THE TWO STAGES OF THE NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENTS (The struggle for independence)
In first place it is necessary to clarify that, for Marxism, the word nation does not define a general historical category but a specific historical one, that is, related to an era or historical moment determined by a social system and the dominant class that presides its development. That modern nations may have been structured in base of ethnic- linguistic ancestral units, doesn’t mean that their legal and political meaning have always been the same. In fact, neither the empires of the slaveholding society nor the kingdoms of the feudal society were nations in the current sense of this term. The modern concept of nation appeared linked to capitalist private property; therefore, the class that confers social and political sense to the still current idea of the word nation, has been and still is the bourgeoisie. The autochthonous bourgeoisie has been, therefore, the class called to safeguard and represent the operating human culture on the territory of which it was native, to the extent to which it achieved to erect itself there as dominant class in the stage of pre-monopolist capitalism.
Now ok, if as it is certain that, for Marxists, the orientation of all political action must be presided by an economic base since it makes it historically necessary, the material condition that has made historically necessary and possible any bourgeois national movement in a given territory, has been and is the economic pre-existence and socially meaningful pre-capitalist relations of production, in such a way that the assignment of the national movement consist of eliminating that obstacle to constitute the incipient bourgeoisie in the economically dominant class, transforming the simple and semi-feudal mercantile production in capitalist production based on salaried work.
Continuing in historical projection the line of thought that goes from Marx to Lenin, it can be seen that the political movements of national liberation had two moments that answered to two other different stages in the capitalist accumulation process at world scale. The first moment, between 1789 and 1871 corresponded to the struggle for the bourgeoisie national liberation against the remains of the feudal way of production and of the autocratic political regimes that the nobility gave itself. This struggle for national self-determination that culminated in the modern national States was essentially bourgeoisie democratic.
In the second moment, the movements of national self-determination (struggle for independence) were motorized by the emerging bourgeoisies of the colonial and semi-colonial countries, not any more against feudalism and the old coined autocracy, but against the national oppression of foreign colonialists (in that stage only capable and interested in keeping their overseas dominances as suppliers of raw materials and consumers of the products elaborated in the metropolis), as well as against their strategic allies: the landowners, the leaseholders in a semi-feudal exploitation regime and the buyer bourgeoisie class.
In the two cases, the struggle for national self-determination (struggle for independence) has been of identical socio-economic sign: to eliminate the obstacles that hinder the extension of an internal market based on the capitalistic exploitation of social work, to the point of converting the autochthonous national bourgeoisie into dominant class, and the working class into a sufficient number so as to be in conditions of fighting for their own self-determination as a class, for the socialist society. Such is, in essence, the theory of Lenin about national self-determination in the imperialist stage of capitalism.
This theory has not been an occurrence of Lenin but it is in the unavoidable objective logic of capital accumulation at world level, whose fulfilment is independent of the will of the committed social agents and of its struggles, whose results can accelerate or delay it, but not change the direction or the sense of its trend. This is one of the fundamental conclusions to which Marx had arrived to and presented to his readers upon informing them on the revolutionary scientific method employed in his investigations:
<<In itself and for itself, it is not the case here of the bigger or smaller degree reached in its development by the social antagonisms that result from the natural laws of capitalist production. It is the case of these laws in itself, of those trends that operate and impose themselves with harsh need. The more industrially developed country does not but show the least developed one the image of its own future>> (K. Marx: "The Capital" Foreword to the second German issue)
The tactics that Lenin and the Bolsheviks proposed in 1916 to the relatively minority salaried masses in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, consisted precisely in that , in applying the political will of the proletarian movement to push politically in the way of the laws that preside the movement of the bourgeoisie society, with the intention of accelerating the fulfilment of the obliged objective trend in the periphery of the system, thus to bring closer the horizon of the struggle to give birth to the socialist society, shortening and easing as much as possible the pains of its delivery.
And in this, as in all the matters he faced in his social practice - theoretical and political - Lenin has never lost sight of the material or economic reference of the reality to transform. To respect the blind economic laws of capitalism helping that "old mole" in its fundamental revolutionary task of perforating the soil on which the political power of the bourgeoisie is asserted, such has been and it must be the attitude for which we, the Marxists, be distinguished of the reformist evolutionism and of the utopian voluntarism.
