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Nationalism and the International Labor Movement
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NATIONALISM AND THE INTERNATIONAL LABOR MOVEMENT T h e I d ea o f t h e N a t io n in S o c ia list a n d A n a r c h ist T h e o r y
The Pennsylvania State University Press University Park, Pennsylvania
Forman, Michael, 1 9 5 6 Nationalism and the international labor movement : the idea of the nations in socialist and anarchist theory / Michael Forman, p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-271-01726-0 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 0-271-01727-9 (paper : alk. paper) 1. Nationalism. 2. Socialism— History. 3. Anarchism— History. 4. Socialist International— History. I. Title. JC 311.F564 1998 3 2 0 .5 3 T — dc21 97-7117 CIP
Copyright © 1998 The Pennsylvania State University All rights reserved Published by The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA 16802-1003
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Preface Introduction: Internationalism and Nations 1.
Workers of the World: International Solidarity and the Working M en’s Association Anarchy and Federation: Bakunin The Red Republicans: M arx and Engels Solidarity and the Democratic Project The Nationalities Question Revisited: Multinationalism and the Second International The Right of Nations to Self-Determination: Lenin Internationalism and the National Question: Luxemburg The Awakening of Multinationalism: Bauer Movements and the Legacy of the Second International Solidarity for One Country: The Third International, Nationalism, and Nation Building The Nationalization of Socialism: Stalin Hegemony and National Unity: Gramsci National Liberation M arxism
Between Cosmopolitan Intent and Self-Determination
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When I set out on this project, the so-called culture wars were in full swing, and my intention was to contribute to debates over recognition and belong ing. Soon, I found that the more established forms of political theorizing— liberalism, communitarianism, and postmodernism— simply led to dead ends. There was, it seemed, no way of recognizing particular cultures and yet retaining a commitment to a generalizable interest one might express as human emancipation. The problem was not only theoretical but, much more important, political. Its most ubiquitous expression was in the progressive movements that veered in the direction of “ local struggles” and that looked with suspicion upon all the “ totalizing narratives” that had informed the Left for many a decade. It was in the course of struggling through this that I discovered, thanks to a teacher and friend, the “ national question.” This discovery came through Otto Bauer’s great, and unfortunately un translated, work on the central European national struggles and their significance for Austrian Social Democracy. Interestingly enough, the claims of identity politics took on a different hue when their similarity to certain kinds of nationalist discourse became more evident: Bauer seemed to be addressing many of the same issues that have gained currency under the rubric of “ multiculturalism.” What does it mean to say that people identify themselves as members of some constitutive prepolitical community with political import? How do we go about recognizing and respecting our differences while working toward common and higher goals? How impor tant, in any case, are group identities for our sense of who we are as individuals, as citizens, as activists, as people with a broad, if often vague, sense that humanity as a whole shares certain interests? What kind of social and political movements and political institutions are likely to be responsive to these concerns? O f course, Bauer did not have all the answers, but his work was part of an important debate taking place within a number of political parties that conceived of themselves within a larger framework, the Second Interna tional. What became ever clearer to me was that the International and its politics very much provided a concrete referent for Bauer and his interlocu
tors. Given its existence and perceived viability, it gave institutional expres sion to cosmopolitan purposes by means of internationalist practices. This, in turn, created a terrain for the articulation of specific questions about the relations between democracy, socialism, cultural identity, and sovereignty. From there, it was but a short step to an examination of the debates in the other two major labor Internationals. Thus, this study became a book about the idea of the nation among internationalist thinkers. At first, this may seem a strange site for the exploration of such a concept. Yet, the very concept of nationhood as a political condition is best understood in the context of events and of its relationship to the concepts and values of modernity with which it emerges. In the broadest sense, the argument here is that a critical theory of the nation must examine it both in terms of its own development and in terms of its place among other political and moral commitments. For this, the debates of internationalists are particularly useful and informative because, for the most part, these thinkers did not take the nation for granted. What I found, and what the pages that follow hope to elucidate, is that the major figures associated with these organizations never underestimated the attraction of nationalism. At the same time, it also became clear that the kinds of appeals that were deemed important varied from time to time, roughly in correspondence to the tenure of each International. Thus, First Internationalists were mostly concerned about solidarity among workers and movements operating within different states. Second Internationalists had to address a new problem, solidarity among workers and movements of different nationalities who lived within the confines of the same state. Finally, Third Internationalists and their heirs were very much involved in the building of nations. At each step, it became evident to me that the concept of the nation was best understood in relation to ideas about democratic republicanism, sovereignty, and the nature of the internationalist labor movement itself. In all of this, what became ever clearer was that as theories and theorists moved away from notions of democratic accountabil ity informed by the broad ideals of a cosmopolitan intent, they also moved in the direction of nationalist commitments. But this was not all. The debates about nationality, sovereignty, citizen ship, democratic republicanism, nationalism, and capitalism that the inter nationalists engaged in have taken on new urgency in light of the collapse of Eastern European Communism and the long-term globalization of capital ism. M ost evidently in the former Communist lands, the language of the “ national question” has reemerged. This is no coincidence. First of all, it was
there, in the nineteenth century, that this kind of discourse was born. Furthermore— and here Stalin’s influence is particularly curious— the Com munist regimes that ruled for so long, especially in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, in fact accepted crucial nationalist assumptions and actively promoted conceptions about the overlapping of culture and nationality. This was very much in keeping with Stalin’s own ideas on the topic, ideas that very much influenced actual policy and that ironically are being expressed yet again by post-Communist nationalists. N or should this sound so strange. Capitalism is a mode of cooperation whose principle is competition and relentless change at the economic, social, and cultural levels. Consequently, the legitimation of the social order is one of the most basic issues for new and old capitalist societies. Solidarity does not come easily to them. Nationalism is one answer to this dilemma, an answer whose “ revival” has taken hold not only in the former Eastern Europe, but also in Africa, Asia, Western Europe, and the United States precisely because it is related to political, cultural, and social transforma tions associated with accelerated capitalist globalization. O f course, there is more than one way of envisioning this kind of response, and here too the debates of the international labor movement offer a unique set of perspec tives. Precisely because this movement proposed another form of solidarity, many of its leaders and intellectuals sought to elaborate a critique of nationalist ideology. It is important that we give these critical efforts their due, lest we forget that the political nation itself is a historical object and accept nationalist dogma as ultimate truth. At the close of the twentieth century, the national question has arisen again under circumstances that make the elaboration of a democratic socialist response particularly difficult. For one thing, it has been over half a century since there was an International capable of holding a place in the popular imagination, and even longer since there was one that could do this and claim to be accountable to its membership. O f course, there is a Socialist International (est. 1946), and its contributions should not be discounted. Its members (including the German Social Democrats, the Brazilian Partido dos Trabalhadores, the Sandinistas, the Democratic Socialists of America, and many others) have supported a number of struggles for a better world, including the antiapartheid efforts and the Sandinista revolution during the 1980s. More recently it served as the stage where Norwegian socialists prepared the ground for the 1994 talks between the Israeli Labour Party government and the Palestinian Liberation Front (the Israeli Labour Party
and the Palestinian Liberation Front are members of the Socialist Interna tional). Yet this too is not enough, because progressive movements, especially in the English-speaking world, have abandoned broad internationalist commit ments and most efforts to construct a vision from the perspective of humanity. The reasons for this are many and are certainly beyond the scope of this book. However, it is one of the goals of this book to contribute to the recovery of the hopes and possibilities that lie buried in the past. This is the stuff of its cosmopolitan intent. This book would not have been possible without the assistance, guidance, and encouragement of many people. First of all, I want to thank Professor Stephen Eric Bronner of Rutgers University, who has been an inspiring teacher, a wise mentor, an erudite colleague, and, most important of all, a fine and loyal friend. I hope that I can live up to his example. I also want to express my gratitude to Professors P. Dennis Bathory, Gordon J. Schochet, and Martin Oppenheimer. My debt to Professors Bathory and Schochet extends beyond this project. Over the years, Professor Bathory has provided a kind ear and the benefits of his wisdom in many matters, academic and otherwise. Professor Schochet has always inspired my curiosity to explore areas and connections that would otherwise have eluded me. Professor Oppenheimer is a great compañero. Among my other teachers Professor Robert R. Kaufman also deserves special recognition— even if I did not always learn the way he wanted me to. Professor Barbara Lewis will find that many of our conversations and disagreements have found their way into the text. Also, I want to thank Charles Noble, Thomas Oleszczuk, and Samuel Assefa. Many friends helped to clarify my thinking and otherwise to make this project a positive experience. I am proud to say that the list is long, and embarrassed because surely I am overlooking some names: Farid Abdel Nour, M att Cohen, Susan Craig, David Culver, Jackie Grabine, Katherine Hoytt, Micheline Ishay, Priti Joshi, Christine Kelly, Carl Larsen, John Martin, Connie Murray, M ary O ’Gara, Michael O ’Gara, Thomas Regan, Helen Seitz, Robert W. Williams, Sam Winslow. Also, I am grateful to Gisella Mahler for her help with the German translations and to Manfred Steger for his thoughtfulness and support. Three close friends deserve special mention. Many of the ideas that form part of this thesis emerged in discussions with F. Peter Wagner, often following a session of the “ Friday Afternoon Movie Club.” Ryu Honglim
never failed to offer friendship and a forgiving ear, even when the miles grew. Elizabeth A. Kelly deftly fielded many a desperate call. She believed in this project (and in me) even when I did not. Thanks to all. At Penn State Press, Sanford Thatcher and, especially, Keith Monley helped to make this a more accessible and readable book. Lisa Robinson has earned more than special recognition. Without her encouragement, patience, fairness, and emotional support through the good and the bad times, this book would not even have been started. If any credit is due this project, she has earned most of it. Then there is G.S., who was around for most of it . . . C.F.-R. saw the end of it. Last, but not least, I want to thank my family. Rebeca Wasserman de Forman, Bernard Forman, Simón Wasserman, Joyce Forman-Bobrow, Arieh Bobrow, Michelle, and Eric have shared the pressures and granted more love and forbearance than anyone should rightfully expect. I dedicate this work to the memory of my grandmothers, Ester de Wasser man, who taught me about justice, and Esther Forman, who taught me about solidarity.
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INTRODUCTION I n t e r n a t io n a l is m a n d N a t io n s
The task to be accomplished is not the conservation of the past, but the redemption of the hopes of the past. — M ax Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic o f Enlightenment
Nationalism has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years. Particu larly since the collapse of Communist rule in Europe, the belief that allegiance to national communities will always trump all other forms of solidarity has gained new force. In many ways, this should not be surprising. N ot only does the nationalist revival offer a ready-made explanation for the implosion of the Soviet Union and other high-profile contemporary events, it also fits well with the current orthodoxy of identity-driven politics. In a post-Communist, postindustrial, and postmodern world, conservatives, tra ditional social scientists, and poststructural theorists see in the events of Eastern Europe and elsewhere evidence to support the proposition that a politics of universalist values and large-scale social transformation is neither possible nor desirable. Yet, one factor that seems to escape many observers is that the kind of redemptive local, even parochial, politics that has become so evident also has an international dimension. This dimension has always
been crucial to national understandings. And these, while not as timeless and unchanging as nationalists believe, are neither new nor above criticism. The development of the idea of the nation cannot be considered in isolation, because other ideas and principles emerged with it in the eigh teenth and early nineteenth centuries. Crucial among these were democratic republicanism and internationalism. In fact, these principles were once closely linked. Contemporary communitarian political theory still reflects the connection between the idea of the nation and democratic republican ism; similarly, the liberal fondness for the United Nations and other such bodies suggests a relationship between the liberal republic and international comity. Today, this liberal attachment seems at best hopeful longing. None theless, this hope is crucial to a progressive vision of politics rooted in a variety of forms of solidarity that may be framed in terms of freedom, equality, and shared purpose. This was the vision that first inspired the political thinking of the middle classes and then that of the international labor movement. Before it became an ethnic political project, the idea of the nation referred to states and their relation to popular consent.1 Already in the civic repub lican tradition of Montesquieu, a link was forged between the sovereignty of the people and the nature of democratic government. The principle of democratic government, he argued, was political virtue, by which he meant “ love of country and of equality.” 2 As its opponents understood even better than its proponents, the tradition of civic republicanism provided the elements for a critique of oppression. Yet, it also limited the reach of this critique by suggesting that different kinds of governments were suited, for a variety of reasons, to different peoples. Later, when a less restrictive formu lation of the republican idea was needed, a rationalist tradition emerged. Given its universalist proclivities, this tradition came to understand republics as societies ruled according to laws amenable to rational justification and, so, potentially valid everywhere. This was a radical proposition, made even more so by the proselytizing quality of its demands.
1. For a historical perspective on the nation, see E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). Cf. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread o f Nationalism , rev. ed. (London: Verso, 1991), and Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992). 2. Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu, L ՚esprit des lois (Paris: GarnierFlammarion, 1979), 1:112, translated by the author, as are all subsequent translations, unless otherwise noted.
From this perspective, nations and internationalism were connected through the theoretical and political mediation of the liberal republic. The republic was the politically constituted people, and its constitution was seen by the likes of Condorcet and Kant to embody a cosmopolitan intent, a design by which the emergent bourgeoisie and its allies could counterpose their own version of universality to that the Catholic aristocracies.3 The radical republican projects emerging across Europe and in the Americas seemed manifestations of humanity’s relentless progress. Not only that, they also created the elements for a pacific federation, so solidarity among their proponents was a foregone conclusion. However, this did not last. When the middle classes’ support for radical republicanism ceased in the aftermath of the French Revolution, and particularly after 1848, the connection was broken. After this, the political history of the idea of the nation bifurcated. In the most broadly accepted interpretation, the national became exclu sive, self-sufficient, and proudly particular. With the international labor movement, on the other hand, the idea of the nation retained a link with the international principle, such that the history of either is incomplete without the other. The internationalist movement of the socialist working class between the mid-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries seems an odd site for the examination of an idea often presented as that movement’s antithesis.4 Allegiance to class might easily undermine attachment to nation. It might even demand the forsaking of national commitments. Did M arx not claim that “ working men [had] no country?” 5 Did he not demand their unity, irrespective of national origin? Internationalism, however, never meant the simple abrogation of the nation. Rather, it implied, often simultaneously, a critique of the ideology of the nation-state and support for national self
3. For a compelling treatment of these issues, see Micheline Ishay, Internationalism and Its Betrayal (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995). Cf. Elie Kedourie, Nationalism , 4th. ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993). 4. Except when discussing an author whose conception of the working class is different (e.g., Bakunin), I follow Ralph M iliband’s usage, which reflects the transformations and constant recomposition of the class itself. By “ working class” he means those whose main or sole source of income is wages (and transfer payments in later days), whose level of income places them among the lower income groups, and “ whose individual power at work and in society at large is low or virtually non-existent.” In M arx’s day, of course, this characterized primarily the industrial worker, but that is no longer the case. Ralph Miliband, Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contemporary Capitalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 23. 5. Karl M arx and Friedrich Engels, “ M anifesto of the Communist Party,” in The MarxEngels Reader, 2d ed., ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), 488.
determination or national autonomy. This internationalism proposed com plex views of the very idea of the nation. The theoretical work associated with labor internationalism constitutes a crucial, if much ignored, contribution to the tradition of modern political theory. Labor internationalism includes anarchist and M arxian elements, both of which took on the idea of the nation as a question or a problem rather than as an assumption. Proceeding this way, the best of the interna tionalist thinkers could address the object of their inquiries from a critical perspective, informed by the notion of the broader unity of humanity, a commitment to human freedom, and the conviction that the world they lived in was neither the best of all possible worlds nor a historical inevitability. Beyond this, even its darkest moments, when this tradition was a practical and theoretical failure in terms of its own commitments, have left behind a legacy that includes most of the categories in which the post-Communist discourse on the nation is occurring. There exists, however, a significant gap in the literature on the interna tional labor movement and its conceptions of the nation. Certainly, the literature on socialism, and particularly on M arxian socialism, is vast. The literature on the international labor movement, however, is much more limited. There are studies of particular Internationals.6 These allow for close examination of their objects of inquiry, but at a cost. The price of depth is the loss of breadth, of any sense of the relationship between the three main institutional expressions of the movement. Unfortunately, attempts to elabo rate a comprehensive history of the Internationals have been few. The earliest, prepared on behalf of the Brookings Institution, was written during the 1920s, so it does not cover a substantial period of the Third Internation al’s history.7 In fact, only three efforts give an account of all three Interna tionals. Of these, one is really an official story, valuable only as a document of the bureaucratically sanctioned Soviet views at midcentury.8 Another is primarily a polemic against the Third International and Soviet Commu
6. See, for example, Henryk Katz, The Emancipation o f Labor: A History o f the First International, Contributions in Labor Studies, no. 36 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992); Jam es Joll, The Second International, 1 8 8 9 -1 9 1 4 (New York: Praeger, 1956); Fernando Claudín, The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform, 2 vols., trans. Brian Pearce and Francis M acDonagh (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975). 7. Lewis L. Lorwin, L abor and Internationalism (New York: Macmillan, 1929). 8. William Z. Foster, History o f the Three Internationals: The World Socialist and Commu nist Movements from 1848 to the Present (New York: International Publishers, 1955).
nism.9 The third, by contrast, is a work of considered and committed scholarship and provides the most comprehensive account (to date) of the international socialist movement.10 All of these works address nations, nationalities, and nationalism as issues that confronted the movement. None of them, however, examines the accompanying debates as examples of political and social thought. That is the task of the present study. There is, of course, also a great deal of work on socialism, Communism, and nationalism. Mostly it consists of efforts to analyze the relationship between Communists and national liberation movements. Here the litera ture is also quite vast.11 In good measure, this literature addresses the appeal a certain kind of discourse I term national liberation M arxism has held for intellectuals, peasant masses, and working people of the Third World in the twentieth century. Unfortunately, most of these accounts are of limited historical scope, deal only with national liberation movements, and do not address socialist or Communist ideas about the nation in any detail. Yet, without understanding the history of their ideas, it is simply not possible to elaborate anything like a complete account of the national liberation move ments. Even in cases where scholars have attempted to address these ideas, they very quickly come to rest on Stalinist national M arxism. Walker Connor, for example, seeks to examine socialist theories of the nation by looking at the Communist approach to the national question in a variety of locations (from Czechoslovakia to Vietnam), in the course of the twentieth century.12 At best, he addresses only “ Marxist-Leninist” (i.e., Stalinist) ideas, giving little consideration to other currents of thought. Roman Szporluk aims to give greater theoretical content to these themes by juxtaposing “ MarxismLeninism” to the nationalist thought of Friedrich List.13 He concludes, quite
9. George N ovack, Dave Frankel, and Fred Feldman, The First Three Internationals: Their History and Lessons (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1974). 10. Julius Braunthal, History o f the International, vol. 1, trans. Henry Collins and Kenneth Mitchell (New York: Praeger, 1967); vol. 2, trans. John Clark (New York: Praeger, 1967); vol. 3, trans. John Clark and Peter Ford (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1980). 11. The following are two very different, but especially accomplished, examples of this literature: Chalmers A. Johnson, Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power: The Emergence o f Revolutionary China, 1 9 3 7 -1 9 4 5 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962), and Jeffery Paige, Agrarian Revolution: Social Movements and E xport Agriculture in the Underdeveloped World (New York: Free Press, 1975). 12. The N ational Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984). 13. Communism and N ationalism: Karl M arx Versus Friedrich List (New York: Oxford
accurately in this case, that M arx’s followers have tended to endorse his belief in industrialism while rejecting his cosmopolitanism. However, these works seem primarily concerned with rejecting the ideals of the international labor movement, so do not examine the alternative theoretical currents that emerged at various crucial points. There do exist in English four book-length studies of socialist thought and nationalism. Ephraim Nimni’s study addresses most of the major M arxian thinkers, and recognizes that from its inception this tradition has had a distinct theory of the nation. Nimni argues that M arx and his followers have been unable to explain nations and nationalism because of their focus on production, their theoretical privileging of the economic, and their “ eurocentric bias.” These dispositions amount to theoretical deficiencies, express ible as “ class reductionism,” which, in turn, has been responsible for an unspecified “ political crisis.” 14 Rather than examine the development of these ideas as they reflected actual events, this author frames not only his critique, but also his analysis, as if these ideas were aimed at the “ new social movements” of the late twentieth century. In fact, the main theorists of nationalism in the international labor movement (not all of whom were M arxists) constructed positions that reflected their epoch as they engaged in practical activities. They did not aim to elaborate a general theory of the nation, though they did contribute importantly to our understanding of this modern phenomenon. Their concrete examples were European because, with the notable exception of North America, that was where industrial capitalism could be found in their time (particularly before 1914). Their ideas certainly are not reducible to the conditions and discourses that spawned them, but they cannot be understood without reference to their context. Furthermore, and despite their very significant differences, they shared a common goal, the consolidation of a movement whose new and unique conditions, at least in outline, were clearly economic. Finally, as the discussion that follows aims to show, all of these thinkers worked off specifically political concepts, even when their purpose was, as in Bakunin’s case, the abolition of politics. Another account, by John Schwarzmantel, offers very broad coverage of University Press, 1991). Significantly, this work does not contain a single direct quotation of Lenin. 14. Ephraim Nimni, Marxism and Nationalism: The Theoretical Origins o f a Political Crisis (London: Pluto Press, 1991). His account of Otto Bauer is a partial exception that I return to below.
European socialist movements and thinkers and their ideas about the nation. While this author, appropriately, covers both the general historical trends and the main ideas, he fails to draw the necessary connections between the two, other than to claim that in practice socialists often came to accept nationalism. This, of course, is true. Yet, when he considers how socialists and M arxists have attempted to uncover what lay behind nationalism, Schwarzmantel concludes that they have, “ on the whole, been wrong about the nation, seeing it too much in economic terms.” 15 This assessment, however, is wrong. M ost of the principal thinkers associated with the labor movement, and especially M arx and Engels, did not simply reduce the nation to its economic determination. Their views, I argue, were consider ably more complex. In any case, they aimed both to explain nationalism and to discommend it under the specific historical circumstances of their time. More recently, Erica Benner has written a penetrating and insightful work in which she argues that M arx and Engels did examine the national question with great care. In her words, they “ were preoccupied with a question that deserves further attention today: in what conditions do virulent, exclusive, and authoritarian forms of nationalism win the domestic battle against democratic, cooperative definitions of nationality— and what kind of poli tics might reverse this outcome?” 16 This proposition is certainly in keeping with the approach that follows, although her concerns are somewhat different. Her goal is to elaborate an account of nationalism, taking the work of M arx and Engels as a point of departure. However, she does not give sufficient weight to the internationalist movement as a concrete referent for that work. More important, she does not consider the debates with the anarchists or the way subsequent thinkers addressed the national question. Yet, this is of paramount importance if we are to take seriously the transformations in the idea of the nation since the mid-nineteenth century. Finally, the fourth account, by Horace Davis, retains a historical perspec tive on the relationship between socialists and nationalism.17 Davis, how ever, concentrates primarily on the Hegelian aspects underlying the work of his chosen thinkers, without paying sufficient heed to the other currents of 15. John Schwarzmantel, Socialism and the Idea o f the Nation (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), 200. 16. Erica Benner, Really Existing Nationalisms: A Rost-Communist View o f M arx and Engels (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 23. 17. Horace B. Davis, Nationalism and Socialism: M arxist and Labor Theories o f Nation alism to 1917 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967).
political thought and practice that they also represented. In particular, he does not give sufficient weight to their republican theory and practice. These, however, were so fundamental to the intellectual foundations of the First International that they were taken for granted by the thinkers them selves. Furthermore, Davis does not address the non-Marxian ideas that were so crucial in the First International, or the theoretical expressions that were so tragic in the Third. In any case, nearly a third of a century after D avis’s writing, and particularly after 1989, the work of the thinkers of the international labor movement deserves a new look. The perspectives on the nation expressed in the debates associated with labor internationalism are still important. Internationalism today seems a utopian ideal, while acting out of cosmopolitan motives calls for charges of totalization, if not totalitarianism. Yet, when linked to a liberating practice and a viable institutional referent, internationalism has also meant the empowerment of the disempowered, a hope for peace, and the possibility of a larger human society within which particular communities might thrive. Internationalism has also served as a critical standpoint, a regulative cat egory, if you will, from which to observe actual practices of nations and the claims of their leaders. Internationalism cannot exist without nations, and nationalism is self-referential without broader commitments. Whatever the mistakes and even the barbaric actions carried out in its name, internation alism is the only practical concept capable of bearing our highest hopes. But there are also more pragmatic reasons to revisit the work of the theorists of the international labor movement. These thinkers framed the categories for much of the subsequent discourse on the idea of the nation, and not only on the Left. Furthermore, the range of their positions was extremely broad, reflecting the variety of historical events that confronted them and differences in personality and commitments. The one thing they shared was the conviction that there existed social and economic relations that, for the very first time in human history, not only could, but had to, universalize themselves. Industrial capitalism was bound to encompass the globe, and to transform it in its own image. And the newly emerging proletariat was one of the main aspects of this new world. This understand ing provided an international referent that gave their work, or at least the best of it, a perspective on one of the key principles of the era, nationalism, precisely because they did not take national allegiances for granted. Their inquiries form the material for this study, which aims to reconstruct the conception of the nation expressed in the debates of the international labor movement between, roughly, the mid-nineteenth century and the
beginning of World War II. Whether we trace this movement back to the sans-culottes, to Babeuf’s conspiracy of equals, or, more accurately, to the Chartists, it is certain that the nation, though not always nationalism, was consistently on the agenda. It was always a question of what it meant to be a people, to be free, to be equal, and to be solidary. Once the movement gained institutional life in each of the three Internationals, these issues came to the forefront in a variety of ways. As nations and nationalism changed, the way the thinkers of the labor movement understood them also changed. In each period, the issues were different and so were the answers. Always, however, there was a relationship between the thinkers and the tradition of Enlightenment internationalism. In fact, as I hope to show below, it is impossible to understand the political ideas that emerge from the interna tional labor movement, without referring back to the Enlightenment and its notions of republicanism, equality, and cosmopolitan purposes. In the following pages I explore these ideas through a select group of thinkers and texts grouped around each of the three Internationals. Each chapter begins with a discussion of the main issues that framed the move ment’s concern with the national in each period. Then the analysis moves on to individual thinkers who stand for the main trends at each point. Each period presented the thinkers of the labor movement with different sets of problems as well as with different ways of talking about them. Often, they were unaware of their own historically imposed limitations. Thus, at various points, the narrative deviates from a reconstruction of ideas to discussions of the tension between contextually prevalent views and sensibilities, on the one hand, and the logic of the arguments, on the other, a tension that necessarily affects all intellectual effort. The purpose is to construct, from the perspective of the closing years of the twentieth century, an account of the relationship between each theorist’s ideas and the conditions they express. The discussion is organized chronologically and thematically, taking advantage of the fact that, for the most part, each of the Internationals faced different sets of issues. Chapter 1, “ Workers of the World,” focuses on the International Working M en’s Association (IWMA, 1 864-76). M ost of the thinkers and leaders of the First International were veterans of the republi can and class struggles that affected Britain in the early 1840s and the Continent between 1848 and 1852. For these thinkers, the model historical event was the French Revolution of 1789, and the revolutions of 1848 stood as the dividing line between present and future. The Revolution of 1789 provided them with a conceptual map for how new classes and new societies
emerge from old orders. It also suggested the types of organizations and outcomes that might be expected in any subsequent historical revolutions. Participation in the republican revolutions of 1848, which had sought to establish or extend democracy throughout Europe, became key to the early formulations of the relationship between internationalism and the nation in the view of the labor movement, whose main concern in this period was solidarity across political borders. The principal thinkers of the First International were Mikhail Bakunin, on the one hand, and Karl M arx and Friedrich Engels, on the other. Even before 1868, when Bakunin joined the International, their positions represented two of the three main alternatives of the emergent labor movement, “ liber tarian socialist democracy” and “ communism.” Trade unionism, especially in Britain and parts of France, was the third alternative. The concerns of this segment, however, were narrowly economic, and in terms of the national question, it tended to follow M arx’s lead during this period. M ost impor tant, for present purposes, the views of Bakunin and M arx and Engels also encompass the scope of First International thinking on nations and nation alism. Indeed, and in contrast to the common criticism that internationalists ignored nationalism, their legacy includes a serious attempt to understand both nations and the emerging appeal of nationalism. In his long career as a professional revolutionist, Bakunin put forth views on the nation that are not entirely consistent with each other. For the most part, he regarded nations as cultural entities whose limits and characteristics had been established in a remote historical past. Yet, his was not a narrow position; he always advocated solidarity above narrow particularism. In deed, his name was early on associated with the emergence of Pan-Slavism. From the internationalist standpoint, however, his most important contribution was the strict differentiation between nations and states. If the former were, ultimately, cultural entities composed of smaller-scale associations, the latter were the oppressors of nations, most especially of their own nations. Bakunin always argued for some form of “ bottom-up” federal association that would eventually encompass the whole world (not only Europe). In his later years, however, he claimed that all states were illegitimate. Conse quently, he held that political activity, in the narrow sense of electoral politics, was counterproductive and destructive of nations. This was the crux of his disagreement with M arx and Engels. M arx and Engels held to a republican conception of the nation. Their analysis of nations and nationalism was an effort to reshape the internation alist tradition of Enlightenment republicanism from the standpoint of the
new social force, the emerging proletariat, that was taking up the republican project where others had left off. Their views reflected a certain historical memory of the French Revolution, personal memories of 1848, and, to a lesser extent, their analysis of the events surrounding the Paris Commune of 1871. The consequence was a rash cosmopolitanism that on occasion put them on the side of conquering powers and sometimes led to the transposi tion of idealist formulations like that of the “ nations without history.” Despite this, I argue, M arx and Engels contribute to our understanding of the idea of the nation by focusing on the problems of solidarity across state borders. In their references to republican movements they tied democratic and socialist norms to national sovereign rights, a language that both Woodrow Wilson and V. I. Lenin would appropriate, each after his own fashion. At the same time, M arx and Engels brought into question the abstract notion that a given state is the representative of an undifferentiated nation. Their views on the nation can only be analyzed by reference to the historical and ideological encounters surrounding the emergence of a new kind of nationalism that would couple the national state with the nation state. Chapter 2, “ The Nationalities Question Revisited,” concentrates on the apogee of the Second International, between, roughly, 1895 and the onset of World War I. The successor to the IWMA was founded in Paris in 1889. Unlike its predecessor, this was an association of parties and movements from across Europe and from some of the more advanced areas of the periphery, most notably Russia, Japan, and the Southern Cone countries of South America. In many cases, the member parties comprised mass move ments that by the early twentieth century had significant representation in the legislative bodies of major countries like Britain, France, and, of course, Germany. For the Second International, the debate over the “ national question” took place around two distinct issues, colonialism and multinationalism. This chapter concentrates on the latter, in part because anticolonialism had long been the dominant position of the international labor movement. More important, the discussion of multinationalism (i.e., of political practice requiring an ongoing organization that transcends national lines) addresses some of the same normative and theoretical issues (self-determination, autonomy, the social dynamics of nationalism, etc.) and does so from a perspective that is of particular interest to observers from the late twentieth century. In our own time, many of these issues are once again at the forefront, whether in strictly national terms in some of the countries of
formerly “ really existing socialism” or in the more amorphous terms of “multiculturalism. ” During the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century the growing emphasis on ethnicity as the foundation for polities inspired, particularly in the multinational empires of central and eastern Europe, three distinct positions among the thinkers of the Second International. The first view, best repre sented in the works of V. I. Lenin, argued for a national right to selfdetermination, conceived primarily as the a priori claim of every nation to separate political existence. This was a position Lenin held throughout his life. However, his initial formulation was based upon the assumption of a liberal republic, an inappropriate premise before and after he rode the revolutionary tide into power in October (old calendar) 1917. Rosa Luxem burg, on the other hand, is the best-remembered proponent of the second position, a consistently radical internationalism. Initially, she formulated her views in her analyses of the Polish situation and in her debates with the nationalists among Polish socialists. Her sharpest pronouncements, interest ingly enough, occurred in her debates with Lenin and her critique of his revolution. She held that nations were simply cultural entities with no a priori political claims, and certainly with no a priori claims to social democracy’s support. Rather, she argued, what was due allegiance was democracy, the very thing Lenin came to reject in the end. Finally, the Austrian Social Democrat Otto Bauer represents the third position. Bauer, whose work is regrettably all but unknown in the English-speaking world, argued against the orthodox position that the global development of capitalism would lead to the amalgamation of nations. Quite the contrary, he held that capitalist accumulation fostered the differentiation of cultures, and so the potential for conflict among workers of different nations. Bauer proposed that social democracy embrace this multiplicity of cultures as a positive phenomenon. Nonetheless, he did argue that the distinctions be tween nation, territory, and state had to be carefully maintained. In the process, he elaborated one of the most innovative and powerful theories of the nation. A new examination of the nationalities debate reveals that the Second International was far from oblivious to national aspirations and sensibilities. All three currents of thought paid close attention to these issues. That they proposed different answers should serve as a reminder of the multifaceted nature of the international labor movement and of the idea of the nation. More important, at their best these thinkers, each in his or her own way, grasped the importance of grounding the discussion of the nation in specific
institutional and social contexts. This, in particular, is a theme that would add much clarity to the controversies of our own epoch. Chapter 3, “ Solidarity for One Country,” examines the national question in the quite different environment of the Third International, the Comintern (1 9 1 9 -4 3 ). The Communist International was initially the response of the Bolsheviks to what they saw as the treason of the Social Democratic parties in August 1914. Almost all of the Second International parties, despite earlier commitments to the contrary, had sided with their governments when called upon to support the war effort. While this collaboration with the warring states found many detractors, it still left the Second International in disarray. The organization that so many hoped, and not a few feared, would stop an otherwise inevitable war had proved unable even to discipline its members, let alone influence the course of events. Initially, then, the Com intern found significant support among workers and activists who were disappointed with the Second International and inspired by the revolution of 1917. The Bolsheviks became the model for the labor movement. Indeed, 1 9 1 7 -2 1 saw a wave of revolutionary activity that extended across Europe, and even to the United States and Japan. This did not last. Beginning shortly after the end of the First World War, fascist parties began to gain ground around the world by presenting themselves as the historical and national alternatives to liberal capitalism and to socialism. Meanwhile, a parallel drift toward authoritarianism was occurring in Rus sia. The Bolshevik-controlled state now presented itself as the homeland of the workers and would soon demand their unconditional support. This time, the Bolsheviks would not risk a repetition of 1914. Indeed, the Third International resolved one of the key problems of its predecessors. Unlike them, it was an organization that actually had the ability to compel the compliance of its members. Unfortunately, this accomplishment came at the cost of closing off debate and transmuting internationalism into uncom promising loyalty to the Soviet Union, a process Comintern thinking on the national question clearly reflected. Where the First International had been concerned with promoting soli darity among the workers of different countries and the Second Interna tional had sought to organize workers of different ethnic backgrounds within countries, the Communist International saw in the national question a nation-building challenge. This approach was justified not only by the situation in Russia, but also by conditions in the first fascist country, Italy. In revolutionary Russia, the problem was to create an identity corresponding to the new state that was emerging out of the debris of the tsarist empire. In
Italy, it was a question of confronting M ussolini’s Fascists in a violent contest marked by the always problematic issue of Italian national unity. These circumstances produced two very different accounts of the nation-building process, one by Stalin, the other by Gramsci. Chapter 3 begins with a discussion of Lenin’s influence on the Comintern, and moves on to examine Stalin’s understanding of the phenomenon and its role in his effort to erect the Soviet state. Other than perhaps his essay on language,18 Stalin’s analysis of nationality was by any estimation his only work of any theoretical value. In good measure, his version of the nation was a reply to Otto Bauer. It drew on the anthropological account of the much denigrated Karl Kautsky, and its initial political conclusions were no differ ent from Lenin’s. However, as Stalin’s understanding evolved in response to changing conditions, his focus shifted, and an apparently paradoxical set of positions emerged. On the one hand, there was a conflation of internation alism with the geopolitical interests of a particular state. Solidarity ceased to refer to mutual support in emancipatory political and economic struggles and became loyalty to the Soviet state. In 1922 the Third International resolved to give absolute priority to the interests of Soviet Russia; by 1925 it had been reduced to an instrument of foreign policy. On the other hand, Stalin’s approach also became the foundation for what would become the M arxist (or Marxist-Leninist) view on the nation following the Second World War, national liberation M arxism. After 1945, the language of national self-determination and international solidarity became the standard mode of expression for anticolonialist movements around the world. This position would be primarily concerned with the intersection of sovereignty, power politics, and social grievance, leaving little room for the examination of cultural questions that would define Gramsci’s effort. In recent years, Gramsci’s conceptual apparatus, especially his notion of “ hegemony,” has been the object of much scholarly interest. Many have held that Gramscian analysis of “ superstructural phenomena” filled a much needed gap in M arxian theory and moved it away from narrow economic determinism to the acceptance of a “ relative autonomy” for the realms of politics and culture. Indeed, some have gone so far as to interpret Gramsci’s work, wrongly, in my view, as if it truly could exist outside the broad tenets of M arxian political economy and the specific conditions of prewar Italian fascism and Third International Communism. What most accounts elide is
18. Joseph Stalin, M arxism and Linguistics (New York: International Publishers, 1951).
the close links between the notion of “ hegemony,” the cultural reflections from which it emerged, and Gramsci’s overriding concern with the construc tion of the “ national-popular.” Much as Machiavelli and Garibaldi before him, Gramsci’s aim was Italian unification. On the other hand, his project had to be defined along lines clearly different from those the Fascist regime was already pursuing. Beginning with a historical analysis of the class bases of this regime and of the nation he sought to build, Gramsci explored the relations between intellectuals, culture, and the experience of the people. True national culture, he held, could only be the outcome of the interaction between rooted intellectuals and the popular masses. But this project was doomed, not only by fascism, but also by the related historical trajectory of the Comintern. As the Stalinist night fell, the Communist regime mounted an attack on democratic and internationalist ideas and institutions. O f course, the prob lem was already apparent in Lenin’s own ideas about the Party, revolution, and the democratic republic. Yet, for Lenin, the International had always remained a point of reference. N ot so for Stalin. For him, the International was an instrument to be used in geopolitical struggles. At the same time, his “ social fascism ” thesis, the proposition that Social Democrats (and liberals) were no different from fascists and Nazis, undermined the unity of the embattled democratic forces and of the working class itself. As he consoli dated his grip on power, Stalin contributed, perhaps unwittingly, but cer tainly objectively, to the rise of fascism, particularly in Germany, and elsewhere in Europe and in China. This is not to say that the Soviet regime followed a consistent policy. Quite the contrary, there were sudden shifts and unannounced retreats, but these followed a pattern of manipulation of the Comintern parties in the interest of the Soviet Union, its Communist Party, and Stalin’s own faction. In effect, inconvenient uprisings and revolutionary stirrings, in the West and else where, were undermined. Even Soviet aid to the republican side in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 was guided by geopolitical interests and marred by Stalin’s project to establish monolithic control over the world’s Left. All of this was capped by the massacre of anarchist fighters just as Franco’s armies were gaining ground. Finally, in 1943, Stalin abandoned all pretense of internationalism and dissolved the Comintern in exchange for a second front in western Europe. With the International gone, all institutional connection between the ideas of nation, democracy, socialism, and interna tionalism also vanished. Henceforth, only neo-Leninist Third World na tional liberation movements would remain; and these, after 1948, would be
caught up in the contest between the superpowers and would come to develop a theoretical connection I call national liberation M arxism. Yet, this too has mostly passed with the collapse of bureaucratic socialism in Europe. Already by 1989 it was almost de rigueur, particularly among political and social theorists on the Left, to concentrate on questions of identity and multiculturalism. The modern epoch seemingly has passed, leaving in its wake a “ decentered” universe where all “ metanarratives” are suspect and, in any case, incommensurable. The very concepts of progress and history have been problematized, if not abandoned. In an ironic twist, especially in the English-speaking world, Left seems to have joined Right in rejecting projects of social transformation and human emancipation. There will no longer be grand themes permitting the organization of ideas or criteria, let alone movements, to guide globally significant choices. All that remains is a multiplicity of cultures and identities enmeshed in a network of experiences, power, and resistance. Yet, there is much to belie this position. The great global awakening of nationality suggests that at least one of the themes of modernity, nationalism, continues to develop and expand. There may yet be unity in fragmentation. The final chapter, “ Between Cosmopolitan Intent and Self-Determination,” argues that the international labor movement spawned a theory of the nation that contains both important insights into the current political problem of nationalism and principles on which a new progressive practice, adapted to new conditions, must build. Nearly a century and a half after the establishment of an international association of workers, the dynamic globalization of economy, politics, and culture coexists with a militant particularism at every level. In effect, the globalization of the capitalist world-system is characterized by increasing national-cultural differentiation at one level, amalgamation under the hege mony of Western consumer culture at another. Much as those gathered in September of 1864 expected, perhaps even more so, capitalist relations of production now are worldwide in scope. Few corners of the planet escape the penetration of markets; production processes are increasingly integrated across geopolitical borders. The two main tenets of neoliberalism, free trade and privatization, anchor elite discourse (though arguably not practice) on a world scale. Cultural phenomena originating in the advanced (post)industrial societies, from popular music to social movements like feminism and environmentalism, are being reproduced even in the seemingly most unlikely locales. International organizations, from the United Nations to the Euro pean Union and the Andean Pact, are proliferating and blossoming, albeit in stilted ways. At the same time, a second national awakening jolts the former
Eastern bloc; exclusionary nationalism shocks the triumphant capitalist democracies; genocidal conflicts tear apart countries in Europe and Africa; and irredentism plagues Asia from Gaza and the West Bank “ settlements” to Ayodhya and beyond. Coupled with popular opposition to international arrangements (e.g., the Maastricht Treaty and the North American Free Trade Agreement) and broad-based distrust toward international organiza tions, these trends speak to a pervasive particularism as the modal response to the neoliberal capitalist world order. It is almost as if internationalism only survived in the boardrooms of the major transnational companies, while reactionary and progressive movements nurtured provincialism, albeit in different terms. “ Between Cosmopolitan Intent and Self-Determination” argues that to day the Left must continue the project of the international labor movement while returning to its radical republican origins. The new practices must be internationalist in the sense that the working classes, which anyhow form the vast majority of the population of the advanced industrial societies and are a growing part of the rest, must support each other’s struggles across political borders. They must constitute a movement in solidarity with efforts to overcome the oppression of peoples, whether that oppression is expressed and resisted in national or other (e.g., ethnic, racial, religious) terms. In short, an effort to reconstitute the international labor movement is an effort to take up the project with which it was charged in 1848: “ to win,” in M arx’s words, “ the battle of democracy.” Although the historic Internationals are no longer, the legacy of their political ideas remains. Rather than a blanket rejection of the national in all forms, labor internationalism more often meant solidary practice with national projects, and theoretical efforts to understand nations as ideolo gies and as phenomena. As long as a cosmopolitan intent informed interna tionalist theory and practice, the key objective was to extend the ideals of liberty and equality using democratic and social republicanism, and this meant fostering all peoples’ ability to control the individual and collective conditions of their existence: in other words, it meant socialism. Obviously, the work of the thinkers of the historic international labor movement is not a readily available instrument. Nonetheless, a common thread remains ac cessible. It is the effort to forge the principles and the language to express a new cosmopolitan vision and ground a renewed hope. These must guide and inspire a project that aims to curtail arbitrary power at the political, economic, and sociocultural levels, while extending institutional account ability at every level.
Kant once proposed to measure progress in history through “ the positive and negative achievements of nations and governments in relation to the cosmopolitan goal.” 19 “ Postmodern” thinkers might point out, and rightly so, that propositions of purported universal validity are nothing but particu lar narratives. Unfortunately, this position leaves no way of adjudicating between conflicting versions of cosmopolitanism. The real question for our age is whether some of these propositions in fact articulate generalizable interests and what social forces are capable of advancing these interests as a project. This is precisely what the international labor movement sought to do. This is the cosmopolitan intent and the internationalist practice we must recover.
19. Immanuel Kant, “ The Idea of a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose,” in K ant’s Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss, trans. H. B. Nisbet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 53.
WORKERS OF THE WORLD I n t e r n a t io n a l S o l id a r it y a n d t h e W o r k in g M e n ’s A s s o c ia t io n
It was all about the International Working M en’s A sso ciation, that famous International that had just been founded in London. Was it not a superb effort, a cam paign that would end in the final triumph of justice? N o more borders, the workers of the world rising, uniting, to ensure that each worker received the bread he had earned. . . . Within six months they would conquer the world. — Emile Zola, Germinal
For the labor movement of the nineteenth century, class solidarity was the highest political virtue, a virtue it sought to practice through the Interna tional Working M en’s Association (IWMA). The main purpose of the historic First International (1864-76) was to forge alliances among working people from all countries.1 It aimed to substitute a broad cosmopolitan principle for the particularism of states and nations. The movement’s thinkers and activists saw this task as the resumption of the journey toward democracy and freedom that had begun with the American and French
1. The first official congress of the association took place in 1866, the last in 1873. For a general account of its history, see Julius Braunthal, History o f the International, trans. Henry Collins and Kenneth Mitchell (New York: Praeger, 1967) 1 :8 5 -1 9 3 ; see also Henryk Katz, The Emancipation o f Labor: A History o f the First International, Contributions in Labor Studies, no. 36 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992).
Revolutions and foundered in the bloody battles of 1848. Their project was to extend democracy both geographically and into the realm of civil society. However, their perspectives on what this meant were not harmonious. These disagreements affected both the terms in which they understood nations and the meaning of solidary practices between working people from these nations. The IWMA patterned itself after its predecessor, the Society of Fraternal Democrats (1 8 4 6-52), which had played an important role in the Chartist Convention of 1848 and was the first internationalist working-class-based organization.2 Like the society, the IWMA was composed of regional or local sections with mass membership. These formed at least one (in later years some countries had more than one) national section, itself represented by a corresponding secretary to the General Council. This council was encharged with daily business, with conducting research, and with respond ing to crises when the General Congress was not in session.3 The immediate goal of the organizers of the IWMA had been to foster cooperation between the two largest working classes, those of England and France. The idea of such an alliance was first conceived at a “ feast of international fraternization” in London’s M asonic Pub. There French work ers attending the 1862 exhibition met with members of the London Working M en’s Association. They found common ground and proclaimed that the differences between France and Britain were differences between their governments and ruling classes, not between their working peoples. Thus, the revelers of 1862 laid the foundation for a new relationship between the French and the English labor movements.4 From its founding meeting to its last conference, the IWMA was con cerned with every issue that affected working people. It promoted research into markets and working conditions. It gave what support it could to striking workers. It considered the key social issues of the day. It was a forum for debates on the effects of industrialization on women and the family, with
2. Braunthal, History o f the International, 1 :6 7 -6 8 . For an account of the 1848 Chartist Convention, see Dorothy Thompson, The Chartists: Popular Politics in the Industrial Revolu tion (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 3 0 7 - 2 9 . 3. Although the statutes of the organization came from M arx’s pen, many others were involved in framing them. For the four initial versions in English and French, see Jam es Guillaume, L ’Internationale: Documents et souvenirs (1 8 6 4 -1 8 7 8 ) (Paris, 1909; reprint, New York: Burt Franklin Reprints, 1969), 1 :1 1 -2 1 . 4. Jules Puech, Le proudhonisme dans l’Association internationale des travailleurs (Paris: Félix Alan et Guillaumin Réunis, 1907), 38.
communalists advocating a return to full-time motherhood and, later, anar chists calling for complete equality of rights and participation for women and teenagers.5 The Internationalists disputed the question of suffrage, with Proudhonists and, later, Bakuninists arguing against all “ political” activity, while M arxists and English workers supported it. In all cases, however, the International rejected the dissociation of popular government, political community, and international comity. It supported progressive forces such as the Union side in the American Civil War.6 M ost crucially, the IWMA put forth a different way of conceiving of politics; it claimed that “ the emanci pation of labour is neither a local nor a national, but a social problem,” and that “ all societies and individuals adhering to it will acknowledge truth, justice, and morality as the basis for their conduct towards each other and towards all men, without regard to colour, creed or nationality.” 7 In theory and in practice, then, the International became involved in the mid-nineteenth-century efforts to reconceptualize the modern political com munity, the nation. These were both theoretical debates and concrete struggles. From the very start, for example, M arx claimed that “ ‘an inde pendent Poland based on democratic and Socialist principles according to the sovereign right belonging to every nation’ should be established.” 8 However, given the variety of dispositions within the association, it is not surprising that this position became an object of contestation. In general, the views on the nation fell into two main tendencies. On the
5. The communalists were followers of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who had died before the establishment of the IWMA. Despite his overriding concern with order, Proudhon considered the state fundamentally disruptive and unjust. Consequently, he held that all political action was itself illegitimate. The deliverance of impoverished working people had to be the result of their own economic action aimed at self-sufficiency. The anarchists were led by Mikhail Bakunin, who by the late 1860s had accepted M arx’s economic theories, but agreed with Proudhon on the fundamentally unjust essence of the state. Unlike Proudhon, Bakunin assigned a key role to intellectuals and advocated insurrectionary action as the only way to emancipate the working class. Neither Proudhon nor Bakunin limited his conception of the proletariat to those who have “ nothing to sell but their labour power.” 6. In January 1865, the Central Council of the IWMA wrote to Lincoln to congratulate him on his reelection and to express the association’s faith that “ as the American War of Indepen dence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle classes, so the American Anti-Slavery War will do for the working classes.” International Workingmen’s Association, Documents o f the First International (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1963) 1:53. 7. “ General Rules of the International Working M en’s A ssociation” (drafted by Karl M arx, approved by the Geneva Council in November of 1864, as adopted at the Geneva Congress of 1866), in Braunthal, History o f the International, 1 :3 5 7 -5 8 . 8. Quoted in Braunthal, History o f the International, 1:122.
one side, there was the proposition that nations were the products of long-established historical communities. On the other side, nations were seen as political creations. For the advocates of the first position, commu nalists and anarchists, conflicts among nations were a consequence of state actions and laws. They proposed the elimination of states and their replace ment with federal arrangements “ from the bottom up.” For the supporters of the second view, nations were political phenomena with only contingent links to cultural factors. Nations were rooted in the practices of emerging capitalist industrialism; they acquired coherence in the institutions through which the ruling classes sought to frame their interests; and they created the setting for a working class that had, or ought to have had, a very different conception of nations and internationalism. The writings of Bakunin offer the best example of the first position; those of M arx and Engels are the most appropriate representatives of the second.
Anarchy and Federation: Bakunin Mikhail Aleksandrovich Bakunin (1814-76) was the son of a Russian aristocrat (the Bakunins held more than a thousand serfs) and diplomat with rumored Decembrist ties.9 His intellectual trajectory included studies with Schelling in Berlin, a flirtation with the Young Hegelian movement there, a short but significant acquaintance with Proudhon, and a series of battles with liberals, republicans, and, later, socialists. In many ways, the life of this Russian prince epitomizes those of nineteenth-century revolutionaries like Herzen, Garibaldi, Kossuth, and Mazzini. The events of 1848 found him in Paris, but he quickly went to Brussels, where he met M arx, and then on to Germany and M oravia. He fought on the barricades in Prague and Dresden, was taken prisoner in Chemnitz and deported to Russia. There he spent time in the dungeons and in Siberian exile. This he fled, in 1861, setting out on a yearlong trek that took him to Japan, San Francisco, across the isthmus of 9. The classic, and in many ways unsurpassed, English-language work on Bakunin is E. H. Carr, Michael Bakunin (New York: Vintage, 1937). The following also deserve mention: Jam es Guillaume “ Michael Bakunin: A Biographical Sketch,” in Bakunin on Anarchy: Selected Works by the Activist-Founder o f World Anarchism, ed. and trans. Sam Dolgoff (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), 2 2 - 5 2 ; Anthony M asters, Bakunin: The Father o f Anarchism (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974); Arthur P. Mendel, Michael Bakunin: Roots o f Apocalypse (New York: Praeger, 1981). In addition, see Madeleine Grawitz’s Bakounine (Paris: Plon, 1990).
