By W.B. Bland.
CLASS SIX : THE NATIONAL QUESTION
1. WHAT IS A NATION?
"A historically constituted, stable community of people,
formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and
psychological make-up, manifested in a common culture". -- J. V. Stalin
A community which lacks any of these characteristics is not a
2. HOW DOES A NATION DEVELOP?
The development of a community to nationhood proceeds through
three fundamental stages:
The first stage is that of the tribe, based on a union of
related clans. Tribalism is the characteristic form of social organisation under
As the tribal community disintegrates with the development of
tools and techniques, tribes come together into federations and kingdoms; a
common language, based on one of the tribal languages, emerges. This process
leads to the development of the second stage of the development of a community,
that of the pre- nation or nationality.
A pre-nation or nationality is a community based no longer on
blood relationship, but on geographical location. It has a common language, a
common territory and a common culture, but does not possess economic cohesion in
the form of a common market. A pre-nation is the characteristic form of social
organisation under slavery and feudalism.
With the development of capitalism within the framework of
feudal society, the development of pre-national characteristics is accelerated
and, alongside this, the process of establishing economic cohesion, a common
market, throughout the territory of the pre-nation. This latter process
transforms the pre-nation into a nation.
3. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM 'THE RIGHT OF NATIONS TO SELF-
The nations of the world are divided into oppressed and
oppressing nations. An oppressed nation is one dominated, openly or in a
concealed manner, by an oppressing nation for the benefit of the ruling class of
the latter; it is, therefore, not free to determine its own destiny. When
Marxist-Leninists say that they recognise the right of an oppressed nation to
self-determination, they mean that they recognise the right of an oppressed
nation to establishj its complete independence, and recognise the struggle of an
oppressed nation to establish its independence from an oppressing nation to be a
just struggle which they support.
4. WHAT IS A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY?
A country which is industrially under-developed and is
dominated economically, and perhaps also politically, by a greater power.
5. WHAT KINDS OF COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRIES ARE THERE?
A colonial-type country may be:
1) a colony, under the open, direct political rule of a
dominating power, e.g., Gibraltar, Northern Ireland;
2) a semi-colony, nominally independent, but in reality dominated by a greater
power for the benefit of the latter's ruling class, e.g, Colombia, Saudi Arabia;
3) a neo-colony, a former colony which has become a semi- colony, continuing to
be dominated by a greater power for the benefit of the latter's ruling class,
e.g., Tunisia, Jamaica.
6. WHAT IS NATIONALISM?
The ideology which puts forward the view that:
1) a particular nation is superior to other nations; and
2) that the interests of this nation should be of paramount political importance
for all its members.
7. IS NATIONALISM PROGRESSIVE OR REACTIONARY?
Where a nation is in process of formaton, nationalism may
temporarily play a limited progressive role.
However, once the capitalist class has become the ruling
class of the nation, nationalism plays a wholly reactionary role. It falsely
presents the interests of the ruling, exploiting class as equivalent to 'the
interests of the nation', seeking in this way to persuade the working class to
abandon its class struggle against exploitation and for the establishment of a
socialist society 'in the interests of the nation' -- in fact, in the interests
of the capitalist class.
Nationalism also plays a reactionary role in so far as it
serves to create in the minds of workers of a particular nation a subjective
antagonism towards the workers of other nations, who are objectively their
allies in the struggle for a socialist world.
8. HOW MANY NATIONS ARE THERE IN THE BRITISH ISLES?
Two, the British and Irish nations.
For geographical and ethnic reasons, the development of nations in the British
Isles took place in four distinct regions: in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and
But before the Scottish, Welsh and English nations could complete their
development into nations, the influence of the rising capitalist class brought
about the economic, political and cultural unification of these pre-nations into
a single British nation. By the time of the bourgeois revolution of the 17th
century, the British capitalist class had become the leading force in the class
alliance ruling Britain.
Although remnants of pre-national distinctions in language
and culture still survive in parts of Britain, it constitutes a single economic
system, a single market and a single nation with, for the most part, a single
language and a single culture.
In Ireland, however, separated from Britain by a sea barrier,
the development of the Irish nation proceeded independently, without fusion with
the pre-nations developing across the Irish Sea. With the development of
capitalism, the Irish nation came into existence.
The Irish nation is an oppressed nation The northern counties
are under the direct colonial rule of British imperialism. whie the southern
counties (the Irish Republic) form a neo-colony of British imperialism.
Marxist-Leninists uphold the right of the Irish nation to unification and
9. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 'SCOTTISH NATIONALISM' AND
Since the peoples of Scotland and Wales do not constitute
nations, but form part of the Britsh nation, both 'Scottish nationalism' and
'Welsh nationalism' are spurious.
Objectively, Scottish and Welsh 'nationalisms' serve the
interests of British imperialism, since they place the blame for the
exploitation of the working people of Scotand and Wales on an imaginary enemy,
the 'English imperialists'.
Scottish and Welsh 'nationalisms' serve the interests of
British imperialism by seeking to divide the working people of Scotland and
Wales from their fellow-workers in England, suggesting that (as members of
'oppressed nations') they have a common interest with capitalists in Scotland
and Wales. Nevertheless, while recognising that the peoples of Scotland, Wales
and England form a single British nation, Marxist-Leninist support autonomy for
these territories in the form of devolution as a democratic measure.
