To one concerned with politics it would seem that such words as nation, nationalism, national minority, nationality, State, colonies, colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism and such should have assumed clear and definitive meanings so that they could be identified in the same way by all concerned. Alas, this is not the case, with much consequence confusion. Some of the reasons for this lack of definitive meanings are not hard to find. Groups interested in seizing and holding power use words their own way in order to place their efforts in the best light.
Take, for example, the term “nation.” The rulers of every government wish to present themselves not as a tiny clique which has seized power by force or by fraud, but as representatives of a whole “nation” and authorized to speak for it. In fact, they may be rulers merely of a State, controlling no “nation” at all, for not every State is the expression of a “nation.” The United Nations really ought to be called “Associated States.” And are we really sure the United States of America is a “nation"?
What is a “nation,” as we ought properly to use the term? Historically, a “nation” (a term derived from the Latin nascere, to be born) is developed from the “tribe,” an enlarged “clan,” which is, in turn, an enlarged “family” or “kindred.” The “nation” has a base of common ancestry and blood relationship without which there could be no family, no kindred, no clan, and thus tribe. Various tribes of common origin may bind themselves into a brotherhood of “phratry” but when this occurs no “nation” has as yet developed, only the basis for one.
Historically, for a “nation” to arise there had to come first the development of private property, of social classes, rulers and ruled, masters and subjects. First arose the State, the chief general system of control used by the master class against the subject classes, and the chief instrument of war and conquest. The State must have definite territorial boundaries. If there is no private property and war, there can be no State; if there is no State, there can be no “nation.” The State is no the product of the “nation,” the “nation” is the product of the State. In other words, the “nation” must not only have a common kindred base but be composed of both rulers and ruled bound together by blood ties and having a common language, heritage, tradition, culture, and sets of customs.
Two or more tribal groups may join together and, in the course of their common struggles against common enemies, develop a common heritage, consanguinity, language traditions, etc. There is no reason why these tribes should not evolve into a nation expressed through a common State government and administration. And this can be true even though the common language adopted is that of their former conquerors (for example, the present African tribes fighting to obtain their liberation from Portuguese imperialists and winning under the leadership of socialist intellectuals trained abroad).
The African-Portuguese situation, however, is exceptional. Ordinarily, the two or more tribes fighting side by side would not be equal, one to the other, and as a new State developed one tribe would be dominant and the other turn into a “national minority.” This term “national minority” is currently used even though the secondary tribe had never developed into a “nation” previously to being taken into the new State. (Negroes in the United States may be referred to as a “national minority” though not a “nation.")
Such a general situation prevails for the new African States formed recently when the European imperialists gave them their independence. We say “gave” advisedly because, before they left, the imperialists saw to it that their favorite tribal chieftains took control of the newly formed States. The new rulers were the heads of the leading clan or family of the favorite tribe, as seen in Ghana, Gambia, Togoland, Camerouns, Tanzania, Zambia, Zaire, Congo, and in all the other so-called “independent” new African States where no revolution had forced the imperialists out the the country. The State boundaries have been all artificially established, the economic resources all controlled by the imperialists. Only small tribal cliques control these States while holding other tribes in subjugation. Such entities are not “nations,” but States.
Furthermore, these newly arrived African States are independent in name but are dominated in reality by the great imperialist powers whose languages they speak. The clan rulers of these States are puppet managers for the foreign capitalists dominating them. The puppets can rule as clannishly as they please, provided they turn over the country’s wealth to the imperialists.
States may be characterized according to the class relations that mark the system of production expressed by the State. Thus, there may be slave States, feudal States, capitalist States. The slave States may be city States (ancient Greece), or tribal States (Mexico under the Aztecs; Incas in South America), enlarged even to empires which have enslaved other States or peoples.
The feudal States were run by a given clan or kindred of a tribe that had become differentiated into masters and serfs bound to the land owned by the ruling family. Feudal States, in their backward economic relations, were unable to be national States and could evolve so only when capitalism, with its markets, commerce, towns, money, written records, and corresponding development of the circulation and production of commodities, could unify the country. This lack of capital did not prevent feudal States from conquering other States and thus becoming empires. Feudal States were not simply States based on agriculture (many agricultural States are not feudal) but were tribal States based on serfdom. To those so-called theoreticians following Stalinism or Mao Tse-tung who are constantly misusing the term “feudalism” and “neofeudalism” we must emphasize the point that feudalism is based on serfdom; no serfdom, no feudalism.
Capitalist States, under the control of business men operating in a capitalist market, could also have slaves and colonies (France, Portugal); they could also turn into empires with conquered territories all over the world (England). Capitalist States may also be run in a feudal manner and thus show they are in a transition from feudalism to capitalism, or have recently emerged from feudalism to enter the modern world.
Here we must distinguish between “oriental despotism” with no feudal class able to challenge the ruler, and a truly feudal State with a knightly class operating independently with vassals and serfs of their own. To the category “oriental despotisms” belonged formerly such States as Iran, Afghanistan, the States of India, South-East Asia, China, Japan, Turkey, and the other States of Asia. Today they are all capitalist States even though they may show traces of their past in their style of government.
Let us pause briefly to define feudalism, neo-feudalism, absolute monarchy, and oriental despotism so that we will not be confused by Stalinist distortionists who have made a hash of whatever there was of clarity in political science.
Feudalism is strictly a European term. It existed and developed in Europe and nowhere else. It was unknown in China, in Arabia, in Persia, in Nigeria. Nor was it brought into these regions in “neo” form as “neo-feudalism” or “neo” this or “neo” that as Stalinists would have us believe.