Panama, on to New York and Boston, and eventually to London. Beginning in 1864 he settled in Italy, flirted with Freemasonry, traveled to Sweden and Switzerland, became an atheist and an anarchist, and gave free rein to his penchant for forming secret organizations. Bakunin was a complex figure. Rather than a systematic thinker, he was an iconoclast, a wanderer, and an activist. In the words of a sympathetic biographer, Bakunin was “ contradictory, erratic, given to wild enthusiasms, insolvent, lonely, unpredictable, creatively destructive— and essentially the father of Anarchism.” 10 Unlike M arx, he always placed his hopes for social transformation in the insurrection of peasants and the urban poor led by déclassé intellectuals. In his view, M arx and his followers were essentially reactionaries whose theories and political tactics resulted in “ endless accom modations with governments and the various bourgeois political parties.” 11 Bakunin, prefiguring Lenin, relied greatly on secret societies to promote his goals by infiltrating other organizations, propagandizing, and generally creating disruption. It is important to note that many of the conspiratorial associations he spoke of never existed outside his own mind, and that some were not as effective as either he or his opponents claimed.12 Nonetheless, where applied, these tactics were quite effective at spreading the reach of the International, especially in Switzerland, Italy, and Spain after 1868. In Spain, for example, his envoys managed to split an emerging socialist movement and to convert its radical leadership to anarchism.13 N ot surprisingly, this penchant for forming secret organizations and splitting movements contrib uted significantly to the conflicts with M arx. Indeed, today Bakunin is probably best known for his feuds with M arx and for his 1842 critique of German intellectuals, “ The Reaction in Germany,” which concluded with Hegelian-inspired fanfare: “ Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which
10. M asters, Bakunin, 262. 11. Mikhail A. Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy, ed. and trans. M arshall S. Shatz (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 180. 12. It is next to impossible to keep track of the secret societies that Bakunin founded, participated in, or simply imagined. The best effort to address this controversial topic is Arthur Lehning, “ Bakunin’s Conceptions of Revolutionary Organisations and Their Role: A Study of His ‘Secret Societies,’ ” in Essays in Honor o f E. H. Carr, ed. C. Abramsky (London: Macmillan, 1974), 5 7 - 8 1 . For an account of the Bakuninist impact on Spain at midcentury, see Clara E. Lida, El anarquismo y la revolución en la España del X IX (Madrid: Siglo X X I, 1972), 1 2 5 -6 8 . 13. Casimir M arti, “ La première Internationale à Barcelone (1 8 6 8 -1 8 7 0 ),” International Review o f Social History 4, no. 3 (1959): 3 9 4 -4 1 4 .
destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion to o !” 14 “ The Reaction in Germany” was not an anarchist work, at least not if “ anarchy” means the abolition of all state forms. Rather, this essay was a polemic against German radicals, whom he charged with a failure of commitment and a lack of trust in Providence. Indeed, anarchism and atheism would characterize his views only during the last fifteen years or so of his life. Before this, he was a romantic revolutionist but never a communist, a Germanophobe anti-Semitic Pan-Slavist who wrote mainly in French and German, a democrat who told Nicholas I that he “ wanted a republic. . . . N ot a parliamentary one . . . [but] a strong dictatorial government.” 15 The fact is that only two themes lend a certain continuity to Bakunin’s oeuvre: his lifelong commitment to insurrectionary politics, and the central role played by his ideas of the nation. Read from the standpoint of the nation, after 1842 Bakunin’s works and trajectory take on a certain coherence that is otherwise lacking.16 It was a preoccupation with the “ fact of nationality” that always provided the leitmotif for his political constructions. His essentially populist understand ing of the nation was the link between his revolutionary Pan-Slavism and his anarchist vision of a postrevolutionary society, between his early struggle for the liberation of all Slavs and his hopes for a world federation of communes. Throughout his life, Bakunin held to the intuition that nationality was a cultural fact of existence that had undergirded human personality and development since time immemorial. This is not to say that his idea of the nation did not itself evolve; it did. Yet, in the end, his last views on this subject were already present in his early writings. It is then, with Bakunin’s Pan-Slavism that the analysis must begin. This is 14. Mikhail A. Bakunin, “ The Reaction in Germany,” in Bakunin on Anarchy, 57. Bakunin wrote this piece under the pretense of being a French observer and under the pseudonym Jules Elysard, a name he would use on occasion. 15. Mikhail A. Bakunin, The Confession o f Mikhail Bakunin with the Marginal Notes o f Tsar Nicholas I, trans. Robert C. Howes (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 9 0 - 9 1 . For an analytical approach to Bakunin’s theoretical anarchism, see Eugene Pyziur, The Doctrine o f Anarchism o f Michael A. Bakunin (Milwaukee: M arquette, 1955). 16. Bakunin’s first publication was an essay on Hegel that first appeared in the M oscow Observer and was meant as a preface to the Russian translation of some of Hegel’s lectures. For accounts of this work, see Carr, Michael Bakunin, 6 8 - 7 0 ; A. Mendel, Michael Bakunin, 8 6 - 8 9 ; and Grawitz, Bakounine, 7 0 - 7 4 . The full text appears in Mikhail A. Bakunin, Sobranie sochinenii i pisem, 1 8 2 8 - 1 8 7 6 , ed. Y. Steklov (Moscow: USSR Society of Former Political Prisoners and Exiles, 1 9 3 4 -3 6 ), 2 :1 6 6 -7 8 .
a subject of some contention, and at least one sympathetic biographer, Madeleine Grawitz, has claimed that he was nothing more than a Russian patriot. In developing her final evaluation, she argues that Bakunin was “ not a Pan-Slavist as M arx reproached him, but a Russian to the deepest core of his soul.” 17 Leaving aside for the moment his debates with M arx and Engels, it is certainly the case that Bakunin often said that he was “ Russian and that his thoughts naturally refer [red] to Russia.” 18 He often presented himself as a radical Russian patriot who supported other democratic struggles in good measure because he expected them to have a salutary impact upon a Russia that had suffered for so long under the yoke of despotism. Indeed, his late works, “ The Knouto-Germanic Empire” 19 and Statism and Anarchy, were in good measure devoted to arguing the point that the tsars were in fact not Russian and that love for Russia thus required opposition to tsarism, which was a Germanic imposition. Yet, Bakunin’s patriotism, a virtue he would eventually reject, was not always untainted by broader nationalist motives informed by Pan-Slavist, if not Slavophile, assumptions. As early as 1847 Bakunin had sought to promote the unity of Slavic peoples. This solidarity, he told an audience gathered to commemorate the Polish rebellion of 1830, was the sine qua non of the end of tsarism, and a crucial step toward “ the deliverance of all the Slav peoples who are groaning under a foreign yoke.” The liberty, perhaps even the redemption, of the Slavs was only possible, he held, if they acted together. Indeed, they had no choice but to do so. The Poles, for example, were not the enemies of the Russians, and the Russians were not the enemies of the Poles. Rather, they were all the enemies of Tsar Nicholas. The historical task of the Poles, whether they wanted it or not, was the deliver ance of the Slavs from despotism.20
17. Grawitz, Bakounine, 570. 18. Mikhail A. Bakunin, untitled article, L a Réforme (Paris), 13 M arch 1848, 1. 19. This fragmentary work, published in two different segments in 1870 and 1871, has never been translated into English. Arthur Lehning has done a remarkable job in establishing the original text of L ’ empire knouto-germanique et la révolution sociale in Archives Bakounine, vol. 7 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981). 20. Mikhail A. Bakunin, “ On the 17th Anniversary of the Polish Insurrection of 1830,” in Bakunin on Anarchy, 60. On occasion, in other texts, Bakunin referred to the “ Slav race.” I have avoided this formulation because of its modern connotations. Today, especially among North American English speakers, the term “ race” connotes an “ objective,” or “ natural,” difference in kind (e.g., between a w olf and a dog). Before the full development of “ scientific racism” the term had the less exclusive sense of “ breed” (e.g., a Labrador or a schnauzer) or even ethnicity.
This position received further development in connection with the First Slav Congress, held in Prague between M ay and June 1848. The Prague Congress met in the complex situation of the late spring of 1848, under the leadership of Franti###ek Palacký. Despite its broader pretensions, the congress only aimed to reconcile and fuse the Austrian Slav nationalities. Further more, the liberal Czech delegates remained generally loyal to the Habsburg side in its conflicts with the National Parliament of Frankfurt and the Hungarian Republic of Kossuth. If for no other reason, this was so because they feared a Greater Germany, on the one hand, and an Austria-Hungary with a strong M agyar component, on the other. However, for Bakunin, one of only two Russians present, Prague provided an opportunity to renew his always strained bonds with Polish rebels, to make contact, for the first time, with Southern Slavs, and to give vent to his romantic ideas about a great Slavic nation.21 Three years later, in his Confession, Bakunin would recall his Prague experience: “ The Slav heart in me awoke, and for the first time I was ready to forget almost completely all democratic sympathies tying me to Western Europe.” Whatever his sympathies may have been, Bakunin found the congress too complacent, too ready to compromise, and not sufficiently committed to the broader Slav question. The congress was rent with divisions and parochialism despite the fact that “ [t]he predominant feeling among the Slavs [wa]s hatred for the Germans.” He claimed to have attempted to bridge the gap between the participants by emphasizing their common Slav roots, feelings, and culture. Along these lines, he reported asking the congress, “ Why have you come together in Prague? Is it to talk here of your provincial interests? Or is it to merge all special causes of the Slav peoples, their interests, demands and problems into one indivisible, great Slav question?” 22 The status of this segment of the Confession is a matter of dispute. Lawrence Orton, its editor, points out that there is no evidence that Bakunin spoke to the assembled congress at all, and even less that he used such
21. For an account of the Prague Congress, see Hans Kohn, Pan-Slavism: Its History and Ideology (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1953), 6 1 - 8 4 . See also Robert A. Kann, A History o f the H absburg Empire, 1 5 2 6 -1 9 1 8 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974), 2 9 9 - 3 1 8 , and idem, The Multinational Empire: Nationalism and N ational Reform in the H absburg Monarchy, 1 8 4 8 -1 9 1 8 (New York: Octagon, 1970), 2 :5 - 1 1 . The Second Slav Congress took place in M oscow in 1867; Bakunin did not attend. 22. Bakunin, Confession, 68 and 74; see generally 6 7 - 7 5 .
words.23 In short, Bakunin may have misrepresented his part in Prague to mollify his captors. After all, he composed this text while under custody in Russia, perhaps in response to a set of questions, certainly in the hope of receiving news from his family and being sent into exile rather than to prison or the gallows. Although there is no evidence that he was tortured or compelled, he had good reason to ingratiate himself with the tsar. These circumstances may account for the respectful tone and perhaps for his expressions of contrition, but they do not fully explain his effort to portray his project as Pan-Slavist before a tsar who was not a Pan-Slavist. The fact is that, until well into 1848, or even 1851, Bakunin was a radical Pan-Slavist who did not distinguish between national liberation and a cosmopolitan commitment to political freedom any more than his contem poraries (including the tsar) did.24 Perhaps this was in the back of his mind when, in 1851, he offered Nicholas the opportunity to transform himself into the liberator of the Slavs, who had been lied to by “ the French Revolutionary government, deceived by Germans, insulted by German Jew s.” The solution would have been at hand in 1848 “ if you, Sire, had wished at that time to raise the Slav banner, then they [those gathered in Prague, even the Poles] unconditionally, without discussion, blindly submit ting to your will, they and all others who speak Slavic in the Austrian and Prussian possessions would have thrown themselves with joy and fanaticism under the broad wings of the Russian eagle and would have rushed with fury not only against the hated Germans but against all Western Europe as well.” 25 Acting as protector of the Slavs, Nicholas might have saved the revolutionaries of 1848. Although Bakunin may never have been as much of a tsarist as this suggests,26 the 1851 Confession included a series of themes that would recur in his later work and were already present in 1848:
23. In his notes to Bakunin, Confession, 1 7 0 -7 1 . 24. Even though the tsars may have used it to seek support among the populations of the bordering Austrian and Turkish empires, Pan-Slavism was not the official ideology of the Russian tsars. They legitimated their rule in religious terms, as defenders of the faith. In fact, certainly before 1860, the tsars opposed Pan-Slavist efforts in Russia because the movement was rooted in modern Western secular thought. Pan-Slavism actually arose first among Western and Southern Slavs, then among antitsarist Russians. See Kohn, Pan-Slavism. 25. Bakunin, Confession, 98. Nicholas’s marginal notes suggest that he remained uncon vinced. 26. Years later, he would tell his friends Herzen and Ogarev that the tsar’s becoming an emancipator was the equivalent of “ political suicide.” Bakunin to Herzen and Ogarev, 19 July 1866, in Correspondance de Michel Bakounine: Lettres à Herzen et à O gareff (1 8 6 0 -1 8 7 4 ), ed. Michel Dragomanov, French trans. Marie Stromberg (Paris: Perrin, 1896), 2 2 0 - 2 1 .
Germanophobia and anti-Semitism, the suggestion, well in keeping with emergent nationalist mythology, that the honest spirit of the peasant (the muzhik, who despite his degradation was uncorrupted by western European influence) contained the nation’s telos, and the refusal to distinguish among political forms. While in Prague, Bakunin was probably less well disposed toward the tsar than he would later suggest at the Fortress of Peter and Paul. Nonetheless, in 1848 he found both the sympathies of Czech delegates for the Habsburgs and the almost exclusive concern with political independence among the Poles too narrow and conservative. He sought to radicalize the congress. To this effect, he composed his “ Appeal to the Slavs,” which, however, did not see the light of day until after the fall of Prague.27 In it he argued, prefiguring the 1851 analysis, that the fate of the European revolutions depended very much on developments in eastern Europe. The “ Appeal” deserves close attention because, in many ways, it typifies the views of the revolutionaries of 1848, of the last moment in the history of European thought when the unity of democracy, nationalism, and interna tionalism was regarded as the unproblematic foundation of a new politics. Bakunin opened his appeal with a rhetorical flourish, urging his Slav “ brothers” to take on their historical role as the agents, if not the embodi ment, of the revolution. He demanded uncompromising commitment be cause diplomacy and negotiation were unacceptable elements of the old politics of deception and oppression, while democracy required solidarity among peoples, understanding, and organization. In the face of this contra diction, history, whose spirit had come to rest with the Slavic peoples, resolved itself into revolution. They would overturn empires, pave the way for the unification of Italy, and, ultimately, lay the foundation for a federa tion of European republics. In his words, the revolution became a subject in its own right, proclaiming “ the dissolution of the states of the despots; the dissolution of the Prussian Empire . . . the dissolution of the Turkish Empire . . . the dissolution of the last private domain of Machiavelism and
27. “ Appeal to the Slavs” is excerpted in Bakunin on Anarchy, 6 3 - 6 8 . It was originally written in French and published in German, with significant revisions, around December 1848. L a Réforme published much of the original French text between 1 and 14 January 1848. The German version excluded all references to “ the social question.” See Jo sef Pfitzner, Bakuninstudien: Quellen und Forschungen aus Gebiete der Geschichte (Berlin: Karin Kramer Verlag, 1977), 7 8 - 1 0 5 . See also Benoît-P. Hepner, Bakounine et le panslavisme révolutionnaire: Cinq essais sur Vhistoire des idées en Russie et en Europe (Paris: Librairie Marcel Rivière, 1950), 2 6 4 -7 4 .
of diplomacy . . . the Russian Empire.” Thus the new politics was to be born from the destruction of the old.28 The notion of a federation of republics, of course, had its origins in the Enlightenment and found its most illustrious exponent in Kant.29 The latter’s foedus pacificum (pacific federation) was a solution to the chronic wars and heteronomy that plagued the continent. Bakunin, in keeping with his understanding of Hegel, had historicized the notion and located it with the Slavs and, particularly, the Russian people, which, alone among its brethren, had supposedly “ been able to preserve its national existence.” 30 Yet, the initiative was to rest with the Western Slavs, particularly Czechs and Poles, who by simultaneously destroying the Austrian Empire and confront ing Prussia opened the door for the destabilization of Russia and so for solidarity with the progressive forces of Germany and Hungary. Clearly, this scenario rested on a distinction between national identity and politics, between nationality and citizenship, between nationalism and patriotism. Bakunin was, of course, aware that any people freeing itself of its oppressors would first react with a hate that seemed to preclude future solidarity. This is why he pleaded with his readers to distinguish between the politics of a people and the people itself: “ You have good reason for cursing the old German politics . . . [but] this politics will never be part o f the future German people ” 31 But pleas would be insufficient as long as the Slavs believed that oppressing them was essential to the German character, rather than a product of the despotic politics of Germany. A European federation that emerged from the liberation struggles of oppressed peoples presupposed some basis for postrevolutionary reconciliation. An alliance between pro gressive Slavs and Germans presupposed that they shared something over and above their previous relation. Bakunin had to argue that the former oppressors, themselves the victims of oppression, would become allies in the struggle against despotism. The abolition of the old politics would resolve the contradictions between peoples because the spirit that made, for ex ample, the Germans German was quite distinct from the regimes that ruled them, from their chancellors, monarchs, and diplomats. Germanic identity 28. Bakunin, “ Appeal to the Slavs,” 66. Quotation in italics in the original. 29. See, for example, Immanuel Kant, “ Perpetual Peace, a Philosophical Sketch,” in K ant’s Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss, trans. H. B. Nisbet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 9 3 - 1 3 0 . 30. Bakunin, “ Appeal to the Slavs,” 67. 31. Ibid., 64.
and German politics were different, a position Bakunin could not maintain for long, even in this text. The sharp distinction between the people, the Volk, and politics collapsed once the new democratic politics emerged. If the mark of the democratic state was its identification with the popular nation, Bakunin could no longer distinguish state policy from popular will. As it turned out, this was precisely the problem that arose with the Frankfurt Parliament and the Hungarian Republic. The former body, seeking to unite the various elements of the German League, had invited representatives from the Prague Congress, which, not surprisingly, had refused. Bakunin himself considered the parlia ment’s claims an absurd effort “ to make Germans of us all” and saw in the M agyars “ those fiery enemies of our race.” 32 In short, with the end of the old politics it became impossible for Bakunin to sustain the separation between a people and its state. In Bakunin’s terms, once the absolutist monarchy had been overthrown, German citizenship and German ethnos, to use a modern term, became indistinguishable. If the new German nation-state and the German nation were the same, then the Frankfurt Parliament was an organ of the ethnic nation. Under conditions of democracy, Bakunin’s populist idea of the nation could not admit distinctions between the civic and the ethnic nations, because it presumed an ideal unity of the Volk. Since he did not possess a theory that allowed him to see contradictions among the forces of German society (i.e., among the Germans themselves), Bakunin was left without a principle capable of grounding an internationalist position. Now the Ger man nation was the oppressor of the Slavs. All that was left to Bakunin (and the Pan-Slavists) was unity among the Slavs, who shared in the same spirit. It was only later, when Bakunin located the problem of oppression first in the very essence of political thinking (“ political theology” ) and then in the “ social question” that the distinction between people and politics would be sustainable once again. This would be his position by the time the Interna tional was established in 1864. Bakunin only joined the International Working M en’s Association in 1868. Nonetheless, by 1864 he had developed most of the positions with which posterity would associate him: militant atheism, a strong dislike for M arx, and a federalist brand of anarchism. Bakunin came to associate the politics of “ centralized” states, particularly republican states, with theology, 32. Ibid., 67.
that is, with mystification. This, in addition to resentments going back to 1849, would guide Bakunin’s views about and relation with M arx despite his 1864 promise to promote the IWMA in Italy, made before he was even a member.33 Finally, as an alternative to republican politics, he constructed a theory of “ federalism from below” that drew upon his populist views of nation, his romanticized understanding of the Enlightenment notion of the foedus pacificum, and his rejection of modern capitalism. This would become the core of his “ antiauthoritarian” international program. This program appeared most forcefully in an important text addressed to the International Brotherhood,34 the 1866 “ Revolutionary Catechism.” There the mature Bakunin postulated the necessity of federalism in connec tion with his notions of freedom, contract, militant atheism, and his additive conception of complex organization. Seeking to replace “ the cult of God by respect and love o f humanity,” he grounded the institutional order of a postrevolutionary society in an expansive and individualistic understanding of freedom and in a narrow view of what can only be described as a social contract. He defined liberty as “ the absolute right of all adult men and women to seek no sanction for their actions except in their own conscience and their own reason . . . to be responsible for them to themselves . . . and then to the society of which they are a part, but only in so far as they freely consent to be a part of it.” From this perspective, the only valid agreement was that in which each joined for him- or herself in expectation of the fulfillment of particular needs. In Bakunin’s view, this implied that only local associations were legitimate, because these were the only ones where individuals were signatories. This was federalism from the bottom up.35
33. Bakunin and M arx renewed their acquaintance when the former passed through England. “ Bakunin sends his regards,” M arx wrote to Engels on 4 November 1864. “ I saw him yesterday for the first time in years. I must say I liked him very much.” In Karl M arx and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works (New York: International Publishers, 1987), 42:18; hereafter MECW . The feeling, as Grawitz portrays the meeting, was not mutual. See her Bakounine, 268. 34. Originally the Florentine Brotherhood (1864), the brotherhood was one of Bakunin’s most cherished secret societies. It should not be confused with the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy (est. 1868), though, in Bakunin’s vision, it would become the vanguard of the alliance. The brotherhood was led by a directorate composed of Bakunin and two or three others. 35. Mikhail Bakunin, “ Principles and Organization of the International Brotherhood,” in Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings, ed. Arthur Lehning, trans. from the French by Steven Cox (London: Jonathan Cape, 1973), 64; see generally 6 4 - 7 6 . The famous “ Revolutionary C at echism” is the second part of this work (6 4 -8 6 ). This should not be confused with The Rules That Should Inspire a Revolutionist, which he cowrote with Sergei Nechaev.
Anything beyond the commune was to be its creation,36 a contractual association of communes. The aim of such an association was to bring together various communes, to combine their powers for specific purposes (e.g., for the coordination of economic activity), to provide an institutional order that would limit power by decentralizing authority, and, not inciden tally, to serve the needs of peace by eliminating most sources of conflict among members and forging them into a powerful alliance against nonmem bers. What emerged was a loose pyramid of associations where, Bakunin believed, power would reside primarily with the local community: “ [A]ll organization must proceed upwards, from the commune to the central unit of the country, the State. . . . between the commune and the State there must be at least one autonomous intermediary. . . . The basis of all country wide political organization must be the absolutely autonomous commune, always represented by the majority vote of all inhabitants— adult men and women alike.” 37 It is entirely likely, as Paul Avrich has claimed, that Bakunin’s anarchism was in part influenced by what he saw, or what he thought he saw, while in the United States in 1862.38 Bakunin proposed a postrevolutionary institu tional order that began with local organizations and built up through the provincial and country levels, on to a European and, ultimately, a world federation. On this depended both peace and freedom. In Geneva, in 1868, he would propose to the League of Peace and Freedom that “ while preserv ing our sympathies for the great socialist and humanitarian ideas of the French Revolution, we must reject its statist policy and adopt, with resolu tion, the politics of liberty of the North Americans.” 39
36. Bakunin used the French commune, which he understood as a self-governing locality that would operate in a manner Americans would recognize as roughly comparable to that of the ideal New England town meeting. 37. Bakunin, “ Principles and Organization of the International Brotherhood,” 71. Q uota tion in italics in the original. 38. Anarchist Portraits (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 1 6 -3 2 . 39. Mikhail A. Bakunin, F ederalisme, socialisme et antithéologisme,” in CEuvres (Paris: Stock Editeurs, 1895), 1:13. The League of Peace and Freedom was a mostly liberal peace organization with a very prominent membership list, including, besides Bakunin, Victor Hugo, John Stuart Mill, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and Louis Blanc, among others. The league invited the IWMA to send representatives to its 1868 meeting. The IWMA declined, though in 1867 it had encouraged some members to attend the first meeting of the league as individuals. In 1868 the International made it clear that any members who attended did so of their own accord. Quite independent of this, Bakunin attempted to radicalize the league during his tenure on its Central Committee (1 8 6 7 -6 8 ). At his insistence, the committee adopted a resolution that, among other things, proposed that “ without economic and social equalization of classes and individuals”
Statism, understood as political and administrative centralization, had become the problem, federalism the solution. Bakunin’s understanding of federalism resulted from an effort to address the inevitable tendencies toward centralization and expansion he attributed to power. It was not unlike Proudhon’s proposal to resolve the fundamental problem of free association (the antinomy of freedom and authority) through the “ policy of federation, essentially the policy of progress, [which] consists in ruling every people . . . by decreasing the sway of authority and central power to the point permitted by the level of consciousness and morality.” 40 Yet, Bakunin differed with his friend on a variety of issues. M ost evident, of course, was his position on women, a view that was far ahead of that of most of his contemporaries. Bakunin held that women would have equal social, political, and economic rights once the legal family, itself founded on property and law, was abolished. These rights included an entitlement to social support from the moment of pregnancy and continuing for as long as the woman nursed and weaned the child. Also, Bakunin advocated the elimination of rights of inheritance as the key step in the abolition of all private property. And he did not see such factors as formal education, contact with Enlightenment ideals, or even experience with free political activity (i.e., the level of consciousness and morality) as necessary. Furthermore, only revolutionary activity mattered for Bakunin, and this presupposed a revolutionary ideal that could only arise “ from the depths of popular life.” 41 Much like latter-day advocates of new social move ment politics, Bakunin held that it was the experience of suffering and resistance, not formal education and even less the work of movement intellectuals, that originated the new consciousness. Finally, his idea of the scope of a postcapitalist federation was significantly broader than Proud hon’s. Unlike the latter, Bakunin proposed a universal federation. This “ universal people’s federation” would bring together communes into provinces, provinces into nations, nations into ever broader federal pacts. At each level, Bakunin proposed the establishment of parliaments and judiciary institutions of ever more limited jurisdiction. Indeed, in this federal scheme, peace was impossible. The 1868 congress of the league rejected this resolution, prompting Bakunin to split from the league, to organize his followers into the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, and to join the IWMA by the end of the year. Carr, Michael Bakunin, 355; see generally 3 4 1 - 6 6 . See also Braunthal, History o f the International, 1 :1 3 1 -3 2 , 1 3 7 -3 8 . 40. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, The Principle o f Federation, trans. Richard Vernon (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1979), 49. 41. Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy, 203.
parliaments at the provincial level, for example, would represent communes, and courts at the “ universal” level would have jurisdiction only in cases involving regional federations of states. In no case would an institution other than the commune have authority over individual citizens, and even then these could choose to separate according to their needs and wishes. Baku nin’s goal was to outline a new form of association, free of the old politics of empires and even of the politics of republics, which after 1864 he no longer regarded as new. Republics were political states, so they tended toward centralization and were inimical to the proletarian project and to the freedom of peoples. Indeed, Bakunin no longer recognized distinctions between state forms. Prefiguring the Lenin of State and Revolution, the father of “ libertarian socialism” claimed that “ the state, be it called popular ten times over and embellished with the most highly democratic forms, will necessarily be a prison for the proletariat.” 42 Whereas, in his youth, he had considered himself a democrat and fought for the Second French Republic, the older Bakunin held that all states were but “ organized power acting upon the people.” In sharp contrast to M arx, though adopting some of his arguments about bourgeois society, Bakunin argued that distinctions between state forms were in the final analysis illusory. As long as the workers (and Bakunin included much of the peasantry and lumpen proletariat in this category) were the objects of economic domination, even the most universal of suffrages would not yield results that corresponded to the popular will. Bakunin offered two reasons for this. First, able men, intellectuals, priests, and others associated with the owning classes could manipulate the prole tariat by taking advantage of its ignorance. More important, the problem lay in the essence of state power itself. “ [D]espotism,” he said, “ exists not so much in the form of the State or of power, as in the principle of power itself. . . . consequently, the republican State must be as essentially despotic as the State governed by an emperor or a king.” 43 Power was domination and, eo ipso, illegitimate. Yet, strangely enough, Bakunin did not consider the possibility that even a federation built from the bottom up might develop institutional impera tives or would require administrative instruments of coordination. H e made no provision to replace the bureaucracies. He gave no consideration to the 42. Ibid., 50. 43. Bakunin, L’empire knouto-germanique ou la révolution sociale, in Archives Bakounine, 7:22; see generally 1 4 -2 4 .
potential for the functional expansion of federal institutions. This is difficult to explain in Bakunin, given his distrust for authority and institutions. Indeed, even his friend Proudhon had been aware of the potential for federal institutions to become centralizing ones. The difference between them, in this respect, is that Proudhon made of federalism a fundamental principle.44 Bakunin, on the other hand, simply saw federations as aggregations of units. For him, the whole was nothing more than the sum of its parts. It was this view, however, that allowed him to put forth federations constructed “ from the bottom up” as solutions to the dual problem of national oppression and war. Although Bakunin held to the significance of national differences, he believed that “ the Revolution w[ould] from the beginning assume and retain a l o c a l character.” 45 Indeed, his expectation was that the next great revo lution would begin and end at the level of the commune. In between, however, he thought it likely that its flames would spread and nations would join in solidarity against the forces of reaction, forming “ the seed . . . of the universal people’s federation which must eventually embrace the whole w orld.” For this federation, he outlined a series of principles, most notable among which was the first: “ Each land, each nation, each people, great or small, weak or strong, each region, province and commune has the absolute right to decide its own fate . . . unite and separate according to its needs and wishes without any heed to the so-called historic rights and the political, commercial and strategic laws of States. In order to be true, rich and strong, the fusion of the parts into a single whole must be absolutely free. It must arise solely out of local domestic needs and out of the mutual attraction of the parts.” 46 In this passage from the “ Revolutionary Catechism” Bakunin outlined an idea of national rights. Indeed, and even more than M arx’s claims about Poland, Bakunin’s formulation about the absolute right of nations, peoples, regions, and communes to decide their own fates prefigures the pronounce ments about national rights to self-determination that Wilson and Lenin would make half a century later.47 Yet, it is important to keep in mind that 44. This is why Proudhon favored the Confederacy in the American Civil War. Bakunin, despite his misgivings about centralization, did not. 45. Mikhail A. Bakunin, “ N ational Catechism,” in Bakunin on Anarchy, 9 9 - 1 0 0 . 46. Bakunin, “ Principles and Organization of the International Brotherhood,” 73 and 74, italics added; see generally 7 1 - 7 6 . 47. Dolgoff in fact uses the term “ absolute right to self-determination” in rendering this passage. See Mikhail A. Bakunin, “ The Revolutionary Catechism ,” in Bakunin on Anarchy, 85.
a social contractarian and fundamentally anticollectivist set of propositions underpinned Bakunin’s formulation. In the continuation of this text, he made this clear with his claim that “ [a]ll individuals, associations, com munes, provinces, regions and nations have the absolute right to dispose of their own fate . . . ally with whomever they please and break off alliances without the slightest regard for so-called historic rights or for their neigh bours’ convenience.” 48 While this was not as radical a rejection of the “ principle of nationality” as he claimed, it suggested that, in contrast to nationalist postulates, nations existed for their members, a proposition that could only rest on a distinction between state and nation. While holding on to a conception of national rights, Bakunin rejected the proposition that corporate bodies such as states had claims on their citizens. He held that “ nationality as a natural fact [had] an incontestable right to free existence and development,” but that it was not a principle, because “ all principles must have a universal character.” 49 Thus, nations had a right to expect respect and recognition, but the redemption of nationality through the establishment of a state was not a valid emancipatory goal. This formulation aimed to justify his continuing attachment to notions of na tional claims while disallowing similar state assertions. In fact, it led to two related lines of reasoning. The first was a critique of patriotism. The second was a Slavophile internationalism. Bakunin formulated his most pointed critique of patriotism in his Italian defense of the International. The Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, initially sympathetic to the IWMA, had declared himself in opposition to the International following the Paris Commune (M arch-M ay 1871). He ac cused it of instigating the Paris uprising, of being antipatriotic, and of godless materialism. That Mazzini was wrong about the IWMA’s involve ment (it played no part in instigating the Commune) is not important, in good measure because Bakunin preferred an International that was always insurrectionary. At any rate, Bakunin, whose primary centers of operation were Italy and the Jura region of Switzerland, and who at this point was struggling with M arx for control of the association, had to respond.50 48. Bakunin, “ Principles and Organization of the International Brotherhood,” 88; the quoted material is in italics in the original. 49. Bakunin, “Federalisme, socialisme et antithéologisme,” 19. 50. According to Arthur Lehning, Bakunin was responding to an article by Mazzini, “ Agli operai italiani,” L a Rom a del Popolo, no. 20 (16 July 1871). See Lehning’s introduction to Archives Bakounine, vol. 1, Michel Bakounine et l’ltalie (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1961), pt. 1, X X X V ll-X X X V lll.
Bakunin’s answer took the form of a polemic against “ Mazzini’s political theology.” Part of this reply appeared as a newspaper article (in French and in Italian translation) in mid-August 1871, with the rest forming the pamphlet L a théologie politique de Mazzini et I’Internationale, written at the same time but published somewhat later that year. In these pieces, Bakunin accused Mazzini of idealism, metaphysics, mysticism, and religious dogmatism, and of siding with the Church and with “ Napoléon the Little” (so called by Victor Hugo), Bismarck, and royalty— all very serious sins for a nineteenth-century radical. Writing as an Internationalist, Bakunin also took the opportunity to argue for the necessity of solidarity with workers and peasants from all corners of the world, and especially from Asia. Finally, and in passing, he managed to polemicize against M arx. However, at least for present purposes, the most important aspect of his attack on Mazzini was his account of national unity.51 The unification of the peninsula had been a central issue in Italian politics and political thinking at least since Machiavelli’s day. Bakunin took up the unification question to attack Mazzini on patriotism, a virtue of states and statesmen, and to suggest a different route toward national and international solidarity, a virtue of peoples and democrats. Nothing for the mature Bakunin was more hostile to the liberty of a nation than the state. States sought to impose a stifling and oppressive unity without roots in the common people. By its very nature, the state was violent and power hungry, a hunger evident in its tendency toward centralization and expansion. It was elitist and so necessarily hostile to the common good. “ There is,” Bakunin held, “ no greater enemy for a nation than its own State.” 52 This being the case, Bakunin could never accept the unification of Italy through political means. Since state power was illegitimate, it could not create a nation by conferring citizenship upon individuals who happened to find themselves within its territory. National unity could not begin with the nation-state. Rather, the unity of the nation, no less than the international unity Bakunin believed the IWMA sought, could only be conceived in terms of the principle of solidarity. This, he claimed, was inherent in the species because the only way individuals could recognize their own humanity was by
51. Mikhail A. Bakunin, “ Réponse d’un International à M azzini,” in Archives Bakounine, vol. 1, pt. 1,1 - 7 8 . For a provocative account o f the changing European view of religion and the sacred during this period, see Owen Chadwick, The Secularization o f the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990). 52. Bakunin, “ Réponse d’un International,” 62.
recognizing it in others. Despite the fact that he held history to be nothing other than “ continuation and development of the animal struggle for life,” Bakunin argued that there was an objective necessity for solidarity even beyond the need to reproduce: “ I am never truly free . . . but when my freedom and my right find their confirmation, their sanction, in the freedom and the right of all other men, my equals.” It was this solidarity that served to distinguish between two forms of unity, only one of which was legitimate: “ There is an artificial unity that is mechanical, knowing and at the same time immoral, made up of falsehoods . . . of centralization, of absorption, of repression and exploitation; it is the unity of the state. Beyond this always maleficent sham unity, there is the moral unity of the nation, the result of a more or less temporary accord or harmony of different interests and spontaneously organized forces.” 53 This was apparently a different Bakunin from the one who had attempted to enlist the tsar in the cause of Slavic unity. Yet, the 1871 position was not entirely at odds with those he had held twenty years or so earlier. At issue, it seems, was the authenticity of the nation. Mazzini’s (and even more Garibal di’s) efforts at nation building by means of state building were not unlike those of the Frankfurt Parliament: both aimed to create unity by conferring citizenship; both were centralizing efforts; both were fundamentally juridico-political. Bakunin sought to root the nation in something prior, national character and the concomitant agreement over values. In 1848 he had called on the Slavs to abolish existing states and to come together as the brothers they already were. In 1851 he had appealed to the tsar to use his power to free the Russian muzhik and to liberate the Slavs, who were one people even without a state. In 1871 he called for unity from the bottom up. Those who had reason to be solidary were to join, not to be joined. And a common heritage was one such reason. True solidarity was a bottom-up affair that began with the commune and rose through the populist nation to culminate in a world federation. Indeed, Bakunin elaborated the idea of the nation along lines that were much closer to his earlier radical Pan-Slavism. In 1873, following his expulsion from the IWMA, Bakunin returned to this point. Statism and Anarchy was in large measure a polemic against “ philosophers” (i.e., M arx) and the strategy of supporting the extension of suffrage within existing states (“ state socialism” ). In Bakunin’s view poverty and “ passionate desperation” 53. Ibid., 52 and 62; see generally 5 4 - 6 4 .
were the principal ingredients for social revolution, and these were most evidently present among the Russian peasants. They had a long history of rebellion, but certain factors had always kept their uprisings from over throwing the state. What was needed was committed revolutionary youths who would act as a catalyst and encourage the formation of ever broader links between revolutionary peasant communities, eventually joining in the International. There was, however, a danger, and this was the danger that revolution might be sidetracked in the name of the nationality principle.54 Bakunin continued to polemicize against the nationality principle when he argued that the Slavs must not heed those who would set it as “ the ideal of all popular aspirations.” On the face of it, his understanding of nationality was consistent with the views he had earlier expressed to the League of Peace and Freedom. “ Nationality,” he claimed, “ is not a universal human principle but an historical, local fact which has an undeniable right to general recognition, like any other real and harmless fact. Every nation, even a small one, has its own character, its own way of life and manner of speaking, feeling, thinking, and behaving. . . . Every nation, like every individual, is of necessity what it is, and has an unquestionable right to be itself. So-called national rights consist precisely of this.” Yet, this natural fact of nationality, which was not a principle, had a very significant role in the argument of Statism and Anarchy and already figured prominently in “ The KnoutoGermanic Empire.” 55 Indeed, the argument in the later text rests on a juxtaposition of the statist Germans and the revolutionary Slavs. Bakunin claimed that the Germany of Bismarck and M arx was the only remaining, fully sovereign state in Europe. It owed this position to a whole series of advantages, but most importantly to “ the social instinct which form[ed] the characteristic trait of the Ger m ans.” This instinct consisted in equal parts of a “ servile instinct” and a “ domineering instinct,” which, he claimed, explained the Germans’ predi lection for a strong state, their success in establishing one, and the penchant of M arx, his allies, and the German proletariat for transforming social democracy into yet another state. In keeping with his romantic proclivities, 54. Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy. For the revolutionary potential of Russia, see especially 1 9 8 -2 1 7 . Bakunin also expressed his concern that a Russian revolution might become purely national in a series of letters to the Russian revolutionaries, calling for them to think in terms of world revolution. See Archives Bakounine, 7 :1 7 7 -8 2 ; French translations appear on 3 6 3 -7 0 . 55. Bakunin, Statism and Anarchy, 46. It is worth noting that “ The Knouto-Germanic Empire” contained Bakunin’s first public criticism of M arx.
Bakunin exempted the German peasants from “ statism ” because of their attachment to the land. But his was not a point he dwelt on, since only the Slavs were pure. With the partial exception of the Poles, they had never before borne the universal human ideal; they had never been historic nations. None of the Slavic peoples had “ of its own accord ever created a state” ; even the tsarist state was but a Germanized knout. This aversion to domination, Bakunin proposed, was what would lead the Slavic proletariat to join the International and bring forth world revolution. The nonhistorical nations would now become the bearers of future history.56 The notion of the nonhistoricity of certain nations is a complex and oft misunderstood one that Bakunin received from Hegel and shared with Engels. Since the latter treated nonhistoricity more explicitly and controver sially, I will return to this point below. For now, suffice it to say that this concept pointed to an abstract treatment of the nation that made it into a natural, or at least a prepolitical, community. Nations could exist outside politics, but their effectivity could only be expressed through a state. The viability of such a state, for Bakunin, depended very much on the character of the nation. This view was consistent with a position that held that the unfolding of History now demanded the overthrow of the state and could turn nonhistoricity into a virtue. Those furthest from centralized political authority were its negation and, thus, the representatives of the next stage in the development of human freedom, a stage, Bakunin believed, that would best be characterized by the end of domination and the joining of humanity through a universal federation. This federalism, which Bakunin saw as the unfolding of the IWMA, surely would offer ways of overcoming conflicts between nations. Yet, the concep tion of the nation that underpinned it was rather at odds with the prepoliti cal view characteristic of his philosophy of history. Bakunin’s federalism rested on an understanding of the nation as an intermediate association (somewhere between the province and the world) of very limited compe tence. Rather than an organic development out of a common history expressed in shared orientations, the nation posited in this view was a contractual arrangement rooted in shared interests. The two conceptions, of course, were far from irreconcilable, providing that a relation between orientations and interests could be sustained. Although he never confronted the problem explicitly, Bakunin worked it out by construing political au
56. Ibid., 104 and 38; see generally 1 0 3 - 2 9 , 1 7 6 - 9 4 , 3 4 - 6 0 .
thority as illegitimate domination and the state as the enemy of the people. From this populist standpoint, society dissolved into an amorphous mass, the nation, with three great historical choices. Either the nation would reconstruct itself on an individualistic communal basis by relying on its own energies and character, or it would await the destruction of its own state as a consequence of developments elsewhere, or, finally, history would bypass it.
The Red Republicans: Marx and Engels Karl Heinrich M arx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1 820-95) are the best-known champions of the working class.57 Little in their personal backgrounds would have suggested this outcome. M arx was born into a petty bourgeois Jewish family (they converted to Christianity in 1824). When he first enrolled at the University of Bonn, he intended to study law and to follow in the footsteps of his conservative father. Soon, however, the young Karl became interested in philosophy (he earned a doctorate in Berlin) and in radical politics. Engels was also the product of a conservative family. His, however, was a bourgeois Pietist family whose patriarchs owned some of the first mechanized mills in one of the leading industrial areas of Germany. From an early age, Engels, who would never earn a higher degree, 57. Many volumes have been written about the lives and work of these authors. These are but a small sample of what is available: Isaiah Berlin, Karl M arx: His Life and Environment, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1948); Werner Blumenberg, Karl M arx: An Illustrated Biography, trans. Douglas Scott, foreword by Gareth Stedman Jones (London: New Left Books, 1972); Jean Elleinstein, M arx (Paris: Fayard, 1981); David McLellan, Karl M arx: His Life and Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1974); Franz Mehring, Karl M arx: The Story o f His Life, trans. Edward Fitzgerald, with an introduction by M ax Schachtman (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1973); Saul K. Padover, Karl M arx: An Intimate Biography (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978); Leopold Schwarzschild, The Red Prussian: The Life and Legend o f Karl M arx (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947); Ferdinand Tonnies, Karl M arx: His Life and Teachings, trans. Charles P. Loomis and Ingeborg Paulus (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1974); Terrell Carver, Friedrich Engels: His Life and Thought (New York: St. M artin’s Press, 1990); W. O. Henderson, The Life o f Friedrich Engels, 2 vols. (London: Frank Cass, 1976); J. D. Hunley, The Life and Thought o f Friedrich Engels: A Reinterpretation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991); Gustav Mayer, Friedrich Engels: A Biography, trans. Gilbert Highet and Helen Highet, ed. R.H .S. Crossman (New York: Howard Fertig, 1969); Stephen Henry Rigby, Engels and the Formation o f M arxism : History, Dialectics, and Revolu tion (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992).
rebelled against his strict upbringing. Ironically, it was the elder Engels’s efforts to induce his son to participate in the family firm that led to the young Friedrich’s travels and his encounters with a radical working-class move ment, Chartism. On his way to England, in 1842, Engels met M arx for the first time. (M arx was not impressed.) Two years later, the two men met again in Paris, the center of all radical politics at midcentury. This was the beginning of a remarkable intellectual partnership. Together and separately, M arx and Engels gave expression to the most fundamental progressive criticisms of a capitalist society that, in retrospect, was barely in its infancy. Their critique, of course, bore the imprint of the main intellectual currents of the age: the utopianism of the French socialists, the German idealism of Kant and, especially, Hegel, as well as the liberal scientism underlying English political economy. Yet, if the point was to change the world, certain political events and movements also played a key role in shaping their thought. N o less than for Bakunin, the French Revolution of 1789 gave M arx and Engels much of their political language, and its First Republic outlined the possibilities and limitations of bourgeois democracy. The battles of 1848, on the other hand, not only served to define new lines of conflict, they also gave the young radicals the opportunity to experience action for the first time.58 Furthermore, the politically conservative era following the schism and defeat of the democratic forces allowed them to reflect on these experiences. When the time was right for renewed activism, in the 1860s, M arx and Engels had forged the theoretical apparatus with which to wage the new battles. Part of this apparatus was a perspective on the nation that combined the language of the French Revolution with their assessment of the situation confronting the new democratic force they had identified, the class of wage workers. It was this new force, well organized in England and politically significant in France and the Low Countries but barely in its infancy in Ger many, that was to pick up the baton the bourgeoisie had dropped in 1848 and lead the struggles for human emancipation.59 M arx and Engels now discerned a contest between a capitalism that was becoming global and the
58. Engels participated in combat in his native Wuppertal. M arx was involved in agitation, leading to his arrest and trial in Cologne. For a full-length account of their activities during this period, see Oscar J. Hammen, The Red ’48ers: Karl M arx and Friedrich Engels (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1969). 59. For a discussion of the democratic legacy of 1848, see Stephen Eric Bronner, Socialism Unbound (New York: Routledge, 1990), 7 - 1 4 .
potentially internationalist working class it had created, the instrument of its abolition. In the IWMA, the two friends saw an organization that embodied the results of this analysis: the proletariat came into being in a national context, but its struggle had a cosmopolitan purpose and an international practice. Although he was involved almost from the very beginning, M arx initially figured in the First International as the corresponding secretary for one of the smaller sections, the German one. He was not connected with the preparations for the September 1864 founding meeting at St. M artin’s Hall, and attended only upon the invitation of W. R. Cremer, an English carpenter and trade union leader.60 Nonetheless, perhaps because he had a clear idea of the goals such an organization should adopt, M arx soon became a key member of the IWMA. His view had been laid out seventeen years earlier in the Manifesto o f the Communist Party. There he and Engels had called for an internationalism rooted in the cause of the working class, the particular element of society with a generalizable interest in human emancipation. In the ringing words of the Manifesto, M arx and Engels had argued that the struggle against the bourgeoisie had to be informed by a cosmopolitan intent. They proposed that the industrial bourgeoisie was rapidly transform ing the planet. Already, they claimed, political frontiers were not enough to contain the energetic new system: “ [N]ational industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed . . . in every quarter of the world. . . . In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, univer sal inter-dependence of nations.” While their understanding of capitalist accumulation was still relatively unsophisticated, M arx and Engels already foresaw, in 1848, the futility of all resistance to its dynamism: “ The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese w alls.” Indeed, it was this capacity and need to universalize itself,
60. For the founding meeting of the International Working M en’s Association and M arx’s role in it, see Braunthal, History o f the International, 1 :9 1 -9 4 , 9 7 - 1 0 2 , 1 2 1 -2 3 . Cf. Henryk Katz, The Emancipation o f Labor: A History o f the First International, Contributions in Labor Studies, no. 36 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992), 2 - 4 , 14, and Jules Puech, Le proudhonisme dans l’Association internationale des travailleurs, 5, 70, 7 2 - 7 7 , 102.
to cause “ all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production,” that they so admired in capitalism. This drive would bring capitalist accumulation to the most isolationist countries and the most remote corners of the planet: the bourgeoisie would “ creat[e] a world after its own image.” 61 It is this analysis that underpins M arx’s later, and apparently contradic tory, views on British colonialism in Ireland and in India. As is well known, M arx always considered Irish independence a progressive cause that de manded working-class support,62 whereas he saw British rule in India as a fundamentally positive phenomenon, at least in terms of its long-range consequences. This difference in attitude was, perhaps, partly the result of prejudice and ignorance. Nonetheless, within the limits of M arx’s knowl edge about those two societies, the apparent contradiction in his views on colonialism dissolves. His position had little to do with the suffering colonialism inflicted upon Irish and Indians, for M arx recognized both. Support for Irish independence followed from his understanding of English politics, as well as from the Irish movement’s plan to establish a republic. His position on India rested on the premise that the expansion of bourgeois society was inevitable, and on the proposition that there, as in Europe, the bourgeoisie would destroy traditional despotism and establish the condi tions for democratic development. British possession of Ireland, on the other hand, produced divisions within the working class and strengthened the ties between landlords and the bourgeoisie, impeding the progress of democracy. The dissolution of precapitalist relations in India meant the destruction of absolutism in that country. In both cases, M arx’s position resulted from his
61. Karl M arx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto o f the Communist Party, in The MarxEngels Reader, 2d ed., ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), 4 7 6 - 7 7 . This position had already been worked out in The German Ideology, where through the process of capitalist expansion the “ isolation of the separate nationalities is destroyed” and “ history becomes world history.” See The M arx-Engels Reader, 172 and 1 8 0 -8 6 . For a discussion of the role that capitalism ’s ability to universalize itself plays in M arx’s thought, see Shlomo Avineri, The Political and Social Thought o f Karl M arx (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 1 6 2 -7 4 . For an elaboration on the implications of the political and theoretical role of the proletariat as the universal product of capitalist accumulation, see Georg Lukács, “ Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat,” in History and Class Consciousness: Studies in M arxist Dialectics, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Cambridge, M ass.: M IT Press, 1982), 8 3 - 2 2 1 . 62. In his only major work composed for the most part before the beginning of his partnership with M arx, Engels did not share this view. See The Condition o f the Working Class in England, trans. and ed. W. O. Henderson and W. H. Chaloner (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1968), especially 1 0 4 -7 .
understanding of the historical task of the bourgeoisie: the creation of a new world.63 This new world was not simply an extension and intensification of arm’s-length trade relations. By 1848 M arx and Engels already discerned that the emerging ties between nations had a deep impact upon their social structures, their customs, their “ civilizations,” in short, their cultures and modes of existence. Already in Europe, feudal relations and traditional communal ties were giving way before the modern state, the machine, the commodity, and the wage contract. Even long assumed “ [differences of age and sex [had] no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All [were] instruments of labour.” 64 The same applied to differences between nations. Since the bourgeoisie re-created them after its own image, national distinctions lost social validity for a working class that had no country because it nowhere controlled a state. This was not to say that the working class was automatically antinational, only that its cause was. In any case, the task of the working class was not to oppose the freedom of trade and the industrialization that threatened traditional societies and gave rise to the interdependence of nations. This was impossible and probably undesirable. Their historical task was to understand this process and to use it to further the cause of human freedom through their own emancipation. Thus, a cosmopolitan foreign policy became “ one of the first conditions for the emancipation of the proletariat.” 65 Although, as his studies progressed, M arx revised his understanding of the mechanisms through which bourgeois society developed, the analysis of the Manifesto would persist in his understanding of the goals, strategies, and tactics of the labor movement. While its language was less stirring, his 1864 address to the International followed along the same lines as the earlier text. The “ Inaugural Address” began with an account of the conditions of the
63. Compare, for example, the articles on India in Surveys from Exile, ed. David Fernbach (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), 3 0 1 - 2 4 , with his letters on Ireland in The First Interna tional and After, ed. David Fernbach (New York: Penguin, 1992), 1 5 8 -7 1 . For a recent restatement of this position, see Bill Warren’s critique of dependency theory, Imperialism: Pioneer o f Capitalism (London: Verso, 1980). 64. M arx and Engels, Manifesto o f the Communist Party, 479, italics added. 65. Ibid., 488. For a more elaborate account of how capitalist relations remake thought in their own image, see the discussion of “ commodity fetishism” in Karl M arx, Capital: A Critique o f Political Economy, trans. Ben Fowkes, with an introduction by Ernest Mandel (New York: Vintage Books, 1977), 1 :1 6 3 -7 7 . For an account of the geographical expansion of these relations, see pt. 8 of the same volume (“ So-Called Primitive Accumulation” ), especially the discussion of colonialism, 1 :9 1 5 -1 7 , 9 3 1 - 4 0 .
