more on nationalism

Alex Trotter uburoi at
Sun Feb 19 10:33:13 MST 1995

Just a couple more thoughts about this.

National 'questions' have long been problems for marxism. M & E
themselves adopted the position that some nationalisms were historically
progressive and others reactionary. For example, Marx praised Polish
efforts at self-determination against the czar's empire, but spat on
Czechs, Slovaks, and other small Slav nations who wanted out from
Austro-German domination. He even managed to convince himself,
momentarily, that the Prussian cause against Napoleon III in 1871 was
just and progressive--until the eruption of the Paris Commune.
	Then there's Lenin's famous formulation about the "right of
nations to self-determination," bolstered by the 1920 Baku Congress of
the Third International, which proclaimed the era of anti-colonial
revolutions against British, French, etc. imperialism.

Contrast this with R. Luxemburg's 'pure' internationalism. She argued
against giving independence to countries like Finland and Ukraine
unconditionally because they would inevitably be led by Whites hostile to
the revolution. And today marxists remain deeply divided on the issue of
nationalism. Some groups, like ICC, agree with Luxemburg but still defend
Marx's support for "progressive" nationalisms in the 19th century by
saying that capitalism and the bourgeois class were still historically
progressive then, unlike the "decadent" capitalism of the 20th century.


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