Under feudalism the following preconditions had to prevail and develop:
1) A group of tribal chieftains with their tribes had to act in concert for the warlike migrations to seize new lands and to conquer new peoples. The leader was chosen or agreed to by the other chiefs as their war chief to whom they owed personal loyalty and homage, which leader, with his tribe, was bound to help protect each and every other part.
2) All these chiefs were equal and had much to say to decide their common lot. They were the “committee” (comitatus) around the “First” and as such formed the “counts” around the “prince.” The lands and populations seized were to be divided by the “prince” to satisfy the needs of the tribes under the “counts.” The “counts” could change their leader as circumstances warranted. It was all on a personal lord-vassal relationship.
3) The economic relations established were agricultural, not nomadic. With the new lands parcelled out, the people conquered there belonged to the lord conquering them and were bound to the soil to work it for their master, the lord. No land was without a lord, no lord without a higher lord until the top was reached.
4) Soon after the conquest had been established there immediately arose a struggle between the counts and the prince, leading to a great many variations as the history of England, France, Spain, Germany, and other countries of Europe showed. With the domination of the lords, the original tribal conquerors became differentiated. The ordinary tribesman became more and more reduced to the status of serfdom while the native was reduced often to plain slavery. This tribal differentiation between master and serf dissolved the old primitive communist relations of the Teutonic tribe with its common brotherhood and common land.
5) With the rise of town and commerce, newer classes had to emerge which tended to align with the prince, now king, so as to make him master over the counts and create a national base rather than a tribal one. With the development of merchant capital the king became an absolute monarch, but only as he represented more modern progressive capitalist forces. This spelled the end of feudalism.
6) The absolute monarch of Europe differed enormously from the oriental despot established in the East. We do not speak of such nomad rulers as Genghis Khan, of the Shahs, and such who ruled over conquered peoples with a stable agricultural economy and over many cities and agricultural lands in Asia. The absolute oriental despot had no class of nobility capable of challenging him. There was no “committee of equals.” All fell flat on their faces before him and his family. Their economy had to depend on public works of a size that only the State itself could undertake; irrigation projects, and similar measures which only the ruler with the unlimited taxing power of the despot could realize. In such a stagnant society in which commerce could exist only in the interstices, the merchants could not challenge the Sultan or the Shah, nor could the nobility with or without the merchants. Neither under the Sultan nor under the Shah, nor under the Indian Moguls, nor Manchu dynasties, nor God-Emperors in Japan or in Peru, could there be formed a “nation” but only master families and servile subjects.
Once we know the origin and development of feudalism in Europe and its principal characteristics, it is ridiculous to call 20th century China “neo-feudalism” as have the Stalinists and the Maoists. War-lord-ism is not feudalism, “neo” or otherwise. For that matter, as Trotsky has pointed out in his “1905” the Czar himself was far more an oriental despot than a European feudalist, although that was Czardom’s origin.
Capitalist States could be mainly controlled by merchants, or by industrialists, or by bankers, or by agrarian landlords. Fundamentally, it is not decisive just what kind of government is actually established or who actually gives the orders—whether workers, peasants, land owners, small shopkeepers, lawyers, engineers, militarists, war lords, or such—what is important is: Who rules whom? What class is basically the beneficiary of the State’s rule; that is, who is the real boss?
The state itself, as a political organization, must have a territorial base, a “country” which it controls. There are no nomad States and there are no nomad “nations.” Love of country, in the form of “patriotism,” is a late creation, based on “nation,” not the patriotism artificially stimulated by State politicians. The “fatherland” is a country where a “nation” has developed. Under serfdom people were bound to the soil but they had no “fatherland.” “Fatherland” was for emancipated peasants, not for feudal aristocrats or for capitalists.
Capital has no “fatherland” although capitalism is the precondition for building a “nation,” advocates “nationalism,” and protects a “national market.” As soon as it can, however, capital continues the pursuit of imperialism and moves to internationalism, using its own “nationalism” as a springboard.
The “nation” can not arise except under capitalism, since only under capitalism are prerequisites for nationalism present. Thus there were no “nations” before the 16th and 17th centuries when Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, and England flowered out under mercantile capitalism. Nationalism and capitalism grew apace in relation to each other. It is only in the 19th century that we see such countries as Italy, Germany, Russia, and Japan grow into “nations” after their arrival as Great Powers of capitalism. Hungry, Serbia, Greece, Rumania, Bulgaria, grew similarly after their liberation as independent States.
Where the capitalist State is a backward one, the nationalism of the newly developed bourgeoisie pervades all ranks of the population so that even when other social classes arise to expropriate the bourgeoisie under the name of “socialism” the xenophobic and narrow nationalism is all these backward classes can express for long periods to come (China, Russia, Poland, Rumania, Hungary, etc.).
A State may be subjugated to another State and forced to pay tribute, although otherwise left alone to go its way as before. The conquests may even be by a nomad tribe without a State formation or definite territory (Tartar and Mongolian invasions in Asia). In most cases, however, such a conquering tribe would settle on the conquered lands and develop a State of its own, with its leading family as the head. But the fact that a military tribe rules an agrarian State does not make such a State a “feudal” State, in the proper sense of the term.
Similarly, modern agrarian States may arise in the course of their struggles against capitalist imperialism and develop into people’s States (China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Outer Mongolia). By no means are these States to be considered “socialist” or “communist.” When world capitalism is overthrown, then the world will be on the road to the disappearance of all States and nations under Socialism. Within the present agrarian people’s States, however, tribalism can be submerged and a true nation developed, as under capitalism.
The State may conquer other societies and States and thus develop into an empire. We have already noted that the conquerors might simply exact tribute and not interfere with culture, language, customs, religion, modes of production, etc. of the conquered. On the other hand, the political masters of the empire might completely change the old political system and reduce the conquered to the status of a “national minority” still living on its historic lands. This has been the basic method of Russian imperialism, for example. Thus Czarist Russia acted upon the Turkic lands it conquered in Asia, as it did also in the case of Poland, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, etc. While the Russian Empire did happen to include Russian people which, under capitalism, had become a true “nation,” it also overwhelmed other capitalist “nations” which it reduced to “national minorities.”