English working class and the apparently paradoxical claim that these “ facts reproduce [d] themselves in all the industrious and progressive countries of the Continent.” Prosperity for some and deprivation for most marched hand in hand, and their relationship took on an increasingly international char acter. The cause of the misery of the “ industrious m asses” was the competi tive organization of the labor process; consequently, no amount of technological improvement, no new colonization, and no expansion of trade would ease their condition. The solution M arx called for demanded “ coop erative labour . . . developed to national dimensions, and . . . fostered by national means.” 66 Yet, this presupposed the conquest of political power (i.e., radical democracy),67 something that was impossible without interna tional class solidarity, as experience stretching back to 1848 demonstrated. And this “ bond of brotherhood . . . between the workmen of different countries” was itself unrealizable without political agitation for a peaceful and principled foreign policy. Finally, in a passage that Kant might have written, the “ Address” concluded by urging workers “ to master themselves the mysteries of international politics; to watch the diplomatic acts of their respective governments . . . to combine in simultaneous denunciations, and to vindicate the simple laws of morals and justice, which ought to govern the relations of private individuals, as the rules paramount of the intercourse of nations.” 68 Far from dismissing or ignoring the appeal of nationalism (and patrio tism), then, M arx and Engels were only too aware of it. Their point was not that nationalist appeals had no impact upon working people. Quite clearly they did. It was a matter of recognizing what was at stake in these appeals. In M arx’s view, nationalist discourse equated the national interest with the state and presented the latter as the people. Yet, this discourse was framed by only part of society, and it offered itself as the general interest embodied in 66. Karl M arx, “ Inaugural Address of the International Working M en’s A ssociation,” in The First International and After, 77, 80; see generally 7 3 - 8 1 . 67. For a discussion of M arx and Engels’s understanding of democracy, see Bronner, Socialism Unbound, 1 - 3 0 , especially 7 - 8 , 1 0 - 1 4 , and 2 4 - 2 6 . See also Arthur Rosenberg, Democracy and Socialism; A Contribution to the Political History o f the Past 150 Years, trans. George Rosen (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939), 3 - 1 0 and 4 1 - 8 . 68. M arx, “ Inaugural Address of the International Working M en’s Association,” in The First International and After, 81. Compare Kant, who said that “ [t]he problem of establishing a perfect civil constitution is subordinate to the problem of a law-governed external relationship with other states, and cannot be solved unless the latter is also solved.” Immanuel Kant, “ Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose,” in K ant’s Political Writings, 47. See also idem, “ Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,” in ibid., 9 3 -1 3 0 .
the state. It is indisputable that the working classes of the day, however defined, did not have meaningful access to the state. They did not even have full formal political rights in any major European country in 1864. Although England permitted much political organization and expression, full man hood suffrage had yet to be attained. Second Empire France had manhood suffrage, but also had draconian restrictions upon expression and organiza tion, and most important working class and liberal leaders were either in jail or in exile. What was true in Britain and France was even more so in Spain, in most of Germany and Italy, not to mention the semifeudal empires that still held sway in eastern Europe. Consequently, and at best, patriotic appeals only served the purposes of nations made after the image of the bourgeoisie. Opposed to this image, M arx and Engels contended that national exclusivism was not a valid policy for a class-conscious proletariat whose conditions of existence were universal. As a class, the proletariat had to be internationalist to achieve its political and social goals, because the basis of its very existence as a class was an international system. When working people acted otherwise— and, histori cally, they often had— they abandoned their class goals and, ultimately, contributed to their own oppression. Even their political goal of attaining state power required an internationalist posture. In the “ Address,” M arx proposed normative tools and arguments aimed at shaping a working-class idea of the nation by restoring the pre-1848 link between republicanism, democracy, and internationalism. The point was to win workers over to the proletarian standpoint embodied in the labor movement. This presupposed the establishment of the best conditions for working-class activity every where: a Europe, if not a world, of democratic republics. M arx’s position on the Polish question expressed this relationship be tween republicanism, democracy, and internationalism most clearly. The reestablishment of Poland’s independence had been an important issue, and a marker of radicalism, since the late eighteenth century. The partitions of Poland had led to valiant and ill-fated efforts to secure its independence. Conversely, these defeats had produced a significant émigré population that kept the issue alive in radical circles. Like most European radicals, M arx and Engels supported Polish independence. As early as 1847, they had spoken in its favor, arguing that it was indelibly linked with the struggles for democ racy, and communism, in the West. Yet, it is crucial to note the terms in which they supported this position: theirs was not an unconditional defense of a politics of national liberation. Rather, they thought that Polish indepen dence would mean the establishment of a democratic republic and the
beginning of the end of the most reactionary powers in Europe, the H ab sburg and, especially, the tsarist empires. This, in turn, would ease the way for bourgeois republics elsewhere in central Europe while depriving the Western ruling classes of their gendarme: “ I shall always regard the libera tion of Poland as being one of the foundation stones of the ultimate liberation of the European proletariat and, in particular, of the liberation of the other Slav nationalities.” 69 In short, the independence of Poland, or any other country, was never an end in itself for M arx and Engels. The freedom of nations was, under relatively narrow conditions, a step in the liberation of their people, itself an aspect of human emancipation. This step had to involve the institution of republics and the opening up of political space where the proletariat could transform itself into an effective, organized political force. As Ian Cummins has argued, M arx and Engels saw national questions “ in light of [an] assessment of their likely contribution to the long awaited proletarian revolution in the eco nomically advanced countries.” 70 The independence of Poland and Ireland and the unification of Italy, no less than a Union victory in the American Civil War, were moments in the progressive unfolding of world history. They signified the eradication of prebourgeois social and political relations and the clarification of antagonisms and interests in bourgeois societies. This position was congruent with M arx and Engels’s calls for human emancipa tion because they regarded nations as purely political entities. It is in the light of this broad proposition that the principles guiding M arx and Engels’s views on nations and nationalism must be understood. A close look at the section on the Polish question (sec. 9) in the Instructions for Delegates to the Geneva Congress should clarify this position. M arx com posed this pamphlet on behalf of the General Council of the International, which had taken up the issue in preparation for the upcoming congress of the IWMA and in view of the ongoing Austro-Prussian War (Ju n e-October 1866).71 This segment, which M arx wrote in English, was an intervention in
69. Engels to Walery Wróblewski, 4 December 1875, M ECW , 45:112. For M arx and Engels’s early speeches on Poland before the Society of Fraternal Democrats in November 1847 in Brussels, see Karl M arx, The Revolutions o f 1848, ed. David Fernbach (New York: Penguin, 1973), 9 8 - 1 0 1 . For a discussion of the ubiquitousness of Polish radicals, especially when acting as military experts, in radical risings in Europe and the Americas, see E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age o f Revolution: 1 7 8 9 -1 8 4 8 (New York: New American Library, 1962), 161. 70. Ian Cummins, M arx, Engels, and N ational Movements (New York: St. M artin’s Press, 1980), 83. As I argue below, this would also be Rosa Luxemburg’s understanding. 71. For the minutes of the General Council discussion on these instructions, see Interna-
a debate with Proudhonist delegates, most notably the Belgian César de Paepe, who disputed the relevance of the Polish question for the IWMA. In section 9 M arx offered three related arguments to persuade workers and delegates of the importance of the Polish situation. The first two points addressed the potential revolutionary activity of the working class. Initially, M arx pondered the attitude of the ruling classes toward the Polish cause, finding their reticence remarkable given their support for “ all sorts of nationalities on the Continent.” Here he had in mind the divergence between the reluctance of western European powers to back Polish independence, and the support of Britain and France, despite their propping up the ailing Ottoman Empire, for the establishment of independent states out of Turkish holdings in eastern Europe around the time of the Crimean War. Similarly, sympathy for the Italian unification movement was widespread in much of Europe, and, outside Britain, the European ruling classes even supported the notion of Irish independence. By contrast, there was little support for Polish independence, which could only come at the expense of Austria-Hungary, Prussia, and especially Russia. This coolness toward the Polish cause M arx attributed to the role as defender of established ruling classes and opponent of democracy that the tsarist empire, the “ gendarme of Europe,” had played since the French Revolution. The Western ruling classes, M arx claimed, saw “ the dark Asiatic Power [Russia] . . . as a last resource against the advanc ing tide of working-class ascendancy.” This proposition carried added weight in central Europe and particularly in Germany. Indeed, M arx’s second point was that a republican Poland would make possible a demo cratic Germany and, with it, a settlement of the central European turmoil in progressive terms. Without it, the “ working-class movement w[ould] con tinuously be interrupted, checked, and retarded.” Finally, M arx’s third point was a moral appeal directed expressly to the German workers. He told them that they had a special duty to “ take the initiative in this matter, because Germany [was] one of the partitioners of Poland.” 72 The 1866 position was a reformulation of long-held views. Indeed, it restated M arx’s position on the 1846 Kraków revolution, a position taken two years after that event, and his pronouncements on behalf of the German
tional Workingmen’s Association, Documents o f the First International, 1 :2 1 0 -1 3 , 2 1 7 - 1 8 . The discussion took place in July of 1866, and M arx wrote the Instructions between then and September. The piece was read at the Geneva Congress in February 1867, and then published. 72. Karl M arx, Instructions for Delegates to the Geneva Congress, in The First Interna tional and After, 9 3 - 9 4 .
Workers Educational Association in 1863 . In 1848 he had proclaimed rebellious Kraków the giver of “ a magnificent example by identifying the cause of nationhood with the cause of democracy and the liberation of the oppressed class.” 73 Fifteen years later, M arx claimed that “ the German working class owed it to the Polish people, to countries abroad and to its own honour, to utter the loudest possible protest against the German betrayal of Poland. . . . It must inscribe the reunification o f Poland in flaming letters upon its banner now that bourgeois liberalism has erased this glorious device from its own.” 74 And nine years after the Instructions, M arx repeated that sentiment in yet another speech. This time he made two additions. First, he specified that the partition of Poland held together “ the three military despots: Russia, Prussia and Austria.” Second, he reminded his audience that Poland was a “ cosmopolitan soldier o f the revolution,” its citizens having fought alongside American revolutionaries, with the First French Republic, with the French again in 1830 , the Hungarians, Germans, and Italians in 1848 , and the Paris Commune in 1871.75 Yet, M arx was appealing for solidarity rather than for a national right of self-determination. As rendered in French, section 9 of the Instructions stated this position most succinctly: “ On the need to annul Russian influence in Europe in order to apply the right of peoples to order their own lives and to rebuild a Poland on democratic and social bases.” 76 Clearly, these are not the words of someone who takes proletarian internationalism as a given. N or are they the words of someone who has contempt for legitimate republican and national aspirations. Quite the contrary, they are a call for the realization of a democratic internationalism defined as practice in support of these aspirations and in the service of broader aims. Their appeal 73. Speech on Poland delivered on 22 February 1848, in The Revolutions o f 1848, 105. 74. Karl M arx, “ Proclamation on Poland by the German Workers Educational Association in London,” in Surveys from Exile, 355. 75. As reported by D er Volksstaat on 24 March 1875. See M arx, The First International and After, 391. 76. “ De la nécéssité d’anéantir l’influence russe en Europe pour l’application du droit des peuples de disposer d ’eux-mêmes et de reconstruire une Pologne sur des bases démocratiques et sociales.” International Workingmen’s Association, L a premiere Internationale: Recueil de documents, ed. Jacques Freymond (Geneva: Librairie E. Droz, 1962), 1:35, italics added. The English title of this section was simply “ Polish Question.” David Fernbach (in M arx, The First International and After, 93n) renders “ disposer d’eux-mêmes” as the more specific “ selfdetermination.” The term, most properly, referred to entering into one’s own agreements, to giving of oneself. In any case, the “ right of nations to self-determination” would not acquire its twentieth-century meaning until after Wilson and Lenin. See my discussion of Lenin and nationalities below.
rests on their invocation of norms of sympathy and solidarity rooted in a political analysis of the international situation and a theory of modern society and proclaimed in the language of the French Revolution, the paradigm for all radical political ideas of the nineteenth century. Although they were hardly the first to declare, let alone justify, a govern ment rooted in popular sovereignty, the French revolutionaries of 1789 were the first Europeans actively to give these claims institutional form. More than a century after Louis XIV had avowed himself the state before the Parlement of Paris (“ L’Etat c’est m oi” ), the people in revolt proclaimed themselves a sovereign body, la nation. In August 1789, the representatives of the people, constituted as “ a national assembly,” would announce that the “ principle of all sovereignty rests essentially in the nation. N o body and no individual may exercise authority which does not emanate from the nation expressly.” 77 H enceforth, the people would order their own lives in the act of forming a political association. Thus, the nation itself was a political construct, and citizenship was a function of choice. Participation in the nation did not imply territorial, ethnic, or ascriptive prerequisites.78 In November of 1790, the Constituent Assembly made this clear. After repudiating the right of conquest, it defended the French citizenship of Alsatians on the grounds that they had expressed their will to remain French. Neither side considered the difference in language relevant. In fact, within two years, the Alsatians, and other Rhinelanders, would stand up to Habsburg armies, in the process bequeathing to France, among other things, the Marseillaise. It is in this sense that Georges Lefebvre’s controversial claim that “ [t]he Revolution . . . liberated nations as much as it did man and citizen” must be understood: the Revolution freed peoples from oppressors and tyrants so they could form sovereign political societies, great nations.79
77. Art. Ill of the “ Declaration of the Rights of M an and the Citizen,” presented as an appendix in Georges Lefebvre, The Coming o f the French Revolution, trans. R. R. Palmer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 221. For a discussion of the specific form in which revolutionary French nationalism grew out of the equation of people with nation and state, see E. J. Flobsbawm, N ations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, 2d ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 1 4 - 2 6 . 78. Clearly, not everyone was included, and certainly not everyone was included equally. It is even true, as Joan B. Landes has claimed, that women were specifically excluded, though their exclusion perhaps was not a necessary theoretical corollary of the prevailing notion of the public sphere. See her Women and the Public Sphere in the Age o f the French Revolution (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988). 79. Georges Lefebvre, L a Révolution française, 6th ed. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1968), 218.
This was the conception of the modern nation that M arx and Engels held, that of a people politically organized as a state. Consequently, their concern was with the nation as a problem for solidarity across borders, not as a problem of national minorities. The latter M arx had addressed in his essay “ On the Jewish Question.” There he claimed that the political rights of members of minority groups could be attained within the liberal state. It was their emancipation as human beings that required vast social transforma tion. Social revolution was the aim of M arx and Engels’s politics, and solidarity between the workers of different countries was one of its precon ditions. Their focus was not on nationalities, which they, nonetheless, recognized as different, but on nations. This distinction was already apparent in the M anifesto, in 1848. If, following Roman Rosdolsky, the concept of nation and the term national suggested “ the population of a sovereign s t a t e ” then nationality might be “ taken to be either a synonim [sic] of citizenship, or to designate a mere community o f descent and language (a ‘people’ or ‘ Volk’).” 80 It is in this latter sense that nation and nationality have often been conflated into Volk in eastern Europe and Germany. M arx and Engels’s usage in the Manifesto, however, followed the English and French conventions: their preoccupation was with citizenship rather than with cultural and language specificity. The “ [n]ational differences and antagonisms between peoples,” which would vanish before the triumphant workers, were hostilities between class states.81 Nations, most of which already encompassed more than one nationality, would achieve a new understanding as a result of working-class struggles that transformed interdependence into solidarity.82 Engels sought to clarify the distinction between nations and nationalities in a series of still quite controversial articles generally grouped under the title “What Have the Working Classes to Do with Poland?” and published early in 1866 in Commonwealth. He wrote them at M arx’s request, and in support of section 9 of the Instructions. They were his contribution to the continuing debate with the Proudhonists, who held that the goal of the IWMA was economic, while Polish independence was purely a political project, a “ question of nationalities.” 83 Engels took on this position by
80. Roman Rosdolsky, “ Worker and Fatherland: A Note on a Passage in the Communist M anifesto,” Science and Society 29 (summer 1965): 332. 81. M arx and Engels, Manifesto o f the Communist Party, 488. 82. Rosdolsky, “ Worker and Fatherland,” 3 3 0 - 3 7 . 83. For the French delegates’ response to section 9, see International Workingmen’s Asso-
arguing that there was a great deal of “ difference between the ‘principle of nationalities' and the old democratic and working-class tenet as to the right of the great European nations to separate and independent existence.” 84 In good measure because of its pedigree, the principle of nationalities had little credibility in the international labor movement, and especially in France, in the mid-1860s. Louis-Napoléon had coined the term a decade earlier to indicate the communal origin of state authority and to undergird the proposition that ethnic or cultural commonalities were a priori claims to statehood. In effect, even while pursuing imperial designs, Napoleon III had declared France the protector of all the “ small peoples” that were awakening to the idea of nationhood. This principle, for example, served to legitimate French intervention in Italy despite the incongruity of maintaining a military presence aimed at keeping Rome under papal rule. Both Blanquists and Proudhonists, the main elements of the French section, were bitterly opposed to Napoleon the Little by the time of the London Conference of 1865, so they rejected any position attributable to him.85 Engels sought to distance the position in the Instructions from the shadow of the Second Empire. The Bonapartist principle proclaimed support for ethnicity-based movements, and Engels had never been sympathetic to the politics of ethnic identity. In response to the Proudhonist critics of section 9, Engels argued that the “ restoration of Poland mean[t] the reestablishment of a State composed of at least four different nationalities,” rather than an “ appeal to the principle of nationalities.” 86 In contrast to the claims made by the advocates of this precept, Polish speakers, Lithuanians, White Russians, and Ukrainians inhabited Polish territory, and the IWMA supported the establishment of one state on this territory in accord with the principles of radical democracy. Engels held that the principle of nationalities, by contrast, was derivative
ciation, L a premiere Internationale, 1:107; for the report on the debate, see 1:53. For an account of the Proudhonist position on this issue and others in Geneva, see Puech, Le proudhonisme, 1 0 1 - 3 , and more generally 1 1 2 -5 0 . For a general discussion of the Geneva Congress and the various debates, see Braunthal, History o f the International, 1 :1 2 1 -3 3 . For Proudhon’s own position on Poland and similar issues, see his 1861 work, L a guerre et la p aix, in (Euvres complètes, ed. C. Bouglé and Henri M oysset (Geneva: Slatkine, 1982), 6 :5 0 4 -8 . 84. M ECW , 20:157. 85. The relation between the French Left and Louis-Napoléon’s regime was never warm, but it was not hostile throughout the whole period of the Second Empire either. For an admirable account, see Albert Thom as, Le Second Empire (1 8 5 2 -1 8 7 0 ), vol. 10 of Histoire socialiste, ed. Jean Jaurès (Paris: Publications Jules Rouff, n.d.). 86. MECW , 20:159.
of Pan-Slavism, itself a tsarist invention to defend the partition of Poland. That Engels was wrong about the genesis of Pan-Slavism does not affect the thrust of his analysis, which is to draw a distinction between nations and nationalities.87 His larger point was that nation-states were political entities, not cultural ones. He noted that all the major countries of Europe included more than one nationality, while most nationalities were part of more than one nation. Indeed, “ no state boundary coincide[d] with the natural bound ary of nationality, that of language.” As a result of ten centuries of European history, “ almost every great nation [had] parted with some outlying portions of its own body, which [had] become separated from the national life, and in most cases participated in the national life of some other people. . . . And . . . it [was] no slight advantage that the various nations, as politically constituted, [had] most of them some foreign elements within themselves, which form[ed] connecting links with their neighbours, and var[ied] the otherwise too monotonous uniformity of the national character.” 88 Political changes since the fall of the Roman Empire had dissolved the links between cultural and political communities. Indeed, the newly emerging political entities, the sovereign nations, were political structures that included, and ought to have included, a variety of cultural communities, themselves spread among a multiplicity of political entities. None of this was meant to indicate that the cultural community played no role. Culture mattered, but democratic politics could not be reduced to culture. The point was, rather, that the Instructions expressed the goals of the working class. These included, as the French delegates would certainly agree, the improvement of the living conditions of working people, not a program of national liberation for ethnic Poles, Italians, or any other nationality. In the view of M arx and Engels, however, the improvement of social and economic conditions depended in good measure upon the political conditions of the working people’s struggle. In this, they disagreed with the Proudhonists. The Commonwealth essays, then, by pointing out that the Polish patriots were involved in a project that differed from the reactionary revindicatory ethnic nationalisms that Louis-Napoléon and the tsars pro moted elsewhere, tried to persuade as many members as possible of the
87. Engels should have known better; see his own critique of Bakunin’s Appeal to the Slavs in M ECW , 8 :3 6 2 -7 8 , and his January 1849 Neue Rheinische Zeitung essay, “ The M agyar Struggle” (“ Pan-Slavism did not originate in Russia or Poland, but in Prague and in Agram [Zagreb]” ), in M ECW , 8:233. 88. M ECW , 2 0 :1 5 6 -5 7 .
appropriateness of supporting a democratic project in Poland. The estab lishment of an “ independent Poland based on democratic and Socialist principles” was a secular political project that aimed to counter the reac tionary kind of nationalism that the French delegates so feared. What Engels was searching for, then, was a broad formulation of the revolutionary French concept of the great nation, la grande nation. This was an expansive idea that, with reference to the notion of fraternité, embraced the proposition that any community with democratic aims was welcome to join the republic. In principle, it had little to do with the size of nations, and this was the manner in which M arx and Engels took it up. O f course, the revolutionary French idea, under Napoleon, decayed into an imperialist slogan. Similarly, with Engels, the conception of an expansive political great nation decayed into a dichotomy between the great nations and the infa mous “ nations without history” (geschicbtslosen Nationen). This distinc tion, however, was not a question of size or of an economic reductionism, as some interpreters have held, for both M arx and Engels had defended small nation-states before.89 N or was Engels responsible for the formulation itself. As early as 1803, the Greek nationalist poet and linguist Adamantios Koraes had referred to a national “ awakening from sleep,” and the H ungarian nationalist Lajos Kossuth, in 1848, had spoken about minorities that lacked “ historical personalities.” 90 Even Bakunin, as I have already noted, some times spoke of the historicity of the Russians and the Poles in contrast to the other Slavs. In general, some variation of the phrase “ historical nation” had been in use for nearly half a century in the debates on the “ spring of nations” and among the proponents of Pan-Slavism. N o less than they, Engels derived his approach to this matter from a Hegelian notion that linked a people’s relation to world history to the presence of a state. In his Philosophy o f History,91 Hegel had proposed that “ World History” was the unfolding of the human spirit through time and space. In this 89. See, for example, John Schwarzmantel, Socialism and the Idea o f the Nation (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), 5 9 - 7 6 . Cf. Erica Benner, Really Existing N ationalisms: A Post-Communist View o f M arx and Engels (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 1 5 9 -7 0 . The link between size and nation was much more important to Karl Kautsky, in connection with his theory of the international cultural circles (internationalen Kulturkreise). See his “ Nationalität und Internationalität,” Ergänzungshefte zur Neuen Zeit, no. 1 (18 January 1908): 1 2 - 1 7 . 90. See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread o f Nationalism, rev. ed. (London: Verso, 1991), 103, 195. 91. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy o f History, trans. J. Sibree (New York: Dover, 1956).
account, some nations, possessing arts, literature, an awareness (however abstract) of freedom, and the energy to carry out great projects, were the media, or agents, through which World History achieved concreteness. Through them, universal human freedom unfolded in the concreteness of states as the “World Spirit” moved westward. These accomplishments were the foundations for further development, so they belonged as much to the past of a people as to the future of humanity. Those through whom the great principles had achieved concreteness, however temporarily, were the “ world-historical peoples.” In Hegel’s teleology, they provided the material and the stage for the unfolding of freedom, while the rest were forgotten or left behind. Engels simply reversed the formulation to refer to those nation alist movements that did not, in his estimation, contribute to the realization of freedom. In any case, Engels first exhumed the Hegelian notion in a series of Neue Rheinische Zeitung (NRZ) articles published between 1848 and 1850, and returned to it sporadically in the mid-1850s and 1860s.92 The occasion for the N R Z writings was the series of (national) democratic revolutions that swept Europe at midcentury. The counterrevolution had based its appeal on the ideology of Pan-Slavism that captivated the Prague Congress. This, as we have seen, was led by people whose national claims stood a better chance under H absburg rule. With Hungary in revolt, then, the remainders of semifeudal absolutism had defended themselves by calling on Nicholas I, by raising armies staffed primarily by Southern Slavs, and by offering recon ciliation to Western Slavs (Poles excluded, of course). In January of 1849 Engels reacted angrily, asking, “ Is there a single one of these races, not excluding the Czechs and Serbs, that possesses a national historical tradition
92. There is some dispute over the extent to which M arx shared this notion. Some authors claim that their views on this were indistinguishable; for example, see Ephraim Nimni, “ M arx, Engels and the National Question,” Science and Society 53 (fall 1989): 317, and Charles C. Herod, The Nation in the History o f M arxian Thought: The Concept o f Nations With History and Nations Without History (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976), 1 8 - 2 0 . On the other side, see Enzo Traverso and Michael Löwy, “ The M arxist Approach to the National Question: A Critique of Nimni’s Interpretation,” Science and Society 54 (summer 1990): 1 3 9 -4 1 . Whether M arx disagreed with Engels on this (or other) points is not a question that can be settled for all time. While there are differences (mostly in tone and sophistication) in the way the two authors handle some themes, the fact remains that M arx never expressed disagreement. See Cummins, M arx, Engels, and N ational Movements, 1 7 6 -7 8 . More generally, contrast Terrell Carver, M arx and Engels: The Intellectual Relationship (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983), and Norman Levine, The Tragic Deception: M arx Contra Engels (Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Books, 1975).
which is kept alive among the people and stands above the pettiest of local struggles?” 93 Engels did not attribute the nonhistorical and reactionary quality of the “ small Slavs” (Czechs, Croatians, Serbs, etc.) to an innate deficiency. In fact, five months before the N R Z articles on the M agyar struggle, he had eulogized the Prague rising and declared any future association between Germany and Bohemia “ drowned in the blood of the Czech people shed by the Austrian army.” 94 In any case, the small Slavic nationalities, much like the Gaels, Bretons, Basques, and many others, were “ the remnant of a former population that was suppressed and held in bondage by a nation which later became the main vehicle of historical development.” Their own national spirit, he claimed, had been taken, plundered; and “ [t]hese relics of a nation mercilessly trampled under foot in the course of history, as Hegel says, the residual fragments o f peoples, always become fanatical standardbearers of counter-revolution and remain so until their complete extirpation or loss of their national character, just as their whole existence in general is itself a protest against a great historical revolution.” 95 They were the peoples who had fallen at the slaughter bench of history. Unlike Bakunin, who saw in this fact an indication of deeply rooted Slavic virtues, Engels saw it as an omen. As historical subjects, they were fated to disappear because of their lack of success in sustaining states. In the meanwhile, they were counter revolutionary nations that stood in the way of progress. Whether or not they had a past, they had no historical future. Undeniably, there was more than a hint of prejudice, chauvinism, and ignorance of the actual conditions in eastern Europe in this account. It is just as certain, however, that an examination of the category of “ nations without history” points to the limitations of the critiques of M arx and Engels’s views on the nation as much as it reveals the limitations of the theory the latter propounded. In the hands of Engels, this category reveals a serious concern
93. M ECW , 8:234. Engels did not include the Poles in this category. A democratic revolution had been attempted in Polish lands, so the Poles were a historical people. See, for example, M ECW , 8:371, 2 0 :1 5 8 -6 0 . For an account of the defeat of the democratic forces, see Rosenberg, Democracy and Socialism , 1 0 5 -3 2 . For a discussion of the juxtaposition of nationalist and democratic aspirations and its importance for M arxian thought in this period, see George Lichtheim, M arxism : An Historical and Critical Study (New York: Praeger, 1965), 76 -8 9 . 94. M ECW , 7:91. 95. M ECW , 8:234.
with the dangers of nationalism and gives the lie to the commonplace charge of “ economic reductionism.” Here the concerns were political and, if anything, show an Engels who strayed from the method of historical analysis of social structures he and M arx had developed. Inasmuch as it aimed to draw transhistorical conclusions, the proposition of the nonhistorical peoples was as abstract as Bakunin’s evaluation of the same phenomenon. As Roman Rosdolsky has argued, this evaluation “ stood in contradiction to the materialist conception o f history which Engels himself helped create. For instead of deriving the essence of the nationality struggles and national movements from the constantly changing material conditions and class relations of the peoples involved, the concept of nonhistoricity offers as its ultima ratio the notion of ‘national viability,’ which smacks of metaphysics, explains absolutely nothing and is altogether like Molière’s ‘dormitive virtue of opium.’ ” 96 Rosdolsky demonstrates through close commentary on the N R Z articles that Engels simply did not apply the M arxian method of social and economic historical analysis in those pieces. For example, rather than examine the social forces that made Croatian nationalists into opponents of the Hungarian Republic of Kossuth, Engels delved into their centuries-old inability to maintain a Croat state and concluded from this that their time had forever passed. Then he further inferred that this condition was the cause of the conflicts between Croatian nationalists and the Hungarian Republic, without considering, for example, the relationship between ethnicity and land distribution. In construing the “ small Slavs” as “ counterrevolutionary nations,” Engels was ignoring the very understanding of history that began with “ the production of material life itself.” 97 Nonetheless, the theory of nationalities Engels espoused was not without relation to the political struggles of the working class and its international ism. The latter, as he would write to Eduard Bernstein, was the main point of reference for political judgment: “ We must co-operate in the work of setting the West European proletariat free and subordinate everything else to that goal.” 98 And the proletarian struggle required great nations, that is, political
96. Roman Rosdolsky, Engels and the “Nonhistoric ” Peoples: The N ational Question in the Revolution o f 1848, trans. and ed. John-Paul Himka (Glasgow: Critique Books, 1986), 128. For a recent elaboration of this point, see Benner, Really Existing Nationalism s, 163ff. 97. The German Ideology, in The Marx-Engels Reader, 156. 98. Letter written 22 and 25 February 1882, M ECW , 46:205.
units constructed along the lines of republican citizenship, for, as he in formed the younger Kautsky at about the same time, “ an international movement of the proletariat is possible only as [sic] between independent nations.” 99 Nationality, understood as cultural community, was not the necessary basis for a nation— most great nations, in fact, included more than one nationality— the sovereignty of the citizens was. And if this was formally the case in bourgeois society, it would be even more so once the working class remade society in its own image. M arx put forth these propositions in his analysis of the 1871 Paris Commune. This was clearly one of the watershed events for the workingclass movement in the nineteenth century. There the patriotism of the communeux and the internationalist solidarity of anarchists, socialists, and other radicals confronted the equally international agreement among the so-called forces of order. The Commune emerged in the aftermath of Prussia’s unexpectedly easy victory over France in 1870. Following the capitulation of the Government of National Defense, led by Louis Adolphe Thiers, the National Guard in Paris (and several other localities) formed itself into a federation, conducted elections, and proclaimed communal government. While the International played no part in instigating the uprising, many of its members were involved, and many more made their way to Paris to fight alongside the communeux. Furthermore, the Commune served to drive a wedge between the working class and many of its liberal supporters (such as Mazzini), as well as to divide the radical and moderate elements of the International. The Commune also raised fears among the conservative bourgeoisie everywhere. Yet, the uprising lasted less than three months.100 The quelling of the Commune in M ay of 1871 involved a massacre that M arx described on behalf of the General Council of the IWMA in his well-known essay “ The Civil War in France.” While he thought the uprising 99. Letter dated 7 February 1882, MECW , 4 6 :1 9 1 -9 2 . 100. Georges Boursin, “ Une Entente franco-allemande: Bismarck, Thiers, Jules Favre et la répression de la commune de Paris (mai 1871),” International Review o f Social History 1 (1956): 4 1 - 5 4 ; see also Carlos Seco Serrano, “ L’Espagne, la commune et l’Internationale,” International Review o f Social History 17 (1972): 2 2 1 - 3 9 , and Edward T. Gargan, “ The American Conservative Response,” ibid., 2 4 0 - 4 9 . Parts 1 and 2 of volume 17 of the International Review o f Social History, edited by Jacques Rougerie, Tristan Haan, Georges H aupt, and Miklos Molnar, are devoted entirely to the Paris Commune. The issue bears the title 1871: Jalon s pour une histoire de la commune de Paris.
ill timed and fated for failure, M arx also saw in the Paris Commune the outlines of the political reorganization of social life and a symbol to inspire future struggles. For present purposes, it is important to note that he did not see in the Commune the dissolution of the nation. Rather, his analysis suggested that the nation’s unity would be preserved, though in a different form, reflecting its newly emerging social content. The nation would “ be organized by the Communal constitution and [would] become a reality by the destruction of the state power. . . . Instead of deciding . . . which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in parliament, universal suffrage w[ould] serv[e] the people constituted in communes.” This, however, was not the same as the abolition of the state as such. Unlike Bakunin, M arx saw in the Commune a new kind of republic, a state reconstituted as the “ true representative of all the healthy elements of French society.” It was truly national, not because it represented people of a certain ethnicity, but because it organized the people of France in their own interests.101 This view made sense only because M arx and Engels saw the nation as the political community of citizens, that is, much as it had been proclaimed by the First French Republic. From this perspective, national freedom presup posed not only sovereignty, but a republican form of government. A Poland governed by a dictator or an autocrat was no freer than a partitioned Poland. Thus, the aforementioned “ sovereign right belonging to every nation” was never about the establishment of states in the name of human groupings defined around descent, language, race, or any other such characteristic. It was a call for democratic republicanism. Since M arx and Engels perceived the nation as a society exercising political power, as a nation-state, its political form was of great importance. In practice, this meant that nationalities— that is, nations understood in terms of shared orientations emerging from an organic development out of a common history— had no a priori claims to the support of progressive forces. Working-class internation alism did not aim to establish ethnic states. If its goals coincided with those of a particular national liberation movement, this was due to the democratic tendencies of the latter.
101. Karl M arx, “ The Civil War in France,” in The First International and After, 210, 216. The Paris Commune, for example, had expressed its internationalism by selecting Leo Frankel, a German-speaking Hungarian, as labor minister. Frankel was the only supporter of M arx among the leadership of the Commune.
Solidarity and the Democratic Project Soon after the Paris Commune, the International Working Men’s Associa tion died as a result of three related developments. First, most of the English members, led by George Odger and Benjamin Lucraft, resigned in protest against the publication of “ The Civil War in France” (June 1871) by the General Council. At the same time, France accused the association of instigating the uprising and convinced most governments in Europe of the need to take heavy-handed measures against it. That the IWMA had little to do with the rebellion, that it had neither the membership nor the resources for such an endeavor, was not the point. The conservative elements that swept to power across the Continent after 1871 perceived the International as a specter haunting Europe, and they did their best to exorcise it. Finally, the polarization of M arx and his followers, on the one hand, and Bakunin and his, on the other— the growth in mutual suspicions underscoring their very significant differences over programmatic and organizational matters— reached its peak. As a consequence, and in good measure because of the maneuvering by M arx, the 1872 congress in the Hague expelled Bakunin and his followers and voted to move the seat of the General Council from London to New York. The association was effectively dead.102 The enmity between M arx and Bakunin was the result of fundamental differences in their approaches as much as long-term personal dislike. Although the complete range of their disagreements is beyond the scope of this project, it is nonetheless useful to outline them.103 Both sides claimed Hegelian roots, but each made different things of them. M arx sought “ to turn Hegel on his head” by assigning priority to civil society over the state; by contrast, Bakunin aimed to eliminate the state. Whereas Bakunin op posed the state and authority as such, M arx distinguished between authority and authoritarianism. For Bakunin, especially after 1864, all authority was illegitimate; all states were by definition oppressive; there was no difference 102. The M arxists and the Bakuninists organized separate congresses in Geneva the following year. Both were failures; neither could credibly claim to represent the whole working-class movement. Braunthal provides an account of the meager resources of the IWMA, the campaign of repression against it, and the dismantling of the association. See History o f the International, 1 :1 0 8 -1 9 , 1 5 6 - 6 3 , and 1 7 5 -9 4 . Cf. Katz, The Emancipation o f Labor, 9 6 -1 4 4 . 103. Paul Thomas has offered an incisive account of these disputations. For the most part, mine follows his. See Karl M arx and the Anarchists (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985), 2 4 9 -3 4 1 .
between absolutist and republican rule. M arx, on the other hand, recognized that states were instruments of class rule, but he also saw that liberal republics sanctioned civil rights. These rights might not have been enough, but they were nonetheless important accomplishments, as he pointed out in “ On the Jewish Question.” Socialism emerged precisely from these limita tions. The differences between the two thinkers over the nature of political rule carried over to their understandings of bourgeois civil society and the tasks that would transform it. Like M arx, whose political economy he came to accept, Bakunin wanted to revolutionize the mode of production, but he thought it sufficient to eliminate the state, and with it the law of inheritance. M arx, on the other hand, found such a position naive, untenable, even dangerously authoritarian. Bakunin rejected electoral politics and held that only insurrection would transform society. This view led to the advocacy of conspiratorial associations both to promote uprisings and to infiltrate other progressive organizations. M arx, on the other hand, had shunned secret associations since splitting from the Communist League in 1850.104 For him, vanguardist conspiratorial tactics, applied to abstract ideas, ignored the social, political, and cultural realities they faced. This led either to failure or to programs that sought to impose a project by force on an unwilling and ill-prepared population. N ot surprisingly, their differences over the nation were grafted onto their broader theoretical and political debates. A latecomer to the International, Bakunin saw in its actual organization the “ prefiguration” (to use Carl Boggs’s term) of a postrevolutionary society. Much as the IWMA, this society would be federal, it would rest on a mass base, and it would limit authority and jurisdiction at every level. Bakunin’s understanding of the nation, however, embodied a paradox, or, rather, two irreconcilable views of the nation, communal and associative. His writings always characterized nations as historical communities of descent; this was the case for the progressive Slavs, the authoritarian Germans, and the conniving Jews. Yet, his more mature works also proposed that postrevolutionary nations would be contractual associations of provinces and communes. While seemingly rejecting the nationality principle, he held on to a conception that attributed effective causality to nationality understood as a complex of features amounting to national character. This kept open the door to Pan-Slavism 104. Avineri, The Political and Social Thought o f Karl M arx, 1 9 4 -2 0 1 .
while, again paradoxically, preserving an understanding of internationalism as solidarity among nations. The universal federation was a federation of national communities. This, in the absence of a leap of faith that Bakunin was no longer prepared to make, did not explain what would protect the sociable Slavs from the dangerous Germans or why, if it was in their nature to organize states, the Germans could be considered free in a stateless postrevolutionary society. Even if we accept the proposition that it is states that oppress nations, Bakunin had little to propose as a basis for solidarity, other than an idea he knew many national communities not to share. More important, since he did not recognize the important role of republics in forwarding civil and political rights, the only guarantee he could offer national minorities in his federal arrangement was a right of separation. Such rights, in the absence of a credible and authoritative arbiter, are of little value. It is difficult to imagine, for example, that an oppressed nationality would be allowed to secede, so exercise of a right of separation is conceivable only in cases where it is unnecessary. Bakunin’s federalism, while opening an important avenue for later efforts to resolve the national question, was a puzzling variation on his naturalist view of the nation. M arx and Engels, on the other hand, considered the nation a political phenomenon to be understood in a broader social and historical context. This broader context was the capitalist mode of production, among whose characteristics was the tendency to universalize itself as it revolutionized societies. In remaking the world in its own image, the bourgeoisie created a system of territorial nation-states and a world-economy. Thus, it both divided the working class and forced its struggle onto the international level. Since this pitted the working class of any one country against those of others, proletarian victory was only conceivable with the global overthrow of the bourgeoisie and its allies. Consequently, internationalism and the Interna tional were fundamental for M arx and Engels. This internationalism was not about solidarity among nations. It was about principled solidarity among wageworkers and strategic solidarity with political forces whose projects furthered the advancement of the proletariat. Since these writings, capitalism has attained nearly universal status. Production, distribution, and consumption, the cycle of the commodity, have become integrated in a complex global web that continues to expand. This is reflected in the expansion of trade agreements and organizations and the likely appearance of the European federation that so inspired Enlighten ment thinkers and Bakunin. (Of course, the latter would hardly recognize in
the European Union a federation “ from the bottom up.” ) None of this, however, indicates an end to the system of states, only its restructuring.105 This restructuring continues to involve territorial nation-states because that is where organized power and authority still reside and so where popular power can be exerted. The fact remains, then, that social and political democracy, where it exists, only exists at the level of the nation-state. If we understand democracy as an unfolding project, then it seems clear that its viability calls for solidarity with movements and developments that would further it. At the same time, those who support this project should refocus their attention on practices and institutions where international solidarity can attain a degree of concreteness. This may mean the strengthening of existing international institutions and norms and the creation of new ones, a point I return to in later chapters. It certainly means that not every move ment that claims the mantle of national self-determination has a valid claim on progressive solidarity. The extension of democracy, however, is not only a matter of international solidary practices. Nation-states, for the most part, are not national in the cultural sense of the term. While, as M arx argued, the liberal state can go a long way toward easing and even eliminating the legal burdens on minori ties, the basic question of the “ relationship between political emancipation and human emancipation” remains.106 Yet, the thinkers of the First Inter national left the question of ethnic minorities unexamined. Bakunin’s feder alism may suggest an institutional form for the progressive resolution of the problem of the oppression of national minorities, but this was neither his intention nor the direction of his political ideas. For him, minorities only existed when linked to the land, that is, to territory— in other words, where they had the possibility of entering the historical stage, of becoming histori cal nations. In a similarly flawed musing, although assigning them a different valuation, Engels resorted to the concept of the nations without history. This attempt to link the closed communal understanding of the nation with the more open republican concept must also be judged a failure. N ot only was it abstract, it also offered little to ethnic minorities whose oppression was 105. For an elaboration of this argument, see Leo Panitch, “ Globalisation and the State,” in Socialist Register; 1994: Between Globalism and Nationalism, ed. Ralph Miliband and Leo Panitch (London: Merlin, 1994), 6 0 - 9 3 . 106. Karl M arx, “ On the Jewish Question,” in Early Writings, ed.. Quintin Hoare, trans. Gregor Benton (New York: Vintage Books, 1975), 217; the quoted material is in italics in the original.
rooted in civil society. Yet, the progress of the democratic project of the working class was certain to call for solidarity not only between workers from different nation-states, but between workers who were differentially located in social relations characterized by ethnic oppression. This was the question the thinkers of the Second International sought to answer.
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2 THE NATIONALITIES QUESTION REVISITED M u l t in a t io n a l is m a n d t h e S e c o n d I n t e r n a t io n a l
If we are serious about acknowledging and affirming other people’s humanity, then we are committed to trusting and believing that they are forever in process. — Cornell West, from Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life
Undoubtedly, the period of the Second International (1 8 8 9 -1 9 1 4 )1 repre sents the apogee of the international labor movement. Despite the many schisms and divisions within and between its member parties and organiza tions, the Second International managed to bring together socialists from most countries that had a movement. Over time, membership increased and became ever more diverse in origin. Also, in contrast to the First Interna tional, the member organizations were mainly mass parties, or at least 1. The last congress of the Second International was to meet in Brussels in 1922. It never met, so the 1920 Geneva Congress stands as the last meeting of the organization. At any rate, August 1914 signaled the death of the great International; the Zimmerwald movement (1 9 1 5 -1 7 ) was doomed from the start, and the establishment of the Communist International (1919) was the final blow. I address this period in the next chapter. For a comprehensive listing of congresses and officials, see Julius Braunthal, History o f the International, trans. John Clark and Peter Ford (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1980), 3 :5 6 0 -6 4 .
groups with a mass following, for which the Second International’s con gresses were a forum for the discussion of strategy, tactics, and principles. M ost important among their main objectives were the coordination of party policies and the avoidance of a generalized European war. The memorable deliberations that ensued included the revisionism controversy, the massstrike debate, the organizational question, the colonial question and impe rialism, and the related problems of national liberation and multinational states and parties. The latter was generally referred to as “ the national” or “ the nationalities” question. Whereas First International socialists had been concerned with solidarity across state boundaries, the thinkers of the Second International wrestled with the conceptual and political difficulties that nationalism and multina tionalism represented. National liberation was a recurrent topic in the organization’s meetings and literature. Indeed, it is there that the terminol ogy of national rights and self-determination acquired currency. But it is the adaptation of this discourse to the problems of ethnic diversity within a society or a state that deserves revisiting. In respect to this adaptation, three positions emerged, each associated with a major intellectual figure: V. I. Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and Otto Bauer. Lenin sought to address the problem of chauvinism by positing a right of political separation for minorities. Luxemburg, on the contrary, warned against the appeal of nationalism and proposed an uncompromising internationalism. Bauer theorized the idea of the nation in the context of a dynamic multinatio nalism. O f course, the national question could not be neatly separated from the colonial question, because quite often the presence of national minorities within the territory of a state was the result of conquest, and this inspired international solidarity. As the older Engels put it in his 1892 preface to the Polish edition of the M anifesto, colonialism remained a matter of concern “ to all of u s,” not least because the “ international collaboration of the European nations [was] possible only if each of these nations [was] fully autonomous in its own house.” 2 In keeping with this, the question of colonialism was raised once again at the 1896 London Congress, and once again the topic was a still-divided Poland. Much like the founders of the International Working M en’s Association, Second Internationalists sup ported Polish independence. More than twenty years before Woodrow
2. In M ECW , 27:274.
Wilson, the socialist delegates called for national sovereign rights in the following terms: “ This Congress declares that it stands for the full right of all nations to self-determination (Selbstbestimmungsrecht— sic) and expresses sympathy for the workers of every country now suffering under the yoke of military, national or other absolutism.” 3 Subsequent congresses, especially in Amsterdam (1904) and Basel (1912), would reiterate the statement. The position, however, was not a consensus view, and, in any event, talk of the right of self-determination seemed better suited to the anticolonialist struggle than to the problematique of ethnic diversity, for in this case the problem could not necessarily be reduced to “ absolutism” : it might involve divisions within the working class itself, as it struggled within a multina tional state. It was the growing role and prominence of Social Democracy in AustriaHungary and Russia, the multinational empires of Europe, that called for a reformulation of internationalist principles. As Viktor Adler put it, “ We in Austria have a little International ourselves.” 4 In addition to a sizable Jewish population, the Habsburg lands harbored significant populations of at least twelve ethno-cultural groups (Germans, Magyars, Czechs, Poles, Ruthenians, Rumanians, Croats, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Romanies, and Italians). Further more, together, the dominant nationalities of Austria-Hungary, Germans and M agyars, accounted for less than half the population.5 The Russias were even more diverse. The tsarist empire stretched from the Vistula and the Odra to the Bering Strait, and it included peoples speaking over one hundred languages. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the Russifi cation policies of Alexander III and, later, Stolypin, nationalist tempers were intense and pervasive.6 Social Democracy’s success in Russia and AustriaHungary presupposed adequate responses to the challenge of organizing a
3. Reproduced in V. I. Lenin, Collected Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1964), 20:430; hereafter LCW . For an account of the discussion in this and subsequent congresses, see Julius Braunthal, History o f the International, trans. Henry Collins and Kenneth Mitchell (New York: Praeger, 1967), 1 :3 0 5 -2 0 . Cf. Jam es Joll, The Second International: 1 8 8 9 -1 9 1 4 (New York: Praeger, 1956), 1 0 6 -2 5 . 4. Quoted in Joll, The Second International, 118. 5. In 1910, 23.9 percent of the empire’s population was German; 20.2 percent was Magyar. For an excellent historical survey, see Robert A. Kann, The Multinational Empire: Nationalism and N ational Reform in the H absburg Monarchy; 1 8 4 8 - 1 9 1 8 , 2 vols. (New York: Octagon, 1970); the figures above come from 2:305. 6. For a general account, see Hugh Seton-Watson, The Russian Empire, 1 8 0 1 -1 9 1 7 (London: Oxford University Press, 1967), especially 4 8 5 - 5 0 5 , 6 0 7 - 1 3 , 6 6 3 - 7 5 .
working class that might otherwise be divided along ethnic or national lines. This meant asking the right questions. The problem in the dynastic empires was not the classic one of solidarity across state borders that the Manifesto referred to. The unity among Great Russian, Jewish, and Abkhazi workers was quite different from the solidar ity between English and French proletarians. In western Europe solidarity was a question of forging links across borders. In eastern Europe, as Georges Haupt has argued, it was a question of the structure of the working class itself.7 The ethnic and national diversity of the working class in Russia and Austria-Hungary produced a series of crosscutting and intersecting cleavages that hindered class-based organization. In Vienna, for example, German-speaking workers often faced Czech laborers brought in to break strikes. Everywhere Social Democrats sought to organize Jewish workers alongside chauvinistic gentiles. Ethnic identity, at the very least, constituted a competing organizational principle. Where the oppression of minorities was an issue, the model of class divisions, even within political borders, was seriously compromised. These concerns inspired the work of Lenin, Luxemburg, and Bauer on issues of ethnic identity. For them, multinationalism was not only a theo retical but also an action-oriented issue. Lenin’s response is probably the best-known effort in this respect. I now turn to his proposition that “ the proletariat confines itself . . . to the negative demand for recognition of the right to self-determination, without giving guarantees to any nation, and without undertaking to give anything at the expense of another nation.” 8
The Right of Nations to Self-Determination: Lenin V. I. Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, 1870-1924) was the son of a petty functionary.9 Following the execution of his brother Alexander for plotting 7. Georges Haupt, “ Les marxistes face à la question nationale: Histoire du problèm e,” in Les marxistes et la question nationale, 1 8 4 9 -1 9 1 4 : Etudes et textes, ed. Georges Haupt, Michael Löwy, and Claudie Weill (Montreal: Etincelle, 1974), 35. 8. V. I. Lenin, The Right o f Nations to Self-Determination, in LCW , 20:410. 9. There is an extensive historical and theoretical literature on Lenin. The following are of particular interest: Georges Cogniot, Présence de Lénine, 2 vols. (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1970); Neil Harding, Lenin’s Political Thought: Theory and Practice in the Democratic Revolution, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1977); Christopher Hill, Lenin and the Russian
to assassinate the tsar (1887), Lenin dedicated his own life to promoting revolution and the end of tsarism. His approach to this task led to his exposure to M arxist thought and to participation in socialist circles. Indeed, he was involved in the transformation of the Group of Liberation of Labor into the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) in 1898.10 Later, he was the key figure in the split between the Bolshevik and Menshevik factions of the RSDLP. This controversy, like most of those involving Lenin, was over the structure of the party. And it was the organizational question that forced Lenin to confront the national one. Addressing Lenin’s thought presents a number of difficulties for the scholar. N ot least of these is the politically charged atmosphere that has long surrounded the publication of his works. During the Soviet period, the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute of the Communist Party controlled much of the material (the rest was part of the official files of the Soviet Union), so editorial choices were often made to correspond with official policy. The goal was to portray Lenin in the best of lights and, probably more important after 1932, to legitimate Soviet policy by justifying its Leninist roots. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many (but not all) documents have been inherited by the successor to the Central Party Archive, the Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Recent History. New documents are now being issued, often with the aim of discrediting Lenin and the October Revolution. Some, such as a number of those gathered by Richard Pipes under the title The Unknown Lenin,11 do add insight into Lenin the man. However, they do little to enhance our understanding of his theoretical perspective. This is particularly true of his arguments about the national question before 1917. As the discussion below suggests, these
Revolution (New York: Penguin, 1971); Nadezhda K. Krupskaya, Reminiscences o f Lenin, trans. Bernard Isaacs (New York: International Publishers, 1970); R olf H. W. Theen, Lenin: Genesis and Development o f a Revolutionary (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979); Adam B. Ulam, Lenin and the Bolsheviks (London: Fontana/Collins, 1969); Dmitrii Antonov ich Volkogonov, Lenin: A New Biography, trans. Harold Shukman (New York: Free Press, 1994). 10. The Group of Liberation of Labor was founded by Paul Axelrod, George Plekhanov, and Vera Zasulich in 1883. It styled itself after the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or SPD), but it was only a small group of intellectuals, mostly in exile, until its expansion through an alliance with other working-class organizations in 1898. 11. V. I. Lenin, The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive, ed. Richard Pipes, with David Brandenberger, trans. Catherine A. Fitzpatrick (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).
arguments are based on Lenin’s historical understanding of the situation within the party and the Russian Empire, an understanding informed by a long-run commitment to socialist transformation and especially party con struction. Lenin’s contributions to our understanding of the national ques tion, as well as the flaws in his position, flow from this. As Arthur Rosenberg has pointed out, Russian Social Democracy faced a choice at the turn of the century. On the one hand, the RSDLP might adopt the reformist tactics (with a sprinkling of revolutionary rhetoric) of the western European movements. On the other hand, the party could return to the “ roots of the revolutionary M arxism of 1848.” Given the “ surprising resemblance between Russia in 1895 and Germany in 1845,” it is not extraordinary that Lenin took the latter course.12 In fact, in many ways the Russian situation at the end of the nineteenth century and in the first decade of the twentieth may have been even more dire. Taken as a whole, the tsarist empire was economically underdeveloped. While it was, unlike 1845 Ger many, politically united, its institutions, with perhaps one exception, were not modern. The exception, of course, was the ubiquitous Okhrana, the tsarist secret police. Under Russian conditions, a mass-based working-class party hardly seemed like a promising vehicle for social transformation. Rather, in Lenin’s judgment, these conditions called for the construction of a new kind of organization capable of evading the secret police and harnessing popular energies. Lenin’s assessment, furthermore, was well in keeping with the conspira torial Jacobin traditions of Russia, traditions shared by figures as different as the Decembrist Pestel and the anarchist Bakunin.13 From this perspective, as we have already seen with Bakunin, social revolution could only be the outcome of more or less conspiratorial activities that set the agenda and brought it to the masses. Lenin continued this tradition by rooting it in the M arxian method. In his estimation, “ the working class, solely by its own forces, [was] able to work out merely trade-union consciousness” ; social democratic consciousness could “ only be brought to them from the out side.” This new kind of party was not to be a mass formation. Rather, to
12. Arthur Rosenberg, A History o f Bolshevism: From M arx to the First Five Years’ Plan, trans. Ian F. D. M orrow (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Anchor, 1967), 25; see generally 2 2 -2 9 . 13. On Pestel and the Decembrist prefiguration of Russian Bolshevism, see Jenny SchwarzSochor, “ P. I. Pestel: The Beginnings of Jacobin Thought in R ussia,” International Review o f Social History 3 (1958): 7 1 - 9 7 .
guarantee its secrecy and flexibility, it would be a highly centralized organi zation. This Lenin expressed in language reminiscent of Bakunin by calling for “ revolutionaries by profession ” capable of forging the unity of the working class and of sustaining alliances with other progressive elements. In Russian conditions, this meant fighting “ national chauvinism,” so Lenin chose to tap into the discourse of national rights.14 In Lenin’s work, this terminology first emerged in the debate over the party program. The occasion was his 1901 address to the Unity Conference of the RSDLR There he adapted the International’s anticolonialist language to the problematique of multiethnicity. He suggested that party policy had to consider minority demands, Great Russian chauvinism, and redemptive ethnic hate. The best way to do this, in his view, was to back the slogan of the “ right of self-determination” ; the goals were to educate the Great Russian proletariat and to appeal to non-Russians by stressing that Social Democ racy took minority claims seriously. Beginning in 1902, the elaboration of this position became a crucial element in his political struggle with the Jewish Bund.15 The General Union of Jewish Workers had been founded in Vilna (Vilnius) in 1897, one year before the RSDLR It included socialists from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Russia (from both within and beyond the Pale). The Bund alternately joined with and competed against the RSDLP for the alle giance of Jewish workers in the Russian Empire. It is important to note that the Bund was not a Zionist organization; it was a social democratic group. This is to say, it did not seek the establishment of a Jewish state. Yet, its political agenda was premised on the distinctiveness of the Jewish experience under tsarism. This meant not only a demand for the end of pogroms, but also the recognition of Jews as a distinct people and their representation as such within the labor movement. This was bound to put the Jewish Bund in conflict with Lenin.16 14. V. I. Lenin, What Is to Be D one? ed. S. V. Utechin, trans. S. V. Utechin and Patricia Utechin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Clarendon, 1963), 6 2 - 6 3 , 129, 85. This piece was originally published in Iskra in February of 1902. 15. For Lenin’s Unity address, see LCW , 5 :2 2 3 -3 0 . 16. Braunthal, History o f the International, 1 :2 3 2 -3 4 . See also J. P. Nettl, Rosa Luxem burg, 2 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), 2 5 1 - 9 5 ; Jacob L. Talmon’s discussion of the “Jewish dimension” in The Myth o f the Nation and the Vision o f Revolution (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1981), 2 1 6 - 3 5 ; Michael Löwy, Redemption and Utopia: Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe— A Study in Elective Affinity, trans. Hope Heaney (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 4 1 - 4 5 . For a touching first-person account of the Bund, see Hersh Mendel’s Memoirs o f a Jewish Revolutionary, trans.
