File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-21.060, message 24

Date: Mon, 20 Jan 1997 09:41:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Re: Nationalism & Internationalism in Marx

Louis Godena,

I do not question the critical linkages of nation-states to each other and
to the larger totality of which they are components. My statement was an
analytical one, that is, what do we take as the unit of analysis: the
nation-state? or the world-system? This is a crucial distinction. 

Explanations which take as their unit of analysis the nation-state can
falsely attribute transformations internal to nation-states as having
solely endogenous causes. In Marx's formulation it is the productive
foundation of a social formation which determines, or at least conditions,
civil society and its corresponding political and juridical forms. If the
nation-state is the unit of analysis, then Marx's argument is rather
confused, since he is substituting juridical and political boundaries (the
nation-state) for the objective mode of production (the world-economy).
One would have to demonstrate that 19th century England was isolated from
the world market, or that there was no world-system in the 19th century,
in order to justify using the nation-state as a unit of analysis.

In fact, transformations internal to nation-states have multiple causes,
both endogenous and exogenous, and taking the world-system as the proper
unit of analysis allows one to probe this multiplicity of causes. I argue
that it precisely here where Marx went astray, and oddly in contradiction
to his own theory. Rather than the proletariat of nation after nation
overthrowing the ruling class and then dissolving national boundaries in
the development of a global socialist society, the objective forces of
production will have to fully transnationalize, creating the structural
conditions necessary for the adjustment of social relations that we call
the socialist revolution. 

This argument in no way invalidates Marx's general theory (the utility of
which is not seriously disputed) or his specific theory of competitive
capitalism (which is empirically verified), and it is cause for optimism. 
In other words, the socialist revolution predicted by Marx's own theory
has not occurred yet.

Andrew Austin

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