The Third International after Lenin

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Self-determination for Chechnya

A 2004 editorial from The Militant. Today Moscow seeks through military and paramilitary means to prevent national self-determination struggles of Ukraine and the Crimean Tartars, among others.


.... The independence struggle in Chechnya is a just one. If successful, it will strengthen the working class in Russia and the region. The revolutionary workers movement has always championed the right of oppressed nations to self-determination as a precondition to building genuine unity on the basis of equality among all the toilers.

There is an especially bitter irony to the Kremlin's anti-Islamic crusade that has reached its sharpest point in Chechnya over the last decade. One of the very first decrees the workers and farmers government in Russia issued in December 1917, just after the triumph of the Bolshevik-led revolution, was an "Appeal to all toiling Muslims of Russia and the East."

Without lending an iota of credence to any notion that Islam or other religious beliefs or institutions are progressive, the Soviet Republic declared: "All you whose mosques and shrines have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled on by the czars and the Russian oppressors! Henceforth your beliefs and customs, your national and cultural institutions are declared free and inviolable. Build your national life freely and without hindrance. It is your right. Know that your rights—like those of all the peoples of Russia—are defended by the full force of the revolution and its organs, the soviets of workers', soldiers', and peasants' deputies."

A few years later, at the 1920 Baku Congress of the Peoples of the East, leaders of the Communist International joined with other revolutionary fighters—from inside the borders of the former czarist empire and beyond—in calling on all Muslim toilers in the region to join in a "holy war for the liberation of all humanity from the yoke of capitalist and imperialist slavery, for the ending of all forms of exploitation of man by man!"

More than eight decades later, we can confidently say that for militant workers around the world, reaffirming this clear pledge by the Bolsheviks to oppressed and exploited toilers who are Muslim, or who hail from parts of the world where the Islamic religion predominates, is not a remote or external matter. The campaigns against "Islamo-fascism"—from the Silk Road, to the Middle East, northern Africa and the imperialist world—which are part of capitalism's "antiterrorism" drive, are a case in point.

The Chechens and other oppressed peoples in the Caucasus will continue to resist the Great Russian chauvinism that was reimposed on them by the regime of Joseph Stalin with the degeneration of the Russian Revolution, and that continues to this day. Working people should back the Chechens' just struggle for national self-determination.

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