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Rosa Luxemburg

The National Question

1. The Right of Nations
to Self-Determination
Among other problems, the 1905 Revolution in Russia has brought into focus the
nationality question. Until now, this problem has been urgent only in Austria
!ungary. At present, however, it has become crucial also in Russia, because the
revolutionary "evelopment ma"e all classes an" all political parties acutely aware of
the nee" to solve the nationality question as a matter of practical politics. All the
newly forme" or forming parties in Russia, be they ra"ical, liberal or reactionary, have
been force" to inclu"e in their programs some sort of a position on the nationality
question, which is closely connecte" with the entire comple# of the state$s internal
an" e#ternal policies. %or a wor&ers$ party, nationality is a question both of program
an" of class organi'ation. (he position a wor&ers$ party assumes on the nationality
question, as on every other question, must "iffer in metho" an" basic approach from
the positions of even the most ra"ical bourgeois parties, an" from the positions of the
)seu"osocialistic, petit bourgeois parties. *ocial +emocracy, whose political program
is base" on the scientific metho" of historical materialism an" the class struggle,
cannot ma&e an e#ception with respect to the nationality question. ,oreover, it is only
by approaching the problem from the stan"point of scientific socialism that the
politics of *ocial +emocracy will offer a solution which is essentially uniform, even
though the program must ta&e into account the wi"e variety of forms of the nationality
question arising from the social, historical, an" ethnic "iversity of the Russian empire.
-n the program of the *ocial +emocratic .abor )arty /R*+.)0 of Russia, such a
formula, containing a general solution of the nationality question in all its particular
manifestations, is provi"e" by the ninth point1 this says that the party "eman"s a
"emocratic republic whose constitution woul" insure, among other things, 2that all
nationalities forming the state have the right to self-determination.3
(his program inclu"es two more e#tremely important propositions on the same
matter. (hese are the seventh point, which "eman"s the abolition of classes an" the
full legal equality of all citi'ens without "istinction of se#, religion, race or
nationality, an" the eighth point, which says that the several ethnic groups of the state
shoul" have the right to schools con"ucte" in their respective national languages at
state e#pense, an" the right to use their languages at assemblies an" on an equal level
with the state language in all state an" public functions. 4losely connecte" to the
nationality question is the thir" point of the program, which formulates the "eman"
for wi"e selfgovernment on the local an" provincial level in areas which are
characteri'e" by special living con"itions an" by the special composition of their
populations. 5bviously, however, the authors of the program felt that the equality of
all citi'ens before the law, linguistic rights, an" local selfgovernment were not
enough to solve the nationality problem, since they foun" it necessary to a"" a special
paragraph granting each nationality the 2right to self"etermination.3
6hat is especially stri&ing about this formula is the fact that it "oesn$t represent
anything specifically connecte" with socialism nor with the politics of the wor&ing
class. 2(he right of nations to self"etermination3 is at first glance a paraphrase of the
ol" slogan of bourgeois nationalism put forth in all countries at all times7 2the right of
nations to free"om an" in"epen"ence.3 -n )olan", the 2innate right of nations3 to
free"om has been the classic formula of nationalists from the +emocratic *ociety to
.imanows&i$s Pobudka, an" from the national socialist Pobudka to the antisocialist
8ational .eague3 before it renounce" its program of in"epen"ence.
*imilarly, a
resolution on the 2equal rights of all nations3 to free"om was the only tangible result
of the famous pan*lav congress hel" in )rague, which was bro&en up in 1<=< by the
pan*lavic bayonets of 6in"ischgraet'. 5n the other han", its generality an" wi"e
scope, "espite the principle of 2the right of nations to self"etermination3 which
obviously can be applie" not only to the peoples living in Russia but also to the
nationalities living in >ermany an" Austria, *wit'erlan" an" *we"en, America ?
strangely enough is not to be foun" in any of the programs of to"ay$s socialist parties.
(his principle is not even inclu"e" in the program of Austrian *ocial +emocracy,
which e#ists in a state with an e#tremely mi#e" population, where the nationality
question is of crucial importance.
(he Austrian party woul" solve the nationality question not by a metaphysical
formula which leaves the "etermination of the nationality question up to each of the
nationalities accor"ing to their whims, but only by means of a well"efine" plan.
Austrian *ocial +emocracy "eman"s the elimination of the e#isting state structure of
Austria, which is a collection of 2&ing"oms an" princely states3 patche" together
"uring the ,i""le Ages by the "ynastic politics of the !apsburgs, an" inclu"es
various nationalities mi#e" together territorially in a ho"gepo"ge manner. (he party
rather "eman"s that these &ing"oms an" states shoul" be "ivi"e" into territories on the
basis of nationality, an" that these national territories be @oine" into a state union. Aut
because the nationalities are to some e#tent @umble" together through almost the
entire area of Austria, the program of *ocial +emocracy ma&es provision for a special
law to protect the smaller minorities in the newly create" national territories.
Bveryone is free to have a "ifferent opinion on this plan. Carl Cauts&y, one of the
most &nowle"geable e#perts on Austrian con"itions an" one of the spiritual fathers of
Austrian *ocial +emocracy, shows in his latest pamphlet, Nationality and
Internationalism, that such a plan, even if it coul" be put into effect, woul" by no
means completely eliminate the conflicts an" "ifficulties among the nationalities.
8onetheless, it "oes represent an attempt to provi"e a practical solution of these
"ifficulties by the party of the proletariat, an" because of the importance of the
nationality question in Austria, we shall quote it in full.
(he nationality program of the Austrian party, a"opte" at the ArDnn 4ongress in 1<99,
Aecause national conflicts in Austria are obstructing all political progress an" the
cultural "evelopment of the nationalities, because these conflicts result primarily from
the bac&war"ness of our public institutions an" because the prolongation of these
conflicts is one of the metho"s by which the ruling classes insure their "omination an"
prevent measures in the true interests of the people, the congress "eclares that7
(he final settlement of the nationality an" language question in Austria in the spirit of
equality an" reason is primarily a cultural "eman", an" therefore is one of the vital
interests of the proletariat.
(his is possible only un"er a truly "emocratic regime base" on universal, equal, an"
"irect elections, a regime in which all feu"al privileges in the state an" the
principalities will have been abrogate". 5nly un"er such a regime will the wor&ing
classes, the elements which really support the state an" society, be able to e#press
their "eman"s.
(he nurturing an" "evelopment of the national peculiarities of all peoples in Austria
are possible only on the basis of equal rights an" the removal of oppression.
(herefore, statebureaucratic centralism an" the feu"al privileges of the principalities
must be oppose".
5nly un"er such con"itions will it be possible to create harmony among the
nationalities in Austria in place of the quarrelling that ta&es place now, namely,
through the recognition of the following gui"ing principles7
Austria is to be transforme" into a "emocratic fe"eration of nationalities
(he historic 4rown lan"s are to be replace" by nationally homogeneous selfruling
bo"ies, whose legislation an" a"ministration shall be in the han"s of national
chambers, electe" on the basis of universal, equal, an" "irect franchise.
All selfgoverning regions of one an" the same nation are to form together a
nationally "istinct union, which shall ta&e care of this union$s affairs autonomously.
9(hat is, linguistic an" cultural, accor"ing to the e#planation given in the "raft by the
party$s lea"ership.;
A special law shoul" be a"opte" by the parliament to safeguar" the rights of national
6e "o not recogni'e any national privilege1 therefore we re@ect the "eman" for a state
language. 6hether a common language is nee"e", a fe"eral parliament can "eci"e.
(he party congress, as the organ of international social "emocracy in Austria,
e#presses its conviction that on the basis of these gui"ing principles, un"erstan"ing
among peoples is possible.
-t solemnly "eclares that it recogni'es the right of each nationality to national
e#istence an" national "evelopment.
)eoples can a"vance their culture only in close soli"arity with one another, not in
petty quarrels1 particularly the wor&ing class of all nations must, in the interest of the
in"ivi"ual nationalities an" in the general interest, maintain international cooperation
an" fraternity in its struggle an" must con"uct its political an" economic struggle in
closely unite" ran&s.
-n the ran&s of international socialism, the Russian 6or&ers$ )arty is the only one
whose program inclu"es the "eman" that 2nationalities be grante" the right to self
Apart from Russian *ocial +emocracy, we fin" this formula only in the program of
the Russian *ocial Revolutionaries, where it goes han" in han" with the principle of
state fe"eralism. (he relevant section of the political "eclaration of the *ocial
Revolutionary )arty states that 2the wi"e application of the principle of fe"eralism in
the relations between in"ivi"ual nationalities is possible,3 an" stresses the
2recognition of their unlimite" right to self"etermination.3
-t is true that the above formula e#ists in another connection with international
socialism7 namely, it is a paraphrase of one section of the resolution on the nationality
problem a"opte" in 1<9E by the -nternational *ocialist 4ongress in .on"on. !owever,
the circumstances which le" to the a"option of that resolution, an" the way in which
the resolution was formulate", show clearly that if the ninth paragraph in the program
of the Russian party is ta&en as an application of the .on"on Resolution, it is base" on
a misun"erstan"ing.
(he .on"on resolution was not at all the result of the intention or nee" to ma&e a
statement at an international congress on the nationality question in general, nor was it
presente" or a"opte" by the 4ongress as a formula for the practical resolution of that
question by the wor&ers$ parties of the various countries. -n"ee", @ust the opposite was
true. (he .on"on Resolution was a"opte" on the basis of a motion presente" to the
4ongress by the socialpatriotic faction of the )olish movement, or the )olish
*ocialist )arty /))*0, a motion which "eman"e" that the reconstruction of an
in"epen"ent )olan" be recogni'e" as one of the most urgent "eman"s of international
-nfluence" by the criticism raise" at the 4ongress by )olish *ocial
+emocracy an" the "iscussion concerning this in the socialist press, as well as by the
first mass "emonstration of the wor&ers$ movement in Russia the memorable stri&e of
forty thousan" te#tile wor&ers in )etersburg in ,ay 1<9E the -nternational 4ongress
"i" not consi"er the )olish motion, which was "irecte" in its arguments an" in its
entire character against the Russian revolutionary movement. -nstea", it a"opte" the
.on"on Resolution alrea"y mentione", which signifie" a re@ection of the motion for
the reconstruction of )olan".
(he 4ongress ? the resolution states ? "eclares itself in favor of the complete right of
all nations to self"etermination, an" e#presses its sympathy for the wor&ers of every
country now suffering un"er the yo&e of military, national, or other "espotism1 the
4ongress calls on the wor&ers of all these countries to @oin the ran&s of the class
conscious wor&ers of the whole worl" in or"er to fight together with them for the
"efeat of international capitalism an" for the achievement of the aims of international
*ocial +emocracy.
As we can see, in its content, the .on"on Resolution replaces the e#clusive
consi"eration of the )olish question by the generali'ation of the question of all
suppresse" nationalities, transferring the question from a national basis onto an inter
national one, an" instea" of a "efinite, completely concrete "eman" of practical
politics, which the motion of the ))* "eman"e" the reconstruction of in"epen"ent
)olan"the resolution e#presses a general socialist principle7 sympathy for the
proletariat of all suppresse" nationalities an" the recognition of their right to self
"etermination. (here can be no "oubt that this principle was not formulate" by the
4ongress in or"er to give the international wor&ers$ movement a practical solution to
the nationality problem. 5n the contrary, a practical gui"eline for socialist politics is
containe" not in the first part of the .on"on Resolution quote" above, but in the
secon" part, which 2calls upon the wor&ers of all countries suffering national
oppression to enter the ran&s of international *ocial +emocracy an" to wor& for the
reali'ation of its principles an" goals.3 -t is an unambiguous way of emphasi'ing that
the principle formulate" in the first part ? the right of nations to self"etermination
can be put into effect only in one way7 vi'., by first reali'ing the principles of
international socialism an" by attaining its ultimate goals.
-n"ee", none of the socialist parties too& the .on"on Resolution to be a practical
solution of the nationality question, an" they "i" not inclu"e it in their programs. Bven
Austrian *ocial +emocracy, for which the solution of the nationality problem was a
question involving its very e#istence, "i" not "o this1 instea", in 1<99, it create" for
itself in"epen"ently the practical 2nationality program3 quote" above. 6hat is most
characteristic, even the ))* "i" not "o this, because, "espite its efforts to sprea" the
tale that the .on"on Resolution was a formula in 3the spirit3 of socialism, it was
obvious that this Resolution meant rather a re@ection of its motion for the
reconstruction of )olan", or at the very least, a "ilution of it into a general formula
without any practical character.
-n point of fact, the political programs of the mo"ern
wor&ers$ parties "o not aim at stating abstract principles of a social i"eal, but only at
the formulation of those practical social an" political reforms which the class
conscious proletariat nee"s an" "eman"s in the framewor& of bourgeois society to
facilitate the class struggle an" their ultimate victory. (he elements of a political
program are formulate" with "efinite aims in min"7 to provi"e a "irect, practical, an"
feasible solution to the crucial problems of political an" social life, which are in the
area of the class struggle of the proletariat1 to serve as a gui"eline for every"ay
politics an" its nee"s1 to initiate the political action of the wor&ers$ party an" to lea" it
in the right "irection1 an" finally, to separate the revolutionary politics of the
proletariat from the politics of the bourgeois an" petit bourgeois parties.
(he formula, 2the right of nations to self"etermination,3 of course "oesn$t have such
a character at all. -t gives no practical gui"elines for the "ay to "ay politics of the
proletariat, nor any practical solution of nationality problems. %or e#ample, this
formula "oes not in"icate to the Russian proletariat in what way it shoul" "eman" a
solution of the )olish national problem, the %innish question, the 4aucasian question,
the Gewish, etc. -t offers instea" only an unlimite" authori'ation to all intereste"
2nations3 to settle their national problems in any way they li&e. (he only practical
conclusion for the "ay to "ay politics of the wor&ing class which can be "rawn from
the above formula is the gui"eline that it is the "uty of that class to struggle against all
manifestations of national oppression. -f we recogni'e the right of each nation to self
"etermination, it is obviously a logical conclusion that we must con"emn every
attempt to place one nation over another, or for one nation to force upon another any
form of national e#istence. !owever, the "uty of the class party of the proletariat to
protest an" resist national oppression arises not from any special 2right of nations,3
@ust as, for e#ample, its striving for the social an" political equality of se#es "oes not
at all result from any special 2rights of women3 which the movement of bourgeois
emancipationists refers to. (his "uty arises solely from the general opposition to the
class regime an" to every form of social inequality an" social "omination, in a wor",
from the basic position of socialism. Aut leaving this point asi"e, the only gui"eline
given for practical politics is of a purely negative character. (he "uty to resist all
forms of national oppression "oes not inclu"e any e#planation of what con"itions an"
political forms the classconscious proletariat in Russia at the present time shoul"
recommen " as a solution for the nationality problems of )olan", .atvia, the Gews,
etc., or what program it shoul" present to match the various programs of the
bourgeois, nationalist, an" pseu"osocialist parties in the present class struggle. -n a
wor", the formula, 2the right of nations to self"etermination,3 is essentially not a
political an" problematic gui"eline in the nationality question, but only a means of
avoiding that question.

(he general an" clichHli&e character of the ninth point in the program of the *ocial
+emocratic .abor )arty of Russia shows that this way of solving the question is
foreign to the position of ,ar#ian socialism. A 2right of nations3 which is vali" for all
countries an" all times is nothing more than a metaphysical clichH of the type of
3rights of man3 an" 2rights of the citi'en.3 +ialectic materialism, which is the basis of
scientific socialism, has bro&en once an" for all with this type of 2eternal3 formula.
%or the historical "ialectic has shown that there are no 2eternal3 truths an" that there
are no 2rights.3 ... -n the wor"s of Bngels, 26hat is goo" in the here an" now, is an
evil somewhere else, an" vice versa3 ? or, what is right an" reasonable un"er some
circumstances becomes nonsense an" absur"ity un"er others. !istorical materialism
has taught us that the real content of these 2eternal3 truths, rights, an" formulae is
"etermine" only by the material social con"itions of the environment in a given
historical epoch.
5n this basis, scientific socialism has revise" the entire store of "emocratic clichHs
an" i"eological metaphysics inherite" from the bourgeoisie. )resent"ay *ocial
+emocracy long since stoppe" regar"ing such phrases as 2"emocracy,3 2national
free"om,3 2equality,3 an" other such beautiful things as eternal truths an" laws
transcen"ing particular nations an" times. 5n the contrary, ,ar#ism regar"s an" treats
them only as e#pressions of certain "efinite historical con"itions, as categories which,
in terms of their material content an" therefore their political value, are sub@ect to
constant change, which is the only 2eternal3 truth.
6hen 8apoleon or any other "espot of his il& uses a plebiscite, the e#treme form of
political "emocracy, for the goals of 4aesarism, ta&ing a"vantage of the political
ignorance an" economic sub@ection of the masses, we "o not hesitate for a moment to
come out wholehearte"ly against that 2"emocracy,3 an" are not put off for a moment
by the ma@esty or the omnipotence of the people, which, for the metaphysicians of
bourgeois "emocracy, is something li&e a sacrosanct i"ol.
6hen a >erman li&e (assen"orf or a tsarist gen"arme, or a 2truly )olish3 8ational
+emocrat "efen"s the 2personal free"om3 of stri&ebrea&ers, protecting them against
the moral an" material pressure of organi'e" labor, we "on$t hesitate a minute to
support the latter, granting them the fullest moral an" historical right to force the
unenlightene" rivals into soli"arity, although from the point of view of formal
liberalism, those 2willing to wor&3 have on their si"e the right of 2a free in"ivi"ual3
to "o what reason, or unreason, tells them.
6hen, finally, liberals of the ,anchester *chool "eman" that the wage wor&er be left
completely to his fate in the struggle with capital in the name of 2the equality of
citi'ens,3 we unmas& that metaphysical clichH which conceals the most glaring
economic inequality, an" we "eman", pointblan&, the legal protection of the class of
wage wor&ers, thereby clearly brea&ing with formal 2equality before the law.3
(he nationality question cannot be an e#ception among all the political, social, an"
moral questions e#amine" in this way by mo"ern socialism. -t cannot be settle" by the
use of some vague clichH, even such a finesoun"ing formula as 2the right of all
nations to self"etermination.3 %or such a formula e#presses either absolutely nothing,
so that it is an empty, noncommittal phrase, or else it e#presses the uncon"itional "uty
of socialists to support all national aspirations, in which case it is simply false.
5n the basis of the general assumptions of historical materialism, the position of
socialists with respect to nationality problems "epen"s primarily on the concrete
circumstances of each case, which "iffer significantly among countries, an" also
change in the course of time in each country. Bven a superficial &nowle"ge of the
facts enables one to see that the question of the nationality struggles un"er the
5ttoman )orte in the Aal&ans has a completely "ifferent aspect, a "ifferent economic
an" historical basis, a "ifferent "egree of international importance, an" "ifferent
prospects for the future, from the question of the struggle of the -rish against the
"omination of Bnglan". *imilarly, the complications in the relations among the
nationalities which ma&e up Austria are completely "ifferent from the con"itions
which influence the )olish question. ,oreover, the nationality question in each
country changes its character with time, an" this means that new an" "ifferent
evaluations must be ma"e about it. Bven our three national movements beginning
from the time of the Coscius'&o -nsurrection coul" be seen as a triple, stereotype"
repetition of the same historical play /that is, 2the struggle of a sub@ugate" nationality
for in"epen"ence30 only in the eyes of either a metaphysician of the upperclass
4atholic i"eology such as *'u@s&i, who believe" that )olan" ha" historical mission to
be the 24hrist of nations,3 or in the eyes of an ignoramus of the present"ay social
patriotic 2school.3 6hoever cuts "eeper with the scalpel of the researcher more
precisely, of the historicalmaterialist researcher ? will see beneath the surface of our
three national uprisings three completely "ifferent sociopolitical movements, which
too& on an i"entical form of struggle with the inva"er in each case only because of
e#ternal circumstances. (o measure the Coscius'&o -nsurrection an" the 8ovember
an" Ganuary insurrections by one an" the same yar"stic& ? by the sacre" laws of the
2sub@ugate" nation3 ? actually reveals a lac& of all @u"gment an" the complete
absence of any historical an" political "iscrimination.
A glaring e#ample of how the change of historical con"itions influences the
evaluation an" the position of socialists with respect to the nationality question is the
socalle" Bastern question. +uring the 4rimean war in 1<55, the sympathies of all
"emocratic an" socialist Burope were on the si"e of the (ur&s an" against the *outh
*lavs who were see&ing their liberty. (he 2right3 of all nations to free"om "i" not
prevent ,ar#, Bngels, an" .ieb&necht from spea&ing against the Aal&an *lavs an"
from resolutely supporting the integrity of the (ur&s. %or they @u"ge" the national
movements of the *lavic peoples in the (ur&ish empire not from the stan"point of the
2eternal3 sentimental formulae of liberalism, but from the stan"point of the material
con"itions which "etermine" the content of these national movements, accor"ing to
their views of the time. ,ar# an" Bngels saw in the free"om movement of the socially
bac&war" *outh *lavs only the machinations of Russian tsar"om trying to irritate the
(ur&s, an" thus, without any secon" thoughts, they subor"inate" the question of the
national free"om of the *lavs to the interests of Buropean "emocracy, insisting on the
integrity of (ur&ey as a bulwar& of "efense against Russian reaction. (his political
position was maintaine" in >erman *ocial +emocracy as late as the secon" half of the
1<90s, when the grayhaire" 6ilhelm .ieb&necht, on the occasion of the struggle of
the 5rmian (ur&s, still spo&e in that spirit. Aut by this time the position of >erman
an" international *ocial +emocracy on the Bastern question ha" change". *ocial
+emocracy began to support openly the aspirations of the suppresse" nationalities in
(ur&ey to a separate cultural e#istence, an" aban"one" all concern for the artificial
preservation of (ur&ey as a whole. An" at this time it was gui"e" not by a feeling of
"uty towar" the 5rmians or the ,ace"onians as sub@ugate" nationalities, but by the
analysis of the material base of con"itions in the Bast in the secon" half of the last
century. Ay this analysis, the *ocial +emocrats became convince" that the political
"isintegration of (ur&ey woul" result from its economicpolitical "evelopment in the
secon" half of the nineteenth century, an" that the temporary preservation of (ur&ey
woul" serve the interests of the reactionary "iplomacy of Russian absolutism. !ere, as
in all other questions, *ocial +emocracy was not contrary to the current of ob@ective
"evelopment, but with it, an", profiting from its conclusions, it "efen"e" the interests
of Buropean civili'ation by supporting the national movements within (ur&ey. -t also
supporte" all attempts to renew an" reform (ur&ey from within, however wea& the
social basis for such a movement may have been.
A secon" e#ample of the same thing is provi"e" by the "iametrically opposite
attitu"es of ,ar# an" Bngels "uring the revolution of 1<=< with respect to the
national aspirations of the 4'echs an" the )oles. (here is no "oubt that from the point
of view of the 2right of nations to self"etermination3 the 4'echs "eserve" the support
of the Buropean socialists an" "emocrats no less than the )oles. ,ar#, however, "i"
not pay any attention to that abstract formula, an" hurle" thun"erbolts at the hea"s of
the 4'echs an" their aspirations for free"om, aspirations which he regar"e" as a
harmful complication of the revolutionary situation, all the more "eserving of severe
con"emnation, since, to ,ar#, the 4'echs were a "ying nationality, "oome" to
"isappear soon. (he creators of The Communist anifesto put forth these views at
the same time that they were "efen"ing the nationalist movement of the )oles with all
their strength, calling upon all revolutionary an" progressive forces to help our
(he sober realism, alien to all sentimentalism, with which ,ar# e#amine" the
national problems "uring the revolution itself, is shown by the way he treate" the
)olish an" 4'ech questions7
2(he Revolution of 1<=<,3 wrote ,ar# in his articles on the revolution which
appeare" in %ebruary 1<5: in the American paper, Daily Tribune,
calling forth at once the claim of all oppresse" nations to an in"epen"ent e#istence,
an" to the right to settle their own affairs for themselves, it was quite natural that the
)oles shoul" at once "eman" the restoration of their country within the frontiers of the
ol" )olish Republic before 1II:. -t is true, this frontier, even at that time, ha" become
obsolete, if ta&en as the "elimitation of >erman an" )olish nationality1 it ha" become
more so every year since by the progress of >ermani'ation1 but then, the >ermans
ha" proclaime" such an enthusiasm for the restoration of )olan", that they must
e#pect to be as&e", as a first proof of the reality of their sympathies, to give up their
share of the plun"er. 5n the other han", shoul" whole tracts of lan", inhabite" chiefly
by >ermans, shoul" large towns, entirely >erman, be given up to a people that as yet
ha" never given any proofs of its capability of progressing beyon" a state of feu"alism
base" upon agricultural serf"omJ (he question was intricate enough. (he only
possible solution was in a war with Russia. (he question of "elimitation between the
"ifferent revolutioni'e" nations woul" have been ma"e a secon"ary one to that of first
establishing a safe frontier against the common enemy. (he )oles, by receiving
e#ten"e" territories in the east, woul" have become more tractable an" reasonable in
the west1 an" Riga an" ,ilan woul" have been "eeme", after all, quite as important to
them as +an'ig an" Blbing. Thus the advanced party in ermany! deeming a "ar
"ith #ussia necessary to keep up the $ontinental movement! and considering that the
national reestablishment even of a part of Poland "ould inevitably lead to such a "ar!
supported the Poles% while the reigning, mi""leclass party clearly foresaw its
"ownfall from any national war against Russia, which woul" have calle" more active
an" energetic men to the helm, an", therefore, with a feigne" enthusiasm for the
e#tension of >erman nationality, they "eclare" )russian )olan", the chief seat of
)olish revolutionary agitation, to be part an" parcel of the >erman Bmpire that was to
,ar# treate" the 4'ech question with no less political realism7
(he question of nationality gave rise to another struggle in Aohemia. (his country,
inhabite" by two millions of >ermans, an" three millions of *lavonians of the
4'echian tongue, ha" great historical recollections, almost all connecte" with the
former supremacy of the 4'echs. Aut then the force of this branch of the *lavonic
family ha" been bro&en ever since the wars of the !ussites in the fifteenth century.
(he province spea&ing the 4'echian tongue was "ivi"e", one part forming the
&ing"om of Aohemia, another the principality of ,oravia, a thir" the 4arpathian hill
country of the *lova&s, being part of !ungary. (he ,oravians an" *lova&s ha" long
since lost every vestige of national feeling, an" vitality, although mostly preserving
their language. Aohemia was surroun"e" by thoroughly >erman countries on three
si"es out of four. (he >erman element ha" ma"e great progress on her own territory1
even in the capital, in )rague, the two nationalities were pretty equally matche"1 an"
everywhere capital, tra"e, in"ustry, an" mental culture were in the han"s of the
>ermans. (he chief champion of the 4'echian nationality, )rofessor )alac&y, is
himself nothing but a learne" >erman run ma", who even now cannot spea& the
4'echian language correctly an" without foreign accent. Aut, as it often happens,
"ying 4'echian nationality, "ying accor"ing to every fact &nown in history for the last
four hun"re" years, ma"e in 1<=< a last effort to regain its former vitality an effort
whose failure, in"epen"ently of all revolutionary consi"erations, was to prove that
Aohemia coul" only e#ist, henceforth, as a portion of >ermany, although part of her
inhabitants might yet, for some centuries, continue to spea& a non>erman language.
9Re!olution and "onterre!olution in Deuts#hland, pp.5IE:;
6e quote the above passages in or"er to stress the methods which ,ar# an" Bngels
use" with respect to the nationality question, metho"s not "ealing in abstract
formulae, but only in the real issues of each in"ivi"ual case. (hat metho" "i" not,
though, &eep them from ma&ing a faulty evaluation of the situation, or from ta&ing a
wrong, position in certain cases. (he present state of affairs shows how "eeply ,ar#
was in error in pre"icting, si#ty years ago, the "isappearance of the 4'ech nationality,
whose vitality the Austrians to"ay fin" so troublesome. 4onversely, he overestimate"
the international importance of )olish nationalism7 this was "oome" to "ecay by the
internal "evelopment of )olan", a "ecay which ha" alrea"y set in at that time. Aut
these historical errors "o not "etract an ounce from the value of ,ar#$s metho", for
there are in general no metho"s of research which are, a priori, protecte" against a
wrong application in in"ivi"ual cases. ,ar# never claime" to be infallible, an"
nothing, in the last resort, is so contrary to the spirit of his science as 2infallible3
historical @u"gments. -t was possible for ,ar# to be mista&en in his position with
respect to certain national movements, an" the author of the present wor& trie" to
show in 1<9E an" 1<9I that ,ar#$s views on the )olish question, as on the Bastern
question, were out"ate" an" mista&en. Aut it is this former position of ,ar# an"
Bngels on the question of (ur&ey an" the *outh *lavs, as well as on the national
movement of the 4'echs an" )oles, that shows emphatically how far the foun"ers of
scientific socialism were from solving all nationality questions in one manner only, on
the basis of one slogan a"opte" a priori. -t also shows how little they were concerne"
with the 2metaphysical3 rights of nations when it was a matter of the tangible material
problems of Buropean "evelopment.
%inally, an even more stri&ing e#ample of how the creators of mo"ern socialist
politics treate" the national question is their evaluation of the free"om movement of
the *wiss in the fourteenth century. (his is part of history, therefore free from the
influence of all the e#pectations an" passions of "ay to "ay politics. (he uprising of
the *wiss cantons against the bloo"y oppression of the !apsburg "espotism /which, in
the form of the historical myth of 6illiam (ell, is the ob@ect of absolute worship by
the liberalbourgeois romantic i"ealist0 was appraise" by %rie"rich Bngels in 1<=I in
the following way7
(he struggle of the early *wiss against Austria, the famous oath at Rytli, the heroic
shot of (ell, the immortal victory at ,orgarten ? all this represente" the struggle of
restless shepher"s against the thrust of historical "evelopment, a struggle of
hi"eboun", conservative, local interests against the interests of the entire nation, a
struggle of primitivism against enlightenment, barbarism against civili'ation. (hey
won their victory over the civili'ation of that perio", but as punishment they were cut
off from the whole later progress of civili'ation.
(o this evaluation Cauts&y a""s the following commentary7
A question mar& coul" be a""e" to the above concerning the civili'ing mission which
the !apsburgs were carrying out in *wit'erlan" in the fourteenth century. 5n the
other han" it is correct that the preservation of the in"epen"ence of the cantons was an
event which was conservative to the nth "egree, an" in no way revolutionary, an" that
thenceforth the free"om of those cantons serve" as a means of preserving an element
of blac&est reaction in the center of Burope. -t was those forest cantons which
"efeate" Kwingli an" his army in 15F1 at the battle of Cappel, an" thereby put a stop
to the sprea" of )rotestantism in *wit'erlan". (hey provi"e" armies to all the "espots
of Burope, an" it was the *wiss of the forest cantons who were the staunchest
supporters of .ouis LMl against the revolution. %or this the republic raise" a
magnificent monument to them in .ucerne. 9Die Neue $eit, 190=1905, Mol.--,
%rom the point of view of the 3right of nations to self"etermination,3 the *wiss
uprising obviously "eserves the sympathy of socialists on all scores. (here is no "oubt
that the aspirations of the *wiss to free themselves from the !apsburg yo&e were an
essential e#pression of the will of the 2people3 or a huge ma@ority of them. (he
national movement of the *wiss ha" a purely "efensive character, an" was not
informe" by the "esire to oppress other nationalities. -t was inten"e" only to throw off
the oppression of a foreign an" purely "ynastic inva"er. %inally, this national
movement formally bore all the e#ternal characteristics of "emocratism, an" even
revolutionism, since the people were rebelling against absolute rule un"er the slogan
of a popular republic.
-n complete contrast to this movement is the national uprising in !ungary in 1<=<. -t
is easy to see what woul" have been the historical outcome of the victory of the
!ungarians because the social an" national con"itions of that country insure" the
absolute "omination of the ,agyar minority over the mi#e" ma@ority of the other,
sub@ugate" nationalities. A comparison of these two struggles for national
in"epen"ence the !ungarian in 1<=< an" the *wiss five centuries earlier ? is all the
more significant since both were "irecte" against the same enemy7 the absolutism of
the Austrian !apsburgs. (he metho" an" the viewpoint on national politics of ,ar#
an" Bngels are brought into high relief by this comparison. +espite all the e#ternal
evi"ences of revolutionism in the *wiss movement, an" "espite the in"isputable two
e"ge" character of the ,agyar movement, obvious in the flun&eyism with which the
!ungarian revolutionaries helpe" the Mienna government to suppress the -talian
revolution, the creators of scientific socialism sharply critici'e" the *wiss uprising as
a reactionary event, while they supporte" fervently the !ungarian uprising in 1<=<. -n
both cases they were gui"e" not by the formula of 2the right of nations to self
"etermination,3 which obviously was much more applicable to the *wiss than to the
,agyars, but only by a realistic analysis of the movements from a historical an"
political stan"point. (he uprising of the fragmente" peasant cantons, with their
regionalism against the centralist power of the !apsburgs, was, in the eyes of Bngels,
a sign of historical reaction, @ust as the absolutism of the princely power, moving
towar" centralism, was at that time an element of historical progress. %rom a similar
stan"point, we note in passing, .assalle regar"e" the peasant wars, an" the parallel
rebellion of the minor &nights of the nobility in >ermany in the si#teenth century
against the rising princely power, as signs of reaction. 5n the other han", in 1<=<,
!apsburg absolutism was alrea"y a reactionary relic of the ,i""le Ages, an" the
national uprising of the !ungarians ? a natural ally of the internal >erman revolution
? "irecte" against the !apsburgs naturally ha" to be regar"e" as an element of
historical progress.

