In this article, Ng examines Tan Malaka's engagements with labor universalism and Muslim universality in his respective attempts to theorize the problematic of minority subjectivity vis-à-vis universal emancipation. Located at the periphery of global capitalism, Indonesia, though embodying conditions of subordination, exploitation, and unfreedom through historical colonialism, is notably marked by a necessary unevenness in totalization and complete subsumption; this set of heteronomous conditions gave rise to historically distinct and specific discourses and forms of resistance. In positing the Dutch East Indies as one of the peripheral sites within a global Marxist knowledge economy, Ng argues that the constellation of Marxist discourses articulated by Tan Malaka—organized around the “Muslim question”—attempt to powerfully link the question of peripherality to emergent notions of the universal. Ultimately, the “Muslim” for Tan Malaka emerges not as an identity, historical subject, or a people per se, but as a “minor” political model of composition immanent to the relations of capital.

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