Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Reading :: A History of Marxist Psychology

A History of Marxist Psychology: The Golden Age of Soviet Science
Edited by Anton Yasnitsky

Anton Yasnitsky has edited yet another collection on Soviet-era psychology. Unlike his previous offerings, this one is not specifically Vygotsky-centered, nor is it as aggressively revisionist—although you'll still find challenges to received wisdom. Instead, these chapters tend to wander more widely, examining the  works by Leontiev and Rubinsten, the history of Soviet psychiatry and pedology, Luria's powerbroking, and the uptake of Soviet psychology in contemporary Brazil. 

Let's start with Radzikhovskii's "Reminiscence about Future Marxist Psychology," in which the author tells the story of how he cam to ghostwrite A.N. Leontiev's introduction to Vygotsky's Collected Works. According to the author, he was working under Davydov at the time, was asked to write the introduction, and was mildly surprised when the introduction was published under Leontiev's name in 1982 (pp.26-27). The explanation he got was that only Leontiev, the most devout student of Vygotsky, could have written this introductory chapter, but he was not feeling well. "I would like to emphatically state here that—as strange as might appear today—at the time it never crossed my mind to blame anyone for anything ... as the whole situation was perceived as absolutely normal by all sides involved, and totally fitting the dominant scientific ethos in Soviet scientific practice at the time" (p.27). In fact, "I was really glad and proud to have received such a flattering and honorable assignment as a junior researcher, whose work turned out good enough to be signed by the name of a Great Man such as Aleksei N. Leontiev" (p.27). Yet he later learned from Zinchenko's retrospective writings that Leontiev had consistently delayed the project, with one roadblock being that the collection could not go out without his introductory chapter, a chapter he consistently delayed writing (p.28)! 

Radzikhovskii offers this anecdote partly to explain the way psychology worked in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and how it developed in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union (p.28). Remarkably, he says, Marxist sources were de rigeur in 1980s psychology and then disappeared almost completely in the 1990s (p.29). This phenomenon, he says, is easily explained: "in the USSR of the 1980s it was plain obvious that psychology was diseased with the same sickness as the rest of Soviet social sciences. The main problem was that social sciences hardly reflected the actual life problems of contemporary social reality and, instead, dealt with abstract schemes and abstract images of idealized people as they 'should be' as opposed to the real people in the concrete settings of the their [sic] socialist social environment in the Soviet Union" (p.29). Thus, during perestroika, the main goal became to make psychology "accountable for and capable of solving the problems of the real individuals ... in their effort to solve their mundane problems" (p.29). However, one one hand, "all Soviet grand psychological theories and lesser-scale projects were invariably referred to as 'Marxist' ones," and on the other, revising these fundamental theories would be understood as subversive, and "thus, the revision of the Marxist fundamentals was not apparently an option. It was way easier—and way more pleasant and self-satisfying to the Soviet scholars in the times of the rapidly disintegrating state and official ideology—to denounce any Marxism altogether. This was triumphantly accomplished roughly by the end of the decade of the 1980s" (p.30). 

Radzikhovskii turns to Leontiev's troubled relationship to Vygotsky's legacy, noting that Leontiev's notion of psychological activity is based on the Marxist socioeconomic notion of labor (p.48). "From this standpoint, a description of psychological processes as those involved in activity means, therefore, to deprive psychology of its genuinely psychological meaning and to establish a very different field of knowledge that might be referred to as 'praxeology' or the 'science of activity'. When I first expressed this idea in Russian more than 30 years ago (Radzikhovskii, 1988) I could have hardly anticipated how true it would eventually turn out at the end of the second decade of the 21st century" —and here, he cites my own chapter reviewing activity theory's march from psychology to de facto sociology (p.48). 

Reviewing Bozhovich's criticism of Leontiev, he affirms that "First, Leontiev's writings abound with quasi-Marxist abstract speculations, 'the arguments of istmat [historical materialism]', instead of systematic psychological theoretical work," and second, "Leontiev's excessive istmat speculations, in her [Bozhovich's] view, reflected the fundamental deficiency of well-developed distinct methodology of scientific research and the studies of 'psychological activity' conducted on its basis" (p.49). 

In the second chapter, "Sergei Rubinstein as the Founder of Soviet Marxist Psychology," Anton Yasnitsky strongly argues that "Sergei Rubsinstein (1889-1960) was definitely and undeniably the founder of Soviet Marxist psychology" (p.58). That is, "the unified project of the Soviet Marxist psychology emerged in Rubinstein's works and was forever strongly associated with his name and contribution"—yet "this gigantic figure and the creator of Soviet psychological Marxism is virtually unknown in the West to this very day," with few of his works translated into English and a few more into German (p.59). Yasnitsky begins to rectify this situation with this chapter, which overviews Rubinstein's life and scholarly works.

