ruin, slavery, state terrorism, patriarchal subjugation, racism, mass exploitation and immiseration upon which capitalism was built continue unabated today. The violent past . . . was therefore not merely a historical contingency, external to the “pure” operation of capital, or a phase of “incompleteness” out of which capitalism emerged or will emerge. Rather, these practices and processes are “constitutive” in the sense that they remain crucial to capital’s ongoing reproduction as a historical social structure.[32]

The difference between Wood and Brown’s position and that of McNally, Anievas, and Nişancioğlu is essentially the difference between the abstract economic model presented by Marx in Capital and the concrete historical process on which he drew to illustrate it: the former theory does not require racism, sexism, or any or form of non-economic oppression, but the latter reality did, and still does.[33] The difference is sometimes presented in other ways, as in David Harvey’s distinction between capital and capitalism, which is helpful here: “From the standpoint of capitalism, this central and foundational contradiction within the economic engine constituted by capital clearly has a vital role to play, but its tangible manifestations are mediated and tangled up through the filters of other forms of social distinction, such as race, ethnicity, gender and religious affiliation so as to make the actual politics of struggle within capitalism a far more complicated affair than would appear to be the case from the standpoint of the labor-capital relation alone.”[34] Yet Harvey does not extend his understanding of this distinction into struggles that have erupted from outside the capital-labor relation. In response to one critic of his book, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, he writes:

Obviously, the racial discriminations that have animated political struggles in the United States are important because the outcome of such struggles will define the future conditionalities of other transformations of that social formation. But we should be clear that such struggles are anti-racist andnot necessarily anti-capitalist.

More specifically, Harvey writes that he did not regard the demonstrations that took place in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police murder of Mike Brown “as dealing very much with anti-capitalism.”[35] But as David Roediger points out, while he wishes that “the people in Ferguson talked explicitly about ending capitalism . . . .  to assume that their struggles are therefore not anti-capitalist ones seems formalistic in the extreme.”[36]

Recent discussions of oppression have been more concerned with establishing links between its different manifestations under capitalism, mainly through the concept of intersectionality, than with establishing the connection between all forms of oppression and capitalist exploitation.[37] Intersectionality is in many respects the equivalent in social movements to “interdisciplinarity” in academic subject areas: both are attempts to compensate for the absence of the concept of totality, in the case of the former in strategic rather than theoretical terms. There are two central problems with it. One is that intersectionality has become what Edward Said once described as a “travelling theory.”[38] In this case it is one that has travelled from its origins in Black Feminism to one that can be accommodated by neoliberalism, with its emphasis on individual roles: the personal is political reduced to the political is the personal—and nothing else.[39] But even where this accommodation has been resisted, there is a second and more fundamental difficulty.

As one critical supporter of the intersectional critique of capitalism points out, powerful though it is in many respects, “to say that oppressions intersect,interact and mutually reinforce one another is still to pose them as separate.”[40] In fact, as McNally points out, intersectionality is an example of what he calls “Social Newtonianism,” in which different relations collide, but do not interact. In a social system, however, the connections between different forms of oppression are not random but systematic, and “to be systematically related involves considerably more than mere intersection”: “they constitute an integral system.”[41]

Holly Lewis makes a similar argument in more concrete terms:

Race, gender, religion, and nation are not “things that happen to individuals”: they are social relations conditioned by capitalism and conditioned by one another. Each relation is defined by all other relations with which it interacts. Just as the experience of maleness is always inflected by gender and sexuality. This is because what happens in the world happens all at once.

And just because particular Marxists have failed to treat oppression as anything other than a contingent aspect of capitalism does not mean that Marxism itself is incapable of providing a better explanation:

The universalism of Marxism . . . is not the reduction of human experience to a model but the acknowledgement that we all exist in one world. . . . Oppressions cannot be pinned to the wall like so many dead butterflies. They do not come at us like bolts from distinct and unrelated points.[42]

This discussion may appear to have taken us some distance from the nature of revolutionary situations, but it is in fact central to it. If exploitation and other forms of oppression are linked by the process of capitalist historical development, then the “merger” of movements hailed by Lenin remains a possibility, albeit one that will still have to be fought for and organized. Marx himself argued that this should be an objective for the trade unions: “They must convince the world at large that their efforts, far from being narrow and selfish, aim at the emancipation of the downtrodden millions.”[43] Lenin himself doubted that the unions could play this role and saw it instead as falling to revolutionaries, as he argued in a famous passage from “What Is to Be Done?”: “The Social-Democrat’s ideal should not be the trade-union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects.”[44] In fact, one task of revolutionaries must surely be to convince “the trade union secretary” of the need for workers’ organizations to become “tribunes of the oppressed,” as a step on the road to Marx’s “complete emancipation.”

