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Internationalism

Internationalism is a political principle which advocates a greater political or economic


cooperation among nations and peoples, and whose ideological roots can be traced to both
socialism and liberalism.
Supporters of this principle are referred to as internationalists, and generally believe that the
people of the world should unite across national, political, cultural, racial, or class boundaries to
advance their common interests, or that the governments of the world should cooperate because
their mutual long-term interests are of greater importance than their short-term disputes.
Internationalism is, in general, opposed to nationalism, jingoism or chauvinism, and war, and
proponents can include supporters of any of the four socialist Internationals and organizations
such as the United Nations or the World Federalist Movement.

Origins
In nineteenth century Britain there was a liberal internationalist strand of political thought
epitomized by Richard Cobden and John Bright. Cobden and Bright were against the
protectionist Corn Laws and in a speech at Covent Garden on September 28, 1843 Cobden
outlined his utopian brand of internationalism:
Free Trade! What is it? Why, breaking down the barriers that separate nations; those barriers
behind which nestle the feelings of pride, revenge, hatred and jealously, which every now and
then burst their bounds and deluge whole countries with blood...
Cobden believed that Free Trade would pacify the world by interdependence, an idea also
expressed by Adam Smith in his The Wealth of Nations and common to many liberals of the
time. A belief in the idea of the moral law and an inherent goodness in human nature also
inspired their faith in internationalism.
Such "liberal" conceptions of internationalism were harshly criticized by socialists and radicals
at the time, who pointed out the links between global economic competition and imperialism,
and would identify this competition as being a root cause of world conflict. One of the first
international organizations in the world was the International Workingmen's Association, formed
in London in 1864 by working class socialist and communist political activists (including Karl
Marx). Referred to as the First International, the organization was dedicated to the advancement
of working class political interests across national boundaries, and was in direct ideological

opposition to strains of liberal internationalism which advocated free trade and capitalism as
means of achieving world peace and interdependence.
Other international organizations included the Inter-Parliamentary Union, established in 1889 by
Frdric Passy from France and William Randal Cremer from the United Kingdom, and the
League of Nations, which was formed after World War One. The former was envisioned as a
permanent forum for political multilateral negotiations, while the latter was an attempt to solve
the world's security problems through international arbitration and dialogue.
J. A. Hobson, a Gladstonian liberal who became a socialist after the Great War, anticipated in his
book Imperialism (1902) the growth of international courts and congresses which would
hopefully settle international disputes between nations in a peaceful way. Sir Norman Angell in
his work The Great Illusion (1910) claimed that the world was united by trade, finance, industry
and communications and that therefore nationalism was an anachronism and that war would not
profit anyone involved but would only result in destruction.
Lord Lothian was an internationalist and an imperialist who in December 1914 looked forward
to: ...the voluntary federation of the free civilized nations which will eventually exorcise the
spectre of competitive armaments and give lasting peace to mankind.
In September 1915 he thought the British Empire was the perfect example of the eventual world
Commonwealth.
Internationalism expressed itself in Britain through the endorsement of the League of Nations by
such people as Gilbert Murray. The Liberal Party and especially the Labor Party had prominent
internationalist members, like the Labor Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald who believed that
our true nationality is mankind.

Socialism
Internationalism is an important component of socialist political theory, based on the principle
that working-class people of all countries must unite across national boundaries and actively
oppose nationalism and war in order to overthrow capitalism. In this sense, the socialist
understanding of internationalism is closely related to the concept of international solidarity.
Socialist thinkers such as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin argue that economic
class, rather than nationality, race, or culture, is the main force which divides people in society,
and that nationalist ideology is a propaganda tool of a society's dominant economic class. From

this perspective, it is in the ruling class' interest to promote nationalism in order to hide the
inherent class conflicts at play within a given society (such as the exploitation of workers by
capitalists for profit). Therefore, socialists see nationalism as a form of ideological control
arising from a society's given mode of economic production.
Since the 19th century, socialist political organizations and radical trade unions such as the
Industrial Workers of the World have promoted internationalist ideologies and sought to organize
workers across national boundaries to achieve improvements in the conditions of labor and
advance various forms of industrial democracy. The First, Second, Third, and Fourth
Internationals were socialist political groupings which sought to advance worker's revolution
across the globe and achieve international socialism.
Socialist internationalism is anti-imperialist, and therefore supports the liberation of peoples
from all forms of colonialism and foreign domination, and the right of nations to selfdetermination. Therefore, socialists have often aligned themselves politically with anti-colonial
independence movements, and actively opposed the exploitation of one country by another.
Since war is understood in socialist theory to be a general product of the laws of economic
competition inherent to capitalism (i.e., competition between capitalists and their respective
national governments for natural resources and economic dominance), liberal ideologies which
promote international capitalism and "free trade", even if they sometimes speak in positive terms
of international cooperation, are, from the socialist standpoint, rooted in the very economic
forces which drive world conflict. In socialist theory, world peace can only come once economic
competition has been ended and class divisions within society have ceased to exist. This idea was
expressed in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in The Communist Manifesto:
"In proportion as the exploitation of one individual by another will also be put an end to, the
exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to. In proportion as the antagonism
between classes within the nation vanishes, the hostility of one nation to another will come to an
end."
The idea was reiterated later by Lenin and advanced as the official policy of the Bolshevik party
during World War I:
"Socialists have always condemned war between nations as barbarous and brutal. But our
attitude towards war is fundamentally different from that of the bourgeois pacifists (supporters

