Liu Shaoqi

Internationalism and Nationalism

II. The Proletarian-Internationalist Concept of the Nation

The Proletarian-internationalist concept of the nation is diametrically opposite to the bourgeois-nationalist concept of the nation. The proletarian-internationalist approach to the national question and its basic principles for dealing with the national question throughout the world proceed from the basic interests of the masses of the given nation, and at the same time, from the common interests of the masses of every nation which are the common basic interests of all mankind. Since national aggression is a product of the system of class exploitation, it is only natural that the proletariat, which exploits no one and fights for a social system without the exploitation of man by man, should be opposed to any oppression of one nation by another. The proletariat cannot countenance in society any system of oppression of man by man for otherwise it could not achieve its own emancipation.

For this reason, the proletariat is resolutely opposed to any kind of national oppression. It fights not only against its own nation oppressing another. It advocates the complete equality of all nations (large or small, strong or weak) both at home and in the family of nations, and it also advocates the voluntary association and voluntary separation of all nations. The gradual movement towards world unity can be achieved through different concrete paths such as voluntary separation (the aim of which is to smash the oppression and control of the imperialists over the vast majority of the world’s nations) and voluntary association (with various nationalities uniting on a completely voluntary basis after imperialist oppression has been elimated).

Such is the proletarian-internationalist concept of the nation and the class basis on which it is founded. Such is the basic principle and programme of proletarian internationalism for dealing with the national question throughout the world.

Guided by the foregoing principles, Communists in all oppressed nations have always constituted the staunchest vanguard fighters leading the anti-imperialist national liberation movements of the oppressed nations. For example, we Chinese Communists are thorough proletarian internationalists and are, at the same time, revolutionary patriots and revolutionary national fighters, most staunchly opposing all imperialist aggression against the Chinese nation, defending the freedom and independence of our fatherland and opposing all traitors.

In China, it was the party of the Chinese proletariat, and not the party of the bourgeoisie or the petty-bourgeoisie, that first raised a clear-cut programme for fighting against imperialism and for national independence. Our Communist Party of China has always been the leader and organiser of the anti-imperialist national united front of the Chinese people. The scale of this national united front embraces workers, peasants, intellectuals, the petty-bourgeoisie, the national bourgeoisie and even the progressive gentry. This revolutionary national liberation movement is not in contradiction to proletarian internationalism, but it is entirely consistent with it. It constitutes an extremely integral part of the movement of proletarian internationalism, constituting its broadest direct ally. The victory of this national liberation movement is a great step forward along the path of the proletarian internationalist cause, for it gives great aid and impetus to the socialist revolution of the proletariat throughout the world.

Therefore, it is clear that if the Communists in the oppressed nations fail to take concrete steps to fight against imperialist oppression and for the national liberation, if they merely regard “internationalism” as window dressing, then they are betraying proletarian internationalism, playing into the hands of imperialism, descending to the level of the mean and contemptible Trotskyites and, as a result, becoming faithful agents of imperialism.

Furthermore, Communists will be betraying the proletariat and Communism and playing the game of the imperialists all over the world and will make themselves pawns of the imperialists, if, after their own nation has been freed from imperialist oppression, the Communists descend to a position of bourgeois nationalism, carrying out a policy of national selfishness and sacrificing common international interests of the upper stratum of their own nation; or if they not only fail to oppose imperialism but on the contrary rely on imperialist aid to carry out aggression and oppression against other nations; or if they employ national conservatism and exclusive ideas to oppose proletarian internationalism, to reject the international unity of the proletariat and the working people and to oppose the Socialist Soviet Union. The Tito clique in Yugoslavia is now taking this path.

Guided by the foregoing principles, the Communists in all oppressor nations, in all imperialist countries, have always staunchly and unconditionally opposed aggression and oppression against colonial and semi-colonial countries by the rulers of their own nations— the imperialist clique. The Communist of these countries have used every means to give unconditional aid to national liberation movements in the colonies and semi-colonies. They advocate complete independence and complete emancipation of the colonial and semi-colonial countries from the imperialist control of their own countries. As examples, we can refer to the Communists in Czarist Russia, in Great Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Holland, Belgium, etc. As staunch nationalists [A] , they resolutely oppose the imperialists of their own countries who carry out oppression and aggression against India, Malaya, the Philippines, Indonesia, Viet-Nam, China, Central and South America, Africa and other colonial and semi-colonial countries. They consistently fight for and help the oppressed nations attain independence and liberation.

