Sayyid Qutb and what a Muslims nationality is

Sayyid Qutb is a man who isn’t really known about unless you’ve looked into the roots of modern Islamic thought, he could be called one of the founders of the modern Islamic revival movement. He was a fairly well known Egyptian scholar who was later executed by the government of President Gamal Abdel Nasser for crimes against the state.

It should be noted that we see both Sayyid Qutb and President Nasser as interesting figures in world history, they both deserve a platform from which to speak. 14:11 will reprint some of both of their writings, there is value in both.

His most famous book is called Milestones and it provides a fairly compelling argument for what the Islamic identity is, in his mind it was the answer to both the failures of liberal democracy and Marxist communism.

“Democracy in the West has become infertile to such an extent that it is borrowing from the systems of the Eastern bloc, especially in the economic system, under socialism.” (Milestones, 3)

“The leadership of mankind by Western man is now on the decline, not because Western culture has become poor materially or because its economic and military power has become weak. The period of the Western system has come to an end primarily because it is deprived of those lifegiving values which enabled it to be the leader of mankind.” (Milestones, 3)

The idea of leading society through religion has always been seen as a third way between both communism and capitalism, many European thinkers have argued for a kind of Christian society along the same lines, we can see this from the Middle Ages right up to the beginnings of World War 2.

Below is a chapter from his book Milestones, we hope you find it enlightening.

  • Andross

A Muslim’s Nationality and Belief

The day Islam gave a new concept of values and standards to mankind and showed the way to learn these values and standards, it also provided it with a new concept of human relationships. Islam came to return man to his Sustainer and to make His guidance the only source from which values and standards ate to be obtained, as He is the Provider and Originator. All relationships ought to be based through Him, as we came into being through His will and shall return to him.

Islam came to establish only one relationship which binds men together in the sight of God, and if this relationship is firmly established, then all other relationships based on blood or other considerations become eliminated.

“You will not find the people who believe in God and the Hereafter taking allies the enemies of God and His prophet, whether they be their fathers or sons or brothers of fellow tribesmen.” (58-22)

In the world there is only one party of God; all others are parties of Satan and rebellion.

“Those who believe fight in the cause of God, and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of rebellion. Then fight the allies of Satan; indeed, Satan’s strategy is weak.” (3:78)

There is only one way to reach God; all other ways do not lead to Him.

“This is my straight path. Then follow it, and do not follow other ways which will scatter you from His path.” (6:153)

For human life, there is only one true system, and that is Islam; all other systems are Jahilliyyah.

“Do they want a judgment of the Days of Ignorance? Yet who is better in judgment than God, for a people having sure faith?” (5:50)

There is only one law which ought to be followed, and that is the Shari’ah from God; anything else is mere emotionalism and impulsiveness.

“We have set you on a way ordained (by God); then follow it, and do not follow the desires of those who have no knowledge” (45:18)

The truth is one and indivisible; anything different from it is error.

“Is anything left besides error, beyond the truth? Then to which do you go?” (10:32)

There is only one place on earth which can be called the home of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam), and it is that place where the Islamic state is established and the Shari’ah is the authority and God’s limits are observed, and where all the Muslims administer the affairs of the state with mutual consultation. The rest of the world is the home of hostility (Dar-ul-Harb). A Muslim can have only two possible relations with Dar-ul-Harb: peace with a contractual agreement, or war. A country with which there is a treaty will not be considered the home of Islam.

“Those who believed, and migrated, and strove with their wealth and their persons in the cause of God, and those who gave them refuge and helped them, are the protectors of each other. As to those who believed but did not emigrate, you have no responsibility for their protection until they emigrate; but if they ask your help in religion, it is your duty to help them, except against a people between whom and you there is a treaty; and God sees whatever you do. Those who disbelieve are the allies of each other. If you do not do this, there will be oppression in the earth and a great disturbance. Those who believe, and migrate, and fight in the cause of God, and those who give them refuge and help them, are in truth Believers. For them is forgiveness and generous provision. And those who accept Faith afterwards and migrate and strive along with you, they are of you.” (8:72-75)

Islam came with this total guidance and decisive teaching. It came to elevate man above, and release him from, the bonds of the earth and soil, the bonds of flesh and blood-which are also the bonds of the earth and soil. A Muslim has no country except that part of the earth where the Shari’ah of God is established and human relationships are based on the foundation of relationship with God; a Muslim has no nationality except his belief, which makes him a member of the Muslim community in Dar-ul-Islam; a Muslim has no relatives except those who share the belief in God, and thus a bond is established between him and other Believers through their relationship with God

A Muslim has no relationship with his mother, father, brother, wife and other family members except through their relationship with the Creator, and then they are also joined through blood.