and advocates of peace) and of the Anarchists. We differ from the former in that we understand
the inevitable connection between wars and the class struggle within the country; we understand
that war cannot be abolished unless classes are abolished and Socialism is created."

The International Workingmen's Association


The International Workingmen's Association, or First International, was an organization founded
in 1864, composed of various working class radicals and trade unionists who promoted an
ideology of internationalist socialism and anti-imperialism. Figures such as Karl Marx and
anarchist revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin would play prominent roles in the First International.
The Inaugural Address of the First International, written by Marx in October 1864 and
distributed as a pamphlet, contained calls for international cooperation between working people,
and condemnations of the imperialist policies of national aggression undertaken by the
governments of Europe:
"If the emancipation of the working classes requires their fraternal concurrence, how are they to
fulfill that great mission with a foreign policy in pursuit of criminal designs, playing upon
national prejudices, and squandering in piratical wars the peoples blood and treasure?"
By the mid-1870s, splits within the International over tactical and ideological questions would
lead to the organization's demise and pave the way for the formation of the Second International
in 1889. One faction, with Marx as the figurehead, argued that workers and radicals must work
within parliaments in order to win political supremacy and create a worker's government. The
other major faction were the anarchists, led by Bakunin, who saw all state institutions as
inherently oppressive, and thus opposed any parliamentary activity and believed that workers
action should be aimed at the total destruction of the state.

The Socialist International


The Socialist International, known as the Second International, was founded in 1889 after the
disintegration of the International Workingmen's Association. Unlike the First International, it
was a federation of socialist political parties from various countries, including both reformist and
revolutionary groupings. The parties of the Second International were the first socialist parties to
win mass support among the working class and have representatives elected to parliaments.
These parties, such as the German Social-Democratic Labor Party, were the first socialist parties

in history to emerge as serious political players on the parliamentary stage, often gaining millions
of members.
Ostensibly committed to peace and anti-imperialism, the International Socialist Congress held its
final meeting in Basel, Switzerland in 1912, in anticipation of the outbreak of WWI. The
manifesto adopted at the Congress outlined the Second International's opposition to the war and
its commitment to a speedy and peaceful resolution:
"If a war threatens to break out, it is the duty of the working classes and their parliamentary
representatives in the countries involved supported by the coordinating activity of the
International Socialist Bureau to exert every effort in order to prevent the outbreak of war by the
means they consider most effective, which naturally vary according to the sharpening of the
class struggle and the sharpening of the general political situation. In case war should break out
anyway it is their duty to intervene in favor of its speedy termination and with all their powers to
utilize the economic and political crisis created by the war to arouse the people and thereby to
hasten the downfall of capitalist class rule."
Despite this, when the war began in 1914, the majority of the Socialist parties of the International
turned on each other and sided with their respective governments in the war effort, betraying
their internationalist values and leading to the dissolution of the Second International. This
betrayal led the few anti-war delegates left within the Second International to organize the
International Socialist Conference at Zimmerwald, Switzerland in 1915. Known as the
Zimmerwald Conference, its purpose was to formulate a platform of opposition to the war. The
conference was unable to reach agreement on all points, but ultimately was able to publish the
Zimmerwald Manifesto, which was drafted by Leon Trotsky. The most left-wing and stringently
internationalist delegates at the conference were organized around Lenin and the Russian Social
Democrats, and known as the Zimmerwald Left. They bitterly condemned the war and what they
described as the hypocritical "social-chauvinists" of the Second International, who so quickly
abandoned their internationalist principles and refused to oppose the war. The Zimmerwald Left
resolutions urged all socialists who were committed to the internationalist principles of socialism
to struggle against the war and commit to international workers' revolution.

The betrayal of the social-democrats and the organization of the Zimmerwald Left would
ultimately set the stage for the emergence of the world's first modern communist parties and the
formation of the Third International in 1919.

