Revolutionary Political Organization/Marxist-Leninist
Imperialism and the National Question
A feature of imperialism is the oppression of nations. The capitalist world is divided into two types of nations – the handful of developed, capitalist oppressor nations, and the great majority of underdeveloped, oppressed nations. This division took place with the colonial conquest of the less developed nations and peoples by the imperialist powers. In the period of colonial rule, nearly all of the nations and peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America were reduced to colonial possessions under the rule of the imperialist nations. Others were reduced to semi-colonial status – nominally independent, but still subject to economic, political and military domination by the imperialist powers. Today, as the result of the heroic national liberation wars waged by the colonized peoples, the number of colonies has been reduced to a handful. However, despite the fact that these oppressed nations won nominal political independence, they were still unable to break away from the economic domination of the imperialist powers, which were able to set up a new system of "neo-colonialism."
The imperialists have accumulated the world's capital in their hands and distribute it among the oppressed nations as they choose, keeping the subject nations eternally dependent and in debt. The oppressors develop the economies of the oppressed nations in a distorted way, designed only to benefit the imperialists, in total disregard of the needs of the oppressed nations. The native agricultural and industrial economies are destroyed to make way for the import of goods. The economies of the oppressed nations are oriented around the export of a few commodities, particularly agricultural products and raw materials that are needed by imperialism. Because of the uneven exchange of commodities, the oppressed nations are kept impoverished.
This economic domination works inevitably to undermine political independence. Even in nations where strong national revolutionary movements have taken power, as in Algeria and Angola, independence has been curtailed and they have come under the domination of one or another imperialist power. Only the Peoples' Socialist Republic of Albania, which broke completely with imperialism and established genuine socialism, has been able to safeguard its independence.
Today, in many countries political independence has been curtailed to the point that the U.S. imperialists or the Soviet social-imperialists directly, though covertly, appoint and place in power the regimes that are to rule. Through military treaties, and overtly illegal invasions, the imperialist powers maintain military domination over the neo-colonial nations. The imperialist powers also impose their language and their imperialist bourgeois culture on the oppressed nations.
Imperialist domination today takes various forms. Some nations, such as Puerto Rico, remain under the rule of classical colonial regimes. Others, such as El Salvador, are ruled by neo-colonial regimes. Still other nations have evolved within the state boundaries of the imperialist states, and are retained within those boundaries by force. In these multinational imperialist states, the oppressed nations are subject to persecution and exploitation by the oppressor nation. Such is the case with the oppressed Afro-American and Chicano Nations and native peoples within the United States.
As the world economy becomes ever more integrated, national economic independence is continually narrowed. Because imperialist exploitation constantly reinforces the inequality of nations, economic power is being concentrated more and more into the hands of the imperialist powers, while the oppressed nations become more and more dependent. As long as the system of capitalist imperialism exists, national inequality and national conflict will continue and intensify.
Lenin and Stalin have pointed out that imperialism inevitably gives rise to 'two tendencies in regard to the development of nations. On the one hand, it internationalizes production and exchange, breaking down national boundaries and uniting the entire capitalist world into one integral entity; on the other hand, it gives rise to great struggles of the oppressed peoples for national liberation aimed at destroying the forms of this unity that have been imposed by imperialist violence. These two tendencies are utterly irreconcilable. Because imperialism can only "unite" nations by force, the imperialists' dreams of "one world" will constantly be shattered by just struggles for national liberation. Because imperialism cannot exist without colonies, the contradiction between the imperialists and the oppressed peoples is among the fundamental contradictions that will drive imperialism to its grave.
The Characteristics and Development of Nations
Nations have not always existed. In primitive society people lived in relatively small communities and groups of communities which were based on kinship and known as tribes. With the development of the system of slavery, tribes were merged and nationalities emerged. Members of these nationalities were no longer related by blood, and in general, nationalities were formed by the merger of tribes with different racial features. These nationalities shared a common language and inhabited a common territory. They also developed a common culture and psychological make-up. However, under the slave and feudal systems, the landed estates and principalities of the lords were still more or less independent and self-sufficient. Therefore, the various nationalities were still composed of disunited communities which lacked economic and political cohesion. The development of capitalism brought with it the creation of modern nations. Generalized commodity production, economic specialization, and the increase of nationwide trade and communication all led to national economic unity and, consequently, the need for a centralized national state. Lenin wrote:
Modern nations are a product of a definite epoch the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of the abolition of feudalism and the development of capitalism was also the process of formation of people into nations. The British, French, Germans, and Italians formed into nations during the victorious march of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity. [LCW, Vol. 20, p. ].
Stalin defined a nation in precise, scientific terms as follows: "A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture." [Stalin, Works, Vol. 2, p. 307].
The existence of a nation is objective, not subjective. It must have the four basic characteristics which Stalin concisely stated. A nation cannot be wished into being for political purposes or be based on subjective ideas about "national consciousness." Lenin and Stalin opposed the idea that the regionally dispersed Jewish people constituted a nation because they did not possess the four basic characteristics of a nation and therefore, could not act as a nation.
Bauer's point of view, which identifies a nation with its national character, divorces the nation from its soil and converts it into an invisible, self-contained force. The result is not a living and active nation, but something mystical, intangible and supernatural. For, I repeat, what sort of nation, for instance, is a Jewish nation which consists of Georgian, Daghestanian, Russian, American and other Jews, the members of which do not understand each other (since they speak different languages), inhabit different parts of the globe, will never see each other, and will never act together, whether in time of peace or in time of war? [Ibid., pp. 312-13].
A nation should not be confused with the categories of race, language or state. Although different nations of people may have distinct racial features, they are, in general, composed of a merger of races. Moreover, it is historical development and not racial characteristics which define a nation. Similarly, although a nation, by definition, must have a common language, language alone does not define a nation. In fact, many distinct nations speak the same language. Finally, states and state boundaries cannot be equated with nations and national territories. Many multinational states exist which include several nations within their boundaries.
Because European imperialism conquered many regions of the world before modern capitalist nations had emerged, nations developed in those regions, or are only now developing, under the conditions of imperialist rule. These oppressed nationalities acquired or are acquiring the characteristics of a nation under the most adverse conditions in which economic and political development is distorted by the needs of imperialism. Such is the case of the oppressed nations and nationalities within the borders of the U.S.: the Afro-Americans, the Chicanos, the native peoples, the Hawaiians, the Micronesians, and the Puerto Ricans.
