Anton Pannekoek "Class Struggle and Nation" 1912

Anton Pannekoek's pamphlet "Class Struggle and Nation" (1912) focused on the concessions Bauer made to nationalist separatism within the Austrian social democracy (which led to the split of the party into national factions), while developing one of the best analyzes of nationalism, just before the outbreak of the First World War.
We present here some excerpts, which will hopefully encourage study of the entire pamphlet and a more in-depth analysis of the current nationalism in all its forms and its extrication from the position of the international working class.
Of course all kinds of positions proved obsolete by the changes announced by world war, like that of the trade unionism and that of the national character of the proletarian party.

Class Struggle and Nation

"The "nations" involved in the political struggle, which are fighting among themselves for influence over the State, for power in the State (Bauer, pp. 218-243), are nothing but organizations of the bourgeois classes (…) The proletariat has nothing to do with this necessity of competition of the bourgeois classes, with their will to constitute a nation. For it, the nation does not mean the privilege of securing a customer base, positions, or opportunities for work. The capitalists immediately learned to import foreign workers who do not speak German or Czech. By mentioning this capitalist practice it is not our basic intention to expose nationalist hypocrisy, but above all to make the workers understand that under the rule of capitalism the nation can never be synonymous with a labor monopoly for them. And only infrequently does one hear among backward workers, such as the American trade unionists of the old school, of a desire to restrict immigration.
In the trade union struggle, workers of different nationalities see themselves confronted by the same employer. They must wage their struggle as a compact unit; they know its vicissitudes and effects in the most intimate kind of community of fate. They have brought their national differences with them from their various countries, mixed with the primitive individualism of the peasants or the petit-bourgeoisie, perhaps also a little national consciousness, combined with other bourgeois traditions. But all of these differences are traditions of the past opposed to the present need to resist as a compact mass, and opposed to the living community of combat of the present day. Only one difference has any practical significance here: that of language; all explanations, all proposals, all information must be communicated to everyone in their own language. In the great American strikes (the steelworkers strike at McKee's Rocks or the textile workers strike at Lawrence, for example), the strikers—a disjointed conglomeration of the most varied nationalities: French, Italians, Poles, Turks, Syrians, etc.—formed separate language sections whose committees always held joint meetings and simultaneously communicated proposals to each section in its own language, thus preserving the unity of the whole, which proves that, despite the inherent difficulties of the language barrier, a close-knit community of proletarian struggle can be achieved."

© "Left Disorder" 3-aug-16