Communism and Nationalism: Karl Marx Versus Friedrich List

Communism and Nationalism: Karl Marx Versus Friedrich List

Communism and Nationalism: Karl Marx Versus Friedrich List

Communism and Nationalism: Karl Marx Versus Friedrich List

Synopsis

In this highly original study, Szporluk examines the relationship between the two dominant ideologies of the 19th century--communism and nationalism--and their enduring legacy in the 20th century. Szporluk argues that both Karl Marx's theory of communism and Friedrich List's theory of nationalism arose in response to the sweeping changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and that both sought to promote industrialization as a means of reforming the modern world. Each ideology, the author contends, developed in relation to the other and can best be understood as the product of a complex interweaving of the two, producing in the 20th century new forms of nationalism that have incorporated Marxism into the fabric of their movement and Marxist states that have adopted threads of nationalistic belief.

Excerpt

The unification of Germany in 1990, the revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe in 1989-1990, and the rise of national movements in the USSR in the late 1980s are among the most obvious illustrations of how issues considered in this book remain important today. The current controversies, indeed, battles, over the transition from the planned, highly-centralized system first created in Russia to a Western-style free-market economy and political democracy are not merely the latest phase in the contest between Communism and capitalism: as was the case in the past, nationalism is engaged in those battles as a third party that has a distinct program of its own. Indeed, in some cases, especially in the USSR, the most important struggle is being waged not between the forces of Communism and "capitalism." Rather, nationalism appears to be the principal contestant of Communism there. Even in Russia proper, the Russian Republic, a movement has emerged demanding the creation of a Russian nation-state that would reject the legacy of, and deny a national legitimacy to, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. This struggle for the emancipation of Russia from Communism and Marxism-Leninism has its roots in the failure of Lenin and his successors to overcome the division of the world into the advanced and the backward--a division that had been a central element of List's vision of the world--which placed Russia in the latter. The Communists failed to build a modern civilization capable of matching and surpassing the highest achievements of the capitalist West by following an alternative route to that which List had proposed for Germany and which was adopted successfully in Japan and certain other nations of Asia in this century.

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