Australian Left Review


Marx, Engels and National Movements is a collection, joined with commentary, of Marx and Engels’ observations on the national question. The observations appeared in their lifetime in newspaper articles, lectures, letters and as subtopics in major theoretical works. In their writings of the 1840s, Marx and Engels considered that capitalism an d national in dependence went hand in hand since independent national economic development was the raison d ’etre of the bourgeoisie. Capitalism was intimately linked with the emergence of a national capitalist class shaped by and controlling the nation state. Further, Marx and Engels believed that capitalism manifested an objectively progressive character , it compelled non- European lands “to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, ie to become bourgeois themselves. In one word it create(d) a world after its own image” (from the Manifesto. This view — that the non-European world was fated to become essentially like Western Europe was coupled with the view that “everything that centralises the bourgeoisie is advantageous to the workers” (Marx to Engels, July 1866). Bourgeois hegemony they thought, would bring unity to small and fragmented states, and in the long run, this was helpful to the international workers’ movement.



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