ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Nationalism and Socialism

Nationalism and Socialism EACH epoch fills the national question' with its own content, though the old forms persist and the national question always seems the same. The national question that faced Marx and Engels was shaped by the political framework of Europe at that time, by a balance of power which opposed the 'revolutionary democratic' nations of the west to the 'reactionary' nations of the east centred on czarism and the small- nation movements sponsored by it. Marx and Engels favoured Polish independence and the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the interests of european democracy, showing thereby that "the interests of the liberation of a number of big and very big nations in Europe rate higher than the interests of the movement for liberation of small nations". The national question that facsd Lenin was entirely different in content, based now on the 'system' of great powers, on the conversion of the 'revolutionary democratic' nations into imperialist oppressor nations, on the common front of czarism and European capital and on the struggle to divide up the world market on a new basis. Our national question is again different, or progressively becoming so; the emergence of international capital markets corrodes the role of the nation-state in the monetary sphere, sharpening competition in the world economy compels sections of big capital to form international blocs at the expense of smaller national capitals, and the intensified stagnation of the backward areas, as capital lends to move continuously to areas of capital-concentration, threatens to rupture the unity of the nation-state internally as the oppressed nationalities or semi-nationalities launch movements of separation.2Probably no question confuses Marxists more than this one, if we leave aside the more simple cases of national self- determination, and any attempt to go back to its roots in the Marxist tradition is therefore welcome.

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