The Right of Nations to Self Determination

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LBird
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Apr 5 2011 13:24

Oh dear, I'd thought that we'd finally put this one to bed.

Are you taking over the 'nat. self-det.' baton from Alexander, Noa?

If so, I'd appreciate your answers to my questions in post #77, which were posed in response to your previous post #76.

Unless you're saying that Lenin opposed the 'right of nations to self-determination'?

Why do I get the feeling that we're about to experience big posts of Lenin's actual words, and dialectical mystification about contradictory reality, which we're not able to understand by using modern English words and phrases?

I hope I'm wrong...

Noa Rodman wrote:
Yes, I like making fun of Alexander as well, but what I consider his basic frame of mind has gone unchallenged, sadly because it's shared by most:

Well, I wasn't making fun of Alexander, but putting a humourous spin on his sad sequence of smileys. I'm just sorry we weren't able to discuss it to a satisfactory conclusion, where both parties understood the other's position (without necessarily agreeing with it).

And, question 2, what's this 'basic frame of mind', that 'most' of us apparently 'share'?

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Noa Rodman
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Apr 5 2011 16:00
Quote:
Oh dear, I'd thought that we'd finally put this one to bed.

Are you taking over the 'nat. self-det.' baton from Alexander, Noa?

The national liberation baton lies with the Bosch-Pyatakov-Bukharin theses, which ironically were brought up under the assumption that they counter the RoNtSD.

Quote:
If so, I'd appreciate your answers to my questions in post #77, which were posed in response to your previous post #76.

Unless you're saying that Lenin opposed the 'right of nations to self-determination'?

Why do I get the feeling that we're about to experience big posts of Lenin's actual words, and dialectical mystification about contradictory reality, which we're not able to understand by using modern English words and phrases?

I hope I'm wrong...

post 76 are Lenin's words which with you mostly agreed, so no need to post Lenin's words again (they were written in modern English though). Lenin himself states national liberation ideology is the most widespread deceptive ideology. Your 'questions' were:

Quote:
Noa Rodman wrote:

Socialists cannot achieve their great aim without fighting against all oppression of nations.

Where did that come from? On the contrary, I think we should say:

"Socialists cannot achieve their great aim without fighting against all oppression of classes".

He's discussing the question of oppression of nations (also, working people aren't 'oppressed').

Quote:
Noa Rodman wrote:

Therefore, they must without fail demand that the Social-Democratic parties of oppressing countries (especially of the so-called “great” powers) should recognise and champion the right of oppressed nations to self-determination...

But the Social-Democratic parties of all countries, oppressing and oppressed, are capitalist, class-based parties, not workers' parties.

It was written in 1915, so Lenin probably directed this at the future 'non-class based' (!?) parties.

Quote:
Noa Rodman wrote:

The Socialist of a ruling or colony-owning nation who fails to champion this right is a chauvinist.

No, the Socialist is class conscious, not a chauvinist.

I think labeling Socialists who were in favor of colonialism, or Great Russian nationalism, as chauvinists, is entirely fitting.

Quote:
Quote:

“No nation can be free if it oppresses other nations” (Marx and Engels).

Well, Marx and Engels were wrong. A 'nation' can never be free - 'nation' means oppression, of its own and other working classes.

It seems you're just looking for a disagreement. 'Nation' here means probably ethnicity, not states, who btw, are free (or sovereign). M&E's point I think is that as long as the workers tolerate oppression of another nation they can't properly fight for their cause.

Quote:
Well, I wasn't making fun of Alexander, but putting a humourous spin on his sad sequence of smileys. I'm just sorry we weren't able to discuss it to a satisfactory conclusion, where both parties understood the other's position (without necessarily agreeing with it).

I don't accuse you of making fun of someone, god forbid, but I don't agree that Alex is 'having a breakdown of some sort'. I know that you earlier defended Alex's right to be heard, but now you turned 180°: 'Perhaps we should just leave it at that. I don't think he's going to engage in meaningful discussion, and pressing him isn't helping.' This is fairly patronizing tbh.

Quote:
And, question 2, what's this 'basic frame of mind', that 'most' of us apparently 'share'?

I reposted Alex's big post on the role of communists, see if you find anything you disagree with in it. If not, maybe you're not really disagreeing with each other.

LBird
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Apr 5 2011 19:56
Noa Rodman wrote:
The national liberation baton lies with the Bosch-Pyatakov-Bukharin theses, which ironically were brought up under the assumption that they counter the RoNtSD.

Well, since the B-P-B theses can't give me a brief outline of themselves, could you do that for me?

Noa Rodman wrote:
Lenin himself states national liberation ideology is the most widespread deceptive ideology.

From this, then, can I assume that, in your opinion, Lenin opposes nat. lib.?

Noa Rodman wrote:
I think labeling Socialists who were in favor of colonialism, or Great Russian nationalism, as chauvinists, is entirely fitting.

It seems even more fitting to label them as 'not Socialists at all'. They are not 'chauvinists' (perhaps used as a term to soften the reality, that is, to imply they are some sort of hyphenated-Socialist), they are simply 'nationalists'.

Noa Rodman wrote:
It seems you're just looking for a disagreement.

In fact, I'm actually looking for a discussion, which I didn't get from Alexander. I have (currently) much higher hopes of you.

Noa Rodman wrote:
'Nation' here means probably ethnicity, not states, who btw, are free (or sovereign).

Now, here's a novelty. For the purposes of this discussion ('nat. lib.'), I'm equating 'nation' with 'nation-state' (this is implied by the 'lib.' part). I think most others in this discussion are, too. If I'm wrong, I'm only too glad to be either corroborated or corrected. So, to be clear, if Marx and Engels are talking about 'ethnicities', it's irrelevant to this discussion; if they are referring to 'nation-states', I disagree with them.

Noa Rodman wrote:
M&E's point I think is that as long as the workers tolerate oppression of another nation they can't properly fight for their cause.

In that case, I think M&E don't go far enough - they should be saying workers shouldn't tolerate the existence of any nation, including their own, with equal fervour.

On Alex, breakdowns, patronisation and fun, we'll have to just disagree with each other. It's irrelevant to the purpose of this discussion.

Noa Rodman wrote:
I know that you earlier defended Alex's right to be heard, but now you turned 180°

This is a complete falsehood: I've constantly fought for Alex's right to be heard, and I've pressed him to answer freely the questions posed of him. I haven't 'turned' a single degree, minute or second on that issue.

Noa Rodman wrote:
I reposted Alex's big post on the role of communists, see if you find anything you disagree with in it.

No, you made the comparison, so I expect you to clarify what you meant. Tell me what you see as the similarities between Alex and 'most' of the rest of us. Then we can engage in a discussion of your views: you might be right.

Noa Rodman wrote:
If not, maybe you're not really disagreeing with each other.

Given that this 'discussion' has extended over several threads because of Alex's (ill-explained) opposing position, that doesn't really seem very likely, does it?

Anyway, let's stick to the main issue: the usefulness of 'nat. lib.' as a strategy for workers.

I'm now clear that I oppose the strategy. I think it damages workers' interests. And you?

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Noa Rodman
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Apr 5 2011 22:51
Quote:
Well, since the B-P-B theses can't give me a brief outline of themselves, could you do that for me?

They were posted, they argue against the right to self-determination, I pointed out they do however allow support for nat-lib, you criticized this, I agreed with you that they don't make sense, what more can be said? Lenin opposed them.

Quote:
From this, then, can I assume that, in your opinion, Lenin opposes nat. lib.?

Yes, but that's not the same as right to self-determination. I know both you and Alex think it is, but it's not. If you don't believe me, read Lenin.

