Nationalism and the 'national question'

1916: The Easter Rising

Submitted by martin on 6 May, 2013 - 4:58

Ireland and the Revolutionary Tradition of Easter Week

From Labor Action, 14 April 1941

Easter Sunday morning, 1916. Three o'clock. James Connolly. Irish revolutionary leader, was talking to his daughter and some of her friends, all asking why the revolt so carefully prepared had been countermanded.


Submitted by Rick Grogan on Fri, 10/05/2013 - 11:46

A brilliant article, well researched and well written. We will never forget the heroes of 1916 and all those have fallen for freedom before and after.

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Should we reverse history?

Submitted by SJW on 8 August, 2018 - 11:29 Author: Sean Matgamna

Sean Matgamna replies to Ashok Kumar's "National rights and the decolonial gaze"

Sometimes a person will have to do odd things for socialism.

Trotsky recorded that when women induced the soldiers not to fire at the crowds at the outset of the February Revolution, they had to get at them by first crawling under the belly of Cossack horses. What Trotsky referred to so summarily loses much of its meaning in the minds of modern people who have no experience of horses.

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A split in Iraqi socialist group

Submitted by SJW on 18 July, 2018 - 10:54 Author: Nadia Mahmood & Martin Thomas

Nadia Mahmood of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq spoke to Martin Thomas about a split within her organisation.

Nadia: The resignation of our comrades Muayad Ahmed and Yanar Mohammad was announced after the central committee’s decision to take away Falah Alwan’s membership of the party.

MT: There must have been some political issues behind it, like the referendum?

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Nationalism and patriotism are dead ends for the left

Submitted by AWL on 21 June, 2018 - 11:52 Author: Ben Tausz and Sacha Ismail

The call to embrace patriotism is one heard over and over on the left. Particularly in the wake of Brexit and when the far-right is resurgent, many seek some way to ride the tide of nationalist sentiments. But for class-struggle socialists, the project of left-wing nationalism can only ever be politically incoherent and strategically a dead-end.


Submitted by Ian Townson (not verified) on Fri, 22/06/2018 - 09:24

Well said. Will share this article widely. I suspect also there is a panic around the rise of the far right/fascist movements and this partly covers Red Labour's crass supidity around Englishness/patriotism as with Kinnock and co. Tryinmg to steal a march on the fascists pulls everything to the right and destroys any notion of working class universal struggle against exploitation and oppression.

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The ideas Lenin was arguing against in "The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up"

Submitted by martin on 7 March, 2018 - 7:33 Author: Yuri Pyatakov, Yevgeniya Bosh, and Nikolai Bukharin

These are the theses of the section of the Bolshevik Party which during World War 1 came out against "the right of nations to self-determination", and which Lenin argued against in "The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up" and "A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism",


Submitted by martin on Wed, 07/03/2018 - 19:48

And here is a short sympathetic summary of the other major viewpoint within the pre-1914 Marxist movement, counterposed both to the Bukharin-Pyatakov-Bosh group and their Polish co-thinkers, and to Lenin and the majority of that movement - namely, the view argued by Otto Bauer and the "Austro-Marxists".

Submitted by martin on Wed, 07/03/2018 - 19:48

And here is a short sympathetic summary of the other major viewpoint within the pre-1914 Marxist movement, counterposed both to the Bukharin-Pyatakov-Bosh group and their Polish co-thinkers, and to Lenin and the majority of that movement - namely, the view argued by Otto Bauer and the "Austro-Marxists".

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Catalonia impasse demands challenge to Rajoy

Submitted by Matthew on 10 January, 2018 - 10:56 Author: Martin Thomas

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has scheduled the first session of Catalonia's new parliament for 17 January.

Elections on 21 December gave a result similar to 2015. The pro-independence parties won a small majority of seats in the parliament (70/135 this time, 72/135 in 2015) with a slight minority of the votes (47.3% this time, 47.8% last time).

Only now several of the leading pro-independence MPs are now held in Spanish jails for sedition, or self-exiled in Brussels for fear of being jailed if they return to Catalonia.

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2018 day schools: Marxism, national questions, and nationalisms

Submitted by martin on 25 December, 2017 - 8:18
Lenin on the national question

Marxism, national questions, and nationalisms

Selected reading (fuller list below):


1. Basics from our tradition: the Marxist debates on the national question before 1914

2. How Orthodox Trotskyism skewed the tradition

4. Ireland

5. Israel-Palestine

6. Catalonia and the "Norwegian way"



Submitted by Bruce on Thu, 15/02/2018 - 19:59



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?

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Catalonia goes to the polls

Submitted by Matthew on 13 December, 2017 - 10:59 Author: Tony Holmes

The constitutional crisis in Catalonia continues to simmer as the region awaits elections on 21 December.

A number of Catalan politicians and activists, including members of the recently dismissed government, have been denied bail and remain jailed on charges of sedition. Some are in exile in Belgium.

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Vote is tight in Catalonia

Submitted by Matthew on 6 December, 2017 - 10:16 Author: Rhodri Evans

On 5 December, the Spanish Supreme Court withdrew its international arrest warrant against Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four other members of the government who have sought refuge in Belgium. Other Catalan politicians, arrested in Spain, have however been refused bail and will have to run their campaigns for Catalonia’s 21 December elections from jail.

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Catalonia: rights and unity

Submitted by Matthew on 15 November, 2017 - 11:00
Catalonia protest

Editorial from Solidarity 454

On Saturday 11 November, 750,000 people (on the city police’s count) demonstrated in Barcelona to demand the release of Catalan government ministers and pro-independence association activists jailed by the Madrid regime to await trial on charges such as sedition. A general strike called by a pro-independence union confederation, Intersindical-CSC, under the slogan “Defend Our Rights”, on Wednesday 8 November, also had impact.

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