Statistics and Sociology



For a proper survey of the whole complex of data on national movements, we must take the whole population of the earth. And in so doing, two criteria must be established with the utmost accuracy and examined with the utmost fullness: first, national homogeneity or heterogeneity of the population of various states; second, division of states (or of state-like formations in cases where there is doubt that we are really dealing with a state) into politically independent and politically dependent.

Let us take the very, latest data, published in 1916, and rely on two sources: one German, the Geographical Statistical Tables compiled by Otto Hübner, and one English, The Statesman’s Year-Book. The first source will have to serve as a basis, for it contains much more comprehensive data on the question that interests us; the second we shall use to check and in some, mostly minor, cases to correct the first.

We shall begin our survey with the politically independent and nationally most homogeneous states. First and foremost among these is a group of West-European states, i.e., situated to the west of Russia and Austria.

Here we have 17 states of which five, however, though very homogeneous in national composition, are Lilliputian in size and population. These are Luxembourg, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Andorra, with a combined population of only 310,000. Doubtlessly, it would be much more correct not to include them among the states under examination. Of the remaining 12 states, seven are absolutely homogeneous in national composition: in Italy, Holland, Portugal, Sweden and Norway, 99 per cent of the population are of one and the same nationality; in Spain and Denmark the proportion is 96 per cent. Then come three states with a nearly homogeneous national composition: France, England and Germany. In France, the Italians make up only 1.3 per cent, in areas annexed by Napoleon III by violating and falsifying the will of their people. England’s annexed territory, Ireland, has a population of 4.4 million, which is less than one-tenth of the total (46.8 million). In Germany, out of a population of 64.9 million, the non-German element, which in practically all cases is just as nationally oppressed as the Irish in England, is represented by the Poles (5.47 per cent), Danes (0.25 per cent) and the population of Alsace-Lorrain (1.87 million). However, part of the latter (the exact proportion is not known) undoubtedly incline towards Germany, due not only to language, but also to economic interests and sympathies. All in all, about 5 million of Germany’s population belong to alien, unequal and even oppressed nations.

Only two small states in Western Europe are of mixed national composition: Switzerland, whose population of somewhat less than four million consists of Germans (69 per cent), French (21 per cent) and Italians (8 per cent)—and Belgium (population less than 8 million; probably about 53 per cent Flemings and about 47 per cent French). It should be observed, however, that in spite of the high national heterogeneity in these countries, there can be no question of national oppression. In both countries all nationalities are equal under the constitution; in Switzerland this equality is fully implemented in practice; in Belgium there is inequality in relation to the Flemish population, though they make up the majority, but this inequality is insignificant compared, for instance, with what the Poles have to put up with in Germany, or the Irish in England, not to mention what has become customary in countries outside this group That is why, incidentally, the term “state of nationalities”, to which the Austrian authors Karl Renner and Otto Bauer, opportunists on the national question, have given such wide currency, is correct only in a very restricted sense. Namely, if, on the one hand, we remember the special historical place of the majority of the countries of this type (which we shall discuss later) and, on the other, if we do not allow this term to obscure the fundamental difference between genuine national equality and national oppression.

Taking all the countries we have discussed, we get a group of 12 West-European states with a total population of 242 million. Of these 242 million only about 9.5 million, i.e., only 4 per cent, represent oppressed nations (in England and Germany). If we add together those sections of the population in all these countries that do not belong to the principal nationalities, we get about 15 million, i.e., 6 per cent.

On the whole, consequently, this group of states is characterised by the following: they are the most advanced capitalist countries, the most developed both economically and politically. Their cultural level, too, is the highest. In national composition most of these countries are homogeneous or nearly homogeneous. National inequality, as a specific political phenomenon, plays a very insignificant part. What we have is the type of “national state” people so often refer to, oblivious, in most cases, to the historically conditional and transitory character of this type in the general capitalist development of mankind. But that will be dealt with in its proper place.

It might be asked: Is this type of state confined to Western Europe? Obviously not. All its basic characteristics—economic (high and particularly rapid capitalist development), political (representative government), cultural and national—are to be observed also in the advanced states of America and Asia: the United States and Japan. The latter’s national composition took shape long ago and is absolutely homogeneous: Japanese make up more than 99 per cent of the population. In the United States, the Negroes (and also the Mulattos and Indians) account for only 11.1 per cent. They should be classed as an oppressed nation, for the equality won in the Civil War of 1861–65 and guaranteed by the Constitution of the republic was in many respects increasingly curtailed in the chief Negro areas (the South) in connection with the transition from the progressive, pre-monopoly capitalism of 1860–70 to the reactionary, monopoly capitalism (imperialism) of the new era, which in America was especially sharply etched out by the Spanish-American imperialist war of 1898 (i.e., a war between two robbers over the division of the booty).

The white population of the United States makes up 88.7 per cent of the total, and of this figure 74.3 per cent are Americans and only 14.4 per cent foreign-born, i.e., immigrants. We know that the especially favourable conditions in America for the development of capitalism and the rapidity of this development have produced a situation in which vast national differences are speedily and fundamentally, as nowhere else in the world, smoothed out to form a single “American” nation.

Adding the United States and Japan to the West—European countries enumerated above, we get 14 states with an aggregate population of 394 million, of which 26 million, i.e., 7 per cent, belong to unequal nationalities. Though this will be dealt with later, I might observe that at the turn of the century, i.e., in the period when capitalism was being transformed into imperialism, the majority of precisely these 14 advanced states made especially great strides in colonial policy, with the result that they now “dispose” of a population of over 500 million in dependent and colonial countries.