Chapter 7: Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the right of peoples to self-determination in international law
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This chapter examines the role of Marx and Lenin - and also, paradoxically, the Soviet Union - in promoting self-determination, and the success of the Soviet Union and its allies in placing it at the centre of international law after the Second World War. It considers the midlife conversion of Marx and Engels to the cause of national self-determination in the cases of Ireland and Poland, as well as the question whether this amounted to an Hegelian (and Eurocentric) theory of historical and non-historical nations. It also examines Lenin’s principled support for the right of nations to self-determination, his reconstruction of Marx’s own position, and his role in embedding this position in early Soviet policy and constitutionalism. Finally, the chapter traces the Soviet Union’s role in helping to bring about a revolution in international law, as well as its own downfall.

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