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Internationalism is a political principle that advocates greater political or economic cooperation among states and nations.It is associated with other political movements and ideologies, but can also reflect a doctrine, belief system, or movement in itself.
Supporters of internationalism are known as internationalists and generally believe that humans should unite across national, political, cultural, racial, or class boundaries to advance their common interests, or that governments should cooperate because their mutual long-term interests are of greater importance than their short-term disputes.
Internationalism has several interpretations and meanings, but is usually characterized by opposition to nationalism and isolationism; support for international institutions, such as the United Nations; and a cosmopolitan outlook that promotes and respects other cultures and customs.
The term is similar to, but distinct from, globalism and cosmopolitanism.
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In 19th-century Great 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.
Those 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 organisations 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 Frédéric Passy from France and William Randal Cremer from the United Kingdom, and the League of Nations, which was formed after World War I. 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 civilised 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 the Labour Party had prominent internationalist members, like the Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald who believed that 'our true nationality is mankind'
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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 (see entry on proletarian internationalism). 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 (or interrelated with) 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 (see dominant ideology).
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 (see world revolution).
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 self-determination. 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, 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 people’s 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, 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 World War I. 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 perceived 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, 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 Comintern 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 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 left-wing political organizations claim to be the contemporary successors of Trotsky's original Fourth International.
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 was a socialist and believed in a world government, and classified the follies of nationalism as "an infantile sickness".Conversely, other internationalists such as Christian Lange and Rebecca West saw little conflict between holding nationalist and internationalist positions.
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.
In the strict meaning of the word, internationalism is still based on the existence of sovereign state. 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 organisations 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 a union of states such as 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.
In Jacques Derrida's 1993 work, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, he uses Shakespeare's Hamlet to frame a discussion of the history of the International, ultimately proposing his own vision for a "New International" that is less reliant on large-scale international organizations.As he puts it, the New International should be "without status ... without coordination, without party, without country, without national community, without co-citizenship, without common belonging to a class."
Through Derrida's use of Hamlet, he shows the influence that Shakespeare had on Marx and Engel's work on internationalism. In his essay, "Big Leagues: Specters of Milton and Republican International Justice between Shakespeare and Marx", Christopher N. Warren makes the case that English poet John Milton also had a substantial influence on Marx and Engel's work.Paradise Lost, in particular, shows “the possibility of political actions oriented toward international justice founded outside the aristocratic order.” Marx and Engels, Warren claims, understood the empowering potential of Miltonic republican traditions for forging international coalitions—a lesson, perhaps, for “The New International.”
Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition of social hierarchy. Left-wing politics typically involve a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished. According to emeritus professor of economics Barry Clark, left-wing supporters "claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated."
Leninism is a political ideology developed by Russian Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin that proposes the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat led by a revolutionary vanguard party, as the political prelude to the establishment of communism. The function of the Leninist vanguard party is to provide the working classes with the political consciousness and revolutionary leadership necessary to depose capitalism in the Russian Empire (1721–1917). Leninist revolutionary leadership is based upon The Communist Manifesto (1848) identifying the communist party as "the most advanced and resolute section of the working class parties of every country; that section which pushes forward all others." As the vanguard party, the Bolsheviks viewed history through the theoretical framework of dialectical materialism, which sanctioned political commitment to the successful overthrow of capitalism, and then to instituting socialism; and, as the revolutionary national government, to realize the socio-economic transition by all means.
The Communist Manifesto, originally the Manifesto of the Communist Party, is an 1848 pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London just as the Revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world's most influential political documents. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle and the conflicts of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.
Trotskyism is the political ideology and branch of Marxism developed by Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and by some other members of the Left Opposition and Fourth International. Trotsky self-identified as an orthodox Marxist, a revolutionary Marxist, and Bolshevik–Leninist, a follower of Marx, Engels, and of 3L: Lenin, Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg. He supported founding a vanguard party of the proletariat, proletarian internationalism, and a dictatorship of the proletariat based on working class self-emancipation and mass democracy. Trotskyists are critical of Stalinism as they oppose Joseph Stalin's theory of socialism in one country in favor of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution. Trotskyists also criticize the bureaucracy that developed in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
The Fourth International (FI) is a revolutionary socialist international organization consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky, also known as Trotskyists, whose declared goal is the overthrowing of global capitalism and the establishment of world socialism via international revolution. The Fourth International was established in France in 1938, as Trotsky and his supporters, having been expelled from the Soviet Union, considered the Third International or Comintern as effectively puppets of Stalinism and thus incapable of leading the international working class to political power. Thus, Trotskyists founded their own competing Fourth International.
The Communist International (Comintern), also known as the Third International, was an international organization founded in 1919 that advocated world communism, controlled by the Soviet Union. The Comintern resolved at its Second Congress to "struggle by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the state". The Comintern was preceded by the 1916 dissolution of the Second International.
