Revolutionary Socialists and the National Question: Five Draft Points

1. Nations as such do not exist (apart from in the minds of nationalist theoreticians) other than in the form of national consciousness and national movements; national existence itself is a function of national movements and national consciousness, and not the other way round.

A nation, in the sense in which the word is commonly used and understood, refers to group of people which is demarcated off through the special and unique – ‘national’ –  qualities they share and embody; special qualities – comprising British-ness, Spanish-ness, German-ness, and so forth – which are not ultimately reducible to such tangibles as language, territory, or political institutions, but which take the form of the ‘national character’ that the people both embody in the present and have embodied since time immemorial.  For each nation thus understood the world is divided into ‘them’ and ‘us’: us-ness being defined by the special foundational qualities of our own national character, and them-ness by their absence, which is, for each nation, the one thing that all other nations have in common.  Nations do not therefore treat other nations with equanimity: being national does not signify being an equal member of a brotherhood of nations but precisely being different from all the other nations put together.  The lack in other nations of that which makes us what we are not only makes us unique but also frequently marks us off as superior, and often our superiority over the rest of the other nations comes from the fact that we have been chosen by God as special: with alarming frequency, the native tongue of each nation is quite literally the language of heaven.

More (pdf: 105KB): Five Draft Points


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