SESSION ON ‘BASICS FROM OUR TRADITION: THE MARXIST DEBATES ON THE NATIONAL QUESTION BEFORE 1914’
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Marxists are internationalists and opposed to nationalism. Why should they then be concerned with the national question?
2. What does Lenin mean by the right of nations to self-determination?
3. How did the Bolsheviks define a nation?
4. In 1905, Rosa Luxemburg wrote:
“The immediate political task of the Polish proletariat in the Kingdom of Poland was to join in common struggle with the Russian proletariat to bring about the downfall of absolutism, and institute democracy into political life… the struggle for the restoration of Poland [as an independent, unified state] was hopelessly utopian in the face of the development of capitalism in Poland,”
Why did Lenin argue this position was wrong?
5. What was ‘cultural-national autonomy’ as advocated by the Austro-Marxists and the Jewish Bund? Why is it not adequate or desirable as a solution to national conflicts?
6. What does the examples given by Lenin (the secession of Norway from Sweden in 1905; the positions of polish and Russian Marxists) tell us about the positions to be taken by socialists in oppressed and oppressor nations? Why is this distinction important?
7. In what situations are socialists opposed to nations exercising their right to self- determination and why?