Re: [OPE] Anti-imperialism and nationalism

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Tue Dec 15 2009 - 16:52:19 EST

Paula wrote:
> There are many ways one nation can oppress another. For a contemporary
> example, consider China's oppression of Tibet and Taiwan, which are
> quite different cases.
I think this concept would be valid if it were the case that the Chinese
population as a whole had colonized Tibet or Taiwan. Then the Chinese
population as a collective --- and its imagined community, 'the nation'
--- would likely to find it self in a oppressive relation with the
'indigenous' population, as either exclusionary or exploitative relations.

This is arguably the case of the active colonial-settler state today,
Israel. But for China it does not hold. It is not the Chinese nation ---
including its peasants and workers --- that are in an oppressive
relation with the Tibetan nation, but rather the Chinese state and
ruling classes. They are fundamentally different concepts. Hence the
concept of 'oppressor nation' accepts too much nationalist mythology.

> I also understand Dave's concerns about nationalism, but I would say
> that the right of nations to self-determination is precisely a policy
> designed to undermine this ideology. In the example above, having
> Chinese workers support Tibet's and Taiwan's right to
> self-determination is essential if one wants to promote
> internationalism among them. The policy does not support Tibetan or
> Taiwanese nationalism per se, and it does not demand that these
> nations separate, only that the Chinese people agree to leave
> the decision to the local people instead of supporting an arrangement
> that is imposed by force. For as long as we live in a world divided
> into nations, this is the only fair policy, and the one that
> guarantees the maximum amount of solidarity and peace between peoples.
I think there is merit to this argument, and I suppose this is
essentially the same position advocated by both Austro-Marxists and
Bolsheviks. (Moreoever, as I wrote before, I view language as the
legitimate factor for political borders.) However, the positive example
would be the USSR, which was a supra-national political entity. The
negative example would be the war between USSR and PRC, political
divided entities with the latter along nationalist lines.

> But the roots do not make up the whole tree. Such nations have their
> own independent interests. For instance, we can trace back the
> oppression of the Kurdish nation back to the British empire -
> and further back, if we really wish to - but today the Kurds are
> oppressed mostly by Turkey, Iran and Iraq. If Kurdistan is an
> 'imperialized' area then those are the imperialist nations that bear
> most of the responsibility at this point in time. But a whole section
> of the left refuses to recognize this.
I would like to point out that the ('Third Worldist') section of the
Left that you refer to belongs primarily to the Western capitalist world.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Tue Dec 15 16:58:08 2009

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