“O mankind, remain conscious of your Sustainer, Who created you from one soul and created from its mate, and from the two of them scattered a great many men and women. Remain conscious of God, from Whose authority you make demands, and reverence the wombs (from which you were born). (4:1)

However, divine relationship does not prohibit a Muslim from treating his parents with kindness and consideration in spite of differences of belief, as long as they do not join the front lines of the enemies of Islam. However, if they openly declare their alliance with the enemies of Islam, then all the fillal relationships of a Muslim are cut off and he is not bound to be kind and considerate to them. Abdullah, son of Abdullah bin Ubayy, has presented us with a bright example in this subject.

Ibn Jarir, on the authority of Ibn Ziad, has reported that the Prophet called Abdullah, son of Abdullah bin Ubayy, and said “Do you know what your father said?” Abdullah asked. “May my parents be a ransom for you; what did my father say?” The prophet replied, “He said, ‘If we return to Medina (from the battle), the one with honor will throw out the one who is despised.” Abdullah then said, “O Messenger of God, by God, he told the truth. You are the one with honor and he is the one who is despised. O Messenger of God, the people of Medina know that before you came to Medina, no one was more obedient to his father than I was. But now, if it is the pleasure of God and his Prophet that I cut off his head, then I shall do so.” The Prophet replied, “No”. When the Muslims returned to Medina, Abdullah stood in front of the gate with his sword drawn over his father’s head, telling him, “Did you say that if we return to Media then the one with honor will throw out the one who is despised? By God, now you will know whether you have honor, or God’s Messenger! By God, until God and his Messenger give permission, you cannot enter Medina, nor will you have refuge from me!” Ibn Ubayy cried aloud and said twice, “People of Khazraj, see how my son is preventing me from entering my home!” But his son Abdullah kept repeating that unless the Prophet gave permission he would not let him enter Medina. Hearing this noise, some people gather around and started pleading with Abdullah, but he stood his ground. Some people went to the Prophet and reported this incident. He told them, “Tell Abdullah to let his father enter”. When Abdullah got this message, he then told his father, “Since the Prophet had given permission, you can enter now.”

When the relationship of the belief is established, whether there by any relationship of blood or not, the Believers become like brothers. God Most High says, “Indeed, the Believers are brothers,” which is a limitation as well as a prescription. He also says:

“Those who believed, and migrated, and strove with their wealth and their persons in the cause of God, and those who gave them refuge and helped them, are the protectors of each other.” (8:72)

The protection which is referred to in this verse is not limited to a single generation but encompasses future generations as well, thus linking the future generations with the past generation in a sacred and eternal bond of love, loyalty and kindness.

“Those who lived (in Medina) before the Emigrants and believed, love the Emigrants and do not find in their hearts any grudge when thou givest them something, but give them preference over themselves, even though they may be poor. Indeed, the ones who restrain themselves from greed achieve prosperity. Those who came after them (the Emigrants) say; ‘Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers who entered the Faith before us, and leave not in our hearts and grievance against those who believe. Our Lord! You are indeed Most Kind, Most Merciful.” (59:9-10)

God Most High has related the stories of earlier Prophets in the Qur’an as an example for the believers. In various periods the Prophets of God lightened the flame of faith and guided the Believers.

“And Noah called upon his Lord and said ‘O my Lord, surely my son is of my family, and Your promise is true, and You are the Justest off Judges’. He said, “O Noah, he is not of your family, as his conduct is unrighteous; so do not ask of me that which you have no knowledge. I give you the counsel not to act like the ignorant.’ Noah said ‘O, my Lord, I seek refuge with You lest I ask You for thaat of which I have no knowledge, and unless You forgive me and have mercy on me, I shall be lost”. (11:45-47)

“And when Abraham said, ‘My Lord! Make this a city of peace and feed its people with fruits, such of them as believe in God and the Last Day’. He said, ‘And those who reject faith, I will grant them their pleasure for a while, but will eventually drive them to the chastisement of the Fire. What an evil destination!”(2:126)

When the Prophet Abraham saw his father and his people persistent in their error, he turned away from them and said “I leave you and those upon whom you call besides God. I will only call upon my Sustainer, and hope that my Lord will not disappoint me.” (19:48)

In relating the story of Abraham and his people, God has highlighted those aspects which are to be an example for the believers.