At stake for this most pragmatic of thinkers was party politics in the narrowest sense. At the 1903 RSDLP conference, Bund representatives had objected to a section of the proposed party program. Paragraph 7 (later section 9) was the source of a dispute that would continue for more than a decade. While denying national rights within the party, paragraph 7 included the “ recognition of the right to self-determination for all nations forming part of the state.” 17 The Bund, on the other hand, aspired to exclusive representation of Jewish workers within the organization and the empire. In effect, Bundists aimed to organize the RSDLP along lines of ethnic identity. They also sought a state policy that would support national languages and cultures irrespective of location, “ national-cultural autonomy.” From the Bund’s perspective, the right of self-determination was impractical as a state policy: the Jewish population had no territorial coherence or claims. Fur thermore, within the party, paragraph 7 did little to give Social Democratic expression to specifically Jewish concerns. It neither acknowledged the uniqueness of Jewish grievances nor provided a socialist frame for their vindication. Finally, paragraph 7 would have the practical result of disband ing the Bund. Obviously, the Bund’s views were anathema to Lenin’s own ideas about a unitary party structure. His organization of professional revolutionaries required centralized control. In Lenin’s view, the party’s cadres were to be the organization’s eyes, ears, and mouth. Structuring the RSDLP along the lines the Bund called for would have precluded the party leadership from speak ing directly to and on behalf of Jewish workers. Agreeing to Bund demands would have meant clearing all RSDLP policy with the Bund’s central committee and probably those of other nationality-based organizations. Furthermore, the precept of national-cultural autonomy might work against the class principle that the party sought to impart to the vanguard class. From Lenin’s perspective, acceding to the Bund’s demands would have Robert Michaels, with an introduction by Isaac Deutscher (London: Pluto Press, 1989); see also Hillel Blum, Zikhroynes fun a Bundist: Bilder fun Untererdishn Lebn in Tzarishn Rusland (New York: Bilder-komitet fun Arbayter Ring, 1940). 17. The text, as Lenin proposed it and the program committee adopted it, read as follows: “ The Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party advances as its immediate political task the overthrow of the tsarist autocracy and its replacement by a republic based on a democratic constitution that would ensure: [A series of liberal democratic demands follows, including parliamentary government, universal suffrage, inviolability of persons, equality before the law irrespective of sex, religion, etc.] (7) recognition of the right to self-determination for all nations forming part of the state.” LCW , 6 :2 9 -3 0 . The party program remained mostly unchanged until 1917.
undermined the “ local unity of all M arxist workers of whatever national ity.” 18 Nonetheless, Lenin was keenly aware of the necessity of formulating a “ national programme,” which he viewed as the key to any revolutionary strategy in a multinational empire. The program he supported always put the right of nations to self-determination as its central, but not its only, element. In his interpretation, paragraph 7 always meant acceptance of an entitlement to political separation on the part of national groups. This was the “ right to secede and form a separate state.” 19 Lenin dedicated it specifically to oppressed national minorities, whose nationalism, unlike that of the Great Russians, had “ a general democratic content that [was] directed against oppression.” 20 In this usage, as his critics have pointed out, Lenin was always consistent.21 Unfortunately, his notion of democracy remained abstract, thereby denying him criteria for judgment after October of 1917, once his party was in power and national minorities claimed the right to secede and form separate states. Even bracketing this, Lenin’s advocacy of the right of secession retained a certain ambivalence. For him, the establishment of national states was never the main goal of the working-class movement. Rather, it was a necessary step in a larger project that, first of all, involved (at least before 1917) assisting the weak Russian bourgeoisie with its revolution. In practice, this meant that Lenin advocated supporting every nation’s right to its own state, but not every actual demand for statehood. In his own words, the recognition of “ the right of nations to secede in no way precludes agitation against secession by M arxists of a particular oppressed nation, just as the recogni tion of the right to divorce does not preclude agitation against divorce in a particular case.” 22 This claim, however, should not be mistaken for a simple bad-faith effort to manipulate the victims of chauvinism and imperialism. Rather, it reflects actual conditions as well as Lenin’s ultimate inability to conceive of a modern political structure that does not link group selfdetermination with a centralized national-cultural state. In a book that claims to prove “ to the oppressed peoples of the 18. LCW, 1 9 :8 7 -8 8 . 19. LCW , 19:243. See also LCW , 6 :4 5 4 -5 5 , 18:116, 20:397, 24:302. 20. LCW , 20:412. 21. E. H. Carr, A History o f Soviet R ussia, vol. 1 (New York: Macmillan, 1951), chap. 13; Stephen Eric Bronner, A Revolutionary for Our Times: Rosa Luxem burg (London: Pluto Press, 1981), 20; Nettl, Rosa Luxem burg, 854. 22. LCW , 20:452. See also 24:302.
world . . . that they were little appreciated by Lenin for their own sake,” Alfred Low seizes upon the divorce analogy to accuse Lenin of “ an oppor tunism unabashed.” 23 Certainly, Lenin’s position on the national question was a response to strategic considerations. Though by far the largest nationality, the Great Russians did not constitute the majority of the population of the Romanov lands. Moreover, many, though not all,24 minority groups (beginning with the Jews) were the object of oppression, persecution, and Russification efforts. In short, chauvinism was a matter of tsarist policy. Under these conditions, the “ nationalities question” was an element of the general crisis of the Russian Empire that no party could ignore. Furthermore, and quite apart from Lenin’s initiative, national im peratives were also an issue inside the working-class movement. As Lenin put it, “ [A]utocracy has left us a legacy of tremendous estrangement between the working classes of the various nationalities oppressed by that autoc racy.” 25 Within the proletarian movement, nationalism expressed itself in two ways. First, it encouraged the Great Russian chauvinism through which workers participated in and relished the oppression of minorities. Second, the nationalism of the oppressed was an articulation of minority defensiveness, which, by the first decade of the twentieth century, if not before, included demands for recognition and separate statehood, both often expressed in redemptive terms. “ A difficulty,” Lenin said with uncharacteristic reserve, “ is to some extent created by the fact that in Russia the proletariat of both the oppressed and oppressor nations are fighting, and must fight, side by side.” 26 Nationalism, understood as a defensive program of subaltern minorities and a visceral chauvinism of dominant ethnic groups, was clearly an obstacle to class unity, and Lenin sought to overcome it by giving the oppressed nationalities an opportunity for redemption. The alternative, in his view, was a situation much like that M arx had claimed obtained between black slaves and poor whites in the United States: the Great Russian workers
23. Alfred Low, Lenin on the Question o f Nationality (New York: Bookman Associates, 1958), 17 and 104. See also Walker Connor, The N ational Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 3 5 - 3 7 . Luxemburg’s view was similar to Low ’s on this point. 24. German speakers on the Baltic and along the Volga (not to mention in the court) were, if anything, more privileged than the Great Russians. 25. LCW , 6:462. 26. LCW , 20:451.
would forge their chains by oppressing others.27 The national question, in his view, was an organizational and political one. However, the strategic and programmatic necessity for a national policy was not the only explanation for Lenin’s at once dogmatic and ambivalent position toward national self-determination. As Stephen Eric Bronner has argued, Lenin rested his position with respect to self-determination on an internationalist premise: “ the existence of an internationalist socialist orga nization to provide revolutionary guidance and unity.” 28 For Lenin, no less than for the other Second International thinkers, opposition to colonialist and minority oppression took place in the context of an organization of parties, the Second International, committed to respecting equality among nations and national cultures. Furthermore, at least through mid-1914, Lenin could see in this organization an expression of the historical project of proletarian emancipation. It was the concrete actualization of proletarian internationalism. From its standpoint, the establishment of the realm of freedom was not only possible, but perhaps inevitable. In any case, the question of socialist criteria for “ divorce” did not demand practical consid eration before November of 1917. Certainly before the First World War, and probably up until early 1917, with the publication of Imperialism, the Highest State o f Capitalism, Lenin had no serious expectations of a proletarian revolution that would do any more than further the establishment of a bourgeois democratic republic in Russia. Instead, as Neil Harding has argued, Lenin’s vision in this respect was rather orthodox.29 He saw Russia as a country in the earliest stages of capitalism. It had to go through a fully developed capitalism before a socialist formation could be established. If anything, Lenin envisioned the democratic republic as a key precondition for the development of proletar
27. By 1917, Lenin was in fact aware of M arx’s dictum on national oppression: “ A people that oppresses another people forges its own chains” (MECW , 2 1 :8 8 -8 9 ). However, he misattributed the quote to Engels. See LCW , 24:301. 28. Stephen Eric Bronner, Socialism Unbound (New York: Routledge, 1990), 119. See also the discussions on 1 1 8 - 2 2 and 1 2 9 -3 1 . 29. “ Even [in early 1914] there was no talk in Lenin’s writings of any advance to socialism in R ussia.” Harding, Lenin’s Political Thought, 1:291. Harding argues further that Lenin’s position was challenged by the almost uniform support of socialists for the war effort later that year. This forced Lenin to spend the next two years reconsidering his position. He presented his new vision in Imperialism, the Highest Stage o f Capitalism, where he concluded that a fully socialist and international strategy was necessary and viable in Russia. See Harding, Lenin’s Political Thought, 2 :4 1 -7 0 . However, the textual evidence on Lenin’s view of liberal democ racy remained mixed until the publication of State and Revolution in 1917.
ian class struggle. When he formulated his position on the national question, Lenin envisaged a policy that would be implemented by a democratic republic where the RSDLP might be a significant factor, but not the deciding one. It was not until the publication of State and Revolution, in August 1917, that he unequivocally took the position that the “ democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and therefore, once capital has gained control . . . of this very best shell, it establishes itself so securely, so firmly that no change, either of persons, or institutions, or parties in the bourgeois republic can shake it.” 30 This dramatic change in position did not, however, lead Lenin to revise his views on the national question. With the exception of a belated acceptance of federalism after 1918, his subsequent thought on this issue evolved little after the publication of The Right o f Nations to Self-Determination, between April and June of 1914. Although Lenin always constructed his answer to the national question around the right of self-determination, he offered more, particularly begin ning in 1913. It is unclear, as Walker Connor argues, whether Lenin ever expected minority nationalities to avail themselves widely of the right to form their own states.31 Writing against the Bund’s slogan of “ culturalnational autonomy,” Lenin argued that such a position contradicts the internationalism of Social-Democracy. As democrats, we are irreconcilably hostile to any . . . oppression of any nation ality and to privileges for any nationality. As democrats we demand the right of nations to self-determination in the political sense of that term (see the Programme of the R.S.D.L.P.), 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.32 Lenin, thus, supported certain protective state policies whose realization presupposed political democracy. These included the availability of educa tional opportunities for minority groups in their own languages, the protec 30. V. I. Lenin, State and Revolution (New York: International Publishers, 1943), 14. 31. Connor, The N ational Question in M arxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy, 3 4 - 3 5 . 32. LCW , 18:116.
tion of all nationalities from the imposition of an official language, and local self-government and territorial autonomy.33 In short, he recognized the multifaceted nature of national aspirations and of oppressed nationalities without, on the surface, making them the goals of his activity. But what did he mean by “ nation” ? When did he support actual national liberation movements? The answers to both questions, inasmuch as Lenin theorized them, were closely linked. Although nationalism often preoccupied him, Lenin never systematically developed a concept of nationality. Rather, he charged Stalin with this task.34 The latter framed his classic work, “ M arxism and the National Question,” as a polemic against Otto Bauer. In this vein, Stalin defined the nation in empirical terms as a community of language, territory, economic life, and “ psychological make-up.” 35 But this list of characteristics did not exhaust Lenin’s (or Stalin’s) understanding of the dynamics of nationality. In fact, and despite later disclaimers, Stalin’s and Lenin’s concepts of the national drew largely on Karl Kautsky’s account. Kautsky had elaborated a theoretical position profoundly dependent on a marriage between M arxism and philosophical anthropology. For him, the national impulse was a force that arose with the consolidation of formerly self-sufficient small communities in response to three factors: external threats, the need to tackle large-scale projects such as irrigation networks, and, especially, the generalized exchange and production of commodities. Natural factors such as territory, climate, and heredity were important in the formation of nations; so was language. Kautsky considered language the crucial dimension of nationhood because differences in this respect greatly increased the difficulties of communication and, thus, trade. Nationality, from this perspective, emerged with the decline of the feudal epoch. The first phase of national formation, on the one hand, saw the amalgamation of a variety of languages and dialects into a common vernacular. On the other hand, this phase also witnessed the increased differentiation of vernaculars.
33. LCW , 1 9 :5 3 1 -3 3 ; 2 0 :2 0 -2 2 , 2 0 :7 1 -7 3 ; 20:46. 34. See, for example, LCW , 19:539. 35. Joseph Stalin, “ M arxism and the National Question,” in M arxism and the N ational and Colonial Question: A Collection o f Articles and Speeches, 2d ed. (London: Lawrence &c Wishart, 1947), 6 - 8 . This should not be taken to mean that Stalin’s subsequent interpretation of Lenin’s views on nationality (or anything else) is privileged. Unfortunately, on this, as on many other points, Stalin’s version has received general acceptance at face value. As even Low recognizes, Lenin was not completely satisfied with this treatise and was extremely critical of Stalin’s 1922 Georgia policy. See Low, Lenin on the Question o f Nationality, 1 4 2 - 4 3 ,1 3 4 - 3 5 .
The advent of modern capitalism, however, favored larger units, so, in Kautsky’s estimation, the smaller nations were bound to be assimilated into the larger ones. As this phase developed, the interests of elements of the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie came into conflict because the former had internationalist proclivities rooted in its commercial interests, while the latter was equally committed to its own language and national particularity. Finally, the working class, despite its internationalist tendencies, also became involved in the modern question of nationality because the internationaliza tion of production and conflicts between international capital and domestic bourgeoisies affected the conditions of labor.36 By 1914, Lenin had extended Kautsky’s argument on nationality to link the social processes accompanying capitalist development and generating two distinct tendencies. During the first stage, Lenin claimed, the victory of capitalism required the formation of national states. At this point there would be an awakening of national life and movements leading to struggles against national oppression. “ For the complete victory of commodity pro duction, the bourgeoisie must capture the home market, and there must be politically united territories whose population speak a single language. . . . Therein is the economic foundation of national movements. . . . [T]he tendency of every national movement is towards the formation of national states, under which these requirements of modern capitalism are best satisfied.” 37 During this phase, the collapse of feudalism resulted from the mass movements of all nonaristocratic classes. However, the advancement of international commerce and intercourse also led to the breakdown of international barriers. During the second period, following the establish ment of constitutional regimes, antagonisms between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat became ever more intense. In Lenin’s view, the distinction between the two periods was crucial: “ Developing capitalism knows two historical tendencies in the national question. The first is the awakening of national life and national movements, the struggle against all national oppression, and the creation of national states. The second is the development and growing frequency of interna
36. Karl Kautsky, “ Die Moderne N ationalität,” Die Neue Zeit 5 (1887): 3 9 2 - 4 0 5 ,4 4 2 - 5 1 . For a remarkably consistent and cogent application of this scheme to a specific problem, see Kautsky’s critique of anti-Semitism and of Zionism, Are the Jew s a R acef 2d ed. (New York: International Publishers, 1926). Cf. Stalin, “ M arxism and the National Question,” especially 1 2-19. 37. LCW , 20:396.
tional intercourse in every form, the break-down of national barriers, the creation of international unity of capital, of economic life in general, of politics, science, etc.” 38 If nations awoke during the first period, the second gave birth to internationalism. During the latter period, the contradictions of capitalist development, not the least of which was the simultaneous interna tionalization of exploitation and the intensification of intercapitalist rival ries, would become more apparent as the stage was set for the transition to socialism. From a socialist standpoint, then, support for national liberation movements would depend upon the stage of development of the particular nationality or country.39 Thus, Lenin hypothesized that national movements in the early phases of capitalist development, in opposition to national or feudal oppression, furthered the historical cause of the proletariat. At this stage, the party of the working class might join the national liberation struggle. Once dominant, however, a bourgeoisie’s nationalism aimed at privileges for its own nation, or, what was ultimately the same, itself. It was, therefore, chauvinistic and reactionary. In the second phase, Lenin recognized the right to selfdetermination, but argued that the party ought to oppose its exercise.40 In no case, however, did Lenin countenance separatism within the party itself. The vanguard organization of the working class was the bearer of its interna tionalist consciousness, which, Lenin assumed, was actualized in the Inter national. It is important to stress that Lenin’s prewar stance on national selfdetermination rested on two practical political assumptions: that in the International a concrete expression of proletarian internationalism already existed and that social democratic institutions would emerge from demo cratic republics. From this perspective, the analogy between self-determination and divorce is much less problematic than Lenin’s critics have held. On the one hand, the internationalist orientation of the RSDLP, as a constituent of the Second International, was assured. On the other, the contest over the actual establishment of national states would take place under conditions of bourgeois democracy, where the Bolsheviks were but one contender and, at least initially, not the dominant one. 38. LCW , 20:27. 39. LCW , 2 0 :3 9 6 -9 7 , 4 0 0 - 4 0 4 , 1 9 :2 4 3 -4 5 . This analysis also prefigures some of the central conclusions Lenin would draw three years later in his classic pamphlet Imperialism, the Highest Stage o f Capitalism, in LCW , 2 2 :1 8 5 -3 0 4 . 40. LCW , 1 9 :2 4 3 -4 5 .
During the war years, Lenin’s understanding of the prospects and condi tions for socialist transformation in Russia changed; so did his assessment of the Second International and its member parties. He came to see socialist revolution as more likely in the less developed areas, where the bourgeoisie was both less able to co-opt major sections of the working class and its organizations and weaker vis-à-vis other domestic and foreign ruling classes. Furthermore, the readiness with which the various socialist parties had supported their countries’ participation in the First World War served to highlight the institutional weakness of the International and the pitfalls of parliamentary socialism. It became clear, in Lenin’s eyes, that socialist transformation required the emergence of a new state form patterned after the party itself. Lenin’s views on the national question, however, did not change to accommodate his analysis of the emerging conditions or his reassessment of the democratic republic. The form of the state was now reducible to its class content. Thus, Lenin once saw the vanguard party, and so the revolutionary state, as embodying proletarian class unity, no separation along national lines was conceivable. At the same time, he continued to hold to the right of self-determination and the distinction “ between the nationalism of an oppressor nation and that of an oppressed nation.” 41 There was a theoreti cal contradiction between the vanguard party and the formula of national rights to secession that would become real following the October Revolu tion. The unitary party could not be split, yet nations retained a right to separate from the state. The position left little room for the political assertion of ethnic groups, just as it proclaimed quite loudly that such an assertion was the fundamental expression of national aspirations. Paradoxi cally, this standpoint left room for the cultural assertion of national aspira tions, but not for the democratic expression of them. In effect, Lenin simultaneously closed and opened the door for nationalism. And this was Luxemburg’s central objection.
41. LCW , 36:607.
Internationalism and the National Question: Luxemburg Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), the daughter of a comfortable Jewish family from Russian Poland, began her political activities early in life.42 By 1887 she was in exile. In 1895 she was one of the internationalists who broke with the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) to form the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland, later the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPL).43 The main substantive issue was the PPS’s growing nationalism under Josef Pilsudsky’s leadership. This was objection able to both the internationalist circle and the Jewish Bund. Sometimes in league with the Bund, other times in opposition to it, Luxemburg devoted considerable effort to combating Polish nationalism, and so the PPS, within the Second International. She consistently held that the Polish workers’ struggle was necessarily linked with the Greater Russian one, and that the proletarian revolution was a global affair. Indeed, internationalism was the keystone of her thought. Today, “ [w]ith the exception of the mass strike, there is no single idea which has become so associated with Rosa Luxemburg.”44 Although she came to advocate administrative autonomy for Congress Poland within a Greater Russia, Luxemburg did not see it in terms of ethnicity but, to borrow Jürgen H aberm as’s most appropriate termi nology, in terms of “ rational purposive action.” Autonomy was no solution for the most intractable ethnic problems. In this respect, Luxemburg’s views on the Jewish question are especially revealing. Jews, for example, simply lacked the territorially specific interests that would underlie local selfgovernment. In her assessment, “Jewish national distinctness in Russia and Poland is based on the socially backward petite bourgeoisie, on small production, small trade, small town life and . . . on the close relation of the nationality in question to religion.” Meanwhile, Jewish capitalist inter ests were closely integrated in Polish and Russian affairs, so assimilation was 42. A number of biographical sources are available in English, including Richard Abraham, Rosa Luxem burg: A Life for the International (New York: St. M artin’s Press, Berg, 1989); Paul Frölich, Rosa Luxem burg: Her Life and Work, trans. Edward Fitzgerald (New York: Howard Fertig, 1969); Norm an Geras, The Legacy o f R osa Luxem burg (London: New Left Books, 1976); Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg. 43. In 1899 Polish and Lithuanian Social Democrats merged into a single party. Besides Luxemburg, important SDKPL figures were Leo Jogiches, Feliks Dziezyñski, and Cezaryna Wojnarowska. 44. Bronner, A Revolutionary for Our Times, 17.
occurring.45 Thus, “J ewish national autonomy, not in the sense o f freedom o f school, religion, place o f residence, and equal civic rights, but in the sense of the political self-government of the Jewish population . . . is an entirely utopian idea.” 46 Luxemburg, in other words, drew a distinction between opposition to persecution and support for nationalism. She recognized what was historical in people, without making the assertion of group identity her goal. In the Caucasus, as well, a policy of national autonomy, let alone self-determination, was untenable. Luxemburg’s data suggested that not even the largest ethno-national groups (Russians and Georgians) were a significant majority in any jurisdiction.47 There was simply no acceptable way to establish territorially based local self-rule for any nationality. Here too, Luxemburg claimed that the only way of settling the nationalities question was to establish democratic forms securing to all nationalities freedom of cultural existence without any among them dominating the remaining ones, and at the same time meeting the recognized need for modern development . . . to disre gard ethnic boundaries, and to introduce local self-government . . . without a definite nationality character, that is, giving no privileges to any nationality. Only such a self-government [would] make it possible to unite various nationalities to jointly take care of the local economic and social interests, and on the other hand, to take into consideration in a natural way the different proportions of the nationalities in each county and each commune.48 Luxemburg’s position was antinationalist, not antinationality. She did not reject the value a national language or culture might hold for a particular people.49 Rather, she rejected the political program that Pilsudsky (and Lenin) derived from the existence of such languages and cultures. She claimed that democratic rights would go further toward securing popular 45. Rosa Luxemburg, The N ational Question and Autonomy, in The N ational Question, ed. Horace B. Davis (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1976), 267. This series of articles was originally published between 1908 and 1909. 46. Ibid., 266, italics added. 47. Ibid., 2 7 4 - 8 0 ; see also 1 2 9 -3 2 . 48. Ibid., 279. 49. Anita K. Shelton, “ Rosa Luxemburg and the National Question,” E ast European Quarterly 21 (September 1987): 3 0 0 -3 0 2 .
ethno-cultural interests than would national rights. The latter she saw as a historically specific category of capitalist development whose potential to further democracy, and so socialism, was also historically contingent. On this issue, Luxemburg’s critics have charged her with being unrealistic, dogmatic, and opportunistic. Leszek Kolakowski has claimed that her differences with Lenin were purely strategic. Neither of them would have held the nation in high regard, and her polemics against Lenin were really aimed at the PPS, on which her position was “ blind to social realities” because she “ was a doctrinaire intellectual through and through.” 50 Simi larly, J. P. Nettl has suggested that Luxemburg’s articulation of the issue against the PPS was tainted with her pursuit of SDKPL interests and with intellectual dishonesty. In particular, he has accused her of sophism for attempting to draw a distinction between what she saw as Lenin’s tactical advocacy of self-determination and the PPS program that gave nationality the same programmatic weight as the class struggle.51 While there are important differences between a fundamental dedication to the establishment of a national state and a tactical commitment to self-determination as a right, Luxemburg supported neither position. On the one hand, her opposition to the PPS program was rooted in different understandings of autonomy. As she wrote to Jogiches, for the SDKPL “ the starting point is the general interest— that the solidarity sought within national identity equal the solidarity of the proletariat.” This meant that no national group was to be given programmatic priority. Rather, she made class solidarity the standard for solidarity in general and held this to mean solidarity with those who are oppressed. But his was a kind of solidarity that did not require the further or continued oppression of others for its own realization. By contrast, the PPS gave precedence to “ Polish peculiarity, while for other nationalities, inverting their autonomy notion, they derive [d] magnanimous pipe dreams based on ‘federalistic m axims’ like . . . ‘Each is a master in his own house,’ ‘Unleash elemental forces.’ ” 52 Thus, while Lenin sanctioned a right to self-determination, not its exercise on every occasion, and while a Polish national state was the cornerstone of Pilsudsky’s position, Luxemburg favored the bureaucratic autonomy of the Kingdom of Poland 50. Leszek Kolakowski, Main Currents o f Marxism, trans. P. S. Falla (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 2 :9 2 -9 3 . 51. Nettl, Rosa Luxem burg, 2 8 1 - 8 4 . 52. Luxemburg to Jogiches, 26 October 1905, The Letters o f Rosa Luxem burg, ed. Stephen Eric Bronner (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1978), 1 0 4 -5 .
and Lithuania, not its secession from Russia, and certainly not the unifica tion of the Poles. Like most prewar socialists, Luxemburg assumed that the social revolu tion would build on the democratic republic. Her goal was to promote the capitalist development of Congress Poland by challenging tsarist absolutism, and so to stimulate the cultural development of both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in a new democratic milieu, Greater Russia.53 On the other hand, Lenin’s position on self-determination did not promote Polish secession or national unification, but it did not preclude them either. Luxemburg’s critique of Lenin’s nationality policy, in any case, was that it failed to capture the historical rootedness of the urge to establish national states and thus led to the formulation of national rights, a slogan whose universalizable nor mative implications a Social Democratic party ought not to strive for. Lenin’s position legitimated the pursuit of national independence for its own sake. Yet, social democracy was about the extension of democratic choice. The difference between the two positions becomes clearer on review of Luxemburg’s critique of the October Revolution. One of her strongest claims involved the juxtaposition of the Bolshevik support for national rights, on the one hand, and their contempt for democratic institutions and practices, on the other. While [Lenin and his comrades] did not permit themselves to be imposed upon in the slightest by the plebiscite for the Constituent Assembly in Russia, a plebiscite on the basis of the most democratic suffrage in the world, carried out in the full freedom of a popular republic, and while they simply declared this plebiscite null and void on the basis of a very sober evaluation of its results, still they championed the ‘popular vote’ of the foreign nationalities of Russia on the question of which land they wanted to belong to, as the true palladium of all freedom and democracy, the quintessence of the will of all the peoples and as the court of last resort in questions of the political fate of nations.54 For Luxemburg, then, Bolshevik actions betrayed contempt for democracy and capitulation to nationalism. This was precisely the wrong policy because 53. Luxemburg, The N ational Question and Autonomy, 2 5 2 - 5 4 , 2 5 8 - 5 9 . 54. R osa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution, in The Russian Revolution and M arxism or Leninism? ed. Bertram Wolfe (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961), 48.
democratic forms “ involve the most valuable and indispensable foundations of socialist policy, whereas the famous ‘right of self-determination of na tions’ is nothing but hollow, petty-bourgeois phraseology and humbug.” 55 The specific point of contention was not the revolutionary action of late 1917, but the contempt Lenin and his group showed for the Constitutional Assembly shortly thereafter. Admittedly, the Bolsheviks and the soviets had a mass base. Also, as Arthur Rosenberg has pointed out, by January of 1918 the representativeness of the Constitutional Assembly was questionable, primarily because of Kerensky’s control over the Social Revolutionary slates.56 Yet, at the time, not even John Reed questioned the validity of the plebiscite.57 Thus, when the Bolsheviks disbanded the assembly, while making proclamations about national rights, they were effectively substitut ing nationalist rhetoric for democratic practice. In any case, Luxemburg’s argument was that democracy had to be based not in nations but in popular institutions that recognized political rights. Nationalities, in her view, did not have a prima facie right to a state. Nationalism and nations, unlike nationalities per se, were categories of bourgeois politics at specific junctures in the development of capitalism. Nationality was, for Luxemburg, tied to ethnicity and culture; however, it was not transhistorical. In her assessment of the 1905 revolution in Poland and the Russian Empire, she claimed that it had “ struck a fatal blow to our nationalism— but not to the cause of Polish national identity.” 58 National peculiarities, she held, had long existed. People had spoken particular languages and followed a variety of practices since long before the bourgeoi sie’s appearance on the historical scene. Indeed, it was precisely the peas antry that bore the specificity of national cultures. In the modern world, however, peasants as a class were unable to play an active or leading historical role.59 National movements, on the other hand, belonged to the bourgeoisie and reflected “ nothing more than its aspirations to class rule, and a specific social form in whose aspirations this expression [was] found: the modern capitalistic s t a t e ” Luxemburg argued that the proper develop ment of a capitalist class required a domestic market, a strong military able
55. Ibid., 49. 56. Rosenberg, A History o f Bolshevism, 1 2 2 -2 3 . 57. John Reed, Ten D ays That Shook the World (New York: Penguin, 1977), 248, 345. 58. Rosa Luxemburg, “ Foreword to the Anthology,” in The N ational Question: Selected Writings, ed. Horace B. Davis (New York: Monthly Review, 1976), 93. 59. Luxemburg, The N ational Question and Autonomy, 260, 2 6 3 - 6 4 .
to protect that market and to safeguard (and project) its interests around the world, and an administrative mechanism to manage a system of communi cations, a customs policy, and so forth. It is this national state that gave the bourgeoisie the stage from which to present its interest as the national or the general interest.60 It is not that Luxemburg was unsympathetic to the fate of oppressed peoples or, much less, that she failed to acknowledge their yearning for their own language or culture. At a personal level, Luxemburg was quite sensitive to the suffering of peoples. She made this clear in a touching letter from jail to a friend, Mathilde Wurm, who had expressed a particular concern for the torments of Jews. “ What do you want,” Luxemburg asked, with this particular suffering of the Jews? The poor victims on the rubber plantations in Putumayo, the Negroes in Africa with whose bodies the Europeans play a game of catch, are just as dear to me. Do you remember the work of the Great General Staff about Trotha’s campaign in the Kalahari desert? ‘And the death-rattles, the mad cries of those dying of thirst, faded away into the sublime silence of eternity.’ Oh, this ‘sublime silence of eternity’ in which so many screams have faded away unheard. It rings within me so strongly that I have no special corner of my heart reserved for the ghetto: I am at home wherever in the world there are clouds, birds and human tears.61 How, indeed, could she give preference in her affections to some among the suffering? Which was the greater injustice, the pogroms that dragged Jewish families from their homes, subjected them to rape, murder, and humiliation, or the near slavery under which native workers in Colombia and Brazil were impressed to toil under health- and life-threatening conditions, their villages kept hostage and their resistance punished with murder? Which was the greater oppression, that of the Poles or that of the Ruthenians, that of the Georgians or that of the Ossetians? For Luxemburg, this was the wrong set of questions, in part because it could lead to new atrocities, in part because it failed to address the structure of artificial scarcity that underlay all these horrors. So, what of national self-determination? Luxemburg mainly criticized as 60. Ibid., 1 6 5 - 6 6 ; see generally 1 3 5 -6 3 . 61. Luxemburg to Wurm, 16 February 1917, The Letters o f Rosa Luxem burg, 1 7 9 - 8 0 .
The Nationalities Question Revisited meaningless Lenin's main contention about the national question: the proclamation that nations had a right to political separation. Paragraph 7 of the RSDLP program did not offer specific analysis of the national state or the nationalities question. It certainly did not offer a socialist response. Rather, it espoused a bourgeois category as a concrete principle. She argued that the national state was a specifically bourgeois formation; supporting its establishment was a political and ideological mistake. Politically, paragraph 7 presented the opportunity for non-working-class interests to avail themselves of Social Democracy. Ideologically, it actually endorsed nationalism among working-class people. In sum, she argued that the formula of "the right of nations to self-determination" was nothing but "a means of avoiding the question."62 The real question was the policy stance of social democracy toward ethno-cultural minorities under specific historical conditions. In her prewar work on the issue, Luxemburg expressed a deep distrust of nationalist movements. She saw them as campaigns of the dominant strata of the capitalist classes. The categories of the nation, national identities, and national interests, then, were political constructions. They served important purposes in the establishment of class rule and its attendant institutions. In effect, they functioned to define communities in terms of the dominant strata. The formula of the right of nationals to self-determination, thus, was abstract and referred to two quite different formations: the nation as the undifferentiated cultural community and the state as the structure for class rule. There was, for Luxemburg, no such thing as a nation. There existed only specific societies: " '[Tlhe nation' as a homogenous sociopolitical entity does not exist. Rather, there exist within each nation, classes with antagonistic interests and 'rights.' There literally is not one social arena, from the coarsest material relationships to the most subtle moral ones, in which the possessing class and the class-conscious proletariat hold the same attitude, and in which they appear as a consolidated 'national' entity."63 Nettl has proposed that Luxemburg's formulation, like her position on Poland, was a significant departure from the dominant position in the Second ~ n t e r n a t i o n a lThere . ~ ~ internationalism had long been understood as both transnational solidarity and anticolonialism. Furthermore, Kautsky, in 1887, had suggested that capitalist development created a proletariat that 62. Luxemburg, The National Question and Autonomy, 110. 63. Ibid., 135-36; see generally 135-39. 64. Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg, 2:849.
assumed the role of “ nucleus of the nation” so that every day there was “ greater coincidence between the interests of the proletariat and those of the nation. Thus, a policy adverse to the nation would be suicidal for the proletariat.” 65 With capitalist development, the true interest of the nation had come to rest on the working class, its progressive and dynamic sector. The bourgeoisie had become a usurper, so there was no contradiction between socialism and national self-determination. Nonetheless, the “ orthodox” position, certainly by the time of the publi cation of Luxemburg’s The National Question and Autonomy (1908-9), had shifted. In 1908, Kautsky claimed, in response to Otto Bauer, that nationality could no longer contain the demands of the working class. Workers, he argued, demanded internationality. “ The culture to which Slovenian, Ruthenian, and Rumanian proletarians aspire is the same as that for which German, French, and English proletarians struggle; it is the modern international culture of which each national culture . . . is but a fragment.” 66 The interest of “ the nation” and that of the working class were not identical. The nation was simply too narrow to contain the proletarian project. The difference between Luxemburg, on the one hand, and Kautsky and other Second International thinkers (including Lenin), on the other, lies elsewhere. For Luxemburg, the debate on nationalities simply missed the point: it did not ask about power, its structure and its exercise. Slogans about national self-determination and national rights begged the question of who decided how the idea of the nation would be actualized into social and political formations. Whose will was the national will? In capitalist societies, she claimed, it was always the will of the bourgeoisie or its dominant strata. Luxemburg was fully aware of the existence of national and, for that matter, racial, religious, and gender oppression. These she saw as political forms whose content was determined in the struggles that shaped social forma tions. Thus, movements aimed at liberating oppressed nationalities (or religious and gender groupings) assumed the character of the social relations from which they sprang. They became expressions of the will of their dominant strata. Their aim was to establish class states. They even risked instituting the conditions for the oppression of yet other nationalities. For Luxemburg, then, the notion of a socialist construction of a national will 65. Kautsky, “ Die Moderne N ationalität,” 451. 66. Karl Kautsky, “ N ationalität und Internationalität,” Ergänzungshefte zur Neuen Z eit, no. 1 (18 January 1908): 16.
(i.e., true self-determination) would connote material conditions that were nothing less than social control over social processes (i.e., socialism).67 Even the struggle to free oppressed nationalities, races, or women was meaning less unless taken up within the context of a class-based internationalism. Later, the Junius pamphlet would reflect a slight shift in Luxemburg’s position. In 1908 Luxemburg had completely rejected the language of national rights, but she did employ it in her 1915 indictment of German Social Democracy. There she affirmed that “ [i]n ternational socialism recog nizes the right of free independent nations, with equal rights.” Further, she raised the claim that “ between the national interests and the class interests o f the proletariat, in war and in peace, there is actually complete harmony. Both demand the most energetic prosecution of the class struggle.” 68 H ow ever, the change in Luxemburg’s formulation was not fundamental. She continued to envision nationalities in the context of class struggle. Her concern was for the interests, albeit national, of the proletariat. These interests she conceived along clear lines of proletarian internationalism. Indeed, especially in Junius, Luxemburg defined the categories of rights and interests. They were always working-class-specific because, unlike Lenin, she never lost sight of the potentially seductive power that the ideology of nationalism held for the working-class masses and even their party.69 She still demanded that all liberation and anticolonial struggles, and all claims of national self-defense, submit themselves to criticism from the standpoint of the international class struggle. Luxemburg’s views on the national question rested on her understanding of its place in the accumulation process and her theory of the mass party. Social Democracy’s practical answer to the national question had to depend on its assessment of the level and orientation of local capitalist development, as well as on how the local political struggle occurred. Thus, Luxemburg opposed all a priori concessions to nationalism. National movements and their ideologies were products of bourgeois societies. They reflected the needs of specific classes and had goals that were distinct from those of Social Democracy. After all, the goal of the workers’ party never was to redraw the map, let alone to offer solace to reactionary nationalist movements. It was
67. Luxemburg, The N ational Question and Autonomy, 1 0 6 - 8 , 139. 68. Rosa Luxemburg, “ The Junius Pamphlet: The Crisis in German Social Democracy,” in Rosa Luxem burg Speaks, ed. Mary-Alice Waters (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), 305 and 315, italics added. 69. Bronner, A Revolutionary for our Times, 20.
important, then, to understand the broad historical trends that governed national identity. Along with Kautsky and Lenin, Luxemburg claimed that the dominant tendency in the expansion of capitalist relations was toward political and cultural integration, toward the assimilation of particularities and the isola tion or absorption of smaller ethnicities.70 The general trend was toward the establishment of larger states, within which the bourgeoisie could better prosper. The large European nations, she observed, had resulted from the amalgamation of many peoples, some of whose traces were still present. In economic terms, even Poland “ not only does not have any separation from Russia in store, but, rather, the tendencies arising from the general internal nature of large-scale capitalist production itself are binding Poland much more strongly to Russia with every passing year.” 71 Capitalist production favored and produced, she claimed, large economic and political units. Assimilation was not always the case. Given a combination of territorial links and a sufficiently large population, nationalities might retain certain cultural aspects of their distinctiveness. This, however, was quite different from a justification for political independence. It was simply utopian to think that national states for all ethnic groups were a serious possibility. Those too small to support autochthonous development would be over whelmed or set aside for political manipulation against progressive forces.72 This broad trend toward centralization and assimilation, however, coin cided with an opposing tendency toward local autonomy. Developing capi talism was not the same everywhere. Luxemburg conceded that English, French, and German capitalisms were different expressions of the same social relations and modes of appropriation. “ National peculiarities,” even while concealing the same content, were present in the variegated forms that capitalism took. Further, centralist tendencies and the penetration of domi nant cultures might “ awaken” the nationalism of oppressed peoples. These phenomena, as well as the concomitant capitalist need for flexibility and adaptation to local surroundings, suggested to Luxemburg that, under
70. Luxemburg, The National Question and Autonomy, 1 5 8 -8 2 . See also Kautsky, “ N a tionalität und Internationalität,” 1 7 - 2 3 , and LCW , 7 :1 0 0 -1 0 1 , 2 0 :2 8 -3 2 , 2 2 2 - 2 3 . Luxem burg elaborated the economic argument on the development of capitalism in her 1913 work, The Accumulation o f Capital, trans. Agnes Schwarzschild, with an introduction by Joan Robinson (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951). 71. Rosa Luxemburg, The Industrial Development o f Poland, trans. Tessa D eCarlo, with an introduction by Lyndon H. LaRouche (New York: Campaigner Publications, 1977), 176. 72. Luxemburg, The N ational Question and Autonomy, 1 2 3 -3 1 .
specific circumstances, a limited form of territorial autonomy, such as that she proposed for Poland, might be in order.73 This, however, was nothing more than an administrative device. To the end of her days Luxemburg would hold on to an uncompromising internationalism because imperialism “ has established the capitalist world rule upon which, alone, the socialist world revolution can follow.” 74 If Lenin left the door ajar for nationalism, Luxemburg’s response to the nationalities question shut it tightly. Indeed, Luxemburg opposed the par ticipation of social democracy in all national projects, including national defense. Rather, all unqualified national projects belonged to the class enemy. Even defensive nationalisms would require the “ temporary” suspen sion of the class struggle, and this kind of logic served to rationalize the actions of all the Second International parties that supported national governments in August of 1914. For Luxemburg, the issue was never one of deciding which oppressions were more unjust, let alone which nationalisms were progressive and which were not. The relevant choice, she claimed, following Engels, was “ ‘either an advance to socialism or a reversion to barbarism.’ ” 75 And the world war, emerging from the imperialist tendencies of capitalist development and justified in nationalist language, was the embodiment of barbarism. Given these views, it is perhaps not surprising that she made so little room for nationality within Social Democracy. Indeed, Luxemburg shared with Lenin the refusal to make organizational provisions for national minorities within the party. She feared, as she noted in her assessment of the activities of Jewish socialists in Galicia, “ the fragmentation of the proletariat as the logical result.” 76 Arguing that federalism ran counter to the centralizing tendencies of capitalist development (which set the stage for any future socialist project), Luxemburg rejected it as a programmatic element of Social Democracy. Following the same line of reasoning, she also rejected federal ism as a form of party organization. In “ The Organizational Questions of Russian Social Democracy” she outlined a thoroughly democratic concep tion of the party as a mass formation. Nonetheless, in this critique of the Leninist party form, Luxemburg also sought a centralized structure that had “ the natural aspiration of welding together all national, religious, and
73. 74. 75. 76.
Ibid., 2 5 4 - 6 5 . Luxemburg, “Junius,” 325. Ibid., 269. Luxemburg, “ Foreword to the Anthology,” 90.
professional groups of the working class into a unified party. It is only in exceptional, abnormal cases, such as in Austria, that it is forced to make an exception in favor of the federative principle.” 77 Yet, what remains problematical about Luxemburg’s position on the national question is that it does not account for its own contradictions with her views on the role and organization of a working-class party. As Bronner has put it, the Luxemburgian party was to play a “ fundamentally pedagogic role” : it aimed to influence and educate the masses, not to rule them.78 In fact, Luxemburg saw between party and mass a dialectic in which the party aimed to inform its members and potential followers, while these, in turn, shaped a party designed to enhance participation and accountability. Party and mass learned by doing and reflecting. Yet, education so understood requires communication, and communication is only possible when the participants share symbols and contents, or at least some assumptions. This is not to say that education and dialogue are only possible within a given culture, but it is to say that the cultural elements in which people participate form a substratum for communication. Surely, shared interests and partici pation in similar activities can go far in providing the elements for shared values and a shared language. But Luxemburg’s reflexivity requires elaborate normative elements that she simply does not address. This is why she never clarified what was so unique about AustriaHungary. Yet, her admission suggests a belated realization of a weakness within her own position. This weakness has to do with her inability to address the autonomous role of cultural facts in the formation of conscious ness and so of the organizations that embodied it. What made Austria different could not have been its ethnic diversity or even the unequal capitalist development of its territories. On both counts, the Russian Empire and its successor Soviet state far exceeded the Habsburg lands. What was different was the level of Social Democratic organization along national lines, itself a recognition of the role of cultural elements in the formation of consciousness and in the elaboration of the working-class experience of capitalist development. It was this realization that spawned Otto Bauer’s truly innovative approach to the question of multinationalism.
77. Rosa Luxemburg, “ The Organizational Questions of Russian Social Democracy,” in Selected Political Writings, ed. Dick Howard (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971), 287; see generally 2 8 3 - 3 0 8 . See also idem, The N ational Question and Autonomy, 1 8 4 -2 1 3 . 78. Bronner, Socialism Unbound, 139.
The Awakening of Multinationalism: Bauer Otto Bauer (1 8 8 1-1938) was, in Julius Braunthal’s words, “ [o]ne of the few great socialists of the post-war [WWI] period.” 79 Born in Vienna, Bauer was the son of a bourgeois Jewish family with interests in Warnsdorf and Náchod (Bohemia). He was a member of the Marx-Studien circle, a group that included such prominent intellectuals as M ax Adler, Rudolf Hilferding, Karl Renner, and Thérèse Schlesinger. The Austro-Marxists formed a selfconscious school of thought that sought to construct an intellectually defensible position for the socialist project. Their work took shape in a confrontation with orthodox M arxism and with neo-Kantianism, whose critique they attempted to answer. In addition, a number of AustroM arxists, such as Hilferding and Renner, held important political positions during the interwar period.80 Bauer himself, by the time he was seventeen, had attained a certain prominence in Social Democratic circles. Later, he was one of the leaders of the principled opposition to the First World War. When in 1918 revolution broke out, Bauer became one of the main figures of Red Vienna. For a short time he held office at the chancellory. However, he was not an advocate of political violence; if anything, he was too shy about the use of force.81 He saw the Social Democratic Party as an educational institution and as a vehicle for class struggle within the democratic republic. In fact, Bauer was one of the most brilliant theorists of democratic socialism. His 1925 analysis of the Austrian revolution, for example, was a pathbreak79. History o f the International, 2:216. The classic biographical volume on Bauer is Braunthal’s Otto Bauer (Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung, 1961). Yvon Bourdet includes a rich biographical essay in the introduction to Otto Bauer et la révolution, preface by Paul Lazarsfeld, French translation by Jacqueline Bois, Bracke, F. Caussy, and Claudie Weil (Paris: EDI, 1968), 1 9 - 6 3 . The most extensive English language treatment of Bauer’s work is Nimni’s. He devotes nearly half of his M arxism and Nationalism: The Theoretical Origins o f a Political Crisis (London: Pluto Press, 1991) to Bauer. 80. See Tom Bottomore, introduction to Austro-M arxism, ed. Tom Bottomore and Patrick Goode (Oxford: Oxford University Press, Clarendon, 1978), 1 - 4 4 . For a more critical view, see M ark E. Blum, The Austro-M arxists, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 1 8 : A Psychobiographical Study (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1985). 81. When the Dollfuss dictatorship moved against Austrian Social Democracy in 1 9 3 3 -3 4 , Bauer, as party vice-chair, urged moderation. “ In the end,” he said self-critically, “ [w]e postponed the fight. . . . The civil war, nevertheless, broke out . . . but under conditions that were considerably less favourable to ourselves.” Otto Bauer, Austrian Democracy Under Fire (London: Transport, 1934), 43. For p o st-F irst World War Austrian socialism, see the essays collected in Anson Rabinbach, ed., The Austrian Socialist Experiment: Social Democracy and Austromarxism, 1 9 1 8 -1 9 3 4 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1985).
ing examination of the possibilities and limitations of a situation where no class predominated.82 By then, however, Bauer had established his intellec tual reputation through his 1907 work on the “ exceptional, abnorm al” Austrian condition, multinationalism. As the nineteenth century came to a close, the Austrian leadership sought a variety of formulas to prevent national conflicts. They were concerned with the integrity of the party itself. Also, like other Second International thinkers, they were convinced that viable political and economic develop ment could only occur within large political and economic units. Conse quently, maintaining the territorial and economic integrity, though not the political form, of Austria-Hungary was essential. The culmination of these efforts was the program adopted at the 1899 party conference in Brünn (Brno).83 It committed Austrian Social Democracy to work for the estab lishment of a democratic federation. In it, national minorities, as such, were to receive juridical protection. It would forbid national privileges (e.g., official languages). Finally, each national group, within a redefined territo rial division, would be self-administering in matters of cultural or national significance. While Bauer supported the Brünn principles in 1899, he sought to reformulate their application by separating the notion of autonomy (and so democracy) from those of territory and sovereignty. In order to do this, he had to reexamine the very notions of “ the national” and “ the nation.” Further, he had to explain the rise of nationalism and, particularly, its attractiveness to workers. In the process Bauer would develop the concept of the nation as a “ relative community of character” to frame the program matic alternative of a multinational party and republic structured along a “ personality principle.” This would be the theoretical foundation of the “ national-cultural autonomy” that Lenin so opposed. Bauer’s approach to the nation was quite distinct from Lenin’s or Luxem burg’s, or for that matter anyone else’s. For Bauer, the nation was not a list of empirical characteristics such as language, territory, and customs. N or
82. Otto Bauer, The Austrian Revolution, trans. H. J. Stenning (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970). 83. For a discussion of the Brünn program, see Kann, The Multinational Empire, 2 :1 5 5 -5 7 ; see also Arthur G. Kogan, “ The Social Democrats and the Conflict of Nationalities in the Habsburg Monarchy,” Journal o f Modern History 21 (September 1949): 2 0 4 - 1 7 . For Bauer’s account, see Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 2d ed. (Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung, 1924), 5 2 2 - 3 3 .
was it a vague set of “ peculiarities.” Rather, it was an element in the formation of consciousness and personality. Bauer saw the nation as the totality o f human beings connected by a community o f fate [Schicksalsgemeinschaft] into a community o f character [Charaktergemeinschaft]. By community o f fate: this sense sets it apart from groupings of international character such as occupation, class, and citizenry [Staatsvolkes], which rest on a homogeneity of fate, not a community of fate. The totality of those who share a character: this sets it apart from the narrower communities of character within the nation that never establish self-determining natural cultural commu nities with their own destinies, but are always in close contact with the whole nation and are limited by its fate.84 Two concepts provide the key to this approach: community and national character. Bauer’s use of the term “ community” was a self-conscious reference to Kant’s third analogy of experience, the law of coexistence, or community.85 Kant expressed this principle as the proposition that “ [a]ll substances, so far as they coexist, stand in thoroughgoing community, that is, in mutual interaction.” 86 In this usage, a community was a relation of correspondence and exchange, the expression of a mutuality of determination. Kant made it quite clear that he was using the term in the sense of commercium, rather than in the sense of communio, to signify a set of dynamic links rather than a homogeneity of quality or conditions. Commercium implied large-scale regular exchange. It was an action-oriented term, the action in this case being the representation of the empirical relation of coexistence. This account framed the notion of community by reference to process and conditions. Bauer’s choice of this usage of “ community” is significant. His aim was to express the notion that a community was not an entity or a reality in the same sense that a person or even a corporation might be. It did not have 84. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 1 3 5 -3 6 . 85. Ibid., 112. Cf. Nimni, M arxism and N ationalism , 1 5 5 -5 7 . 86. Immanuel Kant, Critique o f Pure Reason, trans. Norm an K. Smith (New York: St. M artin’s Press, 1965), 233 [A211]. Note that the second edition of the Critique modified this expression to read “ All substances, in so far as they can be perceived to coexist in space, are in thoroughgoing reciprocity” [B256].
natural or juridical existence. But it was not an aggregation of persons, each bringing his or her goods to market, either. Rather, the very mutuality of determination was the community. By communities, then, Bauer meant, “ not a norm that ties the individuals externally, but a force that binds them internally: the fact that each one’s separate thought and action, along with other forces, determines a force that not only lives in a given individual, but also in each of the other members of the group. What is for me mine is his or her own for each other member of the group.” 87 Thus, the idea of a community of fate did not imply subjection to the same destiny, let alone an ontological sameness. Rather, it suggested the shared experience of living the same fate through ongoing communication and interaction. What conation als had in common were social and biological forces acting through them. Thus, they came to share in the experience of certain goods through a common language and reciprocal interaction. There was a constantly recur ring process of identity formation in which the historical conditions of the struggle for existence were mediated through shared culture (cultural inter course) and shared heredity (natural exchange).88 The critique of the notion of national character was Bauer’s second key contribution to the theory of nation-ness. Bauer was fully aware of the problematic nature of this concept. Already in his time, it had been employed to glorify and to denigrate. It was often enlisted in support of ethnocentric, racist, and warmongering theorizing. Indeed, then, as now, those involved in progressive discussions of nationalism, race, and ethnicity went out of their way to avoid “ national character.” Yet, Bauer also recognized what most of his contemporaries, and ours, seemed to overlook: that some vague reference to national character was pervasive in the popular and intellectual discourse. The fact is that the term was hardly devoid of meaning or validity. As Ephraim Nimni has put it, “ ‘French Structuralism,’ ‘German M arxism ,’ ‘Austro-M arxism,’ ‘British Labourism,’ ‘American Jingoism ’ have a precise national meaning which is often put to use by people who at the same time deny any significance to national characteristics.” 89 Bauer sought to uncover the truth behind such national characteristics. He used the concept to start
87. Otto Bauer, “ Bemerkungen zur Nationalitätenfrage,” in Werkausgabe, ed. Hugo Pepper (Vienna: Europaverlag, 1979) 7:940. 88. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 2 5 - 2 6 , 1 1 2 -1 4 . See also idem, “ Bemerkungen zur Nationalitätenfrage,” 940, 9 4 7 - 4 8 , and elsewhere. 89. Nimni, M arxism and Nationalism , 147.
an investigation that showed it to be neither a fixed essence nor an adequate explanation. Bauer did not see national character as a set quality. His claim was that the national community of character was historical and dynamic. It could only persist through ongoing interaction, so it depended on the conditions in which interaction occurred. Further, each transformation in the content of the national community of character became part of the conditions of the struggle for existence and so would affect all subsequent transformations. Bauer’s account of the genesis of the German nation demonstrated, on the one hand, the fragility of biological forces. Their effect on the continuity of communities was limited because migrations and geography would restrict interaction, while natural conditions might select for different factors. Cultural communities, on the other hand, had a stronger effect on national character formation because they were, in principle, communities of com munication. In any case, the development of the German nation suggested a pattern whereby local differences were increasingly accentuated until the emergence of bourgeois culture. A two-dimensional process of national cultural integration and cross-national differentiation then accompanied the rise and international expansion of capitalist relations. The modern German nation would be the outcome of this process, though its actual content, in any case, remained in constant flux. In short, Bauer claimed, “ the historical in us is the national in us, that which welds us together into a nation.” 90 National character could only be grasped through explanation. Bauer argued that personalities were formed in (not by) communities of character, themselves the products of the lived experience of historical trajectory. Modern capitalism might have leveled the material contents of national cultures, but national uniqueness continued “ to have an effect on the way of appropriating, representing, linking, making use of, and continuing the development of those same cultural contents.” By “ national character,” then, Bauer meant “ those variations, only available to a much closer psychological analysis, that appear in the basic structure of the mind [Grundstruktur des Geistes], in intellectual and cultural tastes, in the way of 90. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 125; the quoted material is in italics in the original; see generally 2 2 - 9 4 , 1 0 9 -3 4 . See also Bauer, “ Bemerkungen zur Nationalitätenfrage,” 947. Bauer’s account of the history of Germanic peoples was influenced by Karl Lamprecht, whose work he had admired since his Gymnasium days. See Arduino Agnelli, “ Le socialisme et la question des nationalités chez Otto Bauer,” in Histoire du marxisme contemporain, ed. Dominique Grisoni, French translation by Franck La Brasca (Paris: Union Générale D ’Editions, 1976), 369.
