The National Question

kurdish rally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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