“Indeed, Abraham and his companions are an example for you, when they told their people, ‘ We have nothing to do with you and whatever you worship besides God. We reject them; and now there is perpetual enmity and anger between you and us unless you believe in One God.” (60:4)

When those young and courageous friends who are known as the Companions of the Cave saw this same rejection among their family and tribe, they left them all, migrated from their country, and ran towards their Sustainer so that they could live as His servants.

“They were youths who believed in their Lord, and We advanced them in guidance. We gave strength to hearts, so that they stood up and said ‘Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We shall not call upon any god apart form Him. If we did, we should indeed have said an awful thing. These people have taken for worship other gods other than Him. Why do they not bring a clear proof for what they do? Who can be more wrong than such as invert a falsehood against God? So, when you turn away from them and the things they worship other than God, take refuge in the cave. Your Lord will shower mercies on you and will provide ease and comfort for you affairs”! (18:13-16)

The wife of Noah and the wife of Lot were separated from their husbands only because their beliefs were different.

“God gives as an example for the unbelievers the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were marreid to two of Our righteous servants; but they were false to their husbands, and they profited nothing before God on their account, but were told ‘Enter you both into the fire along with those who enter it.” (66:10)

Then there is another kind of example in the wife of Pharaoh. “And God gives as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh. Behold, she said, ‘My Lord, build for me in nearness to You a mansion in heaven, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those who do wrong.” (66:11)

The Qur’an also describes examples of different kinds of relationships. In the story of Noah we have an example of the paternal relationship; in the story of Abraham, an example of the son and of the country; in the story of the Companions of the Cave a comprehensive example of relatives, tribe and home country. In the stories of Noah, Lot and Pharaoh there is an example of marital relationships.

After a description of the lives of the great Prophets and their relationships, we now turn to the Middle Community, that is, that of the early Muslims. We find similar examples and experiences in this community in great numbers. This community followed the Divine path which God has chosen for the Believers. When the relationship of common belief was broken- in other words, when the very first relationship joining one man with another was broken,- then persons of the same family or tribe were divided into different groups God Most High says in praise of the Believers:

“You will not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day loving those who fight God and His Messenger, even though they be their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. These are the people on whose hearts God has imprinted faith and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therin. God will be well-pleased with them and they with Him. They are the party of God; truly the party of God will prosper.” (58:22)

We see that the blood relationships between Muhammad- peace be on him- and his uncle Abu Lahab and his cousin Abu Jahl were broken, and that the Emigrants from Mecca were fighting against their families and relatives and were in the front lines of Badr, while on the other hand their relations with the Helpers of Medina became strengthened on the basis of a common faith. They became like brothers, even more than blood relatives. This relationship established a new brotherhood of Muslims in which were included Arabs and non-Arabs. Suhaib from Rome and Bilal from Abyssinia and Selman from Persia were all brothers. There was no tribal partisanship among them. The pride of lineage was ended, the voice of nationalism was silenced, and the Messenger of God addressed them: “Get rid of these partisanships; these are foul things”, and “He is not one of us who calls toward partisanship, who fights for partisanship, and who dies for partisanship.”

Thus this partisanship- the partisanship of lineage- ended and this slogan- the slogan of race- died; and this pride- the pride of nationality- vanished; and man’s spirit soared to higher horizons, freed from the bondage of flesh and blood and the pride of soil and country. From that day, Muslim’s country has not been a piece of land, but the homeland of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam)- the homeland where faith rules and the Shari’ah of God holds sway, the homeland in which he took refuge and which he defended, and in trying to extend it, he become martyred. This Islamic homeland is a refuge for any who accepts the Islamic Shari’ah to be the law of the state, as is the case with the Dhimmies. But any place where the Islamic Shari’ah is not enforced and where Islam is not dominant becomes the home of hostility (Dar-ul-Harb) for both the Muslim and the Dhimmi. A Muslim will remain prepared to fight against it, whether it be his birthplace of a place where his relatives reside or where his property or any other material interests are located.

And thus Muhammad- Peace be on him- fought against the city or Mecca, although it was his birthplace, and his relatives lived there, and he and his companions had houses and property there which they had left when they migrated; yet the soil of Mecca did not become Dar-ul-Islam for him and his followers until it surrendered to Islam and the Shari’ah became operative in it.

