The Right of Nations to Self Determination

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Tojiah
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Oct 26 2011 14:49
Pengwern wrote:
No, Joe, Pengwern did not write this. You are the 2nd one to misattribute a quote to me in the week I have been posting on this forum and I have twice misunderstood what another poster waas meaning.

We should perhaps all take a deep breath and consider why we consistently miscommunicate.

It would help if you would use the "quote" tab when making long quotations so that there would be a clear distinction between what you quote and what you say. Likewise, you should understand that when people are quoting they are responding, so you will then stop attributing to them views that they reject.

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Pengwern
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Oct 26 2011 16:13

Noa asks - "So it seems, correct me if I'm wrong, that you support national liberation struggle because they have the potential to destabilize capitalism".

Yes to that.

Noa continues - "Let's assume that they have the potential to destabilize capitalism in a definite way. Does this mean that you especially support those national struggles which have the potential to trigger a world war?"

I think guessing if some conflict has the potential to start a world war is very difficult and a bit metaphysical, as the decision to start a world war is only ever taken by a major power after considering every angle and focusing especially on its own geopolitical interests. Theoretically, every conflict which touches, however indirectly, the interests of an imperialist power could lead that power to escalate, but the crucial point is that the escalation to the level of a world war is always in the hands of great powers, so I can't answer your question, as I refute its premise.

Noa asks - "And conversely, if a national liberation struggle doesn't destabilize capitalism, does that means that you would no longer support it?"

Declarations of support from a weak Left, which almost never get aired publicly, in the sense of more than a few hundred people ever being aware of what so-and-so's position is, seems to me to be taking ourselves too seriously. Having said that, I think it is always worth pointing out when a situation changes, such as the Russian Revolution at Kronstadt or the Zimbabwean struggle when Mugabe turned against ZAPU, so as to seriously reduce the threat which struggle poses to capitalism. For example, I take no pleasure from the establishment of what looks to be an Islamist - Centrist coalition in Tunisia right now.

Noa, I think Woodrow WIlson used the slogan first and that he used it because he thought the time was right for the USA to supplant Britain and France as the supreme imperialist power and hoped that it would make it too difficult for them to carry on with the Sykes-Picot carve up of the Ottoman Empire, ie for geopolitical reasons.

British Social Democracy under Atlee abdicated its inherited responsibility for the Palestine Mandate in the face of settler terrorism, left working class British soldiers rotting in Japanese concentration camps whilst using the Japanese army to fight France's war in Vietnam until the French were in a position to send troops & fought an anti-communist colonial war in Malaysia. I think you are being overly kind to them.

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Pengwern
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Oct 26 2011 17:03
Tojiah wrote:
Pengwern wrote:
No, Joe, Pengwern did not write this. You are the 2nd one to misattribute a quote to me in the week I have been posting on this forum and I have twice misunderstood what another poster waas meaning.

We should perhaps all take a deep breath and consider why we consistently miscommunicate.

It would help if you would use the "quote" tab when making long quotations so that there would be a clear distinction between what you quote and what you say. Likewise, you should understand that when people are quoting they are responding, so you will then stop attributing to them views that they reject.

I need to admit to a degree of techno-challenge here - I have tried various ways of quoting sections of text on another forum but it always turns out a mess and I tried it on this just now by highlighting a section of text and then choosing the quote option, which just chooses the whole posting, so unless someone takes me though the process step by step I am lost.

BTW I have checked and I did not post either of the two comments which I have said are misattributed to me, so maybe I am not the only one who needs techno help.

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Oct 26 2011 19:05

Wilson didn't use it first, though I agree with your sketch on how he used. The chauvinists of the SPD like Cunow rejected the slogan. Lenin is defending the resolution adopted by the London Congress of the International, in 1896, which reads:

Quote:
This Congress declares that it stands for the full right of all nations to self-determination [Selbstbestimmungsrecht] and expresses its sympathy for the workers of ever country now suffering under the yoke of military, national or other absolutism. This Congress calls upon the workers of all these countries to join the ranks of the class-conscious [Klassenbewusste—those who understand their class interests] workers of the whole world in order jointly to fight for the defeat of international capitalism and for the achievement of the aims of international Social-Democracy.

It would be interesting to read in more detail the discussions that went on prior to the congress (Lenin refers to the discussion in Die Neue Zeit).

According to this resolution the workers in backward countries must not only remain opposed to class collaboration as Artesian stresses, but also unite with the numerous proletariat in the advanced countries. As Lenin put it:

Quote:
The International’s resolution reproduces the most essential and fundamental propositions in this point of view: on the one hand, the absolutely direct, unequivocal recognition of the full right of all nations to self-determination; on the other hand, the equally unambiguous appeal to the workers for international unity in their class struggle.

(this perhaps solves the problem for Alex about what workers who are a small minority of the population, should do)

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 27 2011 00:50

Response to #176

S. Artesian wrote:
AR--

What's ridiculous is that you cannot provide a single incidence, a single struggle that corresponds to your make-believe, wished-for world where the proletariat is too numerically insignificant to struggle for, and win the struggle for, power. Not one.

How can I respond to this without getting into trouble from the “rudeness police”?

Let’s see. Citing just the most obvious examples:

I have said, I believe repeatedly, that China in 1949 lacked a sufficient proletariat to create a dictatorship of the proletariat in that country.