6hat is more, in ta&ing such a stan" ,ar# an" Bngels were not at all in"ulging in
party or class egoism, an" were not sacrificing entire nations to the nee"s an"
perspectives of 6estern Buropean "emocracy, as it might have appeare".
-t is true that it soun"s much more generous, an" is more flattering to the overactive
imagination of the young 2intellectual,3 when the socialists announce a general an"
universal intro"uction of free"om for all e#isting suppresse" nations. Aut the ten"ency
to grant all peoples, countries, groups, an" all human creatures the right to free"om,
equality, an" other such @oys by one sweeping stro&e of the pen, is characteristic only
of the youthful perio" of the socialist movement, an" most of all of the phraseological
brava"o of anarchism.
(he socialism of the mo"ern wor&ing class, that is, scientific socialism, ta&es no
"elight in the ra"ical an" won"erfulsoun"ing solutions of social an" national
questions, but e#amines primarily the real issues involve" in these problems,
(he solutions of the problems of *ocial +emocracy are not in general characteri'e"
by 2magnanimity,3 an" in this respect they are always out"one by socialist parties
which are not hampere" by scientific 2"octrines,3 an" which therefore always have
their poc&ets full of the most beautiful gifts for everyone. (hus, for e#ample, in
Russia, the *ocial Revolutionary )arty leaves *ocial +emocracy far behin" in the
agricultural question1 it has for the peasants a recipe for the imme"iate partial
intro"uction of socialism in the village, without the nee" of a boring perio" of waiting
for the con"itions of such a transformation in the sphere of in"ustrial "evelopment. -n
comparison with such parties, *ocial +emocracy is an" always will be a poor party,
@ust as ,ar# in his time was poor in comparison with the e#pansive an" magnanimous
Aa&unin, @ust as ,ar# an" Bngels were both poor in comparison with the
representatives of 2real3 or rather 2philosophical3 socialism. Aut the secret of the
magnanimity of all socialists with an anarchist coloration an" of the poverty of *ocial
+emocracy, is that anarchistic revolutionism measures 2strength by intentions, not
intentions accor"ing to strength31 that is, it measures its aspirations only by what its
speculative reason, fumbling with an empty utopia, regar"s as goo"3 an" 2necessary3
for the salvation of humanity. *ocial +emocracy, on the other han", stan"s firmly on
historical groun" in its aspirations, an" therefore rec&ons with historical possibilities.
,ar#ian socialism "iffers from all the other bran"s of socialism because, among other
things, it has no pretensions to &eeping patches in its poc&et to men" all the holes
ma"e by historical "evelopment.
Actually, even if as socialists we recogni'e" the imme"iate right of all nations to
in"epen"ence, the fates of nations woul" not change an iota because of this. (he
2right3 of a nation to free"om as well as the 2right3 of the wor&er to economic
in"epen"ence are, un"er e#isting social con"itions, only worth as much as the 2right3
of each man to eat off gol" plates, which, as 8icolaus 4hernyshevs&i wrote, he woul"
be rea"y to sell at any moment for a ruble. -n the 1<=0s the 2right to wor&3 was a
favorite postulate of the Utopian *ocialists in %rance, an" appeare" as an imme"iate
an" ra"ical way of solving the social question. !owever, in the Revolution of 1<=<
that 2right3 en"e", after a very short attempt to put it into effect, in a terrible fiasco,
which coul" not have been avoi"e" even if the famous 2national wor&shops3 ha"
been organi'e" "ifferently. An analysis of the real con"itions of the contemporary
economy, as given by ,ar# in his Ca%ital, must lea" to the conviction that even if
present"ay governments were force" to "eclare a universal 2right to wor&,3 it woul"
remain only a finesoun"ing phrase, an" not one member of the ran& an" file of the
reserve army of labor waiting on the si"ewal& woul" be able to ma&e a bowl of soup
for his hungry chil"ren from that right.
(o"ay, *ocial +emocracy un"erstan"s that the 2right to wor&3 will stop being an
empty soun" only when the capitalist regime is abolishe", for in that regime the
chronic unemployment of a certain part of the in"ustrial proletariat is a necessary
con"ition of pro"uction. (hus, *ocial +emocracy "oes not "eman" a "eclaration of
that imaginary 2right3 on the basis of the e#isting system, but rather strives for the
abolition of the system itself by the class struggle, regar"ing labor organi'ations,
unemployment insurance, etc., only as temporary means of help.
-n the same way, hopes of solving all nationality questions within the capitalist
framewor& by insuring to all nations, races, an" ethnic groups the possibility of 2self
"etermination3 is a complete utopia. An" it is a utopia from the point of view that the
ob@ective system of political an" class forces con"emns many a "eman" in the
political program of *ocial +emocracy to be unfeasible in practice. %or e#ample,
important voices in the ran&s of the international wor&ers$ movement have e#presse"
the conviction that a "eman" for the universal intro"uction of the eighthour "ay by
legal enactment has no chance of being reali'e" in bourgeois society because of the
growing social reaction of the ruling classes, the general stagnation of social reforms,
the rise of powerful organi'ations of businessmen, etc. 8onetheless, no one woul"
"are call the "eman" for the eighthour "ay a utopia, because it is in complete
accor"ance with the progressive "evelopment of bourgeois society.
!owever, to resume7 the actual possibility of 2self"etermination3 for all ethnic
groups or otherwise "efine" nationalities is a utopia precisely because of the tren" of
historical "evelopment of contemporary societies. 6ithout e#amining those "istant
times at the "awn of history when the nationalities of mo"ern states were constantly
moving about geographically, when they were @oining, merging, fragmenting, an"
trampling one another, the fact is that all the ancient states without e#ception are, as a
result of that long history of political an" ethnic upheavals, e#tremely mi#e" with
respect to nationalities. (o"ay, in each state, ethnic relics bear witness to the
upheavals an" intermi#tures which characteri'e" the march of historical "evelopment
in the past. Bven in his time, ,ar# maintaine" that these national survivals ha" no
other function but to serve as bastions of the counterrevolution, until they shoul" be
completely swept from the face of the earth by the great hurricane of revolution or
worl" war. 2(here is no country in Burope,3 he wrote in the Neue Rheinis#he
which "oesn$t have in some corner one or more of these ruins of nations, the remains
of an ancient people "isplace" an" conquere" by a nation which later became a
stan"ar"bearer of historical "evelopment. (hese remains of nationalities, mercilessly
trample" on by history as !egel says ? these national leftovers will all become an"
will remain until their final e#termination or "enationali'ation fanatic partisans of the
counterrevolution, since their entire e#istence is in general a protest against the great
historical revolution. %or e#ample, in *cotlan" the >aels were the mainstays of the
*tuarts from 1E=0 to 1I=51 in %rance, it was the Aretons who were the mainstays of
the Aourbons from 1I9: to 1<001 while in *pain, the Aasques were the supporters of
+on 4arlos. -n Austria, to ta&e another e#ample, the pan*lavic *outh *lavs are
nothing more than the national leftovers of a highly confuse" thousan"yearlong
"evelopment. 9&us dem literaris#hen Na#hlass !on "arl arx' (riedri#h )ngels
und (erdinand Lasalle, Mol.---, p.:=1;
-n another article, treating the pan*lavs$ strivings for the in"epen"ence of all *lavic
nations, ,ar# writes,
(he >ermans an" !ungarians, "uring the times when great monarchies were a
historical necessity in Burope, forge" all those petty, cripple", powerless little nations
into one big state, thereby allowing them to participate in the "evelopment of history
which, if left to themselves, they woul" have completely misse". (o"ay, because of
the huge progress of in"ustry, tra"e, an" communications, political centrali'ation has
become an even more pressing nee" than it was in the fifteenth an" si#teenth
centuries. 6hat is not yet centrali'e" is being centrali'e". 9Ibid., p.:55.;
6e aban"one" ,ar#$s views on the *outh *lavs a long time ago7 but the general fact
is that historical "evelopment, especially the mo"ern "evelopment of capitalism, "oes
not ten" to return to each nationality its in"epen"ent e#istence, but moves rather in the
opposite "irection, an" this is as well &nown to"ay as "uring the time of the Neue
Rheinis#he $eitung.
-n his most recent paper, Nationality and Internationalism, Carl Cauts&y ma&es the
following s&etch of the historical fates of nationalities7
6e have seen that language is the most important means of social intercourse. As that
intercourse grows with economic "evelopment, so the circle of people using the same
language must grow as well. %rom this arises the ten"ency of unifie" nations to
e#pan", to swallow up other nations, which lose their language an" a"opt the
language of the "ominant nation or a mi#ture.
Accor"ing to Cauts&y, three great cultural communities of humanity "evelope"
simultaneously7 the 4hristian, the ,uslim, an" the Au""hist.
Bach of these three cultural groupings inclu"es the most variegate" languages an"
nationalities. 6ithin each one most of the culture is not national but international. Aut
universal communication has further effects. -t e#pan"s even more an" everywhere
establishes the "omination of the same capitalist pro"uction ... 6henever a closely
&nit community of communication an" culture e#ists for a fairly long time among a
large number of nations, then one or a few nations gain ascen"ancy over the
government, the military, the scientific an" artistic heights. (heir language becomes
in"ispensable for every merchant an" e"ucate" man in that international cultural
community. (heir culture ? in economy, art, an" literature ? len"s its character to the
whole civili'ation. *uch a role was playe" in the ,e"iterranean basin until the en" of
ancient times by >ree& an" .atin. -n the ,ohamme"an worl" it is playe" by Arabic1
in the 4hristian, inclu"ing Gews an" atheists, >erman, Bnglish, an" %rench have
become universal languages ... )erhaps economic an" political "evelopment will a""
Russian to these three languages. Aut it is equally possible that one of them, Bnglish,
will become the only common language ... (he @oining of nations to the international
cultural community will be reflecte" in the growth of universal languages among
merchants an" e"ucate" people. An" this union was never as closely &nit as it is now1
never was a purely national culture less possible. (herefore it stri&es us as very
strange when people tal& always of only a national culture an" when a goal of
socialism is consi"ere" to be the en"owing of the masses with a national culture ...
6hen socialist society provi"es the masses with an e"ucation, it also gives them the
ability to spea& several languages, the universal languages, an" therefore to ta&e part
in the entire international civili'ation an" not only in the separate culture of a certain
linguistic community. 6hen we have got to the point where the masses in our
civili'e" states can master one or more of the universal languages besi"es their native
language, this will be a basis for the gra"ual with"rawal an" ultimately the complete
"isappearance of the languages of the smaller nations, an" for the union of all
civili'e" humanity into one language an" one nationality, @ust as the peoples in the
eastern basin of the ,e"iterranean were unite" in !ellenism after Ale#an"er the
>reat, an" the peoples of the western area later merge" into the Roman nationality.
(he variety of languages within our circle of civili'ation ma&es un"erstan"ing among
members of the various nations "ifficult an" is an obstacle to their civili'e" progress.
9Bmphasis in the following paragraph is R...s; Aut only socialism will overcome that
obstacle, an" much wor& will be nee"e" before it can succee" in e"ucating entire
masses of people to obtain visible results. An" we must &eep in min" alrea"y to"ay
that our internationalism is not a special type of nationalism differs from bourgeois
nationalism only in that it does not behave aggressively & that it leaves to each nation
the same right "hich it demands for its o"n nation, an" thereby recogni'es the
complete sovereignty /'overnitt0 of each nation. 'uch a vie"! "hich transforms the
position of anarchism concerning individuals onto nations! does not correspond to the
close cultural community e(isting bet"een nations of contemporary civilisation.
(hese last, in fact, in regar" to economy an" civili'ation, form one single social bo"y
whose welfare "epen"s on the harmony of the cooperation of the parts, possible only
by the subor"ination of all the parts to the whole. The 'ocialist )nternational is not a
conglomerate of autocratic nations! each doing "hat it likes! as long as it does not
interfere "ith the equality of rights of the others% but rather an organism "herein the
better it "orks! the easier it is for its parts to come to agreement and the more they
"ork together according to a common plan.
*uch is the historical scheme as "escribe" by Cauts&y. (o be sure, he presents the
matter from a "ifferent point of view than ,ar# "oes, emphasi'ing mainly the si"e of
cultural, peaceful "evelopment, whereas ,ar# accents its political si"e, an e#ternal
arme" conquest. Aoth, however, characteri'e the fate of nationalities in the course of
events, not as ten"ing to separate themselves an" become in"epen"ent, but completely
viceversa. Cauts&y formulates ? as far as we &now, for the first time in socialistic
literature of recent times ? the historical ten"ency to remove completely all national
"istinctions within the socialist system an" to fuse all of civili'e" humanity into one
nationality. 9C. Cauts&y, Nationalit*t und Internationali*t, pp.1:1I N p.:F.;
!owever ? that theoretician believes ? at the present time capitalist "evelopment
gives rise to phenomena which seem to wor& in the opposite "irection7 the awa&ening
an" intensification of national consciousness as well as the nee" for a national state
which is the state form 2best correspon"ing to mo"ern con"itions, the form in which it
can most easily fulfil its tas&s.3 9ibid.;
(he 2best national state is only an abstraction which can be easily "escribe" an"
"efine" theoretically, but which "oesn$t correspon" to reality. !istorical "evelopment
towar" a universal community of civili'ation will, li&e all social "evelopment, ta&e
place in the mi"st of a contra"iction, but this contra"iction, with respect to the
consoli"ating growth of international civili'ation, lies in another area than where
Cauts&y see&s it, not in the ten"ency towar" the i"ea of a 2national state,3 but rather
where ,ar# in"icates it to be, in the "ea"ly struggle among nations, in the ten"ency to
create ? alongsi"e the great areas of civili'ation an" "espite them ? great capitalist
states. (he "evelopment of "orld po"ers, a characteristic feature of our times
growing in importance along with the progress of capitalism, from the very outset
con"emns all small nations to political impotence. Apart from a few of the most
powerful nations, the lea"ers in capitalist "evelopment, which possess the spiritual
an" material resources necessary to maintain their political an" economic
in"epen"ence, 2self"etermination,3 the in"epen"ent e#istence of smaller an" petty
nations, is an illusion, an" will become even more so. (he return of all, or even the
ma@ority of the nations which are to"ay oppresse", to in"epen"ence woul" only be
possible if the e#istence of small states in the era of capitalism ha" any chances or
hopes for the future. Aesi"es, the bigpower economy an" politics ? a con"ition of
survival for the capitalist states ? turn the politically in"epen"ent, formally equal,
small Buropean states into mutes on the Buropean stage an" more often into
scapegoats. 4an one spea& with any seriousness of the 2self"etermination3 of peoples
which are formally in"epen"ent, such as ,ontenegrins, Aulgarians, Rumanians, the
*erbs, the >ree&s, an", as far as that goes, even the *wiss, whose very in"epen"ence
is the pro"uct of the political struggles an" "iplomatic game of the 24oncert of
Burope3J %rom this point of view, the i"ea of insuring all 2nations3 the possibility of
self"etermination is equivalent to reverting from >reat4apitalist "evelopment to the
small me"ieval states, far earlier than the fifteenth an" si#teenth centuries.
(he other principal feature of mo"ern "evelopment, which stamps such an i"ea as
utopian, is capitalist imperialism. (he e#ample of Bnglan" an" !ollan" in"icates that
un"er certain con"itions a capitalist country can even completely s&ip the transition
phase of 2national state3 an" create at once, in its manufacturing phase, a colony
hol"ing state. (he e#ample of Bnglan" an" !ollan", which, at the beginning of the
seventeenth century, ha" begun to acquire colonies, was followe" in the eighteenth
an" nineteenth centuries by all the great capitalist states. (he fruit of that tren" is the
continuous "estruction of the in"epen"ence of more an" more new countries an"
peoples, of entire continents.
(he very "evelopment of international tra"e in the capitalist perio" brings with it the
inevitable, though at times slow ruin of all the more primitive societies, "estroys their
historically e#isting means of 2self"etermination,3 an" ma&es them "epen"ent on the
crushing wheel of capitalist "evelopment an" worl" politics. 5nly complete formalist
blin"ness coul" lea" one to maintain that, for e#ample, the 4hinese nation /whether
we regar" the people of that state as one or several nations0 is to"ay really
2"etermining itself.3 (he "estructive action of worl" tra"e is followe" by outright
partition or by the political "epen"ence of colonial countries in various "egrees an"
forms. An" if *ocial +emocracy struggles with all its strength against colonial policy
in all its manifestations, trying to hin"er its progress, then it will at the same time
reali'e that this "evelopment, as well as the roots of colonial politics, lies at the very
foun"ations of capitalist pro"uction, that colonialism will inevitably accompany the
future progress of capitalism, an" that only the innocuous bourgeois apostles of
2peace3 can believe in the possibility of to"ay$s states avoi"ing that path. (he struggle
to stay in the worl" mar&et, to play international politics, an" to have overseas
territories is both a necessity an" a con"ition of "evelopment for capitalist worl"
powers. (he form that best serves the interests of e#ploitation in the contemporary
worl" is not the 2national3 state, as Cauts&y thin&s, but a state bent on conquest.
6hen we compare the "ifferent states from the point of view of the "egree to which
they approach this i"eal, we see that it is not the %rench state which best fits the
mo"el, at least not in its Buropean part which is homogeneous with respect to
nationality. *till less "oes the *panish state fit the mo"el1 since it lost its colonies, it
has she" its imperialist character an" is purely 2national3 in composition. Rather "o
we loo& to the Aritish an" >erman states as mo"els, for they are base" on national
oppression in Burope an" the worl" at large ? an" to the Unite" *tates of America, a
state which &eeps in its bosom li&e a gaping woun" the oppression of the 8egro
people, an" see&s to conquer the Asiatic peoples.
(he following table illustrates the imperialist ten"ency of national conquest. (he
figures refer to the number of oppresse" people in colonies belonging to each country.
(he huge figures quote", which inclu"e aroun" five hun"re" million people, shoul"
be increase" by the colossal a""ition of the countries which "o not figure as colonies,
but are actually completely "epen"ent on Buropean states, an" then we shoul" brea&
these totals "own into countless nationalities an" ethnic groups to convey an i"ea of
the effects to "ate of capitalist imperialism on the fates of nations an" their ability to
2"etermine themselves.3

In &sia

In &fri#a

In &meri#a

In &ustralasia
>reat Aritain FE1,==5,000 =0,0:<,000 I,55I,F00 5,<11,000
%rance 1<,0IF,000 F1,500,000 =:<,<19 <9,000
>ermany 1:0,0=1 11,==I,000 O ==<,000
!ollan" FI,IF=,000 O 1=:,000 O
Aelgium O 19,000,000 O O
+enmar& O O =:,=:: O
*pain O :91,000 O O
)ortugal <10,000 E,=E0,000 O O
U*A I,EF5,=:E O 95F,:=F 1F,000
5f course, the history of the colonial e#pansion of capitalism "isplays to some e#tent
the contra"ictory ten"ency of the legal, an" then political gaining of in"epen"ence of
the colonial countries. (he history of the brea&ing away of the Unite" *tates from
Bnglan" at the en" of the eighteenth century, of the countries of *outh America from
*pain an" )ortugal in the twenties an" thirties of the last century, as well as the
winning of autonomy by the Australian states from Bnglan", are the most obvious
illustrations of this ten"ency. !owever, a more careful e#amination of these events
will point at once to the special con"itions of their origins. Aoth *outh an" 8orth
America, until the nineteenth century, were the victims of a still primitive system of
colonial a"ministration, base" more on the plun"ering of the country an" its natural
resources for the benefit of the treasures of Buropean states than on a rational
e#ploitation for the benefit of capitalist pro"uction. -n these cases, it was a matter of
an entire country, which possesse" all the con"itions for the in"epen"ent "evelopment
of capitalism, ma&ing its own way by brea&ing the rotting fetters of political
"epen"ence. (he force of that capitalist thrust was stronger in 8orth America, which
was "epen"ent on Bnglan", while *outh America, until then pre"ominantly
agricultural, met a much wea&er resistance from *pain an" )ortugal, which were
economically bac&war". 5bviously, such an e#ceptional wealth of natural resources is
not the rule in all colonies. 5n the other han", the contemporary system of
coloni'ation has create" a "epen"ence which is much less superficial than the
previous one. Aut the winning of in"epen"ence by the American colonies "i" not
remove national "epen"ence, it only transferre" it to another nationality ? only
change" its role. (a&e first the Unite" *tates7 the element freeing itself from the
scepter of Bnglan" was not a foreign nation but only the same Bnglish emigrants who
ha" settle" in America on the ruins an" corpses of the re"s&in natives ? which is true
also of the Australian colonies of Bnglan", in which the Bnglish constitute 90 percent
of the population. (he Unite" *tates is to"ay in the vanguar" of those nations
practicing imperialist conquest. -n the same way, Ara'il, Argentina, an" the other
former colonies whose lea"ing element is immigrants ? )ortuguese an" *panish won
in"epen"ence from the Buropean states primarily in or"er to e#ercise control over the
tra"e in 8egroes an" their use on the plantations, an" to anne# all the wea&er colonies
in the area. ,ost li&ely the same con"itions prevail in -n"ia, where lately there has
appeare" a rather serious 2national3 movement against Bnglan". (he very e#istence in
-n"ia of a huge number of nationalities at "ifferent "egrees of social an" civili'e"
"evelopment, as well as their mutual "epen"ence, shoul" warn against too hasty
evaluation of the -n"ian movement un"er the simple hea"ing of 2the rights of the
Apparent e#ceptions only confirm on closer analysis the conclusion that the mo"ern
"evelopment of capitalism cannot reconcile" with the true in"epen"ence of all
-t is true the problem appears much simpler if, when "iscussing nationality, we
e#clu"e the question of colonial partitions. *uch a technique is often applie",
consciously or unconsciously, by the "efen"ers of the 2rights of nations31 it also
correspon"s to the position with respect to colonial politics ta&en, for e#ample, by
B"uar" +avi" in the >erman *ocial +emocracy or van Col in the +utch. (his point of
view consi"ers colonialism in general as the e#pression of the civili'ing mission of
Buropean peoples, inevitable even in a socialist regime. (his view can be briefly
"escribe" as the 2Buropean3 application of the philosophical principle of %ichte in the
well &nown paraphrase of .u"wig Arone7 2)ch bin ich & "as ausser mir ist
*ebensmittel3 /3- am myself ? what is outsi"e of me is the means of life30. -f only the
Buropean peoples are regar"e" as nations proper, while colonial peoples are loo&e" on
as 2supply "epots,3 then we may use the term 2nationstate3 in Burope for countries
li&e %rance, +enmar&, or -taly, an" the problem of nationality can be limite" to intra
Buropean "imensions. Aut in this case, 2the right of nations to self"etermination3
becomes a theory of the ruling races an" betrays clearly its origin in the i"eologies of
bourgeois liberalism together with its 2Buropean3 cretinism. -n the approach of
socialists, such a right must, by the nature of things, have a universal character. (he
awareness of this necessity is enough to in"icate that the hope of reali'ing this 2right3
on the basis of the e#isting setup is a utopia1 it is in "irect contra"iction to the
ten"ency of capitalist "evelopment on which *ocial +emocracy has base" its
e#istence. A general attempt to "ivi"e all e#isting states into national units an" to re
tailor them on the mo"el of national states an" statelets is a completely hopeless, an"
historically spea&ing, reactionary un"erta&ing.

(he formula of the 2right of nations3 is ina"equate to @ustify the position of socialists
on the nationality question, not only because it fails to ta&e into account the wi"e
range of historical con"itions /place an" time0 e#isting in each given case an" "oes
not rec&on with the general current of the "evelopment of global con"itions, but also
because it ignores completely the fun"amental theory of mo"ern socialists the theory
of social classes.
6hen we spea& of the 2right of nations to self"etermination, 2 we are using the
concept of the 2nation3 as a homogeneous social an" political entity. Aut actually,
such a concept of the 2nation3 is one of those categories of bourgeois i"eology which
,ar#ist theory submitte" to a ra"ical revision, showing how that misty veil, li&e the
concepts of the 2free"om of citi'ens,3 2equality before the law,3 etc., conceals in
every case a "efinite historical content.
-n a class society, 2the nation3 as a homogeneous sociopolitical entity "oes not e#ist.
Rather, there e#ist within each nation, classes with antagonistic interests an" 2rights.3
(here literally is not one social area, from the coarsest material relationships to the
most subtle moral ones, in which the possessing class an" the classconscious
proletariat hol" the same attitu"e, an" in which they appear as a consoli"ate"
2national3 entity. -n the sphere of economic relations, the bourgeois classes represent
the interests of e#ploitation ? the proletariat the interests of wor&. -n the sphere of
legal relations, the cornerstone of bourgeois society is private property1 the interest of
the proletariat "eman"s the emancipation of the propertyless man from the
"omination of property. -n the area of the @u"iciary, bourgeois society represents class
2@ustice,3 the @ustice of the wellfe" an" the rulers1 the proletariat "efen"s the
principle of ta&ing into account social influences on the in"ivi"ual, of humaneness. -n
international relations, the bourgeoisie represent the politics of war an" partition, an"
at the present stage, a system of tra"e war1 the proletariat "eman"s a politics of
universal peace an" free tra"e. -n the sphere of the social sciences an" philosophy,
bourgeois schools of thought an" the school representing the proletariat stan" in
"iametric opposition to each other. (he possessing classes have their worl" view1 it is
represente" by i"ealism, metaphysics, mysticism, eclecticism1 the mo"ern proletariat
has its theory ? "ialectic materialism. Bven in the sphere of socalle" 2universal3
con"itions ? in ethics, views on art, on behavior ? the interests, worl" view, an" i"eals
of the bourgeoisie an" those of the enlightene" proletariat represent two camps,
separate" from each other by an abyss. An" whenever the formal strivings an" the
interests of the proletariat an" those of the bourgeoisie /as a whole or in its most
progressive part0 seem i"entical ? for e#ample, in the fiel" of "emocratic aspirations
there, un"er the i"entity of forms an" slogans, is hi""en the most complete "ivergence
of contents an" essential politics.
(here can be no tal& of a collective an" uniform will, of the self"etermination of the
2nation3 in a society forme" in such a manner. -f we fin" in the history of mo"ern
societies 2national3 movements, an" struggles for 2national interests,3 these are
usually class movements of the ruling strata of the bourgeoisie, which can in any
given case represent the interest of the other strata of the population only insofar as
un"er the form of 2national interests3 it "efen"s progressive forms of historical
"evelopment, an" insofar as the wor&ing class has not yet "istinguishe" itself from the
mass of the 2nation3 /le" by the bourgeoisie0 into an in"epen"ent, enlightene"
political class.
-n this sense, the %rench bourgeoisie ha" the right to come forth as the thir" estate in
the >reat Revolution in the name of the %rench people, an" even the >erman
bourgeoisie in 1<=< coul" still regar" themselves, to a certain "egree, as the
representatives of the >erman 2nation3 ? although The Communist anifesto an",
in part, the Neue Rheinis#he $eitung were alrea"y the in"icators of a "istinct class
politics of the proletariat in >ermany. -n both cases this meant only that the
revolutionary class concern of the bourgeoisie was, at that stage of social
"evelopment, the concern of the class of people who still forme", with the
bourgeoisie, a politically uniform mass in relation to reigning feu"alism.
(his circumstance shows that the 3rights of nations3 cannot be a yar"stic& for the
position of the *ocialist )arty on the nationality question. (he very e#istence of such
a party is proof that the bourgeoisie has stopped being the representative of the entire
mass of the people, that the class of the proletariat is no longer hi""en in the s&irts of
the bourgeoisie, but has separate" itself off as an in"epen"ent class with its own social
an" political aspirations. Aecause the concepts of 2nations,3 of 2rights,3 an" the 2will
of the people3 as a uniform whole are, as we have sai", remnants from the times of
immature an" unconscious antagonism between the proletariat an" the bourgeoisie,
the application of that i"ea by the classconscious an" in"epen"ently organi'e"
proletariat woul" be a stri&ing contra"iction ? not a contra"iction against aca"emic
logic, but a historical contra"iction.
6ith respect to the nationality question in contemporary society, a socialist party must
ta&e class antagonism into account. (he 4'ech nationality question has one form for
the young 4'ech petite bourgeoisie an" another for the 4'ech proletariat. 8or can we
see& a single solution of the )olish national question for Cosciels&i an" his stable boy
in ,iroslawie, for the 6arsaw an" .o"' bourgeoisie an" for classconscious )olish
wor&ers all at the same time1 while the Gewish question is formulate" in one way in
the min"s of the Gewish bourgeoisie, an" in another for the enlightene" Gewish
proletariat. %or *ocial +emocracy, the nationality question is, li&e all other social an"
political questions, primarily a question of class interests.
-n the >ermany of the 1<=0s there e#iste" a &in" of mysticalsentimental socialism,
that of the 2true socialists3 Carl >rDn an" ,oses !ess1 this &in" of socialism was
represente" later in )olan" by .imanows&i. After the 1<=0s there appeare" in )olan"
a *partan e"ition of the same ? see the Lud ,ols-i 9,olish ,eo%le; in the early 1<I0s
an" ,obud-a 9Re!eille; at the en" of that "eca"e. (his socialism strove for
everything goo" an" beautiful. An" on that basis, .imanows&i, later the lea"er of the
))*, trie" to wel" together )olish socialism an" the tas& of reconstructing )olan",
with the observation that socialism is an i"ea that is obviously beautiful, an"
patriotism is a no less beautiful i"ea, an" so 26hy shoul"n$t two such beautiful i"eas
be @oine" togetherJ3
(he only healthy thing in this sentimental socialism is that it is a utopian paro"y of the
correct i"ea that a socialist regime has, as the final goal of the proletariat$s aspirations,
ta&en the ple"ge that by abolishing the "omination of classes, for the first time in
history it will guarantee the reali'ation of the highest i"eals of humanity.
An" this is really the content an" the essential meaning of the principle presente" to
the -nternational 4ongress at .on"on 9in 1<9E; in the resolution quote". 2(he right of
8ations to self"etermination3 stops being a clichH only in a social regime where the
2right to wor&3 has stoppe" being an empty phrase. A socialist regime, which
eliminates not only the "omination of one class over another, but also the very
e#istence of social classes an" their opposition, the very "ivision of society into
classes with "ifferent interests an" "esires, will bring about a society which is the sum
total in"ivi"uals tie" together by the harmony an" soli"arity their interests, a uniform
whole with a common, organi'e" will an" the ability to satisfy it. (he socialist regime
will reali'e "irectly the 2nation3 as a uniform will ? insofar as the nations within that
regime in general will constitute separate social organisms or, as Cauts&y states, will
@oin into one ? an" the material con"itions for its free self"etermination. -n a wor",
society will win the ability to freely "etermine its national e#istence when it has the
ability to "etermine its political being an" the con"itions of its creation. 28ations3
will control their historical e#istence when human society controls its social
(herefore, the analogy which is "rawn by partisans of the 2right of nations to self
"etermination3 between that 2right3 an" all "emocratic "eman"s, li&e the right of free
speech, free press, free"om of association an" of assembly, is completely
incongruous. (hese people point out that we support the free"om of association
because we are the party of political free"om1 but we still fight against hostile
bourgeois parties. *imilarly, they say, we have the "emocratic "uty to support the self
"etermination of nations, but this fact "oes not commit us to support every in"ivi"ual
tactic of those who fight for self"etermination.
(he above view completely overloo&s the fact that these 2rights,3 which have a
certain superficial similarity, lie on completely "ifferent historical levels. (he rights of
association an" assembly, free speech, the free press. etc., are the legal forms of
e#istence of a mature bourgeois society. Aut 2the right of nations to self
"etermination3 is only a metaphysical formulation of an i"ea which in bourgeois
society is completely none#istent an" can be reali'e" only on the basis of a socialist
!owever, as it is practice" to"ay, socialism is not at all a collection of all these
mystical 2noble3 an" 2beautiful3 "esires, but only a political e#pression of well
"efine" con"itions, that is, the fight of the class of the mo"ern proletariat against the
"omination of the bourgeoisie. *ocialism means the striving of the proletariat to bring
about the "ictatorship of its class in or"er to get ri" of the present form of pro"uction.
(his tas& is the main an" gui"ing one for the *ocialist )arty as the party of the
proletariat7 it "etermines the position of that party with respect to all the several
problems of social life.
*ocial +emocracy is the class party of the proletariat. -ts historical tas& is to e#press
the class interests of the proletariat an" also the revolutionary interests of the
"evelopment of capitalist society towar" reali'ing socialism. (hus, *ocial +emocracy
is calle" upon to reali'e not the right of nations to self"etermination but only the
right of the wor&ing class, which is e#ploite" an" oppresse", of the proletariat, to self
"etermination. %rom that position *ocial +emocracy e#amines all social an" political
questions without e#ception, an" from that stan"point it formulates its programmatic
"eman"s. 8either in the question of the political forms which we "eman" in the state,
nor in the question of the state$s internal or e#ternal policies, nor in the questions of
law or e"ucation, of ta#es or the military, "oes *ocial +emocracy allow the 2nation3
to "eci"e its fate accor"ing to its own vision of self"etermination. All of these
questions affect the class interests of the proletariat in a way that questions of
nationalpolitical an" nationalcultural e#istence "o not. Aut between those questions
an" the nationalpolitical an" nationalcultural questions, e#ist usually the closest ties
of mutual "epen"ence an" causality. As a result, *ocial +emocracy cannot here
escape the necessity of formulating these "eman"s in"ivi"ually, an" "eman"ing
actively the forms of nationalpolitical an" nationalcultural e#istence which best
correspon" to the interests of the proletariat an" its class struggle at a given time an"
place, as well as to the interests of the revolutionary "evelopment of society. *ocial
+emocracy cannot leave these questions to be solve" by 2nations.3
(his becomes perfectly obvious as soon as we bring the question "own from the
clou"s of abstraction to the firm groun" of concrete con"itions.
(he 2nation3 shoul" have the 2right3 to self"etermination. Aut who is that 2nation3
an" who has the authority an" the 2right3 to spea& for the 2nation3 an" e#press its
willJ !ow can we fin" out what the 2nation3 actually wantsJ +oes there e#ist even
one political party which woul" not claim that it alone, among all others, truly
e#presses the will of the 2nation,3 whereas all other parties give only perverte" an"
false e#pressions of the national willJ All the bourgeois, liberal parties consi"er
themselves the incarnation of the will of the people an" claim the e#clusive monopoly
to represent the 2nation.3 Aut conservative an" reactionary parties refer no less to the
will an" interests of the nation, an" within certain limits, have no less of a right to "o
so. (he >reat %rench Revolution was in"ubitably an e#pression of the will of the
%rench nation, but 8apoleon, who @uggle" away the wor& of the Revolution in his
coup of the 1<th Arumaire, base" his entire state reform on the principle of 2la
volont+ generale3 9the general will;.
-n 1<=<, the will of the 2nation3 pro"uce" first the republic an" the provisional
government, then the 8ational Assembly, an" finally .ouis Aonaparte, who cashiere"
the Republic, the provisional government, an" the national assembly. +uring the
91905; Revolution in Russia, liberalism "eman"e" in the name of the people a 2ca"et3
ministry1 absolutism, in the name of the same people, arrange" the pogroms of the
Gews, while the revolutionary peasants e#presse" their national will by sen"ing the
estates of the gentry up in smo&e. -n )olan", the party of the Alac& !un"re"s,
8ational +emocracy, ha" a claim to be the will of the people, an" in the name of 2the
self"etermination of the nation3 incite" 2national3 wor&ers to assassinate socialist
(hus the same thing happens to the 2true3 will of the nation as to the true ring in
.essing$s story of 8athan the 6ise7 it has been lost an" it seems almost impossible to
fin" it an" to tell it from the false an" counterfeit ones. 5n the surface, the principle of
"emocracy provi"es a way of "istinguishing the true will of the people by "etermining
the opinion of the ma@ority.
(he nation wants what the ma@ority of the people want. Aut woe to the *ocial
+emocratic )arty which woul" ever ta&e that principle as its own yar"stic&7 that
woul" con"emn to "eath *ocial +emocracy itself as the revolutionary party. *ocial
+emocracy by its very nature is a party representing the interests of a huge ma@ority
of the nation. Aut it is also for the time being in bourgeois society, insofar as it is a
matter of e#pressing the conscious will of the nation, the party of a minority which
only see&s to become the ma@ority. -n its aspirations an" its political program it see&s
to reflect not the will of a ma@ority of the nation, but on the contrary, the embo"iment
of the conscious will of the proletariat alone. An" even within that class, *ocial
+emocracy is not an" "oes not claim to be the embo"iment of the will of the ma@ority.
-t e#presses only the will an" the consciousness of the most a"vance" an" most
revolutionary section of the urbanin"ustrial proletariat. -t tries to e#pan" that will an"
to clear a way for a ma@ority of the wor&ers by ma&ing them conscious of their own
interests. 2(he will of the nation3 or its ma@ority is not therefore an i"ol for *ocial
+emocracy before which it humbly prostrates itself. 5n the contrary, the historical
mission of *ocial +emocracy is base" above all on revolutioni'ing an" forming the
will of the 2nation31 that is, its wor&ingclass ma@ority. %or the tra"itional forms of
consciousness which the ma@ority of the nation, an" therefore the wor&ing classes,
"isplay in bourgeois society are the usual forms of bourgeois consciousness, hostile to
the i"eals an" aspirations of socialism. Bven in >ermany, where *ocial +emocracy is
the most powerful political party, it is still to"ay, with its three an" a quarter million
voters, a minority compare" to the eight million voters for bourgeois parties an" the
thirty million who have the right to vote. (he statistics on parliamentary electors give,
a"mitte"ly, only a rough i"ea of the relation of forces in times of peace. (he >erman
nation then 2"etermines itself3 by electing a ma@ority of conservatives, clerics, an"
freethin&ers, an" puts its political fate in their han"s. An" the same thing is
happening, to an even greater "egree, in all other countries.