The Marxist-Leninist Program on the National Question
The people of the oppressed nations experience a special yoke of domination known as national oppression. What is the essence of this special yoke?
... national oppression is the system of exploitation and robbery of oppressed peoples, the measures of forcible restriction of the rights of oppressed nationalities, resorted to by imperialist circles. These taken together represent the policy generally known as a policy of national oppression. [Marxism and the National Colonial Question, p. 100].
The great teachers of Marxism-Leninism have pointed out that national oppression takes many diverse forms. It is more severe and cruder in some states than others: in some cases it is confined to the restriction of language and in others, it is manifest in the organization of pogroms and political terror against the oppressed people. What are the classes that support national oppression? The landed aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and the labor aristocracy of the oppressor nation all derive material benefit from the oppression of nations. Thus, the policy of national oppression accords only with the material interest of a minority of the population of the oppressor nation.
The aim of the Marxist-Leninist program on the national question is to bring about the international unity of the proletariat in the struggle for socialism. This is the ultimate goal; all our work is carried out in order to achieve this goal. The indispensable condition for achieving this goal is the struggle for the complete equality of all nations. This means eliminating every .privilege that the oppressor nation enjoys and every denial of the democratic rights of the oppressed nations. The struggle for equal rights must be reflected in all of the work of the Marxist-Leninist party, in its policies, in its efforts to organize the masses, and in its internal conduct and organization.
Lenin capsulized the Marxist-Leninist program on the national question as follows:
As Democrats we are irreconcilably hostile to any, however slight, oppression of any nationality and to any privileges for any nationalities. As democrats, we demand the right of nations to self-determination in the political sense of that term... i.e., the right to secede. We demand unconditional equality for all nations in the state and the unconditional protection of the rights of every national minority. We demand broad self-government and autonomy for regions, which must be demarcated, among other terms of reference, in respect of nationality too. [LCW, Vol. 19, p. 116].
The fundamental democratic right of all nations is the right of self-determination. Self-determination means nothing less than the right to establish a sovereign state ruling the territory inhabited by the nation. In the case of the Afro-American Nation, self-determination means the right to secede from the United States. The right of self-determination, as a rule, can only be achieved by the revolutionary overthrow of imperialist rule in the oppressed nation. This requires the removal of imperialist military and police forces, the establishment of a revolutionary democratic or proletarian government representing the people inhabiting the territory of the oppressed nation, and the confiscation of the means of production held by the imperialists and their lackeys. Once these conditions have been accomplished, the people can freely decide by plebiscite the nature of their relations with other nations, including the former oppressor nation.
The right of self-determination is not, according to Stalin, "an appendage to the national program, dimly looming in the distant future... it is the basis of the national program." [Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, p. 229]. Further, Lenin and Stalin always fought against the dilution of this slogan, insisting that it meant nothing other than the right of every nation to secede and establish an independent state. This revolutionary understanding stands in contrast to the nationalist and reformist slogan of "cultural national autonomy." Cultural national autonomy and similar schemes promoted by the national reformists accept the rule of imperialism and limit the aim of the struggle to "autonomous cultural development."
Ultimately, Marxist-Leninists stand for the voluntary association of nations based on equality. But this association must be voluntary. Therefore, the right to self-determination is indispensable. Lenin wrote that the whole purpose of the demand for self-determination was not to split nations apart, but to provide the basis for uniting them democratically:
We demand freedom of self-determination, i.e., independence, i.e., freedom of secession for the oppressed nations, not because we have dreamt of splitting up the country economically, or of the ideal of small states, but, on the contrary, because we want large states and the closer unity and even fusion of nations, only on a truly democratic, truly internationalist basis, which is inconceivable without the freedom to secede. [LCW, Vol. 21, pp. 413-14].
Wars of national liberation waged by the oppressed nations are extremely progressive and promote the cause of the eventual amalgamation of nations, strengthening the international unity of the proletariat. They do this by helping to create the conditions both for equality and for voluntary unity. National boundaries between sovereign national states do not present the same kind of barriers to international proletarian unity as does the forced imprisonment of an oppressed nation within a multinational imperialist state. Lenin wrote about the unity of the Norwegian and Swedish workers to illustrate this point:
The close alliance of the Norwegian and Swedish workers, their complete fraternal class solidarity, gained from the Swedish workers recognition of the right of the Norwegians to secede. This convinced the Norwegian workers that the Swedish workers were not infected with Swedish nationalism, and that they placed fraternity with the Norwegian proletarians above the privileges of the Swedish bourgeoisie and aristocracy. The dissolution of the ties imposed upon Norway by the monarchs of Europe and the Swedish aristocracy strengthened the ties between the Norwegian and Swedish workers. [Ibid., Vol. 20, p. 429].
While unconditionally recognizing the right of all nations to self-determination, the revolutionary party of the proletariat reserves the right to agitate for or against a particular national movement based on whether the movement objectively weakens or strengthens the imperialist enemy and whether it objectively weakens or strengthens international proletarian unity. A Marxist-Leninist party does not stand idly by; it fights for the interests of the proletariat.
When we recognize the right of oppressed peoples to secede, the right to determine their political destiny, we do not thereby settle the question of whether particular nations should secede from the Russian state at a given moment. A people has a right to secede, but it may or may not exercise that right, according to circumstances. Thus we are at liberty to agitate for or against secession, according to the interests of the proletariat, of the proletarian revolution. Hence, the question of secession must be determined in each particular case independently, in accordance with existing circumstances, and for this reason the question of the recognition of the right to secession must not be confused with the expediency of secession in any given circumstances. [Stalin, Works, Vol. 3, p. 55].
Along with oppressed nations there also exist oppressed national groupings of people – immigrant communities, small tribal indigenous communities within a given state that do not have all the characteristics of a nation. In this case, the question of a separate national state cannot come up because the conditions do not exist that would make this possible. Nevertheless, these oppressed nationalities must wage a constant struggle to protect themselves from the attacks and oppressive conditions imposed on them by the imperialist state. Here the demand must be raised for local or regional autonomy for the oppressed peoples, which Lenin described as "a general universal principle of a democratic state with a mixed national composition, and a great variety of geographical and other conditions." [LCW, Vol. 20, p. 441 fn.]. This autonomy refers to control over local government (including police forces, educational institutions, etc.), the regulation of trade and the development of natural resources, etc. As Stalin points out there are various degrees of local autonomy:
Soviet autonomy is not a rigid thing fixed once and for all times; it permits of the most varied forms and degrees of development. It passes from narrow administrative autonomy to a wider, political autonomy… from wide political autonomy to a still wider... form of it; and to... contractual relations. [Stalin, Works, Vol. 4, p. 367].
