C.L.R.James (J.R. Johnson.)

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Sun May 7 17:22:36 MDT 2000


>From Sol Dollinger:

> Trotsky's support of Johnson's position in 1939  was at a time when we had
> little or no experience with Afro Ameicans.  Later events proved Johnson
and
> Trotsky wrong.  Jewish Nationalism, Black Nationalism,  Asian nationalism
or
> Cuban Nationalism is in conflict with our principled stand on
> internationalism.  It is a problem that should be discussed openly among
> Marxists.

Um, I have little or no idea what "Jewish Nationalism" is, but if by this
you mean Zionism, it is really disturbing that you could lump it with such
forces as Cuban nationalism. Equally, I can not decifer what "Asian
Nationalism" might be, when there are very different forces at work in what
is Asia.

It is a profound error that Marxists still (but less, I optimistically
believe) dismiss all strands of nationalism out of hand. Nationalism simply
is not a blanket force *in and of itself*, it reflects different forces at
work in all situations. A vulgar but somewhat effective rule of thumb one
can use to determine the validity of nationalism is whether or not such a
country is dominated by imperialism. If it is, then it is likely a positive
force for change. Such a dominated country, to truly be "the best it can"
needs to break from the chains of Imperialism. This can be demonstrated by
such movements as Nasser and the Nile, it is not limited to struggles for
socialism in name, but rather in the direction of socialism in essence.

On "Asian nationalism": Today, all but Israel and Japan can claim the bulk
of their nationalisms to be progressive, and even revolutionary at the
junction of confrontation with Imperialist forces.

Finally, on "Cuban Nationalism": One today in Cuba cannot be a "patriot"and
an opponent of Cuban socialism. To be proud of Cuba's accomplishments is
part and parcel of their nationalism, and should therefore speak for itself
whether or not it is revolutionary. In the project of building socialism in
Cuba, nationalism about Cuba has never taken a vulgar form, but rather
celebrates itself, not as a model for other countries, but rather proof of
what human beings can be and/or accomplish.

Finally, in Canada: Nationalism is a very complex issue here, because some
see Canada as a "victim" of the USA, and therefore wave the flag to promote
"resistance" to Americanisation (as exemplified in such trade agreements as
the FTA and Nafta, etc...). This, IMO, is a tremendous error for Canadians,
because it is the Canadian ruling class who has pushed and benefits from
these policies, and, more importantly, this strand of Nationalism harks back
to less than a decade ago as a model, when Canada was "merely" an
Imperialist power in its own right, was "only" suppressing the Quebecois and
Indians across the country.

Indian nationalism is inherently a progressive movement, for similar reasons
to that of, say Haiti. It is grotesquely undervalued by the left here. It
should be prioritised at the head of our movement here, in a more clear
fashion than even the civil rights struggles of the fifties were in the US.
There is no debate as to whether or not there is a national question that
goes beyond "simple" racial equality issues. Quebec, while for the most part
has had trade union support and similar left wing impetus in most of her
nationalism, is more problematic; Quebec has a new bourgeoisie in waiting,
dying to sink it's teeth into "it's own" proletariat. Also, the Quebecois
nationalists have tended to dismiss or ignore Mohawk and other Indian
struggles for determination against the same oppressive representative of
the Queen emanationg from Ottawa.

In other words, it isn't simple enough to just say "nationalism is
reactionary" in Canada...unfortunately, the only nationalism that gets
promoted by the left, or at least pandered to, is that of the blood drenched
Maple Leaf.

Macdonald
_______
Macdonald Stainsby
-----
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