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Article Series from Red Flag

Communist Dialectics


Only Communism Can End the Crimes of Nationalism, Part II


Part I discussed how capitalists use nationalism to divide and rule workers, and the tremendous number of workers’ lives that nationalism has cost.

Manufacturing “National Identities”
Nationalists make up their “national identities” differently. Some use a common language, but languages are often created or drastically modified to reinforce nationalist projects. Modern Hebrew, spoken by most Israelis, was created in the 19th and early 20th centuries by Zionism. They modified ancient Hebrew, which had fallen out of daily use.  In India, Hindustani was widely spoken in northern India in the 19th century. It had much in common with Urdu, also widely used in trade and literature.  In the 20th century nationalists formed the Hindi language by replacing the many Persian and Arabic words in Hindustani with words derived from ancient Sanskrit, to make a language more distinct from Urdu. 
Where distinct languages already exist, some are suppressed by nationalist movements or governments. This happens with  Russian in some former Soviet republics, with Basque in Spain, Berber languages in Morocco and Spanish in the US among many others.

Nationalism Lies About History
Nationalist schemes often replace the truth about history with myths and lies. The bosses celebrate “national heroes” among past politicians and generals, and sometimes artists, writers, or industrialists.  School textbooks praise the country’s political institutions and military victories. They often hide past crimes like slavery, genocide, or wars of conquest. People who expose these lies are violently attacked, as recently in India by Hindu nationalists at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Some governments even make it a crime to reveal the truth, like the 1915 mass murder of ethnic Armenians in Turkey.
Some groups who have suffered from racism, colonial occupation or caste discrimination try to organize themselves based on their common oppression. Nationalists claim to lead the fight against this oppression, but nationalism can never overcome inequality and oppression since it is always tied to capitalism. It is the nature of capitalism to promote racism and oppression, never to stop it.

Capitalists Benefit From Racism and Nationalism
In the US, racism against African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans is strong and profitable for the capitalists. US nationalism gets many to accept and support imperialist wars. European capitalists have long exploited immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, although now they have more immigrants than they want. The Arab Gulf States exploit South Asians and Filipinos massively. Chinese bosses oppress Tibetans and Uighurs. South Asian bosses try to continue their oppression of Muslims, Dalits and other castes by promoting other nationalisms, especially Hindu nationalism.

Resistance to nationalism
Many have resisted nationalist appeals. They fought for internationalism. There were mass movements to end apartheid in South Africa, worldwide protests against the US invasion of Vietnam, and many other brave actions. In 1919, there were troops in all fourteen armies sent to invade the new Soviet Republic in Russia that refused to fight.
In 1930 Hindu troops of the Royal Garhwali Rifles refused to take part in a British government massacre of hundreds in a non-violent protest by Muslims in Peshawar. Leaders of these troops were punished with long prison sentences. M. K. Gandhi refused to support the soldiers because “If I taught them to disobey I should be afraid that they might do the same when I am in power.” [Monde, 2/2/1932] In 1945 US merchant sailors protested transport of French troops to Vietnam to “re-colonize” that country.
In India today many people fighting against fascist Hindu nationalism believe in an Indian secular nationalism that tries to unite all religious groups in India. As India’s capitalists strive to catch up with China and become a major imperialist power, secular nationalism can also do great harm. For example, it can help justify a future war with China for which the Indian bosses are already preparing. Nationalism can never serve the masses, only the capitalists.

Ending Nationalism With Communism
The price that the masses have had to pay for nationalism has been enormous. Imperialist wars, communal violence, and mass movements diverted into supporting new bosses have cost millions of lives. Nationalism is an integral part of capitalist rule and can only be eliminated by destroying capitalism and replacing it with communism.
Communism will defeat the existing bosses and make it impossible for new bosses to arise and rule.
Communism will end the capitalist wage system, which always creates inequalities and conflicts among workers. This will enable communism to end capitalist inequalities in living conditions and in opportunities to develop and use new skills and capabilities.
In communism, the masses will create a new communist culture that completely rejects all claims that some groups of people are superior to others or must be hostile to others. Communist culture includes the philosophy of dialectical materialism, which will undermine all religion and superstition. A communist economy will be created, based on sharing the results of our common labor according to the needs of the masses. The era of nationalism, racism, sexism and imperialist wars will then be gone forever

Next issue: Nationalist errors by communists

El Salvador: Nationalism Failed the Masses

National Liberation was a banner of insurgent movements worldwide in the 1960’s and 70’s.
In El Salvador a struggle was begun in 1930 against the military dictatorship, repression, poverty and exploitation. During the 1960’s and 70’s armed groups were consolidated that later formed the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN).
The FMLN united communists from the old movement, social democrats and independent Marxists to fight for national liberation — not for socialism, much less for Communism. This armed struggle lasted for twelve years.  It leaves us lessons about errors and successes.
The struggle for a national revolution lacks a communist ideological character. The FMLN did not politicize the working class to forge a new society and destroy capitalism. Even though they attacked the bourgeoisie, they never mobilized the masses for communism. From the first years they sought negotiations with the capitalists.
Now the FMLN has been in power in the capitalist government for seven years, but the transformations they promised are practically nonexistent. The consolidation of ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance) as a new bourgeoisie, the businesses of the traditional bourgeoisie, the forgotten base and veterans, this all shows the failure of the struggle for national liberation.
As the International Communist Workers’ Party, we learn from the lessons that all the historic processes of struggle leave us. Many of our members are ex-combatants of the FMLN who today fight directly for Communism as the only solution to put an end to capitalism-imperialism.

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