We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Russian Revolution: Chapter 3: The Nationalities Question

Click here to access article by Rosa Luxemburg from her book The Russian Revolution that she wrote in prison in 1918. (Difficulties are presented for present day readers in this chapter with the now obscure references she makes to events that were well known in her time. The notes help somewhat. Also she writes in the style of German writers of this era by using complex sentences.)

Russia in 1914
Whereas in chapter 2 she pointed out the contradiction of the slogan "land to the peasants" and encouraging peasants to take land from the aristocracy and to essentially privatize it (which they later permitted under NEP to encourage food production) in this chapter she points out the contradiction promulgated by the Bolsheviks in their slogan (roughly translated) "right of self-determination to the point of separation". She explains how the rudimentary capitalist classes used this slogan in the border regions of the Russian Empire (Ukraine, Poland, and Baltic lands) to further their own interests and used it to promote counter-revolutionary activities against the Bolsheviks.
How does it happen then that in all these lands the counter-revolution suddenly triumphs? The nationalist movement, just because it tore the proletariat loose from Russia, crippled it thereby, and delivered it into the hands of the bourgeoisie of the border countries.

Instead of acting in the same spirit of genuine international class policy which they represented in other matters, instead of working for the most compact union of the revolutionary forces throughout the area of the Empire, instead of defending tooth and nail the integrity of the Russian Empire as an area of revolution and opposing to all forms of separatism the solidarity and inseparability of the proletarians in all lands within the sphere of the Russian Revolution as the highest command of politics, the Bolsheviks, by their hollow nationalistic phraseology concerning the “right of self-determination to the point of separation,” have accomplished quite the contrary and supplied the bourgeoisie in all border states with the finest, the most desirable pretext, the very banner of the counter-revolutionary efforts. Instead of warning the proletariat in the border countries against all forms of separatism as mere bourgeois traps, they did nothing but confuse the masses in all the border countries by their slogan and delivered them up to the demagogy of the bourgeois classes. By this nationalistic demand they brought on the disintegration of Russia itself, pressed into the enemy’s hand the knife which it was to thrust into the heart of the Russian Revolution.