Showing posts with label national liberation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label national liberation. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

National Liberation or libation

The division of the global population into entities called “nations” is overwhelmingly taken for granted. For the vast majority of people it is taken for granted that they are members of a nation-state; they take pride in its alleged accomplishments; they suffer when their nation is embarrassed or humiliated (and for Scottish football’s Tartan Army that is indeed a common occurance!) It rarely if ever occurs to them that the nation-state system is a recent creation in human history, that most human societies have had no concept of the nation whatsoever, and that the rise of the nation-state system corresponds to the international development of capitalism, a particular political form that regulates, controls and disciplines people in a way that facilitates their exploitation by capital. capitalism has stamped our sense of belonging, our need for community with others, with national state forms. In truth, the countryside, the culture and the language with which we are brought up is part of us. Love of these things is inevitable and universal, but it is not the same thing as nationalism. Capitalism constructed nations organised around symbols like flags and anthems, built largely upon artifical myths and histories.

Nationalism in the past centuries has been responsible for unprecedented barbarity and it has been crucial in preventing the victory of socialism. Nationalism upholds loyalty to a particular nation and support for it when there is a conflict with another nation, regardless of circumstance. Nationalism opposes international working class solidarity, where loyalty to ones class above that of national origin. Nationalist movements, under the banner of national liberation have failed. Countries which overthrew their colonial overlord have new symbols and can use their own languages in schools and on TV but life for the ordinary peasant or worker is little different and often harder while the local elites enriched themselves and established strict control over the population. National liberation struggles can be seen as attempts of sections of the native ruling classes to appropriate a larger share of the value generated in 'their own' countries.

The experience of the working class throughout the world is that national liberation is no solution. In the 19th century some liberation struggles led to the creation of new nation states which played a needed role in the development of world capitalism. This is no longer true of today where new rulers may perhaps achieve a measure of political independence from the great powers but they can never free their country from the grip of the world economy. For the working class in these countries "liberation" simply means exchanging one set of bosses for another - the new ones as violently opposed to working class struggle as the old ones. The nation state is the political organisation of capitalism. Socialists oppose every attempt to rally the working class to the cause of nationalism regardless if it is in the name of "national liberation”

Amazingly, much of the Left has supported these national liberation movements, resorting to distorting the truth through so-called solidarity committees, often long after it was clear that they were liberating only their own elite class and having usually wiped out their left opposition. The Leftist groups spend much of their time defending movements which have been as exploitative and oppressive, albeit in different forms, as the regimes that they overthrew. The fact that the majority of peoples obtained little or nothing from an apparent “victory” has to be driven home. The Left cannot forget that for the many the standard of living has gone down after the removal of the colonial overlord. Indeed in many countries it is even worse in that post-colonial wars have led to mass slaughter. However in some new countries higher consumption levels and welfare programmes may temporarily be established by these regimes. Those who can see no further than economistic steps to “socialism” usually quote this. But what is ‘gained’ at home is lost abroad. Castro supported the 1968 Russian Invasion of Czechoslovakia, as Ho Chi Minh earlier endorsed the tanks rolling into Budapest in 1956. Hugo Chavez gave his approval to Mugabe, Gaddaffi, Assad and the Ayatollahs. Even today we witness members of the Left supporting various Islamists such as Hezbullah. They ought to be denouncing them as reactionaries. The fact that they are opposing the foreign policy of the USA is neither here nor there.

 The Leftist myth that a successful national liberation will later unleash 'the real class struggle' is false. It is a rationalisation for the defence of new ruling classes in the process of formation. As historical evidence shows, those new elites usually become appendages of another existing capitalist/imperialist bloc. Class interests of the new emerging capitalist class never bring a break with the capitalist system. They simply seek for their rights of sovereignty to be recognized by the powerful ones. So, it is downright class collaboration to reduce opposition of the working class to imperialism to opposition to policies of this or that imperialist state or to the level of supporting the rights of sovereignty of “its own” bourgeoisie. Dominant capitalist countries (or if you prefer imperialist nations) dictate the economic terms on weaker capitalist countries. This situation is a general law of capitalist order. Under capitalism, he who pays the piper calls the tune! No matter how much the bourgeoisie of various capitalist states complain about unequal relations or interference with their “internal affairs,” this is their capitalist system as a whole. Why should the working class be concerned with their complaints? Sharing the grievance of the weaker bourgeoisie or preaching a fully independent and national order within capitalism to the working class suits only the national ruling class. In fact, the burning problem of the proletariat in all capitalist countries, no matter big or small, is not economic independence(!) of its “own” bourgeoisie, but emancipation from the capitalist order of exploitation. In short, the goal of the working class struggle against imperialism is to put an end to the bourgeois order, to seize political power, i.e. the proletarian revolution.

“The workers have no country,” declared Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto. In this spirit, the International Workingmen’s Association ( the First International) was later launched to reflect the form of organization that fit this outlook: an international political movement of the working class. Yet almost 150 years later labour movements are still almost entirely national in organisation, with little thought for their fellow workers elsewhere. They are dominated by nationalist ideology and tend to support import controls (or other forms of protectionism) to protect “our jobs” and “our” way of life. Rosa Luxemburg claimed with the full internationalising of capitalism and so powerful had the world economy become national struggles were out-moded and that the idea of an economically independent nation-state had become ridiculous. She declared national struggles can serve only as a means of deception, of duping the masses and it was reactionary to support the creation of new nation-states. The task was to mobilise the international working class against world capitalism.

It is this desire to belong to a community and identify with others with some sense of common purpose that a world-wide socialist movement of the future will have to help develop. A truly internationalist feeling of community that connect with both local and global experiences, solidarity that go beyond the nation-state. A potent, united global workers’ movement makes nationalism and separatism unnecessary. We must never lose sight of one of the vital features of socialism: its commitment to a world community without nations and without capitalism. The international working class is one class.