Concretely, after the victory of the socialist revolution in the center of Russia in October, 1917, certain regions, because of their varied national composition, were accorded the right to self-rule within the confines of a federated state system. Thus, noted Stalin,
It is therefore necessary that all Soviet organs in the border regions – the courts, the administration, the economic bodies, the organs of direct authority (and organs of the Party as well) – should as far as possible be recruited from the local people…. But establishing schools, courts, administration and organs of authority functioning in the native language – this is precisely putting Soviet autonomy into practice... [Ibid., pp. 371-2].
We should not confuse autonomy with secession. A nation that secedes forms its own independent state. "Autonomy means not separation, but union between the self-governing highland peoples and the peoples of Russia," [Ibid., p. 415] said Stalin when discussing the concrete problem of Soviet autonomy in the Caucasus. Autonomy is "the right of internal, self-administration, while retaining its fraternal tie with the peoples of Russia." [Ibid., p. 408].
In the U.S., the demand for autonomy applies to the large and numerous immigrant communities from the oppressed nations, and to those Native American peoples whose numbers are too small to form a separate national state. This includes the large Afro-American national minority communities (ghettos) outside of the Black Belt South, the Chicano national minority outside of the Southwest, the Puerto Rican national minority outside of Puerto Rico, etc.
It would be deception to present local autonomy under imperialism as anything but a defensive demand (as are all reforms under capitalism). Nevertheless, persistent struggle for local autonomy can help limit the tyrannical conditions of national oppression. In struggling for local autonomy it is necessary to oppose sham autonomy schemes which keep all real power in the hands of the imperialist state. Typical of these is the reservation system imposed on the Native peoples in which the Native peoples' councils have only token authority while the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is invested with the real power. In this case, demands for genuine autonomy (where applicable) include calling for the destruction of the BIA and the election of real organs of power by the Native peoples.
Proletarian Internationalism vs. Bourgeois Nationalism
The Marxist-Leninist program on the national question is fundamentally different from the nationalism of the bourgeoisie. The Marxist-Leninist program is based exclusively on internationalism – the international unity of the proletariat – which is the antithesis of nationalism. All nationalism, both of the oppressor and the oppressed nations, is the ideology of the bourgeoisie. It is based on the idea of "national unity" – the unity of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie of one nation against all other nations. The revolutionary proletariat seeks to divide the masses of working people from "their" bourgeoisie, to free them from the blinders of nationalism, and to bind them together in the class struggle with their proletarian brothers and sisters the world over. Lenin wrote:
The interests of the working class and of its struggle against capitalism demand complete solidarity and the closest unity of the workers of all nations; they demand resistance to the nationalist policy of the bourgeoisie of every nationality. Hence, Social-Democrats [before the split in the Second International, all Marxists called themselves "Social-Democrats"] would be deviating from proletarian policy and subordinating the workers to the policy of the bourgeoisie if they were to repudiate the right of nations to self-determination, i.e., the right of an oppressed nation to secede, or if they were to support all the national demands of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations. It makes no difference to the hired worker whether he is exploited chiefly by the Great-Russian bourgeoisie rather than the non-Russian bourgeoisie, or by the Polish bourgeoisie rather than the Jewish bourgeoisie, etc. The hired worker who has come to understand his class interests is equally indifferent to the state privileges of the Great-Russian capitalists and to the promises of the Polish or Ukrainian capitalists to set up an earthly paradise when they obtain state privileges. Capitalism is developing and will continue to develop, anyway, both in integral states with a mixed population and in separate national states.
In any case the hired worker will be an object of exploitation. Successful struggle against exploitation requires that the proletariat be free of nationalism, and be absolutely neutral, so to speak, in the fight for supremacy that is going on among the bourgeoisie of the various nations. If the proletariat of any one nation gives the slightest support to the privileges of its 'own' national bourgeoisie that will inevitably rouse distrust among the proletariat of another nation; it will weaken the international class solidarity of the workers and divide them, to the delight of the bourgeoisie. Repudiation of the right of self-determination or to secession inevitably means, in practice, support for the privileges of the dominant nation. [Ibid., p. 424-5].
Nationalism of the Oppressor Nation
Within the communist movement, those contaminated with the chauvinism of the oppressor nation are fond of the Marxist-Leninist teachings about the voluntary unity of nations, but completely fail to understand the critical meaning of the word voluntary. They tend to be blind to the violent nature of the "unity" imposed by imperialism and see no need to disturb this coercive union. They like to champion equal rights, but can't seem to support the demand for the right to political secession because they feel that this would "divide" the working class. They fail to see that as long as self-determination is suppressed, genuine unity between the workers of the oppressed and oppressor nations will be undermined. Lenin wrote:
The proletariat of the oppressor nation must not confine themselves to general, stereotyped phrases against annexation and in favor of the equality of nations in general, such as a pacifist bourgeois will repeat. The proletariat cannot remain silent on the question of the frontiers of a state founded on national oppression, a question so 'unpleasant' for the imperialist bourgeoisie. The proletariat must struggle against the enforced retention of oppressed nations within the bounds of the given state, which means that they must fight for the right to self-determination. The proletariat must demand freedom of political separation for the colonies and nations oppressed by 'their own' nation. Otherwise the internationalism of the proletariat would be nothing but empty words; neither confidence nor class solidarity would be possible between the workers of the oppressed and oppressor nations; the hypocrisy of the reformists and Kautskyites, who defend self-determination but remain silent about the nations oppressed by 'their own' nation and kept in 'their own' state by force, would remain unexposed. [LCW, Vol. 22, p. 147].
Those influenced by the chauvinism of the oppressor nation tend to see the national boundaries of the multinational imperialist states as eternal and immutable. They reject the idea of the political secession of an oppressed nation as "impossible." This argument is absurd. First of all, the right of political secession must be universally recognized and fought for by Marxist-Leninists in the interest of building proletarian unity, regardless of the viability of this demand at a particular time and place. Second, what may appear to be impossible today, may become quite possible in the future. Weakened by imperialist war, national liberation wars around the world, and class war at home, U.S. imperialism may very well be forced to concede the right of self-determination to Puerto Rico, the Afro-American Nation, and the Chicano Nation. By preaching defeatism beforehand, the chauvinist elements in the communist movement serve only the interests of U.S. imperialism.
