The affair was a critical episode in the power struggle surrounding the sick Vladimir Lenin whose support Georgians sought to obtain. The dispute ended with the victory of the Stalin-Ordzhonikidze line and resulted in the fall of the Georgian moderate Communist government. It also contributed to a final break between Lenin and Stalin, and inspired Lenin’s last major writings.
In 1848, Karl Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto that "the working men have no country," and over the next several decades Marxist thinkers such as Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, Otto Bauer, Vladimir Lenin, and Joseph Stalin would continue to engage with the question of how to relate a class-based worldview to the existence of nations and nationalism, reaching sometimes starkly different conclusions.
These questions began to take on an increasingly urgent political character in the aftermath of the overthrow of the government of Tsar Nicholas II and its replacement with the new Soviet government.
In his earliest school years in Georgia, Stalin (born Ioseb Jughashvili) had felt a connection to emerging Georgian nationalism, in part as a reaction against a policy of imperial Russification present in the seminary he attended while studying for the orthodox priesthood.
By 1904, however, influenced by Marxist writings, Stalin had moved toward repudiation of independent Georgian nationalism, as he outlined in his essay The Social-Democratic View on the National Question.