The classic case of two or more nations existing within the same empire is that of the Empire of Austria-Hungary before World War I, where the Hungarians and Czech nations were allowed their own national development and State operations to a considerable extent. On the other hand, the very same example would tend to show that the same German people (now a “nation") could create more than one State (Germany and Austria) at the same time.
The development of capitalist colonialism poses the difficulties of considering the relations of State and “nation” in such a context. We take as our illustrations (1) England, (2) France, (3) Spain, and (4) Portugal.
1) England. By the time of the English colonies in America, England had itself become essentially a capitalist nation. The English nation had become fused through Teutonic tribes: the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, later amalgamated with Norsemen and Vikings from Teutonic Scandinavia, and still later by Viking invaders from French Normandy, previously conquered by them. These English had now conquered what is presently Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland, subjecting the Celtic peoples there and reducing them to “national minorities.”
At the turn of the century the English State sent out some of its people to North America to settle there. The settlements were called “colonies,” the people being “colonists.” These colonists were English with the same rights and duties as those they left behind. The English settlers claimed their new lands for the King of England. They encountered in the New World tribes of natives living in a very primitive state—hunters and fishers whom they could drive away easily and then claim for themselves the lands the natives had left as empty lands. The English found natives with only tribal phratries without even settled abodes.
Only English subjects could settle in English colonies except for the few groups of Dutch and Swedes which had previously been sent out to do the same thing as the English but who had to surrender to the English. Some previously conquered Scotch, Welsh, and Irish peoples were also allowed to emigrate from England and come to the English colonies. It was the English State that controlled, not the colonists.
In the course of time the English colonies in America rebelled and broke away from the English State. By this act, however, they did not break away from the English “nation” of which they were still a part. At first, when they formed their thirteen original States, no one dreamed that they had formed thirteen new original nations, even though by this time the English colonists were calling themselves “Americans.” After the so-called American Revolution (it should really be considered an English civil war fought in America) these thirteen States adopted a Constitution and created one federated State which they named the United States of America. But could these “Americans” who had been part of the English nation for so long at one stroke form a new “nation"? In our opinion what was created then was a new State—and this is what the new name “The United States of America” implied—not a new “nation.” At what point then did the United States become a “nation"? In our opinion never, for this process was blocked by slavery of the Africans and by an overwhelming non-English immigration from Europe.
At the time the United States of America was created the United States was no more a separate “nation” than Austria or Bavaria was a “nation” separated from Germany. What happened was that the same English “nation” had split into two States—England and the United States. Such was also to be the case with Canada later and with Australia-New Zealand.
A nation which has sent out colonists to different parts of the world may conceivably form a number of States that may be even antagonistic to the other, but it can not turn itself into different nations when it has the same common ancestry, the same traits and customs, and basically the same language. What happens, of course, is that the previous “colony,” now an independent State, may develop its own customs, culture, and language so as to be very different from the home country especially if the former colony amalgamates with new peoples and becomes a power far greater than the old State. It is very doubtful whether Australia, New Zealand, and Canada can qualify as “nations"; certainly not Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) or South Africa.
Insofar as the United States of America could be called a “nation,” it was an Anglo-Saxon, white, Protestant “nation,” that is, an English nation. But what with the vast number of African slaves imported here and the vast immigration from Europe and Latin America, the older ruling class monopolists were in great danger of being swamped. The assimilation of these immigrants was blocked by the English first-comers, and so the United States turned into a State rather than into a new “nation,” as shown by the compounded racisms that exist today within its boundaries.
2) France. France, after its tribes had finally fused into a “nation”, also sent out colonists to settle North America (Newfoundland, Canada). These formed colonies on the Eastern coast, but on the whole the immigrants turned into hunters, trappers, and woodsmen assimilating with the natives they found there, with the French State protecting them from the English in this new land called New France. Their lands were owned by the French King. When, by means of the French and Indian War in 1763 the English conquered New France and renamed it Canada, the French settlers there had neither a State nor a “nation” but had merely the status of conquered people.
Later on, the small English minority in Canada became much larger when tens of thousands of English colonists had to flee from the American Revolution to be protected by the English government. As Canada was not an independent State, the English there could only be considered part of the English “nation.” When, later on, Canada did receive Dominion status, it was still considered part of the English nation. When it finally became an independent State could Canada have then turned into a separate “nation"? No, first because of the large French national minority with which the English did not assimilate, and second, because of the recent very large European migration there, also not assimilated. Perhaps Canada may yet develop its own customs, language, culture, characteristics, and traits marking it as a separate “nation” sooner than the United States, but it has not done so up to now.
3) Spain. The Spanish in the Western Hemisphere also exemplify the fact that colonies when liberated do not easily become nations. The Spanish entrance into the New World was not so much for colonization as for pure and simple conquest and plunder. The Spaniards found here not merely primitive societies of a tribal nature and of communist character, but also States as well developed as, say, those which existed in Egypt at the dawn of written history.
In Mexico the Aztecs, while still tribal, had a full grown State with a capital and permanent abode, a State able to conquer other tribes but not yet emancipated from tribal status. The destruction of the Aztec State by the Spanish conquistadores reduced the natives to the level of tribalism they once held, as the Aztecs were subjected to slavery by the Spaniards.
