Two Centuries of the National Question

Critics say Marxism can’t account for the popular appeal of nationalism. But the Marxist tradition contains some vital insights into the origins and future of national communities.

Communist Manifesto, Brazilian edition, 1982.

In his 1975 essay “The Modern Janus,” Tom Nairn described the theory of nationalism as “Marxism’s great historical failure.” You can find similar claims throughout the abundant literature on the subject. The argument usually goes something like this. From Karl Marx onward, socialists expected workers to identify with their class rather than their nation, and […]

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