The Communist International


The Communist International, also known as the Comintern or the Third International, was
formed in 1919 in the wake of the Russian Revolution, the end of the first World War, and the
dissolution of the Second International. It was an association of communist political parties from
throughout the world dedicated to proletarian internationalism and the revolutionary overthrow
of the world bourgeoisie. The Manifesto of the Communist International, written by Leon
Trotsky, describes the political orientation of the international as "against imperialist barbarism,
against monarchy, against the privileged estates, against the bourgeois state and bourgeois
property, against all kinds and forms of class or national oppression".

The Fourth International


The fourth and last socialist international was founded by Leon Trotsky and his followers in
1938 in opposition to the Third International and the direction taken by the USSR under the
leadership of Joseph Stalin. The Fourth International declared itself to be the true ideological
successor of the original Comintern under Lenin, carrying on the banner of proletarian
internationalism which had been abandoned by Stalin's Comintern. A variety of still active leftwing political organizations claim to be the contemporary successors of Trotsky's original Fourth
International.

Modern Expression
Internationalism is most commonly expressed as an appreciation for the diverse cultures in the
world, and a desire for world peace. People who express this view believe in not only being a
citizen of their respective countries, but of being a citizen of the world. Internationalists feel
obliged to assist the world through leadership and charity.
Internationalists also advocate the presence of international organizations, such as the United
Nations, and often support a stronger form of a world government.

Contributors to the current version of internationalism include Albert Einstein, who believed in a
world government, and classified the follies of nationalism as "an infantile sickness".
Conversely, other internationalists such as Christian Langeand Rebecca West saw little conflict
between holding nationalist and internationalist positions.

International Organizations and Internationalism


For both intergovernmental organizations and international non-governmental organizations to
emerge, nations and peoples had to be strongly aware that they shared certain interests and
objectives across national boundaries and they could best solve their many problems by pooling
their resources and effecting transnational cooperation, rather than through individual countries'
unilateral efforts. Such a view, such global consciousness, may be termed internationalism, the
idea that nations and peoples should cooperate instead of preoccupying themselves with their
respective national interests or pursuing uncoordinated approaches to promote them.

Sovereign Nations vs. Supernational Powers Balance


Internationalism, in the strict meaning of the word, is still based on the existence of sovereign
nations. Its aims are to encourage multilateralism (world leadership not held by any single
country) and create some formal and informal interdependence between countries, with some
limited supranational powers given to international organizations controlled by those nations via
intergovernmental treaties and institutions.
The ideal of many internationalists, among them world citizens, is to go a step further towards
democratic globalization by creating a world government. However, this idea is opposed and/or
thwarted by other internationalists, who believe any World Government body would be
inherently too powerful to be trusted, or because they dislike the path taken by supranational
entities such as the United Nations or the European Union and fear that a world government
inclined towards fascism would emerge from the former. These internationalists are more likely
to support a loose world federation in which most power resides with the national governments.

Liberal Internationalism
Liberalism is the political theory that is primarily based on the need to improve and protect the
individual. This school of thought is formed around three essential and interrelated principles:

1. Rejection of power politics as the only possible outcome of international relations (IR).
Questions security/warfare principles of realism perspective.
2. Accentuates mutual benefits and international cooperation.
3. Implements international organizations and nongovernmental actors for shaping state
preferences and policy choices.
Liberalism is one of the main schools of international relations theory. Its roots lie in the broader
liberal thought originating in the Enlightenment. The central issues that it seeks to address are the
problems of achieving lasting peace and cooperation in international relations, and the various
methods that could contribute to their achievement.
Broad areas of study within liberal international relations theory include:

The democratic peace theory, and, more broadly, the effect of domestic political regime
types and domestic politics on international relations;

The commercial peace theory, arguing that free trade has pacifying effects on
international relations. Current explorations of globalization and interdependence are a
broader continuation of this line of inquiry;

Institutional peace theory, which attempts to demonstrate how cooperation can be


sustained in anarchy, how long-term interests can be pursued over short-term interests,
and how actors may realize absolute gains instead of seeking relative gains;

Related, the effect of international organizations on international politics, both in their


role as forums for states to pursue their interests, and in their role as actors in their own
right;

The role of international law in moderating or constraining state behavior;

The effects of liberal norms on international politics, especially relations between liberal
states;

The role of various types of unions in international politics (relations), such as highly
institutionalized alliances (e.g. NATO), confederations, leagues, federations, and evolving
entities like the European Union; and,

The role, or potential role, of cosmopolitanism in transcending the state and affecting
international relations