Quote:
It seems even more fitting to label them as 'not Socialists at all'. They are not 'chauvinists' (perhaps used as a term to soften the reality, that is, to imply they are some sort of hyphenated-Socialist), they are simply 'nationalists'.

Just for the record you called them first socialists.

Quote:
Now, here's a novelty. For the purposes of this discussion ('nat. lib.'), I'm equating 'nation' with 'nation-state' (this is implied by the 'lib.' part). I think most others in this discussion are, too. If I'm wrong, I'm only too glad to be either corroborated or corrected. So, to be clear, if Marx and Engels are talking about 'ethnicities', it's irrelevant to this discussion; if they are referring to 'nation-states', I disagree with them.

The M&E quote from Lenin, following your interpretation of nation, becomes not so much irrelevant, as downright nonsensical.

Quote:
In that case, I think M&E don't go far enough - they should be saying workers shouldn't tolerate the existence of any nation, including their own, with equal fervour.

I think Marx meant if workers tolerate (i.e., consent or agree with) the oppression of their own state towards another nation. And workers should oppose the existence of their own state, with all their fervour.

Quote:
No, you made the comparison, so I expect you to clarify what you meant. Tell me what you see as the similarities between Alex and 'most' of the rest of us. Then we can engage in a discussion of your views: you might be right.

The similarity is the need for practical support of the oppressed starting from within the existing class struggle, as opposed to 'sectarian' contempt shown by elitist communists for attempts at pointing out errors. Again, the goal with the right to self determination is to fight reactionary views of workers in the oppressor countries.

Quote:
Given that this 'discussion' has extended over several threads because of Alex's (ill-explained) opposing position, that doesn't really seem very likely, does it?

Anyway, let's stick to the main issue: the usefulness of 'nat. lib.' as a strategy for workers.

I'm now clear that I oppose the strategy. I think it damages workers' interests. And you?

The 'usefulness' ties into the practical support aspect. A political slogan has no use after all, maybe it even shows contempt for trying to inject class consciousness, instead of providing strategies.

P.S.

Fucking hell

LBird
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Apr 6 2011 07:57

Do you ever have that sinking feeling, that you're being sucked into quicksand?

Noa, if you think 'national liberation' and 'the right to national self-determination' are different things, in the context of this discussion, why not just outline the differences to me? Rather than telling me to read Lenin, if 'I don't believe you'? We're here for a discussion, not a homework-setting session. I neither 'believe' nor 'don't believe' you. I'm waiting for you to discuss it with me.

Noa Rodman wrote:
The similarity is the need for practical support of the oppressed starting from within the existing class struggle, as opposed to 'sectarian' contempt shown by elitist communists for attempts at pointing out errors. Again, the goal with the right to self determination is to fight reactionary views of workers in the oppressor countries.

This doesn't mean anything to me. Would you rephrase it into language that an ordinary worker can understand?

Noa Rodman wrote:
The 'usefulness' ties into the practical support aspect. A political slogan has no use after all, maybe it even shows contempt for trying to inject class consciousness, instead of providing strategies.

Again, to me, meaningless, contextless, generalities - it sounds like it's aimed at people heavily into the minutiae of 'politics'. Why not try posts that explain in plain language? With an example or two? And I mean a modern example, not a huge excerpt from Marx, Engels, Lenin, Bakunin, etc.

Noa Rodman wrote:
P.S.

Fucking hell

The most proletarian contribution of the post! But, unfortunately, I still don't grasp its significance.

Sigh. I'm still no closer to understanding the opposing argument, against the position that I, and others, have adopted after the discussion above.

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Noa Rodman
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Apr 6 2011 10:16

The difference between right of nations to self determination and national liberation, using the example of Kurds, is that in the first case Turkish communists fight nationalist consciousness of Turkish workers, while in the latter Kurdish workers stake their lives on fighting Turkish soldiers. Getting a Turkish worker to accept at least theoretically that the Kurds have a right of nations to self-determination. It is a home-work session; learn, learn and learn. That never damaged the interests of workers. And Kurdish communists should do the same for Kurdish workers;

Lenin wrote:
The Socialists of oppressed nations must, in their turn, unfailingly fight for the complete (including organisational) unity of the workers of the oppressed and oppressing nationalities.

Your opposition to right of self-determination skirts the issue of confronting nationalist consciousness ('socialism will solve everything when capitalism is abolished'), and this because you don't see it as the task of communists to be, in the words of Alex, a schoolmarm. Unless you believe class struggle is a process where workers need to experience damage in order to learn, like Alex, there's no 'strategy' to combat nationalism.

S. Artesian
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Apr 6 2011 15:24

This is absurd, when the very concept of "nation" in most less developed areas is generated by "imperialists" and exploiters simply marking out their administrative territories.

You want to quote Lenin? That's just peachy. Others might not be satisfied with that, might insight on a materialist analysis, where we look at the actual class relations, and the actual changes in an economy that trigger nationalism.

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Noa Rodman
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Apr 6 2011 17:35

The expert on this question was Michael Pavlovsky, e.g. he wrote several articles in Red Virgin Soil. This is only one extract (auto-translation is near perfect), giving precisely materialist analysis:

Quote:
EASTERN QUESTION AT III CONGRESS AND PROSPECTS OF THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

All more or less objective researchers of the modern East agree that the peoples of the East does not represent something uniform that they differ among themselves in the political, economic and social relations. We can not, for example, to equate Afghanistan, where until now remained patriarchal and tribal life, where there is absolutely no factories or railways, or even if Persia, the length of track which does not exceed 150 miles, with India, which for common throughout its rail network is in Asia in the first place, far ahead of the 400 millionth China.

From this article, which goes on about Turkey (he also has there an article) on Kemalism. For those who are interested, there's also an article on Japanese imperialism in Red Virgin Soil (i'm looking at you devoration).

LBird
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Apr 6 2011 17:46

I think I'm just going to have to accept that I'm as thick as pigshit, at least regarding the issue of understanding the argument in favour of 'the right of nations to self-determination'.

I haven't got a clue what Noa is talking about.

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 15 2011 03:25

Lifted from a conversation where it really doesn’t fit, called “Was Che Guevara a Stalinist sympathizer after the secret speech” and placed here – where it seems to fit better

RedEd#90 Oct 2nd wrote:
AR, you seem to have an analysis of how 'Stalinist' national development governments were progressive. I am, at present, neither hostile nor friendly to this stance, and I would like to learn more. Perhaps you could provide links to texts which lay out the basis of your position or, if I have misunderstood, provide links to developed expositions of the argument you are actually making.

P.S. I think that the rhetorical devices you used to characterise certain populations, up to and including the lumpen label may divert people from your actual meaning since it tends to read like a slur even when it is intended to be employed as impartial analysis.

.

RedEd #102 Oct 9th wrote:
AR, in post 90 I asked for references to your take on national liberation governments. I'd be glad if you'd respond since you seem to have a position that is quite common on the left but I'm not familiar with it's theoretical basis. A post explaining your general understanding would also be helpfull, if that would be less effort than dredging up links. Thanks.
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Oct 15 2011 21:03
Martov wrote:
In February 1918, at Brest-Litovsk, Trotsky and Kamenev still defended with great obstinance the right of peoples to self-determination. They demanded from victorious Germany that this principle be applied, through the instrumentality of the equal and universal ballot, in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The historic value of democracy was still recognized at that time. But a year later, at the congress of the – Russian Communist Party, the intrepid Bukharine already insisted that the principle of “self-determination of peoples” had to be replaced with the principle of “self-determination of the laboring classes.” Lenin succeeded in obtaining the maintenance of the principle of self-determination – for backward peoples – paralleling in this respect certain philosophers who, not wanting to fall out with the Church, would limit the scope of their materialist teachings to animals deprived of the benefits of divine revelation. But it was not for doctrinal reasons that the Communist congress refused to fall in line with Bukharine. Lenin won out with arguments of a diplomatic order. It was said to be unwise to alienate from the Communist International the Hindoos, Persians and other peoples who, though still blind to the revelation, were in a situation of pan-national struggle against the foreign oppressor. Fundamentally, the Communists were in full agreement with Bukharine. Having tasted sweetness, who would offer bitterness to his neighbor?