I have said, I believe repeatedly, that Vietnam in the 60s and 70s lacked a sufficient proletariat to create a dictatorship of the proletariat in that country.

I have said, I believe repeatedly, that Cuba in 1959 lacked a sufficient proletariat to create a dictatorship of the proletariat in that country.

I have said, I believe repeatedly, that Yugoslavia following World War II lacked a sufficient proletariat to create a dictatorship of the proletariat in that country.

I have said, I believe repeatedly, that New Guinea lacks a sufficient proletariat to create a dictatorship of the proletariat in that country.

You remind me of my co-workers at the lumberyard where I used to work that so vehemently believed that Japan surrendered before Germany in World War II that any facts cited just whizzed right past them.

S. Artesian wrote:
You don't think there is a material basis for struggles in "undeveloped" countries? Then what explains those struggles? Moral outrage?

Who are you debating? Certainly you are not debating me.

I have said, repeatedly and at great length, over and over and over again, that the material basis for struggles in the Third World is the need for a bourgeois national revolution to break out from the straitjacket of colonialism while the bourgeoisie is too weak and too tied to the straitjacket to lead such a struggle.

S. Artesian wrote:
Where is there a national struggle for self-determination that is not based on the conflict between means and relations of production?

Gobble Gobble Gobble. I am still looking for someone who can defend your point of view but you just don’t cut the mustard.

S. Artesian
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Oct 27 2011 01:34

AR,

Not to put too fine a point on it, but you don't know what you are talking about. Vietnam in particular had a proletariat that struggled for power, and indeed, had to be dispersed by the "nationalists" of the big C Communist Party, who were of course concerned with proving what reliable partner big C Communists could be to the bourgeoisie. This occurred in 1937, and again in 1945. Now if you think post 1954, the workers were too "weak" to take power, then please explain the basis of that weakness.

Cuba in 1959-- the proletariat couldn't take power. Then what class was able to take power. The peasantry? The peasantry was economically insignificant in Cuba.

Your ignorance could fill volumes.

Gobble that.

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Tojiah
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Oct 27 2011 02:02

[citation needed]

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 28 2011 04:52

Gee whiz. What a fool I am. Here I thought that to build a stable dictatorship you need to be a very substantial percentage of the population. But noooooooooooooooooooooooo ........ our resident guru says that all it takes is to have been a target for suppression. As we can see there was a big risk that we might have suffered a "dictatorship of the Mormons" back during the era of Joseph Smith.

S Artesian sat on a wall
Quoting Marx to us all

We all bowed
and We all scraped

'til a gentle wind
caused him to fall

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Tojiah
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Oct 28 2011 05:04

Why have you not been banned yet? You're a drain on the faculties of everyone who makes the mistake of engaging with you. You have no facts or ideas to back yourself up other than simply claiming things to be true based on empty slogans from the 1960's, and when challenged by people who actually know pertinent facts, you respond with childish abuse. You're a wretched, pathetic little man, and I hope one day one of the bookcases in the library you log in from falls on you.

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Oct 28 2011 11:33

i think the point Artesian is making, Alex, is that one of the reasons the bourgeoisie of backward countries is seemingly too weak to make a revolution themselves, is their fear of the strength of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie has to rely on support of the workers to overthrow feudalism, but the worry is that the proletariat will sweep them away as well. Hence the bourgeoisie supports the landlords and prefers to chose the side, if you will, of foreign bourgeoisies. But why is everyone unable to answer this simple question:
.

DO YOU SUPPORT THE NATIONAL

STRUGGLE OF THE PEOPLE OF GREENLAND

YES
OR NO?

S. Artesian
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Oct 28 2011 21:26
Alexander Roxwell wrote:
Gee whiz. What a fool I am. Here I thought that to build a stable dictatorship you need to be a very substantial percentage of the population. But noooooooooooooooooooooooo ........ our resident guru says that all it takes is to have been a target for suppression. As we can see there was a big risk that we might have suffered a "dictatorship of the Mormons" back during the era of Joseph Smith.

S Artesian sat on a wall
Quoting Marx to us all

We all bowed
and We all scraped

'til a gentle wind
caused him to fall

Well, finally something I agree with you. You are a fool. I'm no guru, and all I'm pointing out is that the so-called right of nations to self-determination has to have some grounding in economic conflict, in class struggle. If it doesn't, then fine, forget about Marxism and then just go willy-nilly onto something else.

But if it does have a grounding in the conflict between means and relations of production, if the moment when struggles that get identified as "the right of nations to self-determination] is determined by economic forces, then we have to find the class conflict at the core of the struggle.

So what is that class conflict-- the "national bourgeoisie" with the "international bourgeoisie"? Not hardly. The peasantry with the international bourgeoisie? Not hardly. The conflict of the peasantry, or more accurately of rural producers, rural small, and indigenous producers, is with landlords both foreign and domestic.. The "petit-bourgeoisie" with the international bourgeoisie? No doubt that conflict exists, but it is hardly strong enough, deep enough, significant enough to create a social revolution. The working class, including the impoverished rural producers with the network of capitalism, international and national? That sound about right to me, given the leading role of workers in the struggles in Vietnam, China, Philippines, Indonesia-- and the antipathy of the "nationalists" to workers acting beyond a "national" framework, i.e making the organization of property the issue.

