The Affirmative Action Lenin

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In my writings on the national question I have already said that an abstract presentation of the question of nationalism in general is of no use at all. A distinction must necessarily be made between the nationalism of an oppressor nation and that of an oppressed nation, the nationalism of a big nation and that of a small nation.

In respect of the second kind of nationalism we, nationals of a big nation, have nearly always been guilty, in historic practice, of an infinite number of cases of violence; furthermore, we commit violence and insult an infinite number of times without noticing it. It is sufficient to recall my Volga reminiscences of how non-Russians are treated; how the Poles are not called by any other name than Polyachiska, how the Tatar is nicknamed Prince, how the Ukrainians are always Khokhols and the Georgians and other Caucasian nationals always Kapkasians.

That is why internationalism on the part of oppressors or “great” nations, as they are called (though they are great only in their violence, only great as bullies), must consist not only in the observance of the formal equality of nations but even in an inequality of the oppressor nation, the great nation, that must make up for the inequality which obtains in actual practice. Anybody who does not understand this has not grasped the real proletarian attitude to the national question, he is still essentially petty bourgeois in his point of view and is, therefore, sure to descend to the bourgeois point of view.

— Vladimir Lenin, “The Question of Nationalities or ‘Autonomisation'” (1922), Marxists Internet Archive

Thanks to Ivan Ovsyannikov for the heads-up. Photo by the Russian Reader

Sam Charles Hamad: Trump, The Left, and Russia

The Bronx, February 15, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader
The Bronx, February 15, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

Sam Charles Hamad
Facebook
July 29, 2016

Some leftists think that Donald Trump will be better in foreign policy terms than Hillary. They’re right. By their standards, by their principles, Trump will be better.

Trump opposes the war in Afghanistan not because he cares one bit about the lives of Afghans, but rather because he cares nothing about the lives of Afghans. If you can’t understand that difference, you’re already lost.

Trump wants to follow Obama’s lead and work closer with Russia, combined with working closer with Assad in Syria—in fact, in his own words, he wants to let Russia and Iran ‘protect’ Syria from what he calls ‘ISIS’, by which he means all the Syrian rebels. He wants to let Assad, Russia and Iran destroy the rebels and ISIS. That’s his actual policy.

Trump would never have lifted one finger to aid Libyans facing extermination from Gaddafi’s air force, saying that things would be ‘100% better off if Gaddafi was still in charge of Libya’.

Trump would recognise Crimea as Russian territory and lift sanctions on Russia, effectively abandoning Ukrainians to the will of the Vladimir Putin.

All of these things are perfectly in line with the principles of much of The Left. The difference is that they dress up their demented, barbarous, counter-revolutionary and conservative isolationism in progressive garb, such as by conjuring always so very abstractly and incoherently the lives of brown people—the entirely fantastical ‘NATO destruction of Libya’, the idea that the main problem in Syria is non-existent ‘western intervention’, etc., etc. They completely ignore the actualities of the lives of these people and they often tacitly or explicitly support the forces that are actually to blame for the monstrous hardships that these people face.

But they, like Trump, care nothing for the lives of Syrians or Libyans—they too want Russia and Iran to be given free reign to ‘protect’ Syria (this is Jeremy Corbyn’s position and very similar to Bernie Sanders, never mind the barrel bomb pacifist Jill Stein).

The truth is that Trump would be good for the barbaric principles of much of the actually existing Left. His conservative isolationism and his support for Russian imperialism is merely bereft of a phoney humanitarian aspect.

My thanks to Mr. Hamad for his kind permission to reprint this essay here. TRR

Solidarity, Community, Internationalism (and Good Public Broadcasting)

Yle, the Finnish public broadcaster, asked four recent immigrants to Finland, people who are still in the process of studying Finnish and integrating into the society, to interview representatives of the country’s main political parties in the run-up to parliamentary elections, which will take place there on April 19.

The catch was that Yle also asked the parties to send as interviewees party members who were immigrants and had themselves learned Finnish as adults or teenagers. Among other things, the interviewees were asked to explain how they had come to join the particular parties they now represented.

Interestingly and unsurprisingly, the Finns Party (Perussuomalaiset), notorious for its anti-immigrant views, was unable to provide an interviewee for the program.

The Left Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto) sent as its representative Suldan Said Ahmed, a young entrepreneur and politician originally from Somaliland. (Somaliland is an autonomous region of Somalia that seeks recognition as an independent country from the rest of the world, but as yet hasn’t got it.)

According to Said Ahmed, solidarity, community, and internationalism are the three words that best sum up the Left Alliance for him.

If like me, you are someone studying Finnish, you should love listening to Said Ahmed, because his Finnish is much easier to understand and “correct” than that spoken by “real” Finns, what with their variety of local dialects and reliance on puhekieli (conversational language), which is often shockingly at variance from the “proper” textbook Finnish we foreigners and immigrants learn on courses.

I found a recent article profiling Said Ahmed in the leftist Finnish newspaper Kansan Uutiset.

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Suldaan Said Ahmed. Photo: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

It seems Said Ahmed has political ambitions in his native Somaliland as well. He would like to become the youngest MP there and is planning to stand, apparently, in this year’s upcoming parliamentary elections there.

Said Ahmed would also like sometime in the future to be president of Finland, but that job, alas, is constitutionally only open to native-born Finns. (So far, I would like to think for his sake.)

I find all of this so fascinating in part because, just last week, I had to go verbally postal on a few of my classmates in the advanced Finnish course I have been taking here in the former capital of All the Russias. For the second or third time this semester, they regaled the rest of us with dark tales of how Somalians like Said Ahmed are ruining the fair country of Finland by moving there in droves to become—yes—welfare scroungers. Meanwhile, the government has decided, allegedly, not to let more Russians to move to Finland, even though generally it wants to encourage more immigration to the country to help care for its aging population, etc.

You get the drift.

It might rock my classmates’ world to find out that one of the interviewers in the “Let’s Meet the Parties” program (along with a man from the Philippines, a woman from Lithuania, and a woman from South Korea) is Svetlana Siltanen, who emigrated to Finland from Russia last year.

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Svetlana Siltanen. Photo: Mikko Kuusisalo / Yle

My “dream a little dream” today would be to put Yle in charge of public broadcasting for a year in Russia. What a difference that could make to people’s outlooks here.