Just to point out that Martov is critical because of their abandonment (or mere diplomatic use) of the slogan of the right to self-determination.

On Turkey, spring 1921, the expert of eastern questions for the bolsheviks (auto-translation):

Pavlovich wrote:
Young Turkish Communist Party, founded untimely dead heroes Subhi and colleagues of the latter, will pay due attention to the poorest segments of the Turkish peasantry, and will make every effort so that the peasant sphinx said its say in its favor. The idea of ​​the peasant councils, registered in many Anatolia Turkish prisoners of war returning from Russia, the idea of ​​expropriation of large landowners, is very popular among many elements of the Turkish peasantry.
Turning to the Turkish workers, it is necessary to state that they have long found their organizational capacity to planned activity. At the time of the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria dockworkers Constantinople, Salonika, and others Dedeagacha coastal settlements in Turkey refused to unload the goods and the Austrian with remarkable unanimity and firmness conducted the boycott. True, in this case, the Turkish working class acted under the influence of their own bourgeoisie. But in the subsequent moments of the Turkish proletariat once acted independently as a class enemy of the bourgeoisie. Strikes, which often occurred in the period of the Young Turks in Constantinople, Smyrna, Samsun, and other cities, forced the government to "Union and Progress" to pass a law against strikes.
World War I greatly stirred the working masses in Turkey. Everywhere abroad, both in Russia and in Western Europe, in Germany and in Hungary, Turkish workers in the face of their best representatives participated in the revolutionary movement. In Russia, the Group and Subhi Ismail Hakki-created many communist cadres among the Turkish prisoners of war.
To what conclusions we come out we made on the need to sketch the economic situation in Turkey? At the congress the delegates had been distributed to many draft theses on the Eastern question, written by the same fellow who had tried, though unsuccessfully, to extend their theses mentioned above at the III Congress of the Communist Party Azerbeydzhanskoy. He no longer associates with Persia and Turkey to Afghanistan, which is too obviously absurd, but he now sees Turkey as a country where there are no beginnings of the industrial proletariat, and in opposition to the country of India where there is industrial capital and the machine industry, thus emphasizing thus the need for different tactics in India, on the one hand, in Turkey - on the other.
As a result of his analysis, he concludes that only one in India, we must strive to create a working Communist parties in Turkey and Persia, as the main draw attention to the organization of the poor peasants and crafts. But if Turkey does not have the rudiments of the industrial proletariat, he wondered, with whose help we will arrange it workmanship and poor peasants? Not with whether lawyers and officers of the Union "Unity and Progress"? Point of view, are placed at one pole of India, on the other - Turkey can be very unpleasant British bourgeoisie, since we are talking about her colonies, but this view is necessary in some respects, to taste the ruling classes of Anatolia, who now claim that in Turkey there is no ground for the Communist movement. But only recently the ruling classes created in Anatolia Angora Zubatov Communist Party, which launched its Central Committee and in general led a provocative

p. 280

policies * 1. When this Zubatov gaponovschina and ended as it ended in Russia, involving some members of the party in rebellion Zubatov Edhem Bey, the government turned the front and closed the official Communist Party. But we have the history of the labor movement know that Zubatov created and is cultivated by the ruling classes only where there are to-face elements of the revolutionary working class movement. It is clear that, for example, there is no need to anticipate the Afghan emir events and establish themselves in the official Communist Party, but the ruling classes of Anatolia had to do it, and this is the best proof that the elements of the communist movement has to-face. We add the following. While the Angora government believed that in order to win over the sympathy of the Party of RK and the whole of the Comintern, and in particular RS, FS, R., to play the advocate of communism, the Turkish government tried to look communist and did not dare apply the methods of fascism to his revolutionaries.
As soon revealed that Robert SF SR does not interfere in the internal affairs of Anatolia, the Turkish government strongly changed the front and not only dissolved the Communist party official, even considering the very term "communist" dangerous, but also committed a barbaric massacre 17 Turkish communists, who arrived from Baku Subhi headed to Turkey. These comrades after severe tortures were stabbed and thrown into the sea at Trebizond. The names of their torturers are known, but the government has taken no action to punish violent criminals.
The Communist Party now has its martyrs, and thousands of hearts burned with vengeance and a burning desire to join the ranks of fighters for a great ideal in whose name the best people were killed in Turkey.
Communist International, with all his authority to support more young, but has undoubted prospects for its rapid development, the Communist Party of Turkey, a country which, thanks to its amazing geographical position at the crossroads of great commercial and strategic rail and sea routes from Europe to Asia, then projected, under construction and has built railways, during which even now is around 4,000 kilometers, an enormous natural wealth, and the central port city, with a rapidity that will develop in the coming years along with the inevitable destruction of the capitulations, finally, thanks to her, perhaps not yet sufficiently numerous, but already tested in the class struggle, which, with its strikes in Turkey, the behavior of their best representatives in Hungary, Germany, Russia, showed his revolutionary spirit and readiness to accept communist ideas.
In Anatolia, now there is no possibility of the Communists to work legally, and hundreds of Turkish Communists now rotting in the dungeons terrible Anatolia. We have not been talking about dozens of communists who were executed in Angora and in the eastern vilayets. But these reactionary measures, according to Turkish comrades, did not give different results,
_______________
* 1 Details of the party, see our book "Revolutionary Turkey." Gos. Ed. 1921, p. 110 - 119.

p. 281

except for recovery and increase awareness of the Turkish peasants and workers.
The Communist International infuse energy into the communist organizations in Anatolia and European Turkey, stressing that they have a right to exist and its support for that in a country like Turkey. The Comintern and its agents in their work should be based not only on the poor peasants and farm laborers, but also for the proletariat and working in Baghdad and other railways, coal mines, lead and iron mines, ports, Smyrna, Trebizond, Samsun, Istanbul. And it must belong to the proletariat the vanguard in the struggle of the laboring masses of Turkey for the communist ideal.
We know well that at the moment almost in Anatolia, there is no communist cells, few sincere Communists, the available in Turkey, either killed or rot in prison, we know that foreign organizations Turkompartii on-par with two, three proven Communists Comrades like Ismail Hakki-, Dzhevalat and some others, there are dozens of former officers, governors, and "communism" which arouses in us a strong doubts, however this is no reason to assert that in Turkey there are no conditions for the establishment of the Communist Party. In cities such as Constantinople, where there are more than 150 thousand workers, as Smyrna, etc., necessary to maintain and develop the beginnings of the Communist Party, bearing in mind that the revolutionary future of Turkey belongs to the Communist Party. As rightly emphasized that Radek in one of his speeches at the meeting of delegates from the Eastern Congressional III, in Russia, 70, and 80's there was no ground for social revolution, however, correct the tactics of the revolutionaries who had already created in Russia a socialist cell the party. The same tactic is used now in Persia, Turkey and India.

I think the history of the national movements that actually come before your second wave Alex, like (Ottoman-)Turkey, Iran, India, China (1911) or Mexico is also important to look at in order to understand the subsequent 'Stalinist-inspired' ones after ww2.