We have just said that the summit of the bourgeois democratic movement was exhausted in the course of two well differentiated moments. It was in point IV of the "Communist Manifesto" where Marx and Engels referred to the first of these moments, one in which they were directly involved which Lenin afterwards delimitated between the years 1789 and 1871. In that point IV titled: Attitude of the communists with respect to the different opposition political parties", Marx and Engels were proposing in 1848 that the European and American proletariat integrated itself within that movement. And though they do not mention the primary need of them to be constituted as a class party, they foreshadow this idea recommending that the communists should fight to defend "within the current movement, the future of that movement", this is, for the moment the victory of the radical bourgeoisie over the cohabitation between the nobility and the conservative bourgeoisie, as well as to prepare the economic and social bases of the socialist revolution.
In those times, Marx and Engels proposed to the revolutionaries the study and rigorous knowledge of the economic laws that preside the social movement of capitalism, and to implement the political struggle according to the direction of those laws, not to jump over the phases of the economic and social development but to accelerate its fulfilment:
<<Though a society may have discovered the natural law that presides its own movement -and the last objective of this work is, in fact, to bring to light the economic law that governs the movement of modern society- it cannot rob natural phases of development neither abolish them by decree. But it can abridge and ease the pains of delivery.>>
And the case was that to bring closer the horizon of the struggle for socialism, the wage-earners at the service of the incipient capital had to grow in such a way that would enable them to give the qualitative jump to the revolutionary political action. But, for that, a good part of the peasant servitude of the land and of the craftsman unions in the cities, should swollen the ranks of the already existing proletariat. And that was a task of the bourgeoisie to which the proletariat had to contribute politically as a subordinate or auxiliary power.
This same thing was recommending Lenin from 1914 to the proletarians of the colonies and semi-colonial countries in the second moment of the bourgeois democratic movement determined by the unequal development of capitalism. As Marx and Engels had done after the defeat of the proletarian revolution of June of 1848 - that raised the French bourgeoisie to a definitive condition of dominant class - Lenin knew for what historical context to use the words "people" and "fatherland", so dear to reformists and nationalists nowadays.
The same as it occurs with the word "nation",the substratum of the notion of "fatherland" is in the bourgeoisie private property, above all in the small one, since the proletariat as well as the great bourgeoisie in the imperialistic stage, even though for opposite reasons are in absolute contradiction with both concepts. In " 18 Brumario of Luis Bonaparte", Marx masterly demonstrates that the imperial army which the peasants integrated in times of Napoleon, so much as the uniform they wore, the fatherland they defended and the patriotism for which they would be converted into heroes, were spiritual values that would lack complete sense without the material substratum of the small parcelling property.
<<Finally, the climactic point of the ideas of Napoleon is the prevalence of the army. The army was the point d'honneur of the parcelling peasants, they were themselves converted into heroes, defending their new property against the outside enemy, glorifying their recently conquered nationality, ransacking and revolutionizing the world. The uniform was their Gaul clothes; the war, their poetry; the plot, extended and rounded in the fantasy, the fatherland, and patriotism, the ideal form of the sense of property.>> (Op. Cit. cap. IX)
For the bourgeoisie, the fatherland loses political sense in the measure in which the progress of accumulation removes the national base from the industrial and cultural development. Marx and Engels have been very clear in this point already from 1 848:
<<The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood… In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature. >> (K.MARX-F.ENGELS: " Communist Manifesto" I Bourgeois and proletarian )
From what is said here it can be logically deduced that the correlation between the international characteristic of the exchanges and the dissolution of the national and cultural narrowness is not automatic. Nowadays even the most powerful transnational companies need to keep on leaning on their national political base. Their international projection depends as much on the magnitude of their capital as of the economic power concentrated in their respective national states. This explains that the bourgeoisie of Basque origin that have their capital inserted in conglomerates as the BBVA, do not have their " national feeling" in Euskal Herría anymore, but in the Spanish State.
In last resort, where can the "fatherland" be for a burgess as Mr.Botin but in the international conglomerates that they direct? With respect to the proletariat, the word national only makes sense for this universal class in so much as it needs to lean on the national employer while struggling for its emancipation as a exploitative class, during the infantile stage of capitalism in countries still under predominant feudal relations of production, or during the late stage under the political hardship of the imperialist powers in the colonial countries.
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