AR has a better analysis? Like what? Mugabe? Sukarno? Mao? All those great "dictatorships of a majority of the population"? Give me a break, do me a favor, and don't waste my time with bullshit.

You want to mimic capitalism until the point where you capitulate completely, based on the "rights of nations to self determination"? And that makes you what? "A realist"? Well, look around at the world. Look at what your "realism" has created.. in Vietnam, in China, in Angola, Zimbabwe. We have had 90 or so years of that "realism." How's that working for you? Good you think?

jacobian
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Oct 28 2011 21:48
S. Artesian wrote:
Vietnam, in China, in Angola, Zimbabwe. We have had 90 or so years of that "realism." How's that working for you? Good you think?

First, I don't even think the idea of "the right to self determination" makes much sense at all as an abstract principle. Actually, I think it's downright idiotic.

However, in practice, there are times when a local bourgeoisie interested in the development of the country is less brutally exploitative and short-sighted about development than an external bourgeoisie. There are actually a *lot* of examples of this, and pretty much every country that has taken a western initiated neo-liberal approach as opposed to attempting import substitution and protectionism has gotten a good deal more fucked.

Putting Vietnam in your list is totally unfair Artesian as they bore the brunt of a full scale assault from the west. Saying something doesn't work after you're the victim of such an assault is just crazy. It's essentially akin to saying that a woman who's feeling bad after having been raped was only asking for it for egging her assailant on.

As for Zimbabwe, they got pretty screwed by the US policy against them, but still aren't doing as badly as many countries which have been more compliant.

China's economic advance since the revolution is probably the most significant improvement in the general status of a population in a single major event in the entire course of history.

It's easy to make a simple principle out of the uselessness of revolutions against empire and external exploitation, but it simply doesn't hold for enough examples to really make it a useful generalisation.

Now, whether these national revolutions will lead to contradictions due to nationalism later than are harder to overcome that's another question. Personally, I think the best bet for socialism is that it flowers out of the advanced societies, so things that bring us to greater general human quality of life are more likely to bring us closer to what we want.

radicalgraffiti
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Oct 28 2011 22:25
jacobian wrote:

Putting Vietnam in your list is totally unfair Artesian as they bore the brunt of a full scale assault from the west. Saying something doesn't work after you're the victim of such an assault is just crazy. It's essentially akin to saying that a woman who's feeling bad after having been raped was only asking for it for egging her assailant on.
.

wtf? how is that remotely similar?

jacobian
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Oct 28 2011 23:40
radicalgraffiti wrote:
wtf? how is that remotely similar?

It's concretely similar in the number of people who were raped and assaulted because of the US occupation of Vietnam making it not unfair to call it a mass rape. It's also similar because there are those who claim that it was a result of their attempt at a national revolution as it only antagonised the power structure. This is essentially an attempt to blame the victim.

EDIT: "Those people" are people who would like to point to Vietnam as having not gained anything but it's attempt at national revolution - namely Artesian

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 29 2011 00:34
Noa Rodman wrote:
i think the point Artesian is making, Alex, is that one of the reasons the bourgeoisie of backward countries is seemingly too weak to make a revolution themselves, is their fear of the strength of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie has to rely on support of the workers to overthrow feudalism, but the worry is that the proletariat will sweep them away as well. Hence the bourgeoisie supports the landlords and prefers to chose the side, if you will, of foreign bourgeoisies. But why is everyone unable to answer this simple question.

Gee whiz Noa. I think that perhaps you have responded to me more than anyone else and yet you missed that this was one of my points. In Third World countries "underdeveloped" by imperialist plundering the proletariat grows and is organized by circumstances into potentially militant enclaves while the bourgeoisie remains an anemic version of what it was in the "first wave." Yes-sir-ree that is scary to the bourgeoisie !

If our friend was trying to make this point she or he surely beat around the bush - and it proves nothing to this argument - - - - - because:

What is relevant here is that the proletariat is too strong, relative to the bourgeoisie.

What is relevant here is that the bourgeoisie is too weak relative to the proletariat.

But this does not change the fact that the proletariat remains a very small segment of the overall population of that backward nation - most of the people remain peasants.

In other words: the number of workers is too small relative to the overall population of the country.

You can’t create
.
a stable minority
.
Dictatorship of
.
the proletariat

Mao Tse Tung just re-named the "peasants" as "workers" and solved his problem of "organizing the workers" that way. Some of the people on this board have taken this same preposterous notion to "prove" that a "proletarian" revolution was possible in China in 1949, Vietnam in the 1950s - 1970s, and Cuba in the 1950s. I have no idea whether this is the basis for Artesian's idiotic notion that a dictatorship of the proletariat was possible in Vietnam in the 1950s - 1970s or whether she or he is satisfied with the idea that it was possible because Ho Chi Minh targeted the Trotskyists for persecution.

S. Artesian
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Oct 29 2011 03:57

It's not the targeting of the Trotskyists that is the issue-- it is destruction of the actions of the workers to take power, in 1937, in 1945, and later in Vietnam that was the issue.