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 16 2011 00:20
RedEd#90 Oct 2nd wrote:
AR, you seem to have an analysis of how 'Stalinist' national development governments were progressive. I am, at present, neither hostile nor friendly to this stance, and I would like to learn more. Perhaps you could provide links to texts which lay out the basis of your position or, if I have misunderstood, provide links to developed expositions of the argument you are actually making.

P.S. I think that the rhetorical devices you used to characterise certain populations, up to and including the lumpen label may divert people from your actual meaning since it tends to read like a slur even when it is intended to be employed as impartial analysis.

RedEd #102 Oct 9th wrote:
AR, in post 90 I asked for references to your take on national liberation governments. I'd be glad if you'd respond since you seem to have a position that is quite common on the left but I'm not familiar with it's theoretical basis. A post explaining your general understanding would also be helpfull, if that would be less effort than dredging up links. Thanks.

Ask any working class black person if they think that racism is real or is an illusion.

Ask any working class Native American whether they think their extermination by whites across North America was a minor footnote in history.

Ask any working class Palestinian whether or not they feel targeted for their national identity rather than their class.

Ask any working class Pole during World War II whether they think that German racism plays a primary role in the occupation of their country.

Are they all wrong?

What would Karl Marx have thought? Would his thoughts have been wrong? Did they become obsolete after World War I? World War II? At some other time? Is it wrong today? What has changed?

Yes. The underlying and fundamental contradiction in capitalist society is between the working class and the capitalist class. But this is not the only contradiction and may not be the most apparent contradiction to this or that society at a given time. Until the working class rises up and overthrows the capitalist class this primary contradiction will continue to define capitalist society and many, no doubt most, of these secondary contradictions will remain as well. Capitalism sits on top of and aggravates secondary contradictions both from pre-capitalist society and from prejudices already present amoung the general population.

And they are real.

These secondary contradictions often masque the fundamental contradiction and sometimes even completely hide it from the view of the working class.

What do we do?

Some, nay it would seem that almost all, of the people on this website believe that we should denounce those who are fighting for relief from these secondary contradictions as one who is “stuck” in the land of false consciousness. The role of the vanguard, these people would seem to say, would be to preach to the workers that the struggles they are engaged in are false and that they should join their more obscure struggle for “true” liberation.

I join with the great majority of Marxists who do not agree with this very short sighted as well as elitist view.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I see the Russian revolution as a great turning point in history – but this is not the same turning point as Lenin, or Trotsky or Luxemborg or Bukharin saw. I am very much hampered by the fact that I only read and write the English language and so am unable to read anything not published in English. I did read a very interesting little pamphlet about Bordiga that claimed that he saw some of the same things that I saw but some of you claim that “Goldner” was in error on this question. I do not know one way or the other.

What I did do was take a good hard look at what the Stalinist “national liberation” movements actually did – both during and after their various revolutions in the Third World. I dismissed the decorative window dressing that they pretended was an explanation for their actions and I also dismissed the imperialist explanations for their actions. They were not in any way “socialist” or “communist” unless you divorce the terms completely from what Karl Marx was talking about.

First of all where do they take place? In the Third World.

What is the “Third World” ?

England had its “bourgeois national” revolution in the late 1600s. France had its “bourgeois national” revolution in the late 1700s. By the time of the German “bourgeois national” revolution most of Western Europe had capitalist systems. But by that time as well much of the rest of the world had been subjected to conquest by Western Europe. There was a debate within the Second international – well – mostly within the Bolshevik Party of Russia – about how a working class party would conduct itself in the coming Russian “bourgeois national” revolution.

The Mensheviks provided the standard, orthodox “Marxist” response. The Russian proletariat would support the Russian bourgeoisie as it attempted to overthrow the “feudal” autocracy and establish a democratic republic.

Lenin rightly said this was nonsense. The Russian bourgeoisie lacked the stomach for such a struggle and was scared shitless both of the bourgeoisie's own weakness and of the strength of the proletariat. The way forward, according to Lenin, was to make an alliance directly with the peasantry and jointly overthrow both the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. But what would this be? A “dual dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” said Lenin. But what in the world was that?

Trotsky had the answer, or so he thought. The “permanent revolution” would begin with a “bourgeois national” revolution led by the proletariat and supported by the peasantry but would continue on to become a “socialist revolution” because it could not stop at the bourgeois level as the bourgeoisie were all on the side of reaction.

Both Lenin and Trotsky had a caveat. The Russian “bourgeois national” revolution must become the trigger for a general proletarian revolution in Europe or the whole project would “all fall down.”

The whole project “all fell down.” Russia took longer to fall down because it actually had a proletarian revolution with a Marxist working class party leading the parade. One can actually talk about a Stalinist “counter-revolution” in Russia.

The Vietnamese Revolution was not the convergence of a proletarian revolution and peasant war and neither was the Chinese or the Yugoslav or the Cuban. They were purely “peasant war” and were fought under the flag of “national liberation” movements. And that is what they were.

They were the “second wave” of “bourgeois national” revolutions. The “first wave” was Holland, England, France, the United States, and Germany. The “second wave” was China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Yugoslavia – with Russia also attached.

The question is – what is the role of the “second wave” of “bourgeois national” revolutions in the era after World War II and is it over?

While it took place it was certainly progressive. It was progressive in the same way that in the U.S. Civil War the North was “progressive” and the South was “reactionary.” The Empires reacted hysterically to the “second wave” even long after it was clear as a bell that they were not “of the workers, by the workers, or for the workers.” It was a challenge to the Worldwide Imperialist pecking order and it created breathing room for other protests, including working class revolts in the home nest of the Empires.

But the “second wave” did not create full fledged capitalist regimes. They were capitalist from the bottom up – workers at the bottom – but at the top they had no capitalist class and no market to create a price structure. They were only fitted for primitive accumulation and once they passed that stage they collapsed back into ordinary capitalism.

Ask any working class black person if they think that racism is real or is an illusion.

Ask any working class Native American whether they think their extermination by whites across North America was a minor footnote in history.

Ask any working class Palestinian whether or not they feel targeted for their national identity rather than their class.

Ask any working class Pole during World War II whether they think that German racism plays a primary role in the occupation of their country.

Are they all wrong?

What would Karl Marx have thought? Would his thoughts have been wrong? Did they become obsolete after World War I? World War II? At some other time? Is it wrong today? What has changed?

Yes. The underlying and fundamental contradiction in capitalist society is between the working class and the capitalist class. But this is not the only contradiction and may not be the most apparent contradiction to this or that society at a given time. Until the working class rises up and overthrows the capitalist class this primary contradiction will continue to define capitalist society and many, no doubt most, of these secondary contradictions will remain as well. Capitalism sits on top of and aggravates secondary contradictions both from pre-capitalist society and from prejudices already present amoung the general population.

And they are real.

These secondary contradictions often masque the fundamental contradiction and sometimes even completely hide it from the view of the working class.

What do we do?

Some, nay it would seem that almost all, of the people on this website believe that we should denounce those who are fighting for relief from these secondary contradictions as one who is “stuck” in the land of false consciousness. The role of the vanguard, these people would seem to say, would be to preach to the workers that the struggles they are engaged in are false and that they should join their more obscure struggle for “true” liberation.

I join with the great majority of Marxists who do not agree with this very short sighted as well as elitist view.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I see the Russian revolution as a great turning point in history – but this is not the same turning point as Lenin, or Trotsky or Luxemborg or Bukharin saw. I am very much hampered by the fact that I only read and write the English language and so am unable to read anything not published in English. I did read a very interesting little pamphlet about Bordiga that claimed that he saw some of the same things that I saw but some of you claim that “Goldner” was in error on this question. I do not know one way or the other.