The same comrades who question the "viability" of a movement for the right to political secession also complain that Marxist-Leninists should not raise the idea of the right to political secession in the absence of a powerful popular movement already raising this demand. This argument is equally absurd. Is it possible that Marxist-Leninists support democracy and equality, but only after the people have risen to demand them? If so, we would not be the consistent leaders of the struggle for democracy, but rather worthless hypocrites and tailists. Stalin defended the absolute necessity of the right to self-determination of the oppressed nations in monarchist Yugoslavia even though there were no secessionist movements in Yugoslavia at that time:
Proceeding from the fact that there is no serious popular movement for independence among the Croats and the Slovenes at the present moment, Semich arrives at the conclusion that the question of the right of nations to secede is an academic question, that, at any rate, it is not an urgent one. This is wrong, of course. Even if we admit that this question is not urgent at the present moment, it might definitely become very urgent if war begins, or when war begins, if a revolution should break out in Europe, or when it breaks out.
In 1912, when we Russian Marxists were outlining the first draft of the national programme no serious movement for independence yet existed in any of the border regions of the Russian empire. Nevertheless, we deemed it necessary to include in our programme the point on the right of nations to self-determination, i.e., the right of every nationality to secede and exist as an independent state. Why? Because we based ourselves not only on what existed then but also on what was developing and impending in the general system of international relations, that is, we took into account not only the present, but also the-future. We knew that if any nationality were to demand separation, the Russian Marxists would fight to ensure the right to secede for every such nationality. [Stalin, Works, Vol. 7, pp. 72-73].
Lenin, addressing the same question in 1914, wrote:
Whether the Ukraine, for example, is destined to form an independent state is a matter that will be determined by a thousand unpredictable factors. Without attempting idle 'guesses,' we firmly uphold something that is beyond doubt: the right of the Ukraine to form such a state....
In the leaps which all nations have made in the period of bourgeois revolutions, clashes and struggles over the right to a national state are possible and probable. We proletarians declare in advance that we are opposed to Great Russian privileges, and this is what guides our entire propaganda and agitation.
In her quest for 'practicality' Rosa Luxembourg has lost sight of the principal practical task both of the Great Russian proletariat and of the proletariat of other nationalities: that of day by day agitation and propaganda against all state and national privileges and for the right, the equal right of all nations, to their national state. [LCW, Vol. 20, pp. 414-15].
Nationalism of the Oppressed Nation
On the other hand, those comrades contaminated with the nationalism of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation are fond of the Marxist-Leninist teachings about self-determination, but completely fail to understand the ultimate goal of this struggle – the voluntary unity of nations. They tend to see only as far as the oppressed national bourgeoisie does – to the liberation of their nation – missing the underlying goal of international proletarian unity and socialism. Both of these deviations are reflections of the influence of the bourgeoisie on the Marxist-Leninist movement and undermine internationalist unity. Great nation chauvinism is by far the more dangerous of these deviations because it is supported by the bourgeoisie in power and because of the usual predominance of workers of the oppressor nation. Bourgeois nationalism within the oppressed nation, however, is also dangerous as it has the potential to derail the national revolutionary movements and harm the unity of the working class as a whole.
...the socialists of the oppressed nations must, in particular, defend and implement the full and unconditional unity, including organizational unity, of the workers of the oppressed nation and those of the oppressor nation. Without this it is impossible to defend the independent policy of the proletariat and their class solidarity with the proletariat of other countries in the face of all manner of intrigues, treachery and trickery on the part of the bourgeoisie. [Ibid., pp. 411-12].
The Marxist-Leninist program on the national question is restricted to the negative demand of opposing all national privileges. It does not, and cannot, support every demand of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations. In Lenin's words:
Insofar as the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation fights the oppressor, we are always, and in every case, and more strongly than anyone else, in favor, for we are the staunchest and the most consistent enemies of oppression. But insofar as the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation stands for its own bourgeois nationalism, we stand against. We fight against the privileges and violence of the oppressor nation, and do not in any way condone strivings for privilege on the part of the oppressed nation. [Ibid., Vol. 22, p. 149].
Stalin makes a clear distinction between the rights of nations, on the one hand, which Marxist-Leninists are obliged to fight for, and all the particular demands which are raised by the various classes within an oppressed nation, on the other hand, which Marxist-Leninists are in no way obligated to identify themselves with or fight for.
Social-Democracy in all countries... proclaims the right of nations to self-determination… Nations are sovereign, and all nations have equal rights… This, of course, does not mean that Social-Democracy will support every demand of a nation. A nation has the right even to return to the old order of things; but this does not mean that Social-Democracy will subscribe to such a decision if taken by some institution of a particular nation. The obligations of Social-Democracy, which defends the interests of the proletariat, and the rights of a nation, which consists of various classes, are two different things. [Stalin, Works, Vol. 2, pp. 321-22].
Stalin went on to give an example of Marxist-Leninist policy in terms of religion, referring to the privileges given the Orthodox Church in Russia:
Social-Democrats will always protest against persecution of Catholicism or Protestantism; they will always defend the right of nations to profess any religion they please; but at the same time, on the basis of a correct understanding of the interests of the proletariat, they will carry on agitation against Catholicism, Protestantism and the religion of the Orthodox Church in order to achieve the triumph of the socialist world outlook. [Ibid., pp. 368-69].
Lenin argued against those who promoted the slogan of "national culture" because they failed to make any distinction between the progressive and reactionary aspects of a bourgeois nation's culture, between the proletarian and capitalist contributions. Since the dominant culture of the bourgeois nation is, in fact, the culture of the bourgeoisie with its reactionary features, those who laud this culture and who attack the international culture of the proletariat are bourgeois chauvinists. "The place of those who advocate the slogan of national culture," wrote Lenin, "is among the nationalist petty bourgeoisie, not among the Marxists." [LCW, Vol. 20, p. 25] He explained,
While protecting the equality of all nationalities against the serf owners and the police state we do not support 'national culture' but international culture, which includes only part of each national culture – only the consistently democratic and socialist content of each national culture. [Ibid., Vol. 19, p. 116].
The aim of the revolutionary proletariat is not to promote all of the demands or customs of a particular nation but simply to remove inequality.
In fighting for the right of nations to self-determination the aim of Social-Democracy is to put an end to the policy of national oppression, to render it impossible, and thereby to remove the grounds of strife between nations, to take the edge off that strife and reduce it to a minimum. [Stalin, Works, Vol. 2, p. 322].