This, and only this, is Islam. Islam is not a few words pronounced by the tongue, or birth in a country called Islamic, or an inheritance from a Muslim father.

“No, by your Sustainer, they have not believed until they make you the arbiter of their disputed and then do not find any grievance against your decision but submit with full submission”. (4:65)

Only this is Islam, and only this is Dar-ul-Islam- not the soil, not the race, not the lineage, not the tribe, and not the family.

Islam freed all humanity from the ties of the earth so that they might soar towards the skies, and freed them from the chains of blood relationships- the biological chains- so that they might rise above the angels.

The homeland of the Muslim, in which he lives and which he defends, is not a piece of land; the nationality of the Muslim, by which he is identified, is not the nationality determined by a government; the family of the Muslim, in which he finds solace and which he defends, is not blood relationships; the flag of the Muslim, which he honors and under which he is martyred, is not the flag of a country; and the victory of the Muslim, which he celebrates and for which he is thankful to God, is not a military victory. It is what God has described:

“When God’s help and victory comes, and thou seest people entering into God’s religion in multitudes, then celebrate the praise of thy Lord and ask His forgiveness. Indeed, He is the Acceptor of Repentance.” (110:1-3)

The victory is achieved under the banner of faith, and under no other banners; the striving is purely for the sake of God, for the success of His religion and His law, for the protection of Dar-ul-Islam, the particulars of which we have described above, and for no other purpose. It is not for the spoils or for fame, nor for the honor of a country or nation, nor for the mere protection of one’s family except when supporting them against religious persecution.

The honor of martyrdom is achieved only when one is fighting in the cause of God, and if one is killed for any other purpose this honor will not be attained.

Any country which fights the Muslim because of his belief and prevents him from practicing his religion, and in which the Shari’ah is suspended, is Dar-ul-Harb, even though his family or his relatives live in it, or his capital is invested and his trade or commerce is in that country; and any country where the Islamic faith is dominant and its Shari’ah is operative is Dar-ul-Islam, even though the Muslim’s family or relatives or his people do not live there, and he does not have any commercial relations with it.

The fatherland is that the place where the Islamic faith, the Islamic way of life, and the Shari’ah of God is dominant; only this meaning of ‘fatherland’ is worthy of the human being. Similarly, ‘nationality’ means belief and a way of life, and only this relationship is worthy of man’s dignity.

Grouping according to family and tribe and nation, and race and color and country, are residues of the primitive state of man; these jahili groupings are from a period when man’s spiritual values were at a low stage. The Prophet- peace be upon him- has called them “dead things” against which man’s spirit should revolt.

When the Jews claimed to be the chosen people of God on the basis of their race and nationality, God Most High rejected their claim and declared that in every period, in every race and in every nation, there is only one criterion: that of faith.

“And they say: ‘become Jews, or Christians; then you will be guided’. Say: ‘Not so: The way of Abraham, the pure in faith; and he was not among those who associate other gods with God’. Say: ‘We believe in God, and what has come down to us, and what has come down to Abraham, Ismail and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes (of Israelities), and what was given to Moses and Jesus and to other Prophets by their Sustainer. We do not make any distinction among them, and we have submitted to Him. If then they believe as you have believed, they are guided; but if they turn away, then indeed they are stubborn. Then God suffices for you, and He is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. The baptism of God: and who can baptize better than God? And we worship Him alone.” (2:135-138)

The people who are really chosen by God are the Muslim community which has gathered under God’s banner without regard to differences of races, nations, colors and countries.

“You are the best community raised for the good of mankind. You enjoined what is good and forbid what is evil, and you believe in God.” (3:110)

This is that community in the first generation of which there were Abu Bakr from Arabia, Bilal from Abyssinia, Suhaib from Syria, Selman from Persia, and their brothers in faith. The generations which followed them were similar. Nationalism here is belief, homeland here is Dar-ul-Islam, the ruler here is God, and the constitution here is the Qur’an.

