Nationalism (was Arguing against Imperialism and Militarism) - reply to Tom O'Lincoln (final)

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Thu Jul 17 19:23:57 MDT 2003

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the comment, sorry if I seemed to be a bit ad hominem. I have
absolutely no doubt about your immense political knowledge about the Marxian
tradition and in your political skill - I wish there were MORE Tom
O'Lincolns, not LESS !!!! Rest assured that, since you are so busy, I will
not bother you with this again, and will endeavour never to harangue you in
Australia about it.

The point you dispute concerns essentially a point that relates to political
savvy. If, as Lenin DOES argue, we defend the right to NATIONAL
self-determination, distinguishing between the position of oppressed nations
and oppressor nations in this (even if Lenin recommends that a socialist
commonwealth in the future would be better for all concerned), how can we IN
PRACTICE do so without making de facto real political concessions to the
NATIONALISM of the oppressed, with the aim of mobilisation against
imperialism ? (I am not suggesting any analogy with Stalin's utilisation of
nationalist sentiment during World War 2, that is a different story)

Maybe you think this is a conceptual, abstract triviality, splitting hairs,
but, even if "globalisation" is still hip, nationalist sentiment is on the
rise in many parts of the world, precisely in function of the fact that poor
people, who do not have the resources to globalise themselves, own things
for afar and fly off everywhere, seek more control over the territory that
they actually live in, and which has an immediate effect on their lives. In
fact, Argentian workers recently just claimed and took over a bunch of
factories, I am not saying they did it with "nationalist sentiment" at all,
but I am trying to explain something of the logic involved in the impact of
a possible future crisis in the capitalist world market on a country, and
the role nationalist sentiment might play in the resultant havoc. But
admittedly I am being a bit speculative here.

I do not claim to have any easy answers, I am just noting that one's
"affinity for the land in which one lives" can be a powerful source of
political motivation that needs to be carefully looked at in order to find a
pertinent response, and not dismissed on the ground that any nationalist
sentiment should be rejected tout court.

Have a good one,


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