Once More on the Segregation of the Schools According to Nationality

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Marxists resolutely oppose nationalism in all its forms, from the crude reactionary nationalism of our ruling circles and of the Right Octobrist parties, down to the more or lees refined and disguised nationalism of the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties.

Reactionary, or Black-Hundred, nationalism strives to safeguard the privileges of one nation, condemning all other nations to an inferior status, with fewer rights, or even with no rights at all. Not a single Marxist, and not even a single democrat, can treat this nationalism with anything else but the utmost hostility.

In words, bourgeois and bourgeois-democratic nationalists recognise the equality of nations, but in deeds they (often covertly, behind the backs of the people) stand for certain privileges for one of the nations, and always try to secure greater advantages for “their own” nation (i.e., for the bourgeoisie of their own nation); they strive to separate and segregate nations, to foster national exclusiveness, etc. By talking most of all about “national culture” and emphasising what separates one nation from the other, bourgeois nationalists divide the workers of the various nations and fool them with “nationalist slogans”.

The class-conscious workers combat all national oppression and all national privileges, but they do not confine themselves to that. They combat all, even the most refined, nationalism, and advocate not only the unity, but also the amalgamation of the workers of all nationalities in the struggle against reaction and against bourgeois nationalism in all its forms. Our task is not to segregate nations, but to unite the workers of all nations. Our banner does not carry the slogan “national culture” but international culture, which unites all the nations in a higher, socialist unity, and the way to which is already being paved by the international amalgamation of capital.

The influence of petty-bourgeois, philistine nationalism has infected certain “would-be socialists”, who advocate what is called “cultural-educational autonomy”, i.e., the transfer of educational affairs (and matters of national culture in general) from the state to the individual nations. Naturally, Marxists combat this propaganda for the segregation of nations, they combat this refined nationalism, they combat the segregating of the schools according to nationality. When our Bundists, and later, the liquidators, wanted to support “cultural-national autonomy” in direct opposition to our Programme, they were condemned not only by the Bolsheviks, but also by the pro-Party Mensheviks (Plekhanov).

Now Mr. An, in Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta (No. 103) is trying to defend a bad case by subterfuge, and by showering abuse upon us. We calmly ignore the abuse; it is merely a sign of the liquidators’ feebleness.

To have schools connected in the native languages—this, Mr. An assures us, is what is meant by segregating the schools according to the nationalities of the pupils; the Pravda people, he says, want to deprive the non-Russians of their national schools!

We can afford to laugh at this trick of Mr. An’s, for everybody knows that Pravda stands for the fullest equality of languages, and even for the abolition of an official language! Mr. An’s impotent rage is causing him to lose his head. This is dangerous, dear Mr. An!

The right of a nation to use its native language is explicitly and definitely recognised in § 8 of the Marxist programme.[1]

If Mr. An is right in stating that having schools conducted in the native languages means segregating the schools according to nationality, why did the Bundists in 1906, and the liquidators in 1912, “supplement” (or rather, distort) the Programme adopted in 1903—at the very Congress which rejected “cultural-national autonomy”—which fully recognises the right of a nation to use its native language?

Your subterfuge will fail, Mr. An, and you will not succeed in covering up with your noise, clamour and abuse the fact that the liquidators have violated this Programme, and that they have “adapted socialism to nationalism”, as Comrade Plekhanov expressed it.

We do not want to have the Programme violated. We do not want socialism to be adapted to nationalism. We stand for complete democracy, for the complete freedom and equality of languages, but give no support whatever to the proposal to “transfer educational affairs to the nations” or to “segregate schools according to nationality”.

“The question at issue is that of segregating the schools according to nations,” writes Mr. An, “hence, these nations must exist in each locality, hindering each other’s development; and consequently, they must be segregated in the sphere of public education as well.”

The words we have emphasised clearly reveal how liquidationism is dragging Mr. An away from socialism towards nationalism. The segregation of nations within the limits of a single state is harmful, and we Marxists strive to bring the nations together and to amalgamate them. Our object is not to “segregate” nations, but to secure for them, through full democracy, an equality and coexistence as peaceful (relatively) as in Switzerland.[2]

  1. ↑ This refers to §8 of the Programme of the RSDLP adopted at the Second Congress of the Party.
  2. ↑ Mr. An boldly asserts that “there is no intermixing of nations even in the cantons of Switzerland”. Will he not blush if we mention four cantons: Berne, Fribourg, Graubünden and Valais? —Lenin