Gregory Dufaud's chapter overviews the overlooked history of psychiatry in the USSR, while Andy Byford does the same with the occupation of pedology. In the latter chapter, Byford discusses how the entirety of pedology's leadership was accused of deviation, halting the mobilization of pedological research and making it an occupation rather than a science from 1931-on (p.117). By 1935, a number of politically sensitive incidents led to commissions, leading to the infamous 1936 decree—in which the role of pedology was demonized, but the individuals themselves were simply reassigned (p.123). 

Gisele Toassa and coauthors address the history of psychology and Marxism in 1970s Brazil, discussing how liberation theology led to Freire's contributions, which in turn led to liberation psychology (p.134). By 1975, copies of Vygotsky's works made their way from Italy, followed closely by Bakhtin's (p.135). 

In the chapter "Alexander Luria: Marxist Psychologist and Transnational Scientific Broker," Alexandre Metraux provides a personal account of how he interacted with Luria and saw Luria interacting with other scientific elite—and in doing so, I think, answers Yasnitsky's question of why the Vygotsky school is so much more well known than Rubinstein. Among other things, Metraux traces the origins of Luria's autobiography and notes some of the details that Luria fudged. He also discusses how Luria aggressively promoted Vygotsky's work, partly because he genuinely wanted to honor Vygotsky, but also "in order to consolidate his own approach (and that of those of his colleagues who referred to Vygotsky without being among the very close followers) against other, competing approaches of Soviet psychologists" (p.171). That is, "Luria also used the 'posthumous Vygotsky' as a significant instrument in his own interest," just as (in Luria's telling) Vygotsky used his circle as instruments (p.171). In one example, Luria translated his and Leontiev's preface to Vygotsky's book in German so that East German readers—who generally could not read Russian, yet felt the strong impact of Soviet approaches to psychology—would see Vygotsky as "the most significant and still highly relevant figure of Soviet psychology or even as the leading Marxist psychologist of the USSR" (p.172). Through such efforts of Vygotsky promotion in the West, Luria and Leontiev could advocate for their own research agenda as well as a way to defend against Pavlovians at home (p.173). 

Sometimes this elevation of Vygotsky "looks like having bordered on obsession," as when Luria agreed to write an autobiographical chapter, then tried to include a biography of Vygotsky in it (p.174). Interestingly, Luria's autobiography The Making of Mind was composed in English, growing from an interview he gave to a director of scientific films (p.176). Mike Cole wrote the epilogue to that autobiography, which noted the difficulties Luria faced in the 1930s-1950s. Obviously the Soviet copyright agency did not approve of the epilogue, although it approved of the core manuscript, and it asked Zinchenko to intercede (p.184). 

There are other chapters, well worth reading as well, but I'll stop here. This volume does a nice job of selecting many authors who actually lived these events and are able to draw on deep experience to discuss them. If you're interested in Soviet psychology, activity theory, Vygotsky, Luria, or just how ideas are picked up and travel, definitely take a look.

Reading :: Designs for the Pluriverse

Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds
By Arturo Escobar

I saw this book cited in Huatong Sun's Global Social Media Design earlier this year and decided to pick it up. According to the back cover, the book "presents a new vision of design theory and practice aimed at channeling design's world-making capacity toward ways of being and doing that are deeply attuned to justice and the Earth"; it promises an "autonomous design" that is oriented to "collaborative and place-making approaches" rather than the demands of capitalism.

The book, as Escobar claims on p.1, seeks to contribute to the redefinition of design from a politico-ontological standpoint. It offers: 

  1. "an outline for a cultural studies approach to design" (p.3)
  2. "an ontological reading of the cultural background from which design emerges" (p.3)
  3. a deep exploration of these propositions, examining "cultural and ecological transition narratives and discourses" (p.4) and concluding with potential frameworks for "an ontological reframing of design" (p.5)
Escobar begins with a Zapatista slogan, which translates as "We want a world where many worlds fit" (p.16)—i.e., a pluriverse. He argues that 
  1. "The contemporary crisis is the result of deeply entrenched ways of being, knowing, and doing," so we must understand design historically and culturally (p.19);
  2. "Today the most appropriate mode of access to the question concerning design is ontological," so we must understand the dualist ontology of capitalism (pp.19-20);
  3. We're seeing "ecological and social devastation," so we must think about "significant cultural transitions" (p.20); and
  4. This book specifically seeks to make "a Latin American contribution to the transnational conversation of design," one that "stems from contemporary Latin American epistemic and political experiences and struggles" (p.20).
Yet, he adds, the book belongs "to a long set of conversations in both Western philosophy and sociopolitical spaces in the West and beyond" (p.20)—an important qualification, as we'll see below.