Here's what boy genius' materialist interpretation of history boils down to:

1. workers are not the majority
2. workers are a distinct minority
3. workers take actions that place them into conflict with the "national" bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie
4. these actions threaten the official C communist parties who act as a police force, "kettling" the workers, and where and when possible, liquidating the organizations the workers build for such effective struggle.
5. after the elimination of those organizations, after the official C communists destroy the opportunity for revolution, boy genius concludes:
6. the working class is too weak, too small, to make a revolution.
7. "national self-determination" is "progressive;" represents a "weakening" of capitalism.

So let me ask again-- since we've lived through this "logic" for 80 or so years, how's it working out for everybody? How's that national self-determination doing in.........let's say Egypt since Nasser? Egypt through Nasser? How about Iran under the theocracy? Iran through the theocracy? China?

Does anyone think capitalism is any "weaker" today because of China in 1949? Because of Cuba in 1959? Because of Chavez? Because of Mugabe? Because of Nasser?

Does this mean it's always "right" or "ripe" for proletarian revolution in every and any country? Of course not. It does mean that if there is an economic basis for a conflict, then that basis is rooted in the organization of classes, and when the conflict develops "national self-determination" is a mechanism that, to preserve itself, must turn against the workers and to international capitalism.

Yeah, there's an idiot all right on this thread; the guy who mistakes his own repetition compulsion in reproducing the past failures as the way forward.

S. Artesian
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Oct 29 2011 04:04
Quote:
However, in practice, there are times when a local bourgeoisie interested in the development of the country is less brutally exploitative and short-sighted about development than an external bourgeoisie.

That's just pure unadulterated bullshit. The "local bourgeoisie" are interested in the development of the country and that's less brutally exploitative? That's exactly the same thing as saying there's an "enlightened" section of the bourgeoisie, and having that enlightened section in power is "better" for the "people."

What that ignores of course is the forces that cause such a "local bourgeoisie" "enlightened bourgeoisie" to advance and articulate their "exploitation with a human face"-- and the fact that those very same forces doom such "lesser brutality" to nothing more than the overture for a more severe brutality.

Jacobian should go peddle that bullshit to the workers in Chile or Argentina where all the appeals to the "nation" to the "national, patriotic petit-bourgeoisie" or were accompanied by the suppression of the workers before the military coups, and in fact made those coups possible.

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Noa Rodman
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Oct 29 2011 22:23
Alex Roxwell wrote:
In other words: the number of workers is too small relative to the overall population of the country.
You can’t create a stable minority Dictatorship of the proletariat

I don't know if you think that I dispute that claim. It's just common sense really. The issue we have is how you seem to jump from the fact that certain material conditions need to be present for socialism to be realized, to the practical conclusion of tail-ending third-world nationalism. But if we leave your politics aside, and consider purely the analytical aspect, we could hold a more productive discussion on the role of the peasantry, whether there is a policy which could avoid antagonizing them against the dictatorship of the proletariat, whether there are still peasants somewhere who have a potentially revolutionary attitude in today's world, whether this era of the second wave is over, how does the future of the economic position of the peasant in the third-world look in the absence of world revolution, etc. but because this thread is titled Rights of nations to self-determination, I'd like to focus rather on that.

jacobian wrote:
First, I don't even think the idea of "the right to self determination" makes much sense at all as an abstract principle. Actually, I think it's downright idiotic.

Your one-line dismissals are out of bound sir! Earlier in the thread (see the Monthy Python clip) I did point to some problems with the principle (or its use). I defend it because in its original meaning it was not a carte blanche to nationalism. Most people here reject it because of their justified horror at the experience of 20th century, but your rejection of the slogan only goes to show that rejecting the slogan doesn't exclude softness for thirdworld nationalism, which you seem to foster (correct me if I'm wrong).

I linked to the text by Lenin speaking on the comparison with the right to divorce (Kievsky is the pseudonym of Pyatykov, whose theses opposed the right to self-det.):

Lenin wrote:
one can not be a democrat and socialist without demanding full freedom of divorce now, because the lack of such freedom is additional oppression of the oppressed sex—though it should not be difficult to realise that recognition of the freedom to leave one’s husband is not an invitation to all wives to do so!

P. Kievsky “objects”:

“What would this right [of divorce] be like if in such cases [when the wife wants to leave the husband] she could not exercise her right? Or if its exercise depended on the will of third parties, or, worse still, on the will of claimants to her affections? Would we advocate the proclamation of such a right? Of course not!”

That objection reveals complete failure to understand the relation between democracy in general and capitalism. The conditions that make it impossible for the oppressed classes to “exercise” their democratic rights are not the exception under capitalism; they are typical of the system. In most cases the right of divorce will remain unrealisable under capitalism, for the oppressed sex is subjugated economically. No matter how much democracy there is under capitalism, the woman remains a “domestic slave”, a slave locked up in the bedroom, nursery, kitchen. The right to elect their “own” people’s judges, officials, school-teachers, jurymen, etc., is likewise in most cases unrealisable under capitalism precisely because of the economic subjection of the workers and peasants. The same applies to the democratic republic: our programme defines it as “government by the people”, though all Social-Democrats know perfectly well that under capitalism, even in the most democratic republic, there is bound to be bribery of officials by the bourgeoisie and an alliance of stock exchange and the government.

