The National Question

kurdish rally

The tremendous crisis of capitalism is bringing to the surface all the system’s old contradictions. Instability, polarisation and huge political shifts are on the order of the day. As part of this process, unsolved national questions are erupting once more around the globe. Millions of oppressed people are striving for a way out of the impasse. This striving can take the form of renewed national movements. On the other hand, as the struggle between the national gangs of capitalists becomes more intense, the ruling class pollutes the atmosphere of the whole world with the fumes of national hatred.

For Marxists, the national question is one of the most challenging we face. There is no simple, magic formula for all times and all places. Rather, it is necessary to study each national question in its historical evolution. Marxists must carefully distinguish between what is progressive and what is reactionary in any national movement, as a surgeon carefully distinguishes between healthy and diseased tissue. Above all, we take as our starting point the need to unite the working class on a worldwide scale for the overthrow of international capital.

From Marx’s writings on Ireland and India, to Lenin’s extensive writings on the national question, to the works of James Connolly, there is a tremendous treasure trove of Marxist literature dealing with the subject. For today’s revolutionaries, it represents an indispensable arsenal in the struggle to overthrow capitalism.

For more than 100 years, the democratic and progressive forces on the Balkans have striven to overcome national divisions and hatreds, and to unite the peoples of the Balkans on the basis of a federation, based on genuine equality and fraternal relations. However, on a capitalist basis, the idea of a Balkan Federation remained a hopeless utopia. An outstanding analysis of the break-up of Yugoslavia written at the beginning of the conflict.

"No-one, it seems, has learned anything on the Balkans since 1991." (Financial Times, editorial, 9/3/98.) The scenes of massacre of men, women and children in Kosovo have disturbed the conscience of civilised people everywhere. What is the meaning of this? What is the solution? And how should the labour movement react? Alan Woods analyses the situation and puts forward, as the only solution, the Socialist Federation of the Balkans with full autonomy for all people's.

In the light of recent developments in the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) we are publishing a document written by Ted Grant back in 1992 which already outlined the roots of the present crisis in the SSP. Ted explained that the concessions the leaders of the then SML (later to become SSP) were making to Scottish nationalism would lead to a disaster. Time has proven him correct.

In 1965 tensions rose between Pakistan and India around the issue of Kashmir. A provocation by Pakistani dictator Ayub Khan led to open conflict and a victory for the Indian bourgeoisie. In this article, published in October 1965, Ted Grant showed how the war was reactionary on both sides.

We publish for the first time in electronic form, this important document written by Ted Grant in the autumn of 1944. It analyses the consequences of the inevitable victory of Anglo-American imperialism and the growing grip of Stalinism over the European masses due to the immense prestige gained by the Red Army. It also explains why the imperialists would find themselves in a relatively weak position and would need to grant concessions to the masses in Europe. Imperialism would be forced to do this in order to carry out a counterrevolution, albeit in a democratic form, with the help of the leaders of the mass reformist and Stalinist parties.

"Down with the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie! Long live the free union of free peasants and workers of a free Ukraine with the workers and peasants of revolutionary Russia!"

Published in Pravda No. 46, May 15 (2), 1917.

Of the essays here presented for the reader’s attention, some are published for the first time, others appeared in various periodicals before the war. They deal with a question which now, naturally, arouses especial interest—the significance and role of national movements, the relationship between the national and the international. The biggest drawback, one most frequently encountered in all the arguments on this question, is lack of concreteness and historical perspective. It has become customary to smuggle in every manner of contraband under cover of general phrases. We believe, therefore, that a few statistics will prove anything but superfluous. A comparison with the lessons of the

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"Complete equality of rights for all nations; the right of nations to self-determination; the unity of the workers of all nations—such is the national programme that Marxism, the experience of the whole world, and the experience of Russia, teach the workers." The classic theoretical work on the national question by Lenin.