In Part I, Escobar discusses an ontological approach to design. He argues that modern design has contributed to unsustainability and the elimination of futures, but perhaps non-dualist design practices could yield futuring strategies (p.52). To investigate, he draws from design anthropology, ethnography-as-design, and the anthropology of design—and he proposes a fourth alternative, that of "reorienting design on the basis of anthropological concerns" (p.54). To explore the latter, he turns to political ecology, discussing the ontological turn, which is defined by "a host of factors that deeply shape what we come to know as reality but that social theory has rarely tackled—factors like objects and things, nonhumans, matter and materiality ... emotions, spirituality, feelings, and so forth," factors that represent "the attempt to break away from the normative divides, central to the modern regime of truth, between subject and object, mind and body, reason and emotion, living and inanimate, human and nonhuman, organic and inorganic, and so forth" (p.63). He calls these perspectives "postdualism," and argues that in them we see "the return of the repressed side of the dualisms—the forceful emergence of the subordinated and often feminized and racialized side of all of the above binaries" (p.64). 

"The most important targets of a postdualist PE [political ecology] re the divide between nature and culture, on the one hand, and the idea that there is a single nature (or world) to which there correspond many cultures, on the other," he argues, citing scholars such as Ingold, Haraway, Law, and Latour (p.64). He goes on to explore the literature of feminist political ecology and political ontology. Specifically, he discusses the sociology of absences, in which "what doesn't exist is actively produced as nonexistent or as a noncredible alternative to what exists" (p.68). Thus, he says, we must step away from the limits inherent in the "mono-ontological or intra-European origin of such theories" (p.68), instead understanding the world in terms of "relational ontologies" with "complex weavings" based in a "rhizome-like logic" that "reveals an altogether different way of being and becoming in territory and place" (p.70). To be honest, I became a bit frustrated at this point in the book, since the discussion is based primarily in European and American authors (Ingold, Haraway, Law, Latour), the logic is described with the familiar term rhizome (cf. Deleuze and Guattari), and the author turns to handwaving phrases ("complex weavings") rather than more concrete argument. Latour and Woolgar's Laboratory Life was published in 1979; Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus was published in 1980; Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto was published in 1985. Why aren't we farther along here? Perhaps Escobar is attempting to describe these insights to a design audience that hasn't heard of them, but if so, I would like to see more precise phrases than "complex weavings" and a better transition from these Western authors to non-Western and specifically South American insights. However, to his credit, he does soon get to South American insights, specifically via Maturana and Vela, who discuss cognition as enaction (p.82). 

Later, Escobar argues that the problem isn't that dualities exist—it is that coloniality features the categorization and hierarchical classification of differences (p.94). He argues that "there is no modernity anywhere without this coloniality" (p.94). 

With this foundation in place, Escobar turns to the question of what a new design should look like, drawing on Winograd and Flores (pp.109-110). Long story short, it is ontologically oriented and aimed at sustainability. Sustainable design "requires fundamental changes in values and novel socioeconomic and institutional arrangements"; it "highlights interconnectedness and envisions the decoupling of well-being from growth or consumption, and the cultivation of new values (e.g., solidarity, ethics, community, meaning)" (p.142). Later in the book, he lays out the presumptions of autonomous design, which read like participatory design:
  1. "Every community practices the design of itself"
  2. "Every design activity must start with the strong presupposition that people are practitioners of their own knowledge"
  3. "What the community designs, in the first instance, is an inquiring or learning system about itself"
  4. "Every design process involves a statement of problems and possibilities that enables the designer and the group to generate agreements about objectives and to decide among alternate courses of action"
  5. "This exercise can take the form of building a model of the system that generates the problem of communal concern" (pp.184-185)
He lists more features of autonomous design on pp.188-189, summarized in Figure 6.2 as related to Earth, Territories, Ancestrality, Un/Sustainability/Sustainment, Futurality, and Autonomy (p.189). Realizing this vision means "that all transition thinking needs to develop this attunement to the Earth. In the end, it seems to me that a plural sense of civilizational transitions that contemplates—each vision in its own way—the Liberation of Mother Earth as a fundamental transition design principle is the most viable historical project that humanity can undertake at present" (p.204). Earlier, Escobar described the idea that we live in a single underlying world as "imperialistic" (p.86), but when rallying the entire globe to undertake a project, it's useful to have a single underlying principle ("the Liberation of Mother Earth," a notion in which Escobar has packed a lot of ideas about an underlying shared reality). 