The Communists take this position because they fully understand the famous saying of Marx that “no nation which oppresses others can itself be free”. They understand that without such national liberation movements which sap, weaken and undermine the foundations of imperialist domintarion, it would be extremely difficult for the proletariat of the imperialist countries to achieve victory in the struggle against monopoly capital and to atain its emancipation. Hence, aid for the liberation movements of the colonial and semi-colonial countries is, at the same time, aid for the cause of the emancipation of the proletariat in the imperialist countries.

Guided by the foregoing principles, therefore, after overthrowing imperialist rule in their countries and gaining power, the Communists must immediatly put an end to every oppression imposed by ≴their≵ imperialists upon other nationalities, whether inside or outside of that country. For example, as soon as the October Revolution in Russia had overthrown the Czar and the bourgeois provisional government and gained power, Lenin and Stalin, for the first time in the history of mankind, immediately proclaimed the abrogation of all unequal treaties which Czarist Russia had imposed upon China and other countries, abolished the whole system of enslavement which Russian imperialism had imposed on its colonies and semi-colonies and proclaimed the complete equality of all nationalities within the country. This is the correct application of the great principles of proletarian internationalism.

Therefore, if there are individuals in the ranks of the proletariat of oppressor nations who regard “internationalism” as window-dressing or sink to the position of bourgeois nationalism, helping the imperialists of their own countries to supress the colonial, semi-colonial and backward countries, instead of extending support to the national liberation movements of the colonies and semi-colonies, they are betraying proletarian internationalism — the cause of Socialism and Communism — and become agents of imperialism. For example, the representatives of the labour aristocracy who have been bought off by imperialism — the Right wing of the Social-Democratic parties in various countries and the Right-wing of the British Labour Party — belong to this type of proletarian renegade. Furthermore, if after coming into power when imperialist domination has been over thrown in their own country, the Communists do not immediatly abolish imperialistic oppression against other nations and do not proclaim the complete equality of all peoples within their country; if instead they continue national oppression and persue an aggressive policy towards another people, they too will be betraying proletarian internationalism — the cause of Socialism and Communism; it means that they regard “internationalism” as window-dressing and have denegrated to the position of bourgeouis nationalism.

However, under certain historical conditions, oppressor nations may become oppressed nations. A case in point is when Hitler invaded and conquored France, Belgium and Holland. Then in contrast to bourgeois national traitors, the Communists of those countries, guided by the foregoing principles placed themselves heroically in the very forefront of the national restence in the fight against the fascist aggressors.

The same European countries ensalved by the Marshall Plan of American imperilaism may serve as another example. The reactionary bourgeoisie of these countries, at the same time, also continues to suppress the national revolutionary struggles in the colonies with the aid of American imperialism. This is what France is doing in Indo-China, Britain in Malaya and in other colonies and the Netherlands in Indonesia. Guided by the foregoing principles, the Communists of these imperialist countries, on the one hand, must offer determined resistenance to American imperialism’s eslavement and aggression against their own nations; they must fight against the capitulation of their bourgeoisie to the United States and against the betrayal of their nations by the bourgeoisie and defend the independence of their nations; on the other hand, they must resolutely oppose the imperialist colonialist policy of the bourgeois rulers of their own country and the oppression and exploitation of the colonial peoples by their bourgeois rulers, and they must unconditionally support the liberation of the colonial peoples against the imperialists of their own countries.

In such a situation, the Right-wing of the Social Democratic parties in the European countries and of the British Labour Party continues on the one hand. to peruse an imperialist policy toward the colonies and, on the other hand, to support the Marshall Plan which enslaves their own countries. The Communist parties relentlessly fight these renegades.

Such are the varied concrete programmes and policies which proletarian internationalism adopts on the national question in different nations and under different conditions. These programmes and policies are determined by the basic common interests of the masses of the people of the given nation as well as by the interests of the masses of the people of all nations. In other words, they proceed from the basic common interests of all mankind, and at the same time they are in full accord with the class interests of the proletariat.

