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Sophistry of Ukraine’s right to self-determination- stripping Marxism Leninism from its revolutionary spirit and siding with bourgeoisie.

There always will be those consciously and some unconsciously who by means of sophistry try to conceal or justify their desertion to the camp of the bourgeoisie.  The cry for Ukraine’s right to self-determination is a striking example of this sophistry. Let’s start with studying what National self-determination means for Marxist Leninists.

Lenin, in his article “A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism” says;

National self-determination means political independence. (1)

In case of Ukraine, I will not even ask the question of “political independence “from whom" since it is undeniably a “proxy” of US-NATO imperialists. I will continue the meaning of “right to self-determination to see if it is applicable to proxy Ukraine bourgeoisie and of their neo-Nazi state, or it is actually applicable to Donbass where the communists and anti-fascists have been waging a civil war for eight years.

Lenin says that

The right of nations to self-determination implies exclusively the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free political separation from the oppressor nation. (2)

And

our definition of the “right of nations to self-determination” must follow, a definition that is consistently democratic, revolutionary… (11)

Is this clear enough? Cry for the right to self-determination consistently democratic, revolutionary for a neo-Nazi regime? Or for an oppressed nation where their language has been banned and penalized to be used, have been bombed, burned, and massacred in mass and waging a civil war not only for their “democratic rights” but for their survival. Overlooking this fact and claiming the “right to self-determination” for oppressor nation rather than the oppressed deeply related to the reformism not to Marxism Leninism. “The petty bourgeoisie” says Lenin “are still putting this question all forward in a utopian manner because they fail to see the class struggle…and because they believe in "peaceful" capitalism. (2) Their sophistry is that they do not believe in class struggle, civil war but a “peaceful capitalism” under the yoke imperialism.

Lenin says that the

Civil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle. (3)

However, the sophists would prefer to ignore Lenin’s assessment and try extremely hard to overshadow the fact of existing civil war waged in Ukraine against neo-Nazi state and worse never mention that those waging this civil war are communists and anti-fascists. They, however, cling on the terms of “separatism”, “respect to the borders of Ukraine” in its bourgeois context.  

What does Lenin say on this issue?  Just the opposite;

The proletariat cannot remain silent on the question of the frontiers of a state founded on national oppression…The proletariat must struggle against the enforced retention of oppressed nations within the bounds of the given state, which means that they must fight for the right to self-determination. (4)

Is it clear as far as Lenin is concerned who has the “right to self-determination”? Is it Neo-Nazi oppressor Ukraine state or so called “separatists” who have been waging a struggle against it? According to the hypocrites who claim to be internationalists it is the “right to self-determination” for the Ukraine neo-Nazi "oppressor" state.

Lenin exposes these types of hypocrites and their sophistry. He states that

The proletariat must demand freedom of political separation for nations oppressed by "their own" nation. Otherwise, the internationalism of the proletariat would be nothing but empty words... (4)

These words clearly describe the sophists who cry for the “unity” and blame those who has been waging a form of class struggle against the oppressor neo-Nazi state, as “separators”.  

Lenin repeatedly exposes these reformists in his articles. “The hypocrisy of the reformists and Kautskyites,” Lenin says, “who defend self-determination but remain silent about the nations oppressed by "their own" nation and kept in "their own" state by force… (4)

In this sense these so called “internationalists” who defend the “right of self-determination” for Ukraine Neo-Nazi state, yet deny for the Donbass communists and anti-fascists, are not so much different than the 2nd internationalists in their approach.  In Stalin’s words;

… the vague slogan of the right of nations to self-determination has been replaced by the clear revolutionary slogan of the right of nations...to secede, to form independent states. When speaking of the right to self-determination, the leaders of the Second International did not as a rule even hint at the right to secede—the right to self-determination was at best interpreted to mean the right to autonomy in general…self-determination was converted into the privilege of the dominant nations to wield political power, and the question of secession was excluded. Kautsky, the ideological leader of the Second International, associated himself in the main with this essentially imperialist interpretation of self-determination… (5)

Lenin goes further and makes a distinction between reactionary and democratic nations. If we are not considering Ukraine as a democratic nation like those who cry for them, it is important to cite Lenin’s words;

there were historical and political grounds for drawing a distinction between "reactionary" and revolutionary-democratic nations. Marx was right to condemn the former and defend the latter. The right to self-determination is one of the demands of democracy which must naturally be subordinated to its general interests…In some small states … the bourgeoisie makes extensive use of the "self-determination of nations" slogan to justify participation in the imperialist war. (4)

As we understand from Lenin’s words, the so called “internationalists” with their cry for the “right to self-determination “for Ukraine neo-Nazi state are, actually, for the defense of status quo in neo-Nazi Ukraine and are against the anti-fascist struggle in Ukraine, and their cry has nothing to do with Marxism Leninism. 

Lenin clearly states

It is quite easy to see that a protest against annexations either boils down to recognition of the self-determination of nations or is based on the pacifist phrase that defends the status quo and is hostile to any, even revolutionary, violence. Such a phrase is fundamentally false and incompatible with Marxism. (4)

Let's go further and analyze the meaning of the “right of self-determination” in order to show that the cry for the “right to self-determination” for neo-Nazi Ukraine has nothing to do with Marxism-Leninism. For Marxists Lenin states;

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. (6)

Their cry for the “right to self-determination” for neo-Nazi Ukraine has no class base and even any ideological base. They are claiming and defending the right to self-determination for the neo-Nazis but denying it for the communists and anti-fascists.