Only those who cannot think straight or have no knowledge of Marxism will conclude: so there is no point in having a republic, no point in freedom of divorce, no point in democracy, no point in self-determination of nations! But Marxists know that democracy does not abolish class oppression. It only makes the class struggle more direct, wider, more open and pronounced, and that is what we need. The fuller the freedom of divorce, the clearer will women see that the source of their “domestic slavery” is capitalism, not lack of rights. The more democratic the system of government, the clearer will the workers see that the root evil is capitalism, not lack of rights. The fuller national equality (and it is not complete without freedom of secession), the clearer will the workers of the oppressed nations see that the cause of their oppression is capitalism, not lack of rights, etc.

Thus Lenin. Now Trotsky (highlight mine):

Trotsky wrote:
National self-determination is the fundamental democratic formula for oppressed nations. Wherever class oppression is complicated by national subjection, democratic demands take first of all the form of demands for national equality of rights – for autonomy or for independence.

The programme of bourgeois democracy included the right of national self-determination, but this democratic principle came into violent and open conflict with the interests of the bourgeoisie of the most powerful nations.

.

The national separation of the former border countries of the Tsarist Empire, and their transformation into independent, petty bourgeois republics, had approximately the same progressive significance as democracy on the whole. It is only imperialists and semi-imperialists who can refuse the right of self-determination to the oppressed peoples. It is only fanatics and charlatans of nationalism who can see in it self-seeking designs.

.

The politicians of the Second International, in unison with their mentors from their bourgeois diplomatic chancelleries, smile sardonically at our recognition of the rights of national self-determination. This they designate as a trap for simpletons – a bait held out by Russian imperialism. In reality, it is history itself which is holding out these baits, instead of settling the questions in a straightforward way. In any case, we cannot be accused of turning the zig-zags of historical development into traps, for, while actually recognizing the right of national self-determination, we take care to explain to the masses its limited historic significance, and we never put it above the interests of the proletarian revolution.

A workers’ state, in recognizing the right of self-determination, thereby recognizes that revolutionary coercion is not an all-powerful historical factor. Soviet Russia does not by any means intend to make its military power take the place of the revolutionary efforts of the proletariats of other countries. The conquest of proletarian power must be an outcome of proletarian political experience.

(I'm not quoting-as-argument, just trying to elucidate what the meaning of the slogan was)

Alexander Roxwell
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Oct 29 2011 23:26
S. Artesian wrote:
Here's what boy genius' materialist interpretation of history boils down to:

1. workers are not the majority
2. workers are a distinct minority
3. workers take actions that place them into conflict with the "national" bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie
4. these actions threaten the official C communist parties who act as a police force, "kettling" the workers, and where and when possible, liquidating the organizations the workers build for such effective struggle.
5. after the elimination of those organizations, after the official C communists destroy the opportunity for revolution, boy genius concludes:
6. the working class is too weak, too small, to make a revolution.
7. "national self-determination" is "progressive;" represents a "weakening" of capitalism.

He reads nothing. Understands nothing. Just makes it up out of whole cloth as he goes along. I could spend the rest of my life "explaining" what I really think but he is not debating me but the little hallucination he made up all by himself.

jacobian
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Oct 30 2011 15:22
Noa Rodman wrote:
jacobian wrote:
First, I don't even think the idea of "the right to self determination" makes much sense at all as an abstract principle. Actually, I think it's downright idiotic.

Your one-line dismissals are out of bound sir!

I just wanted it to be clear that I don't think it can stand as a principle on its own. A nuanced position regarding when it makes sense and when it doesn't is no longer a support for the right to self determination.

Noa Rodman wrote:
but your rejection of the slogan only goes to show that rejecting the slogan doesn't exclude softness for thirdworld nationalism, which you seem to foster (correct me if I'm wrong).

I don't maintain "softness" for third world nationalism. It's simply that I don't think the idea that nationalism is always the worse outcome for the population is supportable. There are examples of nationalist revolutions against imperialism leading to better conditions for the peasants and/or working class.

S. Artesian
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Oct 30 2011 17:24

1.

Quote:
I don't maintain "softness" for third world nationalism. It's simply that I don't think the idea that nationalism is always the worse outcome for the population is supportable. There are examples of nationalist revolutions against imperialism leading to better conditions for the peasants and/or working class.

There are examples of social-democratic governments embracing imperialism leading to better conditions for some of the rural population, and to some of the working class, for a certain period of time-- and so what?

Three cheers for Lula? For Juan and Eva Peron, both versions? For the ANC? For Hussein's Iraq?

2.

Quote:
In other words: the number of workers is too small relative to the overall population of the country.
You can’t create a stable minority Dictatorship of the proletariat

As for the argument that you can't have a "stable" dictatorship of the proletariat with the minority of the population being proletariat-- why? The bourgeoisie have established long-lived and stable dictatorships of the bourgeoisie withthe minority of the population being bourgeois.

Why can't the proletariat do that, particularly if a revolution spreads beyond the borders of a nation, which is the only such a proletarian revolution can maintain itself? What makes the bourgeoisie so special that they can rule in the name of all, while reproducing economic conflicts and antagonism, while the proletariat can't rule in the name of all while abolishing those conflicts and antagonisms?

It's a question of the reciprocity, co-incidence of means and relations of production, of social labor NOT "majority rules."

I think I read that right. If I made up that quote from AR, I'm sure he'll be able to show us the correct quote.