.et us ta&e a concrete e#ample in an attempt to apply the principle that the 2nation3
shoul" 2"etermine itself.3
6ith respect to )olan" at the present stage of the revolution, one of the Russian *ocial
+emocrats belonging to the e"itorial committee of the now "efunct paper, Is-ra, in
190E e#plaine" the concept of the in"ispensable 6arsaw constituent assembly in the
following way7
if we start from the assumption that the political organi'ation of Russia is the "ecisive
factor "etermining the current oppression of the nationalities, then we must conclu"e
that the proletariat of the oppresse" nationalities an" the anne#e" countries shoul" be
e#tremely active in the organi'ation of an allRussian constituent assembly.
(his assembly coul", if it wishe", carry out its revolutionary mission, an" brea& the
fetters of force with which tsar"om bin"s to itself the oppresse" nationalities.
An" there is no other satisfactory, that is, revolutionary way of solving that question
than by implementing the rights of the nationalities to "etermine their own fate.
9Bmphasis in the entire citation is R.s.; (he tas& of a unite" proletarian party of all
nationalities in the assembly will be to bring about such a solution of the nationality
question, an" this tas& can be reali'e" by the )arty only insofar as it is base" on the
movement of the masses, on the pressure they put on the constituent assembly.
Aut in what concrete form shoul" the a"mitte" right to self"etermination be reali'e"J
6here the nationality question can be more or less i"entifie" with the e#istence of a
legal state ? as is the case in )olan" ? then the organ which can reali'e the nation$s
right to self"etermination can an" shoul" be a national constituent assembly "hose
special task is to determine the relation of a given ,borderland country- to the state
as a "hole! to decide "hether it should belong to the state or break a"ay from it! to
decide its internal set-up and its future connection "ith the state as a "hole.
An" therefore the constituent assembly of )olan" shoul" "eci"e whether )olan" will
become part of a new Russia an" what its constitution shoul" be. .nd the Polish
proletariat should use all its strength to insure that its class makes its mark on the
decision of that organ of national self-government.
-f we shoul" as& the allRussian assembly to han" the solution of the )olish national
question over to the 6arsaw se@m, - "o not believe that there is any nee" to put off
calling that se@m until the )etersburg constituents shoul" ta&e up the nationality
5n the contrary, - thin& that the slogan of a constituent assembly in 6arsaw shoul" be
put forth now, at the same time as the slogan for an allRussian constituent assembly.
(he government which finally calls a constituent assembly for all Russia shoul" also
call /or sanction the calling of0 a special constituent se@m for )olan". The /ob of the
all-#ussian assembly "ill be to sanction the "ork of the 0arsa" se/m, an" in the light
of the "ifferent social forces involve" in the )etersburg constituent assembly, the more
this is given on the basis of the real principles of "emocracy the more "ecisively an"
clearly will the )olish nation e#press its national will. -t will "o this most clearly in
the elections to the se@m especially calle" to "eci"e the future fate of )olan". 5n the
basis of this se@m$s "ecisions, the representatives of the )olish an" Russian proletariat
in the allRussian assembly will be able to energetically "efen" the real recognition of
the right to self"etermination.
(hus, the simultaneous calling of allRussian an" all)olish constituent assemblies7
this shoul" be our slogan.
(he presentation by the proletariat of the "eman" for a constituent assembly for
)olan" shoul" not be ta&en to mean that the )olish nation woul" be represente" in the
allRussian assembly by any "elegation of the 6arsaw se@m.
- thin& that such representation in the allRussian assembly woul" not correspon" to
the interests of revolutionary "evelopment. -t woul" @oin the proletariat an" bourgeois
elements of the )olish se@m by bon"s of mutual soli"arity an" responsibility, in
contra"iction to the real mutual relations of their interests.
-n the allRussian assembly, the proletariat an" bourgeoisie of )olan" shoul" not be
represente" by one "elegation. Aut this woul" occur even if a "elegation were sent
from the se@m to an assembly which inclu"e" representatives of all the parties of the
se@m proportionally to their numbers. -n this case, the "irect an" in"epen"ent
representation of the )olish proletariat in the assembly woul" "isappear, an" the very
creation of real political parties in )olan" woul" be ma"e "ifficult. (hen the elections
to the )olish se@m, whose main tas& is to "efine the political relations between )olan"
an" Russia, woul" not show the political an" social faces of the lea"ing parties, as
elections to an allRussian assembly coul" "o1 for the latter type of elections woul"
a"vance, besi"es the local, partial, historically temporary an" specifically national
questions, the general questions of politics and socialism! "hich really divide
contemporary societies. /!ere as everywhere - spea& of a "efinite manner of solving
the nationality question for )olan", not touching those changes which may prove
themselves in"ispensable while resolving this question for other nations. ? Note of the
author of the cited article.0 9(he above article appeare" in Robotni-, the organ of the
))*, no.I5, %ebruary I, 190E. Note of the editorial board of Przeglad Sozial-
(his article gives a moral sanction on the part of the opportunist wing of Russian
*ocial +emocracy to the slogan put forth by the ))* in the first perio" of the
revolution7 that is, to the 6arsaw constituent assembly. !owever, it ha" no practical
result. After the "issolution of the ))*, the socalle" left wing of that party, having
publicly re@ecte" the program of rebuil"ing )olan", foun" itself force" to aban"on its
partial program of nationalism in the form of the slogan of a 6arsaw constituent
assembly. Aut the article remains a characteristic attempt to give practical effect to the
principle of 2the right of nations to self"etermination.3
-n the above argument, which we quote" in full in or"er to be able to e#amine it from
all aspects, several points stri&e the rea"er. Above all, accor"ing to the author, on the
one han" 2a constituent assembly of )olan" shoul" "eci"e whether )olan" shoul"
enter the formation of a new Russia an" what &in" of constitution it shoul" have.3 5n
the other, 2the )olish proletariat shoul" use its strength to insure that its class will
ma&e the greatest mar& on the "ecisions of that organ of national selfgovernment. 2
!ere the class will of the )olish proletariat is e#pressly oppose" to the passive will of
the )olish 2nation.3 (he class will of the proletariat can obviously leave 2its mar&3 on
the "ecisions of the 6arsaw constituent assembly only if it is clearly an" e#pressly
formulate"1 in other wor"s, the class party of the )olish proletariat, the *ocialist )arty,
must have a well"efine" program with respect to the national question, which it can
intro"uce in the 6arsaw constituent assembly a program which correspon"s not to the
will of 2the nation3 but only to the will an" interests of the )olish proletariat. (hen, in
the constituent assembly, in the national question, one will, or 2the self"etermination
of the proletariat3 will come out against the will or 2the self"etermination of the
nation.3 %or )olish *ocialists, the 2nation$s right to self"etermination3 as an
obligatory principle in fact "isappears, an" is replace" by a clearly "efine" political
program on the national question.
(he result is rather strange. (he Russian *ocial +emocratic .abor )arty leaves the
solution of the )olish question up to the )olish 2nation.3 (he )olish *ocialists shoul"
not pic& it up but try, as har" as they can, to solve this question accor"ing to the
interests an" will of the proletariat. !owever, the party of the )olish proletariat is
organi'ationally tie" to the allstate party, for instance, the *ocial +emocracy of the
Cing"om of )olan" an" .ithuania is a part of the Russian *ocial +emocratic .abor
)arty. (hus, *ocial +emocracy of all of Russia, unite" both in i"eas an" factually, has
two "ifferent positions. As a whole, it stan"s for the 2nations in its constituent parts, it
stan"s for the separate proletariat of each nation. Aut these positions can be quite
"ifferent an" may even be completely oppose" to each other. (he sharpene" class
antagonism in all of Russia ma&es it a general rule that in the nationalpolitical
question, as in questions of internal politics, the proletarian parties ta&e completely
"ifferent positions from the bourgeois an" petit bourgeois parties of the separate
nationalities. 6hat position shoul" the .abor )arty of Russia then ta&e in the case of
such a collisionJ
.et us suppose for the sa&e of argument, that in the fe"eral constituent assembly, two
contra"ictory programs are put forth from )olan"7 the autonomous program of
8ational +emocracy an" the autonomous program of )olish *ocial +emocracy, which
are quite at o""s with respect to internal ten"ency as well as to political formulation.
6hat will the position of Russian *ocial +emocracy be with regar" to themJ 6hich
of the programs will it recogni'e as an e#pression of the will an" 2self"etermination3
of the )olish 2nation3J )olish *ocial +emocracy never ha" any pretensions to be
spea&ing in the name of the 2nation.3 8ational +emocracy comes forth as the
e#presser of the 2national3 will. .et us also assume for a moment that this party wins
a ma@ority at the elections to the constituent assembly by ta&ing a"vantage of the
ignorance of the petit bourgeois elements as well as certain sections of the proletariat.
-n this case, will the representatives of the allRussian proletariat, complying with the
requirements of the formula of their program, come out in favor of the proposals of
8ational +emocracy an" go against their own comra"es from )olan"J 5r will they
associate themselves with the program of the )olish proletariat, leaving the 2right of
nations3 to one si"e as a phrase which bin"s them to nothingJ 5r will the )olish
*ocial +emocrats be force", in or"er to reconcile these contra"ictions in their
program, to come out in the 6arsaw constituent assembly, as well as in their own
agitation in )olan", in favor of their own autonomous program, but to the fe"eral
constituent assembly, as members well aware of the "iscipline of the *ocial
+emocratic )arty of Russia, for the program of 8ational +emocracy, that is, against
their own programJ
.et us ta&e yet another e#ample. B#amining the question in a purely abstract form,
since the author has put the problem on that basis, let us suppose, to illustrate the
principle, that in the national assembly of the Gewish population of Russia for why
shoul" the right to create separate constituent assemblies be limite" to )olan", as the
author wantsJ ? the Kionist )arty somehow wins a ma@ority an" "eman"s that the all
Russian constituent assembly vote fun"s for the emigration of the entire Gewish
community. 5n the other han", the class representatives of the Gewish proletariat
firmly resist the position of the Kionists as a harmful an" reactionary utopia. 6hat
position will Russian *ocial +emocracy ta&e in this conflictJ
-t will have two choices. (he 2right of nations to self"etermination3 might be
essentially i"entical with the "etermination of the national question by the proletariat
in question that is, with the nationality program of the concerne" *ocial +emocratic
parties. -n such a case, however, the formula of the 2right of nations3 in the program
of the Russian party is only a mystifying paraphrase of the class position. 5r,
alternatively, the Russian proletariat as such coul" recogni'e an" honor only the will
of the national ma/orities of the nationalities un"er Russian sub@ugation, even though
the proletariat of the respective 2nations3 shoul" come out against this ma@ority with
their own class program. An" in this case, it is a political "ualism of a special type1 it
gives "ramatic e#pression to the "iscor" between the 2national3 an" class positions7 it
points up the conflict between the position of the fe"eral wor&ers$ party an" that of the
parties of the particular nationalities which ma&e it up.
A special )olish constituent assembly is to be the organ of reali'ing the right of the
nation to self"etermination. Aut that right is, in reality, severely limite" by the author,
an" in two "irections. %irst, the competence of the 6arsaw constituent assembly is
re"uce" to the special question of the relation of )olan" to Russia an" to the
constitution for )olan". (hen, even within this "omain, the "ecisions of the 2)olish
nation3 are subor"inate" to the sanction of an allRussian constituent assembly. (he
assembly, however ? if this reservation is to have any meaning at all ? can either grant
or "eny these sanctions. Un"er such con"itions the unlimite" 2right of the nation to
self"etermination3 becomes rather problematic. (he national partisans of the slogan
of a separate 6arsaw constituent assembly woul" not at all agree to the re"uction of
their competence to the narrow area of relations between )olan" an" Russia. (hey
wante" to give the assembly the power over all the internal an" e#ternal relations of
the social life of )olan". An" from the stan"point of the 2right of nations to self
"etermination,3 they woul" un"oubte"ly have right an" logic on their si"e. %or there
seems to be no reason why 2self"etermination3 shoul" mean only the solution of the
e#ternal fate of the nation an" of its constitution, an" not of all social an" political
matters. Aesi"es, the separation of the relation of )olan" to Russia an" the
constitution of )olan" from the 2general problems of politics an" socialism3 is a
construction which is artificial to the highest "egree. -f the 2constitution of )olan"3 is
to "etermine ? as it evi"ently must ? the electoral law, the law of unions an" meetings,
the law of the press, etc., etc., for )olan", then it is not clear what political questions
remain for the fe"eral constituent assembly to solve with respect to )olan". %rom this
point of view, only one of two points of view is possible7 either the 6arsaw
constituent assembly is to be the essential organ for the self"etermination of the
)olish nation, an" in this case it can be only an organ on the same level as the
)etersburg constituent assembly1 or, the constituent assembly of 6arsaw plays only
the role of a national se@m in a position of "epen"ence on an" subor"ination to the
fe"eral constituent assembly, an" in this case, 2the right of the nation to self
"etermination,3 "epen"ent on the sanction of the Russian 2nation,3 remin"s one of the
>erman concept7 21ie #epublik mit dem rossher2og an der 'pit2e3 92(he Republic
with the >ran" +u&e at the !ea"3; .
(he author himself helps us to guess how, in his un"erstan"ing, the 2right of the
nation,3 proclaime" in the intro"uction so charmingly in the form of a 6arsaw
constituent assembly, is finally cancele" out by the competence an" right of sanction
of the )etersburg constituent assembly.
-n this matter, the ,enshevi& @ournalist a"opts the view that the 6arsaw constituent
assembly will be the organ of national interests, whereas the fe"eral assembly will be
the organ of the class an" general social interests, the terrain of the class struggle
between the proletariat an" the bourgeoisie. (hus, the author shows so much mistrust
of the 6arsaw organ of the 2national will3 that he opposes the representation of that
national se@m in the )etersburg constituent assembly, for which he "eman"s "irect
elections from )olan" to insure the best representation of the interests of the )olish
proletariat. (he "efen"er of two constituent assemblies feels instinctively that even
with universal an" equal elections to the 6arsaw assembly, its very in"ivi"ual nature
woul" wea&en the position of the )olish proletariat, while the combine" entry of the
)olish proletariat with the proletariat of the entire state in a general constituent
assembly woul" strengthen the class position an" its "efense. !ence arises his
vacillation between one an" the other position an" his "esire to subor"inate the organ
of the 2national3 will to the organ of the class struggle. (his is, then, again an
equivocal political position, in which the collision between the 2national3 point of
view an" the class point of view ta&es the form of the opposition between the 6arsaw
an" the )etersburg constituent assemblies. 5nly one question remains7 since the
representation in a fe"eral constituent assembly is more useful for the "efense of the
)olish proletariat, then why cannot that bo"y resolve the )olish national question, in
or"er to insure the prepon"erance of the will an" interests of the )olish proletariatJ *o
many hesitations an" contra"ictions show how "esirable it woul" be for the 2nation3
an" the wor&ing class to "evelop a common position.
Apart from this, we must a"" that the entire construction of the 6arsaw constituent
assembly as the organ of national 2self"etermination3 is only a house of car"s7 the
"epen"ence or in"epen"ence of nationstates is "etermine" not by the vote of
ma@orities in parliamentary representations, but only by socioeconomic "evelopment,
by material class interests, an" as regar"s the e#ternal political affairs, by arme"
struggle, war, or insurrection. (he 6arsaw assembly coul" only really "etermine the
fate of )olan" if )olan" ha" first, by means of a successful uprising, won factual
in"epen"ence from Russia. -n other wor"s, the )olish people can reali'e its 2right3 to
self"etermination only when it has the actual ability, the necessary force for this, an"
then it will reali'e it not on the basis of its 2rights3 but on the basis of its power. (he
present revolution "i" not call forth an in"epen"ence movement in )olan"1 it "i" not
show the least ten"ency to separate )olan" from Russia. 5n the contrary, it burie" the
remains of these ten"encies by forcing the national party /8ational +emocracy0 to
renounce the program of the reconstruction of )olan", while the other party /the ))*0
was smashe" to bits an" also, mi"way in the struggle, was force" to renounce this
program e#plicitly. (hus, the 2right3 of the )olish nation to self"etermination
remains ? the right to eat off gol" plates.
(he "eman" for a 6arsaw constituent assembly is therefore obviously "eprive" of all
political or theoretical importance an" represents only a momentary tentative
improvisation of "eteriorate" )olish nationalism, li&e a soap bubble which bursts
imme"iately after appearing. (his "eman" is useful only as an illustration of the
application of 2the right of a nation to self"etermination3 in practice. (his illustration
is a new proof that by recogni'ing the 2right of nations to self"etermination3 in the
framewor& of the present regime, *ocial +emocracy is offering the 2nations3 either
the cheap blessing to "o what they /the 2nations30 are in a position to "o by virtue of
their strength, or else an empty phrase with no force at all. 5n the other han", this
position brings *ocial +emocracy into conflict with its true calling, the protection of
the class interests of the proletariat an" the revolutionary "evelopment of society,
which the creators of scientific socialism use" as the basis of their view on the
nationality question.
(he preservation of that metaphysical phrase in the program of the *ocial +emocratic
)arty of Russia woul" be a betrayal of the strictly class position which the party has
trie" to observe in all points of its program. (he ninth paragraph shoul" be replace"
by a concrete formula, however general, which woul" provi"e a solution of the
nationality question in accor"ance with the interests of the proletariat of the particular
nationalities. (hat "oes not in the least mean that the program of the *ocial
+emocratic organi'ation of the respective nationalities shoul" become, eo ipso, the
program of the allRussian party. A fun"amental critical appraisal of each of these
programs by the whole of the wor&ers$ party of the state is necessary, but this
appraisal shoul" be ma"e from the point of view of the actual social con"itions, from
the point of view of a scientific analysis of the general ten"encies of capitalist
"evelopment, as well as the interests of the class struggle of the proletariat. (his alone
can in"icate a uniform an" consistent position of the party as a whole an" in its
constituent parts.
To"ar2yst"o 1emokratyc2ne Polskie /+emocratic *ocietyP)olish0, 1<F:1<E:, was
the biggest organi'ation of )olish emigrants in %rance an" in Bnglan", professing
revolutionary an" "emocratic views. After 1<=0, it was involve" in preparing an
insurrection in the three parts of partitione" )olan".
,obud-a /Re!eille0, also calle" La Diane, was a @ournal of the )olish 8ational
*ocialist )arty publishe" in )aris, 1<<91<9F.
*iga Narod"a /8ational .eague0, foun"e" 1<9F as a successor of the 2)olish
.eague,3 was a secret political organi'ation in Russian, >erman, an" Austrian )olan".
-t promote" class soli"arity an" nationalism1 it represente" the interests of the
propertie" classes. -n 1<9E, it foun"e" the )arty of 8ational +emocrats /3ndec/a0,
which was consi"ere" bourgeois, with strong nationalist ten"encies.
(he above motion rea"7 36hereas, the sub@ugation of one nation by another can
serve only the interests of capitalists an" "espots, while for wor&ing people in both
oppresse" an" oppressor nation it is equally pernicious1 an" whereas, in particular, the
Russian tsar"om, which owes its internal strength an" its e#ternal significance to the
sub@ugation an" partition of )olan", constitutes a permanent threat to the "evelopment
of the international wor&ers$ movement, the 4ongress hereby resolves7 that the
in"epen"ence of )olan" represents an imperative political "eman" both for the )olish
proletariat an" for the international labor movement as a whole.3 9.pparently note by
5nly the >erman branch of the )olish *ocialist )arty thought it relevant to inclu"e
the .on"on Resolution in its program "uring its struggles with >erman *ocial
+emocracy. After it @oine" the >erman )arty again, the ))* a"opte" the Brfurt
program as its own without reservations.
9.pparently note by #.*.;
94onfusingly the note below is note" in the note above. 8ote by transcriber;
(he three partitions /1II:, 1I9F, 1I950 ha" left )olan" "ivi"e" among Russia,
)russia, an" Austria /E: percent, :0 percent, an" 1< percent of )olish territory
respectively0. (he )olish *ocialists in each of the occupie" areas cooperate" in one or
another fashion with the *ocialist parties of the partitioning powers, more closely
though with the >erman *ocial +emocratic )arty an" the Austrian *ocial +emocratic
)arty /until 1<9< there was no Russian *ocialist )arty0.
Proletariat, foun"e" in 1<<: by .u"wi& 6aryQs&i, was calle" the first )olish *ocialist
)arty. -t signe" an agreement with the Russian Narodnaya 4olya /)eople$s 6ill0. After
the "estruction of Proletariat in the late 1<<0s, three small groups continue" to
function, the socalle" 2*econ" Proletariat,3 /,artin Caspr'a&0, the 5nion of Polish
0orkers /Gulian ,archlews&i, A"olf 6ars'aws&i, Aronislaw 6esolows&i0, an" the
.ssociation of 0orkers. *imultaneously with the Proletariat. the Polish People was
organi'e" by Aronislaw .imanows&i in )ortsmouth in 1<<1.
-n 1<9:, the lea"ers of the )olish *ocialist groups of Austrian >alicia an" >erman
*ilesia forme" "istinct an" separate )olish parties in their territories. -n 8ovember
1<9:, a congress of all )olish *ocialists in e#ile create" the unite" )olish *ocialist
)arty /))*0. ))* covere" the Russian territories of )olan" an" was closely relate" to
the >erman)olish *ocialist )arty an" to the )olish *ocial +emocratic )arty in
Austrian >alicia. Until the foun"ation of the *ocial +emocracy of the Cing"om of
)olan" /*+C)0 by Rosa .u#emburg, Gulian ,archlews&i, A"olf 6ars'aws&i, an" .eo
Gogiches in 1<9F, the )oles appeare" as one unit at international congresses.
(he *+C) saw itself as the "irect successor to Proletariat. -ts imme"iate aim was a
liberal constitution for the entire Russian empire with territorial autonomy for )olan"1
)olish in"epen"ence was specifically re@ecte". Up to the %irst 6orl" 6ar, the )olish
*ocialist movement remaine" sharply "ivi"e" on the issue of )olish in"epen"ence.
After the fusion of *+C) an" the .ithuanian *ocial +emocrats /1<990, the new party
too& the name of *ocial +emocracy of the Cing"om of )olan" an" .ithuania
-n 1911, the *+C)i. split into two factions7 the Kar'a"owcy faction inclu"e" Rosa
.u#emburg, .eo Gogiches(ys'&a, ,archlews&i, an" %eli# +'her'hyns&i, while the
Roslamowcy faction ha" as members !anec&i, Ra"e&, the Arothers *tein, an"
Arons&i. Aoth factions passe" out of e#istence with the formation of the )olish
4ommunist )arty in 191<. (his party was shortly "eclare" illegal1 it was almost
totally purge" by *talin in 19FI. (he "irect successor of the )olish 4ommunist )arty
was the )olish 6or&ers$ )arty /Polska Partia #obotnic2a0, foun"e" in 19=:.
(he ))* cease" to e#ist in 19=< when it was unite" with the ))R. (he fusion of these
two gave birth to the present )olish Unite" 6or&ers$ )arty /)K)R0, the ruling party in
the )olish )eople$s Republic.
Gosef *'u@s&i /1<F51<<F0, )olish historian an" statesman, spo&esman for a
conciliatory, proAustrian policy, coauthor of Te-a Stan#.y-a ? a political pamphlet
opposing the in"epen"ence movement in )olan".
(a"eus' Coscius'&o /1I=E1<1I0, )olish general, supreme comman"er of the so
calle" Coscius'&o -nsurrection of 1I9=. +irecte" against Russia an" )russia ? the
main beneficiaries of )olan"$s partitions of 1IIE an" 1I9F ? the abortive insurrection
was followe" by the thir" partition in 1I95, which wipe" )olan" from the map of
Burope until she regaine" in"epen"ence in 191<.
(he 8ovember -nsurrection, 1<F0F1, in Russiaoccupie" )olan", was cause" by an
intensifie" Russiani'ing policy. (he proRussian )olish nobility an" upper military
class were oppose" by revolutionary intellectuals an" the lowerran&ing army officers.
6hen the se@m "ethrone" the tsar, an arme" conflict erupte" which en"e" in Russia$s
ultimately liqui"ating the sovereignty of the rump Cing"om of )olan".
(he Ganuary -nsurrection1 1<EFE=, was "irectly cause" by the "raft of )oles into the
tsarist army. *upporte" by peasants an" civilians, the insurrection sprea" to the
)russia an" Austriaoccupie" territories of )olan". -t en"e" in "efeat, an" the
comman"er in chief, Romual" (raugutt, was hange" by the Russians.
Actually, the articles were written by Bngels. Aut ,ar# submitte" them, an" it is
perfectly correct for Rosa .u#emburg to cite them as illustrating ,ar#$s technique of
%rie"rich Bngels, 1er 'ch"ei2er 67rgerkrieg, in Na#hlass, --, ==<.
-n the min"s of legal formalists an" professors, this "evelopment appears in the
form of the 2"egeneration of the national i"ea.3
(he other stream of nationalist tren"s appears in the strivings of nations which have
alrea"y gaine" political in"epen"ence, to assert their superiority an" ascen"ancy over
other nations. (hese strivings are e#presse" on the one han" in the glorification of
their past historical virtues or the present features of their national character, the
2soul,3 or finally as completely un"efine" hopes for a future cultural role, for some
&in" of a mission of "estiny given to certain nations, strivings which are now
christene" with the name of nationalism. 5n the other han", these political ten"encies
bring about the e#pansion of the territorial boun"aries of a given nation, the
strengthening of its global position by partitioning various other countries an" by
increasing its colonial possessionsOthat is, the politics of imperialism. (hese
movements embo"y the further "evelopment of the national i"ea, but they represent a
contra"iction of the original contents of that i"ea, an" in its fatal results, so "egra"ing
for civili'ation, it is impossible not to see the "egeneration of that i"ea an" its "eath. -t
is obvious that the century of nationalities has finishe". 6e must await a new age,
colore" by new tren"s. ? 6.,. Ustinow, Idyeyu Natsyonalno!o /osudarst!a
/Char&ov7 190E0. 9.pparently note by #.*.;
8e#t 4hapter7 (he 8ation*tate an" the )roletariat
Rosa .u#emburg Archive
0. The Nation-State and the ,roletariat
(he question of nationality cannot be solve" merely by presuming that socialists must
approach it from the point of view of the class interests of the proletariat. (he
influence of theoretical socialism has been felt in"irectly by the wor&ers$ movement
as a whole, to such an e#tent that at present there is not a socialist or wor&ers$ party
which "oes not use at least the ,ar#ist terminology, if not the entire ,ar#ist way of
thin&ing. A famous e#ample of this is the present *ocial Revolutionary )arty of
Russia, in whose theory ? as far as one can spea& of such ? there are at least as many
elements borrowe" from the ,ar#ist *chool as there are elements inherite" from the
Narodniki an" the )eople$s 6ill. -n li&e manner, all socialist groups of the petit
bourgeois an" nationalistic type in Russia have their own fancies which are solely 2in
the interest of the proletariat an" socialism.3 (he )olish *ocial +emocracy, now in
"ecline, ha" especially "istinguishe" itself in comparison with the naive, patriarchal ?
let us say ? national socialism of ,r. .imanows&i, particularly in that the 3goo"
hearte"3 ,r. .imanows&i never even use" the name of Carl ,ar#, while social
patriotism, from the beginning, sought to legitimi'e its program with ,ar#ist
terminology as a 2class interest of the proletariat.3
Aut it is obvious that the class character of any particular "eman" is not establishe" by
merely incorporating it mechanically into the program of a socialist party. 6hat this
or any other party consi"ers a 3class interest3 of the proletariat can only be an
impute" interest, concocte" by sub@ective reasoning. -t is very easy, for instance, to
state that the wor&ers$ class interest "eman"s the establishment of a minimumwage
law. *uch a law woul" protect the wor&ers against the pressures of competition, which
might come from a less "evelope" locality. -t woul" assure them of a certain
minimum stan"ar" of living, etc. *uch "eman"s have been presente" repeate"ly by
socialist circles1 however, the principle has not yet been accepte" by the socialist
parties in general, for the vali" reason that the universal regulation of wages by means
of legislation is but a utopian "ream un"er to"ay$s anarchistic con"itions of private
economy. (his is because wor&ers$ wages, li&e the prices of any &in" of commo"ity,
are set up in the capitalistic system un"er the operation of 2free competition3 an" the
spontaneous movement of capital. (herefore, the legal regulation of wages can be
achieve" only in e#ceptional, clearly "efine" areas, e.g., in small communities. An"
since the general establishment of a minimumwage law clashes with the current
con"itions of capitalism, we must a"mit that it is not a true proletarian interest, but
rather a fabricate" or impute" one, in spite of the fact that it can be supporte" by a
completely logical argument.
.i&ewise, one can, in a purely abstract way, figure out various 2class interests3 for the
proletariat, which, however, woul" have to remain as mere clichHs in the socialist
program. (his is especially so, as, the more that other social elements attach
themselves to the wor&ers$ movement, the stronger is the ten"ency to suggest various
sincere but unrealistic "eman"s of these foreign elements as class interests of the
proletariat. (he other social elements referre" to here inclu"e those members of
society who have been "eprive" of political shelter by the failure of the bourgeois
parties1 in this category are the bourgeois an" petit bourgeois intelligentsia. -f the
socialist parties ha" no ob@ective criterion by which to establish @ust what fits the class
interests of the proletariat, but were only "irecte" by what certain people might thin&
woul" be goo" or useful for the wor&ers, then socialist programs woul" be a motley
collection of sub@ective, an" often completely utopian, "esires.
Aasing itself on historical foun"ations ? on the foun"ations of the "evelopment of
capitalist society ? to"ay$s *ocial +emocracy "erives its imme"iate interests /the
"eman"s of to"ay$s proletariat0 as well as its longrange goals, not merely from
sub@ective reasoning about what woul" be 2goo"3 or 2useful3 for the proletariat, but
from e#amining the ob@ective "evelopment of society for a verification of its actual
interests, as well as for material means for their reali'ation. -t is from this stan"point
that the main alternatives for a practical solution to the question of nationality shoul"
be e#amine" ? those which are suggeste" by historical e#amples as well as those
which correspon" to the slogans popular in socialist circles.
6e shoul" first consi"er the i"ea of a nation-state. -n or"er to evaluate this concept
accurately, it is first necessary to search for historical substance in the i"ea, to see
what is actually hi"ing behin" the mas&.
-n his article on the struggles of nationalities an" the social"emocratic program in
Austria, publishe" over ten years ago, Cauts&y enumerates three factors, which,
accor"ing to him, ma&e up the 2roots of the mo"ern national i"ea,3 as foun" in the
rise of the mo"ern state in all of Burope. (hese factors are7 the "esire of the
bourgeoisie to assure for itself an internal or "omestic mar&et for its own commo"ity
pro"uction1 secon", the "esire for political free"om ? "emocracy1 an" finally,
e#pansion of the national literature an" culture to the populace.
-n Cauts&y$s theory one can see, above all, his basic position, his own view of
nationality as a historical category. Accor"ing to his reasoning, the i"ea of the nation
is intimately connecte" with a "efinite era of mo"ern "evelopment. (he mar&et
interests of the bourgeoisie, "emocratic currents, culture of the people ? these are
typical aspects of a bourgeois society.
8aturally, we are not spea&ing here of a nationality as a specific ethnic or cultural
group. *uch nationality is, of course, separate an" "istinct from the bourgeois aspect1
national peculiarities ha" alrea"y e#iste" for centuries. Aut here we are concerne"
with national movements as an element of political life, with the aspirations of
establishing a socalle" nationstate1 then the connection between those movements
an" the bourgeois era is unquestionable. (he history of the national unification of
>ermany is a typical e#ample of this connection, as the nucleus aroun" which the
later >erman Reich crystalli'e" was the >erman 8ollverein an" 8ollparlament. (heir
sponsor, %rie"rich .ist, with his trivial theory of 2national economy,3 can be more
@ustifiably consi"ere" the real messiah of the national unity of >ermany than the
i"ealist %ichte, mentione" usually as the first apostle of >erman national rebirth. (his
2national3 movement, which capture" the imagination of the >erman 2people an"
princes3 "uring %ichte$s time, an" which the pseu"orevolutionary 6urschenschaften
lou"ly ushere" in /in spite of %ichte$s ar"ent sympathy for the >reat %rench
Revolution0, basically represente" only a me"ieval reaction against the see"s of the
Revolution, which were brought to >ermany by 8apoleon, an" against the elements
of the mo"ern bourgeois system. (he sultry, romantic win" of 2national rebirth3
finally "ie" out after the victorious return of >ermany to feu"al sub"ivision an" to
pre,arch reaction. Ay contrast, the gospel of that vulgar agent of >erman in"ustry,
.ist, in the thirties an" forties base" the 2national rebirth3 on the elements of
bourgeois "evelopment, on in"ustry an" tra"e, on the theory of the 2"omestic
mar&et.3 (he material basis for this patriotic movement, which in the thirties an"
forties of the nineteenth century arouse" such strong political, e"ucational,
philosophical, an" literary currents in >ermany, was above all, the nee" to unify all
the >erman territories /which were "ivi"e" into several "o'en feu"al statelets an"
were crisscrosse" by customs an" ta# barriers0 into one great, integrate", capitalistic
3fatherlan",3 establishing a broa" foun"ation for mechani'e" manufacturing an" big
(he history of the in"ustrial an" commercial unification of >ermany is so completely
intertwine" with the fate of >ermany$s political unification, that the history of the
4ustoms Union 9Kollverein;, which reflecte" all the political "evelopments an"
happenings in >ermany, passes over, with perfect continuity, into the history of the
birth of the present >erman Reich. -n 1<F=, the 4ustoms Union was born, grouping
seventeen minor states aroun" )russia1 an" gra"ually, one after another, the remaining
states also @oine" this Union. !owever, Austria remaine" altogether separate from the
Union, an" the *chleswig!olstein 6ar finally "eci"e" the matter in favor of )russia.
-n 1<EI, the last renewal of the 4ustoms Union became superfluous in the presence of
the new national union1 an" the 8orth >erman Union, after the %ranco)russian 6ar,
transferre" its customs rights an" "uties by inheritance to the newly forme" Reich. -n
the place of the 8ollbundesrat an" the 8ollparlament there were now the Aun"esrat
an" Reichstag. -n this e#ample from mo"ern history, >ermany e#cellently
"emonstrates the true economic foun"ation of mo"ern nationstates.
Although the bourgeois appetite for mar&ets for 2its own3 commo"ities is so elastic
an" e#tensive that it always has the natural ten"ency to inclu"e the entire globe, the
very essence of the mo"ern bourgeois 2national i"ea3 is base" on the premise that in
the eyes of the bourgeoisie of every country, its own nation ? their 2fatherlan"3 ? is
calle" an" "estine" by nature to serve it 9the bourgeoisie; as a fiel" for the sale of
pro"ucts. -t is as if this were an e#clusive patrimony "etermine" by the go" ,ercury.
At least this is how the national question appears where the "evelopment of capitalism
ta&es place 2normally,3 without abrupt fluctuations, i.e., where pro"uction for the
"omestic mar&et e#cee"s pro"uction for e#port. (his is e#actly what happene" in
>ermany an" in -taly.
!owever, it woul" be wrong to ta&e Cauts&y$s formulation literally1 we cannot
assume that the material foun"ation of mo"ern national movements is only the
vaguely un"erstoo" appetite of the in"ustrial bourgeoisie for a 2native3 mar&et for its
commo"ities. ,oreover, a capitalistic bourgeoisie nee"s many other con"itions for its
proper "evelopment7 a strong military, as a guarantee of the inviolability of this
2fatherlan",3 as well as a tool to clear a path for itself in the worl" mar&et1
furthermore, it nee"s a suitable customs policy, suitable forms of a"ministration in
regar" to communications, @uris"iction, school systems, an" financial policy. -n a
wor", capitalism "eman"s for its proper "evelopment not only mar&ets, but also the
whole apparatus of a mo"ern capitalistic state. (he bourgeoisie nee"s for its normal
e#istence not only strictly economic con"itions for pro"uction, but also, in equal
measure, political con"itions for its class rule.
%rom all this it follows that the specific form of national aspirations, the true class
interest of the bourgeoisie, is state independence. (he nationstate is also
simultaneously that in"ispensable historical form in which the bourgeoisie passes over
from the national "efensive to an offensive position, from protection an"
concentration of its own nationality to political conquest an" "omination over other
nationalities. 6ithout e#ception, all of to"ay$s 3nationstates3 fit this "escription,
anne#ing neighbors or colonies, an" completely oppressing the conquere"
(his phenomenon becomes un"erstan"able only when one ta&es into consi"eration the
fact that, accor"ing to the bourgeois way of thin&ing, it is possible to have a national
movement for unification an" "efense of one$s own nationality, an" at the same time,
to oppress another nationality /which is, of course, contrary to the very i"eology of
the 2nationstate30. (he >erman bourgeoisie in 1<=< presents a stri&ing e#ample of
this phenomenon in its attitu"e towar" the )olish question. As is &nown, "uring the
revolution 9of 1<=<;, when >erman national patriotism was most evi"ent, Carl ,ar#
an" his circle a"vocate" )olish in"epen"ence1 however, he prove" to be but a prophet
crying in the wil"erness. (he >erman 2nationstate,3 from its first stages of
"evelopment, "i" not conform at all with the accepte" un"erstan"ing of a nationstate
in regar" to nationalities. (he bor"ers of the Reich actually split the >erman nation,
"ivi"ing it between Austria an" the new 2national3 state of >ermany, an" putting
together the >ermans an" the racially "istinct peoples in territories anne#e" from
)olan", +enmar&, an" %rance.
An even more stri&ing e#ample is !ungary, whose struggle for national in"epen"ence
was so much a"mire" in its time. Bven our own )olish revolutionary lea"ers ? Aem,
6ysoc&i, an" +embic&i ? ha" 2tilte" their lances3 to assist them. Aut when e#amine"
from the viewpoint of nationality, this struggle was nothing more than an attempt to
assure class rule of the ,agyar minority over a country of nine nationalities, with the
,agyars oppressing the other nationalities. (he national 2in"epen"ence3 of the
!ungarians was bought by severing the 4arpathian *lova&s from their brothers, the
*u"eten 4'echs1 separating the >ermans of Aratislava, (emesvar, an" (ransylvania
from the Austrian >ermans1 an" the 4roats an" +almatian *erbs from 4roatia an" the
(he aspirations of the 4'echs are characteri'e" by the same "ichotomy. (hese
aspirations arouse "istrust among the >ermans because, among other things, they are
"irecte" clearly at separating the >erman population of *u"etenlan" from the
>ermans of the Alpine countries. (he primary ob@ective of the 4'echs was to force
the >ermans, as minority group un"er the crown of 6enceslaus /Maclav0, into
complete "epen"ence on the 4'echs in matters of culture an" a"ministration. As if
this were not enough, the "ivision of the 4'ech lan"s create" a nationality "ivision for
the 4'echs themselves by uniting five an" onethir" million 4'echs with three million
>ermans an" nearly two hun"re" thousan" )oles. *till separate" from this 2national3
4'ech state were two million 4arpathian *lova&s, a group closely relate" to the
4'echs an" left at the mercy of the ,agyars. (herefore, these *lova&s are also lou"ly
a"vocating their cause, which has been completely neglecte" by the 4'ech
%inally, an" we "o not have to go far for an e#ample, )olish bourgeois nationalism is
"irecte" as much against the Ruthenians as against the .ithuanians. (he very
nationality which ha" to en"ure the bitter policy of e#termination by the partitioning
powers ? )russia an" Russia ? now refuses the right of in"epen"ent e#istence to other
nationalities. Accor"ing to the *tanc'y&
policy in >alicia, the )oles oppresse" the
Ruthenians, whose struggle for nationality runs li&e a re" threa" through the political
history of the "evelopment of >alicia in the secon" half of the last century. (he recent
movement for national rebirth of the .ithuanians was met with similar hostility in
)olish nationalistic circles.
(his strange "oublee"ge" character of bourgeois patriotism, which is essentially
base" on the conflicting interests of various nationalities rather than on harmony
becomes un"erstan"able only when one ta&es into consi"eration the fact that the
historical basis of the mo"ern national movements of the bourgeoisie is nothing more
than its aspirations to class rule, an" a specific social form in whose aspirations this
e#pression is foun"7 the mo"ern capitalistic state ? 3national,3 in the sense of the
"ominance of the bourgeoisie of a certain nationality over the entire mi#e" population
of the state. A "emocratic organi'ation, together with general e"ucation of the people
? these "istinctly i"eological elements of the nation mentione" by Cauts&y ? are
merely "etails of a mo"ern bourgeois state, easily attainable by the bourgeoisie within
the framewor& an" spirit of the state. (herefore, in"epen"ence an" state unification
constitute the real a#is aroun" which the national movements of the bourgeoisie
(his matter appears quite "ifferent from the point of view of the interests of the
proletariat. (he contemporary proletariat, as a social class, is the offspring of the
capitalist economy an" the bourgeois state. (he capitalist society an" bourgeois state
? ta&ing them not as an abstract i"ea, but in tangible form as history has create" them
in each country ? were alrea"y, from the very beginning, a frame of activity for the
proletariat. A bourgeois state ? national or not national ? is @ust that foun"ation,
together with capitalistic pro"uction as the ruling form of social economy, on which
the wor&ing class grows an" thrives. -n this respect, there is a basic historical
"ifference between the bourgeoisie an" the proletariat. (he bourgeoisie "evelops an"
is carrie" in the womb of the feu"al class system. Aspiring to assure triumph for
capitalism as the form of pro"uction, an" for itself as the ruling class, the bourgeoisie
creates the mo"ern state on the ruins of the feu"al system. 6ithin the boun"s of the
"evelopment of capitalism an" the rule of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat is ne#t to
ma&e itself hear" politically ? still as part of the bourgeois state. Aut the state was
alrea"y from the beginning its natural womb, @ust as the shell of an egg is for the
chic&en. (herefore, historically spea&ing, the i"ea that the mo"ern proletariat coul" "o
nothing as a separate an" conscious class without first creating a new nationstate, is
the same as saying that the bourgeoisie in any country shoul" first of all establish a
feu"al system, if by some chance it "i" not come about normally by itself, or ha"
ta&en on particular forms, as for instance in Russia. (he historical mission of the
bourgeoisie is the creation of a mo"ern 2national3 state1 but the historical tas& of the
proletariat is the abolition of this state as a political form of capitalism, in which they
themselves, as a conscious class, come into e#istence to establish the socialist system.
(he proletariat, as part of the whole society, can ta&e part in national movements of
the bourgeoisie, where the bourgeois "evelopment "eman"s the creation of a 2nation
state,3 as was the case, for e#ample, in >ermany. Aut then it follows the lea" of the
bourgeoisie, an" "oes not act as an in"epen"ent class with a separate political
program. (he national program of the >erman socialists in the forties a"vance" two
i"eas, "irectly opposing the national program of the bourgeoisie7 unification with
bor"ers which woul" be base" strictly on "ivisions of nationalities, an" a republican
form of government.
(he interests of the proletariat on the nationality question are @ust the opposite of
those of the bourgeoisie. (he concern about guaranteeing an internal mar&et for the
in"ustrialists of the 2fatherlan",3 an" of acquiring new mar&ets by means of conquest!
by colonial or military policiesall these, which are the intentions of the bourgeoisie in
creating a 2national3 state, cannot be the aims of a conscious proletariat.
(he proletariat, as a legitimate chil" of capitalistic "evelopment, ta&es this
"evelopment into account as a necessary historical bac&groun" of its own growth an"
political maturation. *ocial +emocracy itself reflects only the evolutionary si"e of
capitalist "evelopment, whereas the ruling bourgeoisie loo&s after this "evelopment
on behalf of reaction. *ocial +emocracy nowhere consi"ers its tas& to be the active
support of in"ustry or tra"e1 rather it struggles against military, colonial, an" customs
protection, @ust as it combats the whole basic apparatus of the e#isting class stateOits
a"ministration, legislature, school systems, etc.
(he national policy of the proletariat, therefore, basically clashes with the bourgeois
policy to the e#tent that in its essence it is only "efensive, never offensive1 it "epen"s
on the harmony of interests of all nationalities, not on conquest an" sub@ugation of
one by another. (he conscious proletariat of every country nee"s for its proper
"evelopment peaceful e#istence an" cultural "evelopment of its own nationality, but
by no means "oes it nee" the "ominance of its nationality over others. (herefore,
consi"ering the matter from this point of view, the 2nation3-state! as an apparatus of
the "omination an" conquest of foreign nationalities, while it is in"ispensable for the
bourgeoisie, has no meaning for the class interests of the proletariat.
(herefore, of these 2three roots of the mo"ern national i"ea,3 which Cauts&y
enumerate", for the proletariat as a class only the last two are important7 "emocratic
organi'ation, an" e"ucation of the populace. Mital for the wor&ing class as con"itions
of its political an" spiritual maturity, are the free"om of using its own native language,
an" the unchec&e" an" unwarpe" "evelopment of national culture /learning, literature,
the arts0 an" normal e"ucation of the masses, unimpaire" by the pressures of the
nationalists ? so far as these can be 2normal3 in the bourgeois system. -t is
in"ispensable for the wor&ing class to have the same equal national rights as other
nationalities in the state en@oy.
)olitical "iscrimination against a particular
nationality is the strongest tool in the han"s of the bourgeoisie, which is eager to mas&
class conflicts an" mystify its own proletariat.
(he a"vocates )olish nationalists1 of the 2very best3 social con"ition state at this
point that, whatever the situation. the surest guarantee of cultural "evelopment an" of
the rights of every nationality is precisely the in"epen"ence of the state, their own
nationstate, an" that therefore the nationstate is finally also an in"ispensable class
interest of the proletariat. 6e are har"ly concerne" with "etermining what is or woul"
be 2the best3 for the proletariat. *uch observations have no practical value. ,oreover,
once the sub@ect of 2what woul" be the best3 from the stan"point of the proletariat is
approache" in an abstract way, we woul" have to conclu"e that 2the best3 cure for
national pressure, as well as for all types of "isor"ers of a social nature, is
un"oubte"ly the socialist system. A utopian argument must always lea" to a utopian
solution, if only by leaping to the 2state of the future,3 whereas actually the problem
shoul" be solve" within the framewor& of e#isting bourgeois reality.
,oreover, from the point of view of methods, the above reasoning contains still
another historical misun"erstan"ing. (he argument that an in"epen"ent nationstate is,
after all 2the best3 guarantee of national e#istence an" "evelopment involves
operating with a conception of a nationstate as a completely abstract thing. (he
nationstate as seen only from a national point of view, only as a ple"ge an"
embo"iment of free"om an" in"epen"ence, is simply a remnant of the "ecaying
i"eology of the petite bourgeoisie of >ermany, -taly, !ungary ? all of 4entral Burope
in the first half of the nineteenth century. -t is a phrase from the treasury of
"isintegrate" bourgeois liberalism. *ince then, the "evelopment of the bourgeoisie has
prove" unequivocally that a mo"ern nationstate is more real an" tangible than the
vague i"ea of 2free"om3 or national 2in"epen"ence31 that it is in"ee" a "efinite
historical reality, neither very alluring nor very pure. (he substance an" essence of the
mo"ern state comprise not free"om an" in"epen"ence of the 2nation,3 but only the
class "ominance of the bourgeoisie, protectionist policy, in"irect ta#ation, militarism,
war, an" conquest. (he bourgeoisie use" to use the obvious technique of trying to
cover up this brutal historical truth with a light i"eological gau'e, by offering the
purely negative happiness of 2in"epen"ence an" national free"om.3 %or a time this
technique pai" off. Aut to"ay it is only necessary to recall the circumstances un"er
which this contention was a"vance", to un"erstan" that it is simply oppose" to what
can an" shoul" be the class position of the proletariat.
-n this case, as in many others, anarchism, the suppose" antagonist of bourgeois
liberalism, prove" to be its worthy chil". Anarchism, with characteristic
2revolutionary3 seriousness, accepte" at face value the phraseology of the liberal
i"eology an", li&e the latter, showe" only contempt for the historical an" social
content of the nationstate, which it set "own as nothing else than an embo"iment of
2free"om,3 of the 2will of the people,3 an" of similar empty wor"s. Aa&unin, for
e#ample, wrote in 1<=9 about the national movements of 4entral Burope7
(he first sign of life in the Revolution 9of 1<=<; was the cry of hatre" towar" the ol"
oppression, a cry of sympathy an" love for all oppresse" nationalities ... 2Away with
the oppressorsR3 reverberate" as if from one breast1 2*alvation for the oppresse"
)oles, -talians, an" allR 8o more wars of conquest1 @ust one more war shoul" be
carrie" through to its en" ? a glorious revolutionary struggle with the purpose of
eventual liberation for all peoplesR +own with the artificial boun"aries which have
been forcibly erecte" by "espotic congresses accor"ing to socalle" historical,
geographical, strategic necessitiesR (here shoul" no longer be any other barriers
between the nations but those correspon"ing to nature, to @ustice, an" those "rawn in a
"emocratic sense which the sovereign will of the people themselves traces on the
basis of their national characteristicsR3 *uch was the cry which rang out among all the
(o these "ithyrambics on the sub@ect of national in"epen"ence an" 2the will of the
people3 ,ar# answere"7
!ere there is no mention of reality, or insofar as it is consi"ere" at all, it is represente"
as something falsely, artificially establishe" by 2"espots3 an" 2"iplomats.3 Against
this wic&e" reality is pitte" the allege" will of the people with its categorical
imperative of an absolute "eman" for 2free"om,3 2@ustice,3 an" 2humanity.3 ... (hey
can "eman" 2free"om3 of this or that a thousan" times1 if the thing is impossible, it
will not ta&e place, an" in spite of everything it will remain an 2empty "ream.3 ... Gust
a wor" about the 2universal brotherhoo" of peoples3 an" the establishment of
boun"aries which are trace" by 2the sovereign will of the people themselves on the
basis of their national characteristics.3 (he Unite" *tates an" ,e#ico are two
republics1 in both of them the people are sovereign. (hen how "i" it happen that
between these republics, which, accor"ing to the moralistic theory shoul" be
2brotherly3 an" 2fe"erate",3 a war bro&e out over (e#as7 that the 2sovereign will3 of
the American people, supporte" by the bravery of American volunteers, move" the
American bor"ers /establishe" by nature itself0 a few hun"re" miles further south,
claiming this action to be from 2geographic, commercial, an" strategic necessities3J
,ar#$s answer to this ironic question is clear. 28ationstates,3 even in the form of
republics, are not pro"ucts or e#pressions of the 2will of the people,3 as the liberal
phraseology goes an" the anarchist repeats. 28ationstates3 are to"ay the very same
tools an" forms of class rule of the bourgeoisie as the earlier, nonnational states, an"
li&e them they are bent on conquest. (he nationstates have the same ten"encies
towar" conquest, war, an" oppression ? in other wor"s, the ten"encies to become
2notnational.3 (herefore, among the 2national3 states there "evelop constant scuffles
an" conflicts of interests, an" even if to"ay, by some miracle, all states shoul" be
transforme" to 2national,3 then the ne#t "ay they woul" alrea"y present the same
common picture of war, conquest, an" oppression. (he e#ample given by ,ar# is
typical in this regar". 6hy an" over what "i" the war between the Unite" *tates an"
,e#ico ariseJ
4alifornia was in"ispensable for the capitalistic "evelopment of the
Unite" *tates, first, as a gol" treasury in the literal sense, secon", as a gateway to the
)acific 5cean. 5nly by the acquisition of this lan" coul" the capitalism of the Unite"
*tates e#ten" from ocean to ocean, entrenching itself an" opening for itself an outlet
to the 6est as well as to the Bast. %or the bac&war" ,e#icans, 4alifornia was @ust a
simple territorial possession. (he interests of the bourgeoisie were "ecisive. (he
2nationstate,3 worshipe" an" i"eali'e" by the anarchists as the 2will of the people,3
serve" as an efficient tool of conquest in the interests of capitalism.
Aut even more stri&ing e#amples of this &in" are pro"uce" by the history of mo"ern
*outh America. 6e have alrea"y mentione" the "oublee"ge" character of the
2national3 liberation of the *panish an" )ortuguese colonies at the "awn of the
nineteenth century. !ere their further political history, alrea"y as in"epen"ent 2nation
states,3 interests us as a colorful illustration of anarchistic phrases of 2national
free"om3 an" the 2will of the people.3
Ara'il gaine" her free"om from )ortugal after a har" struggle in 1<:5. -n that same
year a war bro&e out between Ara'il an" Argentina /which ha" @ust been liberate"
from un"er the scepter of *pain0 over the province of Aan"a 5riental. Aoth of these
new 2nation3states wante" to scoop up this province, which finally won
in"epen"ence itself as the Republic of Uruguay, but than&s only to the arme"
intervention of Buropean states which ha" colonial interests in *outh America. %rance
an" other Buropean countries issue" an ultimatum to Argentina, which obstinately
refuse" to recogni'e the in"epen"ence of Uruguay an" )araguay. As a consequence,
in 1<=5 another war bro&e out with the participation of )araguay, Uruguay, an"
Ara'il. -n 1<50, again a war was unleashe" between Ara'il an" Argentina, in which
Ara'il, with the help of )araguay an" Uruguay, first "efeate" Argentina an" then
actually conquere" Uruguay. -n 1<E=, she formally force" this 2in"epen"ent3
Uruguay to submission by arme" action. )araguay rose up against this action an"
"eclare" war on Ara'il, which was @oine" by Argentina an" Uruguay. (his war, lasting
from 1<E5 to 1<I0, finally assure" Ara'il, where there rule" not so much 3the will of
the people3 as the will an" interests of the coffee plantation owners, the position of a
"ominant >reat )ower in *outh America. !istory "oes not touch upon the rule of the
whites in Ara'il /who ma&e up less than onethir" of the population0 over the 8egroes
an" the mi#e" population, 5nly after internal struggles was the emancipation of the
slaves announce" in 1<I1, but with compensation to be pai" to their owners from
state fun"s. )arliament, however, being the instrument of the plantation owners, "i"
not vote these fun"s an" slavery was still practice". -n 1<<E the freeing of slaves over
seventy years of age was "eclare"1 the rest were suppose" to wait another seventeen
years for free"om. Aut in 1<<< the "ynastic party, struggling to hol" the throne, force"
through parliament the general abolition of slavery without compensation, an" this
was "ecisive for the future of the republican movement. (he plantation owners stoo"
behin" the republican banner en masse, an" in the military coup of 1<<9, Ara'il was
"eclare" a republic.
(his is how i"yllic the internal con"itions an" events in *outh America loo& since the
time of the rising of the 3nationstates3 an" the establishment of the 2will of the
people.3 A beautiful complement to this picture is offere" by the Unite" *tates of
Australia. !ar"ly ha" these states emerge" from the position of Bnglish colonies an"
gaine" their free"om ? the republican form of government or the fe"eral system, the
very i"eal of Aa&uninist phraseology ? when they began an offensive policy in regar"
to 8ew !ebri"es, ne#t "oor to 8ew >uinea, an" in s&illful imitation of the Unite"
*tates of America, "eclare" their own particular national "octrine7 that 2Australia
shoul" belong to the Australians.3 At the same time, the growing navy of the
Australian Union is an emphatic commentary on this "octrine.
-f, on the one han", political in"epen"ence, i.e., the nationstate, is necessary for
capitalism an" the class interest of the bourgeoisie @ust because a nationstate is a tool
of "omination /or control0 an" conquest, on the other han", the wor&ing class is
intereste" in the cultural an" democratic content of nationalism, which is to say that
the wor&ers are intereste" in such political systems as assure a free "evelopment of
culture an" "emocracy in national life by means of "efense, not conquest, an" in the
spirit of soli"arity an" cooperation of various nationalities which belong historically
in the same bourgeois state. Bquality before the law for nationalities an" political
organi'ations, an" the assurance of national cultural "evelopment ? such are the
general forms of the program of the proletariat, a natural program resulting from its
class position, in contrast to the nationalism of the bourgeoisie.

