When to support nationalism? (Re: Scottish nationalism)

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at xxxxxxxxxxx.xxx
Tue Jan 30 13:15:30 MST 2001

Philip Ferguson wrote:

> >We need to be wary of conflating regionalism with the nationalism of the
> >oppressed.  The Scottish are not the Palestinians, Kurds, Irish etc.

Fully agreed, with the exception of  the Kurdish question. Since we are debating
East Timor here,  it is better for us as Marxists to clarify where we stand on
ethnic nationalism. Kurdish issue deserves attention in that respect.. Although
Kurds have constantly been denied the right to self-determination (both by
imperialist powers and pro or anti-imperialist Arab governments who have seen Kurds
as a threat to territorial integrity), I would not go that far to suggest that
Kurds are a colonized nation as Irish and Palestinians. Regarding Kurds living in
Turkey, they are an *oppressed ethnic group* who are denied basic bourgeois right
such as language and cultural freedoms. I sincerely think that what Kurds needs is
a serious recognition of these rights, not a full  independence from Turkey.  Kurds
are not technically colonized by Turkey as a nation, because Turkey has never been
a *fully* imperialist power to colonize any ethnic group within its borders.
Historically speaking, Ottoman empire has never been a colonial empire although it
was a multi-ethnic empire.. It has in fact suffered from imperialistic intervention
if we consider the developments taking place in the after math of WWI--liberal
internationalism,Wilsonianism, Serv treaty etc..Kurds always hoped that the post
war arrangements  would allow the establishment of a Kurdish state. Instead, they
found themselves divided against their will within the borders of four states under
the British mandate. Most were in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, with others in smaller
communities in Syria. When these countries formed their independent nations against
the British, Kurds still continued to live as ethnic minorities as part of these

Currently speaking, Southern east  part of Turkey occupied by a significant number
of  Kurdish population is a region suffering from capitalist underdevelopment and
peripheralization, but so are the regions occupied by other ethnic/religious
minorities (and so are the slums of Istanbul in the middle of urban capitalist
centers). Thus, the problem is national, not specifically ethnic. Whenever the
Kurdish opposition has raised this injustice, with some remarkable exceptions among
the Kurdish left, it has always been in the form of secessionist (even the
socialist PKK) rather than a broader movement  that would lead us to the socialist
cause with Turks and Kurds together. This being the case, part of this hostility
also comes from the chauvinistic tendencies within the Turkish culture and the
Turkish left's reluctance to discuss the Kurdish problem openly.

To further complicate matters, Kurdish opposition leaders have regularly accepted
advice and aid from countries that have themselves engaged in imperialistic
interventions in the Middle East . In 1960s,  the Kurdish rebels in Iraq accepted
military support from both Israel and Iran. From 1972 to 1974, Richard Nixon and
Kissernger helped pro-imperialist shah of Iran to fuel a Kurdish uprising to weaken
the Iraqi government, which was seen by the United States a client of the Soviet
regime. Since then the Kurdish movement has divided into two reactionary/bourgeois
nationalist camps: Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under Talabani and Kurdish
Democratic Party of Barzani. Both are puppet government strategically used by the
United Stated  to overthrow Saddam, and  to curb the radical potential of  the
Kurdish movement in general. These groups had primarily relied on the bases CIA had
established in Nothern Iraq as well as on US support for the Iraqi National
Congress (INC)-- an opposition group dominated by Kurdish factions. This not to
suggest that *all* Kurds are in the service of  US imperialism, but given the
_global conjuncture_ at the moment, I  frankly don't see any gains for Kurds to
applaud particularism untill we come to the realization of broader issues related
to the Americanization of the region.


> Cheers,
> Phil
> "Don't Dream It - Extreme It" (Lana Coc Kroft)
> http://www.revolution.org.nz

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
Ph.D Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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