On multiculturalism and nations. (was Re: Timor again (sorry Lou))

Néstor Gorojovsky nestor_gorojovsky at SPAMyahoo.com
Mon Nov 22 13:01:13 MST 1999

--- "James M. Blaut" <70671.2032 at compuserve.com> escribió:
> Joao:
> You don't like "multi-culturalism." I hope that the meaning of this term
> is
> different in Portugal than  it is in the US, becvase NO progressives
> here
> are opposed to multiculturalism, and for very good reasons.
> Leave it at that.
> Jim

Sorry, dear Jim, I for one cannot leave it at that.

I do clearly understand why "multiculturalism" and respect for the Other´s
way of living (the Other, in capitals) is a basic position for
progressives in the USA.

But I do also know why people in most of the Third World do justly suspect
it or directly reject it. My knowledge is rooted as well in my own
political experience in Argentina as in the enlightening political
education I was given by top Zionist ideologues on the Arab issues. The
Zionists, most of them "progressives" and some of them even hard-nosed
Marxists,  disguised their attempts at fragmenting the Arab world
-supporting, for instance, the Lebanese Maronites against their Muslim
countrymen- with this kind of verse: "you are disrespectful when you talk
of ´the Arabs´, you are lumping together so many different cultural points
of view that should be allowed to grow separately, unlike these fake and
bourgeois ´Arab nationalists´ who want to suppress minority groups into a
great and despotic Arabic culture".

This is one of the many issues that stem from the fact that national
revolutions in the Third World are in the making or have not taken place
as yet. A national revolution is, first and foremost, as Jim Blaut himself
adamantly explains on many excellent papers and articles, a political
movement aiming at expelling from the power of the state the direct or
indirect representatives of the ruling classes of an exploiting, foreign,
state. It is "class struggle across borders", as he has excellently

But this struggle takes on so many different ways. While in the
established, stabilized and organized national states of the First World
the bourgoisie has -so to say, and not _en passant_- deprived the workers
of their nation (thus, when workers in the First World struggle for their
nation they struggle for their own enslavers), workers in the Third World
do _not exactly have a Nation to which they actually belong_.  Nations are
struggle here.

But the constitution of a nation does not fully overlap with the struggle
for the national rights of every minor group. I am not speaking of those
groups obviously INVENTED by imperialism (such as the "kelpers" in the
South Atlantic, or the Belizans), but of groups that have an elementary
right (that no socialist will deny) to be respected in their culture. I
know that I am not saying anything new here, all this was explained by
Marx and Engles more than a century ago.

A nation does not only, not even essentially, consist of a group of people
with distinct peculiarities of culture, language, history, and "social
psichology" (e.g., the cultural variety within the Swiss nation -a
paradigmatic example- is quite larger than the variety that one can find
between the neighboring Germans and Austrians). It consists, in the first
place, of the struggle of this group of people to generate a sustainable
self-reliant economy, an economy that can safely generate within its own
boundaries the capital it needs to expand and grow (where a relation is
established between the production of Dept. I and Dept. II that
independizes the community of inflows from abroad to keep the economic
machinery running).

Is this an economicist point of view? No, it is not, not at least in the
sense that this economic point of departure has a serious consequence:
currently, no independent nation can exist without a reasonable mass of
people constituting it. So that though we support national rights, we also
support, and priorize, the right _to the nation_, the right for people in
the Third World to overcome the fragmentation and constitute large

This is exactly what the First World countries fear most, and this is why
multiculturalism, which inside the First World has a strong revolutionary
or progressive meaning (since it opposses the Leviathan that enforces the
"national", that is bourgeois, culture, on diverse groups subject to their
rule against their will), may in the Third World assume, as it has assumed
in the past and will certainly assume again, a divisionist meaning,
tending to co-opt certain groups into the arms of imperialism against the
mass of the population.

This is why the imperialists are in agreement in that the "national
rights" of the Albanese in Yugoslavia are to be defended, while the
"national rights" of the Eskimo people in Canada are not (see recent
declarations by Clinton); they defend the nations that they own, and do
not allow others to build their own nations.

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