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Pengwern
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Oct 30 2011 18:25
Noa Rodman wrote:
Wilson didn't use it first, though I agree with your sketch on how he used. The chauvinists of the SPD like Cunow rejected the slogan. Lenin is defending the resolution adopted by the London Congress of the International, in 1896, which reads:
Quote:
This Congress declares that it stands for the full right of all nations to self-determination [Selbstbestimmungsrecht] and expresses its sympathy for the workers of ever country now suffering under the yoke of military, national or other absolutism. This Congress calls upon the workers of all these countries to join the ranks of the class-conscious [Klassenbewusste—those who understand their class interests] workers of the whole world in order jointly to fight for the defeat of international capitalism and for the achievement of the aims of international Social-Democracy.

It would be interesting to read in more detail the discussions that went on prior to the congress (Lenin refers to the discussion in Die Neue Zeit).

According to this resolution the workers in backward countries must not only remain opposed to class collaboration as Artesian stresses, but also unite with the numerous proletariat in the advanced countries. As Lenin put it:

Quote:
The International’s resolution reproduces the most essential and fundamental propositions in this point of view: on the one hand, the absolutely direct, unequivocal recognition of the full right of all nations to self-determination; on the other hand, the equally unambiguous appeal to the workers for international unity in their class struggle.

(this perhaps solves the problem for Alex about what workers who are a small minority of the population, should do)

Sorry for the long delay in replying to this. To me, the resolution, far from resolving the issue we are discussing, befogs it further, by urging a) the right of self-determination AND b) the need for an international workers' struggle against capitalism. Since we all agree with b) anyway, there is still an issue between us on this thread as to what workers should do in support of the pursuit, alongside other classes, of national self-determination.

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Oct 30 2011 18:25
Artesian wrote:
As for the argument that you can't have a "stable" dictatorship of the proletariat with the minority of the population being proletariat-- why?

Because the peasants will turn conservative once they have their land, like in Russia. Now, Kautsky thought Georgian social-democrats had managed to appease the peasants (80% of the population) by using democratic ways (the peasant vote gave the social-democrats complete majority), peasant cooperatives and not forcing the pace of economic development (only nationalize what where logical). However, according to Trotsky this is misrepresentation of the state of affairs;

Trotsky wrote:
We will quote some passages dealing with the actions of Djugeli in the peasant rising in Ossetia.

’The enemy everywhere is fleeing in disorder, offering almost no resistance. These traitors must be punished severely.’

On the same day he makes the following entry in his diary. (The book is published in the form of a diary).

’Night has fallen. There are fires visible everywhere. They are the houses of the insurgents burning. But I am already used to this, and I can watch the scene almost calmly.’

In the following day we read this entry:

’Ossetian villages are burning all round us ... In the interests of the struggling working class, in the interests of the future socialism, we will be cruel. Yes, we will. I can look on with imperturbed soul and clear conscience at the fire and smoke of the burning houses ... I am quite calm, quite calm indeed.’

On the following morning Djugeli writes again in his diary:

’Fires are growing ... Houses are burning ... With fire and sword ...

A few hours afterwards he writes again:

’And the flames are still glowing, glowing ...’

On the evening of the same day he writes:

’Now the fires are everywhere ... They keep on burning. Ominous fires; some morbid, cruel, eerie beauty ... and gazing upon these bright flames burning in the night an old comrade said to me sadly: “I begin to understand Nero and the great fire of Rome”.’

’And the fires are burning, burning everywhere.’ These ugly mannerisms at any rate enable us to become more convinced that the relations between the Georgian Mensheviks and the peasant remained invariably ‘the best possible.’

I think the arguments used in the debate between Trotsky defending Soviet Russia, and Kautsky Socialist Georgia, sometimes seem to mirror each other. But back to the topic.

Jacobian wrote:
I just wanted it to be clear that I don't think it can stand as a principle on its own. A nuanced position regarding when it makes sense and when it doesn't is no longer a support for the right to self determination.

I precisely showed that the original meaning of the principle was nuanced, e.g. Lenin exclaims: "it should not be difficult to realise that recognition of the freedom to leave one’s husband is not an invitation to all wives to do so!"
Likewise for secession of nations. It's completely possible for socialists to promote the right of nations to secede whilst arguing against a certain nation using that right.

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Oct 30 2011 18:33
Pengwern wrote:
there is still an issue between us on this thread as to what workers should do in support of the pursuit, alongside other classes, of national self-determination.

The right to nat. self-det. is not the same as the pursuit of nat. self-det. You have to look at it on a case to case basis. As Luxemburg complained, the right to self-det. is not "practical".

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Oct 30 2011 19:57
jacobian wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
jacobian wrote:
Putting Vietnam in your list is totally unfair Artesian as they bore the brunt of a full scale assault from the west. Saying something doesn't work after you're the victim of such an assault is just crazy. It's essentially akin to saying that a woman who's feeling bad after having been raped was only asking for it for egging her assailant on.
.

wtf? how is that remotely similar?

It's concretely similar in the number of people who were raped and assaulted because of the US occupation of Vietnam making it not unfair to call it a mass rape. It's also similar because there are those who claim that it was a result of their attempt at a national revolution as it only antagonised the power structure. This is essentially an attempt to blame the victim.