This noble conception of homeland, of nationality, and of relationship should become imprinted on the hearts of those who invite others towards God. They should remove all influences of Jahiliyyah which make this concept impure and which may have the slightest element of hidden Shirk, such as Shirk in relation to homeland, or in relation to race or nation, or in relation to lineage or material interests. All these have been mentioned by God Most High in one verse, in which He has placed them in one side of the balance and the belief and its responsibilities in the other side, and invites people to choose,

“Say: If your fathers and your sons and your brothers and your spouses and your relatives, and the wealth which you have acquired, and the commerce in which you fear decline, and the homes in which you take delight, are dearer to you than God and His Messenger and striving in His cause then wait until God brings His judgment; and God does not guide the rebellious people.” (9:24)

The callers to Islam should not have any superficial doubts in their hearts concerning the characteristics of Dar-ul-Harb and of Dar-ul-Islam, for through these doubts many are led to confusion. Indeed, there is no Islam in a land where Islam is not dominant and where its Shari’ah is not established; and that place is not Dar-ul-Islam where Islam’s way of life and its laws are not practiced. There is nothing beyond faith except unbelief, nothing beyond Islam except Jahiliyyah, nothing beyond the truth except falsehood.

Pgs: 96-105

Joseph Stalin and the National Question

Joseph Stalin is a man who is a bunch of different things to many different people, some love and hate him at the same time. He is a man who truly strove to be Lenin’s student, and actively tried to carry out his plans for the Soviet people, he always claimed to be nothing more than Lenin’s pupil.

One of the things he’s most known for is his take on the National Question within the Soviet Union, one of his most popular books is called Marxism and the National Question and really is quite insightful to people on both the left and right.

This will be part 1 in an ongoing look at how Stalin viewed the National Question, the statements come from a book called Stalin’s Kampf and is highly recommended by the site printer.


Russia’s Nationalities

A nation is not merely a historical category but a historical category belonging to a definite epoch, the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism was at the same time a process of amalgamation of people into nations. Such, for instance, was the case in Western Europe. The British, French, Germans, Italians and others formed themselves into nations at the time of the victorious advance of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity.

But the formation of nations in these instances at the same time signified their conversion into independent national states. The British, French and other nations are at the same time British, French, etc, states. Ireland, which did not participate in the process, does not alter the general picture.

Matters proceeded somewhat differently in Eastern Europe. While in the West the nations developed into states, in the East multinational states were formed, each consisting of several nationalities. Such are Austria-Hungary and Russia. In Austria, the Germans proved to be politically the most developed, and they took it upon themselves to amalgamate the Austrian nationalities into a state. In Hungary, the most adapted for state organization were the Magyars- the kernel of the Hungarian nationalities- and it was they who united Hungary. In Russia, the role of welder of nationalities was assumed by the Great-Russians, who were headed by an aristocratic military bureaucracy, which had been historically formed and was powerful and well organized.

This peculiar method of formation of states could take place only where feudalism had not yet been eliminated, where capitalism was feebly developed, where the nationalities which had been forced into the background had not yet been able to consolidate themselves into integral nations.

But capitalism also began to develop in the Eastern states. Trade and means of communication were developing. Large towns were springing up. The nations were becoming economically consolidated. Capitalism, erupting into the tranquil life of the ousted nationalities, was arousing them and stirring them into action. The development of the press and the theater, the activity of the Reichsrat (Austria) and of the Duma (Russia) were helping to strengthen “national sentiments.” The intelligentsia that had arisen was being imbued with “the national idea” and was acting in the same direction…

But the ousted nations, aroused to independent life, could no longer shape themselves into independent national states; they encountered the powerful resistance of the ruling strata of the dominant nations, which had long ago assumed the control of the state. They were too late!

In this way the Czechs, Poles, etc., formed themselves into nations in Austria; the Croats, etc., in Hungary; the Letts, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians, etc., in Russia. What had been an exception in Western Europe (Ireland) became the rule in the East.

In the West, Ireland responded to its exceptional position by a national movement. In the East, the awakened nations were bound to respond in the same fashion.

Thus arose the circumstances which impelled the young nations of Eastern Europe into the path of struggle.

The struggle began and spread, to be sure, not between nations as a whole but between the ruling classes of the dominant and ousted nations. The struggle is usually conducted by the urban petty bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation against the big bourgeoisie of the dominant nations (Czechs and Germans), or by the rural bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation against the landlords of the dominant nation (Ukrainians in Poland), or by the whole “national” bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations against the ruling nobility of the dominant nation (Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine in Russia).

The bourgeoisie plays the leading role.

The chief problem for the young bourgeoisie is the problem of the market. Its aim is to sell its goods and to emerge victorious from competition with the bourgeoisie of another nationality. Hence its desire to secure its “own,” its “home” market. The market is the first school in which the bourgeoisie learns its nationalism.