Let’s talk about the subject of the ‘right to self-determination of an imperialist proxy, neo-Nazi state. (Although they probably do not see Ukraine as a proxy, or even as a neo-Nazi but they are too timid to accept that publicly for it would expose their true color quickly)

“Being a “negation” of democracy in general”, says Lenin, “imperialism is also a “negation” of democracy in the national question (i.e., national self-determination): it seeks to violate democracy… National self-determination means political independence. Imperialism seeks to violate such independence because political annexation often makes economic annexation easier, cheaper (easier to bribe officials, secure concessions, put through advantageous legislation. etc.), more convenient, less troublesome—just as imperialism seeks to replace democracy generally by oligarchy. (7)

Is it may be that the defenders of the right to self-determination of neo-Nazi, imperialist proxy Ukraine derives from the understanding that US-NATO is not imperialist? Is it possible for an imperialist proxy country to fight for “self-determination”? It is an oxymoron claim to defend the right to self-determination for an imperialist proxy country.

The problem is, as historically presented itself numerous times, consciously or unconsciously linking the question of “right to self-determination” with the question of the “right to defend fatherland”.  However, as far as the question of imperialist proxy, neo-Nazi oppressor nation is concerned, neither of those linking is applicable. They are shy to bring up the question of the “defense of fatherland” so they prefer bringing up the “right to self-determination”.

Let's talk about the question of the “defense of fatherland” and see – as far as the Marxist Leninists are concerned- if it is applicable to Ukraine.

Defense of the fatherland is a lie in an imperialist war, but not in a democratic and revolutionary war.  (8)

Anyone in his or her sane mind can claim that neo-Nazi, imperialist proxy Ukraine is giving democratic or revolutionary war?

“The character of a war “, says Lenin, “depends chiefly upon the internal regime of the country that goes to war, that war is a reflection of the internal policy conducted by the given country before the war. “(8)

Does any Marxist Leninist have any “reservation” about the internal policy conducted by the Ukraine regime for the last eight years, before the war started?

Let's go back to Lenin analyzing the imperialist war.

“the present imperialist war is not an exception, but a typical phenomenon in the imperialist epoch.” [[The typical is not the unique.]]

One should say: “Small countries, too, in imperialist wars, which are most typical of the current imperialist epoch, cannot defend their fatherland.” (9)

Now the question comes down to whether this war in Ukraine is an imperialist, or anti-imperialist war. Since there is almost no Marxist Leninists statement claiming the war as “anti-imperialist” we can easily say that Lenin’s following statement is not applicable to Ukraine. And we can understand the reasons behind the sophistry of those crying for the “right to self-determination” for Ukraine while they actually mean the right to “the defense of fatherland” but cannot say it openly because then they would have to be saying that the war is an “anti-imperialist war.”

We are not at all against “defense of the fatherland” in general, not against “defensive wars” in general. You will never find that nonsense in a single resolution (or in any of my articles). (9)

The reality of Ukraine is that both the right to self-determination and the right to defend are applicable to Donbass. Lenin says that

We are against defense of the fatherland …and a defensive position in the imperialist wars, typical of the imperialist epoch. But in the imperialist epoch there may also be “just”, “defensive”, revolutionary wars [namely (1) national, (2) civil, (3) socialist and suchlike.]  (9)

Let’s consider the undeniable fact of civil war waged by the communists and antifascists of Ukraine, their success in liberation villages, towns, cities and regions and correlate with Lenin’s assessment of “Civil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle... (3)

"Civil war” says Lenin, “is just as much a war as any other. He who accepts the class struggle cannot fail to accept civil wars, which in every class society are natural, and under certain conditions inevitable continuation, development, and intensification of the class struggle. That has been confirmed by every great revolution.  To repudiate civil war, or to forget about it, is to fall into extreme opportunism and renounce the socialist revolution." (10)

This clear assessment of Lenin should be sufficient enough to see the fact that the struggle of communists and anti-fascists of Ukraine, especially in Donbass against the neo-Nazi regime is progressive and in line with the point three of Lenin- “socialist and suchlike”, as well as point 2 – “civil war.” In other words, both the defense of liberated region from the neo-Nazis as the fruit of their struggle and the ‘right to self-determination” is applicable to Donbass and support for the communists and anti-fascists of region is the internationalist duty of Marxist Leninists.

Crying for the “right to self-determination” for neo-Nazi, imperialist proxy regime is not the practice of Marxist Leninists but of those on the side of bourgeoisie, worse on the side of neo-Nazis against the communists and anti-fascists.

Trying to hide behind Marxist Leninist “concepts” and siding with the fascists and imperialist, in Lenin’s words, “is nothing more nor less than bourgeois sophistry.”

As Lenin puts it clearly;

self-determination is the same as the struggle for complete national liberation, for complete independence, against annexation, and socialists cannot -- without ceasing to be socialists -- reject such a struggle in whatever form, right down to an uprising or war.

To embellish imperialist war by applying to it the concept of "defense of the fatherland", i.e., by presenting it as a democratic war, is to deceive the workers and side with the reactionary bourgeoisie. (12)

And that is exactly what the cry for the “right to self-determination” for neo-Nazi, imperialist proxy Ukraine regime lands them to- siding with the reactionary bourgeoisie.

Erdogan A

May 30,2022

 

Notes

(1) Lenin, A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism

(2) Lenin The Socialist Revolution and the right of Nations to Self-Determination

(3) Lenin, Junius Pamphlet

(4) Lenin The Socialist Revolution and the right of Nations to Self-Determination

(5) Stalin, Concerning the Presentation of the National Question

(6) Lenin, The National Question in Our Program

(7) Lenin, A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism - What Is Economic Analysis?

(8)  Lenin, Address to the Second All-Russia Congress of Communist Organizations of the Peoples of The East

(9) Lenin, Reply to P. Kievsky (Y. Pyatakov)

(10) Lenin, Military Program of the Proletarian Revolution

(11) Lenin, The Revolutionary Proletariat, and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination

(12) Lenin, A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism

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