RE: [OPE] Marx on international relations

Date: Mon May 05 2008 - 09:58:30 EDT

Many thanks or the references and thoughts. I found some useful material in Marx's and Engels' papers and speeches on free trade, fraternisation of nations and so on. The starting point to think about these issues are Kant's Perpetual Peace and Metaphysics of Ethics, and Adam Smith' works and Adam Ferguson's essay on civil society. These works give a good understanding of what Hegel, Marx and Engels have to say about international relations and international political economy. I have already produced a long paper on this in Turkish and hoping to prepare also an English version soon. 
Hi Dogan:

I'll be interested in reading the connections you make between M&E
and Kant, Smith, and Ferguson on civil society and international
relations. Keep us posted.
----------------------------I found this passage from "The Festival of Nations in London" ( very interesting because it criticises three cocnepts at the same time which come down to us from Kant, Smith, and Saint-Simon. If one works out the background of this passage and justification that is followed in later works of Marx and Engels then it helps a lot to understand in many ways our world how it is and how and in what ways it may become:"Finally, fraternisation between nations has today, more than ever a purely social significance. The fantasies about a European Republic, perpetual peace under political organisation, have become just as ridiculous as the phrases about uniting the nations under the aegis of universal free trade, and while all such chimerical sentimentalities become completely irrelevant, the proletarians of all nations, without too much ceremony, are already really beginning to fraternise under the banner of communist democracy. And the proletarians are the only ones who are really able to do this; for the bourgeoisie in each country has its own special interests, and since these interests are the most important to it, it can never transcend nationality; and the few theoreticians achieve nothing with all their fine “principles” because they simply allow these contradictory interests — like everything else — to continue to exist and can do nothing but talk. But the proletarians in all countries have one and the same interest, one and the same enemy, and one and the same struggle. The great mass of proletarians are, by their very nature, free from national prejudices and their whole disposition and movement is essentially humanitarian, anti-nationalist. Only the proletarians can destroy nationality, only the awakening proletariat can bring about fraternisation between the different nations."

The fact that this was written in 1845, I think, has significance.
In any event, I think it is erroneous and one sided.
On the side of theorizing capitalists and nation-states, it is one-sided to the extent that it 
emphasizes _only_ diversity. This would be as mistaken a conception as just conceiving
of the subject as simple unity - as many of those who believe in a "globalization" thesis
do. Yes, capital is divided internationally, nationalism remains a  crucial force in capitalist
civil society today.  But, the idea that a "European Republic" is but a fantasy is out-of-date.
Also out-of-date is the lack of  recognition that capitalist nations can collaborate with each other
- even if in a very incomplete and contradictory way (e.g. in the UN).
Similarly, the conception of proletarians is one-sided. Yes, of course, workers of the
world _should_ unite.  But, the reality (in the mid-19th Century and today) is that thereis diversity, division, and conflict _within_ the working class. One will get nowhere
conceiving of the class and politically if one does not recognize and address these
divisions and conflicts. And, yes, the power of nationalism remains very strong within
the international working class -  generally to the harm of the class but not always so.
What is lacking in the snippet above is a recognition of  classes as *unity-in-diversity*.
And that is interesting because we were just talking about it a couple of weeks ago!
--------------------------By the way: on this occasion I found out that the claim that Engels developed a theory of "non-historic-nations" is nonsense. Engels nowhere uses such a term. Michael Löwy and so on who made such claims never refer to Engels. They all take it for grated that Engels used this term and put forward such a claim. Anyway this seems to be a myth. ------------------------
Engels did not have to use the actual _term_ "non-historic nations"
to have a perspective which could so be described. I'm not
saying whether he did or didn't, only that one can't tell just by
looking through his works for that expression.
In solidarity, Jerry

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