But matters are usually not confined to the market. The semi-feudal, semi-bourgeoisie bureaucracy of the dominant nation intervenes in the struggle with its own methods of “arresting and preventing.” The bourgeoisie of the dominant nation, whether large or small, is able to deal more “rapidly” and “decisively” with its competitors. “Forces” are united and a series of restrictive measures is put into operation against the “alien” bourgeoisie, measures passing into acts of repression. The struggle passes from the economic sphere into the political sphere. Limitation of freedom of movement, repression of language, limitation of franchise, restriction of schools, religious limitations, and so on are piled on the head of the “competitor.” Of course, such measures are designed not only in the interest of the bourgeois classes of the dominant nation, but also in pursuit of the specifically caste aims, so to speak, of the ruling bureaucracy. But from the point of view of the results achieved that is quite immaterial: the bourgeois classes and the bureaucracy in the matter go hand in hand- whether it be in Austria-Hungary or in Russia.

The Bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation, repressed on every hand, is naturally stirred into movement. It appeals to its “native folk” and begins to cry out about the “fatherland,” claiming that its own cause is the cause of the nation as a whole. It recruits itself an army from among its “countrymen” in the interests of… the “fatherland.” Nor do the “folk” always remain unresponsive to its appeals, they rally around its banner: the repression from above affects them also and provokes their discontent.

Thus the national movement begins.

The strength of the national movement is determined by the degree to which the wide strata of the nation, the proletariat and peasantry, participate in it.

Whether the Proletariat rallies to the banner of bourgeois nationalism depends on the degree of development of class contradictions, on the class-consciousness and degree of organization of the proletariat. A class-conscious proletariat has its own tried banner, and it does not need to march under the banner of the bourgeoisie.

As far as the peasants are concerned, their participation in the national movement depends primarily on the character of the repression. If the repression affects the “land,” as was the case in Ireland, then the mass of the peasants immediately rally to the banner of the national movement.

On the other hand, if, for example, there is no serious anti-Russian nationalism in Georgia, it is primarily because there are no Russian landlords there or a Russian big bourgeoisie to supply the fuel for such nationalism among the masses. In Georgia there is anti-Armenian nationalism; but this is because there is an Armenian big bourgeoisie there which, beating the small and still unconsolidated Georgian bourgeoisie, drives the latter to anti-Armenian nationalism.

Depending on these factors, the national movement either assumes a mass character and steadily grows (as in Ireland and Galicia), or it is converted into a series of petty collisions, degenerating into squabbles and “fights” over signboards (as in some of the towns in Bohemia)

The nature of the national movement, of course, will not everywhere be the same: it is wholly determined by the diverse demands made by the movement. In Ireland the movement bears an agrarian character; in Bohemia it is concerned with “language”; in one place the demand is for civil equality and religious freedom, in another for the nation’s “own” officials or its own Assembly. The diversity of demands not infrequently reveals the diverse features which characterize a nation in general (language, territory, etc.)…

The fate of the national movement, which is essentially a bourgeois movement, is naturally connected with the fate of the bourgeoisie. The final collapse of the national movement is possible only with the collapse of the bourgeoisie. Only under the reign of socialism can peace be fully established. But even within the framework of capitalism it is possible to reduce the national struggle to a minimum, to sever its roots, to render it as innocuous as possible for the proletariat. This is borne out by the examples of Switzerland and America. It requires that the country should be democratized and the nations allowed opportunity for free development.

National oppression is that system of exploitation and plunder of subject peoples, those measures of forcible restriction of the political rights of subject peoples, which are resorted to by imperialist circles. These, taken together, present the policy generally known as a policy of national oppression.

The first question is, on what classes does any government depend in carrying out its policy of national oppression? In order to obtain an answer to this question it must first be understood why different forms of national oppression exist in different states, why in one state national oppression is more severe and crude than in other states. For example, in Great Britain and Austria-Hungary national oppression never took the form of pogroms, but existed in the form of restrictions on national rights of the subject peoples; whereas in Russia it not infrequently assumes the form of pogroms and massacres. In certain states, on the other hand, no specific measures against national minorities are practiced at all. For instance, there is no national oppression in Switzerland, where French, Italians and Germans all live freely.

How are we to explain the difference in attitude towards nationalities existing in different states?

