Marxism and the National Question
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The period of counter-revolution in Russia brought not only "thunder and
lightning" in its train, but also disillusionment in the movement and
lack of faith in common forces. As long as people believed in "a bright
future," they fought side by side irrespective of nationality – common
questions first and foremost! But when doubt crept into people's hearts,
they began to depart, each to his own national tent – let every man
count only upon himself! The "national question" first and foremost!
At the same time a profound upheaval was taking place in the economic
life of the country. The year 1905 had not been in vain: one more blow
had been struck at the survivals of serfdom in the countryside. The
series of good harvests which succeeded the famine years, and the
industrial boom which followed, furthered the progress of capitalism.
Class differentiation in the countryside, the growth of the towns, the
development of trade and means of communication all took a big stride
forward. This applied particularly to the border regions. And it could
not but hasten the process of economic consolidation of the
nationalities of Russia. They were bound to be stirred into movement.
The "constitutional regime" established at that time also acted in the
same direction of awakening the nationalities. The spread of newspapers
and of literature generally, a certain freedom of the press and cultural
institutions, an increase in the number of national theatres, and so
forth, all unquestionably helped to strengthen "national sentiments."
The Duma, with its election campaign and political groups, gave fresh
opportunities for greater activity of the nations and provided a new and
wide arena for their mobilization.
And the mounting wave of militant nationalism above and the series of
repressive measures taken by the "powers that be" in vengeance on the
border regions for their "love of freedom," evoked an answering wave of
nationalism below, which at times took the form of crude chauvinism. The
spread of Zionism  among the Jews, the increase of chauvinism in
Poland, Pan-Islamism among the Tatars, the spread of nationalism among
the Armenians, Georgians and Ukrainians, the general swing of the
philistine towards anti-Semitism – all these are generally known facts.
The wave of nationalism swept onwards with increasing force, threatening
to engulf the mass of the workers. And the more the movement for
emancipation declined, the more plentifully nationalism pushed forth its
At this difficult time Social-Democracy had a high mission – to resist
nationalism and to protect the masses from the general "epidemic." For
Social-Democracy, and Social-Democracy alone, could do this, by
countering nationalism with the tried weapon of internationalism, with
the unity and indivisibility of the class struggle. And the more
powerfully the wave of nationalism advanced, the louder had to be the
call of Social-Democracy for fraternity and unity among the proletarians
of all the nationalities of Russia. And in this connection particular
firmness was demanded of the Social-Democrats of the border regions, who
came into direct contact with the nationalist movement.
But not all Social-Democrats proved equal to the task – and this applies
particularly to the Social-Democrats of the border regions. The Bund,
which had previously laid stress on the common tasks, now began to give
prominence to its own specific, purely nationalist aims: it went to the
length of declaring "observance of the Sabbath" and "recognition of
Yiddish" a fighting issue in its election campaign.  The Bund was
followed by the Caucasus; one section of the Caucasian Social-Democrats,
which, like the rest of the Caucasian Social-Democrats, had formerly
rejected "cultural-national autonomy," are now making it an immediate
demand.  This is without mentioning the conference of the
Liquidators, which in a diplomatic way gave its sanction to nationalist
But from this it follows that the views of Russian Social-Democracy on
the national question are not yet clear to all Social-Democrats.
It is evident that a serious and comprehensive discussion of the
national question is required. Consistent Social-Democrats must work
solidly and indefatigably against the fog of nationalism, no matter from
what quarter it proceeds.
THE NATION -MARXISM AND THE NATIONAL QUESTION
THE NATIONAL MOVEMENT -MARXISM AND THE NATIONAL QUESTION
PRESENTATION OF THE QUESTION
THE BUND, ITS NATIONALISM, ITS SEPARATISM
THE CAUCASIANS, THE CONFERENCE OF THE LIQUIDATORS
THE NATIONAL QUESTION IN RUSSIA