(he classical confirmation an" proof of these general principles is the most famous
nationality problem within the framewor& of the Russian state ? the )olish question.
-n )olan", the national movement, right from the beginning, too& on a completely
"ifferent character from that of 6estern Burope. (hose who search for a historical
analogy for the )olish national i"ea in the history of to"ay$s >ermany an" -taly,
betray their own misun"erstan"ing of the true historical substance of the national
movements in >ermany an" -taly as well as in )olan". 6ith us )oles the national i"ea
was a class i"ea of the nobility, never of the bourgeoisie. (he material base of )olish
national aspirations was "etermine" not as in 4entral Burope in the nineteenth
century, by mo"ern capitalist "evelopment, but, on the contrary, by the nobility$s i"ea
of its social stan"ing, roote" in the naturalfeu"al economy.
(he national movements of )olan" vanishe" together with these feu"al relations1
whereas the bourgeoisie, as the historical spo&esman of capitalistic "evelopment, was
with us, from the very beginning, a clearly antinational factor. (his was "ue not only
to the specific origin of the nineteenthcentury bourgeoisie, alien an" heterogeneous, a
pro"uct of coloni'ation, an alien bo"y transplante" into the )olish soil. Also "ecisive
was the fact that )olish in"ustry from its beginning, alrea"y in the 1<:0s an" 1<F0s,
was an e#port in"ustry, even before it manage" to control or even to create a "omestic
mar&et within )olan". 6e will not quote here all the statistics of the in"ustrial
"evelopment of our country, but rather refer the rea"er to our treatise, Die
Industrielle )nt1i#-lung ,olens 9The Industrial De!elo%ment of ,oland;
/publishe" also in Russian0, as well as to the wor& "1est2a %ols-a a ru#h
so#2alisty#.ny 9The ,olish Question and the So#ialist o!ement;, 4racow 1905.
!ere we shall recall only the most important outlines of this "evelopment.
B#port to Russia, especially of the basic branches of capitalist in"ustry, i.e., the
pro"uction of te#tiles, became the basis for the e#istence an" "evelopment of )olish
capitalism from its beginnings, an" furthermore, also the basis of the )olish
bourgeoisie. As a consequence, our bourgeoisie from the first showe" political
leanings, not towar" the west, to the national unification of >alicia with the 4rown,
but towar" the east7 towar" Russia. (hese leanings, after the with"rawal of the
customs barrier between the Bmpire an" the )olish Cing"om, increase" with the
development of big industry. !owever, the real rule of the bourgeois class in society
began after the abortive Ganuary -nsurrection 91<EF;. (he new rule was inaugurate" by
the 2program of organic wor&3
which meant a renunciation of national
in"epen"ence. ,oreover, the class rule of the bourgeoisie in )olan" not only "i" not
"eman" the creation of a unite" nationstate, as in >ermany an" -taly, but, on the
contrary, it arose on the foun"ations of the conquest an" "ivision of )olan". (he i"ea
of unification an" national in"epen"ence "i" not "raw its vital @uices from capitalism1
on the contrary, as capitalism "evelope", this i"ea became historically outlive". An"
that very circumstance, that particular historical relationship of the capitalistic
bourgeoisie to the national i"ea in our country, became "ecisive also for the fate of
that i"ea an" "efine" its social character. -n >ermany, in -taly, as one halfcentury
before in *outh America, the 2national rebirth3 carrie" with it all the traits of a
revolutionary, progressive spirit. 4apitalistic "evelopment embrace" this national
i"ea, an" historically spea&ing, elevate" it with the political i"eals of the revolutionary
bourgeoisie7 "emocracy an" liberalism. B#actly in this historical sense, the national
i"ea was only a "etail of the general class program of the bourgeoisie ? of the mo"ern
bourgeois state. -n )olan" there arose an opposition between the national i"ea an" the
bourgeois "evelopment, which gave the former not only a utopian but also a
reactionary character. (his opposition is reflecte" in the three phases of the history of
the i"ea of )olish national in"epen"ence.
(he first is the failure of the arme" struggle of the )olish nobility. 8ot even the most
ar"ent a"vocates of the theory of 2violence an" force3 in the philosophy of history
will e#plain the "efeat of )olish insurrectionist movements as mere superiority of the
Russian bayonets. 6hoever &nows anything about the mo"ern economic an" social
history of )olan" &nows that the "efeat of the military insurectionists was prepare" by
the same capitalistic mar&et interest which elsewhere, in the wor"s of Cauts&y,
comprise" one of the main elements of the mo"ern national i"ea. (he en"eavors of the
bourgeoisie to secure for themselves con"itions of largescale capitalistic pro"uction
"i" not involve the "eman" for a nationstate1 on the contrary, the bourgeoisie sought
to e#ploit the anne#ation, an" to paraly'e the national movement of the nobility. (hus
9in )olan";, the i"ea of a nationstate, an i"ea essentially bourgeois, was sabotage" by
the bourgeoisie, an" met "efeat in the Ganuary 91<EF; uprising.
(he secon" phase was the inheritance of the )olish national i"ea by the petite
bourgeoisie. -n this incarnation, the national i"ea change" from an arme" struggle to a
policy of neutrality, an" at the same time, began to show its wea&ness. After
vegetating for twenty years away from society ? in the eighties an" nineties petit
bourgeois nationalism lingere" in emigration in the form of a half"o'en 2all)olish
patriots3 ? finally, with the opening of the present revolutionary era, it has emerge" as
an active party on the political scene.
(he 8ational +emocracy proclaime" its entrance into a politically active phase with a
public renunciation of the program of national in"epen"ence as an unreali'able
utopia, an" with writing into its program instea" the "ouble slogan of autonomy of the
country an" counterrevolution. 8ow, after throwing off the ballast of the tra"itional
national program, 28ational +emocracy3 quic&ly becomes the true political force in
the society. !aving faile" in its secon" petit bourgeois form, the program of the
nationstate is replace" by a program which is practical an" reali'able on the basis of
a bourgeois )olan" ? a program of autonomy.
%inally, the thir" an" last phase in the history of the )olish national i"ea is its attempt
to @oin the class movement of the proletariat. (he twentyyear, socialpatriotic
e#periment of the ))* was the only case in the history of the international wor&ers$
movement where the slogan of the nationstate was ma"e part of a socialist program.
An" this singular e#periment en"e" after twenty years in e#actly the same &in" of
crisis an" in the same manner as the petit bourgeois e#periment. At the time of the
outbrea& of the 6or&ers$ Revolution 91905; in Russia, the ))*, so as to secure for
itself a part in active politics an" in the life of the society, publicly renounce" the
program of rebuil"ing )olan". (he 8ational +emocracy renounce" this program so as
to ta&e an active part in the mi""leclass counterrevolution1 the ))* "i" so to e#ert
pressure for the proletarian revolution.
(he crisis, "ecline, an" fall of the ))*, brought on by this renunciation, constitute"
the thir" an" last ban&ruptcy of the i"ea of the )olish nationstate ? this time wearing
the mantle of the proletariat. (he current revolution, that mightiest social upheaval of
mo"ern times, which is calling all embryos of life to growth an" maturity, an"
simultaneously tearing up the entire foun"ation of society with a giant plow, re@ecte"
the last trace of the i"ea of the )olish nationstate, as if it were an empty shell from
which historical "evelopment ha" remove" all content, an" which coul" only roll
about among the rubble of social tra"itions "uring the troubles of a perio" of reaction.
(he historical career of )olish nationalism, however, has not yet come to an en".
-n"ee", it has en"e" its life as the i"ea of the nationstate, but it has simultaneously
transforme" itself from a utopian specter to a realistic factor of social life. (he )olish
bourgeoiscapitalistic "evelopment fettere" )olan" to Russia an" con"emne" the i"ea
of national in"epen"ence to utopianism an" to "efeat. Aut the other si"e of this
bourgeois process is the revolutionary "evelopment of )olish society. All the
manifestations an" factors of social progress in )olan", above all its principal factor,
the )olish position proletariat an" its part in the general revolution in the (sarist
Bmpire, have grown out of the foun"ations of this same bourgeoiscapitalistic
"evelopment. (he social progress an" "evelopment of )olan" are in this way unite"
with the capitalistic process by unbrea&able historical ties, which unite" )olan" an"
Russia, an" which burie" the )olish national i"ea. 4onsequently, all separatist
aspirations "irecte" at raising an artificial barrier between )olan" an" Russia, are by
nature "irecte" against the interests of social progress an" revolutionary "evelopment1
or in other wor"s, they are manifestations of reaction. Aut at the same time, the
national i"ea, after the final failure of the program of the nationstate an" national
in"epen"ence, was re"uce" to a general an" un"efine" i"ea of national separation,
an", as such, )olish nationalism became a form of social reaction blesse" by tra"ition.
(he national i"ea became a collective i"eological shiel" for the reactionary
aspirations of the whole camp of bourgeois classes, nobility, mi""le class, an" petite
bourgeoisie. !istorical "ialectics also prove" to be far more imaginative, supple, an"
incline" to variety than the min"s of the politicians, caught in the grip of stereotypes,
an" speculating in the abstract wil"erness of the 2rights of nations.3 *o many Russian,
>erman, an" other revolutionaries were, an" still are, incline" to regar" 2national
tra"ition3 as a historic vessel, "estine" by nature for all times, to absorb an" carry all
sorts of revolutionary currents, as a sea conch, which, accor"ing to legen", when
carrie" ashore an" lifeless, will always repeat the "istant roar of the sea waves when
place" close to the ear. (his 2national tra"ition,3 in these concrete historical an" social
con"itions which create" to"ay$s )olan", becomes @ust the opposite7 a vessel for all
types of reaction, a natural shiel" for counterrevolution. Un"er the slogan of
2national tra"ition3 there too& place the elections of the 8ational +emocracy to the
first +uma, protecte" by the 4ossac&s from the criticisms an" protests of the )olish
proletariat. -n the name of the 2national i"ea3 the 8ational +emocrats use" bullets to
chase away the *ocial +emocratic wor&ers from the preelection meetings, an" even
&ille" several "o'en wor&ers in 6arsaw, .o"', an" )abianice.
Un"er the national
slogan, wor&ers$ 2national unions3 were organi'e" by the 8ational +emocracy for
counteraction against the economic struggle an" the revolutionary action of the
proletariat. Un"er the national slogan, 8ational +emocratic railroa" wor&ers bro&e the
railroa" stri&e, which ha" been starte" in +ecember 1905 in )olan", forcing the
stri&ing wor&ers to return to wor& at gun point. Un"er the national slogan. the
8ational +emocracy began a crusa"e against the general stri&e an" other forms of
stri&es, claiming they were ruining the 2country$s in"ustry an" the national wealth.3
Un"er the national slogan, the )olish 4ircle in the +uma renounce" participation in
the Myborg ,anifesto "eliberations, an" in the "eclaration of the Myborg ,anifesto
itself, after the "ispersion of the +uma.
Un"er the national slogan, the 8ational +emocracy organi'e" socalle" 2)olish
or, rather, arme" fighting squa"s "estine" for mur"ering socialists,
ma&ing stri&es impossible, an" so on. ,r. +mows&i, the lea"er of the 8ational
+emocracy, "eclare" in its official organ that 2socialists are outsi"ers3 an" are thus
2foreign enemies,3 thereby @ustifying in a"vance the 2national3 mur"ers of the
socialists. An" finally, in the name of the national i"ea, the future of the nation, an"
national "efense, the )olish bourgeoisie, with the 8ational +emocracy at the hea",
publicly stoo" behin" the banner of 2neopan*lavism,3 in the ran&s of the hirelings
of absolutism an" the Russian 2national i"ea,3 2with no reservations.3 (he last vestige
of the political 2national3 program ? )olan"$s autonomy ? was thus given up on the
altar of counterrevolution. ,istreate" by history, the )olish national i"ea move"
through all stages of "ecline an" fall. !aving starte" its political career as a romantic,
noble insurgent, glorifie" by international revolution, it now en"s as a national
hooligan ? a volunteer of the Alac& !un"re"s of Russian absolutism an" imperialism.
Die Neue $eit, 1<9I1<9<, Mol. -, p.51I.
(he numerical relationship of nationalities in !ungary at that time was more or less
as follows7

Rumanians :,F00,000
>ermans 1,500,000
4roats 900,000
*erbs <F0,000
Ruthenians ==F,000
At a press convention of *lavic @ournalists in Gune 1<9<, the *lova& "elegate, 9arol
'alva, from .iptov, calle" to the 4'echs7 2-f harmony is to e#ist between us, then not
only "o we have to bestir ourselves, but you alsoR - &now the reason for your lac& of
interest in us, up to this time. (he region of the *lova&s has been up to now /with a
few glorious e#ceptions0 regar"e" as a foreign country by the 4'ech peopleR3
:riginal note by #-*.
*tanc'y& was a nic&name for conservatives in >alicia.
%or e#ample, prompte" by such an innocent un"erta&ing as the establishment of an
association for the restoration of the right to use the .ithuanian language in the
4atholic 4hurch in .ithuania, the Milna Lithuanian Courier wrote in the summer of
!ow many times alrea"y have the groun"less accusations against the )oles of force"
)oloni'ation of .ithuanian lan"s been refute"R !ow many times were claims of
.ithuanians against )oles proven to have no soun" basis ? claims that historical
"evelopments happene" to ta&e one course an" not anotherR (he )oles are not to be
accuse" of )oloni'ation ten"encies, but, on the contrary, the .ithuanians shoul" be
accuse" of attempts at .ithuani'ation. -f the perspectives, reache" by way of mutual
concessions an" peaceful conventions, of living si"e by si"e peacefully "o not please
the .ithuanians, if they insist on ta&ing a"vantage of every means of harassing an"
annihilating the )oles, then let them remember that they were the first to cast "own
the gauntlet before the )oles an" that on them will fall the responsibility for this.
(his reference to the 3historical "evelopment,3 which insure" the superiority of one
nationality over another /accusing of chauvinism those who are fighting for the
e#istence of their own nationality0, along with the obscure threats against the other,
call to min" the )russian !C( which "efen"e" the threatene" >ermans against the
2attempts of )oloni'ation,3 of 4ount *tanislaw (arnows&i, who "eri"e" the Ruthenes
as being concerne" primarily with the malicious 2harassment3 of )oles. :riginal note
by #.*.
(he !C(, or !a&ata, were >erman chauvinists, organi'e" in 1<9= for the purpose of
era"icating the )olish elements in )o'nan province. (he lea"ers of the group were
!ahnemann, Cennemann, an" (ie"emann. ? 3d.
(he ma@ority of the bourgeois legal theorists, therefore, recogni'e the in"epen"ent
e#istence of a state as an in"ispensable attribute of the 2national i"ea.3 ,essrs.
Aluntschli an" 4o., the i"eologists of their own class, achieve nothing else by using
abstract "efinitions an" sub"ivisions, than what has been alrea"y achieve" by the
powerhungry bourgeoisie in the course of history. :riginal note by #.*.
2-t is correct,3 says Cauts&y, 2that *ocial +emocracy is the party of social
"evelopment1 its aim is the "evelopment of society beyon" the capitalist stage.
Bvolution, as is &nown, "oes not e#clu"e revolution, which is but an episo"e of
evolution. (he ultimate goal of *ocial +emocracy is the "estruction of the proletariat
in such a way that the proletariat will ta&e over an" control social pro"uction, as a
result of which the wor&ers will cease being proletarians an" constituting a separate
class of society. (his outcome "epen"s on certain economic an" political
precon"itions. -t presupposes a certain level of capitalist "evelopment. (herefore, the
proletariat has for its tas& the support of economic "evelopment1 but its tas& is har"ly
to actively support the e#pansion of capitalism ? in other wor"s, it is not to support
the growth of capitalist profits. (his latter is the historic tas& of the capitalist class, to
which it is loyally atten"ing. 6e have no nee" to help them in this an" we can help
them the less, the more we fight against capitalist metho"s of "evelopment ... 6e "o
not nee" to ta&e a position in favor of replacement of wor&ers by machines, nor of the
e#propriation of han"wor&ers by factories, etc. 5ur tas& in economic "evelopment is
organi'ation an" support of the proletariat in its class struggle.3 ? Die Neue $eit,
1<9<1<99, Mol.-, pp.:9:9F.
An" this same argument, Cauts&y a""s, applies in an even great er "egree to the fiel"
of political relations. :riginal note by #.*.
(he wor&ing class in )olan" was compose" of various nationalities intermingle"
with each other, whereas the ruling class was quite soli"ly )olish /or >erman0. (he
author is a"vocating for the wor&ing class ? presumably for each of its nationalities ?
the same rights as nationalities that were en@oye" by the 2other3 nationalities, of the
ruling class, that is.
,i&hail Aa&unin, .ufruf an die 'la"en, CSthen, 1<=<, in $1ei S#hriften aus den
34er 5ahren des 6I6. 5ahrhunderts, -nternationale Aibliothe& fDr )hilosophie,
A".--, nos.111: /)rague7 19FE0, p.:I.
-t was Bngels, not ,ar#, who penne" this answer, in the Neue Rheinis#he
$eitung, %ebruary 15, 1<=9, no.:::. *ee ,ar#Bngels, 7er-e, M-, :I1.
-n the original the author has put 2(e#as3 for 2,e#ico,3 which is obviously a slip.
(he e#tent of the influence of the 2coffee3 interests on the 2national will3 in this
2national3 republic, even after the formal abolition of slavery /which is, moreover,
still practice" to this very "ay0, is prove" by this ne#t inci"ent. 6hen the coffee
plantations cause" a great crisis last year 9190I; by releasing unlimite" amounts of
coffee on the international coffee mar&et, thereby causing a "rastic fall in prices, the
Ara'ilian plantation owners force" the government to purchase the entire surplus of
coffee with state fun"s. 8aturally, a violent sha&eup of the finances an" entire
material e#istence of the whole population has resulte" from this original e#periment.
2Return to organic wor&3 ? a slogan coine" in the 1<E0s /after the abortive 1<EF
E= Ganuary -nsurrection0 by the socalle" positivists in the Cing"om of )olan", an"
the >alicia conservatives. Re@ecting romanticism an" its lofty notions of insurgency
an" conspiracy, it calle" for a scientific approach in e"ucation, in"ustry, tra"e, an"
agriculture as the only means for )olan"$s survival.
)abianice ? an in"ustrial city about 10 miles southwest of .o"'.
(he %alcons /*o&ol0 were a youth association in >alicia, foun"e" in 1<EI un"er
the political gui"ance of the 8ational +emocracy.
8e#t 4hapter7 %e"eration, 4entrali'ation, an" )articularism
Rosa .u#emburg Archive
Rosa Luxemburg
The National Question
8. (ederation' Centrali.ation' and
6e must turn ne#t to another propose" form of the solution of the nationality
question, i.e., fe"eration. %e"eralism has long been the favorite i"ea of revolutionaries
of anarchic hue. +uring the 1<=< revolution Aa&unin wrote in his manifesto7 3(he
revolution proclaime" by its own power the "issolution of "espotic states, the
"issolution of the )russian state ... Austria ... (ur&ey ... the "issolution of the last
stronghol" of the "espots, the Russian state ... an" as a final goal ? a universal
fe"eration of Buropean Republics.3 %rom then on, fe"eration has remaine" an i"eal
settlement of any nationality "ifficulties in the programs of socialist parties of a more
or less utopian, petit bourgeois character1 that is, parties which "o not, li&e *ocial
+emocracy, ta&e a historical approach but which traffic in sub@ective 3i"eals.3 *uch,
for e#ample, is the party of *ocial Revolutionaries in Russia. *uch was the ))* in its
transitional phase, when it ha" cease" to "eman" the creation of a national state an"
was on the way to aban"oning any philosophical approach. *uch, finally, are a
number of socialist groups in the Russian Bmpire, with which we will become
acquainte" more closely at the en" of the present chapter.
-f we as& why the slogan of fe"eration en@oys such wi"e popularity among all
revolutionaries of anarchistic coloring, the answer is not "ifficult to fin"7 2%e"eration3
combines at least in the revolutionary imagination of these socialists ?
2in"epen"ence3 an" 3equality3 of nations with 2fraternity.3 4onsequently, there is
alrea"y a certain concession from the stan"point of the law of nations an" the nation
state in favor of har" reality, it is a sui generis, i"eological, ta&ing into account the
circumstance, which cannot be overloo&e" that nations cannot live in the vacuum of
their 2rights3 as separate an" perfectly selfsufficient 3nationstates,3 but that there
e#ist between them some lin&s. !istorically "evelope" connections between various
nationalities, the material "evelopment which wel"e" whole areas, irrespective of
national "ifferences, the centrali'ation of bourgeois "evelopment ? all this is reflecte"
in the hea"s of those revolutionary improvisers1 in place of 3brute force3 they place
2voluntarism3 in relations between nations. An" since republicanism is selfevi"ent in
this because the very same 2will of the people3 which restores in"epen"ence an"
equality to all nations obviously has so much goo" taste as to throw simultaneously
with contempt to the "ump of history all remnants of monarchism, consequently the
e#isting bourgeois worl" is transforme" at one stro&e into a voluntary union of
in"epen"ent republics, i.e., fe"eration. !ere we have a sample of the same
2revolutionary3 historical caricature of reality by means of which the appetite of
(sarist Russia for the southern *lays was transforme", in Aa&unin$s phraseology, into
the pan*lavic i"eal of anarchism, 2a fe"eration of *lavic )eoples.3 5n a smaller
scale, an application of this metho" of 2revolutionary3 alterations of reality was the
program of the ))* a"opte" at its Bighth 4ongress in 190E7 a republican fe"eration of
)olan" with Russia. As long as the socialpatriotic stan"point ? in the pre
revolutionary perio" ? was maintaine" in all its purity an" consistency, the ))*
recogni'e" only the program of nationstates, an" re@ecte" with contempt an" hatre"
the i"ea of fe"eration offere", for instance, by the Russian *ocial Revolutionaries.
6hen the outbrea& of revolution all at once "emolishe" its presuppositions, an" the
))* saw itself force" to follow the roa" of concessions in favor of reality which coul"
no longer be "enie", in view of the obvious fact that )olan" an" Russia form one
social entity, a manifestation of which was precisely the common revolution, the
program of fe"eration of )olan" with Russia, previously hel" in contempt, became the
form of that concession. At the same time, the ))*, as is usual with 3revolutionaries3
of this type, "i" not notice the following fact7 when *ocial +emocracy too& for the
historical basis of its program an" tactics the @oint capitalistic "evelopment of )olan"
an" Russia, it merely state" an ob@ective, historical fact, not "epen"ing on the will of
the socialists. %rom this fact, the revolutionary conclusion shoul" have been "rawn in
the form of a unite" class struggle of the )olish an" Russian proletariat. (he ))*,
however, putting forwar" the program of fe"eration of )olan" with Russia, went
much further7 in place of the passive recognition of historical fate, it itself actively
propose" a union of )olan" with Russia an" assume" responsibility for the union, an"
in lieu of the ob@ective historical "evelopment, it place" the sub@ective consent of
socialists in 3revolutionary3 form.
Aut fe"eralism as a form of political organi'ation has, li&e the 2nationstate3 itself, its
"efinite historical content, quite "ifferent from, an" in"epen"ent of, the sub@ective
i"eology attache" to that form. (herefore, the i"ea of fe"eration can be evaluate" from
the class stan"point of the proletariat only when we e#amine the fate an" role of that
i"ea in mo"ern socialist "evelopment.

An outstan"ing ten"ency of capitalistic "evelopment in all countries is in"isputably an
internal, economic, an" capitalist centrali'ation, i.e., an en"eavor to concentrate an"
wel" into one entity the state territory from the economic, legislative, a"ministrative,
@u"icial, military, etc. viewpoints. -n the ,i""le Ages, when feu"alism prevaile", the
lin& between the parts an" regions of one an" the same state was e#tremely loose.
(hus, each ma@or city with its environs, itself pro"uce" the ma@ority of ob@ects of
"aily use to satisfy its nee"s1 it also ha" its own legislation, its own government, its
army1 the bigger an" wealthier cities in the 6est often wage" wars on their own an"
conclu"e" treaties with foreign powers. -n the same way, bigger communities live"
their own close" an" isolate" life, an" each area of lan" of a feu"al lor" or even each
area of &nightly estates constitute" in itself a small, almost in"epen"ent state. (he
con"itions of the time were characteri'e" by a "iminution an" loosening of all state
norms. Bach town, each village, each region ha" "ifferent laws, "ifferent ta#es7 one
an" the same state was fille" with legal an" customs barriers separating one fragment
of a state from another. (his "ecentrali'ation was a specific feature of the natural
economy an" the nascent artisan pro"uction of the time.
6ithin the framewor& of the pulveri'ation of public life, connecte" with the natural
economy, an" of the wea& cohesion between the parts of the state organism, territories
an" whole countries passe" incessantly from han" to han" in 4entral an" 6estern
Burope throughout the ,i""le Ages. 6e note also the patching together of states by
way of purchase, e#change, pawnings, inheritance, an" marriage1 the classical
e#ample is the !apsburg monarchy.
(he revolution in pro"uction an" tra"e relations at the close of the ,i""le Ages, the
increase of goo"s pro"uction an" moneye" economy, together with the "evelopment
of international tra"e an" the simultaneous revolution in the military system, the
"ecline of &nighthoo" an" the rise of stan"ing armies, all these were factors that, in
political relations, brought about the increase of monarchical power an" the rise of
absolutism. (he main ten"ency of absolutism was the creation of a centrali'e" state
apparatus. (he si#teenth an" seventeenth centuries are a perio" of incessant struggle
of the centralist ten"ency of absolutism against the remnants of feu"alist
particularism. Absolutism "evelope" in two "irections7 absorbing the functions an"
attributes of the "iets an" provincial assemblies as well as of the selfgoverning
munici palities, an" stan"ar"i'ing a"ministration in the whole area of the state by
creating new central authorities in the a"ministration an" the @u"iciary, as well as a
civil, penal, an" commercial co"e. -n the seventeenth century, centralism triumphe"
fully in Burope in the form of socalle" 2enlightene" "espotism,3 which soon passe"
into unenlightene", policebureaucratic "espotism.
As a result of the historical circumstance that absolutism was the first an" principal
promoter of mo"ern state centralism, a superficial ten"ency "evelope" to i"entify
centralism in general with absolutism, i.e., with reaction. -n reality, absolutism,
insofar as, at the close of the ,i""le Ages, it combate" feu"al "ispersion an"
particularism, was un"oubte"ly a manifestation of historical progress. (his was
perfectly well un"erstoo" by *tas'ic, who pointe" out that the 9)olish; gentry
commonwealth coul" not survive 2in the mi"st of autocracies.3 5n the other han",
absolutism itself playe" only the role of a 2stirrup "rin&3 9parting goo" wishes; with
regar" to the mo"ern bourgeois society for which, politically an" socially, it pave" the
way by toppling feu"alism an" foun"ing a mo"ern, uniform, great state on its ruins.
-n"ee", in"epen"ent of absolutism, an" after its historical "emise, bourgeois society
continue" to carry through with un"iminishe" force an" consistency the centralist
ten"ency. (he present centralism of %rance as a political area is the wor& of the >reat
Revolution. (he very name, 2>reat Revolution,3 e#erte", everywhere its influence
reache" in Burope, a centrali'ing influence. *uch a pro"uct of the Revolution$s
centralism was the 2RHpublique !elvHtique,3 in which, in 1I9<, su""enly the
previously loosely confe"erate" *wiss cantons were compresse". (he first
spontaneous action of the ,arch 91<=<; revolution in >ermany was the "estruction by
the popular masses of the socalle" customs houses 9,authTuser;, the symbols of
me"ieval particularism.
4apitalism, with its largescale machine pro"uction, whose vital principle is
concentration, swept away an" continues to sweep away completely any survivals of
me"ieval economic, political, an" legal "iscrimination. Aig in"ustry nee"s mar&ets
an" free"om of untrammele" tra"e in big areas. -n"ustry an" tra"e, geare" to big
areas, require uniform a"ministration, uniform arrangement of roa"s an"
communications, uniform legislation an" @u"iciary, as far as possible in the entire
international mar&et, but above all in the whole area insi"e each respective state. (he
abolition of the customs, an" ta# autonomy of the separate municipalities an" gentry
hol"ings, as well as of their autonomy in a"ministering courts an" law, were the first
achievements of the mo"ern bourgeoisie. (ogether with this went the creation of one
big state machinery that woul" combine all functions7 the a"ministration in the han"s
of one central government1 legislation in the han"s of a legislative bo"y ? the
parliament1 the arme" forces in the form of one centrali'e" army sub@ect to a central
government1 customs arrangements in the form of one tariff encompassing the entire
state e#ternally1 a uniform currency in the whole state, etc. -n accor"ance with this,
the mo"ern state also intro"uce" in the area of spiritual life, as far as possible, a
uniformity in e"ucation an" schools, ecclesiastical con"itions, etc., organi'e" on the
same principles in the entire state. -n a wor", as comprehensive a centrali'ation as
possible in all areas of social life is a prominent tren" of capitalism. As capitalism
"evelops, centrali'ation increasingly pierces all obstacles an" lea"s to a series of
uniform institutions, not only within each ma@or state, but in the entire capitalistic
worl", by means of international legislation. )ostal an" telegraphic services as well as
railway communication have been for "eca"es the ob@ect of international conventions.
(his centralist ten"ency of capitalistic "evelopment is one of the main bases of the
future socialist system, because through the highest concentration of pro"uction an"
e#change, the groun" is prepare" for a sociali'e" economy con"ucte" on a worl"
wi"e scale accor"ing to a uniform plan. 5n the other han", only through consoli"ating
an" centrali'ing both the state power an" the wor&ing class as a militant force "oes it
eventually become possible for the proletariat to grasp the state power in or"er to
intro"uce the "ictatorship of the proletariat, a socialist revolution.
4onsequently, the proper political framewor& in which the mo"ern class struggle of
the proletariat operates an" can conquer is the big capitalistic state. Usually, in the
socialist ran&s, especially of the utopian tren", attention is pai" only to the economic
aspect of capitalistic "evelopment, an" its categories ? in"ustry, e#ploitation, the
proletariat, "epressions ? are regar"e" as in"ispensable prerequisites for socialism. -n
the political sphere, usually only "emocratic state institutions, parliamentarianism,
an" various 2free"oms3 are regar"e" as in"ispensable con"itions of this movement.
!owever, it is often overloo&e" that the mo"ern big state is also an in"ispensable
prerequisite for the "evelopment of the mo"ern class struggle an" a guarantee of the
victory of socialism. (he historical mission of the proletariat is not 3socialism3
applicable on every inch of groun" separately, not "ictatorship, but worl" revolution,
whose point of "eparture is bigstate "evelopment.
(herefore, the mo"ern socialist movement, legitimate chil" of capitalist "evelopment,
possesses the same eminently centralist characteristic as the bourgeois society an"
state. 4onsequently, *ocial +emocracy is, in all countries, a "etermine" opponent of
particularism as well as of fe"eralism. -n >ermany, Aavarian or )russian
particularism, i.e., a ten"ency to preserve Aavaria$s or )russia$s political
"istinctiveness, their in"epen"ence from the Reich in one respect or another, is always
a screen for gentry or petit bourgeois reaction. >erman *ocial +emocracy also
combats, with full energies, the efforts, for instance, of *outh >erman particularists to
preserve a separate railroa" policy in Aavaria, Aa"en, 6Drttemberg1 it also
energetically combats particularism in the conquere" provinces of Alsace.orraine,
where the petite bourgeoisie tries to separate itself, by its %rench nationalism, from
political an" spiritual community with the entire >erman Reich. *ocial +emocracy in
>ermany is also a "eci"e" opponent of those survivals of the fe"eral relationship
among the >erman states insi"e the Reich which have still been preserve". (he
general tren" of capitalist "evelopment ten"s not only towar" the political union of
the separate provinces within each state, but also towar" the abolition of any state
fe"erations an" the wel"ing of loose state combinations into homogeneous, uniform
states1 or, wherever this is impossible, to their complete brea&up.
An e#pression of this is the mo"ern history of the *wiss 4onfe"eracy, as well as of
the American Union1 of the >erman Reich, as well as of Austria!ungary.

