In introducing this special issue of boundary 2, this essay seeks to challenge the derivative conception of Marxist-communist translation that posits a hierarchical distinction between universal and particular forms of Marxism and communism. Reconceptualizing translation (via Walter Benjamin) as a necessary structural possibility inherent in the original texts, the essay argues that translation is a constitutive feature of all Marxisms and communisms (including Marx's and Lenin's) across time and space. The essay traces the importance of translation as both an actual practice and an important concept-metaphor in Marx's and Lenin's writings. If their writings may all too conveniently be construed as prophecies that lost their historical force in mistranslation (among other misfortunes), we might say that our obligation today is to translate Marx and Lenin more extensively and more vigorously—not despite but precisely because of their inexhaustible translatability. Insofar as an ostensibly original Marx, or Marxism-communism, has always exceeded its historical realization, we ought to affirm its difference as a universalizable in the so-called postcommunist historical present.

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