Marxism-Leninism considers all questions in their historical settings. Marxism-Leninists view bourgeois nationalism under the given historical conditions. Drawing a distinction between its different objective roles, they decide what different attitudes the proletariat should take toward it.
In the early period of capitalism, the national movement led by the bourgeoisie had as its objective the struggle against oppression by other nations and the creation of a national state. This national movement was historically progressive, and the proletariat supported it.
In the present period, such bourgeois nationalism still exists in the colonial and semi-colonial countries. This variety of nationalism also has a certain objective progressive historical significance.
The bourgeoisie of Europe, the United States, and Japan has established the imperialist system of colonial and semi-colonial oppression in many backward countries. In such colonial and semi-colonial countries as China, India, Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Viet-Nam, Burma, Egypt, etc., bourgeois nationalism naturally developed. This was because the national bourgeoisie in these countries has interests antagonistic in the first place to those of imperialism, and in the second place to those of the domestic backward feudal forces. Moreover, these feudal forces unite with imperialism in restricting and hampering the development of the national bourgeoisie. Therefore, the national bourgeoisie in these countries is revolutionary in a certain historical period and to a certain degree. Bourgeois nationalism in these countries has a decidedly progressive significance when the bourgeoisie mobilize the masses in the struggle against imperialism and the feudal forces. As Lenin pointed out (in a speech delivered at the Second Congress of the Eastern Peoples), nationalism of this type “ has historical justification ” . Therefore the proletariat, with the aim of overthrowing the rule of imperialism and the feudal forces, should collaborate with this bourgeois nationalism which plays a defiantly anti-imperialist and anti-feudal role provided, as Lenin said, that these allies do not hinder us in educating and organizing the peasantry and the broad masses of theexploited people in a revolutionary spirit. The clearest example of this type of collaboration was that which existed between the Chinese Communists and Sun Yat-sen.
Sun Yat-sen’s nationalism was a form of bourgeois nationalism. The Three Person’s Principle of Sun Yat-sen, as Comrade Mao pointed out in his New Democracy, has undergone great changes in the two historical periods before and after the Russian October Socialist Revolution. In the former period, it came under the category of old democracy, that is, it remained within the scope of bourgeois democratic revolution of the old world and was a part of the bourgeois and capitalist world revolution. In the latter period, however, it belonged to New Democracy, that is it pertained to the scope of new bourgeois democratic revolution and was a part of the proletarian Socialist world revolution.
Sun Yat-sen’s nationalism in the old democratic era had a dual character. His opposition to the current rulers of China, the Manchu Dynasty, had a progressive character. Yet the Greater Han-ism he advocated had a reactionary character. After the October Revolution, when China entered the New Democratic era, received help from the U.S.S.R. and from us Chinese Communists. He then revised his nationalism characterized by Greater Han-ism and turned toward revolutionary nationalism characterized by his active opposition to imperialist aggression and his adoption of the three policies of alliance with the Soviet Union, alliance with the Chinese Communist Party and support for the workers and peasants. He also advocated that “the Chinese nation should strive to liberate itself” and that “there should be equality for all nationalities within the country” (Declaration of the First Congress of the Kuomintang). Thus he turned toward New Democracy and we Communists therefore adopted the policy of collaborating with him. This collaboration was absolutely correct and necessary for national liberation and was in accord with the interests of the proletariat at the time, even though it was an unreliable, temporary and unstable alliance which was later undermined by the shameless betrayers of Dr. Yat-sen’s cause.
Although Sun Yat-sen’s world outlook at the time was still of a bourgeois of petty-bourgeois character, and although his nationalism was still a form of bourgeois nationalism preserving some reactionary features (for instance, his concepts of so-called “common blood” “state and nation” and “Greater Asianism” etc.), nevertheless he stood for the doctrine of a national revolution which called for “arousing the people and uniting in a common struggle with all nations in the world who treat us as equals.” He also put into effect the three great policies of alliance with the U.S.S.R.. alliance with the Chinese Communist Party and support for workers and peasants. This was an excellent illustration of the progressive character of revolutionary bourgeois nationalism in colonial and semi-colonial countries during the new era of world Socialist revolution. It was of enormous revolutionary significance.