What I did do was take a good hard look at what the Stalinist “national liberation” movements actually did – both during and after their various revolutions in the Third World. I dismissed the decorative window dressing that they pretended was an explanation for their actions and I also dismissed the imperialist explanations for their actions. They were not in any way “socialist” or “communist” unless you divorce the terms completely from what Karl Marx was talking about.

First of all where do they take place? In the Third World.

What is the “Third World” ?

England had its “bourgeois national” revolution in the late 1600s. France had its “bourgeois national” revolution in the late 1700s. By the time of the German “bourgeois national” revolution most of Western Europe had capitalist systems. But by that time as well much of the rest of the world had been subjected to conquest by Western Europe. There was a debate within the Second international – well – mostly within the Bolshevik Party of Russia – about how a working class party would conduct itself in the coming Russian “bourgeois national” revolution.

The Mensheviks provided the standard, orthodox “Marxist” response. The Russian proletariat would support the Russian bourgeoisie as it attempted to overthrow the “feudal” autocracy and establish a democratic republic.

Lenin rightly said this was nonsense. The Russian bourgeoisie lacked the stomach for such a struggle and was scared shitless both of the bourgeoisie's own weakness and of the strength of the proletariat. The way forward, according to Lenin, was to make an alliance directly with the peasantry and jointly overthrow both the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. But what would this be? A “dual dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry” said Lenin. But what in the world was that?

Trotsky had the answer, or so he thought. The “permanent revolution” would begin with a “bourgeois national” revolution led by the proletariat and supported by the peasantry but would continue on to become a “socialist revolution” because it could not stop at the bourgeois level as the bourgeoisie were all on the side of reaction.

Both Lenin and Trotsky had a caveat. The Russian “bourgeois national” revolution must become the trigger for a general proletarian revolution in Europe or the whole project would “all fall down.”

The whole project “all fell down.” Russia took longer to fall down because it actually had a proletarian revolution with a Marxist working class party leading the parade. One can actually talk about a Stalinist “counter-revolution” in Russia.

The Vietnamese Revolution was not the convergence of a proletarian revolution and peasant war and neither was the Chinese or the Yugoslav or the Cuban. They were purely “peasant war” and were fought under the flag of “national liberation” movements. And that is what they were.

They were the “second wave” of “bourgeois national” revolutions. The “first wave” was Holland, England, France, the United States, and Germany. The “second wave” was China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Yugoslavia – with Russia also attached.

The question is – what is the role of the “second wave” of “bourgeois national” revolutions in the era after World War II and is it over?

While it took place it was certainly progressive. It was progressive in the same way that in the U.S. Civil War the North was “progressive” and the South was “reactionary.” The Empires reacted hysterically to the “second wave” even long after it was clear as a bell that they were not “of the workers, by the workers, or for the workers.” It was a challenge to the Worldwide Imperialist pecking order and it created breathing room for other protests, including working class revolts in the home nest of the Empires.

But the “second wave” did not create full fledged capitalist regimes. They were capitalist from the bottom up – workers at the bottom – but at the top they had no capitalist class and no market to create a price structure. They were only fitted for primitive accumulation and once they passed that stage they collapsed back into ordinary capitalism.

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 16 2011 00:43
Noa Rodman wrote:
I think the history of the national movements that actually come before your second wave Alex, like (Ottoman-)Turkey, Iran, India, China (1911) or Mexico is also important to look at in order to understand the subsequent 'Stalinist-inspired' ones after ww2.

I admit to being at a complete loss as to what the quotes from your piece are supposed to mean but I can comment on the quote above.

Just where one draws the line between the "first wave" and the "second wave" is not yet clear to me, I do think there is a great fuzzy area in between. In reality the struggle in more or less continuous and it is my conclusion that the Indian, Chinese (1911), and Mexican* revolutions ranged somewhere between unsuccessful to just barely and that the "fully successful" second wave revolutions were the ones that were peasant wars led by nominal "Communists" like Mao Tse Tung and Ho Chi Minh or guerilla war like under Josip Broz Tito.

Yes. I agree that one must also look at them and compare their success and failure with the success and failure of the more successful "Stalinist" ones.

*I am not familiar with the Turkish revolution or its post revolutionary system but I believe it would also fall within these parameters.

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Oct 20 2011 19:31

I am new to this forum but have read through the entire thread today.

I think Alexander Roxwell's most recent post takes the debate up a gear. The concept of primary and secondary contradictions is helpful and should lead to less division between people on this thread.

Having said that, I think it is also true that winning battles around secondary contradictions in the context of a neo-liberal world order and a globalised capitalism is less decisive in affecting the overall balance of forces than it was in the previous capitalist era. The IMF and other Bretton Woods institutions usually pay an early visit to any country in which a national liberation movement has come to power. South Africa is a fairly recent case in point, where a left wing economic programme drawn up by the SA Communist Party was shelved on the say-so of international capitalism and duly delivered by Mbeki.

But - who would not have supported the ANC against Apartheid?

People struggle, but not in circumstances of their own choosing.

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Oct 20 2011 20:33

The Martov quote shows that self-determination was meant as a democratic right, that must include things like universal ballot. Obviously that precludes support for third-world dictators. The translation of the text about Turkey shows how, despite a number of proletarian centres, it had became absolutely impossible for communists to be active under the Kemalist regime, exposing to anyone (if needed be) which way the Turkish national revolution and anti-imperialism pushes workers' emancipation, long before the examples of Maoist China, etc.

I think Alex's short analysis/description of what he (not so fittingly) calls the second wave, was broadly what most Marxists expected to happen, as Lih argues:

Lih wrote:
Then there was what I call the ‘global interactive revolutionary scenario’. This is an aspect of Kautsky which I think has not been fully explored. And he was also highly interested in colonial policy - the first attack on Edward Bernstein, which led to the famous debates of the 1890s, was over colonial policy, because Bernstein fought for an ethical or ‘nice’ colonialism. As I mentioned in my last talk, Kautsky was particularly interested in and knowledgeable about Russia, and the Bolsheviks were picking up on this global scenario even before the outbreak of war.

What are the features of this? Firstly, the ‘interactive’ formula generally means that events in one country have a strong influence on those in other countries, and Kautsky stresses that as something we have to understand. How does he fill this picture out? Firstly, there are all sorts of linkages between the class struggles in various countries. One is that people can read and know about them - particularly the case for Russia, where everybody has been influenced by events in western Europe. Any class struggle today will be different to those of yesterday because people can know about and be influenced by them.

Secondly, bourgeois revolutions can no longer be the same because there is a new need to fight external domination, which there was not previously. Thirdly, there is the possibility of what you might call syncopated development - ie, backwardness can actually be an advantage because you move faster. One example he gives of this is Japan, which he argues was able to leap over feudalism.

Of course, there was also Russia. Russia plays a big role in this ‘interactive’ formula, because it was a generally accepted idea that Russia’s democratic revolution might well spark off a socialist revolution in western Europe. But Kautsky also says that should this happen then you might well have accelerated development in Russia: because it is backward, it might proceed faster in the context of a socialist Europe than one of the more hidebound western European countries.

Finally, he talks a great deal about nationalist revolutions. He wants to make clear that countries such as China, Turkey and Russia represent a new development that is going to upset things, and he insists that the leaders of the movements in these countries are generally not nice people! But for Kautsky this does not alter the fact that they are weakening capitalism and are bringing an element of political unrest to the whole world - ie, he almost cheers on these movements because they are fighting against national oppression and also making life more difficult for the European powers.

