[Marxism] Stalin's nation definition and U.S. Blacks (was:Correction on...)

Nick Fredman srcsra at scu.edu.au
Tue Mar 7 17:04:37 MST 2006

Joaquin http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/msg79523.html :

>>It would be good for Nick to give us some examples of these things 
>>"too divergent," <<.

I did. I contrasted East Timorese with African Americans, and Jews. 
One can debate about the national aspects of the latter two peoples 
and their struggle, but after 1975 the only people who could deny 
that the East Timorese were a nation and that the principal and 
immediate focus of their struggle was territorial independence was 
those few Indonesian generals and western apologists who believed 
their own propaganda on the issue. If I grant that the African 
American question was a national one, this still doesn't tell us 
about the huge differences in social situation or focuses for 
political strategy between, as an example, African Americans and East 

Marvin http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/msg79574.html

>>I think most everyone counterposes the principle of community 
>>control over policing and sees uprisings as a matter of joblessness 
>>and poverty rather than of law and order. But that isn't what is 
>>meant by "self-determination", unless you are using the term very 
>>loosely. Self-determination refers to the right of a national group 
>>to secede from the existing state ... I don't know that if you 
>>choose to describe the blacks as a "caste" or even as a "doubly 
>>oppressed" part of the working class that it would make much 
>>difference - I think most wouldn't reject that movement on those 
>>grounds - which is why I thought the debate around these concepts 
>>was a bit abstract<<.

Yes and yes. I had, at one point, explicitly used 
"self-determination" in a broader common-sense sort of way rather 
than the rather strict usage of the Leninist tradition. I was 
referring to things such as independent organising, democratic 
community control, affirmative action in education, health and jobs, 
and demands to include particular cultural material in the education 
system, that are relevant to immigrant communities and Indigenous 
people in Australia, and, also relevant to the latter, demands for a 
treaty, formal reconciliation, return of and/or compensation for land 
etc. Some of these things are very partially won  in Australia's 
"official multiculturalism", now under broad attack. And yes, if you 
don't necessarily see, say, African Americans or Indigenous 
Australian as a nation, you can fully support such aspects of 
"self-determination" that are at all relevant to any forseeable 
future, and, in fact, be open to a more explicitly *national* 
appraisal of these questions when and if social and political 
developments actually warrant this.

One more defence of Uncle Joe. Joaquin again:

>>  Stalin's definition completely misses a key element, the
"subjective" or *political* element. As I noted in a previous post, he
does away with that with his assertion that nationalism is always first
and foremost a move by the capitalists to consolidate a home market <<

I suggest anyone interested read 'The National Movement' part of his 
and judge themselves. I'll note that while he does write "The 
bourgeoisie plays the leading role", he also states:

"Restriction of freedom of movement, disfranchisement, repression of 
language, closing of schools, and other forms of persecution affect 
the workers no less, if not more, than the bourgeoisie. Such a state 
of affairs can only serve to retard the free development of the 
intellectual forces of the proletariat of subject nations ... The 
workers therefore combat and will continue to combat the policy of 
national oppression in all its forms, from the most subtle to the 
most crude, as well as the policy of inciting nations against each 
other in all its forms" etc.

He says fairly plainly workers should have nothing to do with 
nationalism, but also that workers should be part of the national 
movement in an oppressed nation, and presumably contest for hegemony 
in the movement. All of this is a lot clearer in say 'The Socialist 
Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination', 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/jan/x01.htm , when 
the Bolsheviks were clearer about imperialism, but this doesn't 
negate the main thrust of Stalin's outline of the material, class 
bases of nations, national movements and nationalist ideology.

More information about the Marxism mailing list