However, shortly after Sun Yat-sen’s death, the brazen betrayers of his cause - the representatives of the big bourgeoisie such as Chiang Kai-shek, Wang Ching-wei and other reactionary leaders of the Kuomintang - began to turn Sun Yat-sen’s doctrine of national revolution toward the opposite and extremely counter-revolutionary direction. They swung from the anti-imperialist struggle to capitulation to imperialism, from alliance with the Soviet Union to struggling against it, from unity with the Chinese Communist Party to attacks on the Party, from supporting the workers and the peasants to slaughtering them. Moreover, they used the conservative and reactionary features of Sun Yat-sen’s nationalism as their anti-national banner. It therefore became necessary for the Communist party, in order to defend the interests of the nation, to adopt a firm policy of opposition to the Kuomintang reactionaries, who were headed by Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei.
Of course, the Communists in other colonial and semi-colonial countries such as India, Burma, Siam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Indo-China, South Korea, etc., must for the sake of their national interests similarly adopt a firm and irreconcilable policy against national betrayal by the reactionary section of the bourgeoisie, which has already surrendered to imperialism. If this were not done, it would be a grave mistake.
On the other hand, the communists in these countries should enter into an anti-imperialist alliance with that section of the national bourgeoisie which is still opposing imperialism and which does not oppose the anti-imperialist struggle of the masses of the people. Should the Communists fail to do so in earnest, should they to the contrary, oppose or reject such an alliance, it would also constitute a grave mistake. Such an alliance must be established in all sincerity, even if should be of an unreliable, temporary and unstable nature.
The experience of the revolution in other countries as well as in China fully confirms the correctness of the scientific Marxist-Leninist conclusion that the national question is closely linked with the class question and the national struggle within the class struggle. An historical analysis of class relations reveals why in certain periods, one country is oppressed by another and becomes a colony or semi-colony of imperialism; why national traitors may appear in such a country, not only from the ranks of the feudal classes, but also form the ranks of the bourgeoisie - for instance, form the ranks of compradore, bureaucratic bourgeoisie in China. Such an analysis also reveals under what conditions, and under the leadership of which class, national liberation can be achieved.
An historical analysis of the class relations also reveals that although such outstanding national revolutionists as Sun Yat-sen sprang from China’s petty-bourgeoisie or national bourgeoisie, yet this bourgeoisie, generally speaking, views the national question solely in the light of its own narrow class interests and changes its position solely in accordance with its own class interests. In the same way, only the class interests of the proletariat are really in full accord with the fundamental interests of the people of a given country, with the common interests of all mankind. When the proletariat of an oppressed nation, as is the case of China, enters the arena of struggle and becomes the leader of the national liberation struggle against imperialism and the saviour of the whole nation, then every genuinely patriotic class, party, group or individual inevitably forms an alliance with the Communist Party, as did Sun Yat-sen (and thus becomes linked with the policies of alliance with the Soviet Union and support for the workers and peasants). On the other hand, those persons or groups - like Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei - who oppose the Communist Party (an opposition linked with opposition to the Soviet Union and to the interests of the workers and peasants), inevitably become servile lackeys of imperialism and the most vile, contemptible national traitors who sell out their own country.
An historical analysis of class relations further discloses that under the new conditions, in the new period of accentuated international and internal struggle, as a result of threats combined with all kinds of tempting offers and enticements held out by the imperialists, and owing to the developing class struggle within the country, there may appear within the revolutionary ranks such people as Chen Tu-hsiu, Chang Kuo-tao in China and Tito in Yugoslavia. These people capitulate to reactionary bourgeois nationalism, betray the common interests of the toilers of all countries and place the liberation of their own people in serious jeopardy. They are the spokesmen of bourgeois nationalism inside the ranks of the proletariat. They cynically desert the cause of national liberation in mid-path, and they divert their country down the road leading to its transformation into an imperialist colony. The Communist Parties of all countries and each individual Communist must be alert to this danger.
Next: VI: Conclusion: Genuine Patriotism is Intimately Connected with Internationalism