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Marxism and National Identity

Socialism, Nationalism, and National Socialism during the French Fin de Siecle

Robert Stuart

Publication Year: 2006

Post-Marxists argue that nationalism is the black hole into which Marxism has collapsed at today’s “end of history.” Robert Stuart analyzes the origins of this implosion, revealing a shattering collision between Marxist socialism and national identity in France at the close of the nineteenth century. During the time of the Boulanger crisis and the Dreyfus affair, nationalist mobs roamed the streets chanting “France for the French!” while socialist militants marshaled proletarians for world revolution. This is the first study to focus on those militants as they struggled to reconcile Marxism’s two national agendas: the cosmopolitan conviction that “workingmen have no country,” on the one hand, and the patriotic assumption that the working class alone represents national authenticity, on the other. Anti-Semitism posed a particular problem for such socialists, not least because so many workers had succumbed to racist temptation. In analyzing the resultant encounter between France’s anti-Semites and the Marxist Left, Stuart addresses the vexed issue of Marxism’s involvement with political anti-Semitism.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in National Identities

Marxism and National Identity

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pp. iii


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-x

This study was begun some years ago when I decided to explore “French Marxism and the National Question.” Within weeks of commencing the project I discovered the richness of the relevant conceptual debates, and soon after that I began to understand the mammoth dimensions of the literature on French nationalism. Even more dauntingly, once I reengaged with the...

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pp. 1-7

At the end of summer during 1891, Europe witnessed two world-historical events. The socialist parties of the Second International assembled in Brussels, celebrating labor’s mobilization against capital. Shortly thereafter, the French fleet visited Kronstadt, consolidating France’s rapprochement with imperial Russia. Contemporaries noted this conjunction. The liberal publicist...

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1. “For Us the World!”: The Guesdists against the Nation

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pp. 9-27

In one of its incarnations, the POF validated the accusation that Marxists are alien to nationhood, strangers to patriotism, mere “rootless cosmopolitans.”1 Certainly Parti Ouvrier texts offer few hints of that “enracinement”2 in landscape, kinship, and heritage so vital to national identity. The rhetoric of “blood and belonging” played virtually no role in the Guesdists’ discursive...

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2. “Dupes of Patriotism”: Nationalism as Bourgeois Hegemony

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pp. 29-48

espite the globalization limned in the Communist Manifesto, nationhood has survived modernity. The century following Marx’s death may have witnessed Marxism’s transient ascendancy as socialism’s master discourse, but it also experienced the far more spectacular triumph of nationalism. Whether in Paris during the Dreyfus affair, in Vienna during August 1914, in Berlin...

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3. “National Economics”: Protection, Migrant Labor,and French Marxism

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pp. 49-69

Marxists have reviled nationalism, and particularly working-class nationalism, as mere “false consciousness.” But might it instead be an “authentic” aspect of modernity? Might even workers manifest “natural” nationalism? Some Marxist now agree with more eclectic theorists that both the “vertical affiliations” of nationhood and the “horizontal affiliations” of class are...

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4. “Proletarian Patriotism”:The Guesdists and theNationalist Temptation

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pp. 71-92

Nationalism’s multisecular ascendancy has cruelly tested cosmopolitans. Whether it has been eighteenth-century liberals or nineteenth-century socialists who have championed modernity, its universal promise has been repeatedly betrayed, with both liberals and socialists degenerating from their original cosmopolitanism toward...

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5. “Savage, Brutal,and Bestial Mentalities”: The Guesdists and Racism

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pp. 93-135

Of all the ideologies besetting Marxism, racism has been the most rabid. Certainly the Parti Ouvrier could not ignore its challenge. Racists ravened across fin de si

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6. “A Class of Madmen”: Marxists Confront National Socialism

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pp. 137-172

The year 1882 marked a decisive moment in ideological history. Within the space of a few months, Europe witnessed the foundation of Jules Guesde’s Parti Ouvrier and Paul Déroulède’s Ligue des Patriotes—respectively, France’s first Marxist party and the first of the paramilitary leagues that would mutate into...

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pp. 173-177

Like all ideological paradigms, Marxism has sparked dazzling illumination among its adepts, but also inflicted ignorance and incomprehension. The doctrine’s perception of nationalism has exemplified this dialectic between blindness and brilliance. From Marx and Engels themselves, through their disciples during Marxism’s century-long ascendancy, until today’s remnant faithful,...

Appendix A: Ideology and Terminology

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pp. 179-182

Appendix B: Bibliographical Note

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pp. 183


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pp. 185-270


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pp. 271-299


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pp. 301-305

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482278
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791466698
Print-ISBN-10: 0791466698

Page Count: 315
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series in National Identities