The purpose of this is to shift the warfare from the national theatre to the class theatre. Watching carefully the actions of the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation, Lenin wrote,
...the proletariat's policy in the national question (as in all others) supports the bourgeoisie only in a certain direction, but it never coincides with the bourgeoisie's policy. The working class supports the bourgeoisie only in order to secure national peace (which the bourgeoisie cannot bring about completely and which can be achieved only with complete democracy), in order to secure equal rights and to create the best conditions for the class struggle. [LCW, Vol. 20, pp. 409-10].
He continued, and this is the main point,
The bourgeoisie always places its national demands in the forefront, and does so in categorical fashion. With the proletariat, however, these demands are subordinated to the interests of the class struggle. [Ibid.].
The Struggle Against Chauvinism
To develop internationalist unity Marxist-Leninists must stress the right of political secession of the oppressed nations within the ranks of the workers of the oppressor nation, while stressing the need to build the unity of workers of all nations among the ranks of the workers of the oppressed nation. The struggle against national chauvinism, both of the oppressed and oppressor nations, must be waged in the first place by the proletarians of that nation. Stalin pointed this out.
When it is said that the fight against Great Russian chauvinism must be made the corner-stone of the national question, the intention is to indicate the duties of the Russian communist; it implies that it is the duty of the Russian communist himself to combat Russian chauvinism. If the struggle against Russian chauvinism were undertaken not by the Russian but by the Turkestanian or Georgian communists, it would be interpreted as anti-Russian chauvinism. That would confuse the whole issue and strengthen Great Russian chauvinism. Only the Russian communists can undertake the fight against Great Russian chauvinism and carry it through to the end. [Stalin, Works, Vol. 5, pp. 272-73].
On the other hand, Stalin pointed out:
(The) duty of the non-Russian communists to combat their own chauvinists. Russian communists cannot combat Tatar, Georgian or Baskir chauvinism; if a Russian communist were to undertake the difficult task of combatting Tatar or Georgian chauvinism it would be regarded as a fight waged by a Great Russian chauvinist against the Tatars or the Georgians.
The intention is to point to the duty of the local communists, the duty of the non-Russian communists to combat their own chauvinists. Only the Tatar, Georgian and other communists can fight Tatar, Georgian and other chauvinism. [Ibid.].
Communists always promote the organization of the working class along international lines, and oppose the organization of workers along national lines. Organizing workers into separate organizations based on nationality promotes nationalism, isolation and distrust. Organizing workers of all nationalities into one class-wide organization promotes class consciousness, and breaks down national distrust and isolation. Stalin spoke to this issue unequivocally in his work, Marxism and the National Question.
We know where demarcation of workers according to nationalities leads to. The disintegration of a united workers' party, the splitting of trade unions according to nationalities, aggravation of national friction, national strike breaking, complete demoralization within the ranks of Social-Democracy – such are the results of organizational federalism. This is eloquently borne out by the history of Social-Democracy in Austria and the activities of the Bund in Russia....
The only cure for this is organization on the basis of internationalism....
This kind of organization influences not only practical work. It stamps an indelible impression on the whole mental life of the worker. The worker lives the life of his organization, which stimulates his intellectual growth and educates him. And thus, acting within his organization and continually meeting there comrades from other nationalities, and side by side with them waging a common struggle under the leadership of a common collective body, he becomes deeply imbued with the idea that the workers are primarily members of one class family, members of the united army of socialism....
Therefore, the international type of organization serves as a school of fraternal sentiments and is a tremendous agitational factor on behalf of internationalism.
But this is not the case with an organization on the basis of nationalities. When the workers are organized according to nationality they isolate themselves within their national shells, fenced off from each other by organizational barriers. The stress is laid not on what is common to the workers but on what distinguishes them from each other. In this type of organization the worker is primarily a member of his nation: a Jew, a Pole, and so on. It is not surprising that national federalism in organization inculcates in the workers a spirit of national seclusion.
Therefore, the national type of organization is a school of national narrow-mindedness and stagnation. [Ibid., Vol. 2, pp. 377-79].
In a multinational state, a multinational proletarian party representing and composed of workers of all nationalities in the country must be built. "We are fighting on the ground of a definite state," wrote Lenin, "we unite the workers of all nations living in this state; we cannot vouch for any particular path of national development, for we are marching to our class goal along all possible paths." [LCW, Vol. 20, p. 413] Of course, within the territories of the various nations making up the multinational state the national composition of the party organization will differ, as will the emphasis of the party's work. "It goes without saying," Stalin wrote, "that a party structure of this kind does not preclude, but on the contrary presumes, wide autonomy for the regions within the single integral party." [Stalin, Works, Vol. 2, p. 378] A common internationalist line must guide the work of the entire party so that it does not fall prey to the pitfalls of nationalism.
The policy of internationalist organization applies not only to the party organization but to all working class organizations. Of course, exceptional conditions may call for Marxist-Leninists to work with or within mass organizations organized along national lines, but even then Marxist-Leninists will fight for the transition to an international organization and against national exclusiveness. Arguing against the proposals of the Jewish Bund to build both mass and party organizations along national lines (under the slogan of "cultural national autonomy"), Lenin wrote:
Unity from below, the complete unity and consolidation in each locality of Social-Democratic workers of all nationalities in all working class organizations – that is our slogan. Down with the deceptive bourgeois, compromise slogan of 'cultural national autonomy'!" [LCW, Vol. 19, p. 118, emphasis added].
Thus, in the case of the U.S. today, we as Marxist-Leninists must bring together the workers of various nationalities (Afro-Americans, Anglo-Americans, Chicano, Native Americans, etc.) in international organizations to insure the unity of the proletariat in its fight for power. We must warn those developing Marxist-Leninists who are still contaminated by bourgeois nationalism that "the formation of communist organizations on national lines is a contradiction of the principle of proletarian internationalism." [Comintern, Theses on the Eastern Question, 1922, p. 57] Lenin time and again warned the would-be Marxists of the oppressor and oppressed nations against the dangers of national organizations of workers, dangerous not only to the cause of proletarian revolution, but also to the struggle against national oppression.
If an Ukrainian Marxist allows himself to be swayed by his quite legitimate and natural hatred of the Great Russian oppressors to such a degree that he transfers even a particle of this hatred, even if it be only estrangement, to the proletarian culture and proletarian cause of the Great Russian workers, then such a Marxist will get bogged down in bourgeois nationalism. Similarly, the Great Russian Marxist will be bogged down, not only in bourgeois, but also in Black Hundred nationalism, if he loses sight, even for a moment, of the demand for complete equality for the Ukrainians, or of their right to form an independent state.
