Header image 

International Communist Workers Party

line decor
   To Contact ICWP, send an email to: icwp@anonymousspeech.com      
line decor


About ICWP

Red Flag newspaper

Article Series from Red Flag

Communist Dialectics


Only Communism Can End the Crimes of Nationalism, Part I


It is part of the nature of capitalism that capitalists can only be a small percentage of the population. Capitalists know very well that capitalism could not exist if the working class that it exploits were to unite against it. Each competing group of capitalists must try to make sure that the workers do not unite against them, and also try to get support from some sections of the masses. Thus capitalists must keep the working class from understanding the truth that capitalist society pits the workers against the bosses, by trying to get us to see capitalist society as divided up in some other way that cuts across class lines.
Racism, nationalism, sexism and caste are the capitalists’ main organizational and propaganda tools to do this. Racism promotes inequality and hostility inside the working class, often by using a concept of “race,” which is falsely presented as a biological reality, rather than a deadly social category. In its essence, nationalist hostility to immigrants and foreigners, and to people with different religions or languages is not much different from racism and often involves racism explicitly. 
Communism will eliminate all these crimes created by capitalist rule. In communism race will be remembered only as a vicious and unscientific way of classifying people. Men and women will participate equally and fully in all aspects of life. Communism will eliminate nations and borders, and destroy all forms of nationalist ideology and practice. Caste discrimination and caste distinctions will be rooted out everywhere they exist. To win communism, however, the working class must organize determined struggle across the planet now to break down all these walls the capitalists build to divide us.

How Capitalists Use Nationalism
Capitalists use nationalism in two ways. They try to organize support among the masses for some group of capitalist “leaders” on the grounds that they share a “national identity” and common “national interests.”  In fact workers and capitalists are enemies. They never have common interests. So-called “national interests” are always just the capitalists’ interests, although capitalists use all their resources in schools and the media to convince the masses otherwise.
Nationalist divisions are not ancient, not given by nature and not inevitable. Nations and nationalism are products of capitalism. Kingdoms, empires, territories, tribes and communities have existed for many centuries, but nations came to be major forms of social organization only in the 19th century. National identities that are claimed to be  “age old” are actually recent. The category “Hindu” as a kind of religion, not a geographical area, was created by British colonialism by lumping together many strains of religion in India, but excluding Islam and Christianity. They did this to “divide and rule” India.  In the 20th century, the British and nationalists in India developed the Hindu-Muslim division further, eventually dividing South Asia into warring countries. Now Hindu nationalists are bringing fascism to India and preparing it for imperialist war.
Whether they control a government or try to gain power inside an existing state, nationalists always try to divide workers into hostile camps so the bosses in each camp can blame the miseries of capitalism on other national groups or other countries. They do this even when people from different groups have been living together peaceably. When the bosses of the former Yugoslavia organized mass killings in the 1990s, they had to use violence and intimidation on a large scale to defeat the many people who rejected nationalist murders. Serb nationalists killed some Serbs and threatened many others who refused to see Bosnian Muslims as their enemies.

Nationalism and Mass Violence
Nationalists use mass violence so that their leading group can gain and keep power. Many thousands of Shias and Sunnis have been murdered in Iraq in the last decade and thousands more in Israel/Palestine since 1946.  A huge mass murder of both Muslims and Hindus occurred during and after the partition of British India, and killed hundreds of thousands. An even bigger massacre took place when Bangladesh was created in 1971.Thousands have continued to be killed in South Asia since then. Hundreds of thousands died in the mass slaughter of Tutsis by Hutu nationalists in Rwanda in 1994. One of the main aims of these massacres is to destroy integrated communities, so people must side with one nationalist movement or another. The greatest death toll from nationalism, however, is from imperialist wars, where workers are mobilized to do their “patriotic duty” to kill other workers so one group of bosses can get richer.

(Part II will appear in the next issue)

Next Article