(he first centralist constitution of the integrate" republic of *wit'erlan", create" by
the great revolution, was obliterate" without a trace by the time of the Restoration,
an" reaction, which triumphe" in *wit'erlan" un"er the protection of the !oly
Alliance, quic&ly returne" to the in"epen"ence of the cantons, to particularism an"
only a loose confe"eration. +omestically, this implementation of the i"eal 2of
voluntary union of in"epen"ent groups an" state units3 in the spirit of anarchists an"
other worshipers of 2fe"eration.3 involve" the a"option of an aristocratic constitution
/with the e#clusion of the broa" wor&ing masses0 as well as the rule of 4atholic
A new opposition tren", towar" the "emocrati'ation an" the centrali'ation of the
*wiss fe"eration, was born in the perio" of revolutionary seething between the Guly
91<F0; an" ,arch 91<=<; revolutions, which was manifeste" in *wit'erlan" in the
form of a ten"ency to create a close state union in place of fe"eration, an" to abolish
the political rule of noble families an" of the 4atholic clergy. !ere, centralism an"
"emocracy initially went han" in han", an" encountere" the opposition of the reaction
which fought un"er the slogan of fe"eration an" particularism.
(he first constitution of the present *wiss 4onfe"eration of 1<=< was born out of a
bitter struggle against the socalle" 2*on"erbun",3 i.e., a fe"eration of seven 4atholic
cantons which, in 1<=I, un"ertoo& a revolt against the general confe"eration in the
name of saving the in"epen"ence of the cantons an" their ol" aristocratic system, an"
clericalism. Although the rebels prou"ly wave" the banner of 2free"om an"
in"epen"ence3 of the cantons against the 2"espotism3 of the 4onfe"eracy, in
particular of 2free"om of conscience3 against )rotestant intolerance /the ostensible
cause of the conflict was the closing of the convents by the +emocratic Ra"ical
parties0, "emocratic an" revolutionary Burope, un"eceive" by this, applau"e"
wholehearte"ly when the 4onfe"eracy, by brutal arme" force, i.e., by 2violence,3
force" the a"vocates of fe"eralism to bow an" surren"er to the 4onfe"erate authority.
An" when %reiligrath, the bar" of the Neue Rheinis#he $eitung, triumphantly
celebrate" the victory of the bayonets of *wiss centralism as a reveille to the ,arch
revolution ? 2-n the highlan"s the first shot was fire", in the highlan"s against the
parsons3 it was the absolutist government of >ermany, the pillar of ,etternich$s
reaction, that too& up the cause of the fe"eralists an" the "efen"ers of the ol"
in"epen"ence of the cantons. (he later "evelopment of *wit'erlan" up until the
present has been mar&e" by constant, progressive, legal an" political centrali'ation
un"er the impact of the growth of big in"ustry an" international tra"e, railroa"s, an"
Buropean militarism. Alrea"y the secon" 4onstitution of 1<I= e#ten"e" consi"erably
the attributes of the central legislation, the central government authority, an"
particularly of a centrali'e" @u"iciary in comparison with the 4onstitution of 1<=<.
*ince the 4onstitution was thoroughly revise" in 1<I=, centrali'ation has progresse"
continuously by the a""ition of ever new in"ivi"ual articles, enlarging the competence
of the central institutions of the 4onfe"eracy. 6hile the actual political life of
*wit'erlan", with its "evelopment towar" a mo"ern capitalist state, is increasingly
concentrate" in the fe"eral institutions, the autonomous life of the canton "eclines an"
becomes increasingly sterile. ,atters have gone even further. 6hen the fe"eral organs
of legislation an" uniform government, originating from "irect elections by the people
/the socalle" 8a'ionalrat an" the socalle" Aun"esrat0, assume increasingly more
prestige an" power, the organ of the fe"eral representation, i.e., of the cantons /the so
calle" *tTn"erat0, becomes more an" more a survival, a form without content,
con"emne" by the "evelopment of life to slow "eath.
At the same time, this process
of centrali'ation is supplemente" by another parallel process of ma&ing the cantonal
constitutions uniform by means of constant revisions in the legislatures of the
respective cantons an" the mutual imitation an" borrowing among them. As a result,
the former variety of cantonal particularisms rapi"ly "isappears. Until now, the main
safeguar" of this political separateness an" in"epen"ence of the cantons was their
local civil an" penal law which preserve" the entire me"ley of its historical origin,
tra"ition, an" cantonal particularism. At present, even this stubbornly "efen"e"
fortress of the cantons$ in"epen"ence has ha" to yiel" un"er the pressure of
*wit'erlan"$s capitalist "evelopment ? in"ustry, tra"e, railroa"s an" telegraphs,
international relations ? which passe" li&e a leveling wave over the legal con"itions of
the cantons. As a result, the pro@ect of one common civil an" penal co"e for the entire
confe"eration has been alrea"y elaborate", while portions of the civil co"e have
alrea"y been approve" an" implemente". (hese parallel currents of centrali'ation an"
stan"ar"i'ation, wor&ing from above an" below an" mutually supplementing each
other, encounter, almost at every step, the opposition of the socially an" economically
most bac&war", most petit bourgeois %rench an" -talian cantons. -n a significant
manner, the opposition of the *wiss "ecentralists an" fe"eralists even assumes the
forms an" colors of a nationality struggle for the %rench *wiss7 the e#pansion of the
power of the 4onfe"eracy at the e#pense of cantonal particularism is tantamount to
the increase of the prepon"erance of the >erman element, an" as such they, the
%rench *wiss, openly combat it. 8o less characteristic is another circumstance, vi'.,
the same %rench cantons which, in the name of fe"eration an" in"epen"ence, combat
state centralism, have internally the least "evelope" communal selfgovernment,
while the most "emocratic selfgoverning institutions, a true rule of the people,
prevail in those communes of the >erman cantons which a"vocate centrali'ation of
the 4onfe"eration. -n this way, both at the very bottom an" at the top of state
institutions, both in the latest results of the "evelopment of present"ay *wit'erlan"
an" at its point of "eparture, centralism goes han" in han" with "emocracy an"
progress, while fe"eralism an" particularism are lin&e" with reaction an"
-n another form the same phenomena are repeate" in the history of the Unite" *tates
of America.
(he first nucleus of the Union of the Bnglish colonies in 8orth America, which until
then ha" been in"epen"ent, which "iffere" greatly from one another socially an"
politically, an" which in many respects ha" "ivergent interests, was also create" by
revolution. (he revolution was the a"vocate an" creator of the process of political
centrali'ation which has never stoppe" up to the present "ay. Also, here, as in
*wit'erlan", the initial, most immature form of "evelopment, was the same
3voluntary fe"eration3 which, accor"ing to the conscious an" unconscious a"herents
of anarchistic i"eas, stan"s at the ape# of mo"ern social "evelopment as the crowning
summit of "emocracy.
-n the first 4onstitution of the Unite" *tates, elaborate" in the perio" 1III1I<1, there
triumphe" completely the 3free"om an" in"epen"ence of the several colonies, their
complete right of self"etermination.3 (he union was loose an" voluntary to such an
e#tent that it practically "i" not possess any central e#ecutive an" ma"e possible,
almost on the morrow of its establishment, a fratrici"al customs war among its 3free
an" equal3 members, 8ew Uor&, 8ew Gersey, Mirginia, an" ,arylan", while in
,assachusetts, un"er the blessing of complete 2in"epen"ence3 an" 2self
"etermination,3 a civil war, an uprising of "ebtencumbere" farmers bro&e out, which
arouse" in the wealthy bourgeoisie of the states a vivi" yearning for a strong central
authority. (his bourgeoisie was forcibly remin"e" that in a bourgeois society the most
beautiful 3national in"epen"ence3 has real substance an" 2value3 only when it serves
the in"epen"ent utili'ation of the fruits of 2internal or"er,3 i.e., the un"isturbe" rule of
private property an" e#ploitation.
(he secon" 4onstitution of 1I<I alrea"y create", in place of fe"eration, a unifie" state
with a central legislative authority an" a central e#ecutive. !owever, centralism ha"
still, for a long time, to combat the separatist ten"encies of the states righters which
finally erupte" in the form of an open revolt of the *outhern states, the famous 1<E1
war of secession !ere we also see a stri&ing repetition of the 1<=I *wiss situation. As
a"vocates of centralism, the 8orthern states acte" representing the mo"ern, bigcapital
"evelopment, machine in"ustry, personal free"om an" equality before the law, the true
corollaries of the system of hire" labor, bourgeois "emocracy, an" bourgeois progress.
5n the other han", the banner of separatism, fe"eration, an" particularism, the banner
of each hamlet$s 2in"epen"ence3 an" 2right of self"etermination3 was raise" by the
plantation owners of the *outh, who represente" the primitive e#ploitation of slave
labor. -n *wit'erlan" as in America, centralism struggle" against the separatist
ten"encies of fe"eralism by means of arme" force an" physical coercion, to the
unanimous acclaim of all progressive an" "emocratic elements of Burope. -t is
significant that the last manifestation of slavery in mo"ern society trie" to save itself,
as reaction always "oes, un"er the banner of particularism, an" the abolition of
slavery was the obverse of the victory of centralist capitalism. After the victorious war
against the secessionists, the 4onstitution of the American Union un"erwent a new
revision in the "irection of centralism1 the remain"er was, from then on, achieve" by
big capital, big power, imperialist "evelopment7 railroa"s, worl" tra"e, trusts, finally,
in recent times, customs protectionism, imperialist wars, the colonial system, an" the
resulting reorgani'ation of the military, of ta#ation, an" so on. At present, the central
e#ecutive in the person of the )resi"ent of the Union possesses more e#tensive power,
an" the a"ministration an" @u"iciary are more centrali'e" than in the ma@ority of the
monarchies of 6estern Burope. 6hile in *wit'erlan" the gra"ual e#pansion of the
central functions at the e#pense of fe"eralism ta&es place by means of amen"ments to
the constitution, in America this ta&es place in a way of its own without any
constitutional changes, through a liberal interpretation of the constitution by the
@u"icial authorities.
(he history of mo"ern Austria presents a picture of incessant struggle between a
centralist an" fe"eralist tren". (he starting point of this history, the 1<=< revolution,
shows the following "ivision of roles7 the a"vocates of centralism are the >erman
liberals an" "emocrats, the then lea"ers of the revolution, while the obstruction un"er
the banner of fe"eralism is represente" by the *lavic counterrevolutionary parties7 the
>alician nobility1 the 4'ech, ,oravian an" +almatian "iets1 the pan*lavists an", the
a"mirers of Aa&unin, that prophet an" phrasema&er of the anarchist 3autonomy of free
peoples.3 ,ar# characteri'e" the policy an" role of the 4'ech fe"eralists in the 1<=<
revolution as follows7
(he 4'ech an" 4roat pan*lavists wor&e", some "eliberately an" some un&nowingly,
in accor"ance with the clear interests of Russia. (hey betraye" the cause of revolution
for the sha"ow of a nationality which, in the best case, woul" have share" the fate of
the )olish one. (he 4'ech, ,oravian, +almatian, an" a part of the )olish "elegates
/the aristocracy0 con"ucte" a systematic struggle against the >erman element. (he
>ermans an" a part of the )oles /the impoverishe" gentry0 were the main a"herents of
revolutionary progress1 fighting against them, the mass of the *lavic "elegates was
not content to "emonstrate in this way the reactionary ten"encies of their entire
movement, but even "ebase" itself by scheming an" plotting with the very same
Austrian government which ha" "isperse" their )rague congress. (hey receive" a
well"eserve" rewar" for their "isgraceful behavior. (hey ha" supporte" the
government "uring the 5ctober uprising, the outcome of which finally assure" a
ma@ority to the *lavs. (his now almost e#clusively *lavic assembly was "isperse" by
the Austrian sol"iery e#actly as the )rague congress ha" been an" the pan*lavists
were threatene" with imprisonment if they "are" to complain. (hey achieve" only
this7 that the *lavic nationality is now everywhere threatene" by Austrian centralism.
,ar# wrote this in 1<5: "uring the revival of absolutist rule in Austria after the final
collapse of the revolution an" of the first era of constitutionalism ? 2a result which
they owe to their own fanaticism an" blin"ness.3
*uch was the first appearance of fe"eralism in the mo"ern history of Austria.
-n no state "i" the sociohistorical content of the fe"eralist program an" the fallacy of
the anarchist fantasies concerning the "emocratic or even revolutionary character of
that slogan appear so emphatically also in later times, an", so to spea&, symbolically,
as in Austria. (he progress of political centrali'ation can be "irectly measure" here by
the program of the right to vote for the Mienna parliament, which, passing
successively through four phases of gra"ual "emocrati'ation, was increasingly
becoming the main cement bin"ing together the state structure of the !apsburg
monarchy. (he 5ctober )atent of 1<E0, which inaugurate" the secon" constitutional
era in Austria, ha" create" in the spirit of fe"eralism a wea& central legislative organ,
an" given the right of electing the "elegations to it not to the people, but to the "iets of
the respective crownlan"s. !owever, alrea"y in 1<IF, it prove" in"ispensable for
brea&ing the opposition of the *lavic fe"eralists, to intro"uce voting rights not by the
"iets, but by the people themselves, to the 4entral )arliament 9Reichsrat; ? although it
was a class, unequal, an" in"irect voting system. *ubsequently, the nationality
struggle an" the "ecentralist opposition of the 4'echs, which threatene" the very
e#istence an" integrity of the !apsburg monarchy, force", in 1<9E, the replacement of
their class voting right by a universal one, through the a""ition of a fifth curia /the so
calle" universal election curia0. Recently we witnesse" the final reform of the
electoral law in Austria in the "irection of universal an" equal voting rights as the
only means of consoli"ating the state an" brea&ing the centrifugal ten"encies of the
*lavic fe"eralists. Bspecially characteristic in this respect is the role of >alicia.
Alrea"y from the first session of the Miennese Reichsrat an" the >alician +iet in April
1<E1, the >alician nobility came forwar" as an e#treme opposition against the liberal
cabinet of *chmerling, violently opposing the liberal reforms in the name of 2national
autonomy3 an" the right of nations to 2self"etermination,3 i.e., in the name of the
autonomous rights of the )rovincial +iet.
*oon the policy became crystalli'e" in the *tanc'y& program of the socalle" 4racow
party, the party of such men as (arnows&i, )opiel, 6o"'ic&i, an" Co'mian, an" foun"
its e#pression in the notorious 2resolution3 of the >alician +iet of *eptember :<,
1<E<, which is a &in" of ;agna $arta of the 2separation of >alicia.3 (he resolution
"eman"e" such a broa"ening of the competence of the )rovincial +iet that for the
4entral )arliament there remaine" only the most important allmonarchy matters1 it
completely abolishe" the central a"ministration, han"ing it over e#clusively to the
crown lan" authorities, an" in the en" completely separating also the crown lan"
@u"iciary. (he state connection of >alicia with Austria was re"uce" here to such a
flimsy sha"ow that sanguine min"s, who "i" not yet &now the fle#ibility of )olish
nationalism, woul" be rea"y to see in this i"eal program of fe"eralism, 2almost3
national in"epen"ence or at least a bol" striving towar" it. !owever, to prevent any
such illusions, the *tanc'y& party ha" announce" its political cre"o an" begun its
public career in Austria not with the above program of fe"eration but with the
notorious a""ress of the +iet of +ecember 10, 1<EE, in which it proclaime" its
classical formula7 26ithout fear of "eserting the national i"ea an" with faith in the
mission of Austria we "eclare from the bottom of our hearts that we stan" an" wish to
stan" by Uour ,a@esty.3 (his was only a concise aphoristic formulation of the
sanguinary crusa"e which the nobility party aroun" ,r.eglad ,ols-i /,olish Re!ie10
wage", after the Ganuary uprising, against the insurrection an" the insurgents against
the 2conspiracy,3 2illusions,3 2criminal attempts3, 2foreign revolutionary influences,3
2the e#cesses of social anarchy,3 liqui"ating with cynical haste the last perio" of our
national movements un"er the slogan of 2organic wor&3 an" public renunciation of
any soli"arity with Russian"ominate" )olan". %e"eralism an" political separatism
were not in reality an e#pression of national aspirations but were, rather, their simple
negation an" their public renunciation. (he other harmonious complement of the
*tanc'y& program of fe"eration /rea"7 separation0 was opposition an" obstruction in
coalition with 4'ech an" ,oravian fe"eralists an" the >erman clericalreactionary
party against any liberal reforms in Austria7 against the liberal communal law, against
the liberal law concerning elementary schools, against the intro"uction of the law
concerning "irect elections by the people to the 4entral )arliament1 on the other han"
it supporte" the government in all reactionary pro@ects, e.g., support of the military
laws starting with (aaffe$s .aw, etc. (his "evelopment has been couple" with e#treme
reaction also in provincial policies, the most glaring e#pression of which is the
a"amant opposition against the reform of elections to the )rovincial +iet.
%inally, the thir" component of >alician fe"eralism is the policy of the )olish nobility
towar" the Ruthenians. Vuite analogous to the %rench fe"eralists of *wit'erlan", the
>alician a"vocates of a potential "ecentrali'ation of the Austrian state have been strict
centralists internally in relation to the Ruthenian population. (he >alician nobility has
from the beginning stubbornly combate" the "eman" of autonomy for the Ruthenians,
the a"ministrative "ivision of >alicia into Bastern an" 6estern, an" the granting of
equal status to the Ruthenian language an" script along with the )olish language. (he
program of 3separation3 an" fe"eralism suffere" a "ecisive "efeat in Austria as early
as 1<IF, when "irect elections to the 4entral )arliament were intro"uce", an" from
then on the *tanc'y& party, in &eeping with its opportunistic principles, aban"one" the
policy of obstruction an" acquiesce" in Austrian centralism. !owever, >alician
fe"eralism from then on appears on the stage if not as a program of realistic politics
then as a means of parliamentary maneuvers each time that serious "emocratic
reforms are consi"ere". (he last memorable appearance of the program of
3separating3 >alicia in the public arena is connecte" with the struggle of the >alician
nobility against the most recent electoral reform, against the intro"uction of universal
an" equal voting rights for the Mienna )arliament. An" as if to put stronger emphasis
on the reactionary content of the fe"eralist program, the "eputies of Austrian *ocial
+emocracy, in April 190E, vote" unanimously against the motion concerning the
separation of >alicia. At their hea" in his character as representative of the Austrian
6or&ers$ )arty, a representative of the allmonarchy proletarian policy spo&e an"
vote" against the separation of >alicia7 this was ,r. -gnacy +as'yns&i, who, as a
lea"er in the three parts of the patriotic ))*, consi"ers the separation of the Cing"om
of )olan" from Russia as his political program. (he Austrian *ocial +emocracy is a
"etermine" an" open a"vocate of centralism, a conscious a"herent of the state
consoli"ation of Austria an" consequently a conscious opponent of any separatist
2(he future of the Austrian state3 says Cauts&y ? 2"epen"s on the strength an"
influence of *ocial +emocracy. )recisely because it is revolutionary, it is in this case a
party uphol"ing the state 9eine staatserltaltende Partei; in this sense1 although this
soun"s strange, one may apply to the Re" revolutionary *ocial +emocracy the wor"s
which half a century ago >rillpar'er a""resse" to the hero of the Re" Uellow reaction,
>eneral Ra"et'&y7 W-n your camp is Austria.$3 92)n deinen *ager ist :sterreich3;
@ust as in the matter of the 2separation3 of >alicia Austrian *ocial +emocracy
"ecisively re@ects the program of the 4'ech %e"eralists, that is, the separation of
Aohemia. Cauts&y writes7
(he growth of the i"ea of autonomy for Aohemia is only a partial ,anifestation of the
general growth of reaction in all big states of the 4ontinent. (he program of
2autonomy3 woul" not yet ma&e Aohemia an autonomous state. -t woul" still remain
a part of Austria. (he 4entral )arliament woul" not be abolishe" by this. (he most
important matters /military affairs, customs, etc.0 woul" remain in its competence.
!owever, the separation of Aohemia woul" brea& the power of the 4entral
)arliament, which to"ay is very wea&. -t woul" brea& it not only in relation to the
"iets of the several nations but also in relation to the central government, on the mo"el
of the "elegations. 9(he reference here is to "elegations of Austria an" !ungary which
were electe" by the Mienna an" Au"apest parliament an" ha" as their tas& the
arrangement of the socalle" Austro!ungarian compromise, that is, the mutual
relationship or proportion contribute" by both countries for the common e#penses of
the state an" the settlement of certain matters affecting both.; (he state council, that
is, the 4entral )arliament of Austria, woul" have to be re"uce" to a miserable i"ol
no""ing its hea" to everything. (he power of the central government in military an"
customs affairs, as well as foreign policy, woul" then become unrestricte". (he
separation of Aohemia woul" signify the strengthening of the rule of bourgeois
peasant clericalism in the Alpine lan"s of the nobility an" in >alicia1 also that of the
capitalist magnates in Aohemia. As long as these three strata must e#ercise their
authority in the 4entral )arliament @ointly, they cannot "evelop all their power
because their interests are not i"entical1 hol"ing them together is no easy matter. (heir
strength will be increase" if each of these strata can concentrate on a certain "efine"
area. (he clericals in -nnsbruc& an" .in', the >alician nobility in 4racow an"
.emberg, the Aohemian (ories in )rague are more powerful separately than all
together in Mienna. Gust as in >ermany, the reaction "raws its strength from the
particularism an" wea&ness of the 4entral )arliament1 here, @ust as there, giving one$s
moral support to particularism means wor&ing in favor of reaction. !ere, @ust as there,
we are obligate" to resist strongly the present current ten"ing to the wea&ening of the
4entral )arliament. 9Cauts&y en"s with these wor"s7; 6e must combat Aohemian
states$ rights 9the program of separating off Aohemia; as a pro"uct of reaction an" a
means of its support. 6e must combat it since it means splitting the proletariat of
Austria. (he roa" from capitalism to socialism "oes not lea" through feu"alism. (he
program of separating off Aohemia is @ust as little a preliminary to the autonomy of
peoples as anti*emitism /that is, a unilateral struggle against Gewish capital0 is a
preliminary to *ocial +emocracy.
6here the remnants of feu"alism have been preserve" to this "ay in Burope, they are
everywhere a protection of monarchy. -n >ermany, a stri&ing manifestation of this is
the fact that the unity of the Reich is base" on a universal equal voting right to
)arliament, while all >erman states ta&en in"ivi"ually have much more reactionary
state constitutions, from )russia, with its /as Aismarc& e#presse" it0 3most monstrous3
triclass electoral law, up to ,ec&lenburg, which is still in general a me"ieval state
with a purely class constitution.
(he city of !amburg itself is an even more stri&ing e#ample if we believe that
progress an" "emocracy are connecte" with centralism, an" reaction with
particularism an" fe"eralism. (he city of !amburg, which forms three electoral
"istricts of the >erman Reich, is represente" in )arliament on the basis of a universal
voting right, e#clusively by social +emocratic "eputies. 5n the basis of the
4onstitution of the Reich as a whole, the 6or&ers$ )arty is, therefore, in !amburg, the
unique ruling party. Aut the very same city of !amburg, as a separate little state, on
the basis of its "istinction, separateness, intro"uce" for itself a new electoral law even
more reactionary than the one in force until now, which ma&es it almost impossible to
elect *ocial +emocrats to the !amburg +iet.
-n Austria!ungary we see the same. 5n the one han", a fe"eral relationship between
!ungary an" Austria is an e#pression not of free"om an" progress but of monarchical
reaction because it is &nown that the Austro!ungarian "ualism is maintaine" only by
the "ynastic interest of the !apsburgs, an" Austrian *ocial +emocracy clearly
"eclare" itself in favor of the complete "issolution of that fe"eration an" the complete
separation of !ungary from Austria.
!owever, this position resulte" by no means from the inclinations of Austrian *ocial
+emocracy for "ecentrali'ation in general, but @ust the reverse7 it resulte" from the
fact that a fe"eral connection between !ungary an" Austria is an obstacle to an even
greater political centrali'ation insi"e Austria for the purpose of restoring an"
consoli"ating the latter, an" here the very same *ocial +emocratic )arty is an
a"vocate of as close a union of the crownlan"s as possible, an" an opponent of any
ten"encies to the separation of >alicia, Aohemia, (rieste, the (rentino, an" so on. -n
fact, the only center of political an" "emocratic progress in Austria is her central
policy, a 4entral )arliament in Mienna which, in its "evelopment, reache" a universal
equalvoting right, while the autonomous +iets >alician, .ower Austrian, Aohemian
? are stronghol"s of the most savage reaction on the part of the nobility or
%inally, the last event in the history of fe"eral relationships, the separation of 8orway
from *we"en, ta&en up in its time eagerly by the )olish socialpatriotic parties /see
the 4racow Na%r.od 9(or1ard;0 as a @oyous manifestation of strength an" the
progressiveness of separatist ten"encies, soon change" into a new stri&ing proof that
fe"eralism an" state separations resulting from it are by no means an e#pression of
progress or "emocracy. After the socalle" 8orwegian 2revolutions,3 which consiste"
in the "ethronement an" the e#pulsion from 8orway of the Cing of *we"en, the
8orwegians quietly electe" another &ing for themselves, having even formally, in a
popular ballot, re@ecte" the pro@ect of intro"ucing a republic. (hat which superficial
a"mirers of all national movements an" all semblances of in"epen"ence proclaime"
as a 2revolution3 was a simple manifestation of peasant an" bourgeois particularism, a
"esire to possess for their own money a 2&ing of their own3 instea" of one impose" by
the *we"ish aristocracy, an", therefore, a movement which ha" nothing in common
whatever with a revolutionary spirit. At the same time, the history of the
"isintegration of the *we"ish8orwegian union again prove" how far, even here, the
fe"eration ha" been an e#pression of purely "ynastic interests, that is, a form of
monarchism an" reaction.

(he i"ea of fe"eralism as a solution of the nationality question, an" in general, an
2i"eal3 of the political system in international relations, raise" si#ty years ago by
Aa&unin an" other anarchists, fin"s at present refuge with a number of socialist
groups in Russia. A stri&ing illustration of that i"ea, as well as of its relation to the
class struggle of the proletariat at the present time, is given by the congress of those
fe"eralist groups of all Russia hel" "uring the recent 91905; revolution an" whose
"eliberations have been publishe" in a "etaile" report. 9*ee the ,ro#eedings of the
Russian National So#ialist ,arties, April 1E:0, 190I, Cnigoi -'"atielstvo, *e@m /*t.
)etersburg7 190<0.;
%irst of all, a characteri'ation of the political comple(ion an" of the 2socialism3 of
these groups is interesting. -n the 4ongress, there participate" >eorgian, Armenian,
AyeloRussian, Gewish, )olish, an" Russian fe"eralists. (he >eorgian *ocialist
%e"eralist )arty operates mainly ? accor"ing to its own report ? not among the urban
population but in the countrysi"e, because only there "oes there e#ist in a compact
mass the national >eorgian element1 these number about 1.: million an" are
concentrate" in the gubernias of (iflis, Cutai, an" partially, Aatum. (his party is
almost completely recruite" from peasants an" petty gentry. 2-n its striving for an
in"epen"ent regulation of its life3 ? "eclares the "elegate of the >eorgian *ocialist
%e"eralist )arty ? 2without counting on the centralist bureaucracy, whether this be
absolutistic or constitutional or even social"emocratic /R0, the >eorgian peasantry
will probably fin" sympathy an" help on the part of that petty >eorgian gentry which
lives on the lan" an" by the si'e of its possessions an" also its way of life "iffers little
from the peasantry.3 (herefore, the party consi"ers that 2even in"epen"ently of
consi"erations of a basic /R0 nature, merely the practical con"itions of >eorgian
agriculture "eman" the treatment of the agrarian question as a class question, peasant
or gentry only as an overall national question, as a social /R0 problem, as a problem of
wor&/R0.3 *tarting with these assumptions, the >eorgian %e"eralists, in harmony with
the Russian *ocial Revolutionaries, strive for the 2sociali'ation of lan" which is to be
achieve" un"er the rule of the capitalistic or bourgeois system.3 A beautiful a""ition
to this program is the reservation that 2sociali'ation3 cannot be e#ten"e" to orchar"s,
vineyar"s an" other 2special cultivations,3 or to farms, because these are areas
2"eman"ing a certain contribution of wor& an" material means which cannot be
returne" in one year or in several years3 an" which woul" be "ifficult for a >eorgian
peasant to renounce.3 4onsequently, there remains private property for 2cultivations3
an" 2socialism3 for grainplanting of which there is little in the 4aucasus ? as well
as for "unes, marginal lan"s, bogs, an" forests.
(he main thing on which the *ocialist %e"eralists put emphasis is the reservation that
the agricultural question in >eorgia shoul" be "eci"e" not in a constituent assembly
nor in a central parliament, but only in autonomous national institutions, because
2however life will "eci"e this question, in principle, only this is unquestionable, that
the lan" in a >eorgian territory shoul" belong first of all to the >eorgian people.3 (he
question, how it happens that the 2socialist3 party is @oine", en masse, by the petty
gentry an" bourgeoisie, the "elegates of the >eorgian %e"eralists e#plaine" by saying
that this happens only because 2there is no other party which woul" formulate the
"eman"s of these strata.3
(he Armenian Revolutionary %e"eration, that is, +ashna&tsutyun, foun"e" at the
beginning of the 1<90s for the purpose of liberating the Armenians from (ur&ey, was
e#clusively concerne" with 2militari'ing the people,3 i.e., the preparation of fighting
"etachments an" arme" e#pe"itions into (ur&ey, the import of weapons, the "irection
of attac&s on (ur&ish troops, etc. 5nly recently, at the beginning of the current
century, the Armenian Revolutionary %e"eration e#pan"e" its activity into the
4aucasus an" assume" at the same time a social aspect. (he cause for the
revolutionary outburst of the movement an" the terroristic action in the 4aucasus was
the confiscation of the estates of the Armenian clergy for the 9tsarist; treasury in 190F.
Aesi"es its main combat3 action, the party began, against the bac&groun" of those
events, a propagan"a among the rural population in the 4aucasus as well as a struggle
against tsar"om. (he agrarian program of +ashna&tsutyun "eman"s the e#propriation
of gentry estates without compensation, an" surren"ering there to the communes for
equal "istribution. (his reform is to be base" on the still rather general communal
property in the central part of the (ranscaucasus. Recently, there arose a 2young3
tren" among the Armenian %e"eralists maintaining that the +ashna&tsutyun party is
simply a bourgeois, nationalistic organi'ation of a rather "oubtful socialistic aspect ?
an organi'ation lin&ing within itself completely heterogeneous social elements, an" in
its activity an" action on completely heterogeneous sociopolitical territory, such as
(ur&ey on the one si"e an" the 4aucasus on the other. (his party recogni'es,
accor"ing to its own report, the principle of fe"eralism both as a basis of nationwi"e
relations an" the basis on which shoul" be thoroughly reconstructe" the con"itions in
the 4aucasus, an" finally, as an organi'ing principle for the party.
A Ayelorussian organi'ation was forme" in 190F un"er the name of the Ayelorussian
Revolutionary !roma"a. -ts car"inal programmatic "eman" was separation from
Russia, an" in the sphere of economics, the nationali'ation of the lan". -n 190E, this
program un"erwent a revision an" from then on the party has been "eman"ing a
fe"eral republic in Russia, with territorial autonomy for .ithuania an" a "iet in Milna,
as well as a nonterritorial national cultural autonomy for the remaining nationalities
inhabiting .ithuania, while on the agrarian question the following "eman"s were
a"opte"7 lan"s hel" by the treasury, by the church, an" by the monasteries, as well as
big lan"e" property above eighty to one hun"re" "essiatins are to be confiscate" an"
turne" into a lan" fun" out of which, first of all, the lan"less an" small peasants
shoul" be supplie" on the basis of here"itary property, with the aim of eliminating
pauperism as well as "eveloping the pro"uctive forces of the country. (he
sociali'ation of lan" cannot yet be mentione" because of the low intellectual level of
the Ayelorussian peasant. (hus, the tas& of the party is the creation an" maintenance
of a peasant farm in a normal si'e of eight "essiatins, as well as the consoli"ation of
lan"s. %urthermore, forests, bo"ies of water, an" bogs are to be nationali'e".
!ronma"a carries on its activity among the Ayelorussian peasants who inhabit, to the
number of about seven millions, the gubernias of Milna, ,ins&, >ro"no, an" part of
(he Gewish %e"eralist group, 2*ierp3 92(he *ic&le3;, organi'e" only a few years ago
by Gewish "issi"ents from the Russian *ocial Revolutionary )arty, "eman"s non
territorial autonomy for all nationalities in the Russian state1 out of them woul" be
create" voluntary state political associations combining together into a state
fe"eration, in or"er to strive in that way for its ultimate goal, territorial /R0 autonomy
for the Gews. -t "irects its activity mainly to the organi'ing of Gewish wor&ers in
6itebs&, B&aterinoslav, Ciev, etc., an" it e#pects the implementation of its program to
arise from the victory of the socialist parties in the Russian state.
-t is superfluous to characteri'e the remaining two organi'ations, the ))*
2revolutionary faction,3 an" the Russian )arty of *ocial Revolutionaries, since they
are sufficiently &nown by origin an" character.
(hus appears that +iet of %e"eralists cultivating at present that antiquate" i"ea of
fe"eration re@ecte" by the class movement of the proletariat. -t is a collection of only
petit bourgeois parties for whom the nationalist program is the main concern an" the
socialist program an a""ition1 it is a collection of parties mainly representing ? with
the e#ception of the revolutionary fraction of the )olish *ocialist )arty an" the Gewish
%e"eralists ? the chaotic aspirations of a peasantry in opposition, an" the respective
class proletarian parties that came into being with the revolutionary storm, in clear
opposition to the bourgeois parties. -n this collection of petit bourgeois elements, the
party of the Russian terrorists is a tren", not only the ol"est one, but also the one
furthest left. (he others manifest, much more clearly, that they have in common with
the class struggle of the proletariat.
(he only common groun" which lin&s this variegate" collection of nationalists has
been the i"ea of fe"eration, which all of them recogni'e as a basis of state an"
political, as well as party, relations. !owever, out of this strange harmony, antagonism
arises imme"iately from all si"es the moment the question turns to practical pro@ects
of reali'ing that common i"eal. (he Gewish %e"eralists bitterly complain of the
2haughtiness3 of the nations en"owe" by fate with a 2territory3 of their own,
particularly the egoism of the )olish *ocial )atriots, who presente" the greatest
opposition to the pro@ect of nonterritorial autonomy1 at the very same time, these
Gewish nationalists questione" in a melancholy way whether the >eorgian %e"eralists
woul" a"mit any other nationality to their territory, which they claime" as the
e#clusive possession of the >eorgian nationality. (he Russian %e"eralists, on the other
han", accuse the Gewish ones, saying that, from the stan"point of their e#ceptional
situation, they want to impose on all nationalities a nonterritorial autonomy. (he
4aucasian, Armenian, an" >eorgian %e"eralists cannot agree concerning the
relationship of the nationalities in a future fe"eral system, specifically on the question
of whether other nationalities are to participate in the >eorgian territorial autonomy,
2or whether such counties as A&hal&ala&, inhabite" mainly by Armenians, or
Aarchabin, with a mi#ture of population, will form in"ivi"ual autonomous territories,
or will create an autonomy for themselves accor"ing to the composition of their
population.3 (he Armenian %e"eralists, on their part, "eman" the e#clusion of the city
of (iflis from the autonomous >eorgian territory, inasmuch as it is a center primarily
inhabite" by Armenians. 5n the other han", all the >eorgian an" Armenian
%e"eralists recogni'e that at present, since the (atarArmenian slaughter, the (atars
must be e#clu"e" from the fe"eration of autonomous 4aucasian peoples as 2a
nationality immature from the cultural point of view3R (hus, the conglomeration of
nationalists agreeing unanimously to the i"ea of fe"eration changes into as many
contra"ictory interests an" ten"encies1 an" the 2i"eal3 of fe"eralism, which
constitutes in the theoretical an" superhistorical abstraction of anarchism, the most
perfect solution of all nationality "ifficulties, on the first attempt at its implementation
appears as a source of new contra"ictions an" antagonisms. !ere it is stri&ingly
prove" that the i"ea of fe"eralism allege"ly reconciling all nationalities is only an
empty phrase, an" that, among the various national groups, @ust because they "on$t
stan" on a historical basis, there is no essentially unifying i"ea which woul" create a
common groun" for the settlement of contra"ictory interests.
Aut the same fe"eralism separate" from the historical bac&groun" "emonstrates its
absolute wea&ness an" helplessness not only in view of the nationality antagonisms in
practice but also in view of the nationality question in general. (he Russian 4ongress
ha" as its main theme an evaluation an" eluci"ation of the nationality question an"
un"ertoo& it unrestricte" by any 2"ogmas3 or formulae of the 2narrow "octrine of
,ar#ism.3 6hat eluci"ation "i" it give to one of the most burning questions of
present political lifeJ 25ver the whole history of man&in" before the appearance of
socialism3 ? proclaime" the representative of the *ocial Revolutionary )arty in his
speech at the opening of the 4ongress ? 2one may place as a motto the following
wor"s from the !oly *cripture7 WAn" they or"ere" him to say 2shibboleth3 an" he sai"
3sibboleth3 an" they massacre" him at the for" of the river.$ -n"ee", the greatest
amount of bloo" spille" in international struggle was spille" because of the fact that
one nation pronounce" Wshibboleth$ an" the other Wsibboleth.$3 After this profoun"
intro"uction from the philosophy of history, there followe" a series of speeches
maintaine" at the same level, an" the "ebates about the nationality questions
culminate" in the memoran"um of the >eorgian %e"eralists which proclaime"7
3in primitive times, when the main tas& of people was hunting wil" animals as well as
creatures li&e themselves there were neither masters nor slaves. Bquality in social
relations was not violate"1 but later, when people came to &now the cultivation of the
soil, rather than &illing an" eating their captives they began to &eep them in captivity.
6hat, therefore, was the reason out of which slavery aroseJ 5bviously not only
material interests as such, but also this circumstance7 that man was by his physical
nature a hunter an" a warrior/R0. An" "espite the fact that man has alrea"y long since
become an in"ustrial animal, he is to this very "ay a pre"ator, capable of tearing apart
his neighbor for minor material consi"erations. (his is the source of unen"ing wars
an" the "omination of classes. 8aturally the origin of class "omination was influence"
also by other causes, for instance, man$s ability to become accustome" to "epen"ence.
Aut un"oubte"ly if man were not a warrior, there woul" be no slavery.3
(here follows a bloo"y picture of the fate of the nationalities sub@ect to tsar"om an"
then again a theoretical eluci"ation7
2*omebo"y may tell us that bureaucratic rule rages not only in the bor"erlan"s but in
Russia itself. %rom our point of view this is completely un"erstan"able. A nation
sub@ugating other nations eventually falls into slavery itself. %or instance, the more
Rome e#pan"e" its "omination, the more the plebeians were losing their free"om.
Another e#ample7 "uring the great %rench Revolution the military victories of the
Republican Army annihilate" the fruit of the revolution ? the Republic /R0. (he
Russians themselves en@oye" incomparably greater free"om before they unite" in one
powerful state, that is, at the time of the rule of "ie separate princes.3 (hus, the
memoran"um en"s its historiophilosophical lecture1 free"om "oes not agree with the
clatter of arms. 4onquest was the main cause which brought into being both slavery
as well as the rule of some social classes over others.
(hat is all that the %e"eralists of the present time are able to say about the nationality
question. -t is literally the same phraseology from the stan"point of 2@ustice3,
2fraternity3, 2morality3 an" similar beautiful things which alrea"y, si#ty years ago,
was proclaime" by Aa&unin. An" @ust as the father of anarchism was blin" to the
Revolution of 1<=<, its inner springs, its historical tas&s, the present last of the
,ohicans of fe"eralism in Russia stan" helpless an" powerless before the revolution
in the tsarist system.
(he i"ea of fe"eration, by its nature an" historical substance reactionary, is to"ay a
pseu"orevolutionary sign of petit bourgeois nationalism, which constitutes a reaction
against the unite" revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat in the entire Bmpire.
4haracteristic is the antipathy, general among the *wiss population, against the
*tTn"erat as a 2"onothing3 institution. (his is only a sub@ective e#pression of the fact
that this organ of fe"eralism has been "eprive" of its functions by the ob@ective course
of historical "evelopment. :riginal note by #.*.
%rie"rich Bngels an" Carl ,ar#, Re!olution and "onterre!olution in
Deuts#hland /6eimar7 19=90, pp.II, I<I9.
Die Neue $eit, 1<9I1<9<, Mol.1, p.5E=.
Die Neue $eit, 1<9<1<99, pp.:9F, :9E, :9I, F01.
8e#t 4hapter7 4entrali'ation an" Autonomy
Rosa .u#emburg Archive
Rosa Luxemburg
The National Question
3. Centrali.ation and &utonomy
6e have note" the general centrali'ing ten"ency of capitalism in the bourgeois states.
Aut local autonomy also grows simultaneously out of the ob@ective "evelopment an"
out of the nee"s of bourgeois society.
Aourgeois economy requires as great a uniformity as possible in legislation, the
@u"iciary, a"ministration, the school system, etc., in the entire area of the state, an" as
far as possible, even in international relations. Aut the same bourgeois economy, in
carrying out all these functions, "eman"s accuracy an" efficiency quite as much as
uniformity. (he centralism of the mo"ern states is of necessity connecte" with a
bureaucratic system. -n the me"ieval state, in a serf economy, public functions were
connecte" with lan"e" property1 these were the 2concrete rights,3 a &in" of lan" ta#.
(he feu"al lor" of estates was at the same time an" by the same to&en a civil an"
criminal @u"ge, the hea" of the police a"ministration, the chief of military forces in a
certain territory, an" collector of ta#es. (hese functions connecte" with owning real
estate were, li&e the lan" itself, the ob@ect of transactions, gift, sale, inheritance, an"
so on. Absolutism, which increase" towar" the en" of the ,i""le Ages, paving the
way for capitalism by its struggle against feu"al "ispersal of state authority, separate"
public functions from lan" ownership an" create" a new social category for the
e#ecution of these functions, namely crown officials. 6ith the "evelopment of
mo"ern capitalistic states, the performance of public functions passe" completely into
the han"s of pai" hirelings. (his social group increase" numerically an" create" the
mo"ern state bureaucracy. 5n the one han", the transfer of public functions to hire"
personnel ? completely "evote" to their wor& an" "irecte" by one powerful political
center ? correspon"s with the spirit of bourgeois economy, which is base" on
speciali'ation, "ivision of labor, an" a complete subor"ination of manpower to the
purpose of maintaining the social mechanism7 on the other han", however, the
centralist bureaucracy has serious "rawbac&s hampering the economy.
4apitalist pro"uction an" e#change are characteri'e" by the highest sensitivity an"
elasticity, by the capacity, an" even the inclination for constant changes in connection
with thousan"s of social influences which cause constant fluctuations an" un"ulations
in mar&et con"itions, an" in the con"itions of pro"uction themselves. As a result of
these fluctuations, the bourgeois economy requires subtle, perceptive a"ministration
of public services such as the centrali'e" bureaucracy, with its rigi"ity an" routine, is
not able to affor". !ence, alrea"y as a corrective to the centralism of the mo"ern state,
there "evelops, in bourgeois society, along with legislation by representative
assemblies, a natural ten"ency towar" local autonomy, giving the possibility of a
better a"@ustment of the state apparatus to social nee"s. %or local autonomy ta&es into
account the manifol" variety of local con"itions an" also brings about a "irect
influence an" cooperation of society through its public functions.
!owever, more important than the "eficiencies inseparable from the rule of
bureaucracy, by which the theory of bourgeois liberalism usually e#plains the
necessity for autonomy, there is another circumstance. (he capitalist economy
brought forth, from the moment of the inception of mass factory pro"uction, a whole
series of entirely new social nee"s imperiously "eman"ing satisfaction. Above all the
penetration of big capital an" the system of hire" labor, having un"ermine" an"
ruine" the entire tra"itional social structure, create" a plague un&nown before, namely
mass unemployment an" pauperi'ation for the proletariat. *ince capital nee"s a
reserve labor force an" since public security must be preserve", society, in or"er to
hol" in chec& the proletarian masses "eprive" of means of livelihoo" an"
employment, cannot but ta&e care of them. -n this way, mo"ern public welfare comes
into being as a social function within the framewor& of capitalistic pro"uction.
(he agglomeration of big masses of in"ustrial proletarians in the worst material
con"itions in the mo"ern in"ustrial centers create" for the a"@acent bourgeois classes a
threat of infectious "iseases an" brought about another urgent social nee"7 public
concern for health, an" in connection with this, the whole management of the sewage
system an" supply of water as well as public regulation of buil"ing construction.
(he requirements of capitalist pro"uction an" of bourgeois society brought about for
the first time the problem of popular e"ucation. (he system of schools accessible to
broa" masses, not only in the big cities but also in the provinces an" among the rural
population, brought the i"ea that the creation an" regulation of schools was a public
(he movement of goo"s an" persons in the whole area of the state as a normal
phenomenon an" a con"ition of the e#istence of capitalist pro"uction brought forth
the nee" for constant public concern about roa"s an" means of communication, not
only in the form of trun&line railroa"s an" maritime traffic, important from the point
of view of military strategy an" worl" tra"e, but also of vehicular roa"s, highways,
bri"ges, river navigation, an" subsi"iary railroa"s. (he creation an" maintenance of
these in"ispensable con"itions of internal communication became one of the most
urgent economic nee"s of bourgeois society.
%inally, public safety of persons an" property as a matter of general concern an"
social nee" is also a clearly mo"ern pro"uct, connecte" with the requirements of
capitalist economy. -n me"ieval society, safety was guarantee" by some special areas
of legal protection7 for the rural population, the area of the respective feu"al
"ominion, for the burghers, the protective walls of the city an" the statutes an"
2free"oms3 of each city separately. (he &nights were suppose" to guarantee their own
safety. ,o"ern society, base" on the pro"uction of goo"s, nee"s safety of persons an"
property as a universal social guarantee for everybo"y in the entire territory of the
state without "iscrimination. (he central government cannot satisfy all these nee"s.
(here are some the government cannot ta&e care of at all, li&e the local affairs in the
remote parts of the country1 un"erstan"ably, the government ten"s to transmit the
e#penses of managing such affairs to the local population.
.ocal autonomy, therefore, originates in all mo"ern states very early, above all in the
form of transferring the material bur"en of a series of social functions to the
population itself.
5n the other han", capitalism stratifies an" lin&s into one economic an" social
organism the biggest state areas, an", to a certain e#tent, the entire worl". At the same
time, however, in or"er to promote its interests, to perfect an" integrate the bourgeois
economy, capitalism splits the 9autonomous; states an" creates new centers, new
social organisms, as, for instance, big cities an" provincial regions, etc. A
contemporary mo"ern city is tie" by numberless economic an" political bon"s not
only to the state but to the entire worl". (he accumulation of people, the "evelopment
of municipal transportation an" economy, turns the city into a separate small
organism1 its nee"s an" public functions are more numerous an" varie" than were
those of a me"ieval city, which with its han"icraft pro"uction, was almost entirely
in"epen"ent both economically an" politically.
(he creation of "ifferent states an" of new urban areas provi"e" the framewor& for the
mo"ern municipal government ? a pro"uct of new social nee"s. A municipal or
provincial government is necessary in or"er to comply with the nee"s of these specific
social organisms into which capitalism, following the economic principle of the
contra"ictory interests of the city an" the village, transforme" the city on the one han"
an" the village on the other. 6ithin the framewor& of the special capitalistic
connection between in"ustry an" agriculture, that is, between city an" village, within
the framewor& of the close mutual "epen"ence of their pro"uction an" e#change, a
thousan" threa"s lin&ing the "aily interests of the population of each ma@or city with
the e#istence of the population of the neighboring villages there goes, in a natural
way, a provincial autonomy as in %rance ? "epartmental, cantonal, or communal.
,o"ern autonomy in all these forms is by no means the abolition of state centralism
but only its supplementation1 together they constitute the characteristic form of the
bourgeois state.
Aesi"es political unification, state sovereignty, uniform legislation, an" centrali'e"
state government, local autonomy became, in all these countries, one of the basic
policy issues both of the liberals an" of the bourgeois "emocracy. .ocal autonomy,
growing out of the mo"ern bourgeois system in the manner in"icate", has nothing in
common with fe"eralism or particularism han"e" "own from the me"ieval past. -t is
even its e#act opposite. 6hile the me"ieval particularism or fe"eralism constitutes a
separation of the political functions of the state, mo"ern autonomy constitutes only an
a"aptation of the concentrate" state functions to local nee"s an" the participation in
them of the people. 6hile, therefore, communal particularism or fe"eralism in the
spirit of
Aa&unin$s i"eal is a plan for splitting the territory of a big state into small areas partly
or completely in"epen"ent of each other, mo"ern autonomy is only a form of
"emocrati'ation of a centrali'e" big state. (he clearest illustration of this point of
mo"ern autonomy which grew in the chief mo"ern states on the grave the former
particularism an" in clear opposition to it.