EDIT: "Those people" are people who would like to point to Vietnam as having not gained anything but it's attempt at national revolution - namely Artesian

this makes no fucking sense.
National liberation will always always involve a fucking brutal assault for imperil powers, its an integral part of the process, saying that it means we should ignore the results of a national liberations struggle means we must ignore the results of all national liberation struggles. its just the same as claiming every ting bad that happened in the ussr to be the result of the civil war. what do you think imperialist powers will play nice and go "oh you want independence? fair enough there you go?"
and i think your comparison to blaming the victims of rape is just stupid and completely inappropriate.

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Oct 30 2011 20:15
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Because the peasants will turn conservative once they have their land, like in Russia.

And how is that qualitativelysubstantively different than the situation in advanced countries where the industrial proletariat has been shrunk [although not limited to the advanced countries, as the number of industrial workers in China peaked some years ago], where the "petit-bourgeois" outnumber the proletarians?

I guess the issue is what you mean by "stable." Can a proletariat seize and maintain power in a country characterized by acute uneven and combined development? Absolutely.

Can it inaugurate socialism on its own.? Absolutely not.

Russia is a very complicated situation since the shift to "conservatism" among the peasantry had much more to do with forced requisitioning than private ownership. In some areas the peasants raised the slogan "Long live Bolshevism, Down with Communism."

This issue of proletarian majority is hardly unique to the 20th century and the so-called less developed countries but has manifested itself, unevenly of course, throughout the history of capitalism-- France 1848-1852; Germany 1848; Italy, Serbia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Algeria in the 20th century.

Do Marxists oppose the expansion of imperialism, the maintenance of imperialism? The answer to that is yes, of course, just as Marxists oppose the expansion of capitalism.

But that is a much different question than maintaining that the struggle against imperialism is a struggle for national self-determination. It is not.

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Oct 30 2011 21:17

I agree about looking at it as a tactical question, depending on the case, which I think is consistent with what I have argued on this thread - that outcomes of national liberation struggles vary but nearly always have the potential to de-stabilise capitalism. I am not sure what Luxembourg meant by the right to SD not being practical. I would rather this objection were expressed in terms of the right of SD being no more and no less than the specific international project of the imperialist powers, which is what it became in the twentieth century; not before.

If we all agree that the national state emerged as the specific form of state useful to capitalism, then what followed was a prolonged period of these first capitalist states exploiting the resources and labour power of territories and people outside these capitalist nations, both through colonialism and through less formal economic and geopolitical means, i.e. through two non-contradictory variants of imperialism.

When the victorious bourgeois leaders of France and Britain were confronted in 1918-20 with the break-up of European land empires, they began to divide them up into nation states. In the process, in Central & Eastern Europe and in the Middle East, they devised borders which virtually ensured that ethnic and religious tensions would prevent any of these nations from ever coming to rival France or Britain.

In so doing, they set in motion and later intensified this international project, which culminated in a post-'decolonisation' world in which the nation state has become the norm, as is the continued imperialist domination of most such states by a handful of powerful capitalist states, acting frequently in concert.

I believe that nationalism and nationhood has no place in the world I would like to see and that nation states are capitalist constructs. That is the basis of my rejection of the right to self-determination.

However, while anti-imperialism takes the rough form of groups of people resisting outside rule and / or exploitation, it has proven necessary (see Fanon's 'Wretched of the Earth') for successful struggle to be built on a strong sense of commonality which clearly differentiates between the anti-imperialist and pro-imperialist sides.

Take this together with the fact that in so many instances in the nineteenth and even in the twentieth century, people in anti-imperialist struggles were living in territories which were suppliers of raw materials and labour, rather than 'holistic capitalist economies' comprising advanced infrastructure & manufacturing, and it becomes clear that the argument so far has simplified things too far. The idea that there is a clear point at which the material development of the forces of production is sufficient basis for national liberation struggle which has both a bourgeois and a proletarian dimension ignores, I think, the lopsided nature of the imperialist relationship; in other words, the forces and relations of production may be advanced when considered as a whole and in terms of the economy operating between the territory and the imperial core, and yet there is in the territory concerned no local bourgeoisie except for settlers from that core and most workers are also settlers identifying not with the native peasantry, animal herders and unskilled mine workers but with the identity and language of the imperial authorities and the settler bourgeoisie.

That was the position in Algeria after the second world war. The Algerian struggle de-stabilised French capitalism. even led to regime change, and was supported by sections of the French Left as well as North Africans living in France. Despite how independence panned out, who is to say that those who advocated, fought and died in this struggle were, for good reason, feared by capitalism?

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Oct 30 2011 21:21

NB there should be a 'not' in that last sentence of mine - after 'were'. Sorry.

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Oct 30 2011 21:29

S. Artesian, I think we've crossed postings.

My point is that whenever, since US independence, there has been a large settler population, the anti-imperialist struggle has been opposed by all social classes within that settler population, who identify with one another and the imperialist power on an ethnic basis. This means that anti-imperialist struggles become dominated by peasants, unskilled or semi-skilled workers, slaves and the urban lumpenproletariat.

And yet they can de-stabilise capitalism!

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Oct 30 2011 23:35
Pengwern wrote:
I agree about looking at it as a tactical question, depending on the case, which I think is consistent with what I have argued on this thread - that outcomes of national liberation struggles vary but nearly always have the potential to de-stabilise capitalism.

