For Rob: determination ,chris?

Chris Burford cburford at
Mon Apr 19 15:55:42 PDT 1999

Forwarded for Rob, out of a fit of generosity and confidence.

>Would you mind forwarding the bit after this bit to LBO for me? I'm writing
>from an unsubscribed address.

>When Ange (?) writes:
>>>>my point being is that the claim to self-determination is unsustainable
>>>>an unconditional claim*; and *at the same time*, it is not possible to
>>>>support self-determination *with conditions* since this is no longer
>... we should remember that unqualified self-determination (a pretty
>black'n'white notion in this gray world) is hardly on anyone's agenda for
>Kosovo. You and I might disagree as to what this war is about, but I think
>you'd find it hard to convince anybody that a wasted little place like
>tomorrow's Kosovo is gonna be independent.
>So I'm with this bit:
>>>>more importantly perhaps, self-determination (autonomy) in today's world
>>>>means more and more the creation of dependant zones (bantustans) which
>>>>their claims on economic support from the previously-central government
>>>>severed whilst allowing a hollow cultural autonomy (as I think nanuvat
>>>>unfortunately look like). increasingly, it is a way of containing any
>>>>claims, containing a pool of reserve or underpaid labour, establishing
>>>>internal responsibilities for policing that labour (as in the Palestinian
>>>>authority, for eg), and so on. it is, in short, a way of corralling.
>And while you have a point that the fact that ...
>>>> ... framing one's rights/identity in terms of the nation-state is a
>liberal concoction.
>does not mean it would not represent a progressive move, the fact that it
>won't happen in any meaningful way - that what is happening precisely
>militates against just this - that even the unlikely event of a US-armed KLA
>gaining ascendancy ain't gonna get us the Kosovo yesterday's Kosovars had in
>mind - has to matter.
>>>BTW I quote Lenin a lot, not because I believe in Biblical authority.
>>>are some points on which I do not agree with Lenin. But because he was the
>>>most systematic, rigorous, and influential applier of marxism in the 20th
>>>century, and because I like to confront those who parade sloppy left
>>>radical propositions as marxism.
>I'm a sloppy anti-Leninist would-be Marxist - but heaps of anti-Leninists
>are systematic and rigorous (although not as infuential) - just don't get
>too sweeping with the plaudits in mixed company, eh?
>>>>From this point of view Serb nationalism is absurdly reactionary.
>Serbian nationalism is reactionary in itself - but then it doesn't exist by
>itself. Milosovich is no nationalist by all accounts - just an opportunist
>who knew the fall of the wall was gonna necessitate 'new' identities, around
>which, of course, he would fashion a new Milo and a new career. And there
>are good material reasons for Serbia to pinch slices of Bosnia and as much
>of Kosovo as possible - and obviously a lot of Belgrade money agreed with
>him for a decisive time (the gamble looks a bit sick now, but it was a good
>shot). Remember that bit in the 18th Brumaire where Marx talks about Luis
>Bonaparte offering the money something and offering the peasantry something?
> I reckon some expert here might be able to tell us to what degree Belgrade
>(and maybe Russian) money stood to gain from Kosovo, and how a significant
>proportion of Kosovo's Serbs were rurally based (and doing it tough), and
>how most of those poor sods Tudjman and the UN kicked out of Krajina still
>need a place to live. The students and the workers launched a sustained and
>orchestrated campaign to get rid of Milo a couple of years ago - and failed.
> The unlikely unity of money and peasantry/underclass might just have had
>the balance. All speculation, of course - but I am in a shed in the rural
>southern highlands of New South Wales with nought but a Mac an old McClellan
>edition and a cask of port to aid me.
>>>Were there any prospects of Eastern Europe stabilising against
>>>into the European super-state with a policy of nationalism and socialism
>>>some marked violations of democratic rights would be worth the price.
>>>is absolutely no chance. It is complete nonsense.
>Blokes like Milo know states don't deal on your policies. They deal in
>power. When the time to deal was to come, he'd be dealing from a stronger
>position than otherwise - on the criteria that seem to matter. 'Good'
>material stuff, eh?
>>>What is not complete nonsense however, is that it only takes a small
>>>proportion of the population to practice vicious fascist measures over a
>>>minority, with the tacit, acquiescence of a majority for massive
>>>moves to be precipitated by terror.
>'Home county' Serbs have told a lot of people a lot of times that they don't
>believe what the west is telling them about pre-March Kosovo, and they had
>definitley not been given any details by their own news services. And I
>reckon a few hundred well-organised blokes with shooters can do an awful lot