A political international is a transnational organization of political parties having similar ideology or political orientation. The international works together on points of agreement to co-ordinate activity.
Communism is a philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state. Communism is a specific, yet distinct, form of socialism. Communists agree on the ultimate withering away of the state but disagree on the means to this end, reflecting a distinction between a more libertarian approach of communization, revolutionary spontaneity, and workers' self-management, and a more vanguardist or communist party-driven approach through the development of a constitutional socialist state.
National communism refers to the various forms in which communism has been adopted and/or implemented by leaders in different countries using aspects of nationalism or national identity to form a policy independent from communist internationalism. National communism has been used to describe movements and regimes that have sought to form a distinctly unique variant of communism based upon national conditions rather than following policies set by other communist nations, such as the Soviet Union. In each independent state, empire, or dependency, the relationship between class and nation had its own particularities. The Ukrainian communists Vasil Shakhrai and Mazlakh and then Muslim Sultan Galiyev considered the interests of the Bolshevik Russian state at odds with those of their countries. Communist regimes that have attempted to pursue independent foreign and domestic policies that conflicted with the interests of the Soviet Union have been described as examples of "national communism", however this form of national communism differs from communist regimes/movements that embrace nationalist rhetoric. Examples include Josip Broz Tito and his independent direction that led Yugoslavia away from the Soviet Union, Imre Nagy's anti-soviet liberal communism, Alexander Dubček's Socialism with a human face and János Kádár's Goulash Communism.
Left-wing nationalism or leftist nationalism, also known as social nationalism and nationalist socialism, is a form of nationalism based upon national self-determination, popular sovereignty and social equality. Left-wing nationalism can also include anti-imperialism and national liberation movements.
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that originates in the works of 19th century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marxism analyzes and critiques the development of class society and especially of capitalism as well as the role of class struggles in systemic economic, social and political change. It frames capitalism through a paradigm of exploitation and analyzes class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development - materialist in the sense that the politics and ideas of an epoch are determined by the way in which material production is carried on.
Socialist patriotism is a form of patriotism promoted by Marxist–Leninist movements. Socialist patriotism promotes people living within Marxist-Leninist countries to adopt a "boundless love for the socialist homeland, a commitment to the revolutionary transformation of society [and] the cause of communism". Marxist-Leninists claim that socialist patriotism is not connected with nationalism, as Marxists and Marxist-Leninists denounce nationalism as a bourgeois ideology developed under capitalism that sets workers against each other. Socialist patriotism is commonly advocated directly alongside proletarian internationalism, with communist parties regarding the two concepts as compatible with each other. The concept has been attributed by Soviet writers to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
The Zimmerwald Conference was held in Zimmerwald, Switzerland, from September 5 to 8, 1915. It was the first of three international socialist conferences convened by anti-militarist socialist parties from countries that were originally neutral during World War I. The individuals and organizations participating in this and subsequent conferences held at Kienthal and Stockholm are known jointly as the Zimmerwald movement.
Revolutionary socialism is a political philosophy, doctrine and tradition within socialism which stresses the idea that a social revolution is necessary in order to bring about structural changes to society. More specifically, it is the view that revolution is a necessary precondition for a transition from the capitalist mode of production to the socialist mode of production. Revolution is not necessarily defined as a violent insurrection; it is defined as seizure of political power by mass movements of the working class so that the state is directly controlled or abolished by the working class as opposed to the capitalist class and its interests.
The political slogan "Workers of the world, unite!" is one of the rallying cries from The Communist Manifesto (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. A variation of this phrase is also inscribed on Marx's tombstone. The essence of the slogan is that members of the working classes throughout the world should cooperate to defeat capitalism and achieve victory in the class conflict.
Proletarian internationalism, sometimes referred to as international socialism, is the perception of all communist revolutions as being part of a single global class struggle rather than separate localized events. It is based on the theory that capitalism is a world-system and therefore the working classes of all nations must act in concert if they are to replace it with communism.
Permanent revolution is the strategy of a revolutionary class pursuing its own interests independently and without compromise or alliance with opposing sections of society. As a term within Marxist theory, it was first coined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as early as 1850, but since then it has been used to refer to different concepts by different theorists, most notably Leon Trotsky.
World communism, also known as global communism, is a form of communism which has an international scope. The long-term goal of world communism is a worldwide communist society that is stateless, which may be achieved through an intermediate-term goal of either a voluntary association of sovereign states or a world government. A series of internationals have worked toward world communism and they have included the First International, the Second International, the Third International, the Fourth International, the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the World Socialist Movement and variant offshoots. These are a quite heterogeneous group despite their common ultimate goal of a stateless and global communist society.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Marxism:
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