Self Determination- Support It!

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Aug 22 07:37:56 MDT 2000

Tony Abdo wrote:
>My reply has to begin with.... asking why would we NOT begin to talk of
>Indonesia's self determination?       After all, is Indonesia not being
>judged severely in the imperialist based press?       Do the imperialist
>countries not set for themselves the right to determine other countries'
>national boundaries?

Lenin saw self-determination as a means to an end. In the January, 1916
theses on self-determination, he wrote:

"The aim of socialism is not only to abolish the present division of
mankind into small states and all national isolation; not only to bring the
nations closer to each other, but also to merge them. . . Just as mankind
can achieve the abolition of classes only by passing through the transition
period of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, so mankind can achieve
the inevitable merging of nations only by passing through the transition
period of complete liberation of all the oppressed nations, i.e., their
freedom to secede."

Moreover, he was writing about colonies, like India, Egypt, Ireland, etc.
He was not concerned with the abstract right of self-determination. Woodrow
Wilson was, but we are not Woodrow Wilsonites here.

>All this time, minutely trying to decide the exact class structure of
>Russia and Yugoslavia, whether capitalst, socialist, or mixed  is
>totally  irrelevant to whether we socialists should support their
>territorial integrity and self determination.

No, you are wrong. The class criterion is all-important. If we lose sight
of this, we can never figure out whether to support Israel or the
Palestinians for example.

>I purposely mentioned Iraq, precisely because we support Iraqi self
>determination against the imperialist bloc.     We do not want
>imperialism dividing the counry into thirds, or any other division they
>have in mind.     They have set themselves exactly the right to do just

Why so bashful? Spell it out. Death to the Kurds.

>>From the point of view of American imperialism, it is an inconvenient
>colonial legacy that countries like India, Brazil, Indonesia, China,
>Nigeria, and Russia exist.     It is not the working model for the 'new
>global economy'.

Actually, the nation-state is absolutely necessary for the workings of
capitalism. That is the reason, for example, the United States has been the
benefactor of dictatorships in Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria. It is also the
reason it caters to Yeltsin and Putin. It is also the reason it orients to
the most rightwing sector of the CCP. Without such elites, it is much more
difficult to maintain control of working people and poor farmers. Marxists
are not interested in petty squabbles between the Brazilian bourgeoisie and
Washington. We identify with the peasants in the MST who organize land
occupation. Furthermore, Marxists should absolutely support the sovereignty
claims of indigenous peoples in the Amazon rainforest. Your schema would
exclude this.

>Trying to keep the Third World from being restructured to the
>convenience of this new imperialism, IS class struggle.      The
>imperialist countries would rather that the Third World be restructured
>into nation states of an even more dependent size.    Even down to the
>size of the Persian Gulf Arab Emirate states, or the West African
>coastal states, when necessary to totally subdue the regions involved.

So you say. I see no evidence of this in the editorial pages of ruling
class newspapers.

>It is a mistake to think that the Bolsheviks and other communist groups
>of the past, saw self determination strictly from an ethnic angle.
>The Bolshevks led a struggle for their own self determination.     It
>was not just something they thought about in regard to non-Russian
>minorities.    This wasn't Russian chauvinism on their part, the Russian
>Revolution was above all a struggle for national and regional self
>determination for the Russian people.

When did socialism disappear from your vocabulary? Is this an occupational
hazard from living in Houston, Texas? Thank god I fled that sinkhole in the

>Despite the differences betwen Yugoslavia under Milosevic, and Indonesia
>under Habibe, both countries are in a struggle to maintain their right
>to decide their own affairs, without outside imperialist judges
>determining the outcomes...... and outside 'socialist' judges joining
>along in the public debate about whether the governments in Indonesia,
>or Yugoslavia, are worthy, or not.

"Decide their own affairs" in Indonesia means nothing without examining the
property relations. Society is divided into classes. Check the faq section
of for more information on this.

>It is hard to see the difference between these 2 debates, and the rush
>of the public in the imperialist countries to judge against Iraq, when
>they sent troops into Kuwait.     Who set the English speaking world up
>to be the judges in the Arab world, The Balkans, and Indonesia?

I will judge Indonesia. Thank you very much for your invitation. The
current regime is a disgusting bunch of corrupt gangsters. They should be
buried in the ground up to their neck and workers should run over their
heads with power lawnmowers.

>It's  pretty shameful that us English language marxists have joined the
>talk show.    We could have focused on opposing the US military.      We
>could have focused more on opposing the Cold War, and not the crimes of
>the Soviet Union.

We did, Tony. The front lines were in Central America, not Indonesia.

>Why are us English speaking marxists so involved on deciding the
>worthiness of Putin's government, or not?

Why? Because he is in the vanguard of restoring capitalism. That's why.
Thanks for asking the question. Any others I can help you with? How about
why are Marxists opposed to Gore and Bush?

>The defense is, Habibe and Putin are US allies, not enemies like Saddam
>was.     Many have forgotten how so many socialists argued in the past,
>that Milosevic was the West's ally.     All four have been allies and
>enemies, and both at the same time.

The USSR was the ally of the USA during WWII. What is of interest to
Marxists is not a temporary alliance based on confronting a common enemy,
but the underlying property relations which put these two nations on a
collision course. Property relations, Tony, that's the key. Write that down
on a slip of paper and carry it around with you.

Louis Proyect

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