As you can tell, I'm not convinced by this argument, which seems to me to be seeking to replace one fundamental understanding with another, largely on the backs of 40-year-old ideas developed by Western philosophers. Sure, we could change the world as long as most of us decide to believe and act differently—to replace a shared set of assumptions about a shared world with a different set of assumptions about the same world. (That's what Lenin thought would happen in 1917.) But there's no roadmap from A to B. There's not even a roadmap to addressing the obvious scaling issues in the numbered list above, the list that looks so similar to the principles of participatory design, which itself has been around for 35 years and which has also not scaled due to the labor-intensiveness of achieving sustained buy-in from community members. I'd be more interested if Escobar, like participatory designers, had applied principles in a concrete way to specific cases in order to illustrate how at least part of the world could change with this new vision. That is, Escobar needs a UTOPIA project in which to prove these ideas—and it would help if he read beyond Winograd and Flores to the broader CSCW and PD literature. 

I've been a little hard on this book because I think it overpromises. However, it's still a useful book for thinking about how different ontologies might contribute to design. In particular, it functions well as a set of literature reviews that bridge design with object-oriented ontology (OOO) concerns. For that reason, I still recommend the book (with caution) to people who are interested in pluralist design approaches. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Reading :: The Wretched of the Earth

The Wretched of the Earth
By Frantz Fanon

This 1961 classic of decolonialist literature has a preface by Jean-Paul Sartre -- which we'll skip.

On the first page, Fanon tells us: "decolonization is always a violent phenomenon.  ... decolonization is quite simply the replacing of a certain 'species' of men by another 'species' of men. Without any period of transition, there is a total, complete, and absolute substitution" (p.35). He argues that decolonization is "a historical process," "the meeting of two forces, opposed to each other by their very nature, which in fact owe their originality to that sort of substantification which results from and is nourished by the situation in the colonies" (p.36). In this situation, it is "the settler who has brought the native into existence and who perpetuates his existence" (p.36). He adds: "In the colonies the economic substructure is also a superstructure. The cause is the consequence; you are rich because you are white, you are white because you are rich. This is why Marxist analysis should always be slightly stretched every time we have to do with the colonial problem" (p.40) -- that is, the Marxist claim that everything comes back to economics is inadequate, since colonialism sets the terms for economics. This is more than a slight stretching! And thus "Everything up to and including the very nature of pre-capitalist society, so well explained by Marx, must here be thought out again" (p.40).

He argues that decolonization is ascendant for various reasons. The colonial powers want to avoid the violence of revolution (p.70) and the infiltration of Communists (p.74), and decolonialization allows the US to escape the bad press and Soviet propaganda about colonialism (p.79). The West has tried to slow and manage decolonization, but it cannot stop it. 

Furthermore, "colonialism, as we have seen, is in fact the organization of a Manichean world, a world divided up into compartments" (p.84). And he argues that former colonies should not be swept up in the Manichean Great Power competition between the US and USSR: "The underdeveloped countries, which have used the fierce competition which exists between the two systems in order to assure the triumph of their struggle for national liberation, should however refuse to become a factor in that competition" (pp.98-99). Rather, "The country finds itself in the hands of new managers; but the fact is that everything needs to be reformed and everything thought out anew" (p.100).

Like Cesaire, he argues, "what is fascism if not colonialism when rooted in a traditionally colonialist country?" (p.90). And "Not long ago Nazism transformed the whole of Europe into a veritable colony. The governments of the various European nations called for reparations and demanded the restitution in kind and money of the wealth which had been stolen from them: cultural treasures, pictures, sculptures, and stained glass have been given back to their owners" (p.101). Thus: "In the same way we may say that the imperialist states would make a great mistake and commit an unspeakable injustice if they contented themselves with withdrawing from our soil the military cohorts, and the administrative and managerial services whose function it was to discover the wealth of the country, to extract it and to send it off to the mother countries" (p.102). He calls for "a double realization: the realization by the colonized peoples that it is their due, and the realization by the capitalist powers that in fact they must pay. For if, through lack of intelligence (we won't speak of lack of gratitude) the capitalist countries refuse to pay, then the relentless dialectic of their own system will smother them" (p.103). That is, without reparations, capital can't find a safe outlet and is blocked and frozen in Europe, leading to catastrophe in the long run (p.104). The former colonies will no longer buy things from Europe, and thus the capitalists will struggle against their own governments and monopolies will eventually realize they must give aid (p.105). He urges the West to stop the Cold War and give aid to underdeveloped regions, for the fate of the world depends on it (p.105).