*tate a"ministrative an" bureaucratic centralism was initiate" in %rance by absolutism
"uring the ancien r+gime. Ay the suppression of communal in"epen"ence in the cities,
especially in )aris, by sub@ugating the largest feu"al possessions an" incorporating
them into the crownlan"s, finally by concentrating a"ministration in the han"s of the
state council an" royal supervisors, there was create" alrea"y in the time of Richelieu
a powerful apparatus of state centralism. (he former in"epen"ent feu"al fiefs were
re"uce" to the con"ition of provinces1 some of them were governe" by assemblies
whose power, however, was more an" more of an illusion.
(he >reat Revolution un"ertoo& its wor& in two "irections. 5n the one han",
continuing the ten"ency towar" political centrali'ation, it completely abolishe" the
territorial remnants of feu"alism1 on the other, in place of the provincial
a"ministration of bureaucrats assigne" by the government, it create" a local
a"ministration with representatives electe" by the people. (he 4onstituent Assembly
wipe" from the map of %rance the historical "ivision of the country into provinces, as
well as the me"ieval "ivision into a"ministratively "iverse cities an" villages. 5n the
tabula rasa which was thus left the 4onstituent Assembly, following the i"ea of
*iHyXs, intro"uce" a new, simple, geometrical "ivision into square "epartments. (he
"epartments, in turn, are sub"ivi"e" into arrondissements, cantons, an" communes,
each governe" by a bo"y electe" by public vote. (he constitution of the +irectory of
the Uear --- ma"e certain changes in "etails, maintaining however, the foun"ations of
the great reform effecte" by the 4onstituent Assembly1 it was this reform which ha"
given to mo"ern history an epochma&ing mo"el of mo"ern autonomy, which grew up
on the grave of feu"al "ecentrali'ation an" was imbue" with an entirely new i"ea,
namely, "emocratic representation by election.
(here followe" a hun"re" years of change in the history of autonomy in %rance. (his
history an" the whole political fate of "emocracy in the country oscillate", in a
characteristic manner, between two poles. (he slogan of the aristocratic, monarchical
reaction is, throughout this time, "ecentrali'ation, in the sense of returning to the
in"epen"ence of the former historical provinces, while the slogan of liberalism an"
"emocracy is close a"herence to political centralism an" at the same time, the rights
of representation of the local population, especially in the commune. (he first blow to
the wor& of the Revolution in that fiel" was "ealt by 8apoleon, who was crowne" by
the socalle" *tatute of )luvois :< of the year M--- /%eb. 1I, 1<000, his coup d<+tat of
1<th Arumaire. (his statute, ta&ing a"vantage of the general confusion an" chaos
cause" especially in the provinces by the counterrevolution "uring the time of the
+irectory, for which the "emocratic autonomy was blame", hastily compresse" the
wor& of the Revolution into the framewor& of bureaucracy. ,aintaining the new
territorial "ivision of %rance in line with political centralism, 8apoleon abolishe", by
one stro&e of the pen, any participation of the people in local autonomy an" gave over
the entire power into the han"s of officials assigne" by the central government7
prefect, subprefect, an" mayor. -n the "epartment, the 8apoleonic prefect was, in a
consi"erable measure, a resurrection of the supervisor from the happy times of the
ancien r+gime. 8apoleon e#presse" this reversion with characteristic fran&ness when
he sai", 2.vec mes pr+fets! mes gens d<armes et mes pr=tres! /e ferai tout ce que /e
voudrai.3 926ith the help of my prefects, police, an" priests - will "o whatever -
(he Restoration &ept the system of its pre"ecessor in general, accor"ing to a current
e#pression. 2(he Aourbons slept on a be" that ha" been ma"e by 8apoleon.3
!owever, as soon as the aristocratic emigration returne" home its battle cry was
"ecentrali'ation, a return to the system of the provinces. (he notorious chambre
introuvable ha" scarcely assemble" when one of the e#treme Royalists, Aarthe
.ebastrie, at a meeting of Ganuary 1F, 1<1E, solemnly announce" the in"ispensability
of "ecentrali'ation. 5n many later occasions the lea"ers of the right, 4orbiXre, +e
Aonal", .a Aour"onnaye, "e MillXle, +uvergier "e !auranne, argue" 2the
impossibility of reconciling the monarchy with republican uniformity an" equality.3
Un"er this stan"ar", the aristocracy fought simply for a return to its former position in
the provinces from the economic an" political point of view. At the same time, it
"enounce" political centralism as 2a gre7ni" for revolution, a hotbe" of innovations
an" agitation.3 !ere we alrea"y hear literally the same arguments un"er cover of
which the right, half a century later, trie" to mobili'e the provincial reaction against
the revolutionary )aris 4ommune.
(herefore, the first timi" attempt at the reform of the local a"ministration with
application of the principle of election, that is, the pro@ect of ,artignaque, calle" forth
a storm in the honorable preGuly assembly an" was re@ecte" clearly as the 2beginning
of revolution.3 (he enrage" representatives of the lan"e" aristocracy "eman"e" only
the broa"ening of the competence of the prefect an" subprefect an" ma&ing them
"epen"ent on the central authority. !owever, the "ays of the Restoration were alrea"y
numbere" an" the "efeat of ,artignaque$s pro@ect became the prologue of the Guly
Revolution. (he Guly ,onarchy, which was only an improve" e"ition of the
Restoration in the spirit of the rule of the richest bourgeoisie, intro"uce" insignificant
changes in local autonomy1 it provi"e" a sha"ow of the system of election. (he law of
1<F1 on the communes an" the law of 1<FF on the "epartments gave the right of
suffrage for municipal an" "epartmental councils to a small minority of the most
highly ta#e" as well as to the bureaucracy an" bourgeois intelligentsia, without,
however, any broa"ening of the attributes of these councils.
(he revolution of 1<=< restore" the wor& of its great pre"ecessor, intro"uce"
universal suffrage for "epartmental councils, an" ma"e the meetings of the councils
public. After the Gune "ays, the party of the aristocraticclerical right violently
"eman"e" the return to "ecentrali'ation as a weapon against the hy"ra of socialism. -n
1<=91<51, the "epartmental councils unanimously "eman"e" the e#tension of their
competence an" e#traor"inary powers in case of civil war, for use against )aris.
(hiers, at that time still a liberal, on the contrary, insiste" on centralism as the most
certain preventive means against socialism. /(he very same (hiers, it is true, in 1<I1,
himself wave" the banner of fe"eralism an" "ecentrali'ation to mobili'e the provinces
against the )aris 4ommune.0 (he *econ" Republic, in liqui"ating the wor& of the
%ebruary Revolution, prepare" in 1<51 a pro@ect for the reform of local a"ministration
which restore" completely the system of 8apoleon -, with an allpowerful prefect, an"
in this way built here, as in general, a bri"ge on which 8apoleon --- entere". (he latter
un"ertoo& an even more thorough revision of the %ebruary achievements, put local
a"ministration even further bac& than the reforms of 8apoleon -, an" abolishe" the
openness of the meetings of the "epartmental councils an" their right to elect their
own cabinet1 from then on the government appointe" mayors quite arbitrarily, i.e., not
from within the communal council. %inally, 8apoleon --- e#pan"e" the power of the
prefects /by the laws of 1<5: an" 1<E10 to such an e#tent that he ma"e them
completely in"epen"ent of the government. (hese omnipresent "epartmental satraps,
"epen"ent "irectly on .ouis 8apoleon, became, by virtue of their function of
2"irectors3 of elections to )arliament, the main pillars of the *econ" Bmpire.
(he course of the above history until the beginning of the *econ" Bmpire was
characteri'e" by ,ar# in broa" stro&es in his The )ighteenth 9rumaire of Louis
9ona%arte in the following way7
(his e#ecutive power with its enormous bureaucratic an" military organi'ation, with
its ingenious state machinery, embracing wi"e strata, with a host of officials
numbering half a million, besi"es an army of another halfmillion, this appalling
parasitic bo"y, which enmeshes the bo"y of %rench society li&e a net an" cho&es all
its pores, sprang up in the "ays of the absolute monarchy, with the "ecay of the feu"al
system, which it helpe" to hasten. (he seignorial privileges of the lan"owners an"
towns became transforme" into so many attributes of the state power, the feu"al
"ignitaries into pai" officials, an" the motley pattern of conflicting me"ieval plenary
powers into the regulate" plan of a state authority whose wor& is "ivi"e" an"
centrali'e" as in a factory. (he first %rench Revolution, with its tas& of brea&ing all
separate local, territorial, urban, an" provincial powers in or"er to create the civil
unity of the nation, was boun" to "evelop what the absolute monarchy ha" begun7
centrali'ation, but at the same time the e#tent, the attributes, an" the agents of
governmental power. 8apoleon perfecte" this state machinery. (he .egitimist
,onarchy an" the Guly ,onarchy a""e" nothing but a greater "ivision of labor,
growing in the same measure as the "ivision of labor within bourgeois society create"
new groups of interests, an", therefore, new material for state a"ministration. Bvery
common interest was straightaway severe" from society, counterpose" to it as a higher
general interest, snatche" from the activity of society$s members themselves an"
ma"e an ob@ect of governmental activity, from a bri"ge, a schoolhouse, an" the
communal property of a village community to the railways, the national wealth, an"
the national university of %rance. %inally, in its struggle against the revolution, the
parliamentary republic foun" itself compelle" to strengthen, along with the repressive
measures, the resources an" centrali'ation of governmental power. All revolutions
perfecte" this machine instea" of smashing it. (he parties that conten"e" in turn for
"omination regar"e" the possession of this huge state e"ifice as the principal spoils of
the victor.
Aut un"er the absolute monarchy, "uring the first Revolution, un"er 8apoleon,
bureaucracy was only the means of preparing the class rule of the bourgeoisie. Un"er
the Restoration, un"er .ouis )hilippe, un"er the parliamentary republic, it was the
instrument of the ruling class, however much it strove for power of its own.
5nly un"er the secon" Aonaparte "oes the state seem to have ma"e itself completely
in"epen"ent. As against civil society, the state machine has consoli"ate" its position
so thoroughly that the chief of the *ociety of +ecember 10 suffices for its hea", an
a"venturer blown in from abroa", raise" on the shiel" by a "run&en sol"iery, which he
has bought with liquor an" sausages, an" which he must continually ply with sausage
(he bureaucratic system of 8apoleon --- stirre" up, especially towar" the en" of his
reign, a strong opposition1 this opposition comes through clearly in the statements of
certain local a"ministrations. (he most stri&ing e#ample was the famous 28ancy
,anifesto,3 which "eman"e" e#treme "ecentrali'ation an" un"er whose banner there
rallie", in 1<E5, the whole legitimistclerical opposition of the last phase of the
Bmpire. -n the name of 2free"om an" or"er3 the ,anifesto "eman"e" the liberation of
the 4ommune from the supervision of the prefect, the appointment of the mayor from
among the communal councilors, an" the complete elimination of the arrondissement
councils. 5n the other han", the ,anifesto "eman"e" establishing cantonal councils
an" assigning to them the "istribution of ta#es, an" finally, revising the boun"aries
between "epartments in the spirit of returning to the historical boun"aries of the
provinces an" ma&ing the "epartments so revise" in"epen"ent concerning bu"get an"
the entire a"ministration. (his program, which aime" 2to create preventive measures
against revolutions,3 to save 2free"om compromise" by three revolutions,3 was
accepte" by all liberal conservatives of the 5"ilon Aarrot type, an" its a"vocates were
hea"e" by all the lea"ers of legitimism, i.e., the Aourbon party7 AHchar", %aliou#,
4ount ,ontalembert, an" finally, the )reten"er to the crown himself, 4ount
4hambor", who, in his ,anifesto of 1<I1 raise" 2a"ministrative "ecentrali'ation3 to
the role of a lea"ing programmatic "eman" on the banner of the white lilies.
(he 8ancy program provo&e" sharp resistance from two si"es ? from the Bmpire an"
from the e#treme .eft, Republicans, +emocrats, an" *ocialists. (he latter,
con"emning the counterrevolutionary ten"ency of legitimist 2"ecentrali'ation,3 sai",
in the wor"s of Mictor !ugo7 2>entlemen, you are forging a chain an" you say7 W(his
is free"om.$3 2(herefore,3 they e#claime", 2we "o not want your "epartmental
councils as a legislative authority, nor your permanent "epartmental commissions as
a"ministrative authority in which a triple feu"alism woul" prevail7 the lan"e" interest,
the church, an" in"ustry, intereste" in &eeping the people in ignorance an" misery.3

Un"er the prete#t of free"om, %rance was to be han"e" over as prey to bishops,
lan"e" aristocracy, an" factory owners ? this is the opinion of contemporary
"emocracy an" socialists about the 1<E5 program. .ouis Alanc was an especially
infle#ible opponent of "ecentrali'ation, even to the "epartments, which he consi"ere"
an artificial creation, though he fervently encourage" the wi"est selfgovernment of
the 4ommune as the natural historical organi'ation an" the foun"ation of the state.
-n the revolutionary camp the a"vocates of "ecentrali'ation, who in"ee" went further
than the legitimists, were only a"herents of )rou"hon, such as +esmaret, who
"istinctly proclaime" the slogan of fe"eralism both in application to 2the Unite"
*tates of Burope3 an" to communes an" "istricts within the state, as an i"eal solution
of the social question because it was a way of 2annihilating power by "ivi"ing it.3
(hat the a"herents of this anarchistic manner of "isposing of the bourgeois state have
not yet "ie" out in %rance is prove" by the boo& which appeare" in 1<99, Le %rin#i%e
sau!eur %ar un girondin 94ite" by Avalov, p.::<;, in which the author sharply
polemici'es against the centralism an" homogeneity of the mo"ern state, a"vocating,
instea" of "epartmental autonomy, the complete "issolution of the state in the spirit of
fe"eration. 8ew voices in the same spirit have been hear" even in later years ? an"
enthusiasts for 2historical3 "ecentrali'ation still crop up from the camp of the
Royalists, as is "emonstrate" by the legitimist pamphlet from the time of the +reyfus
affair, La de#entrali.ation et la monar#hie nationale.
(he opposition between the views of the contemporary socialists an" the anarchistic
)rou"hon was formulate" as early as 1<51 by .ouis Alanc in his pamphlet, La
R:%ubli;ue une et indi!isible, in which in a thun"erous voice he warne" the republic
against the "anger of fe"eralism, opposing to the antagonisms of thirtyseven
thousan" tiny parliaments 2la grande tradition montagnarde en fait de centrali2ation
politique3 an" 2une administration surveill+e3. As a matter of fact, %rance at that
moment was less threatene" by the "anger of fe"eralism than by its opposite7 the coup
d<etat of .ouis Aonaparte an" the absolute rule of his prefects.
(he same grouping of parties with regar" to local a"ministration was also reflecte" in
the notorious national assembly in Aor"eau# after the fall of the Bmpire. After the
"estruction of the )aris 4ommune the main question concerning "ecentrali'ation was
whether it coul" serve as a preventitive against the revolutionary movements of the
proletariat. %irst of all, the (hir" Republic hastene" to e#pan" the competence of the
"epartments, equipping them ? in accor"ance with the lea"ing i"ea of reaction since
the time of the Restoration ? with special powers against the revolution. (he socalle"
2.oi (rHveneuc3 of %ebruary 15, 1<I:, bears the significant title 2.oi relative au rYle
eventuel "es conseils gHnHrau# "ans "es circonstances e#ceptionnelles.3 5n the other
han", the powers of the communes were, after a temporary e#pansion, again
restricte"7 whereas in 1<I1 the communal councils ha" receive" the power of electing
their mayor, after three years they were again "eprive" of this right, an" the
government of the (hir" Republic appointe" thirtyseven thousan" mayors through its
prefects, thus showing itself a faithful e#ponent of the monarchical tra"itions.
!owever, in the foun"ation of the (hir" Republic there occurre" certain social
changes which, "espite all e#ternal obstacles, pushe" the matter of local autonomy on
to completely new paths. Although the in"epen"ence of the urban an" rural
communes might have been abhorrent to the bourgeois reaction, intimi"ate" by the
great tra"itions of the )aris 4ommune from 1I9F to 1<I1, it eventually became an
in"ispensable nee", especially since the inception of big in"ustry un"er the wings of
the *econ" Bmpire. -t was then that railroa"s began to be built on a large scale. (he
artificially fostere" an" protecte" big in"ustry not only flourishe" in )aris but in the
fifties an" si#ties it sprea" into the provinces an" suburban areas where capitalism
sought cheap factory sites an" cheap labor. Bnterprises, in"ustrial centers, financial
fortunes mushroome" in the hothouse temperature of the Bmpire, suppressing small
in"ustry an" intro"ucing mass factory labor of women an" chil"ren. (he )aris *toc&
B#change occupie" secon" place in Burope. (ogether with this e#plosion of 2original
accumulation,3 as yet unbri"le" by any protective law ? there was still no factory
inspection ? or by labor organi'ation an" struggle, there too& place in %rance an
unparallele" accumulation of mass poverty, "isease, an" "eath. *uffice it to mention
that there were cases when female factory wor&ers were pai" one sou, i.e., five
centimes per "ay, in a perio" of general unparallele" high prices of the prime
necessities of life.
(he short perio" of this e#ploiting economy ma"e bourgeois
society painfully aware of the lac& of any public activity to prevent glaring poverty,
infectious "iseases, "anger to life an" property on public roa"s, etc. As early as 1<5E,
much was written an" spo&en about the necessity of an official inquiry concerning
pauperism in %rance. -n 1<5<, such an inquiry 2confi"entially3 or"ere" by the
government pre"ictably came to naught.
(he state of public e"ucation correspon"e" more or less with these economic
con"itions. *chool courses for a"ults, subsi"i'e" by the government un"er .ouis
)hilippe by the tiny sum of =I< francs on the average annually, were, "uring the
Bmpire, "eprive" of this subsi"y an" neglecte". A certain historian "escribe" the state
of elementary schools in 1<EF as follows7
(housan"s of communes are without schools for girls1 villages are "eprive" of any
schools at all1 a large number of others stay briefly in school an" "o not learn
anything useful1 there are no schools for a"ults an" not a single library in the villages1
the annual figures show that there is more than :I percent illiteracy1 that living
con"itions of the male an" female teachers are miserable1 that 5,000 female teachers
receive less than =00 francs annual wages, some receive seventyfive francs per year.
8ot a single one is entitle" to retirement pay. 8ot a single male teacher en@oys a
retirement pay which woul" assure him of one franc "aily subsistence.
Among the wor&ers in )aris, the inquiry or"ere" by the 4hamber of 4ommerce in
1<E0 ascertaine" that fifty thousan", i.e., about 1F percent of the wor&ing population,
was completely illiterate. (he (hir" Republic, whose mission it was to buil" a "urable
home for the bourgeoisie an" first of all to liqui"ate the ban&rupt estate ta&en over
from the Bmpire, foun" itself face" with a number of new tas&s7 military reform, an"
in connection with this, a health reform1 also a reform, or rather creation of public
e"ucation1 reform of transportation, completely neglecte" by the Bmpire, which was
solely occupie" with "ecorating an" reforming )aris to turn it into a mo"el capital of
the ,onarchy. ,oreover, the (hir" Republic face" the tas& of acquiring means for
these reforms. (his meant an increase of ta#es. !owever, these went primarily for
military e#pen"itures, for colonial policy, an" especially for the maintenance of the
bureaucratic apparatus. 6ithout the participation of the local population, above all of
the communes, the (hir" Republic woul" never have been able to solve these tas&s.
At the same time, big in"ustry$s revolutioni'ing of con"itions un"er the Bmpire
completely change" the role of the "epartment. 6hen .ouis Alanc, in the national
assembly in 1<I1, "eclare" that the "epartment is an artificial pro"uct of
a"ministrative geometry, this was "oubtless an anachronistic view. -n"ee", in their
beginning, emerging from the han"s of the constituent assembly, the "epartments
were an entirely 2free improvisation3 of the genius of the Revolution, a simple
networ& of symmetrical figures on the map of %rance1 an" it was e#actly in this
abolition of all historical boun"aries of the provinces that the powerful innovating
thought, that great 2tradition montagnarde2 consiste", which, on the ruins of the
me"ieval system, create" a politically unifie" mo"ern %rance. %or "eca"es, "uring the
Restoration an" later, the "epartments "i" not have any life of their own1 they were
use" by the central government only as branch offices, as the sphere of action of the
cler&prefect whose only palpable e#pression was the obligatory 2h>tels de
pr+fecture3. !owever, in mo"ern %rance, new local nee"s have brought, in the course
of time, new institutions surroun"ing these fortresses of the central bureaucracy. (he
new 2"epartmental interests3 which have gaine" increasing recognition are centere"
aroun" shelters, hospitals, schools, local roa"s, an" the procurement of 2a""itional
centimes3 necessary to meet the costs.
(he originally empty framewor& of the "epartments, "rawn on the grave of the
me"ieval particularism of the provinces, became in the course of time, through the
"evelopment of bourgeois %rance, fille" with new social content7 the local interests of
capitalism. (he local a"ministration of %rance by allpowerful prefects coul" suffice
in the secon" half of the nineteenth century only for the artificial maintenance of the
Bmpire. (he (hir" Republic was eventually force", in its own interests, to a"mit the
local population to participation in this a"ministration an" to change the communes
an" "epartments from e#clusive instruments of the central government into organs of
"emocratic autonomy.
!owever, this shift coul" be effecte" only within the (hir" Republic. -n the same way
that the republican form of government was consoli"ate" in %rance ultimately than&s
only to circumstances which permitte" the social nucleus of this clearly bourgeois
political form to be hus&e" from its i"eological cocoon, from the illusion of 2social
republic3 create" by three revolutions in the course of almost half a century, so the
local selfgovernment ha" first to be liberate" from the tra"itional i"eology hostile to
it. As late as the 1<I1 8ational Assembly, some a"vocates of liberalism abhorre" the
2reactionary3 i"ea of autonomy which they persistently i"entifie" with feu"al
"ecentrali'ation. (he ,onarchist, "$!aussonville, warne" his party, remin"ing it that
alrea"y "uring the >reat Revolution the appearance of a"hering to fe"eralism was
sufficient to sen" people to the guillotine, while +uvergier "e !auranne "eclare" that
%rance was face" with a "ilemma7 either uniform a"ministration represente" in each
"epartment by a prefect, or a fe"eration of autonomous "epartments. (hese were the
last reverberations of an opinion which weighe" on people$s min"s for threequarters
of a century. 5nly when, with the fall of the *econ" Bmpire an" the triumph of the
(hir" Republic, the attempts of the aristocratic clerical reaction were "efeate" once
an" for all an" the phantom of the fe"eralism of the 2historic provinces3 was relegate"
to the realm of "isembo"ie" spirits "i" the i"ea of the relative in"epen"ence of the
"epartments cease to give an impression of fe"eralism which frightene" away
bourgeois liberalism an" "emocracy. An" only when the last flic&er of the )aris
4ommune revolutionary tra"ition "ie" out in the cin"ers of the 1<I1 4ommune an"
un"er the withere" lawn of the 24onfe"erates$ 6all3 92,ur "es %H"HrHs3; at )Xre
.achaise, where the corpses an" half"ea" bo"ies of the 4ommune$s heroes were
"umpe", only then "i" the i"ea of communal selfgovernment cease to be
synonymous with social upheaval in the min"s of the bourgeoisie, an" the )hrygian
cap cease to be the symbol of the 4ity !all. -n a wor", only when both "epartmental
an" communal autonomy were able to "emonstrate their proper historical social value
as genuinely mo"ern institutions of the bourgeois state, growing out of its own nee"s
an" serving its interests, "i" the progressive "evelopment of local autonomy in %rance
become possible. (he organic statute of 1<I1, supplemente" by the law of 1<99, at
last authori'e" representatives of "epartments chosen by general elections of the
people to participate in the a"ministration with a "etermining voice, an" the statute of
1<<= gave a similar right to the communal councils, returning to them the power of
choosing their own mayor. *lowly an" reluctantly, an" only in recent times, the
mo"ern autonomy of %rance has liberate" itself from the iron bon"s of bureaucracy.
(he history of selfgovernment in Bnglan" followe" entirely "ifferent paths. -nstea"
of the revolutionary changeover from me"ieval to mo"ern society, we sec here, on
the contrary, an early compromise which has preserve" to this "ay the ol" remnants of
feu"alism. 8ot so much by the shattering of ol" forms as by gra"ually filling them
with new content, bourgeois Bnglan" has carve" out a place for itself in me"ieval
Bnglan". An" perhaps in no other area is this process so typical an" interesting as in
the area of local selfgovernment. At first glance, an" accor"ing to a commonplace
e#pression, Bnglan" appears as the country with the ol"est local selfgovernment, nay,
as the cra"le, the classical homelan" of selfgovernment, on which the liberalism of
the continent sought to mo"el itself. -n reality, that ageol" selfgovernment of
Bnglan" belongs to the realm of myths, an" the famous ol" Bnglish selfgovernment
has nothing in common with selfgovernment in the mo"ern sense. *elfgovernment
was simply a special system of local a"ministration which originate" at the time of the
flowering of feu"alism an" bears all the hallmar&s of its origin. (he centers of that
system are the county, a pro"uct of the feu"al con"itions after the 8orman 4onquest,
an" the parish, a pro"uct of me"ieval, ecclesiastical con"itions1 while the main
person, the soul of the whole county a"ministration, is the @ustice of the peace, an
office create" in the fourteenth century along with the three other county offices7 the
sheriff, con"ucting the elections to parliament, a"ministering @u"gments in civil
lawsuits, etc.1 the coroner, con"ucting inquests in cases of violent "eath1 an" finally,
the comman"er of the county militia. Among these officials only the secon"ary figure
of the coroner is elective1 all other officers are appointe" by the 4rown from among
the local lan"e" aristocracy. 5nly lan"e" proprietors with a specifie" income coul" be
appointe" to the office of @ustice of the peace. All these officers fulfille" their "uties
without remuneration, an" the purely me"ieval aspect is further in"icate" by the fact
that in their competence they combine" @u"icial an" e#ecutive power. (he @ustice of
the peace "i" everything in the county as well as in the parish, as we shall presently
see. !e ran the courts, assigne" ta#es, issue" a"ministrative or"inances, in a wor", he
represente" in his person the whole competence of public authority entirely in
accor"ance with the feu"al attributions of the lan"e" proprietor1 the only "ifference
here was his appointment by the 4rown. (he @ustice of the peace, once appointe",
became an omnipotent hol"er of public power7 @ustices of the peace were entirely
in"epen"ent of the central government, an" in general, not responsible, because the
ol" system of Bnglish selfgovernment obviously &nows nothing of another basic
feature of mo"ern a"ministration7 the @u"icial responsibility of officials an" the
supervision by the central authority over local offices. Any participation of the local
population in this a"ministration was out of the question. -f, therefore, the ancient
Bnglish selfgovernment may be regar"e" as a &in" of autonomy, this can be "one
only in the sense that it was a system of unrestricte" autonomy of the lan"e"
aristocracy, who hel" in their han"s the complete public power in the county.
(he first un"ermining of this me"ieval system of a"ministration coinci"es with the
reign of Bli'abeth, i.e., the perio" of that shattering revolution in rural property
relations which inaugurate" the capitalistic era in Bnglan". Miolent e#propriations of
the peasantry by the aristocracy on the broa"est scale, the supersession of agriculture
by sheepher"ing, the seculari'ation of church estates which were appropriate" by the
aristocracy, all this su""enly create" an immense rural proletariat, an" in
consequence, poverty, beggary, an" public robbery. (he first triumphal steps of capital
shoo& the foun"ations of the whole society an" Bnglan" was force" to face a new
threat ? pauperism. (here began a crusa"e against vagrancy, beggary, an" looting,
which e#ten"s in a bloo"staine" strea& until the mi""le of the nineteenth century.
*ince, however, prisons, bran"ing with hot irons, an" even the gallows prove" an
entirely insufficient me"icine against the new plague, summary convictions came into
being in Bnglan" an" also 2public philanthropy31 ne#t to the gallows at the cross
roa"s arose the parish wor&house. (he mo"ern phenomenon of mass pauperism was
the first problem transcen"ing the powers an" means of the me"ieval system of
a"ministration as carrie" out by the selfgovernment of the aristocracy. (he solution
a"opte" was to shift the new bur"en to new shoul"ers of the mi""le classes, the
wealthy bourgeoisie. 8ow the mol"covere" church parish was calle" to a new role ?
care of the poor. -n the peculiar Bnglish a"ministration, the parish is not only a rural
but also an urban organi'ation, so that to this "ay the parish system overlaps the
mo"ern a"ministrative networ& in the big cities, creating a great chaos of
At the en" of the si#teenth century, a ta# for the poor was intro"uce" in the parish,
an" this ta# gra"ually became the cornerstone of the ta# system of the commune. (he
poor rates grew from Z900,000 sterling at the en" of the seventeenth century to
ZI,<I0,<01 sterling in 1<<1. (he collection an" a"ministration of these fun"s, the
organi'ation of assistance an" wor&houses, calle" forth a new organi'ation of the
communal office7 an" to it there also fell presently another important public function
which was li&ewise cause" b the nee"s of the nascent capitalist economy7 supervision
of roa"s. (his organi'ation also comprise", from then on, besi"es the rector who was
at the hea" an" two church war"ens electe" by the commune, two overseers of the
poor, "esignate" by the @ustice of the peace, an" one surveyor of the highways, also
"esignate" by the @ustice of the peace. As we see, this was still the use of the ol" self
government apparatus for mo"ern purposes. (he lan"e" aristocracy in the persons of
the @ustices of the peace preserve" power in their han"s1 only the material bur"en fell
on the bourgeoisie. (he commune ha" to carry the bur"en of the poor ta#1 however, it
"i"n$t have any voice in the apportionment of the ta#. (he latter function was an
attribute of the @ustice of the peace an" of the communal overseers sub@ect to him.
-n such a state the local a"ministration survive" until the nineteenth century. A few
attempts at a"mitting the population to participation in this a"ministration were
un"erta&en at the beginning of that century but came to nothing.
-n the meantime, capitalism in Bnglan" entere" new paths7 big machine in"ustry
celebrate" its triumphal entry an" un"ertoo& an assault on the ol" fortress of self
government, which the crumbling structure coul" not withstan".
(he violent growth of factory in"ustry at the en" of the eighteenth an" the beginning
of the nineteenth century cause" a complete upheaval in the con"itions of Bnglan"$s
social life. (he immense influ# of the rural proletariat to the cities soon brought about
such a concentration of people an" such a housing shortage in the in"ustrial cities that
the wor&ers$ "istricts became abhorrent slums, "ar&, stin&ing, filthy, plagueri""en.
*ic&ness among the population assume" terrifying proportions. -n *cotlan" an"
-relan" an outbrea& of typhoi" too& place regularly after each price increase an" each
in"ustrial crisis. -n B"inburgh an" >lasgow, for instance as state" by Bngels in his
classic wor&, The Condition of the 7or-ing Class in )ngland in 1<33, in the year
1<1I, E,000 persons fell ill1 in 1<:E an" 1<FI, 10,000 each1 in 1<=:, in >lasgow
alone, F:,000, i.e., 1: percent of the entire population. -n -relan", in 1<1I, F9,000
persons fell ill with typhoi", in 1<19, E0,0001 in the main in"ustrial cities of counties
4or& an" .imeric&, oneseventh an" onefourth respectively of the entire population
fell victim in those years to the epi"emic. -n .on"on an" ,anchester, malaria was
en"emic. -n the latter city, it was officially state" that threequarters of the population
nee"e" me"ical help every year, an" mortality among chil"ren up to five reache", in
the in"ustrial city of .ee"s in 1<F:, the terrifying figure of 5,:<E out of a population
of 100,000. (he lac& of hospitals an" me"ical help, housing shortages, an"
un"ernourishment of the proletariat became a public threat.
-n no less a "egree, the intellectual neglect of the mass of the people became a public
plague when big in"ustry, having concentrate" immense crow"s of the proletariat
un"er its comman", ma"e them a prey of spiritual savages. (he te#tile in"ustry
especially, which was the first to intro"uce mass labor of women an" chil"ren at the
lowest age an" which ma"e impossible any home e"ucation, however ru"imentary,
ma"e the filling of this gap, i.e., the creation of elementary schools, a public nee".
!owever, the state performe" these tas&s to a minimal "egree. At the beginning of the
fourth "eca"e 9of the century;, out of the bu"get of Bnglan" amounting to Z55 million,
public e"ucation is allotte" the ri"iculous sum of Z=0,000. B"ucation was left mainly
to private initiative, especially of the church, an" became mostly an instrument of
bigotry an" a weapon of sectarian struggle. -n *un"ay schools, the only ones
accessible to wor&ingclass chil"ren, the latter were often not even taught rea"ing an"
writing, as occupations unworthy of *un"ay1 while in the private schools, as was
"emonstrate" by a parliamentary inquiry, the teachers themselves often "i" not &now
how to rea" or write. -n general, the picture reveale" by the famous 4hil"ren
Bmployment 4ommission showe" the new capitalistic Bnglan" as a scene of ruin an"
"estruction, a wrec&age of the entire antiquate", tra"itional, social structure. (he great
social reform was accomplishe" for the purpose of establishing tolerable living
con"itions for the new host, i.e., for the capitalistic bourgeoisie. (he elimination of
the most threatening symptoms of pauperism, the provision of public hygiene,
elementary e"ucation, etc. became an urgent tas&. !owever, this tas& coul" be
achieve" only when both in state policy an" in the entire a"ministration the e#clusive
rule of the lan"e" aristocracy was abolishe" an" yiel"e" to the rule of the in"ustrial
bourgeoisie. (he election reform of 1<F:, which bro&e the political power of the
(ories, is also the "ate from which begins selfgovernment in Bnglan" in the mo"ern
sense, i.e., selfgovernment base" on the participation of the population in the local
a"ministration, an" on pai", responsible officials in the role of e#ecutor of its will
un"er the supervision an" control of the central authority. (he me"ieval "ivision of
the state into counties an" parishes correspon"e" to the new grouping of the
population an" local nee"s an" interests as little as the me"ieval offices of the @ustice
of the peace an" parish councils. Aut while the revolutionary %rench liberalism swept
from the country the historic provinces an" in their place erecte" a homogeneous
%rance with new a"ministrative "ivisions, the conservative Bnglish liberalism create"
only a new a"ministrative networ& ? insi"e, besi"e, an" through the ol" "ivisions,
without formally abolishing them. (he peculiarity of Bnglish selfgovernment consists
in the fact that, unable to utili'e the completely in a"equate framewor& of tra"itional
selfgovernment, it create" a new &in" of base7 special communal associations of the
population for each of the basic functions of self government.
(hus, the law of 1<F= establishes new 2poor law unions3, comprising several parishes
whose population @ointly elects, on the basis of a si#class electoral law, in accor"ance
with the ta#es pai", a separate boar" of guar"ians for each union. (his bo"y "eci"es
the whole matter of welfare, buil"ing of wor&houses, issuing "oles, etc.1 it also hires
an" pays the officials who carry out its "ecisions. (he ol" office of the parish overseer
of the poor change" from an honorary to a pai" one, an" was re"uce" to the function
of imposing an" collecting ta#es assigne" by the boar".
Accor"ing to the same mo"el, but quite in"epen"ently, the law of 1<=I create" a new,
broa" organi'ation to ta&e care of public health an" supervision of buil"ings,
cleanliness of streets an" houses, water supply, an" foo" mar&eting. Also for this
purpose new associations of the local population with representatives electe" by it
were establishe". 5n the basis of the )ublic !ealth Act of 1<I5, Bnglan" ? with the
e#ception of the capital ? is "ivi"e" into urban an" rural sanitary "istricts. (he organ
of representation is, in the urban "istricts, the city council1 in the boroughs, special
local boar"s of health1 an" in the rural "istricts health is supervise" by the boar" of
guar"ians. All these boar"s "eci"e all matters pertaining to health an" hire salarie"
officers who carry out the resolutions of the boar".
(he a"ministration of local transportation also followe" the same lines but
in"epen"ently of the two bo"ies mentione" above. %or this purpose, highway "istricts
were create", compose" of several parishes whose population elects separate highway
boar"s. -n many rural "istricts, transportation is the concern of the local boar" of
health, or the boar" of guar"ians which a"ministers both transportation an" poor
relief. (he highway boar"s or the boar"s of guar"ians "eci"e about transportation
enterprises an" hire a pai" "istrictsurveyor as the official carrying out their or"ers.
An" so the office of the former honorary highway surveyor vanishe".
%inally, e"ucation was also entruste" to a specail selfgoverning organi'ation.
-n"ivi"ual parishes, cities an" the capital form as many school "istricts. !owever, the
boar" of e"ucation of the council of state has the right to combine several urban
parishes into one "istrict. Bvery "istrict elects a school boar" entruste" with
supervision of elementary e"ucation7 it ma&es "ecisions concerning tuitionfree
schooling an" the hiring of officials an" teachers.
-n this way there came into being, quite in"epen"ently from the ol" organi'ation of
selfgovernment, new, multiple, autonomous organi'ations which, precisely because
they originate" not by way of a bol" revolutionary reform but as "iscrete patchwor&,
forme" an e#tremely comple# an" involve" system of often overlapping areas of
competence. !owever, it is characteristic for the classic country of capitalist economy
that the a#is aroun" which this mo"ern selfgovernment was crystalli'e" ? so far
clearly on the lowest level in the rural commune ? was the organi'ation of public
welfare, the organi'ation for combating pauperism7 the 2poor3 was, in Bnglan", to the
mi""le of the nineteenth century, the official synonym for the wor&er, @ust as in a later
time of or"erly an" mo"erni'e" con"itions, the sober e#pression 2han"s3 became such
a synonym. Aesi"e this new organi'ation of selfgovernment, the ol" counties with
their @ustices of the peace became a relic. (he @ustice of the peace fell to the
subor"inate role of participant in the local council, an" supervision of a"ministration
was left him only to a certain e#tent in matters of highways. 6hen, however, the local
a"ministration passe" from the han"s of the @ustice appointe" by the 4rown to the
electe" representatives of the local population, the a"ministrative "ecentrali'ation by
no means increase", but on the contrary, was eliminate". -f, in the ol" "ays, the @ustice
of the peace was an allpowerful master in the council, entirely in"epen"ent of the
central government, at present, the local government is sub@ect on the one han" to the
uniform parliamentary legislation, an" on the other to strict control by the central
a"ministrative authorities. (he .ocal >overnment Aoar" specially create" for this
purpose controls the activity of the local boar"s of guar"ians an" boar"s of health
through visiting inspectors, while the school boar"s are sub@ect to the boar" of
e"ucation of the state council.
Also, urban selfgovernment in Bnglan" is a pro"uct of most recent times. 5nly slight
traces survive" to mo"ern times of the communal in"epen"ence of the me"ieval city.
(he mo"ern city, an outcome of the capitalist economy of the nineteenth century,
ma"e a new urban organi'ation in"ispensable7 initiate" by the law of 1<F5, it was not
finally establishe" until 1<<:.
(he history of selfgovernment in >ermany an" Austria lac&s such "istinctive features
as that of %rance or Bnglan"1 however, it generally followe" the same lines. -n both
countries, the "ivision into cities an" rural communes resulting from the me"ieval
"evelopment brought about a highly "evelope" selfgovernment of the cities an" their
political in"epen"ence, an" also create" the political split, perhaps the greatest in
Burope, of the state territory into in"epen"ent feu"al areas. After the si#teenth
century, an" especially in the eighteenth century, "uring the time of enlightene"
absolutism, the cities completely lost their in"epen"ence an" fell un"er the authority
of the state. At the same time, the rural communes lost their tra"itional selfgoverning
institutions, having completely fallen, through the growth of serf"om, un"er the
authority of lan"owners. Although much later than in %rance, absolutism nevertheless,
as the creator of a unifie" state authority an" territory, triumphe" in >ermany in the
eighteenth century. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, bureaucratic centralism
is everywhere victorious.
!owever, before long, in connection with the rising bigin"ustrial pro"uction an" the
aspiration of the bourgeoisie to intro"uce mo"ern con"itions into the state, the
"evelopment of local selfgovernment on new principles begins. (he first general law
of this &in" originate" in Austria "uring the ,arch Revolution. Actually, however, the
foun"ations of the present selfgovernment were lai" in Austria by the statute of 1<E:1
in the respective crownlan"s, particular communal laws came into being later through
legislation of the +iet.
-n >ermany, there prevails %rench law, partly "erive" from 8apoleonic times, which
"oes not "istinguish between the urban an" rural commune7 for instance, in the
Rhinelan", in the Aavarian )alatinate, !esse, (huringia, etc. 5n the other hin", the
)russian mo"el prevailing in western an" eastern >ermany is an in"epen"ent pro"uct.
Although the )russian urban law "ates alrea"y from 1<0<, the actual perio" of the
"evelopment of the present selfgovernment in )russia fell in the si#ties an" the main
reforms in the seventies an" eighties. Among the main areas of urban a"ministration ?
province, "istrict /9reis0, an" commune ? only the last has well"evelope", self
governing institutions, i.e., e#tensive power of the representatives electe" by the
population1 in the remaining ones, representative bo"ies /9reistag, Provin2allandtag0
e#ist but they are rather mo"erni'e", me"ieval class "iets an" their competence is
e#tremely limite" by the competence of officials appointe" by the 4rown, such as
#egierungsprsident in the province, an" *andrat in the "istrict.
.ocal selfgovernment in Russia constitutes one of the most outstan"ing attempts of
absolutism which, in the famous 2liberal reforms3 after the *ebastopol catastrophe,
aime" at a"@usting the institutions of oriental "espotism to the social nee"s of mo"ern
capitalist economy. Aetween the peasant reform an" the reform of the courts at the
threshol" of the 2renewe"3 Russia of Ale#an"er --, stan"s the law which create" the
territorial institutions. ,o"ele" on the newly establishe" selfgoverning institutions of
)russia, the system of the Russian 22emstvo3 is a paro"y of Bnglish selfgovernment1
it entrusts the entire local a"ministration to the wealthy nobility, an" at the same time
sub@ects this selfgovernment of the nobility to strict police supervision an" the
"ecisive authority of tsarist bureaucracy.
(he law governing elections to the county an" gubernial territorial councils happily
combines, in the tricurial system an" in"irect elections, the class principle with the
census principle. -t ma&es the county marshal of the nobility the e#officio chairman
in the "istrict council, an" securing in it to the nobility curia half of the seats suspen"s
over all resolutions of the council, li&e a +amocles swor", the threatening veto of the
As a result of this peculiarity of Russia$s social "evelopment, which, in the perio"
before 1905 ma"e not the urban bourgeoisie, but certain strata of the nobility the
a"vocates of 2liberal "reams3 however pale, even this paro"y of selfgoverning
institutions represente" by the Russian 2emstvos has become, in the han"s of the
nobility, a framewor& for serious social an" cultural activity. !owever, the sharp clash
that imme"iately arose between liberalism, nestling in the territorial a"ministration,
on the one han", an" the bureaucracy an" government on the other, glaringly
illuminate" the genuine contra"iction between mo"ern selfgovernment an" the
me"ieval state apparatus of absolutisni. Aeginning a few years after the intro"uction
of the 2emstvos, the collision with the power of the governors e#ten"s li&e a re" threa"
through the history of selfgovernment in Russia, oscillating between the "eportation
of recalcitrant council chairmen to more or less "istant regions1 an" the bol"est
"reams of Russian liberals in the form of an allRussian 4ongress of 2emstvos which
was suppose" to be transforme" into a constituent assembly that woul" abolish
absolutism in a peaceful manner.
(he few years of the action of the 91905; revolution solve" this historical collision,
violently moving the Russian nobility to the si"e of reaction an" "epriving the paro"y
of territorial selfgovernment of any mystifying resemblances to liberalism. (hus was
clearly "emonstrate" the impossibility of reconciling the "emocratic selfgovernment
in"ispensable -n a bourgeois society with the rule of absolutism, as well as the
impossibility of grafting mo"ern bourgeois "emocracy onto the class action of the
territorial nobility an" its institutions. .ocal selfgovernment in the mo"ern sense in
only one of the "etails of the general political program whose implementation in the
entire state constitutes the tas& of the revolution.
-n particular, the Cing"om of )olan" an" .ithuania must participate in this political
reform. (his Cing"om is at sent a unique e#ample of a country with a highly
"evelope" bourgeois economy which, however, is "eprive" of any traces of local self
-n ancient )olan", a country of natural economy an" gentry rule, there obviously was
no local selfgovernment. )olish "istrict an" provincial councils possesse" only
functions connecte" with elections to the se@m. Although cities possesse" their
,ag"eburg laws, importe" from >ermany an" stan"ing outsi"e the national law, in
the seventeenth an" eighteenth centuries, with the complete "ecline of cities, the
ma@ority of them fell un"er the law of serf"om or regresse" to the status of rural
settlements an" communes, an" in consequence urban selfgovernment "isappeare".
(he +uchy of 6arsaw, which was an e#periment of 8apoleon, was en"owe" with a
system of selfgovernment bo"ily transferre" from %rance, not the one which was the
pro"uct of revolution, but a selfgovernment squee'e" in the clamps of the *tatute of
)luvois :<. (he +uchy was "ivi"e" into "epartments, counties, an" communes with
2municipal3 selfgovernments an" 2prefects3 who appointe" municipal councillors
from a list of can"i"ates electe" at county "iets, which was a slavish copy of the
8apoleonic 2listes de confiance3 in the "epartment. (hese bo"ies, "estine" mainly to
impose state ta#es, ha" only a"visory functions otherwise, an" lac&e" any e#ecutive
-n the 4ongress Cing"om, the %rench apparatus was completely abolishe"1 only the
"epartments remaine", rename" 2voyvo"ship.3 !owever, they still ha" no self
governing functions, only a certain influence on the election of @u"ges an"
a"ministrative officials. After the 8ovember -nsurrection 91<F0;, even this remnant of
selfgoverning forms was abolishe", an" with the e#ception of the short perio" of
6ielopols&i$s e#periment in 1<E1, when provincial an" county as well as urban
councils were create" on the basis of in"irect, multilevel elections an" without any
e#ecutive organs, the country to this "ay remains without any form of self
government. A wea& class commune cripple" by the government is the only relic in
this fiel". 4onsequently, the Cing"om of )olan" represents at present, after a hun"re"
years of the operation of Russian absolutism, some analogy to that tabula rasa which
the >reat Revolution create" in %rance in or"er to erect on this groun" a ra"ical an"
"emocratic reform of selfgovernment unrestricte" by any historical survivals.