The Great Russian and Ukrainian workers must work together, and as long as they live in a single state, act in closest organizational unity… All advocacy of the segregation of the workers of one nation from those of another, all attacks upon Marxist 'assimilation'... is bourgeois nationalism against which it is essential to wage a ruthless struggle. [LCW, Vol. 20, p. 33].
The National Revolutionary Movements
The national revolutionary movements of the oppressed nations are a component part of the world socialist revolution. This is true, first of all, because both the national liberation movements and the proletarian socialist movement have the same enemy – imperialism. Beyond this, the unity of the two revolutionary struggles is guaranteed because only socialism can secure complete national liberation. Stalin wrote in 1921,
The imperialist war has shown, and the revolutionary experience of recent years has again confirmed that:
1) The national and colonial questions are inseparable from the question of emancipation from the rule of capital;
2) Imperialism, (the highest form of capitalism) cannot exist without the political and economic enslavement of unequal nations and colonies;
3) The unequal nations and colonies cannot be liberated without the overthrow of the rule of capital;
4) The victory of the proletariat cannot be lasting without the liberation of the nations and colonies from the yoke of imperialism. [Stalin, Works, Vol. 5, p. 57]
The truth of this statement has been reinforced over the last 60 years. The more that imperialism consolidates its viselike economic grip on the most isolated corners of the world, and the more that capitalism develops in the oppressed nations, the more closely connected the national liberation movements become with the struggle for socialism.
Nevertheless, the national democratic revolution represents a distinct stage in the revolutionary process that eventually leads to socialism. In most of the oppressed nations, the aims of this stage are: the elimination of the rule of the feudal oligarchy and its remnants; the carrying out of the agrarian revolution; the overthrow of the rule of the imperialists and their comprador bourgeois lackeys; the confiscation of their property; and the establishment of a revolutionary democratic government. These goals are all bourgeois-democratic in nature – they do not touch the capitalist relations of production. However, under the conditions of imperialism, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations cannot completely achieve these goals or defend them.
Independent national capitalist development is impossible under imperialism. Only the elimination of capitalist relations of production and their replacement by socialist relations of production can enable a nation to carry out a complete rupture with imperialist domination. The national bourgeoisie is, of course, the mortal enemy of socialism, because it means the elimination of the national bourgeoisie as a class. Hence the tendency of the national bourgeoisie to compromise with imperialism and to join with it against the national revolutionary movement led by the proletariat. The Fourth Congress of the Comintern described this shift in class alliances in the national liberation movement as follows:
The objective tasks of colonial revolutions exceed the limit of bourgeois democracy by the very fact that a decisive victory is incompatible with the domination of world imperialism. While the native bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intelligentsia are the pioneers of colonial revolutionary movements, with the entry of proletarian and semi-proletarian peasant masses into these movements, however, the rich bourgeoisie and bourgeois landlords begin to leave it as the social interests of the masses assume prominence. [Comintern, Theses on the Eastern Question, op. cit. p. 52]
The native bourgeoisie is generally divided into two sections. The comprador bourgeoisie is a merchant class which is connected to the import and export of commodities. Its class interests are tied to imperialist rule, and it serves as imperialism's political lackey. The industrial bourgeoisie, on the other hand, finds itself in competition with the imperialist monopolies for the national market and must resist the imperialists' efforts to eliminate native industry. Therefore, in the early stages of the national democratic revolution, this sector of the bourgeoisie can play a progressive, and even a revolutionary, role. However, as capitalism and imperialism develop, the independence of this class is curtailed and it is forced to compromise with imperialism. In the end it sides with imperialism and will fight to the death to see that the revolution is stopped halfway. Therefore, the native bourgeoisie is generally the proponent of national reformism, protesting the worst abuses of imperialism but opposing revolutionary change.
The petty bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations vacillates between the reformism of the national bourgeoisie and the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat. Generally, in the end it breaks into two sections – the better off siding with the bourgeoisie and the poorer siding with the proletariat. The revolutionary sections of the petty bourgeoisie, the poor peasantry and the urban poor, can make staunch allies of the proletariat in both the national democratic and the socialist revolutions. They are strategic allies of the proletariat because they too benefit from the establishment of socialism. But the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie can never lead the national democratic revolution to complete victory because they, in and of themselves, cannot break with capitalism, and therefore, imperialism.
Only the proletariat of the colony or oppressed nation can carry the anti-imperialist revolution through to the end, because it stands for a complete break with capitalism and imperialism and for the establishment of socialism. Of course, this does not mean that the proletariat will always lead the national revolutionary struggle. In the early stages, the national revolutionary petty bourgeoisie may be in control. But the proletariat will always seek to become the leader from the very outset. The more quickly the proletariat is able to gain this leadership, the sooner final victory will come, and the fewer painful zigzags and counter-revolutions the nation will have to endure.
The ability of the proletariat to gain hegemony over the movement is objectively facilitated by the development of capitalism in the nation. This strengthens the proletariat as a class, brings the class distinctions between the national bourgeois reformist program and the proletarian revolutionary program into sharper relief, and facilitates the socialist transformation following the revolution. But even in an economically backwards nation, the proletariat can gain leadership of the movement, as the experience of the Albanian revolution illustrates.
The Party [PLA] became the leadership owing to its correct Marxist-Leninist political line and its ability to implement this line, basing itself on the Marxist-Leninist theory, the objective conditions, the revolutionary situation, and its own revolutionary experience and that of the masses of people. [The National Conference of Studies on the Anti-Fascist National Liberation War of the Albanian People, Tirana, 1975, p. 27]
The proletariat will, and must, support a national revolutionary movement led by the national bourgeoisie or the petty bourgeoisie if it is truly revolutionary, that is, if it aims to overthrow imperialism and reaction and supports revolutionary democracy, including the independent political activity of the proletariat. However, in supporting such a movement, the proletariat must always be free to criticize the tendencies to compromise with imperialism and reaction on the part of the bourgeois and petty bourgeois leadership. This is carried out with the knowledge that the bourgeois leadership will eventually vacillate. The proletariat must constantly be building its position so that it can, as soon as possible, take the leadership of the revolutionary movement into its own hands.
