How Real Is Arab Nationalism?
Nasserism Paves the Way for Communism
Arab nationalism existed before the Russian Revolution, and it would have continued to grow without it. But without Soviet encouragement and guidance it would not have attained its present dimensions—and without a sharp change in the Soviet attitude toward non-Communist and even reactionary regimes in backward countries, this encouragement and guidance itself would not have been forthcoming.
Under Stalin, Communist collaboration with non-Communist movements in Asia or Africa was out of the question. At least it became so after 1928, when the Communist alliance with the Chinese nationalists collapsed. From then on Stalin was suspicious even of Asian Communists; his coolness toward the Chinese party until shortly before the latter’s triumph shows that. All the more reason why he, the “Marxist-Leninist,” should refuse to cooperate with national, or social, “reformists” like Nehru and the other representatives of the Asian “colonial bourgeoisie,” whom he saw as mainly engaged in hoodwinking the “masses” in the interest of Western imperialism. A narrow, hyper-doctrinaire interpretation of Marxism-Leninism plus Stalin’s own tendency to distrustfulness and caution—especially in foreign affairs—imposed a Communist policy in Asia that in retrospect can be seen as self-defeating in its rigidity. Although under Stalin’s own regime power rested neither with the proletariat nor the party, he continued to view the dictatorship of the proletariat as indispensable to revolution elsewhere—or, failing that, it was indispensable to a party-led “revolution from above” installed by Soviet Russian bayonets. Since the right kind of proletariat was lacking in Asia, and since there seemed no chance there for a “revolution from above,” Stalin in effect wrote that vast continent off as a theater of Communist expansion.
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