[Marxism] Re: Stalinism and the 1913 pamphlet on the national question

Einde O'Callaghan einde at gmx.de
Sat Dec 23 12:38:25 MST 2006

Louis Proyect schrieb:
> David W. wrote:
>> Joaquin is correct that it didn't deal with imperialism. He is 
>> correct, that's
>> because "imperialism" as we've grow to learn and fear in it's current
>> manifestation, was little known to the totally Euro-American social 
>> democracy.
> Actually, it was well known except that there were differences how to 
> regard it. Eduard Bernstein favored colonialism and imperialism because 
> it brought "civilization" to peoples still living under precapitalist 
> social relations. He was challenged by both Rosa Luxemburg and Belfort 
> Bax thoughout the 1880s and 90's.
> E. Belfort Bax
> Imperialism v. Socialism
> (February 1885)
> full: http://www.marxists.org/archive/bax/1885/02/imperialism.htm
Wwe need to be careful how we understand the use of the word 
impedrialism in this text by Bax. It is referring to the empire-building 
that the various European powers were indulging in in the last decades 
of the 19th century - the race for Africa etc.

The term "imperialism" in its modern economic sense arose around the 
turn of the century particularly in the works of the liberal economist 
(liberal in the political sense, not the modern economic sense), J.A. 
Hobson. His insights were generalised by in the period just before and 
during the First World War by Hilferding, Luxemburg, Lenin and Bukharin 
(among others).

We should be careful not to mix up the different meanings of teh word.

However, it is true that there were different strands in the socialist 
movement of the time, some supporting colonialism for the reasons given 
by Bernstein, but there was also a strong anti-colonialist strand imn 
both the Marxist and the non-Marxist left. Elements of both aspects can 
be found in Marx and Engels at different times in their long political 
career. But it should be noted that when coilonial peoples were involved 
in struggles against colonialism, e.g. during the Indian Mutiny 1857, 
Marx (and Engels) supported these struggles.

Bax was one of the ablest exponents of the Marxist anti-colonial 
tradition - at least up until 1914. It's also worthwhile noting that 
when he wrote the article quoted by Louis he was involved in the 
Socialist League, an organisation whose leading members included William 
Morris and Eleanor Marx, who were collaborating closely with Engels at 
that time. Engels always opposed the English jingoism of Hyndman, whom 
he disliked intensely - the antipathy was mutual.

An important exponent of the non-Marxist radical tradition of 
anti-colonialism was Mark Twain, whose articles on the Spanish-American 
War and the colonisation of the Phillipines are worth reading still 
today since they reveal how little the methods of American imperialism 
have changed in the almost 11 decades since that first imperialist 
venture by the US outside continental North America. (Including a 
selection of them in the Marxists' Internet Archive is one of the 
projects I hope to implement in 2007.)

Einde O'Callaghan

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