At all times, the proletariat gives great attention to exposing the national reformists who are the enemy of the revolution. The proletarian party must never form a bloc with the national reformists because this would compromise the whole struggle to build an independent national revolutionary movement. It must, however, engage in certain joint actions with the national reformists in order to win the masses away from their leadership. Revolutionaries must never isolate themselves from the mass activities of the national reformists based on sectarian ideas about "maintaining purity." The Sixth Congress of the Comintern in 1928 spelled out the nature and conditions of joint action with the national reformist movements:
It is necessary to reject the formation of any kind of bloc between the communist party and the national reformist opposition; this does not exclude the formation of temporary agreements and the coordinating of separate activities in connection with definite anti-imperialist demonstrations, provided that these demonstrations of the bourgeois opposition can be utilized for the development of the mass movement, and provided that these agreements do not in any way limit the freedom of the communist parties in the matter of agitation among the masses and among the organizations of the latter. Of course, in this work the communists must know how at the same time to carry on the most relentless ideological and political struggle against bourgeois nationalism and against the slightest signs of its influence inside the labor movement. [Comintern, Theses on the Revolutionary Movement in the Colonies and Semi-Colonies, op. cit., p. 93]
Marxist-Leninists work to bring about a split between the petty bourgeois national revolutionaries and the national reformists and to win the former to the program and leadership of the proletariat. Their goal is to build a national liberation front composed of all revolutionary patriots of the oppressed nation, and led by the proletarian party. Within this front the proletarian party must play the leading role and preserve its independence. While building a united front with the revolutionary nationalists, Marxist-Leninists must be careful to draw a sharp line of demarcation between the ideologies of Marxism-Leninism and nationalism, including the nationalism of those who pose as communists. The Second' Congress of the Comintern stated quite clearly:
A resolute struggle must be waged against the attempt to clothe the revolutionary liberation movements in the backward countries which are not genuinely communist in communist colours. The Communist International has the duty of supporting the revolutionary movements in the colonies and backwards countries only with the object of rallying the constituent elements of the future proletarian parties – which will be truly communist and not only in name – in all the backwards countries and educating them to a consciousness of their special task, namely that of fighting against the bourgeois democratic trend in their own nation. The Communist International should collaborate provisionally with the revolutionary movement of the colonies and backward countries, and even form an alliance with it, but it must not amalgamate with it; it must unconditionally maintain the independence of the proletarian movement, even if it is only in an embryonic stage. [Comintern, Theses on the National and Colonial Questions, op. cit., p. 39]
There must be no blurring over of the distinction between revolutionary nationalism and Marxism-Leninism because ultimately it will be the distinction between capitalism and socialism, between counterrevolution and revolution. As the anti-imperialist revolution develops to higher stages, those that oppose this forward action become the champions of revisionism and counterrevolution. The Sixth Congress of the Comintern described the character of the petty bourgeois revolutionary nationalist movements, based on the summation of its experience with these movements in many countries:
In India, Egypt and Indonesia, there was again founded a radical wing from among the different petty bourgeois groups... which stands for a more or less consistently national revolutionary point of view. But the fact must not be lost sight of that these parties, essentially considered, are connected with the national bourgeoisie. The petty bourgeoisie intelligentsia at the head of these parties puts forward national revolutionary demands, but at the same time appears more or less consciously as the representative of the capitalist development of their country. Some of these elements can become the followers of various kinds of reactionary utopias, but when confronted with feudalism and imperialism they, in distinction from the parties of the big national bourgeoisie, appear at the outset not as reformists but as more or less revolutionary representatives of the anti-imperialist interests of the colonial bourgeoisie. This is the case, at least, so long as the development of the revolutionary process in the country does not put on the order of the day in a definite and sharp form the fundamental international questions of the bourgeois revolution, particularly the questions of the agrarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry… As soon as the revolution has placed the class interests of the proletariat and peasantry in critical contradiction not only to the rule of the feudal-imperialist bloc, but also to the class rule of the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeois groups usually go back to the position of the national-reformist parties. [Comintern, Theses on the Revolutionary Movement, loc. cit. pp. 93-94]
Marxist-Leninists then, while allying with the genuine revolutionary nationalists, must expose their vacillation, winning the most steadfast of the revolutionary nationalists to the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, and winning the masses of people to the leadership of the party.
The National Question Under Socialism
When the proletariat comes to power in the U.S. it will immediately grant the right of political secession to all nations that were under the rule of the U.S. imperialists. Should the party of the proletariat deem a particular secessionist movement contrary to the interests of its class rule it would voice its opposition. However, it would only use persuasion, never the force of arms, to dissuade a nation from the path of secession. It would respect the will of the people as expressed in a free and democratic plebiscite. (This is entirely different from the way in which the proletariat would treat attempts by the deposed U.S. imperialists to foment counterrevolution under a nationalist banner.) Given the diversity of the nations within the U.S., the brutal history of oppression, and the legitimate distrust felt by the people of the oppressed nations, some nations may very well choose independence following liberation. If this is the nation's will, then independence will be the only sure path to eventual voluntary unity. And is there really any harm in creating new national states based on socialism? Lenin wrote:
There is every sign that imperialism will leave its successor, socialism, a heritage of less democratic frontiers, a number of annexations in Europe and in other parts of the world. Is it to be supposed that victorious socialism, restoring and implementing full democracy all .along the line, will refrain from democratically demarcating state frontiers and ignore the 'sympathies' of the population? [LCW, Vol. 22, p. 324].
Of course, ultimately, the goal of socialism is to unite all nations, but the path to this, which will certainly be long and tortuous, does not necessarily proceed simply and mechanically from the state boundaries that imperialism created which, as Lenin said, are less than democratic. The complete liberation of all oppressed nations, wrote Lenin, is the only path to eventual unity.
In the same way as mankind can arrive at the abolition of classes only through a transition period of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, it can arrive at the inevitable integration of nations only through a transition period of the complete emancipation of all the oppressed nations, i.e., their freedom to secede. [Ibid., p. 147].
In the case of those nations that choose to remain within the multinational proletarian state, and in the case of the many distinct nationalities in the U.S., broad regional and local autonomy will be established. As stated before, regional autonomy means control over local government, police forces, educational institutions, the regulation of trade and the development of natural resources, etc.