>of damage to a spread-out rural community with relative impunity and a fair
>bit of discretion. After all, that's how the KLA were operating, too. You
>and I have already discussed 'fascist' elsewhere.
>>>What is the progressive stance towards national differences in an economic
>>>environment that has largely transcended the nation state?
>Well, it has transformed the nation-state more than transcended it.
>Globalising capital needs the state in many fundamental ways. Those ways
>ain't what they were thirty years ago, but I reckon they're no less
>>>Well I am agreeing that to frame it in terms of a nation state is now
>>>anachronistic. But as to it being a concoction, the right not to be
>>>nationally oppressed is one of many bourgeois democratic rights, which
>>>all bourgeois democratic rights, are an accompaniment of capitalist
>>>intensive commodity production, and which have a dual nature. They are
>>>partly abstract illusory rights which can never be totally enforced in
>>>isolation. They are on the other hand very important bastions against the
>>>most destructive and oppressive tendencies of capitalism. Democrats,
>>>working people and marxists must absolutely be prepared on many occasions
>>>to defend them, despite the catcalls and sneers of sloppy pseudo-marxists.
>I agree with this - I just don't agree with strategic bombing from a
>technical point of view. It's a means that has nothing to do with the
>professed ends. More than that, even if it could hurry up the moment of
>Kosovar emancipation (which I still reckon was never on the cards if you're
>talking about this in terms of a sovereign nation state), it leaves them
>free of social and economic infrastructure, indeed free of anywhere to
>sleep, work, learn, convalesce and anything to eat. They'll quickly learn
>all about the inadequacy of negative freedom, eh? Clinton needed the focus
>off his delinquent dick (death and distraction), the military/industrial
>complex needed some PR to perpetuate its claim on the public monies of a
>very individualistic political culture (death and taxes), an unpredictable
>Russia needed an unambiguous warning (remember, this mob killed 200 000
>Japanese to this end only 54 years ago) and international capital wanted to
>draw a recalcitrant economy into its dominion (destruction of capital in a
>world of excess capacity and lapsing profitability - and then conditional
>reconstruction loans to extend the reach of its political wing). I've said
>before, if the end was Kosovar emancipation, this would have been an
>altogether different campaign ). I still think the Rambouillet (however you
>spell it) thing could've swung it if it was meant to. Even if emancipation
>was a likely epiphenomenon I'd gracefully accept your point. Anyway, it
>wasn't and it wasn't.
>>>That does not mean we should have idealist illusions in such bourgeois
>>>rights: that is the aspect in which they are concoctions.
>National sovereignty has obviously been exposed as one idealist illusion ...
>>>Lenin argued in Critical Remarks on the National Question, 1913:
>>>"there is only one solution to the national problem (insofar as it can, in
>>>general, be solved in the capitalist world, the world of profit,
>>>and exploitation), and that solution is consistent democracy."
>Like getting the duly elected moderate Rugova out of the chair, and an
>unelected puppet in it?
>>>Lenin goes on to say:
>>>"The national programme of working-class democracy is: absolutely no
>>>privileges for any one nation or any one language; the solution of the
>>>problem of the political self-determination of nations, that is, their
>>>separation as states by completely free, democratic methods;
>Like the election that saw Rugova come to office?
>>> the promulgation of a law for the whole state by virtue of which any
>>>(rural, urban or communal, etc, etc) introducing any privilege of any kind
>>>for one of the nations and militating against the equality of nations or
>>>the rights of a national minority, shall be declared illegal and
>>>ineffective, and any citizen of the state shall have the right to demand
>>>that such a measure be annnulled as unconsitutional, and that those who
>>>attempt to put it into effect be punished."
>This is an ideal to which we work, not a description of ANYWHERE - I mean,
>where did the profits from Irish ship-builders, Welsh coal miners and
>Scottish oil wells go? None of that history is over (even if the ships and
>the coal are). Nip across that 'snot-green, scrotum-tightening sea' and
>bellow this out on Bogside, Chris!
>>>Such an approach should be unconditional. In fighting for it to be
>>>unconditional we strengthen the unity of all working people.
>Unity through conditionlessness is easier the further you get from home.
>You should have seen how smugly righteous we Ozzies got about South Africa
>while a hundred Aboriginees perished in gaol (and the rest simply die thirty
>years before their time). We were rock-solid, comrade!
>>>It cannot be implemented in disregard of the actual economic environment.
