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

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 23 13:18:25 MST 2006

>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.
>Einde O'Callaghan

I take your points, but I guess I am not sure what David Walters was 
trying to say. Did Marxists need to grasp the phenomenon of monopoly 
capital before they could fully appreciate the need for 
self-determination? I don't see the connection. I cited Bax only to 
show that Marxists favored liberation from colonial rule--that's all.

Lenin's evolution on the national question had less to do with the 
economics of imperialism than it did with seeing the anti-capitalist 
dynamic of such struggles, even when they appeared to fall short of 
socialist expectations. The citation below has a strong connection to 
Bax and could have been written independently of an analysis of 
monopoly capital--I believe.


On May 9, 1916, there appeared, in Berner Tagwacht, the organ of the 
Zimmerwald group, including some of the Leftists, an article on the 
Irish rebellion entitled "Their Song is Over" and signed with the 
initials K.R. [Karl Radek]. It described the Irish rebellion as being 
nothing more nor less than a "putsch", for, as the author argued, 
"the Irish question was an agrarian one", the peasants had been 
pacified by reforms, and the nationalist movement remained only a 
"purely urban, petty-bourgeois movement, which, notwithstanding the 
sensation it caused, had not much social backing..."

To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by 
small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary 
outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie *without all its 
prejudices* [italics in original], without a movement of the 
politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses 
against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, 
against national oppression, etc.--to imagine all this is to 
repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and 
says, "We are for socialism", and another, somewhere else and says, 
"We are for imperialism", and that will be a social revolution! Only 
those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view would vilify the 
Irish rebellion by calling it a "putsch".

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