Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice

Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice

Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice

Soviet Nationalities Policy in Practice


In the Marxist view, the nation is a specific historical category emerging from the economic necessities of rising capitalism. As Lenin writes:

'The economic basis of these movements is that in order to achieve complete victory for commodity production the bourgeoisie must capture the home market, must have politically united territories with a population speaking the same language.'

In the long term this temporary phenomenon is to give way to a world community with a single culture and language. As Lenin, again, puts it:

'The aim of Socialism is not only to abolish the present division of mankind into small States, and all-national isolation, not only to bring the nations closer to each other, but also to merge them.'

The national problem, therefore, is one of a transitional stage. However, this transition is not (or not any longer) thought of as being a short one. Marx held, and Lenin repeated, that 'the working men have no class'. But any idea that the proletarianised masses would everywhere start to abandon national feeling soon had to be given up. Instead, it is now recognised that such feelings represent the most difficult of all pre-Communist loyalties to uproot.

The reason national solidarities remain even when the whole machinery of power and of indoctrination works against them for generations is plain. Allegiance to one's 'nation' requires no counter-organisation, no overt propaganda of its own. It resides in the simple realities of language, culture, land, and history.

Before the Revolution it was thought that, as Stalin -- Lenin's approved spokesman on nationality policy -- wrote in 1913:

'A minority is discontented not because there is no national union . . .

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