Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist League

Negro National Colonial Question


Joseph Stalin remains today the leading Marxist-Leninist theoretician on the National Colonial question. We offer in this short section below a summary of the position of Marxism-Leninism on this question.

The third factor is the disclosure of the connection, the organic connection, between the national and colonial question and the question of the power of capital, the overthrow of capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. In the period of the Second International, the national question narrowed to the extreme in its scope, was usually treated as an isolated question, unrelated to the future proletarian revolution. It was tacitly assumed that the national question would be settled ”naturally”, before the proletarian revolution, by means of a series of reforms within the framework of capitalism; that the proletarian revolution could be accomplished without a radical solution of the national problem, and that, vice versa, the national problem could be solved without the overthrow of the power of capital, without and prior to the victory of the proletarian revolution. This essentially imperialist view runs like a crimson thread through the works of Springer and Bauer on the national question. But the last decade has exposed the utter falsity and rottenness of this conception of the national question. The imperialist war (W.W.I) has shown, and the revolutionary experience of recent years has again confirmed:

1. That the national and colonial questions are inseparable from the question of emancipation from the power of capital;
2. That imperialism (the highest form of capitalism) cannot exist without the political and economic enslavement of non-sovereign nations and colonies;
3. That the non-sovereign nations and colonies cannot be emancipated without the overthrow of the power of capital; and
4. That the victory of the proletariat cannot be a lasting one unless the non-sovereign nations and colonies are emancipated from the yoke of imperialism.

If Europe and America may be called the front, the scene of the main engagements between socialism and imperialism, the non-sovereign nations and the colonies, with their raw materials, fuel, food and vast store of human material, should be regarded as the rear, the reserve of imperialism. In order to win a war one must not only triumph at the front but also revolutionize the enemy’s rear, his reserves. Hence the victory of the world proletarian revolution may be regarded as assured only if the proletariat is able to combine its own revolutionary struggle with the movement for emancipation of the toiling masses of the non-sovereign nations and the colonies against the power of the imperialists and for a dictatorship of the proletariat. This ”trifle” was overlooked by the moving spirits of the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals when they divorced the national and colonial question from the question of power in the period of growing proletarian revolution in the West.[1]

Stalin further spelled out the relationship between proletarian revolution and the national and colonial question in his Foundations of Leninism:

In its solution of the national question Leninism proceeds from the following propositions:

a) The world is divided into two camps: the camp of a handful of civilized nations which possess finance capital and exploit the vast majority of the population of the globe, and the camp of the oppressed and exploited peoples of the colonies and dependent countries that comprise that majority;
b) The colonies and the dependent countries, oppressed and exploited by finance capital, constitute an enormous reserve power and a most important source of strength for imperialism;
c) The revolutionary struggle of the oppressed people in the dependent and colonial countries against imperialism is the only road that leads to their emancipation from oppression and exploitation;
d) The principal colonial and dependent countries have already entered on the path of the national liberation movement, which is bound to bring about a crisis in world capitalism;
e) The interests of the proletarian movement in the advanced countries and of the national liberation movement in the colonies require the fusion of these two aspects of the revolutionary movement into a common front against the common enemy, imperialism;
f) The victory of the working class in the developed countries and the liberation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism are impossible without the formation and consolidation of the common revolutionary front;
g) The formation of a common revolutionary front is impossible unless the proletariat of the oppressor nations renders direct and determined support to the liberation movement of the oppressed peoples against the imperialism “of its own country”, for “no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations” (Marx);
h) This support implies the advocacy, defence and realization of the slogan of the right of nations to secession and to independent political existence;
i) Unless this slogan is put into effect, the amalgamation and collaboration of nations within a single world system of economy, which constitutes the material basis for the victory of socialism, will be impossible;
j) This amalgamation can only be a voluntary one and must be based on mutual confidence and fraternal relations between the nation.[2]


[1] Stalin, Joseph, “The National Question Presented”, Marxism and the National Colonial Question. International Publishers, N.Y., 1934, pp. 114-115

[2] Stalin, Joseph, “VI The National Question”, The Foundations of Leninism. Foreign Language Press, Peking, 1965, pp. 76-77