[OPE] Marx on international relations

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@telfort.nl)
Date: Tue May 06 2008 - 05:50:25 EDT

This critique of Marx & Engels (and the origin of the modern debate) is due to Roman Rosdolsky. See Roman Rosdolsky, Engels and the `Nonhistoric' Peoples: the National Question in the Revolution of 1848. Glasgow: Critique books, 1987. First published in Critique, No.18/19, 1986. This is a translation of: Roman Rosdolsky, Zur nationalen Frage. Friedrich Engels und das Problem der 'geschichtslosen' Völker, Verlag Olle & Wolter, Berlin 1979. Parts of this book were first published in: Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, Bd. IV., 1964, Hg. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Marx and Engels did not have anything like a "theory of international relations" in the modern bourgeois sense, and their views about the subject had nothing in particular to do with bourgeois philosophers like Kant, Smith and Ferguson. Nor were their views completely consistent at all times. But there are a lot of Marxist forgeries around of what Marx and Engels really thought.

A good starting point is the Penguin volumes on "Marx: The First International and After" and "Marx: Articles for the New York Tribune". Also, Marx's writings on Ireland and India, and Engels's writings on German history and military history.

Marx was an influential participant in the International Working Men's Association (IWMA), and Engels was a political leader of the Second International. There is a comprehensive literature which documents all this.

The first piece of activism of the IWMA concerned an attempt at strike-breaking in 1866. In April of that year, the London tailors had organized themselves, demanding a wage increase of a penny an hour. The employers responded with a lock-out, and tried to recruit strike-breakers in Germany, which they had done on previous occasions. The IWMA helped to block their efforts in Hamburg and Berlin, thus contributing to the successful outcome of the tailors' action.

Three original modern-day authors inspired by Marx & Engels's views on international relations:

Ernest Mandel http://marxists.catbull.com/archive/mandel/1970/xx/coexistence.htm

Kees van der Pijl http://www.sussex.ac.uk/ir/profile114421.html

David Chandler http://www.davidchandler.org/

In Germany, a fairly sophisticated discussion took place about the Marxian analysis of the world market around the journal Prokla, as I had mentioned a few years back in my wiki article on the law of value. This is now discussed by Oliver Nachtwey and Tobias Ten Brink in their article "Lost in Transition: the German World-Market Debate in the 1970s", Historical Materialism, Volume 16, Number 1, 2008 , pp. 37-70 (34)

There are also various international organisations referring to Marx (e.g. the Fourth International, International Socialist Tendency, Maoist Internationals).


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