(Here, as in Freire, the author invokes dialectic as an analogue for justice.)

Fanon turns to the question of the relationship between a nationalist party and the masses. He first notes that the idea of political party has been developed for highly industrialized societies, then imported into colonized areas (p.108), and that the analogue does not work so well: "in the colonial territories the proletariat is the nucleus of the colonized population which has been most pampered by the colonial regime" (p.108) -- i.e., the proletariat are the bourgeoisie (p.109). He goes on to discuss the difficulties in developing a revolution in a colonized area, then looks forward to the future decolonized society:

In a veritable collective ecstasy, families which have always been traditional enemies decide to rub out old scores and to forgive and forget. There are numerous reconciliations. Long-buried but unforgettable hatreds are brought to light once more, so that they may more surely be rooted out. The taking on of nationhood involves a growth of awareness. The national unity is first the unity of a group, the disappearance of old quarrels and the final liquidation of unspoken grievances. (p.132)


The settler is not simply the man who must be killed. Many members of the mass of colonialists reveal themselves to be much, much nearer to the national struggle than certain sons of the nation. The barriers of blood and race-prejudice are broken down on both sides. (p.146)

This is optimism on the level of the Leninist notion of the withering away of the state! 

We see the continuing influence of Marxism-Leninism in the rest of the dialogue. For instance, the rich are predators -- and subhuman:

The more the people understand, the more watchful they become, and the more they come to realize that finally everything depends on them and their salvation lies in their own cohesion, in the true understanding of their interests, and in knowing who their enemies are. The people come to understand that wealth is not the fruit of labor but the result of organized, protected robbery. Rich people are no longer respectable people; they are nothing more than flesh-eating animals, jackals, and vultures which wallow in the people's blood. (p.191)

And labor (as opposed to slavery) gives us dignity: 

the idea of work is not as simple as all that, that slavery is opposed to work, and that work presupposes liberty, responsibility, and consciousness. (p.191)

In a later chapter, Fanon turns to actual cases of mental disorders to discuss how colonialism affects the colonized. 

He concludes by calling the former colonies to make their own way independent of their former colonizers:

So, my brothers, how is it that we do not understand that we have better things to do than to follow that same Europe?

That same Europe where they were never done talking of Man, and where they never stopped proclaiming that they were only anxious for the welfare of Man: today we know with what sufferings humanity has paid for every one of their triumphs of the mind. (p.312)

And "It is a question of the Third World starting a new history of Man" (p.315).

All in all, the book reminds me of Lenin. The analysis is unrelenting and unflinching. But that analysis gives way to a vision of the future that is overoptimistic and perhaps oversimplified. Just as Lenin saw the state withering away once the oppressions of capitalism had ceased, Fanon saw the decolonized coming together in a common purpose once the oppressions of colonialism had ceased. But perhaps that optimistic, clearly delineated vision is what one needs in order to move confidently into an uncertain future. In any case, it's well worth a read, both for the analysis and for the proposed vision. 

Reading :: Discourse on Colonialism

Discourse on Colonialism
By Aime Cesaire

This book was first published in 1950. According to Robin D.G. Kelley, who wrote the introduction, it was part of a wave of postwar anticolonial literature (p.8). Cesaire was born in Martinique in 1913, went to study in Paris in 1931, and began his awakening there. He and his wife returned to Fort-de-France in 1939, shortly before France fell and Vichy rule began. Thousands of French sailors arrived on the island, shattering his illusion of colorblind French brotherhood and radicalizing Cesaire. Cesaire went on to develop his anticolonialist views, including his view that fascism is just colonialism turned on Westerners (p.19). Kelley notes that Cesaire closes his 1950 book with the "shocking" assertion that the Soviet Union was a template for a better society (p.23); Cesaire would go on to reject Stalinism in 1956 (p.25), and even in the 1950 book he advocated for an "unmaterialist" (p.24) set of new spiritual values (p.25). 

