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Soviet Family Code And Women: Marxism And The National Question By Lósif Stalin

1295 words - 5 pages

Marxism was originally not designed for a multiethnic state but for nation-states. Thus the underlying assumption that national sense of belonging could take over class sense belonging required party members to elaborate a nationalities policies. Joseph Stalin published in 1913 a seven-chapter article about the position that Marxists should adopt in regard to nationalism. In Marxism and the National Question, Stalin asserted what would be the cornerstone of the Bolsheviks’ future nationality policies to wit the recognition of oppressed nations and the extinction of the oppressing nation’s imperialism. Indeed, Lenin and Stalin defended nationalism despite the internationalist aspirations of Marxism as they believed that the nationalism of oppressed nations was defensive in nature and thus legitimate. However, a decade later, Stalin’s treatise was only partly relevant to Bolsheviks policies in the 1920’s. While Stalin defended regional autonomy which was based not only on a national sense of belonging but also on territorial and historical cohesion and the abolition of all national and ethnic privileges, the nationalities policies implemented after 1922 promoted national-cultural autonomy and strong affirmative action. National cultural autonomy negated the historical cohesion of a territory and focused on the individuals’ national sense of belonging. When regional autonomy would have created autonomous territories where a mosaic of peoples lived with the same rights, national cultural autonomy created a mosaic of ethnically and nationally homogenous territories sometimes at the detriment of historical and geographical logic as some nations like the Jews lived spread out in different regions of the USSR. This apparent shift of the Bolsheviks about the nationalities question was influenced by the 1917-1922 Russian Civil war and the fall of the Austro Hungarian Empire in 1918.

Stalin, in his 1913 treatise Marxism and the National Question, argued in favor of regional autonomy. Indeed, Stalin considered territorial cohesion as essential in defining a nation which explains why he believed that fostering cultural-national autonomy would be incoherent . Instead, he advocated for the autonomy of preexisting territories which differentiated themselves culturally from Russian cultured regions such as Poland or Lithuania . Regional autonomy would unite nations and thus enable workers to focus on winning the class warfare against the bourgeoisie .Nevertheless, Stalin recognized the heterogeneity of those territories and supported policies to protect national minorities. Eventually, regional autonomy and democracy would prevent persecutions of these minorities .
Stalin and Lenin both agreed on the artificial nature of the creation of nations based territories in the USSR. They did not deny the existence of this nations but considered that nationality was a matter of “form” rather than “content” . However, the nationalities’ policies of the 1920’s seemed in...

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