Marxist-Leninists realize that national inequality will not disappear with the victory of the socialist revolution and, moreover, that socialist construction and the struggle to abolish social classes will not, in and of itself, abolish national inequality. National oppression is distinct from class oppression and its abolition requires a protracted struggle aimed specifically at eliminating all remnants of national oppression and inequality. Lenin wrote,
A foundation – socialist production – is essential for the abolition of national oppression, but on this foundation the democratic organization of the state, and the democratic army, etc., are also essential. By transforming capitalism into socialism the proletariat creates the possibility, the possibility becomes reality 'only' – 'only!' with the establishment of democracy in all spheres, including the delineation of state frontiers in accordance with the 'sympathies' of the population, including complete freedom to secede. And on this basis, in turn, there will develop practical elimination of even the slightest national friction, or the slightest national mistrust, accompanied by an accelerated rapprochement and fusion of nations that will be completed when the state withers away. [Ibid., p. 325].
The struggle to do away with national oppression requires that all legal and political privileges enjoyed by the oppressor nation be eliminated. The political districts and state lines drawn up by the imperialists will be redrawn to reflect the real national, social and physical features of the various regions, bearing in mind first of all the political rights of the formerly oppressed nations and nationalities. English will no longer be imposed as a compulsory official language; all languages will be treated equally. The affairs of the government and the courts, as well as education, will be conducted in all of the languages in use in each locality. All remnants of state religion and privileges for the Protestant faith will be eliminated.
A determined mass campaign will be waged to do away with the putrid ideology of white supremacy, backed by the full support of the government, the schools and the mass media. All discrimination based on nationality and all efforts to promote white supremacy will be punished with stiff prison terms.
Unlike imperialism, socialism will not curb the development of nations, but will encourage it. Freed from imperialism, and under the leadership of the proletariat, the oppressed nations will be able to realize a rapid, all-around political, economic and cultural development. There will be a flourishing of national culture, and the further development of national languages so long suppressed by imperialism. Of course, the proletariat will now be in charge of this cultural development and will bring out the progressive and spiritually uplifting aspects of the cultural traditions, discarding the reactionary bourgeois and feudal prejudices. Cultural development will be national in form and socialist in content.
The formerly oppressed nations will, for the first time, be able to exercise their political rights, and organize administrative organs and elect political representatives.
The national economies, so long restricted and distorted by the needs of imperialism, will be able to develop according to the needs of the nation. Recognizing that as long as economic, political and cultural underdevelopment remains, nations will remain objectively unequal despite juridical equality, the central proletarian state will provide special assistance to the formerly oppressed nations to assure this development. Stalin wrote the following in regard to the situation in the Soviet Union:
…the Party considered it necessary to help the regenerated nations of our country to rise to their feet and attain their full stature, to revive and develop their national cultures, widely to develop schools, theatres and other cultural institutions functioning in the native languages, to nationalize – that is to staff with members of the given nation – the Party, trade-union, cooperative, state and economic apparatuses, to train their own, national, Party and Soviet cadres, and to curb all elements – who are, indeed, few in number – that try to hinder this policy of the Party." [Stalin, Works, Vol. 11, p. 369].
The distinctions among all nations will eventually disappear, but this will not come about through the subjugation of one nation by another, but by the flourishing of all nations and the growth of economic, political, cultural and social interaction on the basis of equality. Stalin explained this process in the following words:
It would be incorrect to think that after the defeat of world imperialism national differences will be abolished and national languages will die away immediately, at one stroke, by decree from above, so to speak, Nothing is more erroneous than this view, To attempt to bring about the merging of nations by decree from above, by compulsion, would be playing into the hands of the imperialists, it would spell disaster to the cause of the liberation of nations and be fatal to the cause of organizing cooperation and fraternity among nations, Such a policy would be tantamount to a policy of assimilation.
You know, of course, that the policy of assimilation is absolutely excluded from the arsenal of Marxism-Leninism, as being an anti-popular and counter-revolutionary policy, a fatal policy.
The first step [of the period of the world dictatorship of the proletariat], during which national oppression will be completely abolished, will be a stage marked by the growth and flourishing of the formerly oppressed nations and national languages, the consolidation of equality among nations, the elimination of mutual national distrust, and the establishment and strengthening of international ties among nations.
Only in the second stage of the period of the world dictatorship of the proletariat, to the extent that a single world socialist economy is built up in place of the world capitalist economy – only in that stage will something in the nature of a common language begin to take shape; for only in that stage will the nations feel the need to have, in addition to their own national languages, a common international language – for convenience of intercourse and of economic, cultural and political cooperation,
In the next stage of the period of world dictatorship of the proletariat – when the world socialist system of economy becomes sufficiently consolidated and socialism becomes part and parcel of the life of the peoples, and when practice convinces the nations of the advantages of a common language over national languages – national differences and languages will begin to die away and make room for a world language, common to all nations. [Ibid., pp. 362-364].
Khrushchevite Revisionism and the Re-Oppression of Nations
The people of the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, were able to establish genuine socialism and build truly equal and free relations between nations in a multinational socialist state. But with the restoration of capitalism in the USSR after the death of Stalin, all the social conflicts of capitalism, including national oppression, reappeared. The Khrushchevite revisionists are attempting to prove that today in the USSR, the relations among nations and nationalities have reached a new stage, the stage of "a new historic community of men – one single Soviet people." But the "new Soviet man" is a fabrication. The policy of Russification is forcing the national minorities and nations to adopt the Russian language and culture. And the continued existence of oppressed nationalities in the USSR, who resist the imposition of Great Russian culture, is manifested in the national uprisings reported in many of the outlying areas, such as Georgia.
Genuine Marxist-Leninists today reject revisionism when they take up the question of national liberation. Thus, in the U.S., we Marxist-Leninists rely on the line and teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin when handling the national question because their works are based on the scientific outlook of the proletariat.
To sum up, comrades, the Marxist-Leninist program on the Afro-American national question is embodied in the following slogans:
Equality of all nations, and no privileges for any nation.
For the right to political secession for the Afro-American Nation.
Expropriation of the white landlords in the Black Belt.
State unity of the Black Belt.
Self-rule for Afro-Americans in the Black Belt and a plebiscite on secession.
Regional autonomy for areas of distinct nationality within the state.
No state religion.
No state language; for the use of the language of the local population in state and economic affairs. International organization of workers (Party, trade unions, clubs, schools, and sports).
Oppose nationalism of oppressor and oppressed nations.
For communism and the dictatorship of the proletariat to bring about the complete elimination of national oppression and freedom of the Afro-American Nation.
For the leadership of the working class in the Afro-American national liberation movement
Click here to return to the Afro-American Nation contents