Jim Blaut, etc.

Richard Fidler rfidler at SPAMcyberus.ca
Tue Nov 21 09:03:55 MST 2000

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

>>Jim's category (2) basically referred to the phenomenon of anti-colonial &
anti-neo-colonial nationalisms with strong working-class content on the
periphery, many of which gravitated toward the Soviet Union, sometimes becoming
nominally or substantially socialist. I'm saying that with the passing of the
Soviet Union, the era that Jim described well is basically over (hence the
transformation of East Timor nationalism, for instance), and now "nationalisms"
on the periphery are much more politically complex & ambiguous affairs -- hence
frequent impassioned debates on the aforementioned groupings (& others) among
Marxists (and leftists in general as well). I think that many Marxists suffer
from a sense of confusion & disorientation here....<<

Yes, the demise of the Soviet Union (and essentially the bloc of postcapitalist
states) has shifted the world relationship of forces against the national and
anti-imperialist movements in the colonies, semicolonies and neocolonies,
undermining the perspective for defeating and holding out against imperialist
and imperialist-backed regimes. But I do not think it has "transformed" the
progressive content of such nationalism insofar as it is directed against
imperialism and in favour of asserting national sovereignty in opposition to
imperialism. What it has done is to strengthen the influence of the bourgeois
and compromising forces within the nationalist movement. Thus it is not so much
a transformation in nationalism per se that we are witnessing, as a shift in the
paradigm within which nationalism operates. Yoshie's example of the orientation
of the East Timor independence movement is a good one.

To cite an example closer to home for me, there is virtually no force within the
Quebec sovereigntist movement that projects a socialist course for an
independent Quebec; rather, the right-wing leadership of the sovereigntists are
among the most prominent supporters of "free trade" and political alliances with
the United States and other capitalist countries, and in this respect they
encounter no significant resistance within the ranks of the sovereigntist
movement. Yet I remember that, years ago, even conservative Quebec
sovereigntists hedged their perspectives by reference to the postcapitalist
states. For example, a friend of mine overheard Marcel Chaput, a founder of the
Rassemblement pour l'Indépendance natinale (a forerunner of today's Parti
québécois), telling a group of supporters who were concerned about U.S.
hostility to Quebec separatism: "Don't worry, we will win friends elsewhere.
Look at Cuba; with the same population as we have, they have managed to achieve
real sovereignty, thanks to the Russians." That was in 1963.

Yoshie also asks:

>>BTW, by the Central African region, I'm speaking of the struggle over Congo
(renamed from Zaire), with many African nations & the USA involved in warfare.
Your comments on the subject?<<

Without knowing much about the situation, I think there are two problems here.
One is the very major problem in Africa that virtually all of the new states
that emerged in the post-WWII colonial revolution had the same territorial
configuration imposed by colonialism, and their struggle for "sovereignty" has
constantly been undermined by subsisting tribal and ethnic rivalries that were
so successfully stimulated and sustained by the imperialist powers.

The second problem is of course the shift in the world relationship of forces
referred to above. That is a major reason why, for example, South Africa under
the ANC has emerged as a sub-imperialist power on the continent (including in
Central Africa) rather than becoming a beacon of anti-imperialist liberation for
Black Africa, and why so many states in Africa (as elsewhere!) vie for the
imperialists' favour by doing their dirty work for them. Once progressive
regimes in such places as Angola, Mozambique, etc. have been hung out to dry.

Richard Fidler
rfidler at cyberus.ca

More information about the Marxism mailing list