Ummh......actually no. Can you list the "nearly always"? Egypt? No. Iraq? No. Argentina? No. Bolivia? No. Nicaragua? No. India? No. Vietnam? Yes, then no. China? Yes, then no,and with a vengeance. Zimbabwe? You're putting me on. South Africa? Next. Angola? Mozambique? Algeria? Cuba? Ah Cuba-- the exception that proves the rule?

Except there's a critical factor that we're leaving out-- namely an international factor to "national liberation"-- the former Soviet Union. If Che proposed, and IMO stupidly "2,3 many Vietnams," then clearly both the US and the USSR [and China?] converged in their strategies for "no more Vietnams."

Even before the fSU collapsed, you had China allying with the US, and with the Union of South Africa in Angola. You had Nicaragua, El Salvador abandoned to the tender mercies of US counter-insurgency.

So where is this "nearly always"?

Quote:
If we all agree that the national state emerged as the specific form of state useful to capitalism, then what followed was a prolonged period of these first capitalist states exploiting the resources and labour power of territories and people outside these capitalist nations, both through colonialism and through less formal economic and geopolitical means, i.e. through two non-contradictory variants of imperialism.

The conclusion "then what followed" does not follow from the premise- we agree that the national state was useful to capitalism. Not that capitalism didn't exploit the resources and labor power outside its boundaries, but rather that exploitation long preceded the establishment of the first capitalist states; colonialism preceded capitalism; the maintenance, deployment and strengthening of "pre-capitalist" forms is the contribution, the antagonistic contribution of capitalism to this network. It is uneven and combined development that marks capitalist penetration into the so-called "less developed" areas. It is the adaptation of the hacienda, the great house, the manor, the plantation as units of production for international markets that distinguishes "modern" capitalism.

Quote:

I believe that nationalism and nationhood has no place in the world I would like to see and that nation states are capitalist constructs. That is the basis of my rejection of the right to self-determination.

However, while anti-imperialism takes the rough form of groups of people resisting outside rule and / or exploitation, it has proven necessary (see Fanon's 'Wretched of the Earth') for successful struggle to be built on a strong sense of commonality which clearly differentiates between the anti-imperialist and pro-imperialist sides.

Does this mean you support "national liberation struggles" but not the "right of nations to self-determination"? If so that's a pretty fine line you're walking-- not that it can't be walked, or it isn't even correct, it just leads to a lot of puzzlement.

The other point-- that anti-imperialism takes the rough form of groups of people outside the rule and exploitation just makes no sense to me. By the very nature of capitalism as an international system, which you certainly acknowledge in your claim that capitalist nations exploited people and resources outside their "borders," how can you argue that these rebels and rebellions are "outside" the logic, the class relations of capitalism? And why would we think that the resolution, the success of that rebellion, can be confined, or shaped, or contained, or even expressed as "national liberation" as opposed to proletarian revolution? What? The economy is "not developed" enough? The working class is "too weak." Didn't 1905 settle all that? And if not then didn't 1917? And if not then, didn't the events in China in 1927, Vietnam 1937 and 1945, Spain 1936-1939, in Northern Ireland etc. etc. settle all that?

Quote:
Take this together with the fact that in so many instances in the nineteenth and even in the twentieth century, people in anti-imperialist struggles were living in territories which were suppliers of raw materials and labour, rather than 'holistic capitalist economies' comprising advanced infrastructure & manufacturing, and it becomes clear that the argument so far has simplified things too far. The idea that there is a clear point at which the material development of the forces of production is sufficient basis for national liberation struggle which has both a bourgeois and a proletarian dimension ignores, I think, the lopsided nature of the imperialist relationship; in other words, the forces and relations of production may be advanced when considered as a whole and in terms of the economy operating between the territory and the imperial core, and yet there is in the territory concerned no local bourgeoisie except for settlers from that core and most workers are also settlers identifying not with the native peasantry, animal herders and unskilled mine workers but with the identity and language of the imperial authorities and the settler bourgeoisie.

See bold. Disagree. Certainly not the case in "nearly always" the struggles that got captured into "national liberation." Certainly not the case in Asia, Latin America. Certainly not the case with South Africa, where the struggle against apartheid takes it great steps forward with the influx of black labor into industry and mining [skilled/non-skilled is utilized to serve class relations in the mines-- i.e. Zulus used as foremen, enforcers over the miners]

The "lopsided" nature of the imperial relationship, this uneven and combined development certainly means that "national liberation" does not have both a bourgeois and proletarian dimension. The lopsided relation means national liberation, rather than destabilize capitalism, "destabilizes" the prospect for proletarian revolution, and has done so "nearly always"

Look, bottom line.. anyone who thinks there can be such a thing as a "free, democratic, Palestinian state;"that the struggle in Palestine is a struggle for the liberation of a "nation" and can be accomplished without a proletarian class revolution, overthrowing capitalism in Israel, and Egypt, etc. is just setting things up for one more step backwards.

Quote:
That was the position in Algeria after the second world war. The Algerian struggle de-stabilised French capitalism. even led to regime change, and was supported by sections of the French Left as well as North Africans living in France. Despite how independence panned out, who is to say that those who advocated, fought and died in this struggle were, for good reason, feared by capitalism?

The Algerian struggle resonated so deeply and powerful in France due to the influx of North African labor into France. "Regime change," the ascendancy of De Gaulle, was hardly the destabilization of French capitalism