Lenin on National Oppression

“Why should we Great Russians, who have been oppressing more nations than any other people, deny the right to secession for Poland, Ukraine, or Finland? We are asked to become chauvinists, because by doing so we would make the position of Social-Democrats in Poland less difficult. We do not pretend to seek to liberate Poland, because the Polish people live between two states that are capable of fighting. Instead of telling the Polish workers that only those Social-Democrats are real democrats who maintain that the Polish people ought to be free, since there is no place for chauvinists in a socialist party, the Polish Social-Democrats argue that, just because they find the union with Russian workers advantageous, they are opposed to Poland’s secession. They have a perfect right to do so. But people don’t want to understand that to strengthen internationalism you do not have to repeat the same words. What you have to do is stress, in Russia, the freedom of secession for oppressed nations, and, in Poland, their freedom to unite. Freedom to unite implies freedom to secede.”

 — V. I. Lenin,  “Speech on the National Question April 29 (May 12)” Collected Works, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1960, Vol. 24, p. 298

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