The difference depends on the degree of democracy in these states. When in former years the old landed aristocracy controlled the state power in Russia, national oppression could assume, and actually did assume, the monstrous form of massacres and pogroms. In Great Britain, where there is a definite degree of democracy and political freedom, national oppression bears a less brutal character. Switzerland, for her part, approximates to a democratic society, and in that country the small nations have more or less complete freedom. In a word, the more democratic a country, the less the national oppression, and vice versa. And since by democracy we mean that definite classes are in control of state power; it may be said from this point of view that the closer the old landed aristocracy stands to power, as was the case in old Tsarist Russia, the more severe is the oppression and the more monstrous the forms it assumes.

However, national oppression is supported not only be the agrarian aristocracy. There is, in addition, another force- the imperialist groups, who transfer the methods of enslaving peoples acquired by them in the colonies to their own country itself and thus become the natural allies of the landed aristocracy. They are followed by the petty bourgeoisie, a section of the intelligentsia, a section of the upper strata of the workers, who also enjoy the fruits of the plunder. There is thus a whole choir of social forces which support national oppression, headed by the landed and financial aristocracy. In order to create a real democratic system, it is first necessary to clear the soil and remove this choir from the political stage.

The first question is, how are we to arrange the political life of the oppressed nations? In answer to this question it must be said that the oppressed nations forming part of Russia must be allowed the right to decide for themselves whether they wish to remain part of the Russian state or to separate and form an independent state. We are at present witnessing a definite conflict between the Finnish People and the Provisional Government. The representatives of the Finnish people, the representatives of Social-Democracy, are demanding that the Provisional Government should return to the people the rights they enjoyed before they were annexed to Russia.

Further, what is to be done with those peoples which may desire to remain within the Russian state? Any mistrust of Russia which existed among the peoples was fostered chiefly by the policy of Tsarism. But now that Tsarism no longer exists, its policy of oppression no longer exists, this mistrust is bound to diminish and the attraction towards Russia increase. I believe that now, after the overthrow of Tsarism, nine tenths of the peoples will not desire secession. The party therefore proposes to institute regional autonomy for regions which may not desire secession and which are distinguished by peculiarities of social life and language, as, for instance, Transcaucasia, Turkestan and the Ukraine. The geographical boundaries of these autonomous regions shall be determined by the population itself with due regard for the exigencies of economic life, social life, etc…

There finally remains the question of the national minorities. Their rights must be specifically protected. The party therefore demands complete equality of rights in educational, religious and other matters and the removal of all restrictions on national minorities…

We have still to settle the question of how to organize the proletariat of the various nations into a single, common party. One plan is that the workers should be organized according to nationality- so many nations, so many parties This plan was rejected by the Social-Democratic Party. Experience has shown that the organization of the proletariat of a given state according to nationality only leads to the destruction of the idea of class solidarity. All the proletarian members of all the nations in a given state must be organized in a single, invisible proletarian collective body.

Thus, our views on the national question reduce themselves to the following propositions: a) the recognition of the rights of he peoples to secession; b) regional autonomy for peoples which remain within the given state; c) specific laws guaranteeing freedom of development for national minorities; d) a single, indivisible proletarian collective body, a single party, for the proletarians of all nationalities in the given state.

In addition to “national” governments, the borderlands also have national workers and peasants. Even before the October Revolution they were organized in their own revolutionary Soviets of Deputies, after the model of the Soviet of Deputies obtaining in the central parts of Russia, and never severed their connections with their brothers in the North. They, too, strove for victory over the bourgeoisie; they, too, fought for the triumph of socialism. No wonder the conflict between them and “their own” national governments increased from day to day. The October Revolution only consolidated the alliance between the workers and peasants of the borderlands and workers and peasants of Russia, inspiring them with faith in the triumph of socialism. And the war of the “national governments” against the Soviet government brought their conflict with these “governments” to a complete break with them, brought them to open rebellion against them.

Thus was formed the socialist alliance between the workers and peasants of all Russia against the counter-revolutionary alliance of the national-bourgeois “governments” of Russia’s borderlands.

Some people depict the struggle of the borderland “governments” as a struggle for national liberation and against the “soulless centralism” of the Soviet government. This, however, is wrong. No government in the world ever granted such extensive decentralization, no government in the world ever afforded its peoples such plenary national freedom as the Soviet government of Russia. The struggle of the borderland “governments” was and remains a struggle of the bourgeois counter-revolution against socialism. The national flag is tacked on to the cause only to deceive the masses, only as a popular flag which conveniently covers up the counter-revolutionary designs of the national bourgeoisie.

