George Breitman: The National Question and Political Revolution in the USSR and Eastern Europe (1979)
The American Marxist George Breitman (1916-1986) was a founding member (1937) and later a leader of the Socialist Workers Party, from where he was expelled in 1984. He wrote a formidable book, The Last Year of Malcolm X, and authored other fundamental writings on the racial oppression and Black nationalism in the United States. I read this book when I was in my twenties and it marked me for life.
For me, Breitman is one of those very few socialists in the imperialist countries who understood well the national oppression, the nationalism of the oppressed nations, and the revolutionary dimensions or potentialities of the struggles for national independence. He firmly supported such struggles as “a main point, and under certain conditions the main point”, of the socialist program for the revolution in the Soviet Ukraine, in other republics of the Soviet Union and in the whole Soviet Bloc. In 1979 he made a strong statement on this issue in a discussion bulletin of the SWP, as a contribution to an internal debate inside the Fourth International.
In April 1985, I began to write on the Ukrainian national question and the political evolution of the wartime and postwar nationalist underground in Western Ukraine under the Nazi and Stalinist rule. It was exactly one year before Breitman’s death. He warmly welcomed my initiative, approach and viewpoint inspired by his book on Malcolm X, and encouraged me to go ahead.