Wherever it has penetrated – that is, almost everywhere in the world – the virus of the commodity never stops toppling the most ossified socioeconomic structures, enabling millions of human beings to discover through poverty and violence the historical time of the economy. Wherever it penetrates it spreads its destructive character, dissolving the vestiges of the past and pushing all antagonisms to their extreme. In a word, it hastens social revolution. All the walls of China crumble in its path, and scarcely has it established itself in India when everything around it disintegrates and agrarian revolutions explode in Bombay, in Bengal, and in Madras. The precapitalist zones of the world accede to bourgeois modernity, but without its material basis. There too, as in the case of the proletariat, the forces of the bourgeoisie have contributed toward liberating, or even creating, are now going to turn against the bourgeois and its native servants: the revolution of the underdeveloped is becoming one of the main chapters of modern history.
– Mustapha Khayati, Setting Straight Some Popular Misconceptions About Revolutions in the Underdeveloped Countries
As in all previous history, whoever emerges as victors still participates in that triumph in which today’s rulers march over the prostrate bodies of their victims. As is customary, the spoils are borne aloft in that triumphal parade. These are generally called the cultural heritage. The latter finds a rather distanced observer in the historical materialist. For such cultural riches, as he surveys them, everywhere betray an origin which he cannot but contemplate with horror. They owe their existence, not merely to the toil of the great creators who have produced them, but equally to the anonymous forced labor of the latters’ contemporaries. There has never been a document of culture which was not at one and the same time a document of barbarism.
– Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History