Such is the concrete application of the world outlook of proletarian internationalism in different historic conditions.

Having gained a clear idea as to bourgeois-nationalist and proletarian internationalist concepts of the nation, we can understand that bourgeois nationalism and proletarian internationalism represent two different classes, two antagonistic world outlooks, ideologies and slogans. Lenin said: “Bourgeois nationalism and proletarian internationalism are two irreconcilable, mutually antagonistic slogans. They conform to the two great class camps of the whole capitalist world, and manifest two different policies on the national question (and especially two different world outlooks).”

Thus we can also understand why a sharp line must be drawn between proletarian internationalism and its position on the national question, and bourgeois nationalism. Any Communist who descends to the position of bourgeois nationalism is betraying Communism.

Thus we can also understand that, in view of the bourgeois-nationalist concept of the nation and its programmes and policies in dealing with the national question, any imperialism, whenever possible, will certainly carry out aggression and oppression against other nations and certainly will not honestly assist other nations in achieving independence and liberation. Sometimes an imperialist country may help an oppressed nation to fight against another imperialist country; however, the imperialist country does not do this for the sake of the independence and liberation of the oppressed nation — it does this, rather, to make use of the oppressed nation against its rival, to escape from its own disasters and to attempt to establish its own imperialist rule over the oppressed nation after its rival has been squeezed out.

The purpose of Hitler’s plan to establish the “New Order in Europe,” of the Japanese warlords’ plans to establish the “Co-prosperity Sphere in Greater East Asia” and “Sino-Japanese Co-existence and Co-prosperity”, of American imperialism’s so called “Marshall Plan for European Recovery”, ”Aid for China’s Economic Reconstruction”, “Aid for Korean Independence”, and “Aid for Philippine Independence”, of Britain’s “ Aid for Indian and Burmese Independence”, and the like — the purpose of all these is not to assist in the rehabilitation of other nations or to help the oppressed nations to fight for their independence and liberation, but to establish or preserve their own rule over other nations.

No oppressed nation can achieve real liberation and independence through the so-called aid of imperialist powers. No imperialist country can be expected to extend genuine help to the cause of real independence and liberation. Thus, we can understand that it would be extreamly erroneous and harmful to harbour illusions that American imperialism would in good faith help the Chinese people to achieve real independence and democracy.

Guided by the proletarian-internationalist concept of the nation, and by its programme and policy in dealing with the national question, the Communists must be the most determined, most reliable and most capable leaders of the movement for the national liberation and independence of all oppressed nations. They must be the most determined defenders of the legitimate interests of their own people and aid unconditionally the liberation movement of all oppressed nations the world over. They cannot pursue a policy of aggression against any other nation or a policy of oppressing the national minorities within their own country.

Thus we can understand that there is not the slightest basis for such demagogic propaganda and malicious slander of the imperialists as: “Inasmuch as the Communists are internationalists, they cannot lead the movements for national liberation and independence, they cannot safeguard the interests of their nation of their fatherland.”, “The Soviet Union is guilty of Red Imperialism”; “The Soviet Union pursues an aggressive policy toward China, Korea, and other countries”; “The Soviet Union pursues an expansionist policy” etc.

Only the Communists and the international proletariat, only the Soviet Union and the New Democracies led by the Communist Parties are the most reliable friends of all oppressed nations fighting for their liberation from imperialist oppression, for national independence. To harbour mistrust and unfriendliness toward the Soviet Union and the New Democracies led by the Communist Parties and to regard “the capitalist countries as less dangerous to Yugoslavia than the Soviet Union”, as the Tito-ites are doing, is extremely erroneous and harmful.

To regard as the Tito-ites do, the foreign policy of the Soviet Union and the foreign policies of the imperialist countries as being the same, or to confuse them, and to adopt the same attitude to the Soviet Union and the New Democracies led by the Communist Parties as is adopted toward imperialist countries — this is extremely erroneous and harmful, as a result of the betrayal of the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism, the betrayal of proletarian internationalism and it constitutes a denigration to the position of bourgeois nationalism.

[A] Errata. For nationalists read internationalists

Next: III. The Present Conditions of Oppressor Nations and Oppressed Nations