The Russian Revolution provides a powerful demonstration of the two propositions argued in this section. The first is that Marxism is capable of uniting the struggles against exploitation and oppression. There was a fundamental difference between Bolshevik conceptions of female liberation and those associated with the mainstream of Western feminism:

After acquiring [the vote], no feminist movement in the West, until recent years, made any further steps towards realizing economic or sexual liberation; even less did it engage in any mass movement for the liberation of women of the working class or minorities. Bolshevik “feminism” reversed the social timetable of Western feminism. For the latter, political emancipation was the goal; for the former, it was only the beginning.[45]

There is no need to downplay the divisions and debates between revolutionaries in Russia after 1917 concerning issues of sex and gender; and there were also undoubtedly tensions, gaps, and contradictions in what was done, but in relation to these issues, the Bolshevik regime was one of the first to give all women the vote and was alone at the time in legalizing abortion and making divorce accessible; indeed, this aspect of the revolutionary achievement lasted longer than most others—including soviet democracy itself.[46]

The second proposition demonstrated by the Russian Revolution is the relationship between women’s oppression and capitalism. The Stalinist counterrevolution of 1928 is in many ways a test case: the regime constructed a then-novel form of integral state capitalism, compressing all the horrors of “normal” capitalist industrialization into decades, rather than centuries. Part of this process—unsurprisingly, in the light of our earlier discussion—involved removing most of the rights that women had won regarding their sexuality and control over their own bodies until, by 1936, they were being celebrated as breeding machines for the production of workers and soldiers.[47]


Revolutionary Rehearsals in the Neoliberal Age is available from Haymarket Books, currently on sale at $16.80.


[1] Juliet Mitchell, Woman’s Estate (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1971), 14–15.

[2] Tithi Bhattacharya, “Introduction: Mapping Social Reproduction Theory, in Social Reproduction Theory: Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression, Tithi Bhattacharya, ed. (London: Pluto Press, 2017), 3.

[3] György Lukács [1923], “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” in History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics (London: Merlin Press, 1971), 168; my emphasis.

[4] Bertell Ollman [1979], “Marxism and Political Science: Prolegomenon to a Debate on Marx’s Method,” in Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx’s Method (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 139–40.

[5] Angela Davis, Women, Race and Class (London: The Women’s Press, 1982), 66.

[6] Edward P. Thompson [1978], “The Poverty of Theory or an Orrery of Errors,” in The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays (Fourth impression, London: Merlin Press, 1981), 64.

[7] For different assessments of the extent to which Capital remained unfinished and reviews of the main contributions to this debate, see, Michael A. Lebowitz, Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class (Houndmills: Macmillan, 1992), 11–34, and Alex Callinicos, Deciphering Capital: Marx’s Capital and Its Destiny (London: Bookmarks, 2014), 54–64.

[8] See, for example, John Sanbonmatsu, The Postmodern Prince: Critical Theory, Left Strategy, and the Making of a New Political Subject (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004), 196–202.

[9] See, for example, Bob Pease, Undoing Privilege: Unearned Advantage in a Divided World (London: Zed Books, 2010), 17.

[10] Marx to Weydemeyer, March 5, 1852, in Collected Works, vol. 39 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1983), 60.

[11] Karl Marx [1875], “Critique of the Gotha Programme,” in The First International and After, vol. 3 of Political Writings, David Fernbach, ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin/New Left Review, 1974), 347.

[12] Stuart Hall, “Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance,” in Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism, UNESCO, ed. (Paris: UNESCO, 1980), 341.

[13] Karl Marx [1844], “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” in Early Writings (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books/New Left Review, 1975), 326.

[14] Karl Marx [1867], Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 1 (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books/New Left Review, 1976), 481, 482. As Marx acknowledges (ibid., 483), the point had been made earlier by Adam Smith; see [1776], An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Edwin Cannan, ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), Book V, chapter 1, 302–3.

[15] I am grateful to Tithi Bhattacharya for bringing this point and some of the references in this paragraph to my attention; I look forward to her own important research on the subject appearing in print soon.

[16] Marx, Capital, vol. 1, 695.

[17] Frederick Engels [1847], “The Reform Movement in France,” in Collected Works, vol. 6 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1976), 377.

[18] Lenin, “On Strikes,” 315.

[19] Vladimir I. Lenin [1905], “Socialism and Religion,” in Collected Works, vol. 10, November 1905–June 1906 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1962), 83.

[20] As we have already seen in relation to the Russian Revolution, Marxists of the time were of course aware of the oppression of women and sought to end it, but they did not tend to use the term; in fact, the only specific oppression that was actually conceived as such was national oppression. Contemporary use of “oppression” in relation to “gender,” “sexuality,” “race,” etc., seems to have been adopted from the concept of national oppression.

