[Marxism] Re: Is the struggle to unify China an expression of"Great Han chauvinism" today?
tcrawford at revhist.datanet.co.uk
Mon Mar 7 11:23:05 MST 2005
This is a more general problem as it relates to the whole question of
self-determination in awkward cases. I came across an early example in an
article by Harry Quelch 1858-1913 (a worker, and leading Social Democrat
with whom Lenin stayed in England) entitled "Would Ulster be Right to
Fight" November 1912 in "The British Socialist". We are putting it on the
Marxist Internet Archive. Clearly, Quelch did not like the Orangemen as they
were very reactionary but at the same time the criteria he used, and many
use, for the right of self-determination seemed to apply to them. That is
they were a clear majority within a clearly defined contiguous area
(Ulster). Of course you can arbitrarily change the boundaries and say the
definition should be the whole island of Ireland to which it could be
countered that the boundaries should be the British Isles where the Irish
Catholic nationalists were in a minority. (Ditto China and Taiwan) There is
no reason why socialists should accept the claimed boundaries of any group
of nationalists even if their right to determine their own future is a clear
principled one. Such irrendentistclaims are often chauvinist. The word
irridentist of course comes from the Italiam claims to territory that
included Italians but also lots of others, Croats, Slovenes and Germans in
Dalmatia, the Alto Adige etc immediately after Italian unity was achieved in
What is more perceptions and sense of community etc change over time,
sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another. According to some people
on this list the Taiwanese feel they are more different from the mainlanders
nowadays. An opposite example at present is the Protestants in northern
Ireland who are, whether their political parties say so or not, much less
worried about Catholic domination than in the past as the Catholic Church is
so much weaker in the south. (Every restaurant in Dublin and elsewhere has a
coin in the slot contraceptive machine in the gents, in 1970 that would get
you denounced by name by the local Bishop in his Sunday sermon and a boycott
by many locals - I do not exaggerate.) Home Rule = Rome Rule was the slogan
in 1911 but that is clearly not so true today.
Finally there is an argument that our support for a particular nationalism
depends on its role in the world, will it weaken or strengthen imperialism.
This I take it is, at base, the argument on the Taiwan case. And of course
reactionaries and imperialists will manipulate sentiments in such an area.
But there is no ready made answer, no formula since on that criteria
movements could be progressive at one time and reactionary at another.
Though I think, to stick my neck out, I would as a general rule defend the
right of self determination even by reactionary movements, subject always to
decent treatment of minorities within their clearly defined territory. I
would do so on the long view (I am assuming the revolution is not very
immiment) for not allowing self determination would strengthen reactionary
sentiments both among the people forced into a union with another state and
among the majority lording it over them.
Quelch in fact did not really commit himself, he just put the arguments
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Fidler" <rfidler at cyberus.ca>
To: "Marxmail" <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Monday, March 07, 2005 5:00 PM
Subject: [Marxism] Re: Is the struggle to unify China an expression of"Great
Han chauvinism" today?
I am disappointed that Fred Feldman, who is normally a very perceptive
and thoughtful fellow, has chosen to ignore the interesting
contributions on the Taiwan issue posted by others on this list: Perry
Anderson’s recent piece, "Stand-Off in Taiwan", posted by Louis, and Eva
Cheng’s 1996 article, "Taiwan: Toward Independence?", posted by Michael
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