The Spanish government that arose in Mexico was part of the State of Spain which also had just then emerged in Europe as a nation, after six hundred years of driving out the Moors from Iberia. Increasingly, Spanish soldiers gave way to Spanish settlers in the New World. Since the natives had been reduced to slavery in Mexico and were being ruthlessly exterminated in other parts of the Caribbean, the entire territory was considered a colony and called New Spain. From the point of view of Spain, the people who were of decisive importance in the New World were the Spanish emigrant “colonists,” not the natives who counted merely as slaves and savages. The land belonged to the King of Spain, not the the colonists. In the lands conquered by Spain the natives could not merely be driven away as in North America; they had to be either enslaved or exterminated. Only by exterminating the natives did the Spanish anywhere become the majority.
As in Mexico the Spanish conquest of the Incas in South America brought a similar result in what is now Puru, Ecuador, Columbia, and Chile. Like the Aztecs, the Incas had founded a State still with a tribal base and had subjugated a vast territory with many tribes. It can not be said that these tribes had been merged into one “nation,” nor that the Inca rulers themselves formed a “nation.” Again, the terrible devastation and slavery that the Spaniards inaugurated destroyed the Inca State as they had done with the Aztecs. Again, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and the rest of South America became mere territories belonging to the Spanish Crown.
In some places in South America the natives were exterminated so quickly or were reduced to so small numbers that the conquest of those lands resembled that in North America, in that the land was considered vacant. Here, as in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, when the Spanish settlers declared their independence from Spain, the colony became a State, but in no case did the settlers consider themselves a separate “nation” for they did not differ in any important manner one from the other. The boundaries of Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile were determined simply by how much the ruling families in each region could grab and keep control of. No matter how much they might declare they were “Argentine patriots” or “Uruguayan patriots,” etc., they would never deny that they were of the Spanish “nation.”
It must be recalled that when the Spanish settlers in the New World rebelled against the Spanish government it was because that government had been conquered by Napoleon and afterwards had taken on a too liberal look, too much influenced by the French Revolution, to suit the ruling colonial cliques. One might say that their had been a Spanish counter-revolutionary revolution! The colonists considered themselves more traditionally Spanish than the Spanish Court and government then functioning!
In the 20th century, especially, an immense wave of Italian immigrants came to Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile. These became fused with the Spanish majority and may be said to have created a nation quite distinct from that of Spain. But, in all truth, such a “nation” would embrace all three States which are quite alike, except for native remainders in Chile, and which resemble each other far more than they differ.
In the Central American and Caribbean countries dominated by the Spaniards a similar situation prevailed. On the islands, the natives were quickly killed off; on the mainland the situation was like that in Mexico. Under no circumstances could Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, San Salvador, and such entities call themselves “nations.”
When, later, the Spanish settlers also declared themselves independent from Spain and formed their own 20-odd States, they could not form that many nations for they had all one common language, consanguinity, set of laws, customs, and culture. Nor could even one of these form a nation, because the Spaniards could not become one with their native slaves and were too tiny a fraction of the population to be considered a nation each by itself.
4) Portugal. As with the Spaniards, so with the Portuguese in Brazil. Brazil was a country so large that the Portuguese settlers could for a long time occupy only the coast line and make periodic inroads for native slaves. As in the United States, the Portuguese imported a vast number of Negro slaves from Africa. Although Brazil became independent from Portugal at about the same time as the other South American colonies from Spain, it formed its own “empire” with an “emperor” at the head. Both slavery and the empire lasted until as late as 1889.
During this period, given the dearth of Portuguese women, there was much sexual intercourse among natives, Negroes, and Portuguese. Can it be said, therefore, that a new Brazilian nation had been created? The answer is no, because neither native nor African had much place in the society. The language was Portuguese, the customs, culture, and laws were Portuguese. True, the Portuguese were deeply modified by their contact with native and Negro in the New World, but this had not fused them into a new nation. It might be said that at the present time, with the new industrial strength and power it is developing, Brazil is on the road to becoming a nation, but it will not be able to realize this unless it breaks down the ethnic lines that separate Portuguese Brazil from Black and native Brazil. Otherwise we must still consider Brazil a State, “The United States of Brazil” (Brazil is the name of a wood or tree).
Theoretically, we can not say that it is impossible for a former colony to become a nation. Mexico, Brazil, the United States may be on the way to nationhood. What we do say is that the birth of a nation from a colony is extraordinarily difficult under capitalism. In order for the colony to become independent it generally takes a war, a civil war, an act of force against the home country, to accomplish this result. For the colony to survive it may have to engage in slavery, in genocidal practices, in ruthless separation of the rulers from the rest of the people so as to make secondary any development of common consanguinity, customs, culture, and laws except what is imposed by force.
Nevertheless, in the New World there are cases where conquered territories have been liberated in small islands, the population of which have fused together into a “nation.” Such is the case today, for example, in Haiti, in Jamaica, in Cuba, and in Santo Domingo. Puerto Rico is moving in the direction of becoming a State within the United States, and thus Puerto Ricans a “national minority.” Native Hawaians are already such a “national minority.”
Let us look at the development of the “nation” elsewhere. Actually, this is a relatively modern process. There is at last an English “nation,” but is there a Scottish “nation,” a Welsh “nation,” a Cornish “nation"? The term Great Britain marked the permanent rule of the English over the Scotch, Welsh, Cornish peoples. It was the term for a State, not for a “nation.” There is no British “nation.” The term United Kingdom merely added a section of Ireland, but did not make that section part of a “nation.” On the other hand, the Irish in Ireland may consider themselves legitimately a nation, although they speak a variety of the English language. There do exist, however, Scottish, Welsh, and Cornish “nationalisms,” that is, political movements that desire State independence or home rule for these regions. It should be noted that the term “nationalism” in politics today may cover people who are not “nations” but who desire separation from their conquerors.
