"Marx understood that the value of anything came from the hands of the maker. Marx of the Jews, tribal people of the desert, Marx the tribal man understood that nothing personal or individual mattered because no individual could survive without others. Generation after generation, individuals were born, then after eighty years, disappeared into dust, but in the stories, the people lived on in the imaginations and hearts their descendants. Wherever their stories were told, the spirits of the ancestors were present and their power was alive.
Marx, tribal man and storyteller; Marx with his primitive devotion to the workers’ stories. No wonder the Europeans had hated him! Marx had gathered official government reports of the suffering of English factory workers the way a tribal shaman might have, feverishly working to bring together a powerful, even magical, assembly of stories. In the repetition of the workers’ stories lay great power; workers must never forget the stories of other workers. The people did not struggle alone. Marx, more tribal Jew than European, instinctively knew the stories, or “history,” accumulated momentum and power. No factory inspector’s “official report” could whitewash the tears, blood, and sweat that glistened from the simple words of the narrative.
Marx had understood stories are alive with the energy words generate. Word by word, the stories of suffering, injury, and death had transformed the present moment, seizing listeners’ or readers’ imaginations so that for an instant, they were present and felt the suffering of sisters and brothers long past. The words of the stories filled rooms with an immense energy that aroused the living with fierce passion and determination for justice. Marx wrote about babies dosed with opium while mothers labored sixteen hours in silk factories; Marx wrote with the secret anguish of a father unable to provide enough food or medicine. When Marx wrote about the little children working under huge spinning machines that regularly mangled and killed them, Marx had already seen Death prowling outside his door, hungry for his own three children. In his feverish work with the stories of shrunken, yellowed infants, and the mangled limbs of children, Marx had been working desperately to seize the story of each child-victim and turn the story away from the brutal endings the coroners and factory inspectors used to write for the children of the poor. His own children were slowly dying from cold, lack of food, and medicine; yet day after day, Marx had returned to official reports in the British Museum. Wage-earning might have saved Marx’s children, but tribal man and storyteller, Marx had sacrificed the lives of his own beloved children to gather the stories of all the children starved and mangled. He had sensed the great power these stories had— power to move millions of people."
Almanac of the Dead, Leslie Marmon Silko
The context is an indigenous woman located on what is basically a reservation in Mexico that’s about to rise up to try to take back their land is being asked by people to explain why she is so devoted to Marx. People in her tribe are understandably suspicious of all European value systems and scared of being betrayed by one of their own, so she’s trying to explain Marx to them in a way that they can understand given that most of them have only lived on that reservation in utter poverty and have only heard what missionaries told them.
Throughout the novel she encounters this white, cuban grossly sexist shitty revolutionary who is also viciously racist against indigenous people (like, planning to kill them because they’re too ‘tribalist’ ‘backward’) and constantly pisses him off because she has a better grasp of marx even tho he’s educated and she isn’t.
She has his ass executed.