Carl Cauts&y characteri'es the basic attitu"e of *ocial +emocracy to the question of
autonomy as follows7
(he centrali'ation of the legislative process "i" not by any means involve the
complete centrali'ation of a"ministration. 5n the contrary. (he same classes which
nee"e" unification of the laws were oblige" thereafter to bring the state power un"er
their control. !owever, this too& place only incompletely un"er the parliamentary
form of government, in which the government is "epen"ent on the legislature. (he
a"ministration, with the whole bureaucratic apparatus at its "isposal, was nominally
subor"inate to the central legislature, but the e#ecutive often turne" out to be stronger
in practice. (he a"ministration influences the voters in the legislature through its
bureaucracy an" through its power in local matters1 it corrupts the legislators through
its power to "o them favors. !owever, the strongly centrali'e" bureaucracy shows
itself less an" less able to cope with the increasing tas&s of the state a"ministration. -t
is overcome by them. (he results are7 fumbling, "elays, postponing the most
important matters, complete misun"erstan"ing of the rapi"ly changing nee"s of
practical life, massive waste of time an" labor in superfluous pencil wor&. (hese are
the rapi"ly increasing shortcomings of bureaucratic centralism.
(hus there arises, along with the striving for uniformity of legislation, after the
several provincial legislatures have been superse"e" by a central parliament, a striving
for "ecentrali'ation of a"ministration, for local a"ministration of the provinces an"
communes. (he one an" the other are characteristic of the mo"ern state.
2(his selfgovernment "oes not mean the restoration of me"ieval particularism. (he
commune 9>emein"e; an" li&ewise the province0 "oes not become a selfsufficient
entity as it once was. -t remains a component part of the great whole, the nation, 9!ere
use" as synonymous with 2state.3 ? 9autsky; an" has to wor& for it an" within the
limits that it sets. (he rights an" "uties of the in"ivi"ual communes as against the
state are not lai" "own in special treaties. (hey are a pro"uct of the general system of
laws, "etermine" for all by the central power of the state1 they are "etermine" by the
interests of the whole state or the nation, not by those of the several communes.3 ? C.
Cauts&y, Der ,arlamentarismus' die +ol-sgeset.gebung und die
So.ialdemo-ratie, p.=<.
-f 4omra"e *tampfer will &eep separate the centrali'ation of a"ministration an" the
centrali'ation of the legislative process, he will fin" that the paths being followe" by
>erman an" Austrian *ocial +emocracy respectively are not "iverging at all, but are
going in the same "irection as the whole of mo"ern "emocracy. 5pposition to all
special privileges in the country, strengthening of the central legislature at the e#pense
of the provincial parliaments as well as of the government a"ministration1 wea&ening
of the central a"ministration both through the strengthening of the central legislature
an" through the "evolution of selfa"ministration to the communes an" provinces ?
this latter process ta&ing, in Austria, in accor"ance with its own local con"itions, the
form of selfa"ministration of the nationalities ? but a selfa"ministration regulate"
for the whole country by the central legislature along uniform lines7 that is, in spite of
all historical an" other social "ifferences, in >ermany an" Austria the position of
*ocial +emocracy on the question of centralism an" particularism.
6e have quote" the above e#tensive argument of Cauts&y on the question we are
e#amining but not because we unreserve"ly share his views. (he lea"ing i"ea of this
argument7 the "ivision of mo"ern state centralism into a"ministrative an" legislative,
the re@ection of the former an" the absolute reognition of the latter, appears to us
somewhat too formalistic an" not quite precise. .ocal autonomy ? provincial,
municipal, an" communal ? "oes not at all "o away with a"ministrative centralism7
autonomy covers only strictly local matters, while the a"ministration of the state as a
whole mains in the han"s of the central authority, which, even in such "emocratic
states as *wit'erlan", shows a constant ten"ency to e#ten" its competence.
An outstan"ing feature of mo"ern a"ministration in contra"istinction to me"ieval
particularism is precisely the strict supervision by central institutions an" the
subor"ination of the local a"ministration to the uniform "irection an" control the state
authorities. A typical illustration of this arrangement is the "epen"ence of the mo"ern
selfgoverning officials in Bnglan" on the central offices an" even the special creation
over them of a central .ocal >overnment Aoar" which eliminates genuine
a"ministrative "ecentrali'ation represente" by the ol" system in which, it will be
recalle", the allpowerful @ustices of the peace were entirely in"epen"ent of the central
government. -n the same way, the most recent "evelopment of selfgovernment in
%rance paves anew the way to "emocrati'ation, an" at the same time gra"ually
eliminates the in"epen"ence of the prefect from the central ministries, a system that
ha" characteri'e" the government of the *econ" Bmpire.
(he above phenomenon also completely correspon"s to the general "irection of
political "evelopment. A strong central government is an institution peculiar not only
to the epoch of absolutism at the "awn of bourgeois "evelopment but also to
bourgeois society itself in its highest stage, flowering, an" "ecline. (he more e#ternal
policy ? commercial, aggressive, colonial ? becomes the a#is of the life of capitalism,
the more we enter into the perio" of imperialistic 2global3 policy, which is a normal
phase of the "evelopment of bourgeois economy, an" the more capitalism nee"s a
strong authority, a powerful central government which concentrates in its han"s all the
resources of the state for the protection of its interests outsi"e. !ence, mo"ern
autonomy, even in its wi"est application, fin"s "efinite barriers in all those attributes
of power which are relate" to the foreign policy of a state.
5n the other han", autonomy itself puts up barriers to legislative centrali'ation,
because without certain legislative competences, even narrowly outline" an" purely
local, no selfgovernment is possible. (he power of issuing within a certain sphere, on
its own initiative, laws bin"ing for the population, an" not merely supervising the
e#ecution of laws issue" by the central legislative bo"y, constitutes precisely the soul
an" core of selfgovernment in the mo"ern "emocratic sense ? it forms the basic
function of municipal an" communal councils as well as of provincial "iets or
"epartmental councils. 5nly when the latter in %rance acquire" the right of "eci"ing in
the last instance about their problems instea" of submitting their opinions in a
consultative capacity, an" particularly when they acquire" the right of "rafting their
in"epen"ent bu"get, only from that time "ates the real beginning of the autonomy of
the "epartments. -n the same way, the foun"ation of urban selfgovernment in
>ermany is the right of establishing the bu"get of the towns, an" in connection with
this the in"epen"ent fi#ing of supplements to the state ta#es an" also the intro"uction
of new communal ta#es /although within limits fi#e" by state law0. %urther, when, for
instance, the city council of Aerlin or )aris issues bin"ing regulations concerning the
buil"ing co"e, insurance "uties for home in"ustry, employment an" unemployment
ai", the city sewage"isposal system, communications, etc., all these are legislative
activities. (he a#is of the incessant struggle between local representatives an" organs
of the central a"ministration is the "emocratic ten"ency constantly to e#pan" the
legislative competence of the electe" organs an" to re"uce the a"ministrative
competence of the appointe" organs.
(he attitu"e to local autonomy ? its legislative an" a"ministrative functions ?
constitutes the theoretical basis of the political fight which has been going on for a
long time between *ocial +emocracy on the one han" an" the government an" the
bourgeois parties on the other. (he latter hol" a uniform view on the matter in
question e#cept for a small group of e#tremeleft progressives. 6hile the theory of
bourgeois reaction maintains that local selfgovernment is, by its nature, only a
locali'ation of state a"ministrations, that the commune, "istrict, or province as a
financial unit is calle" to a"minister the state property, *ocial +emocracy "efen"s the
view that a commune, "istrict, or province is a social bo"y calle" upon to ta&e care ?
in a local sphere ? of a number of social matters an" not only financial ones. (he
practical conclusion of these two theories is that the bourgeois parties insist that
electoral rights to selfgoverning bo"ies shoul" be limite" by a property qualification,
while *ocial +emocracy calls for a universal an" equal electoral right for the whole
population. >enerally spea&ing, the progress of mo"ern self government towar"
"emocracy can be measure" by the e#pansion of the groups of population which
participate in selfgovernment by way of elections, as well as by the "egree to which
their representative bo"ies e#ten" their competence. (he transfer of some activities
from the a"ministration to the legislative, representative bo"ies is a measure
e#ten"ing the latter$s competence. -t seems therefore that the centrali'e" state
apparatus can be separate" from local selfgovernment, an" mo"ern selfgovernment
from feu"al an" petit bourgeois particularism. (his can be "one, in our opinion, not by
a formalistic approach, whereby the legislative an" the a"ministrative powers are
separate", but by separating some spheres of social life ? namely those which
constitute the core of a capitalist economy an" of a big bourgeois state ? from the
sphere of local interests.
-n particular, Cauts&y$s formula inclu"ing national autonomy un"er the general
hea"ing of local selfgovernment woul", in view of his theory about legislative
centrali'ation lea" *ocial +emocracy to refuse to recogni'e regional "iets on the
groun" that they were a manifestation of legislative "ecentrali'ation, i.e., me"ieval
particularism. Cauts&y$s arguments are in their essence e#tremely valuable as an
in"ication concerning the general ten"ency in *ocial +emocratic policy, concerning
its basic stan"point towar" centralism an" big power policy on the one han" an"
particularistic ten"encies on the other. Aut precisely from the same foun"ations from
which, in all capitalistic states, grows local selfgovernment, there also grows in
certain con"itions national autonomy, with local legislation as an in"epen"ent
manifestation of mo"ern social "evelopment, which has as little in common with
me"ieval particularism as the present"ay city council has with a parliament of the
ancient !anseatic republic.
Carl ,ar#, The )ighteenth 9rumaire of Louis 9ona%arte /8ew Uor&7
-nternational )ublishers, 19E90, pp.1:1:F.
Vuote" in Avalov, De#entrali.ation and Self-go!ernment in (ran#e'
De%artmental Coun#ils from the Reform of 9ona%arte to =ur Days, p.:=E.
:riginal note by #.*.
(his fact is quote" by >. 6eill, >istoire du mou!ement so#ial en (ran#e /190=0,
p.1:. :riginal note by #.*.
Ibid., p.11. :riginal note by #.*.
Carl Cauts&y, Partikularismus and 'o2ialdemokratie, in Die Neue $eit, 1<9<1<99,
Mol.-, pp.5050E.
8e#t 4hapter7 (he 8ational Vuestion an" Autonomy
Rosa .u#emburg Archive
Rosa Luxemburg
The National Question
?. The National Question and &utonomy
4apitalism transforms social life from the material foun"ations up to the top ? the
cultural aspects. -t has pro"uce" a whole series of entirely new economic phenomena7
big in"ustry, machine pro"uction, proletari'ation, concentration of property, in"ustrial
crises, capitalist monopolies, mo"ern in"ustry, labor of women an" chil"ren, etc.
4apitalism has pro"uce" a new center of social life7 the big city, as well as a new
social class7 the professional intelligentsia. 4apitalist economy with its highly
"evelope" "ivision of labor an" constant progress of technology nee"s a large
speciali'e" staff of employees with technical training7 engineers, chemists, architects,
electricians, etc. 4apitalist in"ustry an" commerce nee" a whole army of lawyers7
attorneys, notaries, @u"ges, etc. Aourgeois management, especially in big cities, has
ma"e health a public matter an" "evelope" for its service large numbers of physicians,
pharmacists, mi"wives, "entists, as well as public hospitals with appropriate staffs.
4apitalist pro"uction requires not only specially traine" pro"uction managers but
universal, elementary, popular e"ucation, both to raise the general cultural level of the
people which creates ever growing nee"s, an" consequently "eman" for mass articles,
an" to "evelop a properly e"ucate" an" intelligent wor&er capable of operating large
scale in"ustry. !ence, bourgeois society everywhere, popular e"ucation an"
vocational training are in"ispensable. 4onsequently we see public schools an"
numerous elementary, secon"ary, an" college teachers, libraries, rea"ing rooms, etc.
4apitalistic pro"uction an" participation in the worl" mar&et are impossible without
appropriately e#tensive, spee"y, an" constant communication ? both material an"
cultural. Aourgeois society has thus create" on the one han" railroa"s an" mo"ern
postal an" telegraph services, an" on the other base" on these material foun"ations ? a
perio"ical press, a social phenomenon which before was entirely un&nown. (o wor&
for the press there has come into being in bourgeois society a numerous category of
professional @ournalists an" publicists. 4apitalism has ma"e any manifestation of
human energy, inclu"ing artistic creativity, an ob@ect of commerce, while on the other
han", by ma&ing art ob@ects accessible to the broa" masses of the people through mass
pro"uction, it has ma"e art an every"ay nee" of at least urban society. (heater, music,
painting, sculpture, which, in the perio" of natural economy ha" been a monopoly an"
private lu#ury of in"ivi"ual, powerful sponsors, are in bourgeois society a public
institution an" part an" parcel of the normal "aily life of the urban population. (he
wor&er$s cultural nee"s are met in the taverns or beer gar"ens an" by cheap boo&
illustrations an" @un&y ornaments1 he a"orns his person an" his lo"ging with artistic
taw"riness, while the bourgeoisie has at its "isposal philharmonics, firstrate theaters,
wor&s of genius, an" ob@ects of elegance. !owever, the one an" the other &in" of
consumption calls forth a numerous class of artists an" artistic pro"ucers.
-n this way capitalism creates a whole new culture7 public e"ucation, "evelopment of
science, the flowering of learning, @ournalism, a specifically geare" art. !owever,
these are not @ust mechanical appen"ages to the bare process of pro"uction or
mechanically separate" lifeless parts. (he culture of bourgeois society itself
constitutes a living an" to some e#tent autonomous entity. -n or"er to e#ist or "evelop,
this society not only nee"s certain relationships of pro"uction, e#change, a n"
communication, but it also creates a certain set of intellectual relations within the
framewor& of contra"ictory class interests. -f the class struggle is a natural pro"uct of
the capitalist economy then its natural nee"s are the con"itions that mi&e this class
struggle possible1 hence not only mo"ern political forms, "emocracy,
parliamentarianism, but also open public life, with an open e#change of views an"
conflicting convictions, an intense intellectual life, which alone ma&es the struggle of
classes an" parties possible. )opular e"ucation, @ournalism, science, art ? growing at
first within the framewor& of capitalist pro"uction ? become in themselves an
in"ispensable nee" an" con"ition of e#istence of mo"ern society. *chools, libraries,
newspapers, theaters, public lectures, public "iscussions grow into the normal
con"itions of life, into the in"ispensable intellectual atmosphere of each member of
the mo"ern, particularly urban society, even outsi"e the connection of these
phenomena with economic con"itions. -n a wor", the vulgar material process of
capitalism creates a whole new i"eological 2superstructure3 with an e#istence an"
"evelopment which are to some e#tent autonomous.
!owever, capitalism "oes not create that intellectual spirit in the air or in the
theoretical voi" of abstraction, but in a "efinite territory, a "efinite social
environment, a "efinite language, within the framewor& of certain tra"itions, in a
wor", within "efinite national forms. 4onsequently, by that very culture it sets apart a
certain territory an" a certain population as a cultural national entity in which it
creates a special, closer cohesion an" connection of intellectual interests.
Any i"eology is basically only a superstructure of the material an" class con"itions of
a given epoch. !owever, at the same time, the i"eology of each epoch har&s bac& to
the i"eological results of the prece"ing epochs, while on the other han" it has its own
logical "evelopment in a certain area. (his is illustrate" by the sciences as well as by
religion, philosophy, an" art.
(he cultural an" aesthetic values create" by capitalism in a given environment not
only assume a certain national quality through the main organ of cultural pro"uction,
i.e., the language, but merge with the tra"itional culture of society, whose history
becomes saturate" with its "istinct cultural characteristics1 in a wor", this culture turns
into a national culture with an e#istence an" "evelopment of its own. (he basic
features an" foun"ations of mo"ern culture in all bourgeois countries are common,
international, an" the ten"ency of contemporary "evelopment is "oubtless towar" an
ever greater community of international culture. !owever, within the framewor& of
this highly cosmopolitan, bourgeois culture, %rench is clearly "istinguishe" from
Bnglish culture, >erman from +utch, )olish from Russian, as so many separate types.
(he bor"erlines of historical stages an" the historical 2seams3 are least "etectable in
the "evelopment of an i"eology.
Aecause the mo"ern capitalist culture is an heir to
an" continuator of earlier cultures, what "evelops is the continuity an" monolithic
quality of a national culture which, on the surface, shows no connection with the
perio" of capitalist economy an" bourgeois rule. %or the phrasemonger of the
28ational +emocracy,3 or min"less 2sociologist3 of social patriotism, the culture of
present"ay )olan" is, in its core, the same unchange" 2culture of the )olish nation3
as at the time of Aatory or *tanislas Augustus, while *tras'ewic', *wiatochows&i, an"
*ien&iewic' are "irectline spiritual heirs of Rey of 8agtowice, )ase&, an"
,ic&iewic'. -n fact, however, the literature an" the press in mo"ern, bourgeois )olan"
are appallingly trivial1 )olish science an" the entire )olish culture are appallingly
poor7 they belong in a new historical stage completely alien in spirit an" content to the
ol" culture of feu"al )olan", mirrore" in its last monumental wor&, Pan Tadeus2.
)resent"ay )olish culture, in all its "estitution, is a mo"ern pro"uct of the same
capitalist "evelopment that chaine" )olan" to Russia an" place" at the hea" of society,
in the role of ruling class, a rabble of heterogeneous moneyma&ers without a past,
without a revolutionary tra"ition, an" professional traitors to the national cause. (he
present"ay bourgeois learning, art, an" @ournalism of )olan" are in spirit an" content
i"eological hieroglyphs from which a materialist historian rea"s the history of the fall
of gentry )olan", the history of 2organic wor&,3 conciliation, 8ational +emocracy,
"eputations, memoran"a, up to the 2national3 elections to the tsarist +uma un"er a
state of emergency, an" 2national3 teens to mur"er )olish *ocialist wor&ers.
4apitalism create" mo"ern )olish national culture, annihilating in the same process
)olish national in"epen"ence.
4apitalism annihilate" )olish national in"epen"ence but at the same time create"
mo"ern )olish national culture. (his national culture is a pro"uct in"ispensable within
the framewor& of bourgeois )olan"1 its e#istence an" "evelopment are a historical
necessity, connecte" with the capitalistic "evelopment itself. (he "evelopment of
capitalism, which chaine" )olan" to Russia by socioeconomic ties, un"ermine"
Russian absolutism, unite" an" revolutioni'e" the Russian an" )olish proletariat as a
class calle" upon to overthrow absolutism, an" in this way create", un"er the (sars,
the in"ispensable precon"itions for achieving political free"om. Aut within the
framewor& an" against the bac&groun" of this general ten"ency towar" the
"emocrati'ation of the state, capitalism at the same time &nit more closely the socio
economic an" culturalnational life of the )olish &ing"om, thus preparing the
ob@ective con"itions for the reali'ation of )olish national autonomy.
As we have seen, the requirements of the capitalist system lea" with historic necessity
in all mo"ern states to the "evelopment of local selfgovernment through the
participation of the people in carrying out sociopolitical functions on all levels, from
the commune to the "istrict an" province. 6here, however, insi"e a mo"ern state
there e#ist "istinct nationality "istricts constituting at the same time territories with
certain economic an" social "istinctions, the same requirements of the bourgeois
economy ma&e selfgovernment on the highest, countrywi"e level, in"ispensable. 5n
this level, local selfgovernment is also transforme", as a result of a new factor,
nationalcultural "istinctness, into a special type of "emocratic institution applicable
only in quite specific con"itions.
(he ,oscowMla"imir in"ustrial "istrict, with its economic achievements, local
specific interests, an" concentration of population, "iffers certainly as much from the
vast Russian space surroun"ing it as "oes the Cing"om of )olan". !owever, the factor
"istinguishing our country from the central "istrict of Russia in a "ecisive way, is the
"istinctness of the culturalnational e#istence, which creates a whole sphere of
separate common interests besi"es purely economic an" social ones. Gust as an urban
or village commune, "istrict, "epartment or gubernia, province or region must
possess, in &eeping with the spirit of mo"ern selfgovernment, a certain range of local
legislation containe" within the framewor& of state laws, national selfgovernment, in
the spirit of "emocracy, must be base" on the representation of the people an" their
power of local legislation within the framewor& of state laws, to satisfy the national
socioeconomic an" culturalnational nee"s.
(he entire mo"ern culture is, above all, a class, bourgeois culture. .earning an" art,
school an" theater, professional intelligentsia, the press ? all primarily serve the
bourgeois society, are imbue" with its principles, its spirit, its ten"ency. Aut the
institutions of the bourgeois system, li&e the capitalist "evelopment itself, are, in the
spirit of the historical "ialectic, twofol", "oublee"ge" phenomena7 the means of class
"evelopment an" rule are at the same time so many means for the rise of the
proletariat as a class to the struggle for emancipation, for the abolition of bourgeois
rule. )olitical free"om, parliamentarianism are, in all present"ay states, tools for
buil"ing up capitalism an" the interests of the bourgeoisie as the ruling class.
!owever, the same "emocratic institutions an" bourgeois parliamentarianism are, at a
certain level, an in"ispensable school of the proletariat$s political an" class maturity, a
con"ition of organi'ing it into a *ocial +emocratic party, of training it in open class
(he same applies to the sphere of the intellect. (he basic school, elementary
e"ucation, is necessary for bourgeois society in or"er to create appropriate mass
consumption as well as an appropriate contingent of able wor&ing han"s. Aut the
same school an" e"ucation become the basic tools of the proletariat as a revolutionary
class. (he social, historical, philosophical, an" natural sciences are to"ay the
i"eological pro"ucts of the bourgeoisie an" e#pressions of its nee"s an" class
ten"encies. Aut on a certain level of its "evelopment the wor&ing class recogni'es that
for it also 2&nowle"ge is power3 ? not in the tasteless sense of bourgeois
in"ivi"ualism an" its preachings of 2in"ustriousness an" "iligence3 as a means of
achieving 2happiness,3 but in the sense of &nowle"ge as a lever of class struggle, as
the revolutionary consciousness of the wor&ing masses. %inally, socialism, which
lin&s the interest of the wor&ers as a class with the "evelopment an" future of
man&in" as a great cultural brotherhoo", pro"uces a particular affinity of the
proletarian struggle with the interests of culture as a whole, an" causes the seemingly
contra"ictory an" para"o#ical phenomenon that the conscious proletariat is to"ay in
all countries the most ar"ent an" i"ealistic a"vocate of the interests of learning an"
art, the same bourgeois culture of which it is to"ay the "isinherite" stepchil".
(he national autonomy of the Cing"om of )olan" is primarily necessary for the
)olish bourgeoisie to strengthen its class rule an" to "evelop its institutions in or"er to
e#ploit an" oppress with no restrictions whatsoever. -n the same way as the mo"ern
statepolitical parliamentary institutions, an", as their corollary, the institutions of
local selfgovernment are on a certain level an in"ispensable tool of bourgeois rule
an" a close harmoni'ation of all state an" social functions with the interests of the
bourgeoisie, in a narrower sense, national autonomy is an in"ispensable tool of the
strict application of the social functions in a certain territory to the special bourgeois
interests of that territory. Absolutism, which safeguar"e" the cru"est although the
most important vital interest of the ruling classes, vi'., the limitless e#ploitation of the
wor&ing strata, naturally, at the same time, sacrifice" to its own interests an" wor&ing
metho"s all subtle interests an" forms of bourgeois rule, i.e., treate" them with Asiatic
ruthlessness. )olitical liberty an" selfgovernment will eventually give the )olish
bourgeoisie the possibility of utili'ing a number of presently neglecte" social
functions ? schools, religious worship, an" the entire culturalspiritual life of the
country ? for its own class interests. Ay manning all offices of the a"ministration,
@u"iciary, an" politics, the bourgeoisie will be able to assimilate genuinely these
natural organs of class rule with the spirit an" home nee"s of bourgeois society, an"
so turn them into fle#ible, accurate, an" subtle tools of the )olish ruling classes.
8ational autonomy, as a part of allstate political free"om, is, in a wor", the most
mature political form of bourgeois rule in )olan".
!owever, precisely for this reason, autonomy is an in"ispensable class nee" of the
)olish proletariat. (he riper the bourgeois institutions grow, the "eeper they penetrate
the social functions, the more groun" they cover within the variegate" intellectual an"
aesthetic sphere, the broa"er grows the battlefiel" an" the bigger the number of firing
lines wherefrom the proletariat con"ucts the class struggle. (he more unrestricte"ly
an" efficiently the "evelopment of bourgeois society procee"s, the more courageously
an" surely a"vances the consciousness, political maturity, an" unification of the
proletariat as a class.
(he )olish proletariat nee"s for its class struggle all the components of which a
spiritual culture is ma"e1 primarily, its interests, essentially base" on the soli"arity of
nations an" striving towar" it, require the elimination of national oppression, an"
guarantees against such oppression wor&e" out in the course of social "evelopment.
,oreover, a normal, broa", an" unrestricte" cultural life of the country is @ust as
in"ispensable for the "evelopment of the proletariat$s class struggle as for the
e#istence of bourgeois society itself.
8ational autonomy has the same aims as are containe" in the political program of the
)olish proletariat7 the overthrow of absolutism an" the achievement of political
free"om in the country at large1 this is but a part of the program resulting both from
the progressive tren"s of capitalist "evelopment an" from the class interests of. the

