Monday, October 15, 2012

The Cosmopolitan Left and the National Question by Nickglais

I have noticed various comments expressing concerns about how some comrades in Europe who are involved in national struggles are somewhat less pure socialists, communists or maoists.In particular this comes from RCPUSA as well as Mike Ely of  Kasama.

This idea reflects a dangerous bourgeois cosmopolitan view of the world

However this idea is deeply embedded in the British Left with the rejection of nationalism as some old fashioned 19th century idea, for after all the British Left are very much like the bourgeoisie in its early years citizens of the world.

This citizen of the world bourgeois cosmpolitanism has nothing in common with socialism and internationalism if you study Marxism.

Already in the 19th century Marx poured scorn on this supra national outlook of certain would be very revolutionary representatives, French Proudonists and some socialists like Paul Lafargue who had sought to dismiss nationality as an antiquated prejudice and to concentrate on the social question to the exclusion of national issues.

In the International Council of the First International in 1868 a discussion occurred which Marx describes.

"The  representatives of Young France came out with the announcement that all nationalities and even nations were antiquated prejudices.. the whole world waits until the French are ripe for social revolution...whoever encumbers the social question with the superstitions of the old world are reactionary.

"The English laughed very much when I began my speech by saying that our friend Lafargue and others had done away with nationalities had spoken "French" to us ie a language which nine tenths of the audience did not understand.

"I also suggested that by the negation of nationalities he appeared quite unconsciously to understand their absorption into the model French nation".

Marx Letter to Engels June 20th 1866.

Lenin clarified this question for those socialists who sought to counterpose the fight for "pure socialism" to the national struggle and who had contempt for national independence and sovereignty.Lenin said :

" To imagine that a social revolution is conceivable without the revolts of small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without the revolutionary outbursts of a section of the petty bourgeoise with all its prejudices, without the movement of non class conscious proletarian and semi proletarian masses against the oppression of landlords ,the church, the monarchy,foreign nations etc.

To imagine this means to repudiating social revolution.

Only those who imagine that an army will line up and say "We are for socialism" and in another place an army will say "We are for Imperialism" and that this will be a social revolution, only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic opinion could villify the Irish Rebellion by calling it a "putsch",

"Whoever expects a "pure social revolution will never live to see it, such person pays lip service to revolution, without understanding what a revolution is"

Lenin - Discussion on Self Determination Summed Up - 1916

Note :  Marx and Engels  saw cosmopolitanism as an ideological reflection of capitalism. They regard market capitalism as inherently expansive, breaking the bounds of the nation-state system, as evidenced by the fact that production and consumption had become attuned to faraway lands.

For Marx and Engels , the word ‘cosmopolitan’ is tied to the effects of capitalist globalization, including especially the bourgeois ideology which legitimatizes ‘free’ trade in terms of the freedom of individuals and mutual benefit, although this very capitalist order is the cause of the misery of millions, indeed the cause of the very existence of the proletariat.

Note : Robert Jones Derfel 

"Gwladgarwch y Cymry" "The Patriotism of the Welsh

Mae'r dyn sydd yn casau ac yn esgeuluso ei wlad a'i genedl yn unannhebyg iawn o fod yn caru dyn mewn unrhyw wlad arall.

Os nad yw yn caru'r genedl y mae yn ei hadnabod,pa fodd y gall garu'r rhai sydd yn anadnabyddus iddo.

The man who hates and neglects his land and his nation is unlikely to love the people of any other land.

If he does not love the nation that he knows, how can he love those of which he knows nothing.

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