However, the struggle of the “national” and regional “governments” proved to be an unequal struggle. Attacked from two quarters-from without by the Soviet government, and from within by “their own” workers and peasants-the “national governments” had to retreat after the very first battles. The uprising of the Finnish workers and agricultural laborers and the flight of the bourgeois “Senate”; the uprising of the Ukrainian workers and peasants and the flight of the bourgeois “Rada”; the uprising of the workers and peasants in the Don region, in Kuban, in Siberia and the downfall of Kaledin, of Kornilov and of the Siberian “government”; the uprising of the poor of Turkestan and the flight of the “autonomous government”; the agrarian revolution in the Caucasus and the utter helplessness of the “national councils” of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan- these are facts of common knowledge demonstrating the complete isolation of the borderland “governments” from “their own” masses. Having been completely defeated, the “national governments” were “forced” to appeal to the imperialists of Western Europe, to the age long oppressors and exploiters of the small nations of the whole world, for aid against “their own” workers and peasants.

Such was the beginning of the period of foreign intervention in, and occupation of, the borderlands-a period revealing once more the counter-revolutionary nature of the “national” and regional “governments.”

Only now has it become obvious to all that the national bourgeoisie is striving not for the liberation of “its own people” from national oppression but for the liberty of wringing profits from it, for the liberty of preserving its own privileges and capital.

Only now has it become obvious that the liberation of the oppressed nationalities is inconceivable without breaking with imperialism, without overthrowing the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations, without power passing into the hands of the toiling masses of those nationalities.

After being victorious in the central part of Russia and taking possession of a number of borderlands, the October Revolution could not stop short at the territorial boundaries of Russia. In the atmosphere of imperialist world war and general discontent among the lower classes, it could not but spread to the neighboring countries. The break with imperialism and the liberation of Russia from the predatory war, the publication of the secret treaties and the solemn abrogation of the policy of seizing foreign soil, the proclmation of national freedom and the recognition of the independence of Finland, the declaration of Russia as a “Federation of Soviet National Republics” and the militant battle-cry of a resolute struggle against imperialism broadcast all over the world by the Soviet government in millions of pamphlets, newspapers and leaflets in the mother tongues of the peoples of the East and West- all this could not fail to have its effect on the enslaved East and the bleeding West.

And in truth, the October Revolution is the first revolution in the history of the world that has broken the sleep of centuries of the toiling masses of the oppressed nations of the East and drawn them into the struggle against world imperialism. The formation of workers’ and peasants’ soviets in Persia, China and India, modeled after the soviets in Russia, is sufficiently convincing proof of this.

The the struggle in the East and even in the West has not yet succeeded in shedding the bourgeois-nationalist features is not at all the point at issue- the point is that the struggle against imperialism has begun, that it goes on and is inevitably bound to reach its logical termination.

It is said that the principles of self-determination and of the “defense of the fatherland” have been abrogated, but their bourgeois interpretation. It is sufficient to cast a glance at the occupied regions, languishing under the yoke of imperialism and yearning for liberation; sufficient to cast a glance at Russia conducting a revolutionary war for the defense of the socialist fatherland against the pirates of imperialism; sufficient to ponder the events that are now transpiring in Austria-Hungary; sufficient to glance at the enslaved colonies and semi-colonies that have already organized soviets in their respective countries (India, Persia, China)- one need but cast a glance at all this to realize the full revolutionary potential of self-determination in its socialist interpretation.

Indeed the great international importance of the October Revolution consists mainly in that this revolution:

1.) has widened the scope of the national question, transforming it from a partial question of struggling against national oppression into a general question of liberating the oppressed nations, colonies and semi-colonies from imperialism;

2.) has ushered in vast opportunities and disclosed the actual means for this liberation, thus considerably facilitating the task of the oppressed nations of the West and East to accomplished their liberation and drawing them into the common channel of a victorious struggle against imperialism;

3.) has thereby erected a bridge between the socialist West and the enslaved East, by setting up a new front off revolutions extending from the proletarians of the West on through the Russian Revolution to the oppressed nations of the East against world imperialism.

This largely explains the brutal fury with which the imperialist robbers of the whole world have hurled themselves against Soviet Russia.

(Pg. 178-191)