(he national separateness of a certain territory in a mo"ern state is not by itself a
sufficient basis for autonomy1 the relationship between nationality an" political life is
precisely what calls for closer e#amination. (heoreticians of nationalism usually
consi"er nationality in general as a natural, unchangeable phenomenon, outsi"e social
"evelopment, a conservative phenomenon resisting all historical vicissitu"es, -n
accor"ance with this view bourgeois nationalism fin"s the main sources of national
vitality an" strength not in the mo"ern historical formation, i.e., urban, bourgeois
culture, but, on the contrary, in the tra"itional forms of life of the rural population.
(he peasant mass with its social conservatism appears to the romantics of nationalism
as the only genuine mainstay of the national culture, an unsha&able fortress of
national "istinctness, the stronghol" of the proper national genius an" spirit. 6hen, in
the mi""le of the last century, there began to flourish, in connection with the
nationalist tren" in the politics of 4entral Burope, socalle" fol&lorism, it turne" above
all to the tra"itional forms of peasant culture as to the treasury in which every nation
"eposits 2the threa"s of its thoughts an" the flowers of its feelings.3 -n the same way
at present, the recently awa&ene" .ithuanian, Ayelorussian, an" U&rainian
nationalism bases itself entirely on the rural population an" its conservative forms of
e#istence, significantly starting the cultivation of this ageol" an" virgin national fiel"
with sprea"ing primers an" the !oly *cripture in the national language an" national
orthography. Alrea"y, in the 1<<0s, when the pseu"osocialistic an" pseu"o
revolutionary los 94oice; was publishe" in 6arsaw, the )olish 8ational +emocracy
too, following its infallible reactionary instinct, turne" its peculiar national
sentiments, happily marrie" to the anti*emitism of the urban bourgeoisie, towar" the
rural population. %inally, in the same way, the most recent 2nationalist3 current in
Russia, the party of ,r. Corfanty an" 4ompany, is base" mainly on the conservatism
of the rural population of Upper *ilesia, e#ploite" as a foun"ation for economic an"
political success by the reactionary )olish petite bourgeoisie.
5n the other han", the problem of which social strata constitute the proper guar"ians
of national culture has recently cause" an interesting e#change of views in the *ocial
+emocratic camp.
-n the stu"y of the 2nationality question, 2 quote" by us several times, Carl Cauts&y,
critici'ing the wor& of the Austrian party publicist 5tto Aauer on the same sub@ect,
4lass "ifferences lea" Aauer to the para"o#ical opinion that only those portions of a
nation constitute a nation which participate in the culture7 consequently, until now,
only the ruling an" e#ploiting classes.
3-n the perio" of the *taufers3 ? writes Aauer ? 2the nation e#iste" only in the cultural
community of &nighthoo" ... A homogeneous national character pro"uce" by the
homogeneity of cultural influences, was only the character of one class of the
nation ... (he peasant "i" not share in anything that unite" the nation. (herefore the
>erman peasants "o not at all constitute the nation1 they are the ?intersassen of the
nation. -n a society base" on the private ownership of the means of pro"uction, the
ruling classes constitute the nation ? formerly the &nighthoo", to"ay the e"ucate"
people, as a community of people in whom uniform e"ucation "evelope" by the
nation$s history, with the help of a common language an" national e"ucation, "evelops
an affinity of characters. 5n the other han" the broa" popular masses "o not constitute
the nation.3
Accor"ing to Aauer only the socialist system, by ma&ing the masses of the wor&ing
people participants in the entirety of the culture, will turn these masses into a nation.
Cauts&y replies to these arguments as follows7
(his is a very subtle thought with a very right core but in the nationality question it
lea"s to a false roa", for it treats the concept of nation in such a way as to ma&e
simply impossible the un"erstan"ing of the force of the national thought in all classes
in the present, an" the bases of the present national contra"ictions of entire nations.
Aauer conflicts here with the observation ma"e by Renner
that it is precisely the
peasant who is the preserver of nationality. Renner "emonstrates that in Austria
/inclu"ing !ungary0, "uring the last century, a number of cities change" their
nationality, becoming !ungarian or 4'ech rather than >erman. 5n the other han"
>erman cities, specifically Mienna, absorbe" an immense influ# of foreign
nationalities an" assimilate" them to the >erman nation. !owever, in the countrysi"e
the linguistic boun"aries have practically not shifte". Actually, in Austria$s ma@or
cities, the process of >ermani'ation has achieve" its goal1 at the beginning of the
nineteenth century they ha" all been >erman cities, with the e#ception at the most of
>alicia, 4roatia, an" the -talian towns. Ay contrast, the peasant population is the one
that remaine" national1 the ten"encies towar" ma&ing Austria a national state
shattere" against the peasantry. (he peasant firmly a"heres to his nationality as to any
tra"ition, while the city "weller, especially the e"ucate" one, assimilates much more
-n the course of his stu"y, Cauts&y is force" to consi"erably revise his reasoning.
B#amining more closely the foun"ations of mo"ern national movements, he points out
that precisely the bourgeois "evelopment calling into e#istence a new social class, the
professional intelligentsia, creates in this form the main fact of the contemporary
national i"ea an" a pillar of national life. -t is true that the same "evelopment
simultaneously lea"s the social an" cultural life of present"ay nationalities, an"
particularly of the intelligentsia to international paths, an" from this stan"point
Cauts&y rightly reverses the perspective outline" by Aauer, by e#plaining that the tas&
of the great socialist reform in the future will not be the nationali'ation, i.e., the
national separation of the wor&ing masses, but, on the contrary, bla'ing the trail for
one universal, international culture in which "istinct nationalities will "isappear.
!owever, in present"ay con"itions, the role of the urban, or strictly spea&ing,
bourgeois element, is "ecisive for the fate of nationalities. -f Cauts&y in agreement
with Renner points to a whole series of *lavic critics >ermani'e" at the beginning of
the nineteenth century in the !apsburg monarchy as an e#ample of the national non
resistance of the urban element, these facts may actually serve only as an illustration
of the petit bourgeois con"itions of the precapitalist era by which "oubtless the urban
life in the *lavic lan"s of Austria was characteri'e" at the beginning of the nineteenth
century. (he further "evelopment of events, a "efinite swing of the same type of
critics to their own nationality in the last few "eca"es, which is confirme" by Cauts&y
an" Renner, is, on the other han", a stri&ing e#ample of how far the rise of its own
bourgeois "evelopment in a country, its own in"ustry, its own big city life, its own
2national3 bourgeoisie an" intelligentsia, as it occurre" for e#ample in Aohemia, can
form the basis for a resistant national policy an" for an active political life connecte"
with it.
(he emphasis on the peasant element in connection with the fate of nationality is
correct so far as the quite passive preservation of national peculiarities in the ethnic
group is concerne"7 speech, mores, "ress, an" also, usually in close connection with
this, a certain religion. (he conservatism of peasant life ma&es possible the
preservation of nationality within these narrow boun"s an" e#plains the resistance for
centuries to any "enationali'ation policy, regar"less of either the ruthlessness of the
metho"s or the cultural superiority of the aggressive foreign nationality. (his is
prove" by the preservation of speech an" national type among the *outh *lavic tribes
of (ur&ey an" !ungary, the preservation of the peculiarities of the Ayelorussians,
Ruthenians, .ithuanians in the Russian empire, of the ,asurians an" .ithuanians in
Bast )russia, or the )oles in Upper *ilesia, etc.
!owever, a national culture preserve" in this tra"itionalpeasant manner is incapable
of playing the role of an active element in contemporary politicalsocial life, precisely
because it is entirely a pro"uct of tra"ition, is roote" in past con"itions, because ? to
use the wor"s of ,ar# ? the peasant class stan"s in to"ay$s bourgeois society outsi"e
of culture, constituting rather a 2piece of barbarism3 surviving in that culture. (he
peasant, as a national 2outpost,3 is always an" a priori a culture of social barbarism, a
basis of political reaction, "oome" by historical evolution. 8o serious political
national movement in present"ay con"itions is possible solely on a national peasant
foun"ation. An" only when the present urban classesbourgeoisie, petite bourgeoisie,
an" bourgeoisintelligentsia ? become the promoters of the national movement, will it
be possible to "evelop, in certain "efine" circumstances, the seeming phenomenon of
the national contra"ictions an" national aspirations of 2entire nations,3 referre" to by
(hus, local autonomy in the sense of the selfgovernment of a certain nationality
territory is only possible where the respective nationality possesses its own bourgeois
"evelopment, urban life, intelligentsia, its own literary an" scholarly life. (he
4ongress Cing"om "emonstrates all these con"itions. -ts population is nationally
homogeneous because the )olish element has a "ecisive prepon"erance over other
nationalities in the country$s whole area, with the e#ception of the *uwal&i gubernia
in which the .ithuanians prevail. 5ut of the overall population of 9,=0:,:5F the )oles
constitute E,I55,50F, while of the remaining nationalities the Gews an" >ermans are
mainly concentrate" in the cities where, however, they "o not represent a foreign
bourgeois intelligentsia, but, on the contrary, are consi"erably assimilate" by )olish
cultural life, while the Russians, e#cept in the .ublin an" *ie"lce regions, represent
mainly the influ# of bureaucratic elements alien to )olish society. (he percentage of
total population of these nationalities in the respective provinces, with the e#ception
of *uwal&i, appears, accor"ing to the census of 1<9I, as follows7
>ubernia )oles Gews >ermans Russians
Calis' <F.9[ I.E I.F 1.1
Cielce <I.E 10.9 O 1.:
.ublin E1.F 1:.I 0.: :1.0
.om'a II.= 15.< 0.< 5.5
)iotro&ow I1.9 15.: 10.E 1.E
)loc& <0.= 9.E E.I F.F
Ra"om <F.< 1F.< 1.1 1.=
*ie"lce EE.1 15.5 1.= 1E.5
6arsaw IF.E 1E.= =.0 5.=
(hus, in all the gubernias e#cept two, an" in the country as a whole, the )olish
element constitutes more than I0 percent of the population1 it is, moreover, the
"ecisive element in the sociocultural "evelopment of the country.
!owever, the situation loo&s "ifferent when we turn to the Gewish nationality.
Gewish national autonomy, not in the sense of free"om of school, religion, place of
resi"ence, an" equal civic rights, but in the sense of the political selfgovernment of
the Gewish population with its own legislation an" a"ministration, as it were parallel
to the autonomy of the 4ongress Cing"om, is an entirely utopian i"ea. *trangely, this
conviction prevails also in the camp of e#treme )olish nationalists, e.g., in the so
calle" 2Revolutionary %action3 of the ))*, where it is base" on the simple
circumstance that the Gewish nationality "oes not possess a 2territory of its own3
within the Russian empire. Aut national autonomy conceive" in accor"ance with that
group$s own stan"point, i.e., as the sum of free"oms an" rights to self"etermination
of a certain group of people lin&e" by language, tra"ition, an" psychology, is in itself
a construction lying beyon" historical con"itions, fluttering in mi"air, an" therefore
one that can be easily conceive", as it were, 2in the air,3 i.e., without any "efinite
territory. 5n the other han", an autonomy that grows historically together with local
selfgovernment, on the basis of mo"ern bourgeois"emocratic "evelopment, is
actually as inseparable from a certain territory as the bourgeois state itself, an" cannot
be imagine" without it to the same e#tent as 2nonterritorial3 communal or urban self
government. -t is true that the Gewish population was completely un"er the influence
of mo"ern capitalistic "evelopment in the Russian empire an" shares the economic,
political, an" spiritual interests of particular groups in that society. Aut on the one
han", these interests were never territorially separate" so as to become specifically
Gewish capitalist interests1 rather, they are common interests of the Gewish an" other
people in the country at large. 5n the other han", this capitalist "evelopment "oes not
lea" to a separation of bourgeois Gewish culture, but acts in an e#actly opposite
"irection, lea"ing to the assimilation of the Gewish bourgeois, urban intelligentsia, to
their absorption by the )olish or Russian people. -f the national "istinctness of the
.ithuanians or Ayelorussians is base" on the bac&war" peasant people, the Gewish
national "istinctness in Russia an" )olan" is base" on the socially bac&war" petite
bourgeoisie, on small pro"uction, small tra"e, smalltown life, an" ? let us a""
parenthetically ? on the close relation of the nationality in question to religion. -n
view of the above, the national "istinctness of the Gews, which is suppose" to be the
basis of nonterritorial Gewish autonomy, is manifeste" not in the form of metropolitan
bourgeois culture, but in the form of smalltown lac& of culture. 5bviously any efforts
towar" 2"eveloping Gewish culture3 at the initiative of a han"ful of Ui""ish publicists
an" translators cannot be ta&en seriously.
(he only manifestation of genuine mo"ern culture in the Russian framewor& is the
*ocial +emocratic movement of the Russian proletariat which, because of its nature,
can best replace the historical lac& of bourgeois national culture of the Gews, since it is
itself a phase of genuinely international an" proletarian culture.
+ifferent, though no less complicate", is the question of autonomy in .ithuania. %or
nationalist utopians, obviously the e#istence of a certain territory inhabite" by a
population of "istinct nationality is a sufficient reason to "eman" for the nationality in
question, in the name of the right of all nationalities to self"etermination, either an
in"epen"ent republic, or one fe"erate" with Russia, or the 2broa"est autonomy.3 Bach
of these programs was a"vance" in turn by the former 2.ithuanian *ocial
+emocracy,3 then by the ))* in its fe"erative phase, an" finally by the recently
organi'e" 2Ayelorussian *ocialist 4ommune3 which, at its *econ" 4ongress in 190E,
a"opte" a somewhat vague program of a 2fe"eral republic in Russia with a territorial
autonomous "iet in Milna for the territory of the 6estern country.3
6hether the
2Ayelorussian 4ommune3 "eman"s the proclamation of the 26estern country3 as one
of the republics into which the Russian Bmpire is to be split, or a 2territorial
autonomy3 for that 26estern country3 is "ifficult to figure out1 since an
2autonomous3 "iet is "eman"e" for Milna, it woul" seem that the latter version is
inten"e", or else, what is in complete harmony with the whole utopianabstract
treatment of the question, no basic "istinctions are ma"e between an in"epen"ent
republic, a fe"eral system, an" autonomy, but only qualitative "istinctions. .et us
e#amine the matter from the stan"point of territorial autonomy. (he 26estern
country,3 accor"ing to the terminology in the Russian a"ministrative "ivision, is a
prepon"erantly agrarian an" smallin"ustry "istrict comprising areas with
consi"erable variations in con"itions. Apart from the local interests of the rural,
municipal, an" provincial selfgovernments, this territory is much less of as "istinct
pro"uction an" tra"ing "istrict, with a less "istinctive character an" a less "istinct
grouping of interests, than the Cing"om of )olan" or the in"ustrial ,oscow "istrict.
5n the other han" it is a "istinct nationality "istrict. Aut it is precisely with regar" to
this question of nationality that the greatest "ifficulties arise from the stan"point of
potential autonomy. (he 26estern country,3 i.e., the territory of former .ithuania, is
an area occupie" by several "ifferent nationalities, an" the first question that arises is7
which nationality is to be serve" by the territorialnational autonomy that is at sta&e,
which language, which nationality is to be "ecisive in the schools, cultural
institutions, the @u"iciary, legislation, an" in filling local officesJ (he .ithuanian
nationalists obviously "eman" autonomy for the .ithuanian nationality. .et us loo& at
the actual con"itions of that nationality.
Accor"ing to the census of 1<9I ? the last one that has ta&en place an" whose results
in the area of nationality relations have been available to the public since 1905 ? the
genuine .ithuanian nationality in the Russian empire numbers 1,:10,510 people. (his
population inhabits mainly the Milna, Covno, >ro"no, an" *uwal&i gubernias.
Aesi"es, there live almost e#clusively in the Covno gubernia, ==<,000 persons of
*amogitian nationality, who by no means i"entify with the .ithuanians. -f we were to
outline the territory that might serve as a basis for an autonomous .ithuania, we
woul" have to eliminate part of the present 26estern country,3 an" on the other han"
go beyon" its bor"ers an" inclu"e the *uwal&i gubernia which to"ay belongs to the
4ongress Cing"om. 6e woul" obtain a territory appro#imately correspon"ing to the
voyvo"ship of Milna an" (ro&i which, in prepartition )olan", constitute" 2.ithuania
proper.3 (he .ithuanian population is "istribute" in that territory as follows7 out of the
sum total of 1,:00,000 .ithuanians almost half, i.e., 5I=,<5F, are concentrate" in the
Covno gubernia. (he secon" place with regar" to the concentration of .ithuanians is
occupie" by the *uwal&i gubernia, where F05,5=< live1 somewhat fewer are to be
foun" in the Milna gubernia, vi'., :9I,I:0 persons1 finally, an insignificant number of
.ithuanians, about F,500, inhabit the northern portion of the >ro"no gubernia.
Actually, the .ithuanian population is "oubtless more numerous, because in the
census the language use" by the respective populations was the main point ta&en into
consi"eration, while a si'able proportion of .ithuanians use the )olish language in
every"ay life. !owever, in the present case, from the stan"point of nationality as a
basis of national autonomy, obviously only the population wherein national
"istinctness is e#presse" in a "istinct native language can be ta&en into account.
(he "istribution of the .ithuanian population becomes apparent only when we
ascertain its numerical ratio to the remaining population in the same territory. (he
overall population figure in the gubernias mentione" /always accor"ing to the 1<9I
census0 is as follows7

-n the Covno gubernia

1,5==,5E9 FI.0
-n the Milna gubernia 1,591,:0I 1I.0
-n the >ro"no gubernia 1,E0F,=09 0.:
-n the *uwal&i gubernia 5<:,91F 5:.0
5ut of a total population of 5,F::,09F in that territory, the .ithuanians constitute less
than :F percent. Bven if we were to inclu"e, as "o the .ithuanian nationalists, the
entire *amogitian population with the .ithuanians, we woul" obtain the ratio of F1
percent, i.e., less than a thir" of the total population. 5bviously, setting up the former
2.ithuania proper3 as the area of the .ithuanian nationality is, in present"ay
con"itions, an entirely arbitrary an" artificial construction.
(he total population of the four 2northwestern3 gubernias inclu"e" because of the
Ayelorussian nationality is as follows7
,ins& gubernia

,ogilev gubernia 1,E<E,IE=
6itebs& gubernia 1,=<9,:=E
*molens& gubernia 1,5:5,:I9
(ogether with the population of the four gubernias inhabite" by .ithuanians, this a""s
up to the consi"erable figure of 1:,1I1,00I. !owever, among this population, the
Ayelorussians constitute less than half, i.e., about 5.<5 million /5,<55,5=I0. Bven
consi"ering only the figures, the i"ea of fitting .ithuania$s autonomy to the
Ayelorussian nationality seems questionable. !owever, this "ifficulty becomes much
greater if we ta&e into consi"eration the socioeconomic con"itions of the respective
-n the territory inhabite" by them the Ayelorussians constitute an e#clusively rural,
agrarian element. (heir cultural level is e#tremely low. -lliteracy is so wi"esprea" that
the 2Ayelorussian 4ommune3 was force" to establish an 2B"ucation +epartment3 to
sprea" elementary e"ucation among the Ayelorussian peasants. (he complete lac& of
a Ayelorussian bourgeoisie, an urban intelligentsia, an" an in"epen"ent scholarly an"
literary life in the Ayelorussian language, ren"ers the i"ea of a national Ayelorussian
autonomy simply impractical.
(he social con"itions among the .ithuanian nationals are similar. (o a prepon"erant
"egree farming is the occupation of the .ithuanians. -n the cultural heart of .ithuania,
the Milna gubernia, the .ithuanians constitute 19.< percent of the total population, an"
F.1 percent of the urban population. -n the *uwal&i gubernia, the ne#t with regar" to
.ithuanian concentration, the .ithuanians constitute as much as 5:.: percent of the
gubernia population, but only 9.: percent of the urban population. -t is true that the
cultural con"itions among the .ithuanians are quite "ifferent from those in
Ayelorussia. (he e"ucation of the .ithuanian population is on a relatively high level,
an" the percentage of illiterates is almost the lowest in the Russian Bmpire. Aut the
e"ucation of .ithuanians is prepon"erantly a )olish e"ucation, an" the )olish
language, not the .ithuanian, is here the instrument of culture, which fact is closely
connecte" with the fact that the possessing classes, the rural lan"e" gentry, an" the
urban intelligentsia are genuinely )olish or )oloni'e" to a high "egree. (he same
situation prevails to a consi"erable "egree in Ruthenia. -n"ee", in .ithuania an"
Ruthenia the only nationality culturally fit to manage national autonomy is the )olish,
with its urban population an" its intelligentsia. (herefore, if the national autonomy of
the 26estern country3 were to be consi"ere", it woul" have to be neither a .ithuanian
nor a Ayelorussian autonomy, but a )olish one7 the )olish language, the )olish school,
)oles in public offices woul" be the natural e#pression of the autonomous institutions
of the country.
>iven this situation, culturally an" nationally, .ithuania an" Ruthenia woul"
constitute only an e#tension of the Cing"om, not a separate autonomous region1 they
woul" form, with the Cing"om, a natural an" historical region, with )olish autonomy
over the Cing"om plus .ithuania.
*uch a solution of the question is oppose" by several "ecisive consi"erations. %irst of
all, from the purely national point of view, this woul" be the rule of a small )olish
minority over a ma@ority of .ithuanians, Ayelorussians, Gews, an" others. -n .ithuania
an" Ruthenia, the Gews an" the )oles ma&e up most of the urban population1 together
they occupy what woul" be the natural social centers of autonomous institutions. Aut
the Gewish population "ecisively outnumbers the )olish, whereas in the 4ongress
Cing"om there are E,<<0,000 )oles /accor"ing to the 1<9I census0 an" only
1,F00,000 Gews. (he percentage of each in the four gubernias of .ithuania proper in
terms of the overall population is as follows7


*uwal&i ::.99 10.1=
Covno 9.0= 1F.IF
Milna <.1I 1:.I:
>ro"no 10.0< 1I.FI
5nly in the *uwal&i gubernia is the Gewish population smaller than the )olish, but
even here this ratio is quite "ifferent when we ta&e the towns into consi"eration7 then
the )oles constitute :I percent, the Gews =0 percent of the urban population. -t shoul"
also be ta&en into consi"eration that Gews in the Cing"om, if assimilate" ? more so in
the urban areas ? reinforce the )olish nationality1 whereas in .ithuania the
assimilation process, which is anyway much slower, occurs ? when it "oes at all ?
among Gews who belong to the Russian culture1 in both cases confusion among
nationalities grows an" the question of autonomy becomes more an" more entangle".
*uffice it to say that in the heart of .ithuania an" the seat of the planne" autonomous
"iet, Milna, out of the ::I schools counte" in 1900, 1<: are GewishR
Another consi"eration no less important is the circumstance that the )olish nationality
is in .ithuania an" Ruthenia precisely the nationality of the ruling strata7 the gentry
lan"owners an" the bourgeoisie1 while the .ithuanian an" particularly the
Ayelorussian nationality is represente" mostly by lan"less peasantry. (herefore, the
nationality relationship is here ? generally spea&ing ? a relationship of social classes.
!an"ing over the country$s autonomous institutions to the )olish nationality woul"
here mean the creation of a new powerful instrument of class "omination without a
correspon"ing strengthening of the position of the e#ploite" classes, an" woul" cause
con"itions of the &in" that woul" be brought about by the propose" autonomy of
>alicia for the Ruthenians.
4onsequently, both for nationality an" for social reasons the @oining of .ithuania to
the autonomous territory of the Cing"om or the separation of .ithuania an" Ruthenia
into an autonomous region with an unavoi"able prepon"erance of the )olish element
is a pro@ect which *ocial +emocracy must combat in principle. -n this form, the
pro@ect of .ithuania$s national autonomy altogether falls through as utopian, in view
of the numerical an" social relations of the nationalities involve".

Another outstan"ing e#ample of the "ifficulties encountere" by the problem of
nationality autonomy in practice is to be foun" in the 4aucasus. 8o corner of the earth
presents such a picture of nationality intermi#ture in one territory as the 4aucasus, the
ancient historical trail of the great migrations of peoples between Asia an" Burope,
strewn with fragments an" splinters of those peoples. (hat territory$s population of
over nine million is compose" /accor"ing to the 1<9I census0 of the following racial
an" nationality groups7
-n (housan"s
Russians :,19:.F
>ermans :1.5
>ree&s 5I.F
Armenians 9I5.0
5ssetians 15I.1
Cur"s 100.0
4hechens :=F.=
4ircassians 111.5
Ab&ha' I:.=
.e'gins E1F.<
>eorgians, -meretins, Cartvelian 1,:01.:
,ingrels, etc.
Gews =F.=
(atars 1,1F9.E
Cumy&s 100.<
(ur&s (urco(atars I0.:
8ogays 55.=
Caraches ::.0
Calmu&s 11.<
,or"vinians 1.=
(he territorial "istribution of the largest nationalities involve" is as follows7 (he
Russians, who constitute the most numerous group in the whole 4aucasus, are
concentrate" in the north, in the Cuban an" Alac& *ea "istricts an" in the northwest
part of (ers&. ,oving southwar", in the western part of the 4aucasus the Cartvelians
are locate"1 they occupy the Cutai an" the southeastern part of the (iflis gubernias.
*till further south, the central territory is occupie" by the Armenians in the southern
portion of the (iflis, the eastern portion of the Cars an" the northern portion of the
Brivan gubernias, squee'e" between the >eorgians in the north, the (ur&s in the west
an" the (atars in the east an" south, in the Aa&u, Bli'abetpol an" Brivan gubernias. -n
the east an" in the mountains are locate" mountain tribes, while other minor groups
such as Gews an" >ermans live, intermingle" with the autochthonous population,
mainly in the cities. (he comple#ity of the nationality problem appears particularly in
the linguistic con"itions because in the 4aucasus there e#ist, besi"es Russian,
5ssetian, an" Armenian, about a half"o'en languages, four .e'gin "ialects, several
4hechen, several 4ircassian, ,ingrel, >eorgian, *u"anese, an" a number of others.
An" these are by no means "ialects, but mostly in"epen"ent languages
incomprehensible to the rest of the population.
%rom the stan"point of the problem of autonomy, obviously only three nationalities
enter into consi"eration7 >eorgians, Armenians, an" (atars, because the Russians
inhabiting the northern part of the 4aucasus constitute, with regar" to nationality, a
continuation of the state territory of the purely Russian population.
(he relatively most numerous nationality group besi"es the Russians are the
>eorgians, if we inclu"e among them all varieties of Cartvelians. (he historical
territory of the >eorgians is represente" by the gubernias of (iflis an" Cutai an" the
"istricts of *u&hum an" *a&atali, with a population of :,110,=90. !owever, the
>eorgian nationality constitutes only slightly more than half of that number, i.e.,
1,:00,0001 the remain"er is compose" of Armenians to the number of about ::0,000,
concentrate" mainly in the A&hal&alats county of the (iflis gubernia, where they
constitute over I0 percent of the population1 (atars to the number of 100,0001
5ssetians, over I0,0001 .e'gins represent half of the population in the *a&atali
"istrict1 an" Ab&ha'es are prepon"erant in the *u&ham "istrict1 while in the Aorchalin
county of the (iflis gubernia a mi#ture of various nationalities hol"s a ma@ority over
the >eorgian population.
-n view of these figures the pro@ect of >eorgian nationality autonomy presents
manifol" "ifficulties. >eorgia$s historical territory, ta&en as a whole, represents such a
numerically insignificant population ? scarcely 1,:00,000 ? that it seems insufficient
as a basis of in"epen"ent autonomous life in the mo"ern sense, with its cultural nee"s
an" socioeconomic functions. -n an autonomous >eorgia, with its historical
boun"aries, a nationality that comprises only slightly more than half of the entire
population woul" be calle" on to "ominate in public institutions, schools, an" political
life. (he impossibility of this situation is felt so well by the >eorgian nationalists of
revolutionary hue that they, a priori, relinquish the historical boun"aries an" plan to
curtail the autonomous territory to an area correspon"ing to the actual prepon"erance
of the >eorgian nationality.
Accor"ing to that plan, only si#teen of >eorgia$s counties woul" be the basis of the
>eorgian autonomy, while the fate of the four remaining ones with a prepon"erance
of other nationalities woul" be "eci"e" by a 2plebiscite3 of those nationalities. (his
plan loo&s highly "emocratic an" revolutionary1 but li&e most anarchistinspire" plans
which see& to solve all historic "ifficulties by means of the 2will of nations3 it has a
"efect, which is that in practice the plebiscite plan is even more "ifficult to implement
than the autonomy of historical >eorgia. (he area specifie" in the >eorgian plan
woul" inclu"e scarcely 1,=00,000 people, i.e., a figure correspon"ing to the
population of a big mo"ern city. (his area, cut out quite arbitrarily from >eorgia$s
tra"itional framewor& an" present socioeconomic status, is not only an e#tremely
small basis for autonomous life but moreover "oes not represent any organic entity,
any sphere of material life an" economic an" cultural interests, besi"es the abstract
interests of the >eorgian nationality.
!owever, even in this area, the >eorgians$ nationality claims cannot be interprete" as
an active e#pression of autonomous life, in view of the circumstance that their
numerical prepon"erance is lin&e" with their preeminently agrarian character.
-n the very heart of >eorgia, the former capital, (iflis, an" a number of smaller cities
have an eminently international character, with the Armenians, who represent the
bourgeois stratum, as the prepon"erant element. 5ut of (iflis$s population of 1E0,000
the Armenians constitute 55,000, the >eorgians an" Russians :0,000 each1 the
balance is compose" of (atars, )ersians, Gews, >ree&s, etc. (he natural centers of
political an" a"ministrative life as well as of e"ucation an" spiritual culture are here,
as in .ithuania, seats of foreign nationalities. (his circumstance, which ma&es
>eorgia$s nationality autonomy an insoluble problem, impinges simultaneously on
another 4aucasian problem7 the question of the autonomy of the Armenians.
(he e#clusion of (iflis an" other cities from the autonomous >eorgian territory is as
impossible from the stan"point of >eorgia$s socioeconomic con"itions as is their
inclusion into that territory from the stan"point of the Armenian nationality. -f we
too& as a basis the numerical prepon"erance of Armenians in the population, we
woul" obtain a territory artificially patche" together from a few fragments7 two
southern counties of (iflis gubernia, the northern part of Brivan gubernia, an" the
northeastern part of Cars gubernia, i.e., a territory cut off from the main cities
inhabite" by the Armenians, which is senseless both from the historical stan"point an"
from the stan"point of the present economic con"itions, while the si'e of the putative
autonomous area woul" be limite" to some <00,000. -f we went beyon" the counties
having a numerical prepon"erance of Armenians we woul" fin" the Armenians
ine#tricably mi#e" in the north with the >eorgians1 in the south ? in the Aa&u an"
Bli'abetpol gubernias ? with the (atars1 an" in the west, in the Cars gubernia, with the
(ur&s. (he Armenians play, in relation to the mostly agrarian (atar population which
lives in rather bac&war" con"itions, partly the role of a bourgeois element.
(hus, the "rawing of a boun"ary between the main nationalities of the 4aucasus is an
insoluble tas&. Aut even more "ifficult is the problem of autonomy in relation to the
remaining multiple nationalities of the 4aucasian mountaineers. Aoth their territorial
intermingling an" the small numerical si'e of the respective nationalities, an" finally
the socioeconomic con"itions which remain mostly on the level of largely noma"ic
pastoralism, or primitive farming, without an urban life of their own an" with no
intellectual creativity in their native language, ma&e the functioning of mo"ern
autonomy entirely inapplicable.
Gust as in .ithuania, the only metho" of settling the nationality question in the
4aucasus, in the "emocratic spirit, securing to all nationalities free"om of cultural
e#istence without any among them "ominating the remaining ones, an" at the same
time meeting the recogni'e" nee" for mo"ern "evelopment, is to "isregar"
ethnographic boun"aries, an" to intro"uce broa" local selfgovernment ? communal,
urban, "istrict, an" provincial ? without a "efinite nationality character, that is, giving
no privileges to any nationality. 5nly such a selfgovernment will ma&e it possible to
unite various nationalities to @ointly ta&e care of the local economic an" social
interests, an" on the other han", to ta&e into consi"eration in a natural way the
"ifferent proportions of the nationalities in each county an" each commune.
4ommunal, "istrict, provincial selfgovernment will ma&e it possible for each
nationality, by means of a ma@ority "ecision in the organs of local a"ministration, to
establish its schools an" cultural institutions in those "istricts or communes where it
possesses numerical prepon"erance. At the same time a separate, empirewi"e,
linguistic law guar"ing the interests of the minority can establish a norm in virtue of
which national minorities, beginning with a certain numerical minimum, can
constitute a basis for the compulsory foun"ing of schools in their national languages
in the commune, "istrict, or province1 an" their language can be establishe" in local
public an" a"ministrative institutions, courts, etc., at the si"e of the language of the
prepon"erant nationality /the official language0. *uch a solution woul" be wor&able,
if in"ee" any solution is possible within the framewor& of capitalism, an" given the
historical con"itions. (his solution woul" combine the general principle of local self
government with special legislative measures to guarantee cultural "evelopment an"
equality of rights of the nationalities through their close cooperation, an" not their
mutual separation by barriers of national autonomy.

An interesting e#ample of a purely formalistic settlement of the nationality question
for the entire Russian empire is provi"e" by the pro@ect of a certain C. %ortunatov
publishe" by the group 2(ru" i Aorba3 96or& an" *truggle;, an attempt at a practical
solution of the problem in accor"ance with the principles of the Russian revolutionary
5n the basis of the census, the author first arranges a map of the empire
accor"ing to nationalities, ta&ing as a basis the numerical prepon"erance of each
nationality in the respective gubernias an" counties. (he numerically strongest
nationality is the >reat Russians who are prepon"erant in thirty gubernias of
Buropean Russia. (hey are followe" by the .ittle Russians who have a ma@ority in the
U&raine in the gubernias of )oltawa, )o"olia, Char&ov, Ciev, an" Molhynia, an" are
represente" also in the gubernias of B&aterinoslav, 4hernigov, Cherson, Cuban, an"
(auri"a, while in Aessarabia the ,ol"avians an" in the 4rimea the (atars are
prepon"erant. Apart from the )oles, the thir" nationality is the Ayelorussians, who
have a ma@ority in five gubernias7 ,ogilev, ,ins&, Milna, 6itebs&, an" >ro"no, with
the e#ception of eight counties /Aialysto&, inhabite" mainly by )oles1 Aiels&, Ar'esc,
an" Cobryn, in which the .ittle Russians are prepon"erant1 the +'wins&, Re'yca, an"
.ucin counties, where the .atvians are in the ma@ority1 an" finally (ro&i, in which the
.ithuanians prevail0. 5n the other han", the Crasne county of *molens& gubernia has
to be inclu"e" in Ayelorussia because of the prepon"erance of that nationality. (he
.ithuanians an" *amogitians prevail in the Covno an" *uwal&i gubernias, with the
e#ception of the *uwal&i an" Augustow counties in which the )oles are in the
ma@ority. (he .atvians in 4ourlan" an" the Bstonians in Bstonia have a "ecisive
ma@ority, an" between them they "ivi"e .ivonia into practically two equal parts,
southern an" northern. -nclu"ing the 4ongress Cing"om, with the e#ception of the
*uwal&i gubernia, we obtain, in si#tytwo gubernias of Buropean Russia, the
following picture of nationality relations7
>reat Russians prepon"erant in F0 gubernias
.ittle Russians 10 gubernias
Ayelorussians 5 gubernias
)oles 9 gubernias
.ithuanians : gubernias
.atvians : gubernias
Bstonians 1 gubernia
,ol"avians 1 gubernia
(atars : gubernias
!aving e#amine" the territorial "istribution of nationalities in the 4aucasus accor"ing
to gubernias an" counties, the author in turn moves to Asiatic Russia. -n *iberia, the
Russian element is in a "ecisive ma@ority, forming <0.9 percent of the population
besi"es the Auriats, 5 percent1 Ua&uts, = percent1 (atars, F.E percent1 other
nationalities, E.5 percent. 5nly in the Ua&ut gubernia "o the Russians constitute a
minority of 11.5 percent while the Ua&uts form <:.: percent of the whole. -n 4entral
Asia, the most numerous nationalities are the Cirgis, who are in a ma@ority in all
gubernias with the e#ception of the three southern ones7 (rans4aspia, in which the
(ur&omans number E5 percent, *amar&ana, inhabite" by the U'be&hs /5<.< percent0
an" (a"'i&hs /:E.9 percent0, an" the %ergan Malley, in which the *arts form half, the
U'be&hs 9.I percent, the Cirgis 1:.< percent of the population.
(hus, ta&ing as a basis the gubernias an" counties with a prepon"erance of one
nationality or another, ,r. %ortunatov ranges the following scheme of nationality
"istricts in the whole empire, as shown in the appen"i# below.
-n this scheme we are struc& by great numerical "ifferences, e.g., between the
tremen"ous >reat Russian an" .ittle Russian "istricts an" such tiny ones as the
.ithuanian, Bstonian, or in"ivi"ual 4aucasian, let alone the Ua&ut. (his circumstance
apparently offen"s the sense of symmetry of the a"mirers of the principle of
2%e"eration.3 -t also evo&es in them some "oubts as to whether nationalities so
unequal in strength an" si'e coul" enter into i"yllic coe#istence as autonomous
"istricts possessing equal rights. (herefore, our statistician, without much thought,
obviates the evil with scissors an" glue by combining several small "istricts into one
an" simultaneously "ismembering two big ones into smaller ones. Apparently ta&ing a
population of si# to nine million as a normal measure of a nationality "istrict ?
although it is un&nown on what basis ? he consi"ers that it is 2easy3 to split the .ittle
Russian "istrict into three an" the >reat Russian into seven, separating for instance
the +on, Astra&ha'an, Cuban, *tavropol, an" Alac& *ea gubernias an" two counties
of (ers& with a population of E.I million as a 24ossac&3 "istrict, an" the Ca'an, Ufa,
5renburg, *amar gubernias an" two counties of *ymbir gubernia with nine million
population as a (atar Aash&ir "istrict, finally simply "ivi"ing the remaining territory
of twentyfive gubernias with fortytwo million people into five more or less
symmetrical parts with eight million people, with no regar" to the nationality
-n this way we obtain the plan of the "ivision of the whole of Russia into the
following si#teen 2states3 or autonomous "istricts on the basis of nationalities7
1 )olan" with a population of <,E9E,000
1 Ayelorussia with a
population of I,F:<,000
1 Aaltic with a population of 5,0=E,000
F .ittle Russia with a
population of :I,::<,000
a. *outhwestern /)o"olia,
Molhynia an" Ciev, an" F
counties of >ro"no0 with a
population of 10,1FF,000
b. .ittle Russia )roper
/)oltawa, Char&ov,
4hernigov without the
northern counties as well as
the .ittle Russian counties of
Curs& an" Morone'h
gubernia0 with a population
of <,=51,000
c. 8ew Russia /Aessarabia,
Cherson, (auri"a,
B&aternoslav an" (aganrog
county0 with a population of <,E==,000
l 4aucasus /without the
Russian counties0 E,15I,000
1 Cirgis in 4entral Asia
/without : counties of
A&molin province0 with a
population of I,=90,000
1 *iberia /with : counties of
A&molin province0 with a
population of E,015,000
I >reat Russia with a
population of 5I,E<0,000
-n setting up the above scheme the author was obviously not restraine" by any
historical or economic consi"erations, or by the "ivisions of pro"uction or commercial
communication create" by mo"ern "evelopment an" natural con"itions. -t is well
&nown that such pe"estrian consi"erations can only hamper the political concoctions
of people professing the 2,ar#ist3 "octrine an" a materialistic worl" view. (hey "o
not e#ist for the theorists an" politicians of 2truly revolutionary socialism,3 who have
in min" only the 2rights3 of nations, free"om, equality, an" other such lofty matters.
(he separation of two .ithuanian gubernias ? Covno an" *uwal&i ? with the
e#clusion of the )olish counties ? from the historicocultural heart of .ithuania, the
Milna gubernia an" other neighboring regions with which economic relations were of
long stan"ing, an" on the other han" the @oining of these two curtaile" gubernias with
.ivonia, 4ourlan", an" Bstonia, with which the historical lin&s, as well as present"ay
economic ones, are quite loose, clearly "emonstrates this point. Although the cutting
up of the U&raine for the sa&e of symmetry into various "ivisions, "espite the
continuity of its natural an" economic character, an" on the other han", combining
into one autonomous region of *iberia a country comprising 1:.5 million square
&ilometers, i.e., by onethir" bigger than the whole of Burope, a country representing
the greatest natural economic an" cultural contrasts, is a "emonstration that that
metho" is free of any 2"ogmas.3 At the same time, the nationality autonomy in this
scheme is treate" free of any connection with the economic an" social structure of the
given nationality. %rom this stan"point other peoples are equally prepare" for regional
autonomy ? that is, they evince a certain permanent territory an" a"ministration,
legislation, an" cultural life centrali'e" in that territory. (here are, on the one han",
the )oles, an" on the other the Cirgis, the Ua&uts, an" the Auriats, who are still partly
noma"ic an" are still living accor"ing to the tra"itions of tribal organi'ation,
thwarting to this very "ay the efforts of the territorial a"ministration of Russian
absolutism. (he autonomous regional construction, in accor"ance with the 2socialist
revolutionary3 views, is thus entirely 2free,3 unconnecte" with any real bases in time
an" space, an" all the e#isting historical, economic, an" cultural con"itions play only
the role of material out of which, by means of 2revolutionary3 scissors, artful
nationality plots are to be cut out.
6hat is the result of this solely an" e#clusively ethnographic metho" of the political
"ismemberment of RussiaJ ,r. %ortunatov$s scheme re"uces the principle of
nationality to an absur"ity. Although the .ithuanians are cut off from the )olish
nationality with which they coalesce culturally, still they are lin&e" on the basis of
ethnographic affinity into one 2Aaltic3 nationality with the .atvians an" the Bstonians
with whom they i"entify as little as with the )oles7 thus they gravitate towar" the
completely >ermani'e" cultural centers of .ivonia an" Bstonia. 4ombining the
>eorgians, Armenians, (atars, an" a few "o'en other tribes of the 4aucasus into one
24aucasian3 nationality smac&s of a malicious satire against national autonomous
aspirations. 8o greater regar" for these aspirations is evi"ence" by the inclusion of the
,ol"avians, situate" in Aessarabia, in the .ittle Russian nationality, of the 4rimean
(atars in the very same nationality, an" finally by the combining of *amoye"s,
5stia&s, (ungu', Auriats, Ua&uts, 4huc&chees, Camcha"als, an" many other tribes,
each living an entirely separate life, "iffering among themselves in the level of
cultural "evelopment, language, religion, even partly race, with the Russian
population of *iberia into one mysterious 2*iberian3 nationality with common
legislative, a"ministrative, an" cultural institutions. %ortunatov$s scheme is basically a
simple negation of the nationality principle. -t is also interesting as an e#ample of the
anarchistic approach to nationalism, unrestricte" as it is by any consi"erations of
ob@ective social "evelopment. !aving thrown its weight aroun" in that valley of tears,
it eventually returns to the results, very much resembling the same ugly history of
reality which it ha" un"erta&en 2to correct,3 i.e., the systematic violations of the
2nationality rights3 an" their equality. (he whole "ifference consists in the fact that
the trampling of the 2rights3 of nationalities imagine" by the i"eology of liberalism
an" anarchism is, in reality, the result of the process of historical "evelopment which
has its inner sense an" what is more important ? its revolutionary "ialectic, while
revolutionarynationalistic bungling ten"s, in its 'ealous cutting up of what ha" grown
together socially, an" in its gluing of what socially cannot be glue" together, to
trample eventually the nationality 2rights3 celebrate" by it, merely for the sa&e of
schematic pe"antry "eprive" of any sense an" blown up with political buffoonery.
Notes by Rosa Luxemburg
-nci"entally, this is the only reason why histories of philosophy such as those of
Keller or Cuno %ischer are possible, in which the "evelopment of 2i"eas3 ta&es place
in a voi", with no relation to the prosaic history of society. :riginal note by #.*.
5tto Aauer, Die Nationalit*tenfrage und die So.ialdemo-ratie /Mienna 190I0,
pp.=950, 1FE. :riginal note by #.*.
Another Austrian *ocial +emocratic publicist who, un"er the pseu"onym *pringer,
wrote a number of wor&s on the nationality question in Austria7 Der "am%f der
@sterrei#his#hen Nationen um den Staat /190:01 /rundlagen und
)nt1i#-lungs.iele der @sterrei#his#h-ungaris#hen onar#hie /190E0. :riginal
note by #.*.
Cauts&y, Nationalit*t and Internationalit*t, pp.F, =. :riginal note by #.*.
,ro#eedings of the Russian National So#ialist ,arties /*t. )etersburg7 190<0,
p.9:. :riginal note by #.*.
C. %ortunatov, Natsonalniia =blasti Rossii /*t. )etersburg7 Cnigoi'"atelstvo (ru"
i Aorba, 190E0. (he author is not the well&nown statistician, )rofessor A. %ortunatov,
as was erroneously surmise" by the reviewer in >umanity, nos.IE an" II, 190I.
:riginal note by #.*.
Population of gubernia
forming part of district
"ith preponderance of
given nationality
Population of all
counties "ith a
ma/ority of a
given nationality
:verall figure of
persons in a given
nationality in the
-n (housan"s
1. >reat Russian 5I,E1I


:. .ittle Russian :5,F=I :E,5<I ::,=15
F. Ayelorussian <,51I I,F:< 5,<<E
=. )olish <,<19 <,E9E I,9F1
5. .ithuanian.atvian =,101 =,0<< F,09=
E. Bstonian =1F 95< 1,00F
I. ,ol"avian 1,9F5 1,F5: 1,1::
<. Cartvelian 1,50F 1,F5:
9. Armenian 9=E 1,1IF
10. 4aucasian ,ountaineers E,=9I 1,109 1,09:
11. 4aucasian (atars 1,9<: 1,5FF
1:. 5ther 4aucasians 5:I
1F. 4huvashes, Aash&irs,
(atars, ,or"vinians =,FEI F,EIF
1=. Ciris(ur&oman 5,515 5,E=: =,FE5
15. *arts, U'be&hs, an"
(atchi&s /(a"'i&hs0 :,:F: :,:F: :,0=E
1E. Ua&uts :I0 :F= ::I
1I. 5thers 1,1IF
Total@ 1:5,E=0 1:5,E=0
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