Today the concept of fatherland is accepted and respected by all, from the extreme right to the bourgeois extreme left, from the petty bourgeoisie to the proletariat disarmed by sixty years of counter-revolution. British and Irish, Hungarians and Rumanians, Serbians and Albanians butcher one another for the fatherland, as much as to remain in «civil» and democratic Europe. In the lands of the Armenians and Azeris, its in the name of love of the fatherland that pregnant women have been disembowelled and the fetuses extracted from their torn bellies. The aforesaid love of the fatherland is spewed by the priests of all religions: even Their Holiness John Paul II, while chewing over the hypocrisy of the council Vatican II has reaffirmed many times that there is such a thing as a just war: that in defence of the fatherland. It would be comical, if it weren’t tragic, to verify that in this way he has legitimised all the armies that have torn «his» Poland apart: in fact, who could deny that German soldiers in the two imperialist World Wars of this century were moved by love of the German fatherland, or that those of the Tsar or of Stalin were moved by love of the Russian fatherland? Naturally, we wouldn’t expect anything different from one who has blessed all armies and all wars, with a single exception: the class war.
If those who call themselves Christians were to be in the least coherent with their own principles, they could only line themselves up on our side to expel the capitalist merchants from, the temple of the human species. It was Jesus and not Marx who said that one cannot be in the service of two masters – God and Money – at the same time. As materialists, we can substitute the expression «the human species» for the term God, and for the remainder we have no problem approving the phrase in full. Those «Christians» who accept this system based on the exploitation of man by man, and on the adoration of the god Money, are worthy heirs of the Pharisees. On the other hand, we communists, with our materialist vision of the world, may consider ourselves with good, dialectical reason as the historical heirs of original Christianity: even if for nothing more than its position in favour of the oppressed.
At present, only the big bourgeoisie has a truly international vision. It makes use of patriotism to keep the eternal henchmen, the petty bourgeoisie, at their posts, and to keep the eternal enemy, the proletariat, in chains; but as soon as its interests and its profits are at stake, it’s ready to make fun of the much-adored fatherland. History is full of examples of this kind of thing.
The Paris-Commune of 1871, which was not bowed in the presence of the German army – the latter had already brought the French Empire of Napoleon III to its knees – was destroyed by the army of the French Republic, the expression of the national bourgeoisie. This bourgeoisie, facing the danger posed by a proletarian power manifested for the first time, on the one hand spoke of a struggle to the last: drop of blood (proletarian blood, naturally) for the defence of the fatherland; on the other hand, it agreed with the German Empire to surrender, in order to allow itself free play against the only true enemy of the bourgeoisie: the proletariat. From Germany, the French government obtained the release of thousands of its soldiers taken prisoner, who could thus be employed to massacre the insurgents of the Commune. Witnesses and protagonists of these events recount how the German soldiers, encamped in the neighbourhood of Paris, would often allow refugees fleeing the massacre to cross their lines. This was out of respect for the fighting qualities and courage the refugees had shown: a very clear instance of how, for the proletariat, there is no enemy more pitiless than its own bourgeoisie and the instrument of that class, the State.
The French bourgeoisie and its State later revived this script in the two World Wars when the French State fell before the military power of German imperialism. However, the immediacy of this fall was not due only to questions of a military nature, but also to the fact that such a weakened and discredited army and State would not have been able to fulfill their repressive function against the internal proletariat. For this reason, the patriotic French bourgeoisie was in a great hurry to surrender to Germany for the nth time, so as to have at its disposal a military occupation force able to carry out this essential repressive function, which was otherwise lacking. Not by chance, in the Second War the Vichy collaborationist government had inherited all the French State’s army and administration. It was not only the fascists who collaborated with the Germans, but the whole French State, which had sub-contracted the repression of its own proletarians to the German State.
In Italy, the patriotic fascists ended up selling «the sacred fatherland» to Germany, while the just as patriotic antifascists were divided between those who wanted to sell it to America, and those who wanted to sell it to Russia.
During the war between Great Britain and Argentina some years ago, the British arms salesmen continued to do business with Argentina as they had before. On the other hand, the South American guerrillas immediately placed themselves on the side of their own torturers, in the name of defence of the fatherland.
Patriotic – and therefore interclassist – alliances are obviously made between the hangmen and the hanged, and only the big bourgeoisie rates the fatherland for what it is: that’s to say a cow to hold in high regard since it yields lots of milk (read profit and social peace); but which, in the extreme case that it were no longer to produce profit, could always be sold, piece by piece or completely.
Thus the Iran-Iraq war has been concluded with the victory of both bourgeoisies with their respective States, which are reinforced thanks to «patriotic unity» and thanks to the destruction of the excess labour-power which threatened social peace. The losers are the proletarians of both countries, massacred in war, or more enchained to their respective bourgeoisies than before.
As far as the «denied fatherland» of the Palestinians is concerned, it has to be said that Israel does not accept the idea of a Palestinian State, because it realises that the Palestinian bourgeoisie, represented by the P.L.O., is too weak to effectively repress the numerous and starved Palestinian proletariat. Hence it is up to the Israeli State to fulfill this function.
The bourgeois continue to repeat that we are all in the same boat; they forget to say that they're cracking the whip – while proletarians are chained to the oar, their fates sealed whether the boat sinks or not, with only one hope of salvation: mutiny. Behind all national, ethnic and religious hatreds, there are thin reality class conflicts which the bourgeoisie diverts towards wars between nations to avoid the one war which horrifies it: the class war. At the moment in which class rule is endangered, the bourgeoisie puts aside all the patriotic chatter and is wholly united in throwing itself against the proletariat.
In the awareness that all fatherlands are our mortal enemies, we communists can only repeat:
«Proletarians of the whole world, unite!»