In Europe the “nation” could have been born only with the decline and defeat of the feudal lords. The rise of commercial capitalism and with it a centralized royal government laid the basis for the birth of a nation. Actually, it is with the rise of the common people, with the French Revolution, that a modern “nation” may be said to have arisen. And this happened only at the beginning the the 19th century, not very long ago.
The present situation in the world is markedly different from that prevailing in the 19th century and up to World War I. The rapid growth of capitalism gave rise to a great spread of national feeling as the capitalist classes of each State fought for world power and threw all the people of each country into the fray.
It was precisely the States where the people formed capitalist nations which proved to be the most aggressive imperialists: England, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Japan. In the course of World War I some of these imperialisms were smashed to bits, giving way to new States with a true national base, such as Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia (Yugoslavia became a federation of peoples, not a “nation").
This process was continued after World War II, with the emergence of a large number of new independent States in Africa and in Asia but with none of them, except China, Korea, and Vietnam having the ability to become modern nations as yet.
The liberation of the Arab-Berber (maghreb) regions of Africa had created a number of juxtaposed States where a common or similar language is spoken and the people have customs, traditions, and cultural ties quite similar one to the the other. These States are still operating on a tribal basis, not on a national one. Only Egypt and perhaps Algeria can be said to have created a “national” base, although this process is steadily growing stronger. For the rest of Africa there is still no “nation” created from the peoples controlled by the various States, and this would include Ethiopia, Liberia, and Nigeria as well.
Nor are “white” ruled African States—Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa—any better in that respect. There is no Rhodesian or South African “nation.” As in the United States, when the politician proclaims “the nation speaks,” he means simply “some people.”
Israel can not be considered a “nation” since it is one having a large “national minority” of Arab Palestinians who, however, still remain in a tribal stage, although in the course of the struggles against Israel the tribal sheik is giving way to the socialist trained intellectual as the nomads have settled down.
Supposedly, all the States embraced in the Soviet Union are separate “nations.” Within such States where large “national minorities” exist, these last have been organized into autonomous regions, so as to permit them to function as “nations.” This does not mean they are not dominated by the Russian Communist Party or not overwhelmed by Russian propaganda. The term “national” must be divorced from the term “nation". The “national interest” as a term generally designates the interest involving the people of the State whether it is a “nation” or not. Similarly divorced must be the term “nationality.”
As applied to individuals, nationality is the status granted or otherwise regarded by a sovereign State in order to fix the rights, duties, privileges, and immunities of the groups or individuals affected in regard to their political allegiance to the sovereign State in question. If a State deals in tribal or family “blood” terms, nationality may be defined in that manner, rather than by geographical political boundaries. For example, a child born in Italy but who has become a United States citizen may yet be claimed by the Italian government and made subject to Italian military conscription as an Italian “national.” This is the doctrine of jus sanguinis, that nationality depends on blood relations. On the other hand the United States had adopted the doctrine of jus soli; that is, those born on U.S. soil are U.S. nationals and citizenship depends on allegiance given by the citizen, not by his consanguinity. In Israel you are an Israeli if you are born in, or take allegiance to, the State of Israel; but you are a Jew if born of a Jewish mother and thus automatically can be an Israeli citizen.
Nationality, however, is not at all synonymous with “race.” Those with common nationality may not all trace their ancestors to common kin; those with common kin may have different nationality.
Another view of nationality has also been practiced by the United States. When the thirteen original colonies became the United States, the overwhelming number of persons there had been born elsewhere. Under such circumstances the new State adopted the position that U.S. nationality could be acquired by birth within the national geographic boundaries, or by oath of allegiance administered under proper circumstances. These tests, however, were not applied either to the native Amerinds, who were still considered members of their own tribes, or to the enslaved African Negroes.
No State is thoroughly consistent in its principles applied to nationality. States that adhere to the principle of jus sanquinis, say Italy, will at the same time admit that the child of Italian parents born in the United States and having citizenship there owes allegiance to the United States, regardless of Italian policy. Such States may also recognize as their own nationals those born within their boundaries who are not related by common descent to the mainstream of people composing the State. On the other hand, States following jus soli may nevertheless recognize that children of their own nationality born abroad retain their nationality status.
Because nationality is a status sanctioned by the sovereign, it can not be acquired or divested by mere individual declaration or action but comes into being or is altered only by decision of the States involved. Multilateral treaties among States today now attempt to clarify conflicting nationality questions and to settle such disputes that may arise. Frequently the result is to leave the individual with a double nationality, or perhaps no nationality at all.
The nationality of ships is governed by special considerations, some States recognizing the flag under which the ship sails as decisive, others going behind the flag, looking to the nationality of the owners, sometimes changing and mixing their policies and principles. A new and very modern problem concerning national allegiance and loyalty is arising with the rapid development of the multi-national corporation, especially in regard to remission of profits and taxation by more than one State.
Nationality may also change with wars, with revolutions, or with the expansion, contraction, extinction, or merger of national States. Thus the same change of nationality may be considered treason in one country and patriotism in another. Sometimes relatively weaker groups may be struggling for a position within a State as a recognized national minority group without making, at the same time, any claim for separation. Here nationality becomes a relative matter. Macedonians, for example, may fight for a national minority status within a Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, or Kurds within Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran, without demanding a separate national existence.
Depending upon the nationality status may rest a large number of most important and even vital individual protections and aids. Involved are such matters as the right to live and work in a country, to be free from deportation, to be protected abroad, to own property and enjoy its use, the obligation to serve in the armed forces of the country, the privileges of citizenship, including those of voting and running for office, the immunities from certain forms of taxation and restraint. These are only a few among a host of legal and political relations bound up with the question of nationality. Nor are the social, psychological, and ethical relations less important in many cases. Indeed, one might say the structure and functioning of our social lives is interdependent, to a great extent, upon our nationality status.
