Editorial Comment on Veteran’s Article: “The National Question and the Lettish Proletariat”

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We gladly publish Comrade Veteran’s[1] article, which gives an outline of the history of the national question among the Letts in general and in the Lettish Social-Democratic Party in particular. Draft amendments or addenda by Lettish Marxists for the decision by the Summer (1913) Conference[2] would be very welcome. Lettish Social-Democrats have long been in sympathy with the Bund; but this sympathy was shaken firstly by the theoretical criticism of the Marxists, and secondly by the Bundists’ separatism in practice, particularly after 1906. We hope that the discussion of the national question among Lettish Social-Democrats will continue and that it will lead to the adoption of definite decisions.

As regards Comrade Veteran’s remarks, we have only the following comment to make. He thinks our reference to Switzerland[3] unconvincing because all three nations in that country are historical and have been equal from the very beginning. But “nations without a history” cannot find models or patterns anywhere (apart from utopias) except among historical nations. As for the equality of nations, that is something even advocates of “cultural-national autonomy” take for granted. Consequently, the experience of civilised mankind tells us that where genuine equality of nations and consistent democracy exist, “cultural-national autonomy”, is superfluous; and where they do not exist, it remains utopian, and propaganda in its favour is propaganda in favour of refined nationalism.

  1. Veteran—P. I. Stučka, one of the oldest leaders of the Social-Democratic movement.
  2. This refers to the Conference of the Central Committee of the RSDLP and Party workers held on September 23-October 1 (October 6–14), 1913 in the village of Poronin, near Cracow. For reasons of secrecy it was called the “August” (“Summer”) Conference.
  3. See pp. 20–21 of this volume.—Ed.