When Kautsky polemicises against Bernstein and the ‘ethical’ colonialists, he says: “Colonial policy is based on the idea that only the European countries are capable of development - the men of other races are children of idiots or beasts of burden - and even socialists proceed on this assumption as soon as they want to pursue a policy of ethical colonial expansionism. But reality soon teaches them that our party’s tenet that ‘All men are equal’ is no mere figure of speech, but a very real force.”8

Kautsky is arguing that people are perfectly capable of fighting back and that they are actually doing so. He says: “When Marx and Engels wrote the Communist manifesto, they regarded only western Europe as the field of battle of the proletarian revolution, but today it has become the whole world. Today, the battles and the liberation struggle of the whole of labour and exploited humanity is being fought not only on the banks of the Spree and the Seine, but also on the Hudson and the Mississippi, the Neva and the Dardanelles, the Ganges and the Huangho.”9

Here I call attention to the Neva - the Russian river near Petersburg. Kautsky was including Russia in this idea of global unrest.

The part that I put in bold is significant. Gorter (the left-communist) wrote the same thing as Kautsky (about the grim prospects for an independent proletarian politics in the countries faced with an upcoming national struggle).

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JoeMaguire
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Oct 20 2011 22:31
Pengwern wrote:
I am new to this forum but have read through the entire thread today.

I think Alexander Roxwell's most recent post takes the debate up a gear. The concept of primary and secondary contradictions is helpful and should lead to less division between people on this thread.

...

People struggle, but not in circumstances of their own choosing.

Greetings Penwern.

Ideas have resonance in the real world and struggle isn't simply about adapting and shifting to trends that exist. I thought the idea behind communism was to recognise the ephemeral pangs and contradictions that occur in class society and not simply set to react to these but strive for the abolition of class society. I simply believe alot of the inclinnation towards leftist nationalism thats being toyed about with in this thread is just a hang-over from the second-wave that AR is talking about. The issue is whether it is progressive in terms of class dynamics, and I really can't concieve that it is.

Pengwern wrote:
But - who would not have supported the ANC against Apartheid?

Its not a binnary type scenario though is it? Its like being given a choice between the Nazi reich and the Soviets in 1945 Berlin. We simply would not orientate ourselves in alliance with bourgeois forces unilaterally, even if they had progressive dynamics to their programme.

Even in the example of South Africa you give, the spearhead of struggles by SACTU/COSATU have potentially not yet realised because they are wedded to the ANC, which simply reinforces my point about the deadend of 'progressive' nationalism.

The correct action plan under apartheid surely would have been to create organisations entirely separate from the ANC which strived for self-organisation.

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Tojiah
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Oct 21 2011 01:04
Pengwern wrote:
But - who would not have supported the ANC against Apartheid?

I wouldn't, because I was a kid back then.

These kinds of questions are useless. We are not back then. We are here now. We know what the consequences of the ANC's triumph against apartheid are: more comfort for a handful of rich non-whites, shit for all the rest. In light of seeing what the consequences were, what should we do now? What can we do now? What can we learn from the past, so we do not repeat it as farce?

radicalgraffiti
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Oct 21 2011 02:16
Pengwern wrote:

But - who would not have supported the ANC against Apartheid?
.

whats to stop someone from having opposed apartheid and the anc?

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Rob Ray
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Oct 21 2011 02:25

Nothing. Nothing at all.

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Oct 21 2011 19:12
Noa Rodman on the 3rd of April wrote:
Roxwell is a lot like Qaddafi; everybody think he's already defeated but then he's still there. I predicted this and argued for a blitzkrieg against him or else it would turn in to a protracted civil war.

yeah Pengwern, the problem with Alex' politics which is being objected to (including support for Qaddafi, Saddam, etc.) is tail-ending. His description of the "second wave" is not really in question. Kautsky managed to describe it far better, before it even happened (highlight mine).

Kautsky in 1909 wrote:
We have already called attention to the fact that the Russo-Japanese war has inspired Eastern Asia and the Mohammedan world to throw off European capitalism. In this they are fighting the same enemy that the European proletariat is fighting. To be sure, we must not forget that while they are fighting the same enemy they are not fighting it with the same object – not in order to gain a victory for the proletariat over capital, but in order to substitute an internal national capitalism for an external one they are rising. We must not have any illusions on this point. Just as the Boers were the closest skinners of the people, so the Japanese rulers are the worst persecutors of Socialists and the Young Turks have already felt themselves compelled to proceed against striking workers. We must not take an uncritical attitude to the non-European opponents of European capitalism.

This, however, does not alter the fact that these opponents weaken European capitalism and its governments and introduce an element of political unrest into the entire world.

We have seen how in Europe a period of constant political unrest continued from 1789 to 1871, until the industrial bourgeoisie had conquered everywhere the political positions which their rapid development made possible. Since the Russo-Japanese war, since 1905, a similar period of constant political unrest has existed in the Orient. The people of Eastern Asia and the Mohammnedan world, together with those of Russia, have just entered upon a position in many ways similar to that of the West European bourgeoisie at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century. Naturally the conditions are not wholly the same. One thing that makes them different is that the world is a hundred years older. The political development of a country does not depend entirely upon its own social conditions, but upon the conditions of the whole surrounding world, which affect that country. The different classes of Russia, Japan, India, China, Turkey, Egypt, etc., may stand in a similar relation to one another as did the classes of France before the great Revolution. But they will be influenced by the experiences of the class straggles that have taken place since then in England, France, and Germany. On the other hand, their struggle for favorable conditions for a national capitalist system of production, is at the same time a struggle against foreign capital and its foreign domination – a struggle which the people of Western Europe did not have to conduct during their revolutionary period from 1789-1871.

But however great these differences which tend to prevent the East from simply repeating the events of the West of a century ago, the similarity is still great enough to make it certain that the East is now entering upon a revolutionary period of a similar character – a period of conspiracies, coup d’etats, insurrections, reactions and renewed insurrections and continuous transformations that will continue until the conditions of a peaceful development and a secured national independence is obtained for this portion of the world.

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Oct 21 2011 22:46

I think Kautsky grasped imperialism's key ideological and hegemonizing role within capitalist heartlands and understood, better than any of his contemporaries, that capitalism's insertion, via imperialism, into areas of the world with relatively undeveloped forces of production developed them only in a very lop-sided and dependant fashion. The struggle against this, whether led by a proto national bourgeoisie, the peasantry or a minority working class, or an alliance between them all, has had the effect of increasing the contradictions and rivalries within capitalism, thereby weakening it by its successes, even if not permanently.

When you put this alongside Luxemburg's argument that capitalism cannot function as a closed system but only through interacting with a realm outside itself, these struggles become important as points of conflict between a successfully globalised capitalism, manageable and largely compliant, and a far more contested world order which affords capitalism significantly less space in which to manipulate labour markets, consumer markets and build infinitely flexible capital.

It has very largely been the defeat of these movements in the wider world, especially what Alexander calls the second wave + their degeneration (under enormous and systematic pressure from capitalism) which made the neo-liberal world possible. Shaxson's 'Treasure Islands' and Kelin's 'The Shock Doctrine', when read together, give us the map and answer the 'how' questions regarding this process, but the underlying need for capitalism to overcome the resistance to its imperial expansion and domination is explained by Kautsky and Luxemburg, as above.

In contrast to this, much of the British Left still believes that the defeat of the miners in 1985 and the accompanying defeat of the wider trade union movement is all we need to date and explain the onset of neo-liberalism. I think that is eurocentric nonsense.

