more on nationalism

Chris Burford cburford at
Sun Apr 9 09:19:50 MDT 1995

 > From: Alex Trotter <uburoi at>
 > To: marxism at
 > Subject: more on nationalism
 > Thanks, everybody, for the stimulating comments in response to my last
 > post.

And thanks Alex, for stimulating the comments. It is very encouraging on
this list how people coming from different backgrounds are prepared
genuinely to wrestle, and in my opinion, with only a bit of egotism,
over the really serious issues.

 > 	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.

Yes, I think the third world has few choices. Although a lot of work was
done by good people on an alternative economic strategy for South Africa,
in my opinion it simply was not robust enough to be able to carry the
day, without an international agreement, at least of a Keynsian nature to
underwrite the international exchange costs to the tune of at least $100
billion dollars for the post apartheid reconstruction of the whole of
southern Africa. But no international voices were strong enough to challenge
the economic hegemony of neo-classical thinking which said, there is not
enough money in the world! So much is needed for Eastern Europe, and
anyway many of our economies are in recession!

So while a recent ILO report suggests 1/3 of the workforce of the world
are effectively unemployed or only partially employed, there is not
enough money for them to be able to work! And a bright new government in
South Africa has to criticise striking auto-workers for fear of losing
incoming capital investment. It is far more complicated than hypocrisy.

And nobody, knows what money is, except there is not enough of it for
everyone to work in the world. Meanwhile Marxists are divided on the
labour theory of value and are not in a position to ally effectively with
Keynsians in challenging neo-classical hegemony.


But Alex, let me press you in an imperialist heart land about the
political direction you support when you say

 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!

Why not? If the working class is not strong enough for a socialist
revolution what are you going to do?

I do not know even where you live in the States and have difficulty
guessing at the particularity of your life, without which none of this
makes sense, but let me guess you have at some stage had the option of
signing a petition against the gun lobby.

Let me suggest to you that *whether you and others are conscious of it or
not* if you sign such a petition you are objectively participating in a
movement that is democratic, in that it is about the democractic control
of the means of production, rather than about opposing exploitation, and
it is national, not certainly in a nationalist sense, but in this sense:

"Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy,
must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself
*the* [original emphasis] nation, it is, so far, itself national, though
not in the boureois sense of the word". CM Section II

And further, "the first step in the revolution by the working class, is
to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the
battle of democracy".

Perhaps, like me you do not exactly agree with everything in the
Manifesto, but I shall assume as you subsribe to this list, your blood
quickens to some of its principles.

Can I gently suggest that like
Moliere's Bougeois Gentilhomme who discovered he had been speaking prose
all his life, you and we are all national democrats without knowing it!

Why would you find that so uncomfortable to contemplate? 200 years is a
short time in human history. We can only do our best.



     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list