Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Ukraine Is Going To The Dogs - Part 4

Marx and Engels opposed ideas such as Welfarism introduced
by the capitalist state, because they undermine workers self-activity
and self-government.  They called on the workers to defend and
develop their own welfare organisations, such as the Friendly Societies
and for the Capitalist State to keep its hands off them.
The fact that the international labour movement is so weak, so impotent, is a disgrace, and a large portion of the blame for that weakness resides with Marxists, for the sectarianism that decomposed their organisations during the last century, and the statism they adopted, which led them to encourage the working-class to place its faith in the capitalist state, via welfarism etc., rather than to build its own self-activity and self-government. But, that weakness cannot be a reason for us to then, once more, place our faith in our class enemies on a purely moralistic basis of “something must be done”.

Are Marxists and the international working-class really reduced to
being merely cheerleaders for one group of reactionaries rather
 than another?
That same statist approach adopted on a national basis has been extended on an international basis, reducing the working-class to mere cheerleaders of more powerful bourgeois forces, be they the forces of “democratic imperialism”, or else of various reactionary bourgeois states and forces, on the basis of their supposed “anti-imperialist” credentials! That is quite contrary to the position Trotsky outlined in relation to the Balkans.

“It is necessary to vindicate the possibility for these peoples themselves to settle their own affairs, not only as they wish and see fit but also by their own strength, in the land where they are established. This means that European democracy has to combat every attempt to subject the fate of the Balkans to the ambitions of the Great Powers. Whether these ambitions be presented in the naked form of colonial policy or whether they be concealed behind phrases about racial kinship, they all alike menace the independence of the Balkan peoples... 

Democracy has no right, political or moral, to entrust the organisation of the Balkan peoples to forces that are outside its control – for it is not known when and where these forces will stop, and democracy, having once granted them the mandate of its political confidence, will be unable to check them.” (On The Balkan Wars p 148-52)

That principal adopted by Trotsky and the socialists of the time, of the fundamental duty of Marxists to oppose such external intervention, flows directly from the position of Marx and Engels of the need to build workers self-activity and self-government at both the national and international level. As Lenin put it, our fundamental task is not the advancement of bourgeois democratic freedoms and demands such as the self-determination of nations, but everywhere rather the self-determination of the proletariat. As Lenin put it,

“The Social-Democrats will always combat every attempt to influence national self-determination from without by violence or by any injustice. However, our unreserved recognition of the struggle for freedom of self-determination does not in any way commit us to supporting every demand for national self-determination. As the party of the proletariat, the Social-Democratic Party considers it to be its positive and principal task to further the self-determination of the proletariat in each nationality rather than that of peoples or nations. We must always and unreservedly work for the very closest unity of the proletariat of all nationalities, and it is only in isolated and exceptional cases that we can advance and actively support demands conducive to the establishment of a new class state or to the substitution of a looser federal unity, etc., for the complete political unity of a state.”

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