The great prominence given by Lenin to the term imperialism and colonies, and the distortion of these terms by “Third World” theoreticians force us to deal with these categories in an extended form.
Imperialism has always been considered a political term tied to the State, not an economic category. Imperialism is not a new concept, policy or State activity but has existed for thousands of years under ancient Rome, Persia, Greece, Egypt, and elsewhere. The essence of imperialism is the physical conquest and/or political subjugation of one State or national territory by another. Lands are conquered and peoples are enslaved or subjugated.
Imperialism, as such, had nothing to do with colonies. On the one hand, lands could be conquered and the territories of a State could be enlarge without imperialism (witness the territorial expansion of Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Australia, the United States in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This is quite different from the seizure of Turkic and Chinese lands by the Russian State and the subjugation of their peoples.) On the other hand, such territorial expansion did not have to result in “colonies.”
Colonialism, however, was indeed an economic policy of the State was quite different from colonization, the formation of “colonies,” as we have defined this term in the present article. Colonialism was an integral policy of mercantile capitalism. It was a policy by which conquered foreign territories were to be used economically solely for the benefit of the capitalist class of the dominant country. The “colonialist” was an agent or one who favored such a policy. The “colonial” lived under such a policy. This mercantilist colonial policy consisted of the following elements concerning colonies or actually dominated territories:
1) Economic relations were to be controlled as far as possible by the “home” country or dominant State.
2) As far as possible the production of the dominated country was to be molded according to the needs of the dominant State.
3) Similarly, the resources of the dominant country would be exploited for the benefit of the dominant State.
4) The foreign commerce of the dominated region should be for the maximum benefit of the dominant country, especially as to shipping monopolies, shipping rates, railroad construction, development of ports, exports of raw materials needed by the “home” country, imports of finished goods from the dominant country, terms of trade, balance of payments, etc.
5) Education, public relations media, government and laws, etc., were all to be harmonized with such policies.
These were the onerous conditions imposed that led, finally, to the revolts of the colonies against the home countries but could not terminate the colonialism imposed upon other dominated regions. This colonialism was capitalist policy all during the period of the 16th century up to this very day. It was always an integral policy not only of mercantile capitalism, but of industrial and, later, of finance capitalism as well. It is nothing new to capitalism, despite Lenin’s heralded “discoveries” about “imperialism.”
In defining imperialism as an economic rather than a political category, Lenin made the following “discoveries":
1) The “imperialist” country exports capital abroad (but this capitalist countries do, “imperialist” or non-imperialist).
2) These exports are dominated by banks, by financiers (but this was the normal development of capitalism whether in England, or in Austria, in Sweden or in Switzerland) and thus all these countries “by definition” became imperialist and thus “by definition” imperialism had no longer to do with physical seizure of territories.
3) An “imperialist” country dominates “colonies” and thus “by definition” colonies were simply economically dominated areas. We had Lenin’s word for that.
Thus, under such distortion, Russia which had conquered many States under the Czar was no longer to be considered imperialist under bolshevism because bolshevism no longer was under the hegemony of financiers, although it gave up none of the Russian conquests; while the United States, merely by exporting capital under financial control was the chief “imperialist” power, though its physical conquests were secondary. It took Chinese “communists” very little time to expose these tricks and label the bolsheviks “social imperialists.”
Similarly with the distortion of the terms colonies, colonialism, colonialists, and conquered natives. Since “colonies” were now defined by Lenin as countries dominated merely by economic policies, if a country was so dominated it was now considered ipso facto a colony, even though no physical seizure had taken place. And, in order to make this more plausible, “Third World” Tito and his apers in Africa coined the term “neo-colonialism” to meet the situation.
Thus Haiti, or even Canada, could be considered a “colony” of the United States, though there had been no physical conquests of these countries, while Outer Mongolia and Manchuria were not “colonies” when the Soviet Union seized them. Thus, also, to meet Russia’s propagandistic needs, before World War I Germany was called an imperialist power, but after World War I Germany was considered a “colony” of the Versailles Powers and, according to the bolsheviks at the time, in fighting for Germany’s “freedom” Hitler was trying to liberate a “colony” and was not a leader of imperialism out to conquer other States. This theory, of course, changed immediately when Hitler declared war on Russia.
Under the Stalinists, the Titoists, the Maoists and such, objective political thinking has been turned into a series of rationalizations to fit political propagandistic purposes for the moment, in exactly the same way as capitalist professors prostitute their professions with their own fantastic word spinning. Objective treatment deserves better analysis than mere fantastic word-spinning.
A word should be said here on the nation and racism. Properly speaking, the term “race” should be confined to a species that can mate and produce common offspring. Since all humans may do so, there is but one human race. The different varieties of humans contained historically in this or that tribe or nation do not form “races.”
The term “racism,” however, is entirely different. “Racism” is a scientifically unfounded belief or advocacy of the basic superiority of a given group, tribe, State, or nation. It emerges as an implicit or explicit motivation of such political entities staking their existence on war.
As we have seen, the nation, formed within a State, is yet basically an enlarged tribe. The family and kindred remain all pervasive within all nations and with the growth of capitalist antagonisms forcing one nation or State to war against another, racist nationalism must come to the fore. Racism is an indelible feature of nationalism. Thus all tribal, national, and imperial wars are also racist wars. (This does not apply to civil wars.)
In the United States, for example, racist terms and feeling were expressed against the “Huns” in World War I, against the “Gooks” in the Korean War, against the “Chinks” in China, etc. It was the same with the other nations. Xenophobia is an ingredient of nationalism. Israel, for another example, as a State fighting for its life, must be as “racist” as Syria fighting to destroy it. Israel’s racism is fortified by Judaism which declares the Jews and Jews alone as the “chosen people” of God.
