Autor: Emil

~ 26/12/11

This post is a reply to someone. You can read the original discussion here.

-Originally posted at Revleft on 3rd September 2011-

My problems with it:

[Quoting the user “einfach”]

Expanding on that should we consider China Town or Little Italy nations because they (the people in them) have a common terriorty, language, culture, economic life? 

Zing!

This hits exactly the nail on the head regarding my issue with the Stalin definition. I believe the “checkbox” definition is too rigid, too formalistic. Crucially in understanding what a nation is, is the self-conception of the people constituting itself as one. So, a nation may or may not exist based on a common culture, language, etc. Social factors, history, etc all play a part.

Also Stalin’s “checkbox” definition is problematic regarding the future: How are we supposed to overcome nations in communism if we (presumably) still have a diversity of language and culture? This circle cannot be squared with Stalin’s concept. It can only be understood within the context of awareness. I.e. the awareness of having a common identity based on culture, language, history, etc can come, but it can also be superseeded by a new identity.

This new identity, a class identity, can only be constructed in the long term on the basis of equality, voluntary unity and respect for each others cultures. This is also why Lenin supported the right of self-determination up to and including independence; not because he propagated disunity, but because only with that freedom could the “prisonhouse of nations” that the Tsarist empire was, remain united under working class rule. And to a large extent this succeeded (that is, besides the Baltic states and Finland, which became independant shortly after the revolution).

In a more modern context, pan-Arab national identity is progressive because it sets out to unite the vast Arabian world, with its 20+ states and 300 million people living in it. As the capitalist class (most famously under Nasser) completely failed in this task, it is up to the working class to complete it, therefore giving this identity a working class content. Nation questions undoubtedly play a part in this issue, but like Lenin we should defend that right of self-determination up to and including independence, but at the same time propagating for the greatest possible unity of the working class, i.e. against disunity if we can. National ruptures are always a concession, never to be desired by communists. And even if the concession is made, we should always propagate the unity, as equals, of both nations.

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