reacting to the same stimuli, those things we pay attention to if we compare the spiritual life of different nations, their science and their philosophy, their poetry, music, and plastic arts, their public and social life, their style and habits of life.” 91 National communities of character were about the experi ence of perceiving the material world and its effect on personality. In the reciprocity of perception, identities were formed. Differences between indi viduals remained because the same forces acted through variations in class, place, and occupation, because they were members of more than one community. Individuality, then, was formed through the confluence of a multiplicity of communities, while national identity was only relevant to one of these. The nation was only a relative community of character.92 The proposition about the relativity of nationality foreshadows the debate on identity of the 1980s and 1990s, of “ postmodernity.” Much of this debate revolves around what Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm has termed “ the modern split in individuality.” 93 In this view, the various aspects of life are decentered, resulting in the absence of comprehensive structuring and, so, in situations where experience and a multiplicity of identities characterize everyday life. Bauer’s position, on the other hand, provides the foundations for an account of a multifaceted but nonetheless graspable individuality, a subjectivity elaborated intersubjectively. The relativity of nationality sug gests that participation in multiple communities of character is an index for a complex subjectivity, nation-ness being but one of its aspects. Indeed, the main thrust of Bauer’s position was the critique of essentialism. Bauer found equal fault with both essentialist nationalist positions. He termed them national materialism and national spiritualism.94 Both pre sented the nation as an invariant element and a determinant of social life. For the former, the nation was a combination of people of a given heredity. For the latter, it was a mysterious essence. For both, nationality was at the same time objectively determinant and morally fundamental. National character explained behavior, both collective and individual. It guided the formulation and justification of policy. The national “ fact” would constitute an essential materiality, leading national character to become the substance of individual
91. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, x v -x v i; see also 6. 92. Ibid., 6. 93. Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm, “ Identity and Reality: The End of the Philosophical Immi gration Officer,” in Modernity and Identity, ed. Scott Lash and Jonathan Friedman, trans. Jam es Polk (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 215. 94. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 1 2 1 -2 2 .
identity. The implication was that the nation was fundamental and deter mining, both effective and final cause. Nationalists, then, might seek libera tion, but their concern, whether they were materialists or spiritualists, was with the freedom of nations, rather than that of persons. Bauer termed these approaches “ national character fetishism” and argued that in them “ national character appears as a historical force. If theory conceives it as historical product, everyday experience sees it rather as a creative force determining history. If theory teaches us to understand it as the precipitate of the mutual relations of human beings, unmediated expe rience sees it determine, regulate, these relations.” 95 Here the allusion to M arx’s account of the fetishism of the commodity is self-evident. For M arx, the “ enigmatic character of the commodity” amounted to a substitution whereby the commodity mysteriously seemed to take on a life of its own in experience, thereby concealing the reality that it was a product of actual people engaged in objective social relations.96 Similarly, the fetish quality of national character amounted to substituting the outcome of social relations for the relations themselves. People experienced national character as regu lating history and daily life. National character seemed to determine in mystical ways the actions, thoughts, and feelings of conationals. The reality, however, was otherwise. Personality was the multifaceted product of a variety of mutual determinations. The community of fate that connected people into national communities of character was but one of these deter minants. For Bauer, the idea of nationality referred to the national character, in other words, to the concrete expressions of the national community. The latter did not have to be a political community. It was a specific facet o f identity arising in a given structure of perceptions and cognitions. There was, thus, no a priori connection between the nation and the state. Politics might explain, at least in part, national developments, but it did not constitute them or encompass them. Politics, of course, was a concern for nations, but this had to be explained in terms of the development of the capitalist mode of production in the concrete conditions of national exist ence. Nationalism and national hate had their source in the conditions of the struggle for existence, the class struggle. In Bauer’s scheme, nationality, the expression of the nation, unfolded in a 95. Ibid., 129. 96. Karl M arx, Capital: A Critique o f Political Economy, trans. Ben Fowkes, with an introduction by Ernest Mandel (New York: Vintage Books, 1977), 1 :1 6 3 -7 7 .
dialectical relation to the development and changes in the mode of produc tion. In the precapitalist formations of central Europe, the subordinate classes did not participate fully in the national community. The nobility was cosmopolitan and had few connections with the underlying classes; the peasantry was not an active force in the exchanges that constituted the cultural community. With the rise of the merchant classes came the devel opment of new intellectual strata whose roles were inherently connected to the new state formations that were coming into being. Even in modern capitalist societies, the working class that produced the conditions and material for the national culture did not have full membership in the national community. It was only the struggle itself, between the workers and the dominant classes, that united them in a cultural community. Throughout this process, capitalism assumed different forms in different places. Nonetheless, the national communities that arose could never be said to be fully autono mous. They were the objects of the vagaries of the market and excluded the greater part of the population from active participation. Only socialism could make the nation truly autonomous, because socialism was synony mous with acquisition of full membership on the part of the masses, with true mutuality of determination, and with socialized control over the con ditions of existence.97 It was this line of analysis that led to Bauer’s most significant break with Second International assimilationist teleology. M ost M arxist theorists, in cluding Lenin and Luxemburg, claimed that the globalization of capitalist accumulation would lead to the assimilation of smaller and nonhistorical nationalities into more populous ones, and to the narrowing of differences between those that remained. This position made it difficult for them to explain the continuing and spreading appeal of nationalism as something more than an ideological tool of national bourgeoisies, a tool that Luxem burg saw as inherently biased against and Lenin saw as contingently useful for the socialist project. From Bauer’s perspective, on the other hand, nonhistoricity was itself a sociohistorically specific condition, and nationness was not reducible to bourgeois imperatives. The appeal of nationalism was rooted in lived experience and called for a different analysis and different strategies. Bauer’s investigation and appraisal of the rise of nationalism among oppressed groups, as well as the depth of his break with orthodoxy, remain 97. Bauer, 6, 8 4 - 8 7 , 9 9 - 1 2 6 .
controversial. Although otherwise sympathetic to Bauer, Ephraim Nimni has accused him of “ class reductionism” and “ linear epiphenomenal analysis” on precisely this point. In Nimni’s view there were “ two Bauers . . . one out of the intellectual environment of fin-de-siècle Vienna . . . [another] loyal to the dogmas of economistic M arxism .” 98 By linking the critique of capitalism to the emergence of “ nations without history,” Bauer failed to grasp their significance, substituting a simplistic account for a more nuanced appreciation of the import of nationality. Yet, Bauer’s account was rather complex, and its significance in view of the revival of nationalism in post-Communist Eastern Europe should not be discounted lightly. Furthermore, his views were hardly those of a blind follower of orthodoxy. If anything, they were largely formulated as a critique of Engels’s own propositions about the “ peoples without history.” In fact, Bauer challenged the contention that history had bypassed many peoples (most specifically the Southern Slavic nations) and argued, instead, that Engels was simply wrong about the “ historyless nations.” Engels had simply taken them as he had found them, and considering their past a closed book, he had concluded that they had no future. He had turned them into abstract categories. Bauer’s contention was that Engels was unable to explain subse quent developments because the lack of an adequate notion of nationality made him unable to link the emergence of capitalist relations with the political, cultural, and historical context of a multinational polity. In Bauer’s view, the Southern Slavic nations, long under the domination of Germans, M agyars, or Turks, had lived through the feudal epoch without a seignorial class of their own. And in that epoch this class was the bearer of national culture. The peasantry, on the other hand, formed only local communities, not national ones. The only link between villages was a local community of culture inherited from their ancestors. Unlike the nations to which the nobility belonged, these peoples had not enjoyed the unifying impulse that the well-supported production of national cultural goods might have engendered. Bauer did continue to use the term “ nations without history” in reference to the Southern Slavs and others. Yet, by this he did not mean that none of them had ever had a history as a nationality, for some had; nor did he mean, as he thought Engels had, that they did not possess historical capacity. His use of the term only suggested that these nations “ did not know history or further development in that epoch in which only the
98. Nimni, Marxism and Nationalism , 172.
dominant classes were the bearers of such a culture.” 99 The bourgeois epoch, however, inaugurated mass cultural participation, albeit incom pletely. Bauer argued that the development of capitalism in Austria-Hungary had changed the national experience by transforming the conditions of the struggle for existence. Capitalism sundered old ties, encompassed new class relations and determinations; it created the means for newly shaped com munities where links had been absent. It led to the awakening of many of those that had slumbered through the feudal era: “ Capitalism, and conse quently the modern state, induce everywhere the propagation of the cultural community, releasing the masses from the ties of an omnipotent tradition and calling them to participate in the transformation of national culture. For us this deed indicates the awakening o f the nations without history [Erwachen der geschichtslosen Nationen].” 100 With capitalism came the emancipation of the peasantry, the reenergizing of the petty bourgeoisie, the creation of new classes (the bourgeoisie and the proletariat), as well as the establishment of new functions, such as administration. The logic of capi talist accumulation, the goods that it produced, the social and political tendencies that it stimulated, all pointed to the development of new and more inclusive forms of political and social life. These, in turn, came to penetrate everyday activity. The state acquired a need to extend its control to the local level, and it created a stratum of literate functionaries. These had an interest in the national languages and literatures that constituted the matter of their trade. The expansion of education and of means of communication made the materials of culture ever more accessible to the masses. Military service, universal suffrage, and migration to urban areas fueled the unity of national communities and highlighted their differences. The effective scope of the cultural community expanded by leaps and bounds.101 None of this suggested the absence of cultural goods or of a past among these peoples. It put forth the point that they had lacked a consciousness o f 99. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 1 9 0 -9 1 . 100. Ibid., 216. 101. Mutatis mutandis, the work of many contemporary scholars lends support to Bauer’s account. See, for example, Ernest Gellner, N ations and N ationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), especially 8 - 1 9 , 3 9 - 5 0 ; Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread o f Nationalism , rev. ed. (London: Verso, 1991), 3 7 - 4 7 ; E. J. Hobsbawm, N ations and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, 2d ed. (Cam bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Anthony D. Smith, Ethnic Revival (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).
themselves as national communities because they toiled under a foreign ruling class. For Bauer, the nations without history slept a long slumber that was quite a different thing from the suggestion that they were dead. Indeed, as Robert Kann has pointed out, the absence of a national nobility or bourgeoisie accounts for the want of independent political existence and culture among these social groupings.102 In the course of the nineteenth century, many eastern European nations awoke to the national “ fact.” However, the foundation of national states was not what Bauer had in mind. Rather, he sought to break the association between nation and state, for he was aware of its destructive potential. Given the connection between the emergence of capitalism and the modern state, on the one hand, and the rekindling of national communities, on the other, Bauer had to make an argument that addressed the claims of revindicatory nationalism while preserving a distinction between the cultural and the political spheres, as well as a commitment to democratic forms at the level of both party and state. With this in mind, Bauer argued that the national awakening was tied into the production of national hate. In Austria, the dominant classes were German speakers and so was the bourgeoisie. Since capitalists in the more advanced lands (i.e., where the organic composition of capital was higher) were able to appropriate the surplus from both their workers and from capitalists in less advanced areas, the workers in the former tended to live better. Thus, the difference in levels of industrial development encouraged migrations that national groups experienced differently. To the immigrant workers, the capitalist appeared as a foreign oppressor. To the already established workers, the immigrants, often brought in as strikebreakers, emerged as competitors, as tools of class oppression. Nationality became an instrument of class struggle in the hands of the dominant-nation bourgeoisie. The migrations, because of the “ inertia of cultural apperception,” stimulated aversions among the local petty bourgeois, who came to hate newcomers from whom they might otherwise (or still) profit. This, in turn, opened the door to the appearance, in lands formerly inhabited only by the oppressor nation, of a petty bourgeoisie rooted in the oppressed national groups. Nationality became a weapon in commercial competition. Further, the influx
102. Kann, The Multinational Empire, 1 :4 4 -4 6 . Kann distinguishes between national sovereignty and “ independent political existence.” In an empire such as Austria-Hungary, the latter was possible because members of national groups (e.g., Germans, M agyars, Italians) might rule Crown lands that were themselves under the ultimate direction of the empire.
of petty bourgeois elements yielded large numbers of individuals who acquired education and became state functionaries. These the dominant groups came to perceive as state oppressors. Finally, a bourgeoisie grew among the oppressed nations themselves. It too would avail itself of nation ality as an instrument of commercial competition and intra- and interclass struggle. National hate, Bauer said, was “ class hate transformed.” 103 Bauer’s sociological account of nationalism had important implications for Austrian Social Democracy. It offered new insights into the links between a class project, cultural communities, and the politicization of identity. Whereas the members of a nation participated in a community o f fate, workers, as such, shared a homogeneity o f fate. All workers sold their ability to labor. From this, a whole series of consequences followed: alienation, exploitation, and class struggle. These, however, workers experienced dif ferently. For Bauer, variations in culture (language, law, manners, ideas of the moral and immoral, etc.) modulated the way people encountered and endured the social relations of production. Unlike Kautsky’s notion of a working class seeking only an emergent international culture,104 Bauer’s position gave the proletariat a stake in the national culture. Proletarian identity was forged in at least two communities of character, the nation and the class. Because the former supplied the workers with organizational tools (institutions, personal networks, language), it also affected their political response. For Bauer, internationalism also had to be multinationalist.105 Bauer thought socialism intimately linked with the national community. He eschewed any version of internationalism that might miss “ the historical significance of nations and national struggles, lest it push more than one into the arms of nationalism.” 106 Indeed, he rejected the proposition that the socialist project was inherently at odds with a properly conceived program of national cultural development. Instead, he argued that “ the fact that socialism makes the nation autonomous, thereby turning its fate into the product of its conscious will, will nonetheless give rise to a growing differentiation of the nations in a socialist society, to a sharper definition of its particularity, to a sharper distinction of its characteristics.” 107
103. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 253 and 259; see generally 2 3 9 -6 9 . 104. Kautsky, “ Nationalität und Internationalität,” 16. 105. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 1 1 2 - 1 4 and 450. 106. Otto Bauer, “ Der Arbeiter und die N ation,” in Werkausgabe (1980), 8:654. 107. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, 105.
However, in accepting the importance of national culture Bauer did not recognize or aim to protect the collective rights of nations. For him, nations had no rights, persons did. People, particularly working people, had a right “ to participate in the national culture,” and it was only socialism, under stood as the rational democratization of every aspect of collective life, that would guarantee this right.108 In effect, then, Bauer’s position on multina tionality had deep roots in the liberal tradition that proposes the free association of persons as the basis for a common political and social life. Rather than maintain a link between nationality, territory, and state, a connection whose logic is that of exclusivity, discrimination, and disintegra tion, Bauer proposed constituting each nation as a voluntary association of persons within a larger federal state. This was the controversial “ personality principle.” While usually associated with Otto Bauer and Karl Renner, it was a Southern Slav delegate by the name of Kristan who introduced the person ality principle at the 1899 Brünn Congress. There Kristan introduced a resolution that read: “ The principle of a free society finds its parallel in the separation of the idea of nation from that of territory.” 109 The resolution was not adopted, and eight years later Bauer wrote Die Nationalitätenfrage und Sozialdemokratie (The nationalities question and social democracy), partly in an effort to renew the debate and defend the proposition. The personality principle suggested that nations were associations of persons who did not need to live in the same territory to participate in the community of character that was entailed. In effect, Bauer proposed the creation of a federal republic whose units would be corporative associations defined according to nationality rather than territory. He proposed that each citizen would declare the nationality he or she belonged to upon reaching adulthood. Thus, a federal state would recognize nationality-based units, each with its own representative institutions and membership. Each nation would then be responsible for matters relating directly to its cultural and national life, while a federal state would address matters of general concern, such as economic policy, relations between nationalities, and relations with other powers. Each nation would also provide for the specific needs of its
108. Ibid., 510. 109. Kogan, “ The Social Democrats and the Conflict of Nationalities in the Habsburg M onarchy,” 209. Writing under the pseudonym Synopticus, Karl Renner had discussed the principle in a work published shortly before the congress: Staat und Nation (Vienna: n.p., 1899).
conationals before the federal apparatus, for example, by supplying attor neys who spoke the language of the litigants and ensuring that criminal trials were conducted in the language of the defendant. In short, Bauer proposed a scheme that aimed to respect the bearers of cultures and diffuse conflict while preserving individual choice.110 Interestingly, Bauer’s proposal addressed one of Luxemburg’s main objec tions to the principle of “ the right of nations to self-determination.” As we have seen, she warned that in areas where populations were interspersed, the application of this principle to one group necessarily entailed injury to another, a prediction that has been verified time and again. Under the personality principle, this was not the case. For example, Croatians living in Zagreb could join with their conationals in Vienna, Prague, and Sarajevo without having either to gather into a small homeland or to expel other nationals in order to create a greater one. The personality principle would correct for the tendency toward “ ethnic cleansing” inherent in the “ right of nations to self-determination.” At the same time, there are problems with such a complex and counter intuitive scheme. There is, for example, the basic issue of the criteria governing which groups might be recognized as nationalities. In the United States today, a similar problem exists with federal recognition of native peoples as Indian nations, a legal category. Some groups that have lost their traditional languages and have substantially assimilated are denied such a status even though they have kept up separate communities. Also, Bauer’s proposal would likely not eliminate disputes between nationalities, since the various units would have to compete for federal resources in some manner. Finally, the personality principle could easily become yet another official system for categorizing people and subjecting them to official control. The first two problems, however, are procedural. While various conflicts would remain, the plan might also establish mechanisms for dispute resolution that would reduce their intensity as long as the overall scheme was generally accepted as legitimate. The final problem, of course, was related to the democratic legitimacy of public authority. Obviously, in the absence of accountability and the rule of law, no mechanism for addressing the oppres sion of national minorities will work. Similarly, hard-core nationalists (one might say national fetishists) could never be satisfied with a plan that did not make nationality the main virtue.
110. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie, chap. 22.
But Bauer never intended to satisfy such nationalists. He argued for the importance of cultural factors in the struggle for the democratization of political and social life. Henceforth, national autonomy, in the cultural sense, could take on the character of proletarian replevin: Social Democra cy’s support for such a plan was also its support for the recovery of cultural goods that had been taken from working people. This line of reasoning might also be regarded as the foundation for the program of Kulturkam pf that was so important for early-twentieth-century Austrian socialism. This notion of cultural struggle is only superficially similar to Gramsci’s better-known contribution along the same lines, which is discussed below. For the Austrians, the cultural struggle involved not so much the replacement of one instrumentally conceived ideology with an other as the appropriation of a cultural legacy. Bauer and his comrades held that socialism should, and would, make it possible for workers to participate actively in the elaboration of national cultures. More than this, they linked human emancipation, M arx’s “ free development of all,” to the development of cultural forms and through it the “ free development of all.” Thus, very much in contrast with Lenin and Luxemburg (and, for that matter, M arx and Engels), Bauer held that national differences did not shrink and that they should not do so. They grew because the specific contents of the national were always involved in the determination of its transformations. In class-divided societies, the participation of the masses in the development of civilization and national culture was, if not minimal, certainly unequal. The democratization of all aspects of social life would make the relation of community the product of true mutuality because it would no longer be based upon the exploitation of most for the benefit of some. On the one hand, then, Bauer’s democratic socialism would enlist the workers as full participants in the national life and culture, thereby enriching the latter. On the other hand, since the already existing manifestations of national and cultural life, along with the economic surplus, had been expropriated from the proletariat, social democracy had a historical stake in the struggle for the national culture and in its development. In Bauer’s thought, ethnic and cultural diversity stopped being epiphenomenal to M arxist theory.
Movements and the Legacy of the Second International Although the issue of multinationalism has a contemporary ring for the late-twentieth-century observer,111 neither Lenin nor Luxemburg nor Bauer was much concerned with the problematiques that fuel today’s social movements in the advanced industrial societies of the West. They saw themselves as writing about a particular problem, at a specific time, in a definite place: the conflicting appeals of social democracy and redemptive ethno-nationalism in central and eastern Europe during the early twentieth century. They situated their analyses by reference to history and praxis. Luxemburg even accepted apparently different strategies for Congress Po land and Austria-Hungary. Lenin was interested in organizational principles and pragmatic politics. Bauer, likewise, sought an account of the AustroHungarian situation on which he could ground an ethical program. None of them aimed to formulate a general answer to the nationalities question, let alone to the general dilemma of political identity or the specific issues of gender, race, and sexual-orientation politics. There is, of course, a sense in which none of this was necessary. There was no identity deficit for Lenin, Luxemburg, or Bauer because the purpose and success of their movement were discernible, at least in outline. They accepted the paradigms of moder nity and the principles of the Enlightenment; they saw themselves as agents involved in their realization. For them, as for the thinkers of the old International Working M en’s Association, the problem was not progress, but the historical existence of fetters on progress. And there was empirical evidence, particularly in the more advanced capitalist societies of the fin de siècle, that history was advancing. Capitalist firms and production processes were becoming increasingly large and centralized. Along with the proletariat they represented, Labor and Social Democratic parties were growing, a growth that the spread of liberal rights and democratic and republican institutions was only facilitating. Capitalism was clearly global, and so was the labor movement it spawned. Before the Great War, fascism, Stalinism, the Holocaust, the Second World War, and the uncounted other horrors of this century, it was not so difficult to accept teleology.
111. For an inquiry into the implications of this debate for contemporary politics, see my “ On Socialism and the Multicultural Society: Some Thoughts from Otto Bauer,” New Politics 4 (summer 1992): 4 1 - 4 8 .
For the thinkers of the Second International, the universality of the project of working-class emancipation was also a given. It is important to note that this universalism was presumed not at the level of theory, but at that of practice. It was the International that embodied socialist internationalism. Parties from most capitalist countries, from Belgium, Germany, and Japan to Serbia and Uruguay, had representation. In its debates, the organization addressed the most pressing questions of the day, including political strate gies and tactics and the nature of capitalism, colonialism, and nationalism. The “ woman question,” for example, was the object of consideration by a very active women’s caucus, though it never attained the status of the organization’s most critical debates. M ost important, in the estimation of both its supporters and its detractors, the International was a very influential organization. By the turn of the century, many of its member parties controlled significant blocks of votes in major-power parliaments, and their commitment to international coordination seemed beyond question. Indeed, the debates over nationalities and imperialism were partly efforts to evaluate how the organization and its members might best act to prevent war. While the assessments of the power of the organization may not have been accurate, it is clear that Second International thinkers did not undertheorize nationalism, or nationhood. If anything, as Bronner has suggested, they undertheorized internationalism.112 Implicitly, however, Lenin, Luxemburg, and Bauer attempted to elaborate a distinction between solidarity across geopolitical borders and class unity within them. Nearly a century later, this distinction retains currency. Ques tions of group claims have acquired renewed force at a historical juncture where capitalist structures are more hegemonic than ever. Interestingly, common wisdom, particularly in progressive circles, now has it that oppres sion can no longer be thematized in terms of a central set of discernible forces, relations, or even goals. Clearly, claims of internationalism, let alone universalism, no longer have pragmatic credibility, whatever their theoreti cal status. In the absence of internationalist institutions grounded in an international movement, a grounding the United Nations lacks, the universality of specific claims calls, at the very least, for justification. Multinationalism, on the other hand, presumes historical, and perhaps institutional, sources of con flict that are rooted in the struggle for existence and may be, particularly in 112. 6 0-61.
Stephen Eric Bronner, “ Confronting N ationalism ,” New Politics 4 (summer 1992):
Bauer’s version, related to the structure of accumulation but are not reduc ible to it. The multinationalist problematique does not replace a commit ment to human emancipation, but does add to its complexity. It is more than a matter of “ getting along.” It is a matter of formulating the terms for mutual recognition and ethical-pragmatic sublation of differences. Luxemburg and Bauer, in different ways, contribute to the reconstruction of these questions. Luxemburg’s work was rooted in an expansive project that still defies easy definition. She warns, of course, against falling prey to interests that in the final analysis do not further the broad project. Her critique of Lenin’s theory of national self-determination clearly falls into this category. By legitimating the program of nationalism, Lenin turned it into an abstract and arbitrary commitment that could no more stand up to prin cipled criticism than could his disregard for democratic ideals. But Luxem burg’s legacy goes much further than a warning. As Frigga Haug discovers in her quest for a feminist Luxemburg, what is useful in her writings for today’s politics is “ a critique of views which think of politics as something coming from above.” 113 For Luxemburg, the question was not so much the identity of the oppressed as who leads the struggle against oppression and for what purpose. And this is a sobering perspective when considering any movement. A democratic spirit also pervades Bauer’s effort to reformulate M arxist theory and address cultural diversity. In practice, he aimed at creating legal and psychological conditions for the common class struggle. His purpose, quite clearly, was not to defend the historical rights of nations but to acknowledge and respect their bearers. The preservation and development of particular structures of mutual determination may indeed be a good, but it is not so in every case or in all of its aspects. What matters most is who shapes the community of fate and in what manner. Bauer’s work, then, opens up questions of community, of process, and of communication alongside ques tions of identity. These are questions for which he did not provide a concrete answer. N or could he, because in August of 1914 the flames of war burned the edifice of internationalism to the ground. Although elements of the executive bureau continued to meet sporadically and there were two congresses (in 1919 and 1920) and a conference (in 1919), the Second International had come to an end as a historical force. Much changed between 1914 and 1918, not least the very idea of interna tionalism. Meanwhile, nationalism emerged from the “ war to end all w ars” 113. Frigga Haug, Beyond Female Masochism: Memory-Work and Politics, trans. Rodney Livingstone (New York: Verso, 1992), 250.
as the most widely accepted political principle, a principle capable of absorbing even the most formal of internationalist positions. Before it, Leninist and Wilsonian ideals of self-determination gave way.114 However, the most important new development was the Russian Revolution of Octo ber 1917. In its wake, Lenin would emerge as the most influential person of the century, and the ideas of socialism and democracy would be severed for the very first time. So would the unity of the international labor movement.
114. “ While men everywhere subscribed to the words of the Fourteen Points, it was particular nationalisms . . . that infused their particular meanings into these w ords.” Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 5th ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), 271. In his Fourteen Points address, Woodrow Wilson claimed that “ [a]n evident principle runs through the whole program [for a peace settlement]. . . . It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or w eak.” “ Address on the Conditions of Peace Delivered at a Joint Session of the Two Houses of Congress, January 8, 1918,” President Wilson’s Foreign Policy: M essages, Addresses, Papers, ed. Jam es Brown Scott (New York: Oxford University Press, 1918), 363.
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SOLIDARITY FOR ONE COUNTRY T h e T h ir d I n t e r n a t io n a l , N a t io n a l is m , a n d N a t io n B u il d in g
Here we have an important question of principle: how is internationalism to be understood? — V. I. Lenin, “ Letter to the Congress”
The Third, or Communist, International (1919-43) was the last of the great Internationals.1 Conceived in disappointment and born in triumph, it lived
1. Lenin’s “ Letter to the Congress,” from which the epigraph is taken, is generally known as “ Lenin’s testament,” and it consists of notes dictated in December 1922 and January 1923. The rump Second International was to survive until 1940; it even grew a bit after its 1923 merger with the Vienna (or “ Two and a H alf” ) International, becoming the Labor and Socialist International. Also, after his expulsion from the Soviet Union, Trotsky led efforts to organize a Fourth International. Nonetheless, only the Communist International ever attained the kind of reputation as a m ajor force on the Left that the previous Internationals had enjoyed. The most extensive study of the Comintern is Fernando Claudín, The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform, 2 vols., trans. Brian Pierce (vol. 1) and Francis M acDonagh (vol. 2) (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1975). See also Julius Braunthal, History o f the International, vol. 2, trans. John Clark (New York: Praeger, 1967); Franz Borkenau, World Commu nism: A History o f the Communist International, with an introduction by Raymond Aron (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962); E. H. Carr, The Twilight o f the Comintern,
in myth and died in betrayal. Because the old International was a “ stinking corpse,” Lenin and the radical wing of the labor movement aimed to create the soul of a new order, of a proletarian world-state, or at least of an international party. Their call for “ tak[ing] the initiative in creating a revolutionary International” found a sympathetic audience among large portions of the labor movement.2 N ot only was the Second International incapable of carrying forth the revolutionary struggle, it was also a hin drance to the “ new” kind of organization Lenin had long advocated. What was needed, he clarified less than a month after its establishment, was the “ international alliance of the parties which are leading the most revolution ary movement in the w orld,” a movement that would end in “ victory over capitalism on an international scale.” 3 Soon, however, the Comintern would become an instrument of foreign policy, its victory at best a distant hope, at worst a false icon. Lenin’s basic question of principle about the meaning of internationalism would be answered through a reformulation of the idea of the nation that placed a constructivist and developmentalist principle at the forefront and abandoned the commitments of the international labor move ment to democracy and internationalism. Democratic centralism, coupled with Lenin’s own propositions about national self-determination and the dogma of “ socialism in one country,” transformed the practice of the international labor movement and, with it, the role of internationalism in its theoretical and political commitments: nation building became the priority, preparing the ground for the transformation of M arxism into a doctrine of national liberation.
1 9 3 0 -1 9 3 5 (London: Macmillan, 1982); C.L.R .Jam es, World Revolution, 1 9 1 7 -1 9 3 6 : The Rise and Fall o f the Communist International (Atlantic Highlands, N .J.: Humanities, 1993); and Branko Lazitch and M ilorad M. Drachkovitch, Lenin and the Comintern (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press of Stanford University, 1972). For the decomposition of the Second International, see Braunthal, History o f the International, 2 :1 4 9 -6 1 ; for the Vienna-based efforts to reunite the labor movement, see ibid., 2 :2 3 2 -3 6 and 2 4 0 - 5 4 ; for the founding of the Labor and Socialist International, see ibid., 2 :2 6 4 -7 0 . 2. LCW , 24:24. The call for a new International was the last (tenth) of Lenin’s “ April Theses.” In this text he applied Luxem burg’s famous characterization of the SPD to the whole of the Second International. LCW , 24:26. 3. “ The Third International and Its Place in History,” LCW , 29:307. The Russians saw the central European crisis as the key to the internationalization of their revolution. Their expectation was that the Third International would soon move west, so German remained its official language. For an elaboration on Lenin’s views in this respect, see Claudín, The Communist Movement, 1 :5 6 -6 2 . For the text of the January 1919 invitation, see Jane Degras, ed., The Communist International, 1 9 1 9 -1 9 4 3 : Documents (London: Cass, 1971), 1 :1 -7 .
This occurred first and foremost through the Comintern. The Comintern was to embody the organizational and tactical principles Lenin had advo cated in What Is to Be D oneì (1902), Two Tactics o f Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution (1905), and elsewhere, and it was to view the global situation in the terms Lenin had put forth in Imperialism, the Highest Stage o f Capitalism (1917). As he saw it, the problem was one of organiza tion. The Second International had never possessed the means to ensure that its member parties lived up to their commitments, and this was, at least in part, why most social democratic organizations had supported their govern ments in the Great War.4 The point was to guarantee that the Comintern parties would always act in concert. As an organizational question, this issue was confronted and essentially settled in July of 1920. At that time, the Second Congress, following a heated debate, adopted a resolution that set forth the conditions for membership in the organization, a text that has come to be known as the Twenty-One Points. The Twenty-One Points were meant to create an instrument for the global transformation of capitalism. Lenin justified these measures by reference to the stage of development capitalism had attained. He held that capitalist accumulation in the more advanced countries had for some time proceeded by extracting resources from colonial and semicolonial areas and turning them into captive markets, thereby making it possible for a state acting in concert with “ finance capital” to grant high wages to a portion of the metropolitan working class. As a consequence, this Western “ labor aristoc racy” had lost its revolutionary impetus and, through its reformist parties, supported not only imperialism, but also the conduct of the recent war. The war, however, had weakened the international system and exposed Western workers to the misery and destruction that accompanied imperialism. Just as significantly, the war had given colonial peoples both the opportunity and the mechanisms to rebel against the imperialists. Capitalism was in crisis,
4. The decisions of most Second International parties to support their governments in August 1914, and thereafter, were influenced by the kinds of policies and strategies they were already committed to, by the timidity of their leadership, by the political conditions they encountered, and by each other’s choices in a situation where the International had no means to enforce its own mandates. For an account of the SPD’s conduct, see Stephen Eric Bronner, Moments o f Decision: Political History and the Crises o f Radicalism (New York: Routledge, 1992), 1 - 3 2 . More generally, see Braunthal, History o f the International, 1 :3 2 0 -5 6 , 2 :1 - 3 5 , and Georges Haupt, Socialism and the Great War: The Collapse o f the Second International (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972).
and the new soviet republics depended on the workers of the West to carry out their historical task.5 Following this analysis, it is not surprising that the International required that all member parties be “ genuinely Communist,” that their programs be submitted for ratification by the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) or by the full congress of the International, and that all member parties abide by the decisions of the congresses and the ECCI (points 1, 15, and 16). In addition, member parties had to “ remove reform ists and centrists from all responsible positions,” to bar certain named individuals, such as Karl Kautsky, to discharge “ unreliable elements” among their parliamentary factions, and periodically to expel “ any petty bourgeois elements which have crept in” (points 2, 7, 11, and 13). Furthermore, member parties were expected “ to give unconditional support to any Soviet republic in its struggle against counter-revolutionary forces” (point 14). Finally, member parties had to “ be based on the principle of democratic centralism” (point 12). This meant that the parties had to be highly central ized and disciplined and had to maintain a clandestine organization with the aim of subverting official institutions and rival (i.e., Social Democratic) parties and labor organizations even in places where Communist parties could operate in the open (points 12, 3, 4, and 10).6 It is important to note that the organizational structure of the Comintern mimicked the form of the Leninist party and that from the start this design was a barrier to institutional democracy because it promoted the separation of the party from the masses and provided incentives for the kind of intolerance that resulted in splits and purges even before Stalin came to 5. LCW , 3 1 :2 4 0 -4 5 and 2 4 6 - 5 3 . For the general foundation of this argument in Imperi alism, the Highest Stage o f Capitalism, see LCW , 2 2 :1 8 5 -3 0 4 . There was a great deal of truth to the claim that at least some Western socialists had supported a form of “ social imperialism.” Here the writings and actions of key figures speak for themselves. See Eduard Bernstein, The Preconditions o f Socialism, ed. and trans. Henry Tudor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 169ff., and Henry van Kol, “ Über Kolonialpolitik,” Sozialistische Monatshefte 2 (1904): 6 0 5 - 1 7 . Similarly, “ pragm atists” either went along with colonialism, as did Friedrich Ebert and Gustav N oske, or actively opposed international solidarity on this and a variety of other issues, as did Eduard David. See Braunthal, History o f the International, 2:13. By contrast, Karl Kautsky always stood against all forms of colonialism; see his Socialism and Colonial Policy: An Analysis, trans. Angela Clifford (Belfast: Athol Books, 1975). 6. Lenin promoted this resolution and participated in its drafting. According to Jane Degras, he drafted nineteen of the twenty-one conditions. His primary opponents were the Independent Social Democrat (Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, or USPD) delegates from Germany. The full text had the official title “ Conditions of Admission to the Communist International.” It is reproduced in Degras, The Communist International, 1 :1 6 8 -7 2 .
power. For example, in 1921 Paul Levi was expelled from the German Communist Party (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, or KPD) for his public criticism of the Comintern directives in connection with the March insurrection. Only four years later, this kind of purge would take on a systematic quality as exemplified by the disciplinary actions against Thalheimer, Brandler, and Radek, who, in the wake of yet another ill-conceived KPD uprising, had called for more autonomy. By early 1925, then, the consequences of the organizational structure of the Comintern were evident: the International was perfectly suited to transmit policy from M oscow to the foreign parties. With the Stalin-Trotsky conflict in full swing, the manipu lation of foreign parties in support of Soviet foreign policy and of Stalin’s faction in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) had become routine and would eventually sacrifice the grand revolutionary project of the labor movement to the altar of “ socialism in one country.” 7 These events, and the political ideas that emerged with them, must be understood in the light of the Russian Revolution. The revolution and the establishment of a state committed to a socialist project gave questions of political power an urgency they could never have attained earlier, and the very fact that Russia was a peripheral country with an ethnically mixed population only made things more difficult. The fact is that in the prewar era few on the Russian Left had expected a socialist victory. At that time Lenin saw the Bolsheviks as a vanguard that would lead the proletariat in estab lishing a bourgeois republic in a country where the bourgeoisie itself was not sufficiently developed to do it on its own. His views changed during the war years, but even then he expected that a proletarian revolution in Russia could only succeed if it was followed by revolutions in the West. In good
7. The classic critique of democratic centralism is still Rosa Luxem burg’s “ Organizational Question of Social Democracy,” in Rosa Luxem burg Speaks, ed. Mary-Alice Waters (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), 1 1 3 -3 0 . Luxemburg and the Spartakusbund had opposed the Comintern by sending delegates with binding instructions to vote against its establishment. Braunthal, History o f the International, 2 :2 5 5 -6 3 . Lenin recognized the importance of the Spartakusbund and supported a key role for Hugo Eberlein. Thereafter, Lenin sought to limit his influence. Lazitch and Drachkovich, Lenin and the Comintern, 7 7 - 8 8 . For a discussion of the “ Bolshevization” of the KPD and the changes in the Comintern during the 1920s, see Stephen Eric Bronner, Socialism Unbound (New York: Routledge, 1990), 1 0 9 -1 3 . For an in-depth account of the KPD in relation to the Third International and of the link between the transformation of the latter organization and the political needs of both the Soviet Union and Stalin, see Claudin, The Communist Movement, 1 :1 2 7 -5 9 . See also Claudín’s treatment of the Bolshevization of Communist parties both before and after World War II; 2 :5 9 3 -9 7 , 2 :6 3 9 —44.
measure, the Comintern’s role was to encourage the spread of the revolu tionary fires from the East. When this failed, the Bolsheviks and their supporters abroad were faced with a situation where Russia was one state among many, and a weak one at that. Internationalism was no longer just a question of movements; it now had to be related to a specific nation-state in a hostile system of states.8 It was thus that the Third International came to understand the national question in terms that were quite different from anything the labor move ment had seen before. Its thinkers dwelt on the construction of a socialist nation-state. For them, during the interwar period, the national question became a question of state building. This was a most important theoretical and practical transformation not only in its own right, but because it prepared the way for one of the most significant developments in p o stWorld War II radical thought, the elaboration of M arxism as a theory of national liberation. In preparing for this reformulation, the work of two Third Internationalists stands out: Joseph Stalin and Antonio Gramsci. It is important to acknowledge that there are serious difficulties with addressing Stalin’s ideas, especially from the standpoint of the socialist Left. Some of these difficulties are inherent in the material itself: Stalin’s own approach was antitheoretical.9 More important, however, is the fact that he constructed one of the most repressive regimes the world has ever known, and that he justified his actions as defending socialism. Yet, this is precisely the reason his ideas must be taken seriously. What is at stake is in good measure the meaning of socialism itself. In this, his ideas about the nation and its relation to socialism play a central role, not only because the issue was closely connected to his status in the party and his eventual rise to power, but because of the priority he gave to the problem of national construction. Stalin’s thought developed very much in response to critical events, many of which were of his own making. Early on, his ideas followed closely upon
8. As Richard Lowenthal argues, many subsequent developments in Soviet foreign policy and in the history of international Communism can be traced to efforts to seek allies. Model or Ally? The Communist Powers and the Developing Countries (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977). 9. As Leszek Kolakow ski put it, “ M arxism under Stalin . . . was not a question of propositions as such but the fact that there existed an all-powerful authority competent to declare at any given moment what M arxism was and what it was not.” Main Currents o f M arxism , trans. P. S. Falla (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 3:4, as cited in Bronner, Socialism Unbound, 214.
Lenin’s, though there were differences between them that would acquire importance after the revolution. Always a pragmatist, Stalin sought to address the specifically Russian situation of ethnic plurality and economic and political underdevelopment. Indeed, Soviet Russia in the interwar period lacked what the M arxian tradition had always understood as the basis for socialism: modern industrial capitalism. At the level of theory, his solution to the Russian conundrum involved two crucial steps. First, he approached the problem of national minorities in new terms by claiming that the substance of their conflicts had disappeared inside the Soviet Union. Second, he sub stituted the Soviet state for the working class, thereby avoiding questions of accountability and displacing the class struggle to the international realm, where it became an anticolonial or anti-imperialist struggle. In effect, through the concept of “ socialism in one country” he identified the workingclass project with Soviet power and international solidarity with loyalty to the USSR. Gramsci’s legacy to political theory is in many respects different. It includes the elements of a sophisticated understanding of civil society, incomplete and often contradictory observations on the state in capitalist society, and most significantly the beginnings of an account of the role of culture and ideology in political and social integration. Because of its concern with culture and its distance from political economy (whether M arxian or otherwise), his work has proved attractive to many on the New Left and to their successors in a variety of social movement activities. They have sought to conceive of the Gramscian legacy as a rejection of the “ economism” they associate with Communism. In fact, however, Gramsci was very much a Communist, albeit one who explored possibilities that the Comintern and the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista Italiano, or PCI) might not have been willing to accept.10 More important, for current purposes, Gramsci was also a nation builder. As Carl Boggs has argued, albeit to different purpose: “ The concrete meaning of politics in Gramsci’s M arxism . . . was its role in enlisting mass energies in the struggle for ideological hegemony and in establishing a new socialist ‘national-popular’ community.” 11 Indeed, much like Stalin, Gramsci gave priority to nation building. Some of his key concepts, such as the theory of hegemony and the broader notion 10. Giuseppe Fiori, Antonio Gramsci: Life o f a Revolutionary, trans. Tom Nairn (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1971), 2 5 1 - 5 7 . See also Carr, Twilight o f the Comintern, 244n. 11. Carl Boggs, G ram sci’s M arxism (London: Pluto Press, 1976), 108.
of a cultural struggle, were efforts to grapple with the national question and its relation to socialism in the Italian context. Though less so than Russia, Italy taken as a whole was also a peripheral, or at best a semiperipheral, country where capitalist development was very uneven. Gramsci came to understand the rise of fascism in connection with national development, and he sought to elaborate a competing version of Italy. His insight, in this respect, was to formulate the national question in the context of a praxis of political and social integration by means of cultural (ideological, intellectual, and moral) confrontation. This approach created a link between socialism and the nation that could only be ratified through the agency of a party that was capable of creating national unity by forging links between peasants and workers. Thus, Gramsci also made nation-state building a priority for socialist movements. Both of these Third International figures, then, identified the socialist project with the nation. While the differences between their approaches were significant, one common factor emerged: the working class lost its centrality to the socialist project. It was replaced by the nation. Whereas earlier thinkers had linked socialism with the working-class project of extending democracy, the Third Internationalists now made the national project into the precondition for socialism. With the working class gone, or at least displaced, socialism could now be identified with efforts to transform into independent nations traditional colonies and economic dependencies where wage labor was a relatively exceptional relation. The struggle for national self-determination became the struggle for national liberation, and interna tionalism became associated with solidarity among “ fraternal peoples.” As I argue in conclusion, by building on the ideas of the Third International and occasionally going back to Lenin, movements in what came to be known as the Third World could use M arxian thought as an aid in struggles for formal and substantive sovereignty, thus making national liberation M arxism the successor of the internationalist tradition. However, before turning to these issues, it is important to examine their background in the theoretical formulations first of Stalin, then of Gramsci.
The Nationalization of Socialism: Stalin Joseph Stalin (Iosif Vissarionovich Djugashvili, 1879-1953) earned his place among the cruelest of tyrants and the boldest of nation builders.12 In many ways, he was very different both from the other figures currently under consideration and from the most important among the early Bolshevik leaders. He was the son of a washerwoman and a former cobbler turned factory worker, both of whom had been born serfs in Georgia. His was a humble and parochial upbringing. He was educated in an Eastern Orthodox parish school; later he attended the theological seminary in Tiflis, Georgia, for five years. Although active in socialist politics even before turning twenty, he was not well known outside the Bolshevik movement until after 1917, or within it until 1913. Also, he did not set foot outside the Caucasus until late in 1905, when he went to the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) conference in Tammefors, Finland. There he met Lenin for the first time, though it was only later that his activities and his organiza tional skills would bring him the attention of the master. His early years, then, were spent on the periphery of Russia and its social democratic movement. Thereafter, partly by appealing to his experience with the na tional question, Lenin convinced the Central Committee to co-opt Djugash vili and in 1912 to select him as one of the four leaders of its new M oscow Bureau.13 Eight years before that, in 1904, one of his earliest publications, “ The 12. There exist a vast number of biographical sources on Stalin. The best is still Isaac Deutscher, Stalin: A Political Biography, 2d ed. (New York: O xford University Press, 1967). The following also deserve mention: Allan Bullock, Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992); Robert Conquest, Stalin: Breaker o f Nations (New York: Viking, 1991); Louis Fischer, The Life and Death o f Stalin (New York: Harper, 1952); Roy A. Medvedev, Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences o f Stalinism, rev. ed., ed. and trans. George Shriver (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989); Robert Slusser, Stalin in October: The Man Who Missed the Revolution (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990); Boris Souvarine, Stalin: A Critical Survey o f Bolshevism, trans. C.L.R. Jam es (New York: Longmans, Green, 1939); Leon Trotsky, Stalin, trans. Charles Malamuth, with an introduction by Bertram D. Wolfe (New York: Stein &c Day, 1967); Robert C. Tucker, Stalin in Power: The Revolution from Above, 1 9 2 8 -1 9 4 1 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1990); Dmitrii Antonovich Volkogonov, Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991). 13. Under Party rules, the members of the Central Committee were elected by the member ship of the Party. Once elected, they were empowered to extend membership in the committee to other Party members. The elected members of the committee, at this point, were Lenin, Ordjonikidze, Zinoviev, and Malinowski. As it turned out, the latter was in the employ of the secret police, leading to the arrest and deportation of Stalin and others in 1913.
Social-Democratic View of the National Question,” had appeared.14 This text mostly followed Lenin’s position (“ line” ): it spurned any notion of a federal party or state, and it rejected “ national-cultural autonomy.” Also, this early essay viewed the national question in terms of the organization of an ethnically diverse proletariat. Yet, some of its formulations are less “ Leninist” than they initially appear, and so they prefigure the author’s later moves toward a more nationalized position. The main concern of the author of “ The Social-Democratic View of the National Question” was the preservation of the centralist configuration of the RSDLP. His claim was that there was no need for separate national parties because the RSDLP was the all-Russian party. This party was an instrument for the eradication of national walls, a fact made evident in its name: “ To begin with, we must bear in mind that the Social-Democratic Party which functions in Russia called itself Rossiiskaya (and not Russkaya). Obviously, by this it wanted to convey to us that it will gather under its banner not only Russian proletarians, but the proletarians of all the nation alities in Russia, and, consequently, that it will do everything to break down the national barriers that have been raised to separate them.” This political position, then, was based on a semantic distinction. Stalin made a great deal of the fact that, in the Russian language, the Party had chosen the appellative Rossiiskaya, which applied to the inhabitants of the empire, rather than the adjective Russkaya, which referred only to ethnic Russians, to Great Rus sians. This kind of justification was characteristic of his mode of expression. The authority of the Party to represent all workers, it seems, rested on a choice of words rather than on arguments about principle and contingency.15 Yet, while the main thrust of the presentation was rhetorical, Stalin did attempt a historical and a conceptual analysis. In 1904, he asserted, unlike Lenin, that the national question was not simply a product of bourgeois society, but that it changed as social life changed. For the nobility, particu larly after the annexation of Georgia to Russia, the national question was about the loss of long-held privileges, and the political project that followed was the restoration of the Georgian monarchy. This he labeled “ feudalmonarchist nationalism.” For the bourgeoisie, nationalism was a quest for a “ Georgian market with a tariff w all.” Bourgeois nationalism, then, aimed to
14. Originally published in Proletarians Brdzola, no. 7 (September 1904). Collected in Joseph Stalin, Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1952), 1 :3 1 -5 4 ; here after SW. Until 1907, he wrote primarily in his mother tongue, Georgian. 15. See SW, 1:41; see generally 1 :4 1 -4 2 and 5 3 - 4 4 .
unite the population against both the Georgian nobles and the tsars, while separating the workers from their “ alien” comrades. Finally, the proletarian version of the national question required the unity of all workers, regardless of nationality, in order to overthrow the Russian autocracy. This unity, he claimed, was necessary precisely because one of the most important props of tsarism was the constant discord between nationalities. Thus, the SocialDemocratic answer to the national question was not a federalism that would reinforce national separation by promoting national parties, but a centralism aimed at reinforcing unity.16 It is unclear, from this or his other pre-1912 writings on the subject, whether the national question meant different things to different classes or meant different things at different stages of development. However, since in Stalin’s discussion Georgian feudalism and capitalism were presented as contemporaneous, it would seem that the former interpretation would be closest to his position: a correspondence between class and outlook was implied. If this is the case, Stalin held that three types of nationalism coexisted, each corresponding to a class in terms of its relation to the Russian Empire. What is most significant here, both as a break from Lenin’s own position and as a hint of Stalin’s later views, is the suggestion of a proletarian version of nationalism. While this is not elaborated in the text, the implication that a national project figured among the tasks of the working class, or rather of the Party, is significant. Although Lenin had left the door open to nationalism, he had never advocated national selfdetermination as a goal for the party and the working class. He had certainly never suggested a proletarian nationalism. Stalin, however, saw in it a significant part of the proletarian project. Despite its subtle differences from Lenin’s views, this argument was largely derivative. In any case, the 1904 work was not what made Stalin’s reputation as an expert in the nationalities question. Indeed, there is no indication that anyone, outside a small circle of Caucasian comrades, was aware of this essay. His reputation originated in his organizational work toward the end of the 1 9 0 5 -7 revolutionary risings. It was his role as the local correspondent for Bolshevik periodicals and his work as an organizer in the difficult multiethnic situation of the Caucasus that earned him a reputation as someone who understood the national problem. This is also what brought him to Lenin’s attention.