10. WHAT IS RACISM?
The view that people of one degree of skin pigmentation are
superior or inferior to people of another degree. Because of the history of
imperialism, the most common form of racism is 'white racism', which holds that
people with 'white' skins are superior to those with 'black' skins.
The imperialists, who form a tiny minority of the world's
population, can maintain their domination over the working people of the world
only on the basis of 'divide and rule'. Consequently, they seek to set white
against black, Christian against Muslim, manual worker against intellectual
worker, young against old, and so on.
All forms of racism, which seek to set people of one race
against people of another, serve the interests of the imperialists.
Black racism, although to some extent a reaction against
white racism, complements the former. Both white racists and black racists
oppose the building of an anti-imperialist united front embracing the working
people of the imperialist countries and those of the colonial-type countries
which is essential to destroy imperialism.
11. THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS IN A DEVELOPED CAPITALIST
COUNTRY CONSISTS OF A SINGLE STAGE -- THAT OF SOCIALIST REVOLUTION.
THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY CONSISTS OF TWO STAGES.
WHAT ARE THEY?
Firstly, the stage of national-democratic revolution, of
national liberation, directed against foreign domination;
Secondly, the stage of socialist revolution.
12. THE CAPITALIST CLASS IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY CONSISTS
OF TWO SECTIONS. WHAT ARE THEY?
Firstly, the comprador capitalists (involved particularly in
finance and commerce) who are dependent upon the dominating foreign power and
have an objective interest in supporting it; and secondly, the national
capitalists (particularly those involved in industry) whose interests and
advancement are frustrated by the dominating foreign power and who therefore
have an objective interest in ending foreign domination.
13. WHAT SOCIAL CLASSES IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY HAVE AN
OBJECTIVE INTEREST IN 1) OPPOSING AND 2) SUPPORTING NATIONAL- DEMOCRATIC
The landlord class and the comprador capitalist class have an
objective interest in opposing national-democratic revolution. The national
capitalists, the middle and poor peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the
working class have an objective interest in supporting it.
14. WHAT SOCIAL CLASSES IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY HAVE AN
OBJECTIVE INTEREST IN 1) OPPOSING AND 2) SUPPORTING SOCIALIST REVOLUTION?
The landlord class, the urban and rural capitalist class and
the better-off strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie, have an objective interest
in opposing the socialist revolution.
The poorer strata of the peasantry, the poorer strata of the
urban petty bourgeoisie, and the working class have an objective interest in
15. WHY DO MARXIST-LENINISTS, WHOSE FUNDAMENTAL AIM IS TO
BRING ABOUT A SOCIALIST REVOLUTION, SUPPORT A NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION IN
A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY AS THE FIRST STAGE IN THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS THERE?
Because the national-democratic revolution enables certain
class forces opposed to the socialist revolution (the landlords and comprador
capitalists) to be defeated by a wider coalition of classes than those which
stand to gain by the socialist revolution.
16. WHAT, THEN, IS THE MARXIST-LENINIST STRATEGY IN RELATION
TO THE NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY?
To support it as an essential preliminary stage in the
revolutionary process in a colonial-type country;
to strive to build the broadest possible united front embracing all social
classes which have an objective interst in supporting the national-democratic
to strive to win leadership by the working class of this anti-imperialist united
front, and the leadersip of the working class by the Marxist-Leninist Party:
to strive to transform the national-democratic revolution uninterruptedly into a
The Trotskyist slogan in a colonial-type country of 'Socialism Now', which seeks
to skip over an essential stage in the revolution, objectively assists the
enemies of socialism.
17. WHAT ARE THE AIMS OF THE NATIONAL CAPITALISTS IN A
COLONIAL- TYPE COUNTRY IN RELATION TO THE NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION?
To strive to lead the national-democratic revolution and to
hold the revolutionary process at this stage so as to establish a capitalist
state in which they, the national capitalists, hold political power and exploit
the working people for themselves.
In a colonial-type country where there is a developed working
class led by a Marxist-Leninist Party, a class struggle takes place during the
development of the national-democratic revolution between the working class and
the national capitalist class for leadership of the revolutionary process. If
the working class is seen to be winning this leadership, the national
capitalists will inevitably desert the national-democratic revolution and go
over to the side of counter-revolution -- preferring a subordinate position as
exploiters to the complete loss in a socialist revolution of their 'right' to
18. WHAT IS MAOISM?
The character of Maoism is the subject of much debate, and
the NCMLP does not present an organisational position on this.
Some people hold that Maoism -- named after the Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung --
is a development of Marxism-Leninism.
Others hold that it is, at least in part, a revisionist deviation from
Marxism-Leninism. Still others hold that it is a brand of revisionism for
colonial-type countries, designed to hold up the revolutionary process in such
countries at the stage of national- democratic revolution.
The character of Maoism should be debated during the
19. WHAT IS PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM?
The opposite of bourgeois nationalism, it emphasises the
brotherhood and common interests of the working people of all countries and the
need for their solidarity in action and organisation. It is exemplified in the
Marxist-Leninist slogan: 'WORKERS OF ALL LANDS, UNITE!'.