J.V. Stalin on Nations

“The Russian Marxists have long had their theory of the nation. According to this theory, a nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of the common possession of four principal characteristics, namely: a common language, a common territory, a common economic life, and a common psychological make-up manifested in common specific features of national culture. This theory, as we know, has received general recognition in our Party.

It is evident from your letters that you consider this theory inadequate. You therefore propose that the four characteristics of a nation be supplemented by a fifth, namely, that a nation possesses its own, separate national state. You consider that there is not and cannot be a nation unless this fifth characteristic is present.

I think that the scheme you propose, with its new, fifth characteristic of the concept ‘nation,’ is profoundly mistaken and cannot be justified either theoretically or in practice, politically.”

 — J. Stalin, March 18, 1929, “The National Question and Leninism: Reply to Comrades Meshkov, Kovalchuk, and Others” Works Vol. 11 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1954)

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