Nationalism was born out of commercial capitalism of the 16th and 17th century State, politically represented by Absolute Monarchy. It developed under the industrial revolution and the industrial capitalism of the 18th and 19th century State, which turned into a people’s national State in the French Revolution. It grew to its greatest State power in the republics of the 20th century, dominated by finance capital, represented by fascism and “National Socialism,” and marked by the enormous growth of State Capitalism.
It the beginning, nationalism developed out of the need to free economic progress from the handicaps of tribalism, of feudal controls, of provincialism, of contradictory market regulations and from all hindrance to the full mobility of capital and of labor. Nationalism meant an expanded and secure national market. But as nationalism progressed, a class among the various nationalisms for markets, for raw materials, and for resources became inevitable. Nationalism stimulated the State to the conquest of foreign lands and to an imperialism on a far greater scale than had been realized by the pre-capitalist States of antiquity. Each nationalism had to fight all other nationalism on an international scale.
Later on, faced with the opposition movements of workers and toilers who were building up an international socialist movement, capitalist nationalism had above all to struggle against internationalism. The need to appease the workers’ opposition within the State gave rise to reformists movement for a welfare capitalism, to a social-justice capitalism which leading capitalist States could express in proportion as their markets and profits grew. The latter 19th century and pre-World War I 20th century were marked by this welfare, social justice State.
The development of social-welfare nationalism brought forward the theory and propaganda that the State was not a class institution, but an organon that represented all the people of the entire nation under the leadership of socially-minded capitalists who would favor all people of the nation in proportion as the power of the national State grew. Social welfare tied the plain people closer to the State. How well this effort succeeded was amply demonstrated by World War I, for nowhere better than in these States were the people so “patriotic,” so fervidly willing to die to destroy other nations and States. The European social-welfare States literally flayed themselves to exhaustion.
Out of the debacle of World War I the international socialist movement, now calling itself communist, after Marx, arose enormously strengthened. Under Lenin and Trotsky it seized power in the Russian Empire and attempted to extend its example in Bavaria, in Germany, in Austria, in the Ruhr, in Poland, in Hungry, and throughout all Europe and even in Asia (Turkey, Iran, India, China).
The State which Lenin and Trotsky built out of the ruins of Czarism was marked by the following attributes:
1) The former large and medium land holders and capitalists were all overcome, their properties expropriated and turned over to the State as nationalized to be operated for the benefit of the workers and toilers of the country. Private ownership of the principal means of production and circulation of wealth was abolished.
2) The old State apparatus was smashed and a new one, closely allied to the working people, set up with one party to be made up of workers and toilers who wanted the end of capitalism. The party was to act under the discipline of democratic centralism to put an end to political federalism and local predominance but to consider the total national entity as one, even including the “national minorities.”
3) All foreign trade was to be completely monopolized by the State and operated only on terms that would benefit the workers’ Socialist State.
This was the “socialism” meant by the term “Union of Socialist Soviet Republics” formed by the bolsheviks in Russia against which the allied capitalist States hurled their forces in vain to destroy. Soviet internationalism could be contained and even thrown back (transforming Soviet internationalism into nationalism) but the Soviets themselves could not be overthrown. Soviet nationalism was the first type of socialist nationalism to appear, thanks to the isolation and weakness, of the workers and of Russian internationalism. In Russia State capitalism, however, did not reappear as a force for the simple reason that capitalism, the private ownership of the means of production and circulation of wealth, had disappeared and the State was placed in a sort of mid-position, a bureaucratic-centrist position, between State capitalism and internationalism. Nationalization did not connote State capitalism in Russia.
From now on all the capitalist States had to take into account the enormous strengthening of the national State which occurred when socialism was harnessed to nationalism. First and foremost, this appreciation of the new situation was understood in Germany and above all by the Nazionale Sozialistische Arbeiter Partei Deutschlands (Nazi), the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany, led by Hitler.
What the nazi party learned from the bolsheviks were:
1) The absolute necessity of a monolithic nationalism led by a single totalitarian party to which all the German people could enthusiastically belong. The propaganda in which the State was conceived to be for the benefit of the entire people, the Volk, and as the German State conquered the world, all the German people would become the Herrenvolk, the master race.
(Incidentally, a similar theory had been raised two thousand years before in tribal fashion, when the leaders of the Teutonic tribes in conquering what is now Germany, France, Italy, Iberia, and England promised their soldiers all the loot the master race could seize, only later to turn their own soldiers into the most miserable serfs.)
2) The recognition that private capitalism was no longer the effective driving force, but only the State. Private capitalism had obviously become parasitic. Production called for national coordination, cooperation, subdivision of labor, under State command and for purposes of world hegemony and conquest. Previous to Hitler, German capitalism had already produced a system of trusts, cartels, and monopolies and had a well developed network of national integrated industries dominated by such industrialists as Stinnes, Thyssen, Krupp, et al. In fact, these were the very industrial leaders who built up nazism and trusted it to become their agent. To them, Hitler was only a tool. To Hitler, the capitalists were the instruments of the State which he led, a State which was a living entity with an independent will of its own.
According to the nazis the State expressed the general will of the nation. State capitalism was a national capitalism, a capitalism not of classes but of a unified nation acting as one for its own welfare and its welfare only. The welfare of no others could stand in the way. This was the “socialism” of the nation, a socialistic nationalism led by the State. The capitalists endorsed such a nationalism since this nationalism endorsed capitalism.
Under Hitler everything was regimented and organized for maximum efficiency in production and commerce. Individual competition in production and competitive marketing was reduced to a minimum with enormous advantage to the German State, especially in dealing with other States. State-to-State dealings became the dominant factor in foreign trade.
