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Marxism, Revolution, and the Making of New Nations

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Marxism and the Making of China
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It was the political activity of Europeans in the nineteenth century that was to occupy the intellectual energy of the founders of Marxism. This was because both Marx and Engels fully expected Socialist revolution in the industrial centers of their time—rich as those centers were in proletarian masses and centralized, cartelized industries. Marxist theory concerned itself with that “imminent” revolution, leaving talk of the uprisings in the less-developed regions for another day. That was to make Marxism far less relevant for our time than it might otherwise have been.

In 1862 nationalism was well on its way toward becoming one of the most powerful motivating forces in world affairs.

—Peter Mentzel1

Nationalism is a political movement which seeks to attain and defend an objective we may call national integrity. It seeks “freedom,” but freedom can mean many things. The demand for freedom already carries with it the suggestion that nationalists feel themselves oppressed. Out of this freedom-oppression complex of ideas we may extract a general description of nationalism: It is a political movement depending on a feeling of collective grievance against foreigners.

—K. R. Minogue2

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  1. K. R. Minogue, Nationalism (New York: Basic Books, 1967), 25.

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  2. An effort to provide a summary account of the complex process can be found in A. James Gregor, Totalitarianism and Political Religion: An Intellectual History (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012).

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  3. The full text is available in English as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Address of the Central Committee to the Communist League,” and Marx, The Class Struggles in France 1848–1850, in Marx and Engels, Selected Works in Two Volumes (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1955), vol. 1, 106–17, 139–42.

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  4. The youthful founders of the first Marxism were dismissive of alternative interpretations of the revolutionary thought of their time. See Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Collected Works (New York: International Publishers, 1975), vol. 4, 5–211; and Marx and Engels, The German Ideology: Critique of Modern German Philosophy According to Its Representatives Feuerbach, B. Bauer and Stirner, and of German Socialism According to Its Various Prophets, in ibid., vol. 5, 19–581.

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  5. See A. James Gregor, Totalitarianism and Political Religion: An Intellectual History (Stanford: Stanford University, 2012), 120–141.

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  6. All the references here provided will be to the easily available English translation of Mazzini’s selected works as Mazzini, The Duties of Man and Other Essays (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1912). See Mazzini, “To the Italians,” ibid., 238.

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  7. Marx and Engels, “Revue,” Werke (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1963), vol. 7, 460–61.

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  8. See the discussion in A. James Gregor, Marxism, Fascism, and Totalitarianism: Chapters in the Intellectual History of Radicalism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009).

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  9. I have provided a general account of the ideology of Martí in A. James Gregor, The Fascist Persuasion in Radical Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 274–84. See Martí’s identification as the “Apostle” and Rizal as the “Guiding Saint” of nationalist revolutions in Cuba and the Philippines, respectively. See Deborah Shnookal’s Preface to Deborah Shnookal and Mirta Muňiz (ed.), José Martí Reader: Writings on the Americas (New York: Ocean Press, 2007), 3; Harold Augenbraum (translator), “Introduction,” Noli Me Tangere, xxii.

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© 2014 A. James Gregor

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Gregor, A.J. (2014). Marxism, Revolution, and the Making of New Nations. In: Marxism and the Making of China. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

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