16. SW, 1:33; see generally 1 :3 1 -3 5 .
Indeed, the young Djugashvili first cut his political teeth where the cultural and religious mix flavored every political and social struggle and the tsarist Black Hundreds added their vinegar to the mixture. His homeland, the Caucasus, was one of the world’s most ethnically diverse areas; it was also located on the southern flank of the empire, where tsarist Russia confronted Ottoman Turkey and imperial Britain. In its mountains and towns, Abkhasians, Chechens, Ossetians, Tartars, Georgians, Jews, Armenians, Azeris, Kurds, Russians, and many others met. With few exceptions, the local peoples were organized for subsistence agriculture under arrangements that in Georgia had been classically feudal until recently. Furthermore, some of the local peoples were still nomadic herders. It was mostly in Tbilisi and in the Baku area that a modern bourgeois economy was taking root. This was especially true in the southern oil-producing region. There British capital encountered and mingled more or less uneasily with tsarist rule. It was in Baku, the oil city on the Caspian Sea, that Stalin first made a name for himself by playing a key role in organizing workers under difficult conditions. The oil workers were people of many nationalities and religions, and their employers treated them according to their origin. For example, Muslim workers (Azeris, Khazaks, Turkmenis, etc.) were paid in goods and received occasional gratuities (the baksheesh). Russians and Armenians, on the other hand, usually received wages either at daily or hourly rates. All of this added to language and cultural barriers and served to limit interaction among workers of different national origins and to restrict the applicability of the demands of any one group. To add to the difficulty of the situation, a multiplicity of organizations and unions of various affiliations competed for the allegiance of the oil workers. In this situation, Stalin hid out in the Muslim quarter and performed general organizational work. M ost impor tant, he attended gatherings of workers of different nationalities and edited a news sheet in which he proposed that trade unionists act in concert and negotiate with the industry as a whole for a European system of wages. The strategy was a success, and the workers were able to wrest from the authorities an agreement for a broad-based industrial election. Thus, in mid-1907, as the revolution was in retreat in the rest of the empire, Stalin and his Baku committee colleagues won a significant victory under particu larly difficult conditions.17 17. For an account of this episode, see Deutscher, Stalin, 9 6 - 1 0 4 . The fact that the Baku Bolsheviks were operating against a British firm at the edges of the empire may have contributed to their success. At any rate, their role in denying the central government control over
The Baku period was also when Stalin stopped writing in Georgian and turned to the Russian language. Russian, of course, was the lingua franca in Baku, a relatively cosmopolitan environment where few workers were native born. Also, and perhaps not incidentally, writing in Russian made Stalin’s work more accessible to the exiled Bolshevik leadership once his articles, on the strength of his political accomplishments, started circulating abroad. This way he became the Caucasus correspondent for various Bolshevik periodicals. In turn this role led to his third arrest and his being banned from the Caucasus in 1910. Two years later he slipped across the border into Austrian-held Kraków, where Lenin, in an effort to transform Stalin’s experience into expertise, charged him with writing an article on the nationalities question and sent him to Vienna to research it. The trip to Vienna and the choice of Bauer as an adversary were dictated by the fact that the main opponents of Lenin’s thesis on the “ right of nations to self-determination” were the Jewish Bund and the Caucasian SocialDemocrats. The Bundists and the Caucasians favored an RSDLP organized along federal lines into nationality-based units, thereby securing the recog nition of each national group’s special concerns and, not incidentally, making for a more open party structure than anything the Bolsheviks advocated. In this context, the example of the Austrian party, with its purported endorsement of Bauer and Renner’s “ personality principle,” 18 took on great importance. Thus, by sending Stalin to Vienna, Lenin hoped for a continuation of his own work on nationalities as well as an opportunity to groom his new pupil by exposing him to the sophisticated theoretical debates of the Austrian and German Social Democrats. Djugashvili’s sojourn in Vienna lasted six weeks; it was the longest period he would ever spend outside Russian lands. The result of all of this was the first work he ever signed under the name Stalin, “ M arxism and the National Question,” a contribution of some importance to the prewar nationalities debate.19 In this essay, he sought to retain the link between nationality and Transcaucasia between 1905 and 1907 was significant, though far from decisive. J. N. Westwood, Endurance and Endeavour: Russian History, 1 8 1 2 - 1 9 9 2 , 4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 1 2 9 -3 1 and 1 5 9 -6 0 . 18. Stalin accepted the commonly held view that national-cultural (as opposed to territorial) autonomy was part of the Brünn program; see Joseph Stalin, “ M arxism and the N ational Question,” in M arxism and the N ational and Colonial Question: A Collection o f Articles and Speeches, 2d ed. (London: Lawrence &c Wishart, 1947), 2 6 - 2 8 ; hereafter M N C Q . Lenin knew better; see, for example, LCW , 20:100. 19. The original title of this essay was “ The National Question and Social-Democracy” ; it
territory by turning nationality into a simple empirical category and dis avowing the centrality of the subjective component in the construction of nations. In broad terms, this was not much different from Lenin’s position. Yet, Lenin’s view of the nation was purely pragmatic and policy oriented. He had no general theory for what a nation actually was, no criteria to allow him to distinguish, for example, a nation from a tribe. This is what Stalin aimed to contribute. In the process, however, he elaborated a different understanding of self-determination. At the broadest level, Stalin’s criticisms of Bauer followed Kautsky’s in claiming that the Austrian’s presentation of the problem overemphasized the psychological dimension and ignored the crucial dimensions of language, territory, and economic cohesion. Stalin granted Bauer’s point that nations were quite distinct historical communities and agreed with Kautsky that they emerged from “ a process of amalgamation of peoples.” However, for Stalin, this process was exactly the same as the “ elimination of feudalism and the development of capitalism.” Furthermore, this observation did not lead him to conclude, as Bauer had, that in principle workers had a stake in their national cultures, or, as Kautsky had, that workers only had a commitment to internationalism. On the one hand, a principled commitment to the defense of national cultures was unnecessary for someone who located proletarian consciousness in the Leninist party, because, as the vanguard of the movement, it was up to this party to create proletarian culture. On the other hand, he did not share Kautsky’s uncompromising internationalism. Consequently, even though he attempted to hold on to the language of national rights, his conclusions returned to his 1904 view that the unity of the Party had to be preserved at all costs.20 This effort to add a general theory of the nation, however, did involve a appeared between March and M ay of 1913 in Prosveshchniye. Deutscher gives most of the credit for this essay to Lenin, who “ probably suggested . . . the synopsis.” See Deutscher, Stalin, 117. Although it seems likely that Lenin had a hand in editing Stalin’s piece, there are differences in their positions. Furthermore, as Alfred D. Low argues, there is evidence that Lenin was sufficiently dissatisfied with this essay to ask Shaumian not long after its publication to write another “ popular brochure on the question.” See Low, Lenin on the Question o f Nationality (New York: Bookman Associates, 1958), 1 4 2 - 4 3 ; see also Michael Löwy, “ Le problème de l’histoire: Remarques de théorie et de méthode,” in Les marxistes et la question nationale, 1 8 4 9 -1 9 1 4 : Etudes et textes, ed. Georges Haupt, Michael Löwy, and Claudie Weill (Montreal: Etincelle, 1974), 3 8 6 - 8 8 . 20. Stalin, “ M arxism and the National Question,” 13 and 11; see generally 6 - 1 3 . For Karl Kautsky’s critique of Bauer, see “ Nationalität und Internationalität,” Ergänzungshefte zur Neuen Zeit, no. 1 (18 January 1908): 1 - 3 6 .
departure from his own 1904 position, since Stalin now (1913) argued that nationalism originated in a “ young bourgeoisie’s ” desire for the franchise and freedom of movement and language just as much as in its need to secure a home market. Yet this did not say it all. While national movements were bourgeois projects, they drew their strength from the support of the prole tariat and the peasantry, the main victims of national oppression. The latter were most likely to participate where oppression affected landholding relations; meanwhile, the nationalist allegiances of the workers were in versely proportional to the development of their class consciousness. This did not mean that proletarian nationalism was simply the result of decep tion. Quite the contrary, the interests of the workers of oppressed nationali ties were best served by easing restrictions on markets, enfranchisement, and freedom of language. In fact, the “ full development of [their] intellectual faculties” was inconceivable as long as they could not attend meetings, lectures, and schools in their native language. In addition, Stalin held that the oppression of minority nationalities served to divide the proletariat. Thus, he argued, Social Democratic parties had to defend the right of all nations to self-determination.21 Nonetheless, this was not the same concept of self-determination Lenin proposed. In Stalin’s rendition, it had at once a broader and a narrower meaning. For him, in 1913, “ [t]he right of self-determination mean[t] that only the nation itself [had] the right to determine its destiny, that no one [had] the right forcibly to interfere in the life of the nation, to destroy its schools and other institutions, to violate its habits and customs, to repress its language, or curtail its rights.” Nations were entitled to their freedom, their language, and, he would add, their territories. But— and here is one of the crucial differences with Lenin— none of this meant that the right of selfdetermination could be expressed only by establishing national sovereignty. Rather, “ self-determination means that a nation can arrange its life accord ing to its own will. It has the right to arrange its life on the basis of autonomy. It has the right to enter into federal relations with other nations. It has the right to complete secession. Nations are sovereign and all nations are equal.” 22 Although, in years to come, Stalin would claim that his own
21. Stalin, “ M arxism and the National Question,” 17; see generally 1 4 -1 8 . 22. Ibid., 1 8 - 1 9 , italics added. The distinction between territorial autonomy and federalism is by no means a trifle. In Stalin’s subsequent formulations, and in the official organization of the USSR, autonomous regions were areas where resident national groups could manage their cultural and internal administrative business, though the central government took care of
federalism was in keeping with Lenin’s postrevolutionary views, he advo cated territorial autonomy and federalism long before Lenin did. “ The only real solution [to the national problem in Russia] is regional autonomy, autonomy for such crystallised units as Poland, Lithuania, the Ukraine, the Caucasus, etc.” 23 The acceptance of federalism as well as its addition to the language of national rights was crucial for the elaboration of a nationalities program. This program would provide certain guarantees to national minorities in exchange for their commitment to furthering the proletarian struggle against what was, in any case, a deeply entrenched feudal order that had to be shaken up from below in the absence of a vital bourgeoisie. In this view, institutions could never guarantee the freedom of cultural development. An institutional and ethical order, even in the Hegelian sense of a Sittlicbkeit, had little relevance: “ [T]he point lies not in ‘institutions,’ but in the general regime prevailing in the country.” 24 The rights of nations, then, could not simply be enshrined in law, because law itself had no guarantees. Only mutual obligations between Party and national minority, that is, only commonality of interests, could establish a viable right. The right of nations to self-determination, then, was contingent upon a rather unclear arrangement between nations and the Party. At the same time, nations had a vaguely defined claim to exist and to dispose of themselves as collective entities because they were collective subjects, organic (albeit historical) bodies. Their federation was to be a mutual exchange of obliga tions between two dissimilar kinds of collective subjects: the Party and the nationalities. It is thus that Stalin would approach national projects as the goals of coherent entities, quite apart from the requirements or practices of democracy, on the one hand, or of internationalism, on the other. In short, Stalin’s position, unlike Lenin’s and much like Bakunin’s, was that of a philosophical nationalist, albeit one who placed the rights of nations after
international affairs. The federated units were the actual components of the union; they had some residual authority in international affairs and formally retained residual sovereignty, up to and including the right of secession. Mutatis mutandis, the equivalents would be Indian reservations in the United States (for autonomous regions) and provinces in Canada (for republics). Walker Connor explains the complex distinctions in The N ational Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 2 1 9 - 2 2 . More generally, see Robert Conquest, ed., Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice (New York: Praeger, 1967), 1 1 5 -4 3 . 23. Stalin, “ M arxism and the National Question,” 57. 24. Ibid., 38.
the prerogatives of the Party and who understood better than Lenin the implications of a policy of national self-determination. All of this had to be clarified once the Bolsheviks were forced to address the consequences of the program of national self-determination following the October Revolution. In January of 1918, with insurgency spreading throughout central Europe, and perhaps even affecting the Western combat ants, Lenin contemplated a federalist compromise as a step in the realization of proletarian internationalism once Russia ceased to be the center of revolutionary action. This he summed up for the Third Congress of Soviets by arguing that workers and peasants in revolt in other countries were expressing their unflinching determination to march with us along the path of the International. . . . [Indeed], [t]he flames of a revolutionary wildfire are leaping higher and higher over the whole of this rotten old world system. . . . We close this historic Congress of Soviets under the sign of mounting world revolution, and the time is not far off when the working people of all countries will unite into a single world-wide state and join in a common effort to build a new socialist edifice.25 In short, the International was to be the core of a new order once the main stage of the revolution shifted West. Unfortunately, this never happened. Very soon, Red Russia was isolated, a condition in which the parochialism of Stalin could thrive. As Luxemburg had predicted, the more advanced areas in the west of the old tsarist empire sought secession beginning in 1917. This process started well before the October Revolution. By April, for example, separatists in Finland had proclaimed independence. The Bolsheviks, with the newly returned Lenin at their head, though still a relatively minor faction, sup ported most of these efforts to exercise the right to self-determination, and Stalin even argued passionately for Finland’s independence. In fact, this position bought a great deal of good will. Upon taking power, they renewed the expression of their commitment to national self-determination, and
25. LCW , 2 6 :4 8 0 -8 1 and 482.
Stalin himself continued to support Finnish independence, officially recog nizing it at a congress of the Finnish Social Democrats.26 Nonetheless, after October, things began to change as the full implications of the concessions to nationalism embodied in the provisions on selfdetermination of the Party program became apparent. For one thing, not only the Finns and the Poles demanded national states, but the Ukrainians, the inhabitants of the Baltic provinces, and those of Transcaucasia, that is, all of what Stalin termed the “ crystallised units,” did too. By the end of 1918 thirteen new states had emerged. As the outlines of the postwar settlement became clear and the Entente intervention and the civil war (1919-20) unfolded, the claims for a right to self-determination came into conflict with the revolution itself for strategic, economic, and political reasons. M ost, though by no means all, of the regimes ruling the new states were antiso cialist, so they provided the Western powers with a strategic advantage and the potential to build a cordon sanitaire around Soviet Russia. This encircle ment also had economic consequences because some of the seceding areas were comparatively more industrialized or richer in crucial natural re sources, not the least of which was farmland. It was at this point that the Bolsheviks had to reconsider their position on national self-determination and its necessary connection to claims for sovereignty, something made easier by Stalin’s acceptance of federal arrangements. The shift in position was not simply an opportunistic move. It is important to note that, with few exceptions, the claims to democratic legitimacy by the nationalists on the borderlands were not much stronger than those of the Bolsheviks in at least one respect: hardly any credible referenda on selfdetermination had been held; hardly any procedures existed to support the framing of broad debates that encouraged the participation of the vast peasant masses, the urban workers, or even the local bourgeoisies.27 In any 26. The best account of this is M arc Ferro’s L a révolution de 1917: Octobre, naissance d ’une société (Paris: Aubier-Montagne, 1976), 1 5 1 -8 5 . For his account of the demands of national minorities in the February Revolution, see The Russian Revolution o f February 1917, trans. J. L. Richards (Englewood Cliffs, N .J.: Prentice Hall, 1972), 1 3 7 -5 4 . For Stalin’s April 1917 defense of the Finns, see his “ Report on the National Question,” in M N C Q , 63. More broadly, see Deutscher, Stalin, 1 8 1 - 8 2 and 447. Deutscher holds that Stalin always looked upon this, his first important act as commissar of nationalities, with pride and that this partly explains why he dealt with Finland with comparative mildness in 1940 (after Finland had made the necessary concessions) and again in 1945. 27. The closest thing to such a referendum was the November election to the Constituent Assembly, whose returns, according to Richard Pipes, “ indicated that a high proportion, possibly the majority, of non-Russians voted for national tickets.” However, Pipes offers no evidence that
case, just about every one of the new national states included large national minorities (most notably, Great Russians in Ukraine, Ruthenians in Poland, Poles in Lithuania and Latvia, and Jews everywhere), and not one of these was being offered the right to self-determination under the new order. Furthermore, from the point of view of the Communists even four years or so following the revolution, there was still reason to believe that capitalism was in crisis as a result of the wartime devastation and of the mobilization of the working class. Thus, events in Russia appeared as a mere episode of an international revolutionary drama. In 1920 Lenin could still hold (in LeftWing Communism— an Infantile Disorder) that “ soon after the victory of the proletarian revolution in at least one of the advanced countries . . . Russia will cease to be model and will once again become a backward country.” 28 In fact, while the Bolsheviks were committed, after October 1917, to retaining state power, they continued to believe for some time that the viability of the political revolution in Russia, and the progress of the social revolution, depended upon the revolution in the West. While they saw in the Russian events the catalyst that would precipitate the global collapse of bourgeois society, the Second Congress of the International (August 1920) proclaimed that “ [c]ivil war is the order of the day throughout the world. Its device is the Soviet power.” 29 Indeed, as late as the first half of 1921, the Comintern sought to carry forth the revolutionary process on an interna tional scale. Yet, it was also necessary to defend the revolution, and this required the strengthening of the political apparatus and, in view of the international situation and the experience of the civil war, the reconsidera tion of the party’s nationalities policy. Stalin’s role in the ensuing debates, and so his understanding of federalism and self-determination, were crucial, not only in retrospect but also at the time, because he headed the People’s Commissariat on Nationalities. In this minority nationality voters in fact supported secession. Much of his discussion suggests, first, that the Central Powers promoted the impetus for secession in the western regions of the old tsarist empire and, second, that this drive was largely absent elsewhere during most of 1917. In fact, as Pipes implies, a number of the politicians who formed the national parties continued their ties with all-Russian parties for much of this period. These national parties only “ cut loose and turned into full-fledged nationalist parties” after the Bolsheviks began their campaign of repression against opposition movements. In any case, the results of the elections to the Constituent Assembly are not evidence for popular support of a separatist agenda. Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), 149, italics added; see generally 14 1 -6 5 . 28. LCW , 31:21. 29. Degras, The Communist International, 1:177.
role, he had already begun the reevaluation of the Party’s policy. In Novem ber of 1918, he had declared the national question resolved in Russia: he claimed that the oppression of minorities was only a part of the “ general question of the transformation of the existing order,” a question that the October Revolution had fully addressed. Clearly, this position was illusory. Any reasonable assessment of conditions in 1918 Russia had to conclude that the seizure of political power was far from complete and, more important, that in a poverty-stricken peasant country the “ general question” was a long way from being answered by Jacobin fantasies. Nonetheless, Stalin insisted on claiming that the October Revolution had forged new ties between the “ nations of the backward East” and those of the West, so that “ the national question, from the particular question of combating national oppression, [was] growing into the general question of emancipating the nations, colonies and semi-colonies from imperialism.” 30 Thus, Stalin was reformulating the national question into an issue of interstate politics, and this would necessitate the repudiation of the Party’s position on secession. In 1920, he made this explicit. His reasoning was that the proletariat of the more advanced countries needed the support of all Russian workers and peasants to defeat their bourgeoisie and that the more developed areas of central Russia would be unable to fight the civil war without the support of the border regions and access to their plentiful natural resources. By the same token, he held that the oppressed peoples of the borderlands depended on the revolutionary action of the proletarians and peasants of the “ center” because only in conjunction with them would the oppressed peoples be able to rid themselves of the imperialist yoke. In addition, he suggested that the movements for secession in Ukraine, Azer baijan, and Turkestan had been instigated by the Entente powers in order to encircle revolutionary Russia. Consequently, he argued that “ [t]he demand for secession of the border regions from Russia as the form that should be given to the relations between the centre and the border regions must be rejected not only because it is contrary to the very definition of the estab lishment of an alliance between the centre and the border regions, but because it is fundamentally opposed to the interests of the mass of the peoples both of the centre and of the border regions.” 31 30. Joseph Stalin, “ October and the National Question,” in M N C Q , 68 and 75; see generally 6 8 - 7 7 . 31. Joseph Stalin, “ The Policy of the Soviet Government on the National Question in R ussia,” in M N C Q , 79. This piece was originally published in Pravda in October of 1920.
Written two years before the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, this 1920 text provides the basic outline and justifications for what would become the Soviet Union’s official nationalities program. Here Stalin wrote in terms of exchanges of obligations between peoples and nations, an approach that was at variance with the Party’s earlier efforts to build solidarity in terms of class and class alliances. The point was to inaugurate “ the coexistence of a number of nations and tribes within a single proletarian state.” For this to occur, Soviet Russia had to devise a long-term economic policy to integrate the border regions, to put an end “ to their patriarchal manner of life,” and to gain the trust of the masses by defending their interests against colonizers and bourgeois nationalists. In effect this meant that the autonomous republics were not temporary measures. They were in place to stay, and this required putting “ Soviet autonomy” into practice by establishing education, courts, and administration in the native languages, “ for Soviet autonomy [was] but the sum of these various institu tions enveloped in a Ukrainian, Turkestanian or Kirghiz form .” 32 In short, Stalin was calling for the institution of cultural measures aimed at reinforcing the political and economic cohesion of a developing Soviet state. Indeed, his goal, more than anything else, would soon become the construction of a Soviet state, itself populated by a new kind of people, “ Soviet m an.” This is not to say that he would, henceforth, ignore either nationalism or ethnic minorities. N o amount of rhetoric could disguise the fact that vast numbers of Soviet citizens spoke different languages, or that they had national aspirations that, in fact, the regime encouraged. In his view, however, the problem vanished because “ soviet power” (and after 1924 “ socialism in one country” ) eliminated the “ contradictions” between nationalities, or at least made them “ nonantagonistic.” As he would reaffirm in 1929, the antagonistic contradictions had been displaced to the sphere of relations between the Soviet state and other powers, a sphere where the USSR found itself on the side of those oppressed nations seeking to free themselves from Western colonialism. Within the USSR, on the other hand, the “ fraternal peoples” shared the project of strengthening socialism. This did not mean their assimilation, because, for unexplained reasons, “ social ism in one country [did] not create the necessary conditions for the merging of nations.” Quite the contrary, “ this period create[d] favourable conditions
32. Stalin, “ Policy of the Soviet Government,” 87, 82, and 84.
for the renaissance and flourishing of the nations that were formerly oppressed by tsarist imperialism.” 33 Even though the great famines had a particularly pronounced effect upon some of the national minorities (most notably the Ukrainians) and a number of nationalist movements were crushed, it is undeniable that between 1917 and the early 1930s the Soviet government, and Stalin in particular, actually promoted the principle of nationalities among ethnic groups and encouraged their cultural development by fostering studies in their languages even outside their own republics.34 The complex web that Soviet federalism grew into acted to reaffirm national identity; so did several elements of the structure of the CPSU and, most important, actual policy flowing from Moscow. In fact, national consciousness was nurtured even among central Asian peoples with no nationalist past. O f course, from an irredentist nationalist position these policies remained objectionable because nothing short of sovereignty would do. However, the real problem at this point was not the state-sponsored oppression of national minorities as such but the absence of democratic guarantees, procedures, and institutions for all citi zens. Stalin was an enemy of democracy, not of nationalism. In fact, his formulations are often recognizable in the discourse of post-Soviet nation alism in Eastern Europe. Indeed, whereas Lenin had made concessions to nationalist views for pragmatic reasons and always with a view to the internationalist quality of the labor movement as a whole, Stalin, whose internationalism was at best halfhearted, very much took nationalist categories for granted. Yet, if Stalin was a nationalist, in the sense that he accepted the nationalities principle, he was not a Great Russian nationalist, much less a Georgian nationalist.35 Rather, he was a philosophical nationalist and a Soviet nationalist. He was bent on creating a new nation-state, and for this, federalism was indispens able because it allowed him to routinize the allogeneity of the population.36 33. Joseph Stalin, “ The National Question and Leninism,” in SW, 11:360. For Stalin’s elaboration of his typology of contradictions within the “ laws of social development,” see his “ Dialectical and Historical M aterialism ,” in Problems o f Leninism (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1976), 8 3 5 - 7 3 . Herbert M arcuse examines the origins of this doctrine and exposes its sophistry in Soviet M arxism: A Critical Analysis (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), 137ff. 34. Connor, The N ational Question in M arxist-Leninist Theory and Practice, 256ff. 35. Cf. Conquest, Stalin: Breaker o f Nations. 36. “ What is national culture under the dictatorship of the proletariat?” he would ask in 1930. “ A culture socialist in content and national in form .” Joseph Stalin, “ Deviations on the N ational Question,” in M N C Q , 260.
Of course, Stalin would return to the problematique of national minorities when it suited his purposes, particularly in the power struggles of the late 1920s, in their continuation in the Great Purge, and in the mass deportations of the 1940s. Yet, federalism and, after 1924, the identification of Soviet power with socialism allowed him to reformulate the national question so that it took on two aspects: the building of a new nation-state and its relations with other states. Together, these were the two moments of the question of “ socialism in one country.” While commonly attributed to Stalin, the concept of “ socialism in one country,” like so many others, originated elsewhere. Its initial proponent appears to have been Nikolai Bukharin, who, as early as November of 1922, advocated “ growing into socialism” and proposed (with Lenin’s backing) that the Party consider the implications of “ socialism in one country.” 37 This line of reasoning emerged from Bukharin’s part in designing the New Economic Policy (NEP), and the growing debates about the nature of Soviet Russia and the health of capitalism. The NEP, originally proposed by Lenin in M ay of 1921, mixed state ownership of the “ commanding heights” of the economy (banks, energy, transportation, and steel) with the limited accep tance of private capital in the production of finished goods and in distribu tion and retail operations. The return to the market also involved the restoration of the currency and an invitation to foreign investors. M ost crucially, it replaced the forced requisitions of agricultural produce with a tax in kind and inducements to bring the remainder of the produce to market. Clearly, then, the NEP embodied the acceptance of the fact that Soviet Russia was not a workers’ state, and that international revolution would not come for a long time.38 Implied in all of this was a reassessment of the situation. Reality had to be faced on at least two levels: Russia was alone, and it did not possess the material base to support a socialist project. On the second point there was no dispute. M ost Bolsheviks had actually opposed an uprising in 1917 on these grounds, and Lenin himself had claimed, in April, that “ it is not our immediate purpose to ‘introduce’ socialism.” 39 The first point, on the other 37. Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution (New York: Oxford Univer sity Press, 1980), 1 4 7 -4 8 . 38. In July 1921, the Third Congress of the Comintern concluded that the “ first period of the post-war revolutionary movement” had ended and that “ [t]he self-confidence of the bourgeoisie as a class, and the outward stability of their State organs, have been strengthened.” Degras, The Communist International, 1:230. 39. “ April Theses,” LCW , 24:24. The debate over the viability and advisability of a
hand, generated a dilemma because the entire strategy of the Bolsheviks, indeed the argument Lenin had used to carry the Central Committee in early October of 1917, was premised on the expectation that the flames of revolution would move west. Yet, revolution abroad was not forthcoming, so the vanguard of global revolution was ruling a state that had “ to coexist” in an international system of states. This reassessment led to the change of course embodied in the NEP strategy to stabilize the economic and social situation, to a reevaluation of the Comintern, and, most important for current purposes, to the formulation of theoretical categories to understand and explain the changes. The concept of “ socialism in one country” served the latter purpose. Empirically, and given an ever more prevalent reductionist conception of socialism, the expression “ socialism in one country” captured the reality of the situation: there was no other country committed to overcoming capital ism in the name of proletarian revolution. This is why all the major leaders of the Party, even Trotsky, could accept it as a description of the situation. What remained at issue until the Fourteenth Party Conference (in 1925) were the meaning and implications of the formula. In the broadest of terms, the question was whether socialism could take root in one country alone, a prospect that flew in the face of the ideals of the labor movement, which, at least since the days of M arx, Engels, and even Bakunin, had held that the emancipation of labor could never occur in isolation. Probably for Lenin, until his death in March of 1923, and surely for Trotsky, “ socialism in one country” did not mean the abandonment of international proletarian links. Stalin, on the other hand, came to embrace the formulation early on. For him, internationalism meant little, while the reality of the situation at hand meant everything. In fact, for Stalin, internationalism was not a principle but an ideological tool to be used to justify the vicissitudes of Communist policy commitments. In April of 1924, in a series of essays usually presented as his Sverdlov University lectures on the foundations of Leninism, he accepted that “ the overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie and the establishment of the power of the proletariat in one country does not yet mean that the complete victory of socialism has been ensured.” Certainly, in this view, the seizure of proletarian insurrection continued well into August and even September, with most of the Bolshevik leadership grouping around Kamenev and opposing Lenin. It was a combination of the latter’s persuasive abilities and the flow of events that led the Central Committee to call for insurrection in early October. See Ferro, L a revolution de 1917, 3 6 2 -4 2 2 .
political power was not the same as the realization of socialism. The latter had to be built by “ the proletariat of the victorious country.” Nonetheless, the seizure of power did transform state power into socialist power in a state that was still vulnerable. This meant that the Russian workers had to strive and to sacrifice to build up the materials that would “ hastfen] the victory of the proletariat in other countries,” and thus reinforce their own victory.40 This was not yet the Stakhanovism of the Second Five-Year Plan a decade later, but it was a leap in the direction of identifying socialism with economic development (growth of industrial output) and its interests with those of the Soviet state, thereby depriving the concept of socialism of its critical edge. Stalin took the next step in 1926, when he turned against Zinoviev and Kamenev (the “ new opposition” ) and attacked Zinoviev’s version of “ so cialism in one country” (the official position of the Comintern) on the grounds that it was a deviation from correct policy as adopted by the CPSU.41 He argued that while the complete victory of socialism in one country, in the sense of its precluding the possibility of intervention by capitalist powers, could not be guaranteed, socialism itself could be realized in isolation. The victory of socialism simply meant “ solving the contradic tions between the proletariat and the peasantry by means of the internal forces of our country . . . while being sure that the technical backwardness of our country is not an insuperable obstacle to the building of a complete socialist society.” 42 In this manner, he identified socialism with the organi zation and expansion of production under state direction and, in the specific case of the NEP, in direct confrontation with capitalism. Socialism was no longer a question of extending democracy into the realms of civil society and the economy, as it had been for the likes of M arx, Luxemburg, and Bauer. It was a technical project that presupposed the creation of the appropriate tools to increase state and productive capacity, Lenin’s “ electrification plus accounting” taken to its logical but most extreme conclusion. From this perspective, the dictatorship of the Party was the equivalent of proletarian power and gave the workers an interest in increasing this power,
40. Joseph Stalin, “ The Foundations of Leninism: Lectures Delivered at Sverdlov Univer sity,” in Problems o f Leninism, 37. 41. In fact, Zinoviev’s position was not so distant from Stalin’s. In 1925 he had pushed through the ECCI a resolution paralleling that of the Fourteenth Party Conference of the CPSU. It held that “ [b]y and large the victory of socialism (not in the sense of its final victory) is certainly possible in one country alone.” Degras, The Communist International, 2:187. 42. Joseph Stalin, “ Concerning Questions of Leninism,” in Problems o f Leninism, 212.
a power whose nature was socialist by definitional fiat. This, in turn, would require an economic construction that, Stalin held, guaranteed the realiza tion of socialism. Instead of “ growing into socialism,” that is, creating the social and material preconditions for subsequent social and political trans formation, Stalin already reduced socialism to a mode of industrialization, to a strategy for economic development. This amounted to proposing the possibility of autarchic socialism, thus prefiguring his later assertions that socialism in one country actually existed.43 Furthermore, given the parallel identification of socialism with Soviet power, the interests of international socialism became clearly identified with the interests of the Soviet state, which thereby had a paramount claim to the loyalty not only of the workers of the Soviet lands but also of the entire international labor movement. By equating the final victory of socialism, understood as the “ full guarantee against intervention” (achievable only with the “ victory of the revolution in . . . a number of countries” ), with internationalism, Stalin equated the solidarity the Comintern was supposed to embody with a commitment to protect the Soviet state. Indeed, he identified the USSR with socialism and revolution itself, thereby proposing a basic commitment of the world proletariat to the promotion of Soviet interest, “ [f]or what is our country, the country ‘that is building socialism,’ if not the base of the world revolution?” 44 Given the acceptance of the “ stabilization of capitalism,” this position suggested that the Comintern was to condition the activities of its member parties to the foreign policy needs of the Soviet Union. The “ homeland of socialism,” no less than any other state, had security concerns that required it to normalize relations with as many powers as would have it. Further more, the NEP also called for foreign investment in a number of areas. Both of these points suggested a cautious foreign policy, particularly once the European powers began granting recognition in the early 1920s. Given the general perception that the Soviets, through the Comintern, had complete control over all Communist parties, it became necessary to restrain these and, occasionally, to sacrifice them. The potential existed for a contradiction between what Karl Korsch called “ ‘revolutionary state necessity’ and ‘pro
43. For example, in 1936 he claimed that “ [o]ur Soviet society has already, in the main, succeeded in achieving socialism .” See Joseph Stalin, “ On the D raft Constitution of the U .S.S.R .,” in Problems o f Leninism, 806. 44. Stalin, “ Concerning Questions of Leninism,” 213 and 221; see generally 2 1 1 - 2 1 .
letarian class necessity,’ ” 45 and this contradiction was resolved in terms favorable to the Soviet state, which, as Korsch’s analysis also suggested, was no longer revolutionary. This Stalin accomplished by means of the Comin tern, initially with Zinoviev’s help, then with Bukharin’s. O f course, the doctrine of socialism in one country, and the turn to the NEP, were not the only factors that would lead to the crippling of the Comintern, the Stalinization of the foreign parties, and the overall elimina tion of Communism as a truly revolutionary movement. Indeed, the authori tarian structure of the International and its parties, as well as the exigencies of the power struggles within the CPSU, had a great deal to do with this as well. All of this was made easier by the fact that, for Stalin, internationalism was never a matter of principle unless it meant unconditional support for the Soviet state. His policies toward foreign Communist parties, which would be made to act in the interest of the USSR and of Stalin himself, were quite revealing. In this respect, the fate of the Chinese Communists in 1927 is a most tragic example of lack of principles, disregard for foreign parties, and poor judgment based on a misunderstanding of local conditions aggravated by an almost complete lack of local autonomy. The Chinese crisis of the mid-1920s was critical because of the crucial support the USSR had provided in the establishment of the Kuomintang in 1923, because of the important role the Chinese Communists played in the Kuomintang, and because of the timing of the situation. Indeed, Sun Yat-sen’s death and the ensuing struggle for leadership between the Nationalist left wing, led by Wang Chin-wei, and Chiang Kai-shek’s military-based faction in 1 9 2 5 -2 7 coincided roughly with a series of key events on the Soviet side. By April of 1925 “ socialism in one country” was official policy, and Stalin’s power struggle with the “ Left Deviation” had achieved a peak with the expulsion of Trotsky from the Politburo and the removal of Zinoviev (in favor of Bukharin) from the presidency of the International in late 1926. Trotsky and Zinoviev held that China was ready for a Russian-type revolution and urged on the Wang faction. Stalin and Bukharin, however, were unwilling to risk a confronta tion with Chiang and wanted to finish the “ Left Deviation.” Not only did they discourage Wang, but they used the Comintern to force the Chinese Communists into a continued alliance with Chiang, an alliance that eventu ally led to their massacre in Shanghai in April of 1927. Stalin’s shameless 45. As cited by D ouglas Kellner in Karl Korsch: Revolutionary Theory (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977), 58.
justification was that the Nationalist struggle in China “ was causing a dispersion of the forces of imperialism . . . and was thus facilitating the development of the hearth and home of the world revolution.” 46 Despite its superficiality, Stalin’s account lends insight into his thought and the key role played in it by the thesis of national self-determination and what Sartre called “ the ideological monstrosity of ‘socialism in one coun try.’ ” 47 Stalin started, roughly, from the formula of the right of nations, which, in Lenin’s hands, had referred to national minorities within a larger political unit. As a principle, however, national self-determination was problematic for any state that included so many potential claimants. This is why, following the revolution, self-determination acquired both a broader and a narrower meaning. Where it had once referred to a claim for sovereignty, rooted in the mid-nineteenth-century principle of nationalities, it came to convey communal guarantees and forms of autonomy that did not quite amount to sovereignty. Nonetheless, the principle retained its useful ness when applied to world politics. At the level of international relations, the principle of nationalities, sometimes in combination with socialist appeals, more often (in the interwar period) without them, became an anticolonialist slogan. It was, however, the combination of the principles of self-determination and developmentalist socialism in one country that would provide for the later development of what might be described as national liberation M arxism. In the meanwhile, there occurred in the work of Stalin a transposition of priorities: whereas the theorists of the First and Second International had formulated the national question in terms of the socialist project, he and other Third Internationalists came to see the socialist question in national terms.48 In fact, the work of
46. In his August 1927 speech before the Joint Plenum of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the CPSU, in M N C Q , 237. Years later, in 1936, Leon Trotsky would ask, “ For what purpose, then, does the International exist?” See his Revolution Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union and Where Is It Going? trans. M ax Eastman (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1980), 203. See also Jam es, World Revolution, 1 9 1 7 - 1 9 3 6 , 2 5 5 - 6 4 ; Borkenau, World Communism, 2 9 6 - 3 1 8 . André M alraux renders the Chinese drama in a most powerful fashion in M an ’s Fate, trans. H aakon M. Chevalier (New York: Modern Library, 1961). 47. Jean-Paul Sartre, “ Socialism in One Country,” New Left Review, no. 100 (November 1 97 6-Jan u ary 1977): 143. 48. An interesting, though partial, exception is Henri Lefebvre’s 1936 pamphlet Le nationalisme contre les nations, introduction by Michel Trebisch, preface by Paul Nizan, and postface by Henri Lefebvre (Paris: Méridiens Klincksieck, 1988).
Antonio Gramsci stands out even more in this respect, for he made national unity into a prerequisite for socialism.
Hegemony and National Unity: Gramsci Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) was born in Sardinia into the family of a minor functionary of ethnic Albanian origin.49 In fact— and even though his introduction to socialism came in 1908, when he lived with his brother Gennaro, a member of the Italian Socialist Party (Partito Socialista Italiano, or PSI)— his earliest political commitments were to Sardinianism. These continued even after he had won a scholarship to attend the University of Turin, where he initially studied linguistics beginning in 1911. Within two years, however, he became active in the PSI. Soon he was contributing to the party press, and in 1919 (with Togliatti, Tasca, and Terracini) he founded a weekly devoted to “ socialist culture” (UOrdine Nuovo). That same year marked the beginning of his most militant activities in the Factory Council movement in Turin. In 1921, with Bordiga and Togliatti, he led the split in the PSI and the founding of the PCI. In 1922 he was designated the PCI’s representative to the Comintern, leading to a two-year sojourn in the USSR because of his poor health and M ussolini’s “ March on Rome” that year. Only after being elected deputy to the Italian parliament could he return to Italy. There he walked out with the rest of the opposition to protest the assassination of Matteoti, but soon led the return of the PCI to parliament. Two years later, in 1926, the Fascists had most of the Left opposition leaders arrested. Gramsci remained in prison until shortly before his death. At his trial, in 1928, the prosecutor is reported to have claimed that “ ‘[w]e must prevent this brain from functioning for twenty years.’ ” 50 Yet, like his hero Niccolò Machiavelli, once removed from public life Gramsci devoted most of his time (after 1929, when he was finally permitted regular access to 49. Despite the many studies of Gram sci’s thought, there are only two full-length biogra phies in English: Alastair Davidson, Antonio Gramsci: Towards an Intellectual Biography (London: Merlin Books, 1977), and Fiori, Antonio Gramsci. O f narrower focus are Harold Entwistle, Antonio Gramsci: Conservative Schooling for Radical Politics (London: Routledge 6c Kegan Paul, 1979); Dante L. Germino, Gramsci: Architect o f a New Politics (Baton Rouge: University of Louisiana Press, 1990); and Jam es Joll, Gramsci (London: Fontana, 1977). 50. Quoted in Fiori, Antonio Gram sci, 230. The Special Tribunal for the Defense of the State sentenced him to twenty years, five months, and five days imprisonment.
writing materials) to thinking about politics and culture. The product of this effort was twenty-nine notebooks in which he jotted down ideas and left provocative, if indeterminate, plans for future work.51 Indeed, it is on the strength of the notebooks that most interpreters would agree with Joseph Femia in placing him alongside Lukács and Korsch as one of the founders of “ le marxisme occidental— the revolt against the orthodox tendency to interpret the historical development of society solely in terms of the produc tion of material objects.” 52 For the sake of clarity, it is important to note in this connection that the “ orthodoxy” Gramsci was rebelling against was the tendency associated with the Second International, especially with Kautsky and to a lesser extent with Luxemburg, that he would term “ economism” and would attribute to Bukharin and to the PSI. Their economism he criticized as a theoretical error, a “ doctrinaire pedantry” that “ consisted in an inability to find the correct relation between what is organic and what is conjunctural,” leading to presenting “ causes as immediately operative which in fact only operate indirectly.” 53 In short, the orthodoxy he confronted was not Stalinism, much less Leninism. He always defended typically Leninist tactics like the provi sions to expel the “ center” in the Twenty-One Points. Indeed, as Henry Pachter points out, when Gramsci returned from his sojourn in Moscow, it was to Bolshevize the PCI by fighting “ the ‘leftist deviation’ of Bordiga as
51. Depending on how they are counted, Gramsci left thirty-one or thirty-three notebooks. Valentino Gerratana, who directed the production of the critical edition for the Gramsci Institute, argues that thirty-three is the most appropriate number. O f these, four were devoted to translations Gramsci considered but an exercise. This leaves twenty-nine substantive notebooks. For Gerratana’s exposition, see his preface to Antonio Gramsci, Quaderni del carcere (Turin: Giulio Einaude, 1975), l:x x ix -x x x v iii; hereafter QC. Also, there is no clear presentation of the overall plan even in what is known of Gramsci’s personal communications. For example, his 29 January 1929 letter to Tatiana (“ Tania” ) Schucht suggests he will write a study plan, which his 25 March 1929 missive claims is still unformed. Antonio Gramsci, Letters from Prison, ed. Frank Rosengarten, trans. Raymond Rosenthal (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 1:244 and 257. As Christine Buci-Glucksmann indicates, fellow prisoner Athos Lisa’s reminiscences of conversations lend insight into Gramsci’s intentions and self-views, but even here there is a great deal of inconsistency. Compare Buci-Glucksmann, Gramsci and the State, trans. David Fernbach (London: Lawrence &C Wishart, 1980), 2 0 - 2 4 , and Athos Lisa, Memorie: D all’ergastolo di Santo Stefano alla casa penale di Turi di Bari, with a preface by Umberto Terracini (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1973). 52. Joseph V. Femia, Gramsci s Political Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981). 53. Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison N otebooks, ed. and trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1980), 178. See also 1 9 1 - 9 2 and 2 3 2 - 3 4 ; hereafter SPN.
well as the ‘rightist deviation’ of Tasca.” 54 Furthermore, unlike Korsch and Lukács, he never ran afoul of Stalin, though Togliatti’s selective ma nipulation of his manuscripts suggests that he very well might have, had he survived his imprisonment.55 Whatever his claims about the cultural struggles that had to precede any revolutionary effort and that arguably pointed in the direction of a more open party structure, Gramsci remained committed to vanguardism. Nonetheless, and despite its rough and indeterminate quality, the work he did at the prisons at Turi and Formia explored, and attempted to recon struct, the relation between state and civil society, the conceptions of base and superstructure, and the role cultural traditions play in social and political integration. This is, in large measure, the reason for the veritable avalanche of literature that has followed in the wake of the “ discovery” of Gramsci.56 Quite commonly, this literature has sought to interpret him as the theorist of the superstructure, a man who “ broadened the terrain of political recomposition and hegemony, while offering a theorization of the hegemonic link which clearly went beyond the Leninist category of ‘class alliance.’ ” 57 In this manner, he is supposed to have contributed concepts and formulations that give unusual insight into the nature of Western democratic capitalism while offering guidance for contestation that goes beyond the “ orthodoxies” of M arxian “ economism.” Indeed, he is often regarded not so much as a theorist of the state as a theorist of the new social movements, a purveyor of a theoretical framework
54. Henry Pachter, “ G ram sci— Stalinist Without D ogm a,” in Socialism in History: Political Essays o f Henry Pachter, ed. Stephen Eric Bronner (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 287. 55. On Togliatti’s manipulation of the Gramsci legacy, see Paul Piccone, Italian Marxism (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983). Piccone’s claim that Gramsci broke with Leninism is an exaggeration. 56. In his (already dated) review essay, Geoff Eley identified more than thirty-five books and articles in English, most written after 1970, devoted to the interpretation and appropriation of Gramsci’s thought. Many of these, though far from the majority, were translations. The number of works Eley named as using Gram sci’s concepts was even greater. See Eley, “ Reading Gramsci in English: Observations on the Reception of Antonio Gramsci in the English-Speaking World, 1 9 5 7 - 8 2 ,” European History Quarterly 14 (October 1984): 4 4 1 - 7 8 . It is worth noting that the PCI promoted a great deal of work on Gramsci after 1945, and that, in later decades, it justified its “ Eurocommunism” as the application of his theories. Gram sci’s work was also well known in France by the late 1950s. In the English-speaking world, however, it only acquired currency after 1970. Much of the Quaderni remains untranslated. 57. Ernesto Laclau and Chantal M ouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (London: Verso, 1990), 66.
for progressive activism in advanced industrial societies. Yet, as Carl Boggs, one of the main proponents of such a view, recognizes, one of Gramsci’s primary concerns was with Italy itself, with the notion that “ for a revolution to become truly popular it would have to assume a national character; theory . . . would have to take into account the unique aspects of Italian history and culture.” 58 Indeed, Gramsci’s interest was not so much in capi talist democracies as in the Italian question. He sought to use M arxian theory to understand Italian history, with a view to elaborating a “ praxis” that would bring about Italian unity in conjunction with the socialist transfor mation of that country. Gramsci’s work is best appreciated in the context of Italian politics. Already in 1927, he outlined a plan to work on four topics, beginning with “ the formation of the Italian spirit” (which he equated with “ a study of Italian intellectuals” ), moving on to studies in linguistics, Italian theater, and popular Italian literature.59 This undertaking, surely, was a response to the continuing relevance of the Italian national question. This was the problem of Italian unity, which had its roots just as much in the dismemberment of the Roman Empire as in the famous handshake at Teano by which Garibaldi was supposed to have turned the new state over to Victor Emmanuel II in 1860. In fact, and despite the fantasies of European radicals ranging from Mazzini to Blanqui, Bakunin, and even M arx, there was little to unite in the unification of Italy, at least not if Italy was considered a cultural unit. Certainly the most realistic of Italianizers knew that theirs was at least as much a creative effort as a restorative mission. For example, in terms of language, and despite the existence of the Italian of Dante and a correspond ing vernacular shared by a narrow segment of “ traditional intellectuals,” the inhabitants of the territories of modern-day Italy spoke (and in some ways still speak) at least a dozen mutually unintelligible major “ dialects” — and this is not to mention the significant populations of Greek, German, SerboCroat, Albanian, Provençal, and Catalan speakers.60 Italy was not what it pretended to be. At least since 1870, Italians have
58. Boggs, Gramsci s M arxism , 19. 59. Gramsci to Tatiana Schucht, 19 March 1927, Letters from Prison, 1 :8 3 -8 4 . 60. Christopher Duggan illustrates the distance between the dialects by showing the equivalents for “ Thursday” and “ boy”/ “ child” in Italian (Giovedi, ragazzo/bambino) and a dozen vernaculars, including Piedmontese (Giöves, cit), Veneto (Z ioba, putèlo), and Sardinian (Iovia, pizzinnu). Duggan, Concise History o f Italy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 29. More generally, see Bruno Migliorini and T. Gwynfor Griffith, The Italian L an guage, rev. ed. (London: Farber, 1984).
tried to grasp this by referring to the discrepancies between the “ legal” (or “ political” ) Italy and the “ real” Italy, a dichotomy that also marks one of the main themes of Gramsci’s own work, the distance between the national and the popular. This kind of formulation, which remains common in developing countries, betrays the prevalence of provincialism, illegality, and corruption in a country ruled by a formally cohesive political system, nominally under the rule of universal laws and shared norms. There may indeed have been an Italian state, with laws, institutions, ideals, and even a nation to go along with it, but these only existed on paper and in the pronouncements of certain political figures. In short, the Italy of Gramsci’s day was hardly an advanced industrial nation-state with a tradition of effectual liberal, let alone demo cratic, rule. And, after 1922, its state became less and less liberal even in “ legal” terms. Moreover, its economy was so weak and its infrastructure so deficient that in 1940, three years after Gramsci’s death, the British chiefs of staff could actually wonder whether an Italy allied with Germany might be more beneficial to the Western Allies than a neutral Italy!61 Italy in the 1920s and 1930s was, in economic, social, cultural, and political terms, at best a semiperipheral country, more comparable to Spain or Argentina than to France or Belgium. Certainly Italy could not be taken for a national state. As a Sardinian, Gramsci was personally aware of the depth and intensity of sectional divisions.62 His early commitments to Sardinianism testify to this. Later, his experience in party work suggested that sectionalism mattered a great deal not only because of the conspicuous economic and social contrasts, but also because of the psychology that followed. Sectionalism was a crucial influ ence on the attitudes of workers toward each other and toward the move ment itself.63 Furthermore, Italian fascism was more than a generic effort on the part of the bourgeoisie to solidify its rule in the aftermath of the “ Red Biennium” (1 9 1 9-20). It was more than a reactionary movement. It was an effort to consolidate Italian unity, to reconcile the “ real” with the “ political” Italy, to continue in very different terms the project begun during the 61. See Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall o f Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Vintage Books, 1989), 298, 3 4 0 - 4 1 . 62. Davidson aptly conveys the impact of Gramsci’s origins. See his Antonio Gram sci, especially 1 5 - 8 1 . 63. Gramsci saw this even before 1927. See “ The Mezzogiorno and Fascism ,” “ A Study of the Italian Situation,” and “ Some Aspects of the Southern Question,” in Pre-Prison Writings, ed. Richard Bellamy, trans. Virginia C ox (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 2 6 0 - 6 4 , 2 8 8 - 3 0 0 , and 3 1 3 - 3 6 ; hereafter PPW.
Risorgimento. The National Fascist Party (PNF) was the concrete expression of a particular formulation of the Italian question, of a romantic departure from the Enlightenment liberalism that had given structure to earlier Italian claims. Gramsci himself had to confront this. This is why, as he would write to his sister-in-law, he was interested in “ delineating several characteristic moments in the history of Italian intellectuals . . . to delve more deeply into the concept of the state and . . . to understand more fully certain aspects of the historical development of the Italian people.” 64 Already in 1926, writing about the Southern Question, he had begun to examine this problem. In a major essay he wrote at the time, he reiterated his views about the M ezzogiorno’s colonial status and the implications of this for various class alliances. This had been apparent during the Red Biennium, when it became incumbent upon the Party to modify its own political stance and general ideology to take account of the fact that, “ as a national element that exists within the overall structure of State life,” the working class could easily fall prey to the views of the Northern bourgeois. These used Southern troops to suppress Northern workers, while presenting the Southerners as natural barbarians whose ascriptive characteristics had caused both their region’s poverty and the nation’s problems.65 Yet, the problem of the Mezzogiorno went beyond this and had very much to do with the level of development of the relations of production and with the critical role Southern intellectuals played in Italian culture and govern ment. Southerners were overrepresented in the literary and philosophical life of the country, and they also made up much of the staff of the state, particularly at the middle layers. In good measure because of the region’s economic backwardness, the “ old model of intellectual” prevailed, and it was this stratum that mediated the links between peasants and great landowners, forming a “ monstrous agrarian bloc which . . . functioned] as an intermediary and overseer for Northern capitalism .” 66 The Southern Question, thus, was both an aspect of the Italian question, of the unity of the nation, and an aspect of the social question, of the unity of the masses. The relations of production, it seems, stood in contradiction with the Italy that the bourgeoisie had been trying to build since the early nineteenth century. This Italy, for Gramsci, embodied the paradox of “ a very young and a very old country at the same time (like Lao-tse born at the age of eighty).” And 64. Gramsci to Tatiana Schucht, 3 August 1931 Letters from Prison, 2 :5 1 -5 2 . 65. PPW, 316. 66. PPW, 331.
this paradox, he would observe once in prison, was nowhere more visible than in the absence of a common popular vernacular. In Italy, there had long existed a correspondence between social strata and their vernaculars, as well as benefits associated with some vernaculars because of the level of cultural development and social elaboration they reflected. Because of the location of the papacy, Italian intellectuals had once had a cosmopolitan quality in which Latin, particularly literary Latin as the common church language, had played a special role. This was an advantage for them, but a disadvantage for Italy because it had permitted the diremption between the literary language of Italy and the multiplicity of dialects emerging from the vulgate. Thus, while Latin had been held constant, while it had crystallized into the language of the intellectuals (“ middle,” or Medieval, Latin), the vulgates had grown into different languages.67 Gramsci traced the transformation of Latin into something other than a “ national, historically living language,” to stress the “ split between the people and the intellectuals, between the people and culture,” which already presented itself by the time of the Renaissance. This is why, once the communes grew, beginning in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, new vernaculars began to be written down. Among these, Florentine, the lan guage of Dante and, later, Machiavelli, took on a hegemonic position. It became, Gramsci wrote not without irony, a “ volgare illustre,” an illustrious vulgar language, that had been “ elaborated by the intellectuals of the old tradition.” It used Florentine words and sounds, but Latin syntax. It was this combination that earned it a victory over Latin. But this victory was not enough to turn it into a common vulgate, because, with the collapse of the communal system, the popular/bourgeois intellectuals who had first con structed it were absorbed into the traditional (i.e., church-affiliated) stratum of intellectuals. The results were a language that was not popular and a large gap between the intellectuals and the “ people-nation.” 68 Thus the divisions 67. Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Cultural Writings, ed. David Forgacs and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, trans. William Boelhower (Cambridge, M ass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), 1 6 7 - 6 8 ; hereafter SCW. 68. SCW , 168, 169, and 167; see generally 1 6 7 -7 1 . The Italian for “ vulgate” and for “ vulgar” (roguish, uncouth) is volgare, giving the locution volgare illustre a curious bend that was apparent in the proud manner in which Dante originally used the term in his own treatise on language: this was the language of the people standing up to the grandi (associated with the church) to produce its own culture. In short, volgare illustre reflects a “ counterhegemonic project” to transvalue the popular, or vulgar. For the Italian version, where the play on words is more evident, see Q C , 1 :3 5 4 -5 5 . For Gramsci’s views on the progressive and reactionary quality of Dante’s language politics, see SCW, 1 8 7 - 8 8 , and Q C , 2 :7 5 8 -6 0 .
in the language were a function of social fragmentation, which could only be remedied through the actions of organic intellectuals, that is, through the Party. To discern the full impact of this thesis, it is important to recall how Gramsci construed the term “ intellectual.” For him, the expression denoted a function rather than a category of people, or even a social layer: “ All men are intellectuals . . . but not all men have in society the function of intellectuals.” In the detail division of labor intellectual function was the creative element in human activity, so the intellectual function was also the coordinating element in the social division of labor once this involved the separation of conception from execution. Thus arose the distinction between “ organic” and “ traditional” intellectuals. The former were the carriers and interpreters of the specific conditions of their activity, a relation that included “ ecclesiastics” vis-à-vis the landed aristocracy, and efficiency ex perts vis-à-vis the bourgeoisie. However, the nature of their activity gave intellectuals a measure of independence from their class of origin, allowing them to develop an “ esprit de corps” and to survive even the most radical changes. As this occurred, formerly organic intellectuals became “ tradi tional” (e.g., priests and professors) and so the bearers of a sediment of conceptions and understandings. Consequently, their function became nonspecifically cultural and ideological: intellectuals expressed the terms of social integration.69 In Italy, however, traditional intellectuals had a cosmopolitan quality; that is to say that they were unable to grasp and to speak to the particular conditions of their societies. This is why, since the Risorgimento, intellectu als rooted in the bourgeoisie, and nationalist reformers in general, had sought to disseminate and cultivate Italian as part of their project. Conse quently, when Gramsci theorized the emergence of the question of language as reflective of problems of governance and of “ the need to establish more intimate and secure relationships between the governing groups and the national-popular mass . . . to reorganize the cultural hegemony,” 70 he was well in keeping with the self-understanding of the liberal promoters of the policy of grammatical standardization. Like them, he saw the main question of the age in terms of national unity. In fact, by tackling this self-understanding, he sought to appropriate it for M arxian political thought, thereby linking the socialist project to the national project. 69. SP N , 9; see generally 5 - 9 . 70. SCW, 1 8 3 -8 4 .