>>>Without a geographically compact area it is impossible to organise local
>>>regional autonomy. That is not the case in Kosovo. Its autonomy was
>>>in 1989. Clinton is right that this war has been going on for 10 years. In
>>>this he is more marxist than the marxists who shuffle a set of idealist
>>>dogmas divorced from concrete reality to strike an imposing stance.
>All depends how you define 'war', doesn't it. Clinton doesn't call what
>he's doing to Serbian commuters and Albanian refugees 'war' - in fact I
>don't think America has been at 'war' since VJ Day. 100 000 incinerated
>Iraqi conscripts and 500 000 dead Iraqi infants is not a war, but 2000 dead
>Kosovars is. Clinton's not an authority I'd go with, Chris.
>>>The right to self-determination requires a right for nationally compact
>>>areas to secede. That is the sense in which Lenin called for "The
>>>recognition of the right to secession for all".
>A condition upon which no state can survive. Get concrete, Chris!
>>>Support for the right to secession makes secession less likely not more
>How many counties would Ulster have left in this dream-world? My call is,
>England would stop at Berwick (Jim suspects somewhere just south of
>Sheffield, I think).
>>>Marxists are not particularly in favour of the disintegration of bourgeois
>democratic states.
>Depends on which states. The Mason-Dixon Line'd make a fine national border
>by some lights, I reckon (although I'd not have thought so, I hasten to add,
>in 1864).
>>>Now under conditions of supra-national capitalism, certain resolutions of
>>>national questions become more possible. Europe is being reconceived as
>>>Europe of the regions. So long as there is a unified market it is the
>>>interests of the large capitalists and of the working class (dialectics
>>>sometimes includes these unbearable shocks) that oppressed regions obtain
>>>autonomy. In Britain Scotland is just about to get a parliament for the
>>>first time for 350 years. Wales is about to get an assembly. If they wish
>>>to secede they can and not one Englishman will stop them.
>That depends on how much oil is projected to come from Scotland's maritime
>wells, I reckon. Maybe this selfless act on Blair's part suggest there
>ain't that much left. Wales can go - but then they're not so sure, are
>they? They have no oil at all.
>>>The development of capitalism in western Europe permits non-violent
>>>compromises in Ireland, because under any configuration all parts will
>>>remain within the European market.
>I don't think this is a particularly important consideration for Basques or
>the Northern Italian separatists - nor for Madrid or Rome. Functionalist
>Integrationism has a long and silly history, Chris.
>>>Jim H is right in his comments under this thread title that Yorkshire is
>>>not a nation, but it is to some extent an oppressed region, and a
>>>democratic solution to the administration of the regions in England is
>>>quite possible alongside a more democratic solution to the nations of the
>>>United Kingdom.
>It has been possible for centuries, no?
>>>Jim's points about the economic difficulties for the Albanians of Kosovo
>>>have a viable economic unit with the Albanians of Albania is correct. That
>>>is one of the reasons why it was so reactionary and destructive of the
>>>unity of working people that the Serbs removed their autonomy. There are
>>>good economic reasons why a Kosovo run by mainly Albanians would want
>>>civilised relations with Serbia.
>That's what Rugova used to argue when he spoke for Kosovo - back when he
>used to matter - when US media weren't implying he was a Milosovic puppet,
>>>But the Albanians of Kosovo, not just the KLA, want NATO involvement
>>>because they are grievously oppressed. No doubt it shows very bad taste in
>>>the eyes of western RRRevolutionary marxists, but the right of nations,
>>>nationalities to self-determination, and freedom from oppression cannot be
>>>conditional on them avoiding all petty-bourgeois prejuduces. They will of
>>>course show them.
>Some straw man you've built there, Chris! I can think of some lists where
>this might be a fair point to make, of course (you know the ones I have in
>mind), but LBO ain't one of 'em.
>>>A marxist and a leninist policy of resistance against all national
>>>oppression cannot in all fairness be restricted only to those people who
>>>have reached the intellectual heights of the most complacent and
>>>self-satisfied marxist authorities on a list like this. One of those
>>>paradoxes of dialectics, I am afraid. But what has dialectics got to do
>>>with marxism?
>What LBO is generally questioning is the relationship (or lack of it)
>between the ends you repeatedly invoke and the means NATO has unilaterally
>employed. And don't get me going on Lenin's dialectics (nor his practice
>when it came to oppression, neither).
>There, that last bit should ensure I take some of the heat off you! I
>reckon you owe me a pint of Fullers ESB.

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