Although Hitler is dead can we not say his methods have been further developed in all capitalist countries? Is there not a steady growth of nationalization and State capitalism? Has not a State-to-State bargaining become the principal factor in exports, imports, tariffs, taxes, quotas, privileges, exemptions, immunities, terms of trade, loans, grants, missions, interest payments, secret deals, covert and overt political relations, sales of arms, military equipment, airplanes, fissionable materials, etc.? In addition to acting directly, now the State can act through its international corporations with centers everywhere and penetrating other States to an unlimited degree and extent.
Nazi nationalism meant that the great collective strength and organizational power of socialism had to be turned against internationalism, to Hitler represented by the scapegoat Jew as banker, as intellectual, and as proletarian revolutionist. Here lay his motivation for attempting the “final solution” of the “Jewish question,” a solution which he could no more realize than he could realize the triumph of German national socialism throughout the world. German collectivism could make the German State superior to all other national States. The task undertaken by German State capitalism we to organize the economy of the world under the banner of the German State.
After the elimination of workers’ internationalism within Germany, Hitler’s first aim was to crush the petty nationalisms in Europe and to consolidate them into the German State for a common European industry and a common European market. The second aim was to destroy the Soviet Union and form a pincers movement with Japan to contain the forces of the United States. Whether the third step would be to destroy the super-State of Japan or the strongest economic complex in the world, the United States, would have to wait on the resultant situation. But in the end, the German National State was supposed to emerge victorious.
Japan, too, had the same general goals. Under the Japanese State all Japanese industry and commerce was to be controlled and organized with the central purpose of harnessing the economic forces of Asia for the benefit of the Nipponese State, also claiming to represent the entire nation. With the slogan of Economic Co-prosperity, Japan undertook to organize all of Asia into a great common market and machine for the benefit of the State.
It should be noted that even though both German and Japanese States had complete mastery over all the economic forces in their jurisdictions, they defended their lust for power not for reasons of State, but for reasons of welfare for the entire nation, the ethnically related people within the State. History shows that there was very little effective resistance by the Volk, or people, to this flattery, once the battle got under way. No class revolutions in Germany stopped Hitler’s army; no such revolutions hindered the armies of Nippon. What stopped them both was plain military defeat!
Nazism has represented, perhaps, the most intense development of nationalism in the history of the world. To make the German nation into a monolithic entity, nazism felt it necessary to exterminate the Jew and other ethnic groups. To increase the members of the German nation, the old family life was broken up, mass marriages arranged, extramarital sexual relations encouraged on a vast scale, including rape of the conquered women, the children of other countries kidnapped to be “germanized,” all sorts of eugenic experiments undertaken, etc. Old fashioned religion and its ethical codes and taboos were trampled upon. The Herrenvolk were to be released from all the trammels of the past.
If nationalism marked the essence of nazism, it also marked the limits of its victory and was at the bottom of nazi defeat. The nazi war against the Jew was not really a war against another racial or national entity, but a war against a ubiquitous people outstanding for their internationalism. Hitler’s war against the Soviets was not against Stalinism, which he praised, but against Marxism which still lay embedded within the Soviets.
Nazism, though defeated, did cause many reverberations world-wide, such as:
1) the Jew has been driven back, in the main, from internationalism to Israeli nationalism surrounded by Arab tribalism, and thus set back over 2,000 years.
2) The Soviet Union has been reduced from an international proletarian force which it pretended to be under Lenin to a “social imperialism,” in the words of the Chinese.
3) The world Marxist movement has become castrated, fragmented, in the main, into impotent sects or capitalist collaborators.
4) Nazi nationalist and imperial rivals have been effectively destroyed as world powers. French and British imperialism have been smashed to bits. Europe now has a common market under the hegemony of Germany.
5) Hitler’s system of State hegemony has been taken over in fact in all capitalist States.
6) Throughout the world the petty tyrants and military juntas, from Portugal to Uganda, from Peru, Chile, and Argentina to Bangladesh or Syria, prate about socialism and how they are leading their subjects in that direction.
From the capitalist point of view, then, nazism was not a reactionary movement but a reformist one. If nazism, for example, could be considered reactionary it was only from the internationalist proletarian point of view that it tried to stop socialism from becoming international. The Hitler point of view is the one that must now be carried out in the United States by the great monopolist capitalists who control the State.
We ought logically to anticipate in the United States the development along the following lines:
1) the heightened priority of “national security” over “national welfare";
2) increased attention to establish a unified central government not bound by federalist “checks and balances";
3) hegemony of the executive branch in fact over the legislative and judicial branches of government;
4) the precedence of military, paramilitary, police, and intelligence departments of the State over the other, civilian departments;
5) the reduction of democratic constitutional measures in favor of sharp decisions by fiat and “executive privilege";
6) the intensive and extensive growth of the connections between the Pentagon and industry;
7) the growth of nationalization, of national controls over industry and over domestic and foreign commerce, etc.
Fundamentally, the unity of nationalism and socialism is a contradictory unity that must split asunder. Socialism can not be accomplished under capitalism and under the national relations engendered by capitalism. Socialism must be international or it can not exist at all; it is the product of proletarian struggle and victory or it is a sham.
More and more the growth of economic forces demands appropriate economic and political relations which can not be realized by the national State. Unable to be resolved by the national State are such problems as space development; including stratosphere, ionosphere, climate and weather problems, etc.; proper planetary research; energy and nuclear problems; ecological problems; oceanographic problems and collective use of the oceans; terrestrial developments, including earthquakes, world resources and their exhaustion; problems relating to world fauna and flora and their extinction; pollution of all kinds, demographic population problems, etc, etc. In the end, not socialism but nationalism and the national State will have to disappear. The world is irresistibly being driven to internationalism and interdependence, the only race remaining, that of the human race as a whole.