Gramsci aspired to capture the self-understanding of the Italianizers with the category of “ hegemony.” The provenance of the term itself has been the object of much dispute, but its centrality in the theoretical travails of Gramsci’s prison writings is beyond question.71 Two things, however, are clear: Gramsci did not use the term much before his 1 9 2 2 -2 4 stay in Moscow, and, more important, “ hegemony” played a significant role in his thought only after 1929. In most instances after this, as Femia observes, Gramsci used the term to signify direzione, that is, leadership, management, and instruction, particularly of the intellectual and moral type. This usage is at variance, but not, as Femia would have it, in contradiction, with Lenin’s notion of the hegemonic role of the proletariat within the bloc that would bring a bourgeois revolution to Russia due to its superior organization.72 In Gramsci’s hands hegemony was a cultural (i.e., intellectual) function that served in producing consent to the specificity of the ruling, or “ historic,” bloc. This role, however, was neither consistent nor fixed. As Anderson has argued, Gramsci used the term in at least three different ways, either to locate the element of consent in civil society and in direct opposition to the coercion residing exclusively in the state, or to signify a balance between the state and civil society where the latter included elements of coercion and consent, or, finally, to portray a relationship where the state included both political and civil society, thereby politicizing the apparatuses of consent.73 It would be wrong, in this connection, to seek a coherence and consistency in Gramsci’s thought that is plainly not there. Nonetheless, it seems clear that the methodological issue Gramsci was wrestling with was the criteria for “ the supremacy of a social group.” These, he held, had to be grounded in the proposition that supremacy became manifest in two ways: “ as ‘domina tion,’ and as ‘intellectual and moral leadership.’ ” 74 Indeed, in bourgeois
71. Perry Anderson, in a seminal article, traces the notion back to Plekhanov, and later to Lenin and even to Bukharin. Stalin, too, on occasion, used the term. However, as Femia points out, the Russians gave it a purely political and instrumental interpretation with which Gramsci sought to break. Richard Bellamy contends that, whatever the Russian developments, Gramsci’s source was to be found in the Italian debates of the nineteenth century and in Croce’s work. See Anderson, “ The Antinomies of Antonio Gram sci,” New Left Review, no. 100 (November 1 97 6-Jan u ary 1977): 1 5 - 1 8 ; Femia, Gramsci s Political Thought, 257; and Richard Bellamy, “ Gramsci, Croce, and the Italian Political Tradition,” History o f Political Thought 11 (summer 1990): 3 1 3 - 3 7 . 72. Femia, G ram sci’s Political Thought, 2 4 - 2 5 . Lenin explores this role of the proletariat in Two Tactics o f Social Dem ocracy, in LCW , 9 :1 5 -1 4 0 ; see especially 4 8 - 6 1 . 73. Anderson, “ The Antinomies of Antonio G ram sci,” 2 6 - 3 4 and elsewhere. 74. 5PN, 57.
society, if not elsewhere, intellectual and moral leadership was indispensable for the preservation of domination. The larger point— and herein lies the key to Gramsci’s contribution— was that social integration, at the level of culture and ideology, involved more than coercion. It required the triumph of a particular worldview and its attendant concepts, theoretical structures, and, more generally, values, a triumph that might precede the conquest of state power: “ A social group can, and indeed must, already exercise ‘lead ership’ before winning governmental power . . . it subsequently becomes dominant when it exercises power.” 75 Consequently, political action was always also a cultural contest for the terms in which national and popular themes might be linked. The practice of hegemony in modern politics was at the same time the practice of leadership in the definition of the nation. This concern with culture may suggest a parallel with Bauer’s earlier formulations. Yet, despite the apparent similarity between the Gramscian notion of hegemonic struggle and the Kulturkam pf of Bauer and the Austrian Social Democrats, the two positions are quite different. For Bauer, the proletariat was involved in a struggle to recover cultural goods that the ruling classes had denied it. Nationality was a cultural given in which tools for individual enlightenment and social growth could be found. Thus, for example, an Austro-Marxist would promote classical music for the masses, with a view to returning to them what was theirs. For Gramsci, the struggle was over whose ideas would become dominant and so shape the nation itself. His very notion of leadership included the capacity to define the terms of social integration (consent), and so of culture, for the purpose of hege monic struggle was to attain power. Perhaps the best way of illustrating this connection, as well as the distinction between the two views of culture, is by way of a discussion of Gramsci’s well-known use of the metaphor of war in connection with political conflict and social integration. Unlike the Austrians, he sought to involve the Party in the creation of cultural forms and expressions as weapons. Gramsci used the imagery of war and the language of military tactics to indicate the kinds of strategies the PCI ought to follow, and to draw more general “ lessons” on the nature of politics and society and on the meaning of the people-nation. He presented this analysis as a debate with Trotsky (“ Bronstein” ) and the ultraradical position in the Comintern that called for a “ permanent revolution.”
75. SPN, 5 7 - 5 8 .
Gramsci considered this formulation inappropriate and mechanistic. As a strategy it presupposed that the state, as a coercive apparatus, was the primary support for capitalist social relations, that these had little popular support, and that the state was weak in any case. Gramsci opposed this strategy, arguing that the frontal assault it proposed, the “ war of maneuver,” could never be the general rule without this leading to neglect of the necessary preparations. O f course, there could arise situations where a frontal attack was possible and even useful. However, making such a judgment “ required a reconnaissance of the terrain and identification of the elements of trench and fortress represented by the elements of civil society, etc. In Russia the State was everything, civil society was primordial and gelatinous; in the West, there was a proper relation between State and civil society, and when the State trembled a sturdy structure of civil society was at once revealed. The State was only an outer ditch, behind which there stood a powerful system of fortresses and earthworks.” 76 This imagery suggests an effort to draw the appropriate lessons from Machiavelli’s advice about the value of force for retaining a state and, conversely, for acquiring one. To recall, the Florentine observed that there were no definite precepts that fit all the circumstances of princes who wished to preserve their hold on the state. In particular, he held that employing fortresses was not uniformly useful: “ [T]hat prince who is more afraid of the people than of foreigners should build fortresses; but that one who is more afraid of foreigners than of the people should not be concerned with them.” But, he proceeded, “ the best fortress that exists is not to be hated by the people, because, though you may have fortresses, they will not save you if the people hate you.” 77 If, then, we consider the party of the working class as representing a new prince, it is clear that a frontal attack against an ensemble of social relations that rely exclusively on the protection of the coercive apparatus has the potential for victory. The only imponderables are technical issues of military action. On the other hand, where the people feel part of the existing order, a war of maneuver against the official apparatus of violence is unlikely to earn a victory, and likely to result in war against the people themselves. In this
76. SPN, 238. 77. Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. and ed. M ark M usa (New York: St. M artin’s Press, 1962), 1 8 1 - 8 2 . For an interesting examination of the relationship between Gramsci and Machiavelli, see Benedetto Fontana, Hegemony and Power (Minneapolis: University of M in nesota Press, 1993).
situation, the question is political, rather than strictly military. Russia in 1917 was like the prince who had vast fortresses but was hated by the people. Germany in 1923 and presumably Italy in 1 9 3 0 -3 2 were not. There even the unlikely collapse of the military forces would not leave the whole complex of social relations exposed, because this complex included its owns defenses. As Machiavelli put it, “ [I]t is not fortresses but the wills of men that keep rulers in power.” 78 Consequently, the problem for Gramsci was to capture the “ wills of men.” Also, interestingly enough coming from a figure so closely associated with the establishment of the most centralist of the Internationals, the problem could not be resolved without directly engaging the specifically local situa tion. The correct strategy had to take into account the depth and resilience of the defenses, that is, of the local culture and its national-popular impli cations. Consequently, it involved a long-term struggle, a “ war of position.” The contenders in this trench warfare were parties rooted in classes and aiming to wear away at their opponent’s defenses so as to gain the “ wills of men.” What really mattered in this strategy was not the trenches themselves, not any particular action or sum of actions, but “ the whole organisational and industrial system of the territory which [lay] to the rear of the army in the field.” What happened in this war was a reciprocal siege, with each party attempting to gain intellectual and moral ground. They employed compre hensive approaches aimed at replacing other organizations, particularly cultural ones, in the loyalties of their members so as to organize class and group alliances in stable blocs. In short, each party was the bearer of a level of civilization that it sought to make hegemonic in confrontation with its opponents. The object of this confrontation was to (re)organize national society.79 The point is that the “ modern prince” (the Party)80 no longer had a choice between being loved and being feared, because political power was national and it involved coercion and consent. Gramsci argued that, since the beginning of modernity (Machiavelli’s day), the entire development of state and civil society could be characterized as the enhancement of the role of 78. Niccolò Machiavelli, The D iscourses, ed. Bernard Crick, trans. Leslie Walker, as revised by Brian Richardson (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1979), 356. 79. 5PN, 234; see generally 2 3 3 - 3 9 . See also 2 5 7 - 6 5 . 80. “ The modern prince, the myth-prince . . . can only be an organism, a complex element of society in which a collective will, which has already been recognised and has to some extent asserted itself in action, begins to take concrete form. History has already provided this organism, and it is the political party.” SPN, 128.
consent because the masses had been mobilized and “ politics [had been] grafted directly on to the economy.” 81 Politics, of course, retained the same “ quality of autonomous activity” Machiavelli had disclosed when he “ indi cate^] that there exist two cultures— that of the rulers and that of the ruled.” 82 This meant that the state, understood as the exercise of power (dictatorship), did not embody the whole of the defenses. In fact, the nature of the state itself had changed. It could no longer be regarded simply as a “ coercive apparatus meant to mould the popular mass in accordance with the type of production and economy at a given moment. ” Rather, it had to be understood as “ a balance” between political (i.e., coercive) and social (i.e., normative) functions, in other words, as “ the hegemony of a social group over the entire national society.” 83 And the nation expressed the assimilation of the ruled by the rulers. The question of hegemony was directly related to the national question and through it to the question of social transformation, of socialism. The national task preceded the social task. One illustration of this, for Gramsci, was to be found in the structural and conjunctural conditions affecting Italian national unity and the inability of the Italian bourgeoisie to consolidate it in political and cultural terms. During the Risorgimento, they had relied on the “ binding together of the various rural classes . . . in a reactionary bloc by means of the various legitimist-clerical intellectual strata.” This had been a capitulation to the landed interests of the South and had resulted in the inability to unify Italy during the first half of the nineteenth century. Indeed, Gramsci argued, even the moderates, who had so influenced Mazzini and Garibaldi, insisted on forming a “ national bloc” that prized unity above all other interests. Later, the Italian would-be Jacobins (the Action Party) were still unable to lead the bourgeoisie in mobilizing the peasantry and other classes in a bloc akin to the French Third Estate. In effect, Gramsci held that the problem of the unification of Italy and the related failure to create a “ compact modern” nation had been the direct result of the Northern bourgeoisie’s reluctance to confront the agrarian question in the South. Doing so would have mobilized the peasants much as, in his view, land reform in revolutionary France had
81. SPN, 259. 82. SP N , 134. “ Machiavelli examines especially the questions of higher politics . . . questions of dictatorship and hegemony on a broad scale, namely the whole area of the state.” Q C, 3:1564. 83. Gramsci to Tatiana Schucht, 7 September 1931, in Letters from Prison, 67.
overcome the nationalist resistance of the Vendée and integrated it into the new nation, with a bourgeois state and a bourgeoisie that was “ the leading, hegemonic class of the nation.” 84 Thus, for Gramsci, Italian unity was closely related to the integration of the peasantry, that is, the popular and precapitalist element, into the nation. Indeed, one of his earliest uses of the term “ hegemony” was in a 1924 article for U Or dine Nuovo where he broached the issue of the Mezzogiorno (the South) and the national program of the Fascists. He held that the problem of the relations between the “ State/government” and the South was critical to an understanding of the policies of the PNF. The Mussolini approach to the Southern Question, he argued, was a continuation of the Giolitti strategy, which had relied on protection for latifondi-based agriculture and on opening representation for sectional interests, with a view to making narrow concessions. Nonetheless, the PNF version of the surrender of principle to short-term expediency, “ transformism,” was even less likely to succeed than the old one because peasant emigration, the safety valve for the established interests of the South, was now closed. M ost important, for current pur poses, Gramsci argued that it was recognition of the inadequacy of Fascist tactics that guided the oppositional stance of the two great bourgeois papers of the North. Among these, L a Stampa in fact advocated a coalition of the Radical Party and the PSI (but not the PCI) because it saw the solution to the Southern Question as drawing “ the cream of the workers into the Piedmon tese and Northern governing hegemony . . . [thereby] decapitating the revolutionary forces of the South at a national level, and preventing the possibility of an alliance between the peasant masses of the South . . . and the industrial working class of the N orth.” 85 L a Stampa understood that, at the political level, the problem was the terms of national integration. This was something that the organic intellectuals of the proletariat (i.e., the Party) had to realize as well, because the real Italian question was how and on whose terms integration would occur. An adequate answer was a precondi tion for socialism. The Fascists, of course, already understood this. “ To a large extent,” as
84. SP N , 76 and 79; see generally 7 2 - 8 0 . 85. Antonio Gramsci, “ The Mezzogiorno and Fascism ,” in PPW, 261; see generally 2 6 0 - 6 4 . Gramsci also saw the united front in this manner: “ The purpose of the united front is to foster unity of action on the part of the working class and the alliance between workers and peasants.” Gramsci, “ A Study of the Italian Situation,” in PPW, 290. Obviously, his under standing here is closer to Lenin’s view of hegemony.
Christopher Duggan has argued, “ fascism was an attempt to construct a national community in Italy.” 86 It was this issue of politics and culture that Gramsci recognized by means of the formulation of the “ people-nation,” a term meant to highlight the relationship between intellectuals and masses. In these terms the problem with the Italian Jacobins, the old Action Party, and so its inability break with the Southern landowners was that it was “ steeped in the traditional rhetoric of Italian literature. It confused the cultural unity which existed in the peninsula— confined, however, to a very thin stratum of the population and polluted by the Vatican’s cosmopolitanism— with the political and territorial unity of the great popular masses, who were foreign to that cultural tradition and who, even supposing that they knew of its existence, couldn’t care less about it.” In other words, the Action Party and its successors had been oblivious to the necessity of ensuring a “ bond between town and country.” 87 This was evident in their commitment to “ passive revolution,” that is, to a revolution that did not aim to mobilize the masses, though it could hardly fail to do so. Theirs were the politics of a ruling class, but those of one incapable of establishing its hegemony over society. It was from this weakness that their need to resort to a new form of “ Caesarism ,” fascism, emerged. Yet, the Fascists too were unable to identify, let alone resolve, the problem. For example, the Fascist critics were puzzled by the continued lack of “ popularity” of Italian culture, of its literature and particularly its novels.88 The immediate object of their puzzlement was the “ popularity” of serialized nineteenth-century French novels (such as The Count o f Monte Cristo) and the utter failure of Italian newspapers to publish Italian literature. The real problem for Gramsci, on the other hand, was not that the publishers were out of touch with and perhaps contemptuous of their readers, as the Fascists held, but that “ the entire ‘educated class,’ with its intellectual activity at all levels [was] detached from the people-nation, not because the latter [had] not shown itself . . . to be interested in this activity at all levels, from the lowest (dreadful serial novels) to the highest— indeed it [sought] out foreign books for this purpose— but because in relation to the people-nation the indigenous intellectual element [was] more foreign than the foreigners.” The intellectuals in question were traditional in the sense that they had emerged
86. Duggan, Concise History o f Italy, 221. 87. SPN, 63, italics added. 88. To some extent, Italian opera was widely received and filled the gap, but incompletely. For Gramsci’s views on opera as a popular art form, see SCW, 2 0 3 - 5 , 3 7 7 - 8 0 .
from an elite with no organic ties to a larger population whose cultural points of reference were simply different. These traditional intellectuals, in fact, formed a caste unable to exert moral and intellectual hegemony because it had no connection with the social and cultural conditions of the people. There was, in the real Italy, “ no national intellectual and moral bloc.” 89 Behind this position lay the rather problematic proposition that people can only relate to ideas and themes that reflect their conditions and experi ence. It is certainly true that people are often reluctant to engage aesthetics and ideas that are foreign. At the same time, it is also true that cultural products can travel (witness Hollywood movies, even in Gramsci’s day) because people can imagine themselves in a different reality, albeit one built within their own frame of reference. Nonetheless, this proposition about the necessary coincidence of taste and location permitted Gramsci to provide a cultural justification for his own long-term understanding of the political project of the proletariat in Italy: “ finishing the bourgeoisie’s work off and unifying the Italian people economically and spiritually.” 90 For this, the concept of the people-nation was important: it proposed that the proletariat, led by its party, could develop its own hegemonic practice and form a “ historic bloc” (a stable alliance of classes) because it, like the peasantry, was popular, and could thus establish its conception of the national as the precondition for socialism. The concept of the people-nation emphasized the conceptual distance between the national and the popular, between the political-juridical claims of collective existence and sociocultural reality. This distance was particu larly evident in Italy because there the language itself distinguished between national (nazionale) and popular (popolare— of the people). This was in clear contrast to the German and Slavic languages, in which the two were almost synonymous, and to the French, in which the national included a politically developed idea of popular sovereignty. On the other hand, in “ Italy the term ‘national’ [had] an ideologically very restricted meaning, and [did] not in any case coincide with ‘popular’ because in Italy the intellectuals [were] distant from the people, i.e. from the ‘nation.’ ” 91 That “ Italian” cultural forms were not widely accepted was an indication of a deficient social and political integration. It suggested that the people (“ the sum total
89. SCW , 210, 207, and 209; see generally 2 0 7 - 1 1 . 90. “ The Livorno Congress,” in PPW, 210. 91. SCW , 208.
of the instrumental and subaltern classes” )92 was different from the nation. Effectively, no hegemonic formation was expressed, for example, in the language question, itself nothing other than a reflection of the problem of “ the moral and intellectual unity of the nation and the state.” 93 For Gramsci, then, modern nations were the products of hegemonic and counterhegemonic projects that integrated the various elements of society in the terms of some ruling class, or bloc. The raw material from which nations were built was vast and varied, so integration was not spontaneous. What was at stake was a counterhegemonic project to build a new civilization inside the old one, a civilization that was itself a tactical product of an emerging party that embodied the interests of a social element. This, in turn, given his expansive understanding of the state as the politics of coercion and consent, meant that the politics of social transformation became the politics of nation and state building. In effect, national unity, particularly under conditions of uneven capitalist development, replaced capitalism as the precondition for socialism. Indeed, despite the superficial similarities, Gramsci’s formulation of the national question is quite different from the views of earlier socialists. Admittedly, he did take a step in the direction of the Red republicanism of M arx and Engels; however, the institutional and normative referents were different because the purposes were different. For M arx and Engels, the point was to make a class movement of international proportions that transcended political and cultural boundaries. Consequently, for them, unlike for Gramsci, national states and democratic institutions had a value in relation to their contribution to the international socialist struggle. Also, like Bakunin, Gramsci held out a special role for the popular element embodied in the peasantry. Finally, like Lenin, he subordinated his view of the national project to his party strategy. Yet, for Gramsci, the point was to make a political unit, a state, that would be the political expression of a working class led by its party, and would have a cultural and communal element to support the development of socialism in a land where capitalist development was, at best, incomplete. In this way, Gramsci also pointed the way to later developments.
92. SCW, 189. 93. SCW, 210. See also SCW, 1 8 7 - 8 8 , 2 4 6 - 4 7 ; SPN, 1 1 3 - 1 4 ; Q C , 3:2113.
National Liberation Marxism In M ay of 1943 Stalin ordered the dissolution of the Communist Interna tional.94 His intention was to persuade Roosevelt and Churchill to open a second front in the West by reassuring them that the USSR had no intention of promoting revolution abroad. This move made sense given the Stalinist answer to Lenin’s query about the meaning of internationalism: support for a strong Soviet state. The Comintern, thus, had lost its purpose. Its termi nation only recognized its obsolescence in view of the fact that, after 1923, M oscow had little interest either in world revolution or in any kind of internationalism that did not translate into blind support for the “ homeland of socialism.” From the perspective of the issue that concerns us here, the national question, the disbanding of the International only confirmed the new theoretical relation its thinkers had forged between nations and social ism. This legacy would bear fruit in the postbellum era as national liberation Marxism. The theoretical developments concerning the Left and the international labor movement in the post-Comintern and post-W orld War II era must be seen in light of the bipolar world order that emerged from the conflagration and quickly deteriorated into the Cold War.95 The latter was, in fact, a “ hot w ar” in the areas located at the periphery of capitalist modernity, what came to be called the Third World. There the main concerns were related first to the collapse of the European empires and second to the political and economic order the United States sought to forge. In such a context, the theme of national self-determination flourished. O f course, prewar events, particularly in China, already prefigured these developments. By 1938, for example, M ao could write that “ in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism.” 96 At that time, the main activity of the interna tional labor movement was still concentrated in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in North America and Japan. After 1946, however, the conflicts 94. For the Comintern’s part during World War II and the years immediately before, see Braunthal, History o f the International, 2 :4 9 3 -3 0 ; see also Claudín, The Communist Move ment, 1 :2 9 4 -3 0 4 . Degras includes the ECCI Presidium’s final resolution in The Communist International, 3 :4 7 7 -7 9 . 95. For a recent account of the Cold War, see M artin Walker, The Cold War: A History (New York: Henry Holt, 1994). 96. M ao Tse-tung, “ The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War,” in Selected Readings from the Works o f M ao Tsetung (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1971), 140.
between Social Democrats and Communists took on a different character as the former became clearly identified with the Western “ cam p” and the latter, though with significant exceptions especially after 1953 and again after 1969, continued their subservience to Moscow, this time undisguised by an International.97 For different reasons, then, both elements of the labor movement in the West moved away from radicalism. At the same time, in the Third World, rebellion was afoot. The list of national liberation revolutions in the postwar era is long indeed. Suffice it to say that in 1938 only countries in Europe and the Americas (with some exceptions), as well as China, Japan, and one or two small Asian kingdoms, were sovereign states. Today, almost all the countries in the world are. The change was in large part the outcome of a string of anticolonial movements and revolutions, themselves largely the result of the wartime disruption of the old empires and the emergence of a bipolar world led by two countries that, for different reasons, were committed to antico lonial principles (of course, in practice both violated this) and did not in fact have a major stake in traditional overseas colonies. However, despite this commonality, when the anticolonial rebellions gained force, they rarely turned to the United States for support. Of course, not all national liberation movements claimed M arxism. Yet, many national liberation revolutions took on a M arxist flavor partly be cause their leaders were often Western educated and had spent much of their time in the metropolis in leftist circles, partly because the imperial powers happened to be Western liberal states, partly because Lenin’s analysis of imperialism offered a compelling explanation of the position of their coun tries in the world order, partly because of the postwar prestige of the Soviet Union, and partly because of that state’s own stake in challenging the prevailing world order. Despite this, the relationship between these revolu tions, M arxism , and democracy was always complex. More often than not, national liberation revolutions presented themselves as struggles against imperialism, poverty, and dictatorship. In retrospect, some of these revolutionary regimes, most notably in Cuba, have signifi 97. For the course of the Western labor movement during the Cold War, see Bronner, Moments o f Decision, 7 7 - 1 0 0 ; see also Ralph Miliband, Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contemporary Capitalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 6 9 - 9 4 . On the Com munist parties in the West, see Heinz Timmermann, The Decline o f the World Communist Movement: Moscow; Beijing, and the Communist Parties in the West (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, Westview Special Study, 1987), and Richard Lowenthal, World Communism: The Disintegration o f a Secular Faith (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964).
cantly alleviated the misery and suffering of their worst-off citizens. Yet, most of them have failed to establish broadly democratic polities or even to steer a significantly independent course in the waters of international relations. This assessment, however, must be qualified. First, an important exception to this pattern is Nicaragua, where the pre-W orld War I Leninist projection has apparently been realized: a revolutionary movement of workers and peasants, led by a coalition of parties in which the Communists became hegemonic, brought about a liberal democratic republic where the bourgeoisie had proved unable to do so. Second, it is important to note that no Third World democracy has ever been overthrown by a leftist party or group. Indeed, in at least one case, the tragedy of Allende’s Chile, a long-standing democracy was destroyed by a Right bent on preventing socialism, while the liberal Center stood by. More often than not, the role of Moscow-supported Communist parties in the post-W orld War II national liberation movements was mostly symbolic, their main contribution being theoretical and rhetorical rather than practi cal. Soviet foreign policy usually sought allies and so was willing to assist regimes like that of Nasser (which did claim socialism) even as they sup pressed their own Communist parties. Furthermore, in contrast with the Cold War myth fostered by both sides, the official Communist parties of the Third World were rarely revolutionary. In fact, outside the areas occupied by the Red Army, Communist parties rarely attained power with M oscow ’s blessing. For example, Stalin encouraged the Chinese Communists to reach an agreement with the Nationalists after World War II. In Latin America, the Communists were committed to policies that stressed national unity, oppo sition to populism, and, until well into the 1960s, the curious proposition that Latin America was a feudal area and thus unprepared for socialism. In 1953, for example, the official Communist Party termed the famous Castroist assault on the M oncada Barracks “ bourgeois-putschist tactics” and called for a “ National Democratic Front.” 98 Indeed, the Cuban Communists remained passive throughout the decade, and it was not until 1962, three years after Castro’s accession to power, that they became significant partici pants in “ The Revolution.” Yet, despite the regularity with which Communist parties opposed na
98. A. Diaz, “ The Popular Socialist Party and the Cuban Revolution,” in M arxism in Latin America from 1909 to the Present: An Anthology, ed. Michael Löwy, trans. Michael Perelman (Atlantic Highlands, N .J.: Humanities Press, 1992), 153, 155.
tional revolutions only later to claim credit for them, many Third World radicals and many of their counterparts in the West came to adopt a version of M arxism that stressed the right of nations to self-determination, now conceived of as liberation. Their analysis stressed the low level of economic development of their countries, the link between their underdevelopment and the development of the First World, and a new understanding of internationalism as solidarity among the oppressed peoples of the world. In fact, since the end of the Second World War a variety of formulations have emerged in the Third World, ranging from the syncretisms of Kim II Sung and Abimael Guzmán (Shining Path) to the liberation theologies of Camilo Torres and of the 1968 Medellin Bishops’ Conference," to the outright nationalism of Frantz Fanon, to the liberal-reformist theories of the Argentine economist Raúl Prebisch and the seminal work of writers like Fernando Flenrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto. Despite their otherwise significant differences, all of these figures share an understanding that locates their political project by reference to an analysis of imperialism and seeks a solution at the level of the autonomy of their “ people” from global capitalism (though not necessarily from local capitalism). Indeed, for the most radical among them, class issues fade into international issues because they estimate that the ruling classes and elites of the Third World (even the “ decolonialized” Third World) either are incapable of offering resistance to foreign exploitation or are in fact a part of this process of exploitation. In this respect, Ernesto “ Che” Guevara probably expressed the position (and its genesis) most clearly when he upheld the need to see that “ imperialism is a world system, the final state of capitalism, and that . . . the role that falls to us, the exploited and underdeveloped of the world, is to eliminate the foundations of imperialism: our oppressed nations.” 100 Thus, where the Internationals had spoken of class struggle and wondered about the nation in terms of its meaning for class solidarity, the Left during the postwar era
99. Its main document began: “ ‘If development is the new name for peace,’ Latin American underdevelopment . . . is an unjust situation promoting tensions which conspire against peace.” The opening words are quoted from Paul VI. As cited in Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology o f Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, rev. ed., trans. Matthew J. O ’Connell (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1988), 159. 100. Ernesto Guevara, “ M essage to the Tricontinental Congress,” in Marxism in Latin America from 1909 to the Present, 182. See also M arta Harnecker, Los conceptos generates del materialismo histórico, rev. ed. (Mexico, D.F.: Siglo X X I, 1973), one of the most influential theoretical works of 1970s Latin American M arxism.
construed self-determination as national liberation and wondered about the terms for solidarity among nations to overcome economic underdevelop ment. The Third International theorists and their formulations of the national question prepared the ground for this transformation. Stalin’s influence was especially significant, again not because the Soviet Union encouraged Com munist subversion in the colonial and semicolonial areas (mostly it did not), but because his interpretation of Lenin’s theories of imperialism and nation alities linked national liberation and socialism while changing the priority each would be given. This began with his (and Lenin’s) concern with national minorities, but, soon after the October Revolution, formulations about a traditional empire, transposed onto the global scene, served to join a program to build “ socialism in one country” with a rhetoric of anticolo nialism and anti-imperialism in the form of national self-determination. And this, in turn, came to be seen in terms of its meaning for a developmentalist project. Both in its elaboration of the doctrine of “ socialism in one country” and in its confrontation with colonialism, Stalinism emphasized economic devel opment to address the patent technical inferiority of the peripheral coun tries, the heroism of the struggle to create socialism out of poverty, the availability of national cultures as forms that could be imbued with new content, and, perhaps most important, the foreignness of the opponent. In effect, by declaring the victory of socialism, Stalin had removed the class issue from the “ domestic” agenda. Even when he claimed that class contra dictions grew more intense during the period of socialist construction, he did so in a way that transformed the class struggle into an national struggle. Thus, the internationalism of the preceding Internationals lost its promi nence in the theory and practice of the Comintern, and, after the Second World War, so did the working class. This, in turn, made historical materi alism available for a doctrine of national liberation in places where the proletariat was even less prominent than in 1917 Russia. M arxism could become the foundation for a doctrine joining the unarticulated egalitarian aspirations of the poverty-stricken masses of the Third World, the national agendas of the westernized elites, and the experience of humiliation at the hands of colonialists and foreign elites which they both often shared. The winner was nationalism. Similarly, it was the national aspect that had priority for Gramsci when he referred to the absurdity of “ nonnational concepts” and spoke of the
necessity that a “ class that is national has . . . to ‘nationalise’ itself.” 101 This is not to say that Gramsci did not pay heed to an international perspective, or that his appeals were purely nationalist. Rather, his approach addressed the cultural dimension while proposing yet another “ revolution against Capital.” It did this through a critique of “ economism” that aimed to put socialism on the agenda in another semiperipheral society. This required an emphasis on culture as an instrument of struggle that had its own rhythms and could overcome the constant droning of the dynamics of the accumu lation process. Thus national construction also became a proletarian project, or rather a party task, not only in the sense of establishing institutions but in the sense of creating normative conditions with local and parochial reference points and appeals to the traditional attachments of the peasantry. Gramsci saw that the bourgeoisie was incapable of “ crystallizing” Italy and made this the mission of his modern prince. In so doing, Gramsci replaced the extension of democracy as the object of socialist action with the reconstruc tion of the nation, itself conceived in cultural and instrumental, rather than civic or institutional, terms. The goal of the counterhegemonic struggle was to build a new people-nation. In his prison writings, Gramsci generally presented the notion of hege mony in terms of “ groups” that formed blocs, and most interpreters have held that by “ group” he usually meant class. This was certainly true, but the fact is that Gramsci, like Lenin, did not need the class as such to guide his project: solidarity was embodied in the party, and internationalism in the Comintern. Thus, when theorists associated with a later Left argued that the logic of his theory of hegemony “ does not unfold all of its deconstructive effects on the theoretical terrain of classical M arxism ,” 102 they are mostly right: any “ group” might fit the designation, because it is the privileged position of the Party that brings this vision into focus. Without this vanguard party, any number of claims and projects acquire validity. This is why a later Left in the West, since the late 1960s or 1970s, has sought to adapt the Gramscian legacy to the elaboration of its own anti-imperialist views and its support for national liberation struggles in the Third World and social liberation struggles in the First. Unfortunately, the political pitfalls of such an approach become clearer
101. SPN , 241. 102. Laclau and Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, 85.
every day. First of all, after its “ retreat from class,” 103 the Left is now incapable of offering a response to the hegemony of economic neoliberalism. The result is the absence of any effort to formulate an alternative vision capable of sustaining the broad appeal that national liberation M arxism once had but now seems to have lost in most of the world. M ost seriously, there is a complete paralysis before exclusivist and reactionary claims rooted in the experience of oppressed peoples and now framed as emancipatory projects against an overbearing universalism. Indeed, only one among the categories elaborated in the century and a half of debates in the international labor movement seems to retain currency. This is the notion that national self-determination is a fundamental right. But this notion only acquires meaning within historically specific condi tions. It is precisely from the point of view of these conditions that it is necessary to elaborate a long-overdue critique of the concept of national self-determination. This critique must reconsider the relationship between the concepts of democracy and national sovereignty for an era in which economic globalization is regulated and legitimated through new interna tional institutions. It must examine the ongoing transformation of key social forces in the countries at the center of capitalist modernity. It must also highlight the continuing importance for progressive politics of solidarity with the South, where the vast majority of humanity still resides under conditions of appalling material scarcity and continued authoritarian rule. It must, in short, recover its cosmopolitan intent as a critical standard that informs any attempt to formulate an alternative vision of the human world.
103. Ellen Meiksins Wood argues this case at length in The Retreat from Class: A New “ True” Socialism (New York: Verso, 1986).
BETWEEN COSMOPOLITAN INTENT AND SELF-DETERMINATION The peoples of the earth have thus entered in varying degrees into a universal community. . . . The idea of a cosmopolitan right is therefore not fantastic and over strained; it is a necessary complement to the unwritten code of political and international right, transforming it into a universal right of humanity. — Immanuel Kant, “ Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch”
Rather than elaborate general theories of the nation, the internationalist thinkers associated with the labor movement constructed sophisticated understandings of nations and nationalism by reference to the specific conjunctures of their times. In contrast to the conventional view that socialists, and especially M arxists, have dismissed or underestimated nation alism, the thinkers discussed in this study posed the national question very much as a key aspect of their political practice. Rhetorical flourishes aside, they were always aware of the potential allure nationalism held for the working class. This was an attraction rooted in the democratic ideal of people determining their own destiny in solidarity, that is, in the mostly unfulfilled promises of socialism, nationalism, of universal community and, indeed, modernity. O f course, the theorists of the international labor movement approached the idea of the nation in terms of what it meant for socialism rather than as
an end to be pursued. This is why nationalists, and for that matter many proponents of oppositional politics centered around group-identity claims, will never be satisfied with an internationalist labor approach. Nonetheless, conceiving the nation as a problem is not the same as saying that it is politically epiphenomenal, or even that it holds no attraction for the working class. Claiming that workers and even socialists have, again and again, succumbed to the appeal of nationalism1 simply misses the point: this is precisely what the most radical internationalists, like Luxemburg, feared. More to the point, one would be hard-pressed to find an instance where taking up the banner of nationalism, whether by workers or an element of their movement, did not end in disaster. Recognizing the importance of nationalism need not lead to adopting it as a goal without reference to the broader concerns of establishing a more humane global society. At their origin, anarchism and socialism sought to create a universal community of free human beings. To this end, the thinkers of the First International drew on existing radical traditions and focused on the relationship between state and society. Baku nin’s work, despite some significant breaks, was very much rooted in the early tradition of romantic nationalism that had begun with the Brothers Grimm and Rousseau and had already differentiated itself from the demo cratic tradition by 1848. He sought to develop the anticapitalist features inherent in this nationalism by recalling a purportedly harmonious world of peasants and local folk communities that had existed before the advent of industrialization, rationalization, and commodification. While this picture was little more than a nationalist invention, a rejection of ustatism ” differ entiated Bakunin from other nationalists, both contemporary and subse quent, as did his affiliation with the International. Although he never managed to elaborate a coherent vision of the nation, his insistence on these
1. Franz Borkenau, for example, says that “ [i]n the political field nationalism is the fact against which the M arxist theory breaks itself. Here is a force which has proved definitely stronger in the modern world than the class struggle which for orthodox M arxists makes the essence of history. ” World Communism: A History o f the Communist International, with an introduction by Raymond Aron (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1971), 94. For a more sympathetic observer who nonetheless shares this assessment, see, for example, John Schwarzmantel, Socialism and the Idea o f the Nation (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), 4 3 - 4 8 , 133, 1 9 7 -2 0 3 . Similarly, Cedric J. Robinson combines this claim with a reference to a centuries-old racialism that would inform nationalism and pervade Western culture, including socialism, in Black M arxism : The M aking o f the Black Radical Tradition (London: Zed Books, 1991), 6 0 - 9 2 .
points allowed him to put in question the need to associate nationality with statehood. M arx and Engels represent a different view of modernity, and so of democratic internationalism. Unlike the romantics, they located the impetus of modernity not in the struggle of national spirit but in the relations of production. O f course, Engels, in his discussion of the “ nations without history,” regressed to idealist fantasies that, irrespective of their diametri cally opposite valuation of the phenomenon, were much like those of Bakunin. Nonetheless, the thrust of M arx and Engels’s encounters with the national question suggests two conclusions. First, at the level of theory, the analysis is strongest precisely where it focuses on the sociohistorical roots of national aspirations, rather than when it takes the spirit of peoples for granted or otherwise focuses on their identity. Second, at the level of politics, ethnic principles and traditions emerge as clearly inadequate bases for democratic politics, while liberal institutional arrangements offer only in complete democracy. In short, national liberation, as such, is not due socialist support unless it will create the conditions for winning the “ battle of democracy.” For the thinkers of the Second International, the national question arose in the context of a growing movement, of the oppression of minorities in plural societies, and of the challenge ethnic nationalism represented for their efforts to build parties and programs. There Luxemburg, Bauer, and Lenin theo rized nationality in cultural terms because this was the model that con fronted them. At the same time, albeit in very different ways, they discerned its origins in capitalist development. For Luxemburg, the political expression of nationality was fundamentally at odds with the socialist project because it substituted particularist goals for generalizable principles. While she was critical of the bourgeois notion of right, she held that the problem of national oppression could only be resolved by means of democratic practices guided by universalist norms. Conversely, any effort to assert purely nationalist principles necessarily amounted to an abstraction from serious social analy sis, which at best served the purposes of national petty bourgeoisies and at worst would lead to antidemocratic practices even on the part of the workers’ own parties. Although Luxemburg could not explain why the working class and its movements were always susceptible to the attractions of nationalism, her warnings against both this phenomenon and any departure from demo cratic accountability still stand. Bauer, on the other hand, elaborated one of the most compelling accounts of the idea of the nation and its relation to democratic socialism. He sought
to turn the development of national identity into an element of the socialist project. For him, nationality was a relation associated with a historical cultural community, a relation with deep implications for the formation of consciousness and the ability of working people to emerge as fully autono mous individuals. This gave workers a stake in the outcome of national struggles because they experienced capitalism through their cultures, so the class struggle had to become in part a struggle for proletarian control of national cultural life. However, and in contrast to the criticisms of his contemporaries and the regrets of ours,2 this did not lead him to advocate nationality as a constitutive political principle. On the contrary, he argued quite convincingly against the “ principle of nationalities.” In its stead he proposed civic citizenship in a law-governed republic that gave corporate recognition to nationalities, themselves composed of freely associated indi viduals with no territorial constraints.3 Like Luxemburg, then, he held that the establishment of national states was not an appropriate goal for a workers’ party. Unlike her, he made the extension of democracy into the cultural world part of the socialist project. Lenin, however, found such an approach most dangerous because his primary concern was the unity of the working-class movement under the leadership of a highly centralized vanguard party. For this purpose, he attempted to sustain a distinction between the class and the national projects by holding that the goals of the two sometimes were compatible without ever being the same. This was so because national oppression was a political obstacle for the successful pursuit of the class struggle. His solution was to provide tactical support for the struggles of oppressed nationalities while maintaining the primacy of the working-class struggle, something that could only be accomplished by means of the vanguard party and its relation to the International. This approach was embodied in the name of a second-order principle, the right of nations to self-determination, a formulation that not only proved indispensable in the course of the Russian Revolution of 1917, 2. The classic critique of Bauer along these lines is Stalin’s “ M arxism and the National Question,” which accuses him of sacrificing Social Democracy to nationalism; in M N C Q , 3 - 6 1 . By contrast, Ephraim Nimni has recently argued that Bauer’s effort to maintain the primacy of the class project undercuts the potential of his approach. Marxism and N ationalism: The Theoretical Origins o f a Political Crisis (London: Pluto Press, 1991), 1 4 3 -8 4 . 3. Arend Lijphart has described Bauer’s “ personality principle” as embodying a proposal for a special form of “ segmental autonom y” whereby minority groups in “ consociational democ racies” can rule over themselves in the area of their exclusive concern. Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 4 1 - 4 4
but has remained, mutatis mutandis, the most influential view on the national question even beyond the M arxian tradition. The doctrine of national self-determination also occupied a key role among the political ideas of the Third International. However, its thinkers posed the national question in constructivist terms. In the aftermath of the October Revolution, Stalin came to see the question in the context of an isolated backward state attempting to survive, to catch up, and to effect a transition to socialism where modern industrial capitalism had barely sprouted. This required a way around the problem of national minorities along with a theory of the new political formation embodied in the USSR. In this connection, he proposed that the remaining “ contradictions” between the national minorities of the USSR were no longer “ antagonistic,” so the task of the new state was to develop socialist national cultures in a federal formation. This proposal was deeply flawed because it was never accompa nied by institutional and normative means of ensuring civil rights, much less democratic accountability. This failure could not be separated from the related formulation of “ socialism in one country,” according to which Stalin understood socialism as the development of Soviet power and construed internationalism as solidarity with the Soviet state. Consequently, the class struggle was replaced by a geopolitical contest carried out in the name of the construction of socialism and the struggle against imperialism. In no small measure, the problem here was the abandonment of a class project premised on the extension of democracy and on a cosmopolitan vision of international class solidarity, and its replacement by a national development program aimed to produce socialism in one country. This was a logical, if perhaps not inevitable, consequence of Lenin’s instrumental understanding of the goals of the labor movement. Yet, even if one grants, as Karl Kautsky was willing to do in his devastating critique of Bolshevism, that socialism means only the turning over of the means of production to society, the ultimate goal of the labor movement had to remain “ the abolition of ‘every form of exploitation and oppression, whether it be that of a class, a party, a sex or a race.’ ” 4 This was unacceptable to Lenin and especially Stalin, so they sacrificed the ideals of the movement to the contingencies of the pursuit and consolidation of power and aggregate industrial output. Similarly, in another semiperipheral country, Gramsci forged a link be 4. Karl Kautsky, The Dictatorship o f the Proletariat (excerpts), in Selected Political Writ ings, ed. and trans. Patrick Goode (New York: St. M artin’s Press, 1983), 99. Kautsky was quoting from the Erfurt Program.
tween socialism and the nation through his insistence on the crucial role of the cultural struggle and the primacy of the vanguard party, his “ modern prince.” Quite appropriately, Gramsci construed fascism in terms of the long-standing problem of Italian unification, and sought to offer an alterna tive set of principles to constitute an Italian polity. The problem of unifica tion was, for Gramsci, a cultural question about which worldview would attain hegemony. Consequently, the struggle against fascism became a contest between cultural principles, carried out by intellectuals (“ organic” and “ traditional” ) and aimed at defining the nation. On the surface, this position shared a great deal with Bauer’s views, but there were two signifi cant differences. First, for Bauer, working people were mostly denied the benefits of a national culture whose development they participated in but could not enjoy. The point, then, was to democratize and recover this culture. For Gramsci, the point was to elaborate an instrument of struggle. Second, and much more important, while Bauer saw the party as involved in this Kulturkampf, his party was an open mass party that actually sought to provide the resources through which workers could engage in cultural production. For Bauer, the party had a moral role that included the idea of right. For Gramsci, who remained a Leninist, the party itself was the bearer of the proletarian project in a country where industrialization and capitalist penetration were uneven and where a project of unification was required to bring together the national-popular masses. The net effect of this approach was to remove the working-class project from center stage and make the national project the precondition for socialism. In good measure, this is why later progressive thinkers, who since at least the 1970s have sought to de-emphasize the emancipatory role of the proletariat, find Gramsci’s work so appealing: it makes historical material ism’s critique of capitalism available as a cultural critique for the proponents of new social movements and, not incidentally, of identity politics. Yet, the proponents of this position should always remember that, whatever its very real appeal and accomplishments, it was tied to a project conceived in instrumental terms, without a normative component of its own. In this respect, Gramsci’s thought is well rooted in the style and traditions of the Third International. It was the connection between nation-state building, industrialization, and socialism that characterized the thought of the Comintern and its formulation of the national question. The national question was a function of state building and location in the global system of states. This line of theoretical development provided the basis for the close linkage between
M arxian thought and national liberation in the postwar period. National liberation M arxism assimilated the socialist project into opposition to imperialism, partly because a strong case could (and can) be made for the claim that even the least industrialized areas of the planet occupy a role in a larger “ capitalist world-system,” 5 but also because of the geopolitical pos sibilities for alliances between national rebellions and the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, with the end of the Cold War the conditions that led to construing the idea of the nation by reference to a contest between ideologies and “ world-systems” have ceased to exist. History may not have come to an end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European Commu nism, but clearly the framework within which political ideas can be defined has changed in ways we can only begin to comprehend. Although the nation as a concept does not exhaust the issues that any effort to reconstruct the socialist project must address, the theory of the labor movement must specify its relation to the idea of the nation because of the force this idea retains. This is so because the issue of national self-determination figures prominently and in new ways among the political questions of the new era. Yet, any political theory that aims to address this question must consider it in internationalist terms, taking into account the globalization of capitalist society, itself a process that is much more than a narrowly economic development. According to some views, in the new order that has been emerging since the 1980s the globalization of some aspects of life has paradoxically coincided with the revival of tribalism, of archaic fundamentalisms, and most prominently of revanchist nationalisms.6 In effect, there is an explosion of apparently anachronistic ideologies and radically parochial movements, leading at least one conservative commentator to warn that religion and cul ture will be at the root of all future conflict, thereby suggesting a world not unlike that of the Middle Ages, when Christian civilization confronted Islamic civilization.7 5. I am using this phrase in the sense Immanuel Wallerstein has given it, as a self-contained social system exhibiting economic unity but not political unity, at least not in formal institu tional terms. See The Capitalist World-Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 4 - 5 . The source of Wallerstein’s analysis, and, more important, the inspiration for Third World intellectuals, are to be found in Lenin’s theory of imperialism. 6. For an especially accomplished exposition of this line of thinking, see Benjamin R. Barber, Jih ad vs. McWorld (New York: Times Books, 1995). 7. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash o f Civilizations and the Remaking o f World Order (New York: Simon &c Schuster, 1996).
However, this view mischaracterizes the issue because nationalism, even ethnic nationalism or parochialism, is itself an aspect of the modern process of globalization. Indeed, it is only with slight exaggeration that one author has claimed that if nationalism were to disappear, the world would “ be truly post-modern, for nationality is the constitutive principle of modernity.” 8 Nationalism is not an archaic phenomenon, as Luxemburg thought and many contemporaries continue to believe. It only seeks to appropriate traditional themes or to invent them in order to make them its own. At most, one might say, borrowing Ernst Bloch’s concept, that nationalism has an element of “ noncontemporaneity” expressed in a modern appeal to unsub limated monsters, an appeal that works because “ [H]istory is no entity advancing along a single line . . . it is a polyrhythmic and multi-spatial entity, with enough unmastered and as yet by no means revealed and resolved corners.” 9 Even then, the nationalist solution is distinctly modern. In broad terms, nationality is one of the key principles that allow the modern state, the mass state, to ground sovereignty in an expansive notion of the politically relevant population, as opposed to, for example, divine right or a narrow community of free men. In this sense, the nation combines an egalitarian appeal with a notion of solidarity premised on membership in a particular community. Furthermore, “ national sentiment has become one of the forms of collective social response to the whole range of phenomena born from the [long-term process of] unification of the w orld.” 10 This is why the claims for national self-determination have such a wide appeal: they project, whether legitimately or not, democracy, solidarity, and local control before larger processes. Unfortunately, where democratic practices and institutions are absent, the only way of verifying the correspondence be tween state policy and the will of the nation is the membership of political leaders in the national community. This is not much of a guarantee, for nations encompass conflicting interests. Thus, the claims of national self-determination are, at best, questionable. This is so because in them the regulative idea of autonomy looses its critical potential and becomes ideology. These claims are often said to be satisfied 8. Liah Greenfeld, N ationalism: Five Roads to Modernity (Cambridge, M ass.: Harvard University Press, 1992), 491. 9. The Heritage o f Our Times, trans. Neville Price and Stephen Price (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991), 62. 10. M arc Ferro, Histoire des colonisations: Des conquêtes aux indépendences, X I I T — X X e siècle (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1994), 445.
when the nation can be argued to sport a sovereign state. Yet, this says nothing about who rules the nation itself, or how a sovereign state becomes the goal of a project whose normative claim was to end oppression, not to substitute one form of oppression for another. In the absence of democratic institutions and a commitment to generalizable interests (i.e., a cosmopoli tan intent) the formula of the right of nations to self-determination becomes cover for authoritarian practices of particular sectors of society that present themselves as the people. And nowhere are the limitations of these claims for national self-deter mination more evident than in the multiethnic lands of the former Eastern bloc, whose as yet imperfect integration into the capitalist world-system represents but a continuation of long-term trends.11 This has been especially true in the Balkans, which are noteworthy because there a variant of the Third International version of national self-determination had been one of the main institutional principles and because, by the standards of “ really existing socialism ,” Yugoslavia was quite remarkable politically, socially, and economically.12 As Bogdan Denitch has argued, that country had the greatest potential for democratic socialist development among the Commu nist countries. The problem there was not so much the suppression of nationalities (with the notorious exception of the Albanians of Kossovo) as the segmented structure of the state and of the Yugoslav Peoples Party (the local Communists), which together constituted a ready-made institutional order available first to opportunistic local elites bent on resisting the democratization of the system and second to those who would oppose them in the name of reform.13 Furthermore, the Leninist language of
11. It is worth noting, with E. J. Hobsbaw m , that the integration of the USSR into the capitalist world system began in the early 1970s, when Brezhnev sought to satisfy a need for consumer goods through imports paid for using the country’s then significant primary commodity-exports earnings. Hobsbaw m speculates that this choice by Brezhnev contributed in no small measure to the demoralization of the elites and so to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. The Age o f Extremes: A History o f the World, 1 9 1 4 -1 9 9 1 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994), 4 7 1 - 8 0 . 12. The Balkans are also interesting because, as M iroslav Hroch has suggested, the national movements there “ offer many analogies with those of the nineteenth century,” including a focus on cultural and linguistic demands, a call for national independence understood as freedom, and “ a social programme of a distinct kind, in conditions where there is typically a rapid exchange of ruling classes.” See his “ From National Movement to the Fully-Formed N ation ,” New Left Review, no. 198 (M arch-A pril 1993): 1 4 - 1 5 . Nonetheless, the consequences of a century of history cannot be ignored, particularly when this history has provided much of the language and the institutions in which to carry out the national struggle. 13. Bogdan Denitch, Ethnic Nationalism: The Tragic Death o f Yugoslavia (Minneapolis:
national rights and self-determination was also available to inform the self-understandings of all participants and, not incidentally, to block the criticisms of Western liberals, conservatives, and progressives, who are often unable to respond to claims for self-determination. The consequence has been a pursuit of “ national freedom” and revindication marked by the impetus to establish sovereign states on “ national” territories. Given the ethnic plurality of most areas of the old Yugoslavia, and particularly of Bosnia and its urban areas, this program cannot be realized without major offenses against what Kant called the idea of cosmopolitan right. These have included mass population displacements, torture, murder, and political rape, that is, acts that violate any reasonable concept of law and create cause for lingering resentment that forestalls future peace.14 Unfortunately, the tragedy accompanying the decomposition of the Yugo slav federation is but a most extreme example of the dangers in associating ethnic questions with the idea of the political nation and in attempting to resolve real or perceived issues of human freedom in terms of national sovereignty. It points to the inappropriateness of understanding citizenship in cultural or biological terms, what Bauer termed national character fetishism. It also points to the peril inherent in constructing a politics that understands the changing conditions of daily life in national terms, because it opens the door for a politics of chauvinism. Unfortunately, this approach is acquiring increasing political prominence in the advanced capitalist de mocracies, in part because economic restructuring has been compounded with the cultural changes inherent in capitalist globalization. And this is very much what Luxemburg and especially Bauer warned against. Their approach always called for a supranational perspective. They faced claims for national self-determination with an internationalist practice that was both guided by a cosmopolitan vision and appropriate to the prevailing political, social, and economic conditions. This has become ever more necessary as, especially since the early 1980s, the pattern of globalization of the capitalist accumulation process has gone well beyond the expansion of trade. Rather, significant changes in the international division of labor have
University of Minnesota Press, 1994). In fact, Slovene and Croat resistance to the Milosevic policy of extending ethnic Serb prerogatives in Kossovo was one of the motives for their secession. 14. I elaborate on these themes in relation to the Yugoslav catastrophe in “ National Minorities and National Self-Determination: Confronting an Old D ebate,” G lobal Justice 1 (spring 1995): 2 5 - 3 8 .
occurred as more traditional models of capitalist expansion have been, if not abandoned, then relegated to second place. The “ traditional” model was for capitals based in the more advanced countries to secure raw materials on the periphery in order to transform them into finished and semifinished goods. This has been partly replaced by a new pattern in which actual manufactur ing processes occur across borders, in which administrative functions are partially decentralized, and in which the manufacturing of comparatively high-profit goods is at least partly shifted to a select number of developing countries. Thus, even though for most of the periphery competitive indus trialization still means impoverishment, for the first time capitalist global ization is bringing a measure of prosperity to a select number of countries outside northwestern Europe, North America, and Jap an .15 This, in combi nation with a variety of cost-cutting methods, has led to a decline in the size of the industrial workforce in the center countries, with disastrous conse quences for their organizations (unions and parties) and the programs they had long fought for. Furthermore, both in the center countries and in the periphery, new manufacturing has recruited a mostly female workforce, leading to the disruption (for good and for bad) of a variety of household and gender patterns.16 Clearly, then, globalization is not a narrowly economic process. It also has politico-institutional and cultural aspects. The former have come to include a plethora of interstate compacts aimed at liberalizing trade and investment
15. Historically, the penetration of industrial capitalism has meant the destruction of home industries. Also, it is worth noting that, beginning in the late 1930s and lasting well into the 1970s, a number of countries (mostly in Latin America) sought to industrialize along a “ capitalist path” by subsidizing domestic capital and foreign direct investment to substitute for manufactured imports. This strategy, however, did not yield products capable of competing in the markets of the advanced industrial societies, as have the export-led industrialization strategies of a handful of (mostly East Asian) “ Newly Industrializing Countries.” For a comparison between import substitution and export-led industrialization, see Stephan H ag gard, Pathways from the Periphery: Politics o f Growth in the Newly Industrializing Countries (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990). For a more critical approach, see Harry M agdoff, “ Globalization— To What End?” in The New World Order? Socialist Register, 1992, ed. Ralph Miliband and Leo Panitch (London: Merlin Press, 1992), 2 6 - 4 3 . For a provocative discussion of globalization as a new regime of accumulation, see Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins o f Our Times (New York: Verso, 1994), especially 3 0 0 -3 5 6 . 16. For the political effects of declining manufacturing workforces in the center countries, see the essays collected in Frances Fox Piven, ed., L abor Parties in Postindustrial Societies (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). For the gender effects of the new global division of labor, see Jeanne Vickers, ed., Women and the World Economic Crisis (London: Zed Books, 1991).