[21] See John Smith’s powerful description of the conditions under which three commodities—a T-shirt, iPhone, and cup of coffee—are produced: Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2016), 9–34.

[22] James Bloodworth, Hired: Six Months Undercover in Low-Wage Britain (London:

Atlantic Books, 2018), 64–65, 67, and 11–76 more generally; for call centers, see Jamie Woodcock, Working the Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centres (London: Pluto Press, 2017), 34–59.

[23] Arlie Russell Hochschild [1983], The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling (updated with a new preface; Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 5, 6–7, 8–9, and 3–9 more generally.

[24] David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (London: Allen Lane, 2018), xviii.

[25] Chuck Barone, “Political Economy of Classism: Towards a More Integrated Multilevel View,” Review of Radical Political Economy 30, no. 2 (March 1998): 6.

[26] Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1944), 104.

[27] Terry Eagleton, The Illusions of Postmodernism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 57–58. As someone of Irish Catholic heritage, Eagleton is of course aware that racism need not involve skin color or indeed any physical characteristic at all; but it always involves some essential quality or characteristic. Elsewhere he describes racism as involving “the superiority of one cultural identity over another.” The Idea of Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 58.

[28] Ellen Meiksins Wood, “The Use and Abuses of ‘Civil Society,’” in Socialist Register 1990: The Retreat of the Intellectuals, Ralph Miliband and Leo Panitch, eds. (London: Merlin Press, 1990), 76; see also Democracy against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 259.

[29] Meiksins Wood, Democracy against Capitalism, 270.

[30] Wendy Brown. “Feminism Unbound: Revolution, Mourning, Politics,” in Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 105–6, and see 104–12 more generally.

[31] David McNally, “Intersections and Dialectics: Critical Reconstructions in Social Reproduction Theory,” in Social Reproduction Theory, 107. For a recent discussion of precisely how racism was integrated with the origins and development of capitalism, see Satnam Virdee, “Racialized Capitalism: An Account of Its Contested Origins and Consolidation,” Sociological Review 67, no. 1 (2019): 11–19.

[32] Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancioğlu, How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical

Origins of Capitalism (London: Pluto Press, 2015), 279.

[33] I discuss this at greater length in “Capitalist Outcomes, Ideal Types, Historical Realities,” Historical Materialism 27, no. 1 (2019): 210–76.

[34] David Harvey, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism (London: ProfileBooks, 2014), 68.

[35] David Harvey, “Reply: Response to Alex Dubilet,” Syndicate (April 1, 2015),

available at: https://syndicate.network/symposia/theology/seventeen-contradictions-and-the-end-of-capitalism/.

[36] David Roediger, “Introduction: Thinking Through Race and Class in Hard Times,” in Class, Race, and Marxism (London: Verso: 2017), 2.

[37] The term was first used by Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum, special issue: Feminism in the Law: Theory, Practice and Criticism (1989).

[38] Edward Said, “Travelling Theory,” in The World, the Text, and the Critic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983); for an application of the analysis to intersectionality, see Sara Salem, “Intersectionality and Its Discontents: Intersectionality as Travelling Theory,” European Journal of Women’s Studies, online first: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1350506816643999 (posted April 22, 2016).

[39] C. T. Mohanty, “Transnational Feminist Crossings: On Neoliberalism and Radical Critique,” Signs 38, no. 4 (2013): 971–72.

[40] Ashley Bohrer, “Intersectionality and Marxism: A Critical Historiography,” Historical Materialism 26, no. 2 (2018): 69.

[41] McNally, “Intersections and Dialectics,” 97–99, 110–11 (quote).

[42] Holly Lewis, The Politics of Everybody: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Marxism at the Intersection (London: Zed Books, 2016), 195.

[43] Karl Marx, “Instructions for the Delegates of the Provisional General Council: The Different Questions,” in Collected Works, vol. 20 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1985), 192.

[44] Vladimir I. Lenin [1902], “What Is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement,” in Collected Works, vol. 5, May 1901–February 1902 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1961), 423.

[45] Richard Stites [1978], The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860–1930, new ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 333

[46] S. A. Smith, Russia in Revolution: An Empire in Crisis, 1890–1928 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 338–45; Sharon Smith, Women and Socialism: Class, Race, and Capital (fully revised and updated edition; Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2015), 189–201; and Stites, The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia, 329–45, 358–76, 416–21.

[47] Michael Haynes, Russia: Class and Power, 1917–2000 (London: Bookmarks, 2002), 153–56; Stites, The Women’s Liberation Movement in Russia, 376–406 (“the sexual Thermidor”).

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