The case for being positive about national liberation movements, irrespective of the particular class nature of any one in particular, therefore lies, for me at least, in the consequences of these for the international struggle, i.e the decisive struggle, against capitalism.

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Oct 22 2011 09:21
Quote:
imperialism's key ideological and hegemonizing role within capitalist heartlands

What do you mean? (in Alex' terms: gobble gobble)

Quote:
capitalism's insertion, via imperialism, into areas of the world with relatively undeveloped forces of production

Kautsky understood (and specifically wrote) that capitalism is not inserted via imperialism.

Quote:
developed them only in a very lop-sided and dependant fashion. The struggle against this[...] has had the effect of increasing the contradictions and rivalries within capitalism, thereby weakening it by its successes, even if not permanently.

Where does Kautsky speak of 'weakening' capitalism? He speaks of world war sure:

Kautsky wrote:
Problems whose peaceful solution appears impossible, and that leave consequently been avoided and put aside (such, for example, as the, relations of the Balkan states) now suddenly arise and demand a solution. Unrest, mistrust, uncertainty everywhere, are forced to a climax through the nervousness already raised to a high degree by the competitive armament. A world war is brought within threatening proximity.

Does world war weaken capitalism? And if it does, are you saying we should, pace Ché, cheer on developments in that direction?

Quote:
When you put this alongside Luxemburg's argument that capitalism cannot function as a closed system but only through interacting with a realm outside itself

Kautsky rejected Luxemburg's argument as false.

Quote:
It has very largely been the defeat of these movements in the wider world, especially what Alexander calls the second wave + their degeneration (under enormous and systematic pressure from capitalism) which made the neo-liberal world possible.

You and Alex should discuss with each other whether these movements were successful in their mission of securing national independence. I think the national struggles played a small part. The USA was the real key in ending colonization. I suggest keeping the question of the analytical value of terms like neo-liberalism for another thread.

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Oct 22 2011 14:09

1 'Imperialism's key ideological and hegemonizing role within capitalist heartlands' refers to empires dragging large sections of the population into patriotism and racism, which is what happened, even to the second international, at the start of the First World War/

2 I am not bothered if Kautsky held bot these views at different points in time, as I look to past communists and anarchists for what they got right which is still relevant, not the full deal of truth.

3 I have added my own 'via imperialism' to this, as I think that was exactly how it happened and I imagine Kautsky understood this from what else he said.

4 'Weakening capitalism' is mine and in a sentence with no mention of Kautsky in it.

5 General wars can weaken capitalism under certain conditions. It suffered serious challenges after both 20th century world wars.

6 Again, I am not bothered about who said what when; those are theological arguments.

7 National independence was sometimes secured but this became increasingly nominal rather than real under US-led neo-colonialism in the post-WWII period, just as the USA's Monroe Doctrine had done to South America after Bolivar's national liberation victories over the SPanish empire. US imperialism has focused on indirect rule after taking over effective control over former Spanish and British colonial territories.

8 Saying that colonization ended hides the important truth that the form of imperialism has changed but not its power or control.

S. Artesian
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Oct 22 2011 16:06

The question is does "imperialism" qualitatively differ from capitalism in: a) its mode of appropriation b) its mode of reproduction c) the class relationships critical to the overthrow of the limitations of property to social production.

The problem with Rosa's analysis of imperialism is that her analysis of capitalism is incorrect. Her criticism of Marx's analysis of capitalist reproduction is just flawed. For Rosa the antagonism the defines capital, and drives it, is the conflict between production and consumption. So let's just leave Rosa out of it [and Kautsky too] and concentrate on those three issues.

If you study analyze the relations of so-called "backward" "undeveloped" countries, you'll find first and foremost that their backwardness doesn't exist in and of itself, in and of its "pre-capitalist" relations of production, but as the product of more "modern" relations being imposed, or impressed upon those pre-capitalist relations-- for example the ejido system in Mexico was actually grafted onto the indigenous relations of land [and water] by the Spanish, and forms the complementary opposite, so to speak, of the hacienda.

This absorption, grafting, pressure etc. gets reproduced at another level by the "advanced" capitalist countries as they penetrate these areas. Again, in Mexico, the hacienda, as "uncapitalist" at origin as it was, became a unit of production for world markets, for capitalism, with the construction of the railroads as financed, organized, managed and operated by the US.

In the Philippines a similar process takes place on the sugar plantations and it is a process that became very acute after OPEC 1, when in response to the cartelization "fad," and the ending of US quotas, the planters assumed large amounts of debt to mechanize production, displacing and dispossessing thousands of rural poor.

The answers to a & b are "not really," and the answer to c is "not in the least." And if that's the case, then we have to comprehend nationalism what it is-- nostalgia not for the past, but for the ghost of a past that never existed. It is the manifestation of "would be" equality that simply can't be, without of course a proletarian, anti-capitalist, anti-class collaborationist revolution.

"The nation" is a construct of the market; it is capital's attempt to consolidate itself, its property form over the relations of land and labor, and particularly landed labor. When capital's property is itself the guarantor of those "uneven and combined" relations of landed labor, nationalism, and the notion of a "national revolution" are more, and worse, than obsolete.

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Oct 22 2011 17:34

S. Artesian. This is a very useful way of looking at these issues and the relevant inter-relationships. It shows the relevance of anti-imperialist struggles.

My general view is that post-Columbus imperialism was a pre-requisite of capitalism generally and industrial capitalism in particular, especially in terms of the capital accumulation which resulted from trade, exploitation and slavery and in terms of the development of a transatlantic merchant class which could dominate both production in the Americas and distribution in Europe. Take away this and the migration safety valve which absorbed so many generations of Europeans thrown off the land, and I struggle to understand why Europe developed industrial capitalism after 1750 whereas China did not between 700 and 1100.

Imperialism was always so much more than just capitalism's highest phase - midwife, partner in crime and the means to capitalism overcoming key blockages and negotiating crises, including in our own times. Without it, we would have no tax havens, no IMF, no states with borders based on oilfields or mineral riches, no dominant finance capitalism.

Nation states modelled on the original capitalist states you refer to have almost always been created in conditions and against a background which makes them both convenient for and challenging to capitalism. Anti-imperialist resistance inserts itself into and is itself formed by the particular conditions and nature of this contradiction. Sometimes this results in more problems, on balance for capitalism, sometimes not. Sometimes long struggles against brutal colonial regimes brutalise those in struggle, who then construct regimes sharing key elements of oppression with the colonial regimes they fought to overthrow; how else can we explain Zimbabwe's tragedy?

The old Jamaican phrase comes to mind - 'Two step forward, one step backward' - in which respect, anti-imperialist struggle is no different from trade union or to other forms of working class struggle inside capitalist heartlands. Victories can be eroded and frequently are in both sets of circumstances, but all leave their mark and something to learn from.

S. Artesian
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Oct 22 2011 18:45

Thanks, but I certainly do not agree with this:

Quote:
My general view is that post-Columbus imperialism was a pre-requisite of capitalism generally and industrial capitalism in particular, especially in terms of the capital accumulation which resulted from trade, exploitation and slavery and in terms of the development of a transatlantic merchant class which could dominate both production in the Americas and distribution in Europe. Take away this and the migration safety valve which absorbed so many generations of Europeans thrown off the land, and I struggle to understand why Europe developed industrial capitalism after 1750 whereas China did not between 700 and 1100.

