nationthingy Re: determination ,chris?

rc-am rcollins at
Tue Apr 20 08:28:13 PDT 1999

Chris wrote:

>>You have challenged me with a quiet assertiveness to answer your
posts. I have not given them as much priority as other posts, not because I do not think you opinion is not in principle as valid as any other on this list, but because in terms of the dynamics of these lists there are pack phenomena, pecking orders, stigmatisation, marginalization and exclusion. Much of this is rather macho.<<

what is this? is this your explanation for why you haven't responded to a specific argument? that you, or the list, is hierarchical, macho etc? all of that may well be true. but let me suggest another reason: that it is easier to run for the polemical trenches than it is to have an argument; that it is easier to address oneself to routine phraseology between formulaically opposed positions than it is to address a challenge to the premises of one's own argument; and finally, that it is more comforting to address oneself to the one's obvious opponents than it is to those who might share some but not all of your positions.

that unfortunately is what this debate is reduced to: hence, it is easier for those who support the NATO bombing/intervention/whatever to raise the Achilles heel of the anti-NATO arguments by pointing to the flood of expulsions from Kosovo. it is easier for those who oppose NATO to address themselves to the Achilles heel of the pro-NATO arguments by pointing to the obviously false characterization of the war as a having humanitarian objectives. what is difficult, and what people like yourself continue to avoid, is addressing arguments which support neither 'side' in this trench-like way.

>>However in your particular case I take your frame of reference is
not a specifically marxist one but that of a person of average good will living in a capitalist society. I am in favour of marxists being able to communicate with such people and not being a sect. But there is a different range and texture to such discourse.<<

and, since I now insist that you answer these arguments, not only do you continue to avoid them, but you call me 'a person on average good will'; not 'specifically' a marxist; and more or less say that the ways in which you might speak to me are 'different' to the ways you might speak to a marxist! my, how easily you reach for sectarian comforts when backed into a corner.

and, this question, the central question, still remains unanswered: how do you define a nation?

you had written:

>>The right to self-determination requires a right for nationally
compact areas to secede.<<

to which I replied:

>>>in order for this to make any sense at all beyond verbiage, you
would have to define what 'nationally compact' is. what does this mean? crowded? don't tell me: nationhood is about some way of life<<<

and this is your response!:

>>It is meaningless put this way because you do not have a historical
materialist understanding of the inner dynamic of nationalism at the time of rising capitalism - namely the capture of the domestic national market.<<

well, well. what is obvious is your clammy refusal to define what a nation is by resorting to the riposte that I am not a marxist. what you both understand and refuse to acknowledge is that my criticism of your arguments rests almost entirely on your substitution of class struggles and class analyses with geopolitical chess games about who is or is not a progressive nation.

you might have a pat rendition of leninist phraseology, but that does not a marxist analysis make. I could be ruder, I perhaps should be ruder given your slights, but I am more amused that you avoid a class analysis by claiming that anyone who asks for one does not understand historical materialism. what a blast. (btw, we are not in a time of 'rising capitalism', so your thinking is anachronistic to say the least, or has no one let you in on this secret yet?)

might I suggest these web sites. I do not agree with them entirely, but they are at least a serious attempt to offer a marxist analysis and not geopolitical fantasies or even you are 'pointing out' the 'abstract interests' of the working class to, well, us. (your distinction between the working class and 'we' says it all really.)

Angela --- rcollins at

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