more on nationalism

Alex Trotter uburoi at
Sat Apr 8 23:12:37 MDT 1995

Thanks, everybody, for the stimulating comments in response to my last
post. The gist of some of the responses was that however flawed the
national liberation (or national democratic) movements outside the
metropoles may be, the primary source of domination remains the
imperialism of the USA, Britain, or the developed nations of the West in
general. I suppose that is true. Rosa Luxemburg, opponent of all
nationalism, also said that it's most important to oppose the nationalism
of one's own country. Others have reminded me of the distinction between
Lenin and Leninism, just as there is a distinction between Marx and
Marxism, and that Lenin should not be held accountable for what the
Leninists have done, and there remains something of value even today in
his theory of imperialism. Hmmm. That's an interesting take on things.
In some ways it sounds like Bordighism, or "pure" Bolshevism. I'm still
not going to cut Lenin as much slack as Marx, however.
	Someone asked, Should we just tell the nationalist liberation
movements to go to hell? Maybe we should, if they're going to institute
their own forms of domination. The Sandinistas hadn't been in power long
before they banned strikes. But the example of the Zapatistas is somewhat
different (maybe). They don't preside over a state, and hopefully never
will. From what I know about them, they are organized in a much less
hierarchical fashion than the other guerrilla movements in Latin America,
and they have largely dispensed with ideology. They don't seem to have
much if anything in common with the legacy of degenerated bureaucratic
socialism. They appear to stand for the defense of the agrarian commons,
and so they are if anything more like the Populists than Marxists or
Leninists. A struggle like the one in Chiapas has to be different than
one in an area like South Africa (or Mexico City, for that matter),
which is already highly
industrialized. Rather than rushing to bring industrialized progress to
every square inch of the globe, perhaps it's better to support the
defense of what commons remain. This might entail the "nationalism" or
micronationalism of
indigenous peoples in some areas, but it is not (I don't think) the same
as bourgeois or petty-bourgeois nationalism. And it's not "proletarian
internationalism" either, though there are a lot of areas where the
proletariat consists of recently displaced peasants, people who still
have ties, through their families, to the land. This is a situation that
is long forgotten in countries such as USA and Britain, where capital
reigns in the mode of real domination.
	A lot of the problems we have with this question of nationalism
in the "third world" stem from the failure of the workers in the
metropoles to carry out the social revolution. What we can do to
help liberation movements in the less developed parts of the world,
where the capitalist mode of production has not succeeded in fully
implanting itself (other
than moral encouragement) is to try to undermine capitalism at home and
in our own everyday lives. If I'm living in the United States, it doesn't
make sense for me to advocate a national democratic revolution. We
already had one more than 200 years ago and look where we are now!


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