Because.......a) English capitalism precedes, and by a lot, the impact of its colonial holdings on the "mother country."

b) the capital accumulation which resulted from trade, exploitation, and slavery certainly resulted from trade, exploitation, and slavery... but not all accumulation based on trade, exploitation is capitalist accumulation. If you want to argue that the development of the industrial revolution could not have occurred without such trade, exploitation, and slavery, I agree but not because such accumulation provided the "critical mass" of "wealth" necessary for "economic takeoff." Rather, such trade, exploitation, and slavery developed a world market, or world markets, which capitalist exploitation of wage-labor required, and alone, could supply.

c) the source for the different paths of China and Britain is to be found not in the inputs of colonies, etc., but rather in the different organizations, and transformation, of agriculture, of farming-- to capitalist farming in England, and an "involution" as Philip CC Huang terms it in his great studies of Chinese agriculture, to more labor intensive, declining productivity, subsistence or "subsistence plus" farming in China.

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Pengwern
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Oct 22 2011 21:29

S. Artesian, are you sure that there was a significant time gap?

My understanding, admittedly I am no expert, is that the growth of the yeomanry was in the 15th and 16th centuries but that it was only towards the very end of this period that enclosure became widespread and only in the 17th century that villages became fully differentiated between capitalist landowners descended from peasants and landless proletarians. Even so, on what basis was the further growth of capitalist relations into trade and industry inevitable from this point?

Crown charters to traders were, I assume, the main obstacle to the extension of capitalist relations into trade and it was not until the second and third decades of the 17th century that the charters for the Virginia Company and others were broken up, leaving the way open for general merchants who could thereafter do far, far more than just a simple carrying trade. The fruits of this grew quickly in the rest of the seventeenth century and it was these capitalist merchants & producers, rather than capitalist landlords, who agitated for a banking system which could extend the credit for the further development of the Atlantic trade.

I think this would have occurred without the prior existence of capitalist practices in English agriculture; I don't think capitalist agriculture was at this stage of a size where it needed a much higher level of investment and credit.

Anyway, that's my understanding but I am willing to be shown otherwise.

The critical mass of wealth provided by imperialism from the outset, in the form of silver from Spanish mines in the Americas, was crucial to the west's ability to trade with China, which, up to that point, saw nothing in western production worth exchanging its own products for. Silver from the Americas, which was exactly what China was interested in, removed the key barrier to the creation of this world market. I don't see these as separate; the amount of silver wealth was important and, had it dried up, the Chinese would have lost their incentive to trade.

China, I think, had very developed trans-oceanic trading during the Sung period; the same era also saw the Chinese invention and development of the complete set of technological breakthroughs necessary for industrialisation. My question therefore becomes - why didn't the capital accumulation from this trade, and the trade networks themselves, combine to produce industrialisation? As you can guess, I don't think the answer lies in the lack of capitalist relations in Chinese farming any more than I think the British industrial revolution owed its origin to emerging capitalist relationships in English farming.

I hope you realise I am looking for genuine discussion and answers which I do not yet have.

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Noa Rodman
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Oct 23 2011 09:24

Fellas, could you stick to the topic.

Quote:
The old Jamaican phrase comes to mind - 'Two step forward, one step backward'

I thought it was a Prussian military saying.

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Oct 23 2011 10:04

But it arose logically - I argued that the struggle against imperialism was important because it affected the balance of power within global capitalism. You then argued that colonisation was dead, courtesy of the USA. I retorted that US imperialism is a living fact and has focused on indirect rule after taking over effective control over former Spanish and British colonial territories.

Then SA took my side of the argument further still, arguing that there really was no difference between imperialism and capitalism, since when we have been arguing about whether or not imperialism arose before or after capitalism.

SInce the basic argument on this thread seems to be about whether national liberation struggles take the anti-capitalist struggle any further, which no-one has argued against for some time, isn't it important to come to a view on just how fundamental to anti-capitalism these struggles are?

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Oct 23 2011 10:50
Quote:
thread seems to be about whether national liberation struggles take the anti-capitalist struggle any further, which no-one has argued against for some time,

No, the thread is about the right to self-determination, which I've been at pains to point out, does not equal national liberation.

Lenin wrote:
The most widespread deception of the people perpetrated by the bourgeoisie in the present war is the concealment of its predatory aims with “national-liberation” ideology.

Everyone, including you it seemed, agreed that national liberation doesn't take the anti-capitalist struggle any further.

That was pretty clear even at the Baku congress

Pavlovich wrote:
But the British workers who organise Councils of Action to oppose their own government in its fight against Soviet Russia react very feebly to the events in Ireland, where a war to the death is being waged against the British bourgeoisie for national self-determination.

At best the rank-and-file British worker can only feel sympathy with the Irish in their hard fight for self-determination, but the Irish epic does not kindle the enthusiasm in the breast of the British, French and Italian proletariat, does not touch those strings which are plucked by the gigantic struggle of the Russian people against world imperialism.

Indeed, suppose the Irish separatists succeed in their aim and realise their cherished ideal of an independent Irish people. The very next day, independent Ireland would fall under the yoke of American capital or of the French Bourse, and, perhaps, within a year or two Ireland would be fighting against Britain or some other states in alliance with one of the world predators, for markets, for coal-mines, for iron-mines, for bits of territory in Africa, and once again hundreds of thousands of British, Irish, American and other workers would die in this war.

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Quote:
Within the framework of the capitalist system, any newly-formed state which does not express the interests of the toiling masses but serves the interests of the bourgeoisie is a new instrument of oppression and coercion, a new factor of war and violence.

If the struggle in Persia, India and Turkey were to lead merely to the capitalists and landlords of those countries, with their national parliaments and senates, coming to power, the masses of the people would have gained nothing.

Every newly-formed state would be rapidly drawn, by the very course of events and the iron logic of the laws of capitalist economy, into the vicious circle of militarism and imperialist politics, and after a few decades we should witness another’ world war, the horrors of which would make the war of 1914-1918 pale into insignificance, for there would take part in it not tens but hundreds of millions of soldiers, armed to the teeth, from the black, yellow and white continents — another war for the interests of the French, German, British, Indian, Chinese, Persian and Turkish bankers and factory-owners. [Applause.]

What will be the result of the formation of a re-born, powerful Turkey, if power remains in the hands of the rich, the speculators and the landlords? The examples provided by the recent past — the warlike policy of Enver’s Turkey, and the behaviour of newly free and independent bourgeois states such as Georgia and Armenia — provide abundant illustrations of what I have said.

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Quote:
The masses must rise up against their enslavers, both native and foreign. If the national revolutionary movement were to lead merely to the formation of new, powerful Eastern states in which the local bourgeoisie ruled, with Indian, Persian, etc., parliaments, then within decades we should have another frightful world war, in comparison with which all the horrors of the war of 1914-1918 would seem trivial.

And from this premise the political conclusion (or mistaken hope if you will) was:

Quote:
The Third International has come to the conclusion, as the result of the debates at its Second Congress, that, with the aid of the advanced proletarian countries, the backward peoples can go over to the Soviet system and pass through a certain stage to communism, missing out the capitalist phase of development.

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Quote:
The French, British and Italian workers who march under the banner of Communism must not allow European troops to be sent to Anatolia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Constantinople and so on; and we can hope that the day is not far off when the whole international proletariat will fight as vigorously against the strangling of the East as it is now fighting against the strangling and blockading of Soviet Russia. [Applause.] The Third International, that is, the Communists of the whole world, take as their basic task to explain this simple truth, that so long as the yellow and black continents are oppressed, so long as European mercenaries are killing Turks, Persians, Arabs, Egyptians and so on, the European worker will be unable to cast off his own chains and will remain a slave of the capitalist. For this reason the Third International calls on the European workers to fight for the liberation of the East.