Kelley emphasizes that in this book, Cesaire argues that "colonial domination required a whole way of thinking, a discourse in which everything that is advanced, good, and civilized is defined and measured in European terms" (p.27). And Kelley adds that "In the end, Discourse was never intended to be a road map or a blueprint for revolution. It is poetry and therefore revolt. It is an act of insurrection, drawn from Cesaire's own miraculous weapons" (p.28).

Now to the book itself. Cesaire indicts Europe on the first page:

The fact is that the so-called European civilization -- "Western" civilization -- as it has been shaped by two centuries of bourgeois rule, is incapable of solving the two major problems to which its existence has given rise: the problem of the proletariat and the colonial problem; that Europe is unable to justify itself either before the bar of "reason" or before the bar of "conscience"; and that, increasingly, it takes refuge in a hypocrisy which is all the more odious because it is less and less likely to deceive. (p.31)


the chief culprit in this domain is Christian pedantry, which laid down the dishonest equations Christianity = civilization, paganism savagery, from which there could not but ensue abominable colonialist and racist consequences. (p.33)

Cesaire allows that "is a good thing to place different civilizations in contact with each other; that it is an excellent thing to blend different worlds" (p.33) -- but colonization has not done this (pp.33-34). Instead, colonization places an infinite gap between civilizations (p.34), and in doing so, decivilizes the colonizer (p.35), making Europe savage (p.36) and leading to Hitler: Hitler demonstrates that capitalist society can't establish the concept of rights of all men or individual ethics (p.37). In fact,

that no one colonizes innocently, that no one colonizes with impunity either; that a nation which colonizes, that a civilization which justifies colonization -- and therefore force -- is already a sick civilization, a civilization which is morally diseased, which irresistibly, progressing from one consequence to another, one denial to another, calls for its Hitler, I mean its punishment. (p.39)

Indeed, in treating others like an animal, the colonizer transforms himself into one -- the boomerang effect of colonization (p.41). He adds: "colonization = "thingification" (p.42). And he vaunts the old societies that colonization replaced: "They were communal societies, never societies of the many for the few" and "They were societies that were not only ante-capitalist, as has been said, but also anti-capitalist" (p.44). 

Europe is not the only problem: "the barbarism of Western Europe has reached an incredibly high level, being only surpassed -- far surpassed, it is true -- by the barbarism of the United States" (p.47). For better models, we have to look elsewhere:

It is a new society that we must create, with the help of all our brother slaves, a society rich with all the productive power of modern times, warm with all the fraternity of olden days.

For some examples showing that this is possible, we can look to the Soviet Union. (p.52)

In the next chapter, he discusses the issue of personal vs. systemic oppression:

And do not seek to know whether personally these gentlemen are in good or bad faith, whether personally they have good or bad intentions. Whether personally -- that is, in the private conscience of Peter or Paul -- they are or are not colonialists, because the essential thing is that their highly problematical subjective good faith is entirely irrelevant to the objective social implications of the evil work they perform as watchdogs of colonialism. (p.55)

He concludes that Europe, if it is not careful, will perish from the void it has created around itself (p.75). And 

the salvation of Europe is not a matter of a revolution in methods. It is a matter of the Revolution -- the one which, until such time as there is a classless society, will substitute for the narrow tyranny of a dehumanized bourgeoisie the preponderance of the only class that still has a universal mission, because it suffers in its flesh from all the wrongs of history, from all the universal wrongs: the proletariat. (p.78)

That is, he returns to Marxism-Leninism as a possible template for a post-colonialist Europe that can deliver on its promises. 

As Kelley mentions in the Introduction, Cesaire had been a leader in the Communist party of Martinique since 1945, so by 1950 he was fairly committed. Furthermore, with fascism defeated, the world had become bipolar, with the US leading the a coalition of capitalist democracies and the USSR leading a coalition of communist and socialist republics. Which path would history take? But by 1956 it had become clear that Stalinism could not deliver on all of its promises: Stalin died of a brain hemorrhage in 1953, and Khrushchev's "Secret Speech" was delivered in 1956, but more broadly, it became clear that the US and USSR were fighting proxy battles on others' soil (e.g., the Korean War of 1950-1953). The USSR could not deliver on the promises that had made it so attractive to audiences such as Cesaire (although those promises continued to inspire people through the 1980s). 

Nevertheless, as Kelley argues, Cesaire's remarks about the USSR are not central to his discourse -- without them, the piece still stands as an indictment against European colonialism. For that reason, this short book is definitely worth a read.