and easing the flow of capital at the bilateral, regional, and international levels. Furthermore, new international agencies have been created (e.g., the World Trade Organization) and old ones (e.g., the World Bank) strength ened. Alongside this, the United Nations has taken an increasingly active role in attempting to manage the local effects of globalization and, other wise, to establish at least the beginnings of lawfulness on the global scale.17 Together, these processes have the potential to strengthen international law. However, inasmuch as no international organization (with the very limited exception of the European Union) is subject to popular accountability, politico-institutional globalization limits democracy, at least in the short run. It is precisely this contradiction between the potential accountability of the political institutions of the liberal democracies and the insulation of international organizations from grassroots pressure that poses a serious dilemma for the labor movement and fuels nationalist politics. Should progressive movements, labor organizations, and parties consistently stand against measures such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)? Of course, as Leo Panitch points out, such compacts are the products of states and governments that seek “ to enforce legally upon future governments general adherence to the discipline of the capital market,” in other words, to preclude the possibility of future, perhaps more labor-friendly, governments changing course.18 Perhaps paradoxically, just as the elements of Kant’s cosmopolitan right are expanded, they seem to undermine democracy at the level of the nation-states themselves by reducing the scope of options among which citizens may choose. In fact, the logic of the situation also opens the door for nationalist appeals of the worst sort, appeals to prejudice and to jingoism, precisely because these offer the only self-evident form of solidarity available in the absence of a structural analysis guided by a cosmopolitan intent. The position of most North American labor unions and progressive organizations with respect to NAFTA, for example, seems to indicate that
17. For a general discussion of the changing role of the United Nations, see Thomas Weiss, David P. Forsythe, and Roger A. Coate, The United Nations and Changing World Politics (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1994). 18. Leo Panitch, “ Globalisation and the State,” in Socialist Register, 1994: Between Glohalism and Nationalism, ed. Ralph Miliband and Leo Panitch (London: Merlin Press, 1994), 74.
the impossibility of pursuing either political or economic interests at the international level makes it necessary for workers to oppose such compacts. At the time, in 1993, most progressive opponents to the ratification of NAFTA ended up phrasing their position in nationalist terms. This strategy brought many segments of the labor movement and the Left in the United States and Canada dangerously close to the jingoism of the populist Right. In fact, there was no reasonable progressive option offered, precisely because no mass organization, particularly in the United States, was willing to connect the limitations on democracy and the predictions of declining standards of living implicit in NAFTA to the capitalist accumulation process rather than to the national “ fact.” This shortcoming is precisely what the theorists of the First International sought to warn against. Particularly in the voice of M arx, they aimed to substitute social analysis of the accumulation process for nationalist ver biage, and so to offer in their internationalism a concrete formulation aimed at continuing the tradition of Kant’s cosmopolitan vision. Today, as in 1864, this means solidarity with working people in other countries in their struggles for political, civil, and social rights, rather than futile efforts to protect U.S. and Canadian low-wage jobs by denying industrial develop ment to Mexican workers. After all, the purpose of the most advanced sectors of the labor movement has never been (or should never have been) to safeguard bad jobs but to improve the lives of workers and give them control over the conditions of their labor.19 This, in an era where the bourgeoisie is well on its way to remaking the whole world in its own image, will require ever closer links between the labor organizations and parties of different countries, as well as between them and a variety of other progressive groups. The most immediate goal of these links should be to address the growing need for internationalism among an ever more ethnically and occupationally diverse and globalized working class. But it cannot stop there. Even Jacques Derrida, a thinker with impeccable postmodernist credentials, has called for a “ new International,” understood as a “ profound transformation of inter national right.” 20 And he is right, because, at best, failure to do so threatens
19. “ In the long run, the only way out of the crisis is to harness human technological productivity to the democratically determined ends of global peoples rather than the profitdetermined ends of global capital,” says Philip Green in an essay making a similar point. “ Naftathoughts for the Left,” N ation 258, no. 1 (1994): 16. 20. Spectres de M arx: U Etat de la dette, le travail du deuil et la nouvelle Internationale (Paris: Editions Galilée, 1993), 140; see generally 1 3 1 -4 2 .
continued irrelevance for the Left. At worst, the Left risks losing its constitu ency over to the forces of reaction because in the absence of concrete alternatives xenophobia and racism become easy substitutes for a critique of capitalist globalization. Such a critique must address more than the purely economic side of this phenomenon. Globalization has involved a trend toward the spread of cultural forms and practices from the West and especially from the United States. New communications technology makes a whole range of cultural products available in almost every corner of the world. In particular, the entertainment industry has made a variety of cultural symbols common place, thereby creating the foundation for frames of reference that are truly global. While in this respect the North has established a clear hegemony in the sense that its vision has become the standard against which others judge their own, the movement of cultural elements has not been unidirectional. And it has coincided with one of the most significant waves of migration the world has known, bringing “ artifacts” and peoples from the most distant lands into close and often uncomfortable contact. This migration, of course, has followed a clearly discernible pattern: mostly, persons from the more affluent sectors of the center countries relocate temporarily to the periphery; mostly, poor people (though not the very poor) follow the well-trod path north (and west). As a result, new minorities have been inserted into societies that rightly or wrongly had long considered themselves “ homogeneous.” The problem has been especially acute around issues of immigration because it has coincided with attempts to cope with economic problems through “ competitive austerity” and with often unrelated changes in long-held cultural, social, and political assump tions.21 N ot surprisingly, the result has been a wave of anti-immigrant politics in which, paraphrasing Bauer, class hate has been transformed into national hate. This rage has been expressed through violent mob displays in Germany and Britain, as well as through official actions such as California’s Proposition 186 and the even more disturbing changes in French immigra tion law that curtail the applicability of jus soli to the children of legal immigrants. From the standpoint of the current inquiry, particularly disturbing about these developments in the West is that, while they are certainly not events of 21. The term “ competitive austerity” is from Gregory Albo, ‘“ Competitive Austerity’ and the Impasse of Capitalist Employment Policy,” in Socialist Register; 1994: Between Globalism and Nationalism , ed. Ralph Miliband and Leo Panitch (London: Merlin Press, 1994), 1 4 4 -7 0 .
the same order as those which have rocked the former Yugoslavia (and the former Soviet Union and India, etc.), they respond to the same kind of logic. The difference is vast, but at the level of discourse it is a difference of degree. Both sets of events involve appeals to ethno-national identities, and both aim to promote the ability of the nation to determine its own destiny in the face of an intruding alien. O f course, in the West the impetus behind this nationalist revival is most clearly economic. In France, for example, politi cians who diagnose that country’s economic shortcomings (most particu larly, unemployment) as the consequences of immigration were able to garner almost as many votes as the runner-up in the first round of the 1995 presidential elections.22 Yet, there, as in Eastern Europe, the appeal of nationalism has been rooted in the fact that it promises a sense of autonomy and solidarity that capitalist markets otherwise preclude. Unfortunately, to return to the point where this project began, the current fascination on the Left with politics of identity and its philosophical expres sion in postmodernism have little to say to these developments. Postmod ernist thinkers are incapable of offering a convincing alternative discourse to counter these trends toward cultural nationalism precisely because the phenomenon has become a question of identity, of the identity of Germans, Americans, Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, Serbs, and so forth. Their em phases on the decentered nature of social processes, on the all-important validity of difference, and on the significance of “ local struggles” do little to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate claims of oppression; indeed, they seek to abolish this kind of distinction. Peter Burke, for example, has suggested that “ identities are multiple and fluid or ‘negotiable.’ ” 23 H ow ever, he has not proposed any criteria to guide the negotiations, and in any case, what often occurs resembles negotiations but little. In the absence of such criteria, it is not at all clear, for example, why Germans should not aim to protect their culture from the tidal wave of immigrants, or why the French ought to recognize their Frenchness in something other than their lived experience or descent. 22. The conservative Jacques Chirac, who eventually became president, received 20.47 percent of first-round votes. Together, Jean-M arie Le Pen and the even more reactionary Philippe de Villiers managed 20.07 percent (15.27 percent for Le Pen). See Le Monde, 25 April 1995, 1. This same edition contains a sobering account of the Right’s appeal and discourse on pages 5 and 1 0 - 1 1 . 23. Peter Burke, “ We the People: Popular Culture and Popular Identity in Modern Europe,” in Modernity and Identity, ed. Scott Lash and Jonathan Friedman (Cambridge, M ass.: Blackwell, 1992), 305
Acknowledging this problem, a number of progressive thinkers have sought to counter the nationalist tendencies in the West by proposing distinctions between ethnic and civic/political concepts of the nation and arguing for a politics that respects the dignity of the former attachments while rooting citizenship in the latter. Even Julia Kristeva has argued that the nation is an esprit général “ involving the integration, without a leveling process, of the different layers of social reality into the political and/or national unity,” and has called for “ nations without nationalism.” 24 Simi larly, the French “ New Philosophers” Luc Ferry and Alain Renault have argued that in an age that so prizes the “ right to difference” it is especially necessary to hold on to a “ republican Idea” that “ affirms the at least de jure unity of humanity in contrast to the barbarism that, whatever form it takes, always amounts to thinking of humanity as essentially divided.” 25 M ost prominently, Habermas has argued along similar lines that “ if we do not rid ourselves of the prepolitical crutches of nationality and community of fate, we will be unable to continue on the very path that we have long since chosen: the path to a multicultural society. . . . A national identity which is not based predominantly on republican self-understanding and constitu tional patriotism necessarily collides with the universalist rules of mutual coexistence for human beings.” 26 The position these thinkers advocate is a progressive alternative to any notion that would root political life in cultural or biological characteristics whose sum is taken to define national (and sometimes personal) identity. What they are proposing is a return to the civic conception of the nation that emerged from the French Revolution of 1789 to link the notion of popular sovereignty to a generalizable interest in civil and political rights and, so, in the rule of law. Indeed, a socialist position for our time, or any other, is morally and politically indefensible without these presuppositions. Even Bauer, who argued for the importance of national cultures to the social democratic project, sought to root citizenship in republican institutions while relegating nationality to the realm of personal choice. More than a
24. Julia Kristeva, N ations Without N ationalism , trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 57. 25. Luc Ferry and Alain Renault, Political Philosophy, vol. 3, From the Rights o f Man to the Republican Idea, trans. Franklin Philip (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 126. 26. Jürgen Habermas, “ Yet Again: German Identity— A Unified N ation of Angry DMBurghers?” New German Critique, no. 52 (winter 1991): 96. See also his more general discussion of these topics in “ Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future of Europe,” Praxis International 12 (April 1992): 1 - 1 9 .
vaguely stated collective right to independence for ascriptive groupings, human freedom requires republican institutions that are at least accountable to free citizens. And if national self-determination is to have any meaning, it must refer to the ability of citizens to determine the course of their societies according to laws they make for themselves. Public accountability and the rule of law are the prerequisites for any reasonable conception of national self-determination that avoids both na tionalist and Communist pitfalls. In theoretical terms, this implies a return to Kant and his sketch for a program for “ perpetual peace.” 27 It is not necessary here to recount the six preconditions, three provisions, and two codicils of his philosophical outline. Suffice it to mention that three of them are especially relevant to the current understanding of the national question: the call for a republican constitution for every state, the demand for a foedus pacificum as the practical expression of the right of nations (international law), and the recognition of a universal condition of hospitality (cosmopoli tan right). Representative government was to guarantee the freedom of the members of society, their relation to the polity through law, and their political equality. The pacific federation was to be an alternative to an as yet unrealizable international state (civitas gentium). Through it republican states entered into an agreement to provide rational means for resolving their disputes. Its purpose, like that of the United Nations and a host of other multistate institutions that have come into being since then, was to establish at least the rudiments of the rule of law in the notoriously lawless realm of interstate relations, where the right of the stronger has traditionally pre vailed. Finally, the right to hospitality was both a claim not to be treated with hostility upon arrival in someone else’s land and an entitlement to the respect of others for one’s own person and freedom. In short, Kant and the tradition he represents offer the normative prin ciples for a vision that includes all nations. In this view, national selfdetermination, if it is to be thought of as a right, must apply to all nations. It is cosmopolitan precisely in its inclusiveness. Yet, this account must remain at the level of the “ ought,” that is, as a speculative ideal for the future and a regulative category for the present. Kant himself saw it this way because he also recognized that the forces that separated peoples existed alongside their common moral interests. Thus, he sought grounds for hope in the events of his time (particularly in the French Revolution and the 27. Immanuel Kant, “ Perpetual Peace,” in K ant’s Political Writings, ed. Hans Reiss, trans. H. B. Nisbet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 9 3 - 1 3 0 .
world’s reaction to it) and in his capacity to persuade “ moral politicians.” Inasmuch as he nourished hopes for the realization of cosmopolitan prin ciples, these rested on his notion of the “ unsocial sociability of m an” and, most crucially, on the assumption that “ the spirit o f commerce sooner or later takes hold of every people, and it cannot exist side by side with war.” 28 Yet, it is precisely as this spirit of commerce takes hold of every people, as the capitalist world-system expands, that the business notion of international ism enters into conflict with the ideals of autonomy and social solidarity and must be confronted with a more extensive notion of internationalism. On the one hand, business internationalism embodies the “ spirit of commerce” and, as already observed, has its practical expression in a variety of supranational institutions and a body of international agreements and norms whose aim it is to facilitate the expansion of capitalist relations. Yet, even though these institutions do contribute to the creation of positive international law, they are not in any sense republican, much less demo cratic. Representation in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, two of the most influential of such agencies, is proportional to a state’s capacity to contribute. Before these other multilateral trade and financial agencies, there is certainly no equality of peoples, let alone individuals, no freedom, and, for most peoples no means of putting forth their self conceptions and plans. These agencies truly are the managing agents of international capital. There are, of course, a number of multilateral agencies, such as the International Court of Justice, whose purpose is not simply commercial. Yet, unlike, say, the World Trade Organization, the court lacks enforcement powers, and its ability to raise fines from the most powerful states is, at best, limited. Similarly, the United Nations, the closest approximation to a foedus pacificum, also reflects the inequality among states and peoples. For ex ample, the powers of the Security Council and especially of its permanent members reaffirm relations of economic and political power rather than of right. Indeed, the most widely publicized actions of the United Nations in the 28. Ibid., 114. Elsewhere he argues that all nations “ stand in a community of possible physical interaction (commercium), that is in a thoroughgoing relation of each to all the others of offering to engage in commerce with any other, and each has a right to make this attempt without the other being authorized to behave toward it as an enemy because it has made this attempt. This right, since it has to do with the possible union of all nations with a view to certain universal laws for their possible commerce, can be called cosmopolitan Right (ius cosmopoliticum).” Metaphysics o f M orals, trans. M ary Gregor (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 158.
post-Soviet era, the Gulf War, the intervention in Somalia, and the peace keeping effort in the Balkans, have all been joint actions by the North Atlantic great powers acting through the Security Council.29 O f course, eliminating the Security Council would constitute only minor progress because the vast majority among the approximately 180 member countries cannot reasonably be considered republics, let alone democratic republics. Unfortunately, most of humanity inhabits countries at the periphery of the capitalist world-system. There, states can rarely sustain conditions consis tent with even the most minimal criteria that might be inferred from the ideal of a democratic republic. There are many reasons for this pattern among peripheral societies, and there are a few notable exceptions, such as most, but not all, of the Anglophone Caribbean, as well as India and Costa Rica. Nonetheless, one of the best-established (and least-explained) facts in politi cal science is that low and very low income countries are almost never able to sustain democratic practices and institutions for any length of time.30 Indeed, the attraction the anti-imperialist movement held out for the masses of these impoverished countries, and for their supporters in the North, was the possibility of determining their own destinies. In practice, it often involved the substitution of a local tyranny for a foreign one. Even in those countries where the anti-imperialist movement has achieved significant social progress, national liberation has rarely established polities that might be reasonably termed democratic. For instance, in Cuba, where the post-1959 regime took up socialist features post-factum, there have been meaningful improvements in the material and cultural conditions of much of the population, particularly if account is taken of the low income level of the country as a whole both before and since the national revolution. Yet, even the new Cuban society cannot be said to be democratic, much less “ socialist” in the sense in which I have used the term here, that is, possessed of mechanisms and practices that ensure the popular accountability of institu 29. For a study of recent efforts to democratize the United N ations, or at least to reduce the prerogatives of the great powers, and especially of the United States, see K. P. Sakwena, Reforming the United Nations: The Challenge o f Relevance (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1993). 30. I thank Robert R. Kaufman for this observation. For a recent work exploring these relationships, see Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Evelyn Huber Stephens, and John D. Stephens, Capitalist Development and Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). For an interesting institutional assessment of the British and French Caribbean, see John Gaffer LaGuerre, “ Leadership in the British and French Caribbean: Some Com parisons,” Social and Economic Studies 38 (March 1989): 1 3 3 -5 6 .
tions involved in the social processes of authority, production, and distribu tion. Meanwhile, in most of the rest of the world, “ national liberation,” whether or not it has claimed M arxism, has rarely achieved more than the formal ejection of foreign colonizers. In Africa and much of Asia, for example, independence mostly amounted to a restructuring of the relation ship between the new states and the old metropolitan powers, a restructur ing in which a local stratum was added to mediate relations with a long-term colonial power.31 Perhaps the best example of a multilateral body that begins to meet the republican criteria of Kant and seems to offer a vehicle for the hopes of Habermas and other contemporary thinkers is the European Union (EU). This entity does possess the capacity to enforce its actions. More important, its constitution is moderately representative in that it establishes an elected body, the European Parliament, with powers that are at least consultative, and occasionally positive. Nonetheless, the EU is also clearly led by an “ apolitical” bureaucracy bent on managing Europe’s economic processes according to criteria that cannot help but conform to the dictates of certain powerful bodies, most notably the German central bank. If nothing else, the vicissitudes of the Maastrich referenda suggest that Europeans do not yet feel a connection to Europe, that they do not see its agencies as representa tive. While these reactions have in some cases been phrased in nationalist terms, the real issue involved is, once again, autonomy and solidarity, a position that only makes sense in terms of citizens rights. O f course, the European Union is an organization of relatively similar states, at least in sociological, economic, and political, if not in cultural, terms. Furthermore, although the EU accounts for a very significant portion of the world’s economic output, it only includes a small portion of its people. At best, then, the EU can serve as an experimental site, perhaps in keeping with the ideas of Bakunin (though without his romantic rejection of the state), as a stage in the development of an eventual world federation. Such an outcome, however, is a long way away. It is also unrealizable in the competitive terms of business internationalism, which necessarily turns
31. How this occurred depended in good measure upon the colonial power. French decolonization and British decolonization were quite different, but both eventually produced areas where the former colonial power largely retained its central position in a network of former colonies. The collapse of the USSR, inasmuch as it can be thought of as decolonization, may yet yield similar patterns, with Russia at the center. See Ferro, Histoire des colonisations, 3 9 5 -4 3 4 .
people against each other and replaces their links either with the “ naked cash payment” or with an appeal to romanticized views of the past that can only produce divisions among working people and, in the worst of cases, revan chist nationalisms as alternatives or supplements to market competition. A resolution of the national question according to cosmopolitan prin ciples, then, calls for a different type of internationalism, working-class internationalism, a socialist internationalism. The working class, after all, constitutes the vast majority of the adult population, at least in the advanced industrial societies; and more important, it has a long-term interest in restructuring the social system.32 Its connection to internationalism, how ever, is problematic at best. There is no reason to believe that internation alism will necessarily characterize its political practices, institutions, or ideology. More often than not, the structure of domestic politics, no less than the historical commitments and choices of the labor movement itself, point another way. Yet, this tendency to seek national solutions does not disprove the need for a reconstituted labor internationalism. Quite the contrary, what is needed is “ new commitment to cosmopolitanism and an internationalist orientation.” 33 This means a set of theoretical tools to formulate alternative visions and institutions. This study has argued that a rich tradition of this type of internationalism is connected to a critical engagement with the national question. This internationalism took shape in specific historical, political, and social con ditions. It must do the same in our time, a period characterized by increasing national-cultural differentiation within a larger capitalist world-system where economic, political, and cultural life are undergoing a process of globaliza tion under the hegemony of Western consumerism. Of course, socialism, even socialism understood as the extension of democratic accountability into the realm of civil society, cannot guarantee an end to all forms of oppression, to all the prejudices and all the noncontemporaneous beasts (to borrow from Ernst Bloch’s terminology) that haunt humanity. What it can do is offer a different social structure and a broader perspective from which to confront these problems. Concretely, the socialist formulation of the national question must start by subjecting claims for national self-determination to criticism from the point
32. Ralph Miliband estimates that two-thirds to three-quarters of the population of advanced industrial societies is “ working-class.” Divided Societies: Class Struggle in Contem porary Capitalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 22, 23, and 40ff. 33. Stephen Eric Bronner, “ Confronting N ationalism ,” New Politics 4 (summer 1992): 63.
of view of their contribution to the extension of democracy. Any determi nation of how worthy of support a national movement is must rest on its potential to constrain arbitrary power and to extend the accountability of political, economic, and cultural institutions. But that is not enough. N a tional movements that claim to redress the grievances of oppressed peoples must also be evaluated in terms of their contribution to the extension of international right and global justice, that is, in terms of how much they promote cosmopolitan right. The socialist formulation of the national question also means that struggles that aim to incorporate into the main stream of life the vast majority of people of oppressed groups, whether this oppression and resistance is expressed in national or other terms (e.g., race and ethnicity), are part of the struggle for human emancipation. Existing international institutions are wanting from the point of view of socialist internationalism because they express the prevailing political, eco nomic, and social inequalities at every level. In many cases these institutions are important factors in perpetuating and regulating these inequalities. Nonetheless, to the extent that bodies like the International Court of Justice or the United Nations have it as one of their purposes to establish interna tional law, they cannot be rejected in favor of a dogmatic localism. Indeed, even multilateral financial institutions hold forth the potential for making resources more widely available and more rationally managed on a global scale. For example, the World Bank might, and occasionally does, facilitate credit for women’s cooperatives in India. At issue are the criteria under which such bodies undertake their activities, the manner in which their broadest purposes are determined, and the mechanisms through which they can be made accountable to the citizens of the world. From the point of view I am advocating here, these institutions must be seen as rudimentary expressions of the kind of world order progressive thinkers have been urging since the Enlightenment. The efforts of today’s Left must be directed toward making these international institutions ac countable to the citizens of the world not only because this, in itself, is a worthy goal, but because a movement can only maintain an internationalist orientation if it has a institutional referent. More than anything, this is the role that the Internationals played until the 1920s. Today, however, there exists no comparable body. We may, of course, speculate about its revival, or, perhaps more reasonably, about the strengthening of the Socialist Interna tional. Such an event would be most welcome, but it is difficult to see how it might develop if the labor movement does not engage the existing international institutions in a constructive fashion in order to renew its own
organizations at the level of the nation-state and beyond. In this respect, the globalization of the capitalist world-system provides both challenges and opportunities: the decline of unions and labor parties in the center countries is linked to the transnationalization of capital, which also provides concrete bases for the transnationalization of organizations that promote the interests of working people. It is of course true that socialism must pay attention to the reality of cultural differences and to the fact that nationalism “ offers something more tangible, less abstract than the ’world citizenship’ offered by the Enlighten ment tradition.” 34 Yet, compared to the face-to-face community of the village, the nation is equally intangible. In any case, the national question is an aspect of the broader question of capitalism because the nation, as we have come to understand it, is a product of capitalist development. There thus remains a need for solidarity among the progressive forces of all countries, for without it they can be turned against each other at the level of interstate relations. There also remains a need for solidarity with oppressed elements of any given society, whether their struggles are expressed in national or other terms. Finally, there remains a need for solidarity with the impoverished masses of the periphery. This means that national aspirations cannot be treated independently of broader criteria of solidarity. Whether nationalism will ever disappear we cannot know. My own sense is that national cultures have the potential for greater development as more people are able to participate and as they are enriched with foreign elements. But, within the constraints of this study, this must remain speculation. What we do know is that social progress can only result from a position that bridges the gap between the universal goals of humanity and their expression, which can only be particular. This is what internationalism is all about.
34. Schwarzmantel, Socialism and the Idea o f the Nation, 209.
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Accumulation of Capital (Luxemburg), 92 n. 70 Action Party (Italy), 155, 157 Adler, Max, 95 Adler, Viktor, 69 Albo, Gregory, 180 n. 21 anarchists, 21 n. 5. See also Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich Anderson, Perry, 151, 151 n. 71 anticolonialism international labor movement on, 11, 6 8 -6 9 and language of self-determination, 14 See also national liberation Marxism “Appeal to the Slavs” (Bakunin), 2 8 -2 9 , 28 n. 27 Austro-Marxists, 95 Avrich, Paul, 32 Axelrod, Paul, 71 n. 10 Babeuf, François-Noël (Gracchus), 9 Baku period, 126-27, 126 n. 17 Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich, 10, 21 n. 5, 2 2-41 background of, 2 2 -2 3 on differences in state forms, 34 expulsion of from International Working Men’s Association, 38, 61 on federalism, 3 3 -3 5 , 4 0 -4 1 , 63 and foedus pacificum of Kant, 29 on Germanic oppression, 2 9 -3 0 on historicity of Slavs, 55 influence of United States on, 32 on liberty, 31 and Marx, 23, 31, 31 n. 33, 6 1 -6 5 , 61 n. 102 as member of International Working Men’s Association, 3 0-31 on nation, 6 2 -6 3 , 168-69 on nationality, 24, 36, 3 8 -3 9 , 170 on nature of states, 6 1 -6 2 and Pan-Slavism, 10, 2 4 -2 9 , 6 2-63 on patriotism, 3 6 -3 7 on political economy, 62 political views of, 3 0 -31 populist idea of nation of, 30, 3 8 -3 9 position on women, 33 on Prague Congress, 2 6 -2 7 , 28 pseudonym of, 24 n. 14 relationship of with tsar, 27 on revolutionary potential of Russia, 39 n. 54 and secret societies, 23, 23 n. 12, 72 on self-determination, 3 5 -3 6
similarities with Gramsci, 159 on solidarity, 2 5 -2 6 , 37 -3 8 on state, 3 7 -3 8 , 6 1 -6 2 vs. Proudhon, 33, 35, 35 n. 44 writings of, 2 3 -2 4 , 24 n. 16, 25, 2 6 -2 9 , 28 n. 27, 31, 31 n. 35, 3 5 -3 6 , 37, 3 8 -3 9 Bakuninists, 21 Balkans, 175-76, 175 n. 12 Bauer, Otto, 9 5-109 as adversary of Stalin and Lenin, 127 on Austrian Social Democracy, 95 - 96, 95 n. 81 background of, 95 on capitalism, 102, 104 on citizenship, 170 and civic republicanism, 182 critics of, 79, 103, 128 on essentialist nationalist positions, 100-101 on global capitalism, 12 and Gramsci, 152, 172 influences on, 99 n. 90 Kautsky on, 90 and Luxemburg, 170 on multinationalism, 107, 112 on nation, 9 6 -9 9 on national character, 9 8 -9 9 and “ national character fetishism,” 101, 176 on national question, 98-102, 169-70 on nationalism, 102-3 on nationality, 98-102, 170 on nonhistoricity, 103-5 “ personality principle” of, 170 n. 3 similarities with Gramsci, 172 on state, 104, 105 on working class, 106 writings of, 107 Bellamy, Richard, 151 n. 71 Benner, Erica, 7 Bernstein, Eduard, 58 Blanc, Louis, 32 n. 39 Blanquists, 53 Boggs, Carl, 121, 146 Bolsheviks, 71, 133 n. 27 as model for labor movement, 13 role of, 119-20 on self-determination, 132-33 See also Communist Party of the Soviet Union Borkenau, Franz, 168 n. 1 bourgeoisie, and nationalism, 45, 47, 106, 124-25 Braunthal, Julius, 61 n. 102
Brezhnev, Leonid, 175 n. 11 Bronner, Stephen Eric, 77, 94, 111 Brookings Institution, 4 Brünn principles, 96, 127 n. 18 Bukharin, Nikolai, 137, 151 n. 71 Bund (General Union of Jewish Workers), 7 3 75, 78, 83, 127 Burke, Peter, 181 capitalism Bauer on, 102, 104 global, 12, 4 2 -4 6 , 44 n. 61, 6 3 -6 4 , 11718, 177-78, 177 n. 15 industrial, 177 n. 15 Lenin on, 80-81, 117-18 Luxemburg on, 87-8 8, 9 2 -9 3 , 92 n. 70 and national question, 189 Cardoso, Fernando Henrique, 163 Caucasian Social-Democrats, 127 Chartists, 9 Chiang Kai-shek, 141 Chile, 162 China, 160, 162 Chinese Communists, 141-42, 162 Chirac, Jacques, 181 n. 22 citizenship, 51, 59, 60, 170 civic republicanism, 2, 182 “The Civil War in France” (Marx), 5 9 -6 0 , 61 class allegiance to, 3 - 4 and identity, 181 and the post-Marxist Left, 165-66 proletariat as, 47, 89 -9 0 , 91, 106 See also bourgeoisie; working class Cold War, 160 colonialism, 11 and decolonization, 186 n.31 Engels on, 68 and Marx on India, 4 4 -4 5 and Marx on Irish, 4 4 -4 5 and Soviet state, 135 See also national liberation Marxism Comintern. See Third International (Comin tern) communalists, 21 n. 5 communes, 32, 32 n. 36. See also Paris Com mune Communism, literature on, 5 - 6 Communist International. See Third Interna tional (Comintern) Communist Manifesto. See Manifesto of the Communist Party Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), 15, 71, 119, 136, 139, 141. See also Bol sheviks; Russian Social Democratic Labor Party communitarian political theory, 2 “community,” Bauer definition of, 9 7-98 “ competitive austerity,” 180 n. 21 Condorcet, Marquis de (Caritat, Marie-Jean), 3 Confession (Bakunin), 26 -2 8 Connor, Walker, 5, 78, 130 n. 22 Constituent Assembly (France), 51
containment, of Soviet Union, by West, 132 Cremer, W. R., 43 Croats, 58 Croce, Benedetto, 151 n. 71 Cuba, 162, 185 culture, role of, 54, 152 Cummins, Ian, 48 Davis, Horace, 7 - 8 Degras, Jane, 118 n. 6 democracy, 64, 136, 178 Lenin on, 75 Luxemburg on, 8 4-85 democratic centralism, 118, 119 n. 7 Denitch, Bogdan, 175 Derrida, Jacques, 179 despotism, 34 Deutscher, Isaac, 128 n. 19, 132 n. 26 development, economic, 163-64, 163 n. 99 Djugashvili, Iosif. See Stalin, Joseph Dziezy ski, Feliks, 83 n. 43
Eberlein, Hugo, 119 n. 7 economism, 144, 165 Eley, Geoff, 145 n. 56 Elysard, Jules. See Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksan drovich Engels, Friedrich, 4 1 -6 0 background of, 4 1 -4 2 Bauer criticism of, 103 on colonialism, 68 contribution to idea of nation, 10-11 differences with Gramsci, 159 influences on, 42, 56 and materialist concept of history, 58 on nation, 4 2 -4 3 , 52, 60, 63, 64 and national question, 4 6 -4 7 , 169 on nationalism, 4 6 -4 7 on nationalities, 5 2 -5 9 and nonhistoricity, 64 and Pan-Slavism, 54, 5 6 -5 7 on self-determination, 4 7 -4 8 views of working class of, 44 n. 62 writings of, 4 3 -4 6 , 44 n. 61, 5 2 -5 7 Enlightenment impact of, 9 and notion of federation of republics, 29 Erfurt Program, 171 n. 4 essentialism, Bauer critique of, 100-101 ethnicity. See minorities, ethnic European Union (EU), 186-87 Executive Committee of the Communist Inter national (ECCI), 118 Faletto, Enzo, 163 Fanon, Frantz, 163 fascism, 12-15, 147-48, 156-57 fascist parties, 13 federalism, 130 Bakunin understanding of, 3 3 -3 5 , 4 0 -4 1 , 63 Luxemburg rejection of, 93 -9 4 Proudhon on, 35 vs. territorial autonomy, 129-30 n. 22
“ federalism from below,” 31 Femia, Joseph, 144, 151 Ferry, Luc, 182 feudal-monarchist nationalism, Stalin on, 124 Finland, 131-32 First International, 1 9 -6 7 Marx participation in, 43 thinkers of, 10, 168-69. See also Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich; Engels, Friedrich; Marx, Karl Heinrich First Slav Congress, 26 Florentine Brotherhood, 31 n. 34 foedus pacificum, of Kant, 29, 183, 184 foreign policy, and Comintern, 116 Fourteen Points, 113 n. 114 Fourth International, 115 n. 1 France, 181, 181 n. 22 Frankel, Leo, 60 n. 101 Frankfurt Parliament, 26, 30, 38 French Revolution, impact of, 42, 51, 55, 182 Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 22, 32 n. 39 General Union of Jewish Workers (Bund). See Bund (General Union of Jewish Workers) The German Ideology (Marx and Engels), 44 n. 61 German League, 30 German Workers Educational Association, 4 9 -5 0 Germany, 2 9 -3 0 , 3 9 -4 0 Gerratana, Valentino, 144 n. 51 Giolitti strategy, 156 globalization, 174-81, 184. See also capital ism: global; nationalism Gramsci, Antonio, 109, 143-59 background of, 143-44 and Bauer, 152, 172 differences with Marx and Engels, 159 on economism, 144 hegemony notion of, 14-15, 151-55 on “ intellectual,” 150, 157-58 and internationalism, 164-65 and Italian national unity, 146-49, 155-56 on nation, 156-59 nation building theories of, 121-22 on nationalism, 121-22 notebooks of, 144 n. 51 on role of cultural struggle, 171-72 significance of work of, 145-46 similarities with Bakunin, 159 similarities with Lenin, 159 on solidarity, 165 on Southern Question, 148 on state, 155 on united front, 156 n. 85 use of war metaphors by, 152-54 on working class, 153-55 writings of, 156, 165 Grawitz, Madeleine, 25 Green, Philip, 179 n. 20 Group of Liberation of Labor, 71, 71 n. 10
Guevara, Ernesto “ Che,” 163 Guzmán, Abimael, 163 Habermas, Jürgen, 83, 182 Harding, Neil, 77, 77 n. 29 hate, national and class, 29, 101, 105-6, 180SI. See also oppression Haugg, Frigga, 112 Haupt, Georges, 70 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 40, 55 -5 6 , 57 hegemony, 14-15, 151-55, 151 n. 71, 165, 180 Hilferding, Rudolf, 95 history, materialist concept of, 58, 164, 172 Hobsbawm, E. J., 175 n. 11 Hoffmann-Axthelm, Dieter, 100 Hroch, Miroslav, 175 n. 12 Hugo, Victor, 32 n. 39 Hungarian Republic, 26, 30 Hungary, 56, 69 n. 5 identity, 16 and class, 181 with nation and state, 101 postmodern debate on, 100 proletarian, 106 immigration, and class hate, 105-6, 180-81 Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (Lenin), 7 7 - 7 8 ,7 7 n. 29,1 1 7 “ Inaugural Address” (Marx), 4 5 -4 6 Independent Social Democrats (USPD), 118 n.
India, British colonialism in, 4 4 -4 5 Instructions for the Delegates to the Geneva Congress (Marx), 48 -5 1 intellectuals, 150, 157-58 International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, 31 n. 34, 33 n. 39 International Court of Justice, 184 internationalism and Comintern, 165 definition of, 8, 89, 111, 116, 161-65, 185, 187. See also globalization of Paris Commune, 60 n. 101 Stalin on, 138-39 international labor movement. See labor move ment, international International Monetary Fund, 184 international organizations, 16-17, 64, 178, 184-87 International Working Men’s Association (IWMA), 9 -1 0 Bakunin as member of, 30-31 Bakunin expulsion from, 38, 61 first official congress of, 19 n. 1 and League of Peace and Freedom, 32 n. 39 and Paris Commune, 3 6 -3 7 and Poland, 53 predecessors of, 20 purpose of, 19-21 reasons for demise of, 61 statutes of, 20 n. 3
International Working Men’s (continued) and Union cause in American Civil War, 21, 21 n. 6 views of nation of, 2 1 -2 2 Ireland, British colonialism in, 4 4 -4 5 Italian Communist Party (PCI), 121, 144, 145 n. 56 Italy and fascists, 12-15, 147-48, 156-57 and national unity, 37, 146-49, 155-56, 171-72 and Red Biennium, 147-48 See also Gramsci, Antonio IWMA. See International Working Men’s Asso ciation Jogiches, Leo, 83 n. 43 Junius pamphlet, 91 Kamenev, Lev Borisovich, 138 n. 39, 139 Kann, Robert, 105, 105 n. 102 Kant, Immanuel, 3, 97 n. 86 and cosmopolitan right, 176, 177, 188 and foedus pacificum, 29, 183, 184, 184 n. 28 on international politics, 46, 46 n. 68 program for “perpetual peace” of, 183-84 on progress in history, 18 Kaufman, Robert R., 185 n. 30 Kautsky, Karl, 59, 7 9 -8 0 , 118 criticisms of Bauer by, 128 critique of Bolshevism by, 171, 171 n. 4 influence on Stalin of, 14 on nationality, 8 9 -9 0 on size and nation, 55 n. 89 on working class, 106 Kerensky, Aleksandr Fyodorovich, 87 Kim II Sung, 163 “The Knouto-Germanic Empire” (Bakunin), 25, 39 Kolakowski, Leszek, 85, 120 n. 9 Koraes, Adamantios, 55 Korsch, Karl, 140-41, 144 Kossuth, Lajos, 22, 26, 55 Kristeva, Julia, 182 Kulturkampf, 109 Labor and Socialist International, 115 n. 1 labor movement, international beginnings of, 3 - 4 and colonialism, 11 and the Left, 17 theories associated with, 4 - 8 See also International Working Men’s Asso ciation (IWMA) Lamprecht, Karl, 99 n. 90 Landes, Joan B., 51 n. 78 Latin America, 162 League of Peace and Freedom, 32, 32 n. 39 Lefebvre, Georges, 51 the Left, 53 n. 85, 165-66, 179-80, 181 and future internationalism, 188-89 and international labor movement, 17
rejection of social transformation projects by, 16 Left-Wing Communism— an Infantile Disorder (Lenin), 133 Lehning, Arthur, 25 n. 19, 36 n. 50 Lenin, V. I., 70 -8 2 , 84, 151 n. 71 address to RSDLP, 73 assumptions about liberal republics, 12 background of, 70-71 and Bund, 73-74, 78, 127 on capitalism, 80-81, 117-18 on democracy, 75 first meeting with Stalin, 123 influences on, 7 9 -8 0 and national question, 79, 170-71 on national rights, 73 on nationalism, 7 8 -7 9 on nationalities, 75-76, 7 8 -7 9 on nationality, 79 and New Economic Policy, 137 on oppression, 77 n. 27 on “revolutionaries by profession,” 73 role of International for, 15 on secession, 7 5 -7 6 and secret societies, 72 -7 3 on self-determination, 12, 73, 77-78, 8 1 82,127 similarities with Gramsci, 159 and “ socialism in one country,” 138 and Spartakusbund, 119 n. 7 on Stalin’s Georgia policy, 79 n. 35 and Twenty-One Points, 118 n. 6 writings of, 77 n. 29, 7 7 -7 8 , 117, 133 Le Pen, Jean-Marie, 181 n. 22 Levi, Paul, 119 liberal republics, 3, 12, 63 liberty, Bakunin on, 31 Lijphart, Arend, 170 n. 3 List, Friedrich, 5 local associations and politics, 1 -2 , 31, 35 London Congress (1896), on national rights, 6 8 -6 9 London Working Men’s Association, 20 Louis-Napoléon (Napoléon III), 53, 53 n. 85 Low, Alfred D., 76, 79 n. 35, 128 n. 19 Lowenthal, Richard, 120 n. 8 Lucraft, Benjamin, 61 Lukács, György, 144 Luxemburg, Rosa, 48 n. 70, 76 n. 23, 83 -9 4 background of, 83 and Bauer, 170 on capitalism, 87 -8 8 , 92 -9 3 , 92 n. 70 critics of, 85 critique of democratic centralism by, 119 n. 7 critique of Lenin by, 85, 86, 112 critique of October Revolution by, 8 6 -8 7 and ethnicity, 176-77 on Jewish question, 8 3-84, 88 on nation, 12, 88-91 and national question, 87-88, 169 and nationalities, 84, 87, 90-91 on nationality, 87-88 on oppression, 90, 112, 169 rejection of federalism by, 9 3 -9 4 on self-determination, 88-91
on social democracy, 93 on solidarity, 85 weaknesses in arguments of, 94 on working class, 91 writings of, 90, 92 n. 70, 9 3 -9 4 , 119 n. 7 Machiavelli, Niccolò, 153-55 Manifesto o f the Communist Party (Marx and Engels), 4 3 -4 6 , 52 Marx, Karl Heinrich, 4 1 -6 0 , 56 n. 92 analysis of 1871 Paris Commune, 5 9 -6 0 background of, 41 and Bakunin, 23, 31, 31 n. 33, 6 1 -6 5 , 61 n.
contribution to idea of nation, 10-11 differences with Gramsci, 159 on 1846 Krákow revolution, 4 9 -5 0 influences on, 42 and International Working Men’s Associa tion, 20 n. 3 on nation, 4 2 -4 3 , 52, 60, 63, 64 and “ national character fetishism,” 101 and national question, 4 6 -4 7 , 169 on nationalism, 4 6 -4 7 on nature of states, 62 on Polish question, 4 7 -5 0 on political economy, 62 self-determination, 4 7 -4 8 writings of, 4 3 -4 6 , 44 n. 61, 4 8 -5 1 , 52, 5 9 -6 0 , 62 “ Marxism and the National Question” (Stalin), 79, 127-28, 127-28 n. 19 Marx-Studien circle, 95 Masonic Pub (London), 20 Mazzini, Giuseppe, 3 6 -3 7 , 38 Medell n Bishops’ Conference (1968), 163 Mensheviks, 71 Mezzogiorno, 148, 156 Miliband, Ralph, 3 n. 4, 187 n. 3 Mill, John Stuart, 32 n. 39 minorities, ethnic, 76, 76 n. 24 and economic migration, 180 and First International, 6 4 -6 5 and nationalism question, 84, 93 and political nation, 176 and Second International, 12, 69, 70 multilateral agencies, 184-86. See also interna tional organizations multinationalism, 1 1-12, 107, 111-12
nation Bakunin on, 6 2 -6 3 , 168-69 Bauer concept of, 9 6 -9 9 definition of, 52 development of idea of, 2 - 3 , 51 and ethnicity, 176 Gramsci on, 156-59 Hegel on, 5 5 -5 6 Lenin on, 7 5 -7 7 Luxemburg on, 12, 88-91 Marx and Engels concept of, 10-11, 4 2 -4 3 , 52, 60, 63, 64 nationality as basis for, 59 “New Philosophers” on, 182
relationship of to capitalism, 80-81 and working class, 90 national character. See nationality National Fascist Party (PNF), 148 national liberation Marxism, 14, 142, 160-66 and Comintern, 120 and imperialism, 173 roots of, 117-20, 122 and Third World movements, 5, 15-16, 161-63 The National Question and Autonomy (Lux emburg), 90 national rights, 6 8 -6 9 , 73. See also selfdetermination nationalism, 178, 181 Bauer on, 102-3 Bloch concept of, 174 definition of, 76 Gramsci on, 121-22 Lenin on, 7 8 -7 9 Marx and Engels on, 4 6 -4 7 “national character fetishism,” 101 in proletarian movement, 7 6 -7 7 , 91 as Second International issue, 68 and socialist thought, 6 - 7 Stalin on, 120-21 and working class, 4 4 -4 7 Die Nationalitätenfrage und Sozialdemokratie (The nationalities question and social de mocracy) (Bauer), 94-104, 107 nationalities, 12 Bonapartist principle of, 53 Engels theory of, 5 2 -5 9 Lenin on, 7 5 -7 6 , 7 8 -7 9 Luxemburg on, 84, 87, 90-91 Marx and Engels on, 52, 54 and personality principle, 1 07-9 Soviet state on, 135-36 Stalin on, 132 n. 26, 133-34 nationality Bakunin concept of, 24, 36, 3 8 -3 9 , 170 as basis for nation, 59 Bauer concept of, 98-102, 170 definition of, 52 Kautsky on, 89 -9 0 Lenin concept of, 79 Luxemburg concept of, 87-88 Stalin on, 14 and subjectivity, 100 and working class, 80 nation-building, 13-14, 121-22 Nechaev, Sergei, 31 n. 35 Nettl, J. P., 85, 89 New Economic Policy (NEP), 137, 140 Nicaragua, 162 Nicholas I, 25, 27, 56 Nimni, Ephraim, 6, 98, 103 nonhistoricity, 40, 55, 5 7 -5 8 , 64, 102 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 178-79 Odger, George, 61 Okhrana (tsarist secret police), 72 “ On the Jewish Question” (Marx), 52, 62
oppression Bakunin on Germanic, 2 9 -3 0 Lenin on, 77 n. 27 Luxemburg on, 90, 112, 169 Stalin on, 129 “ The Organizational Questions of Russian So cial Democracy” (Luxemburg), 93 -9 4 , 119 n. 7 Orton, Lawrence, 26 Pachter, Henry, 144 Paepe, César de, 49 Palacký, Frantisek, 26 Pan-Slavism and Bakunin, 10, 2 4 -2 9 , 62 -6 3 and Engels, 54, 5 6 -5 7 and tsars, 27, 27 nn. 24 and 26 Paris Commune, 11, 3 6 -3 7 internationalism of, 60 n. 101 Marx analysis of, 5 9 -6 0 passive revolution, 157 patriotism, 3 6 -3 7 , 4 6 -4 7 . See also national ism people-nation. See nation People’s Commissariat on Nationalities, 133-34 “ personality principle,” 101, 107-8, 127, 170 n. 3 Pestel, Pavel Ivanovich, 72 Philosophy of History (Hegel), 5 5 -5 6 Pilsudsky, Jósef, 83, 84 Pipes, Richard, 71, 132-33 n. 27 Plekhanov, Georgy Valentinovich, 71 n. 10, 151 n. 71 Poland, 25 Engels on, 5 2 -5 5 as historical entity, 57 n. 93 Marx on, 4 7 -5 0 See also Pan-Slavism political economy, 62. See also capitalism political parties. See names of individual parties and movements postmodernism, 18, 100, 165-66, 181 Prague Congress. See First Slav Congress Prebisch, Raúl, 163 proletariat as class, 47, 8 9-90, 91, 106 nationalism of, 125, 129 Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph, 21 n. 5, 33, 35 Proudhonists, 21, 53 public sphere, 51 n. 78 purges, party, 119 race, meaning of term, 25 n. 20. See also mi norities, ethnic radical republicanism, 3 rationalist tradition, 2 “The Reaction in Germany” (Bakunin), 2 3 -2 4 Red Biennium, 147-48 reductionism, economic, 58 Reed, John, 87 Renault, Alain, 182 Renner, Karl, 95 republics
civic, 2, 182 democratic, 47 federations of, 2 9 -3 0 , 3 3 -3 4 , 107-8 liberal, 3, 12, 62 and Paris Commune, 60 “ Revolutionary Catechism” (Bakunin), 31, 31 n. 35, 3 5 -3 6 the Right, 16 The Right of Nations to Self-Determination (Lenin), 78 Robinson, Cedric J., 168 n. 1 Rosdolsky, Roman, 52, 58 Rosenberg, Arthur, 72, 87 The Rules That Should Inspire a Revolutionist (Bakunin and Nechaev), 31 n. 35 Russia and nation-building challenges, 1 3-14 revolutionary potential of, 39 n. 54 and Social Democracy, 6 9 -7 0 and Third International, 116 n. 3 See also Soviet Union; Stalin, Joseph Russian Revolution, 119-20. See also Bolshe viks Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), 71, 72, 74, 74 n. 17, 123. See also Bolsheviks; Mensheviks Sartre, Jean-Paul, 142 Schlesinger, Thérèse, 95 Schwarzmantel, John, 6 - 7 secession, 75 -7 6 , 131-32, 134 Second International, 11 —13, 67-113 congresses of, 6 7 -6 8 , 67 n. 1 and ethnicity, 12, 70 last Congress of, 67 n. 1 legacy of, 110-13 thinkers of, 169-71. See also Bauer, Otto; Lenin, V. I.; Luxemburg, Rosa weaknesses of, 115-16 n. 1, 117 n. 4 secret societies and Bakunin, 23, 23 n. 12, 31 n. 34, 72 and Lenin, 72 -7 3 self-determination, 50, 68, 160 after October Revolution, 131-34 and anticolonialist movements, 14 Bakunin on, 3 5 -3 6 Bolsheviks on, 132-33 change in meaning of, 142 as fundamental right, 166 Lenin on, 12, 73, 77 -7 8 , 8 1-82, 127 Luxemburg on, 88-91 Marx and Engels on, 4 7 -4 8 and national liberation movements, 122, 187-88 and national rights, 3 5 -3 6 post-Cold War, 173-76 prerequisites for, 183 Stalin on, 129-31 vs. solidarity, 50 n. 76, 50-51 small Slavs, 57, 103. See also Pan-Slavism Social Democracy, 69, 91, 9 3 -9 6 , 106 Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Po land (PPS), 83
Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Po land and Lithuania (SDKPL), 83, 83 n. 43, 85 “The Social-Democratic View of the National Question” (Stalin), 123-25 socialism literature on, 4 - 5 Stalin definition of, 139-40 “ socialism in one country,” 119, 137-41, 164, 171 Society of Fraternal Democrats, 20 solidarity Bakunin on, 37 -3 8 and capitalism, 189 and democratic project, 6 1 -6 5 in Eastern Europe, 70 Gramsci on, 165 Luxemburg on, 85 and multinationalism, 111-12 and party, 165 vs. self-determination, 5 0 -5 1 , 50 n. 76 in Western Europe, 70 and working class, 63, 179, 187 Soviet Union containment of by West, 132 explanation for implosion of, 1 and national liberation Marxism, 162-64 and nationalities, 135-36 and socialism, 139-40 See also Russia; Stalin, Joseph Spanish Civil War, 15 Spartakusbund, 119 n. 7 Stalin, Joseph, 123-43, 151 n. 71 background of, 123 Baku period, 126-27, 126 n. 17 on Chinese Communists, 141-42 as commissar of nationalities, 132 n. 26, 133-34 criticism of Bauer by, 128 on democracy, 136 and dissolution of Third International, 15, 160 on Finland, 131-32 first meeting with Lenin, 123 influences on, 7 9 -8 0 on national liberation and socialism, 164 on nationalities, 79, 79 n. 35, 120-21, 12325, 127-29 on nationality, 14 on oppression, 129 organizational skills of, 125-27 reversal on secession, 134-35 role of International for, 15 on Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), 124 on self-determination, 129-31 “ social fascism” thesis of, 15 and “ socialism in one country,” 138-39 Vienna trip of, 127-28 writings of, 79, 123-25, 127-28, 134-35 See also “ socialism in one country” Stalinist national Marxism, 5 - 6 state Bakunin on, 3 7 -3 8 , 6 1 -6 2 Bauer on, 104, 105
and Engels on nation-state as political entity, 54 and institutions, 3 4 -3 5 and nation, 172-73 and Stalin’s nationalities program, 135-36 and working class, 47 State and Revolution (Lenin), 77 n. 29, 78 Statism and Anarchy (Bakunin), 25, 3 8 -4 0 statism vs. federalism, 33 subjectivity, and nationality, 100 Szporluk, Roman, 5 territorial autonomy, vs. federalism, 129-30 n. 22 La théologie politique de Mazzini et l'Internationale (Bakunin), 37 Thiers, Louis Adolphe, 59 Third Congress of Soviets, 131 Third International (Comintern), 13, 67 n. 1, 115-66, 115 n. 1 dissolution of, 15, 160 member parties of, 118, 140-41 and national question, 120 role of working class in, 122 and Russia, 116 n. 3 Second Congress of, 133 structure of, 118-19, 141 thinkers of, 171-73. See also Gramsci, Anto nio; Stalin, Joseph and Twenty-One Points, 117-18 Third World, and national liberation move ments, 5, 161-63 Torres, Camilo, 163 Trotsky, Lev Davidovich Bronstein, 115 n. 1, 138, 141, 142 n. 46 tsars, and Pan-Slavism, 27, 27 n. 24 Twenty-One Points, 117—18 Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Demo cratic Revolution (Lenin), 117 United Nations, 178, 184-85 United States, and Indian tribal nations, 108, 130 n. 22 “ universal people’s federation,” 3 3 -3 4 , 40, 63 The Unknown Lenin (Pipes), 71 vernacular, of language, 149-50 Vienna International, 115 n. 1 Villiers, Philippe de, 181 n. 22 vogare illustre, 149-50, 149 n. 68 wage workers. See working class Wallerstein, Immanuel, 173 n. 5 Wang Chin-wei, 141 “What Have the Working Classes to Do with Poland?” (Engels), 52 -5 5 . See also “ In structions for the Delegates to the Geneva Congress” What Is to Be Done? (Lenin), 117 Wilson, Woodrow, 113 n. 114 Wojnarowska, Cezaryna, 83 n. 43 women Bakunin position on, 33 and global capitalism, 177
women (continued) and public sphere, 51 n. 78 and Second International, 111 working class, 4 2 -4 3 Bauer on, 106 definition of, 3 n. 4 and “ Instructions,” 5 4 -5 5 Kautsky on, 106 Luxemburg on, 91 and nation, 90 nationalism of, 4 4 -4 7 and nationality, 80 numbers of members of, 187 n. 32
role of in Third International, 122 and solidarity, 63, 179, 187 World Bank, 184, 188 World Trade Organization, 184 Wurm, Mathilde, 88 Yugoslavia, 175-76, 175-76 n. 13 Yugoslav People’s Party, 175 Zasulich, Vera, 71 n. 10 Zimmerwald Movement, 67 n. 1 Zinoviev, Grigory Yevseyevich, 139, 141