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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the ideology of so-called world citizenship. Cosmopolitanism is a reactionary bourgeois ideology that teaches the renunciation of national traditions and cultures, patriotism, and state and national sovereignty.

From the time of its origin, the concept of “cosmopolitanism” has had different meanings, determined by concrete historical conditions. The crisis of the ancient polis (city-state) and the creation of the state of Alexander the Great led to the appearance of different cosmopolitan views. One of them provided the basis for the expansion of the sphere of exploitation (Alexander the Great, Marcus Aurelius). The cosmopolitanism of the Cynics Antisthenes and Diogenes of Sinope expressed a negative attitude toward the polis. The Stoics, mainly Zeno of Citium, sought in the cosmopolitan ideal a social form that would enable each man to live by a uniform universal law. The cosmopolitanism of the Cyrenaics was expressed in the words ubi bene, ibi patria (“where it is good, there is my fatherland”).

The Catholic Church was the principal bearer of reactionary cosmopolitan tendencies during the era of feudalism. During the Renaissance the ideas of world citizenship were directed against feudal fragmentation (Dante and T. Campanella). The abstract, humanist ideal of world citizenship in the era of the Enlightenment expressed the idea of the emancipation of the individual from the fetters of feudalism. In Germany, in opposition to feudal-particularist “patriotism” and the despotism of the princes, the ideas of world citizenship were developed in a peculiar unity with political ideas by G. E. Lessing, J. W. von Goethe, F. Schiller, I. Kant, and J. G. Fichte. Bourgeois cosmopolitanism reflects the nature of capital, which strives to where it can expect the greatest profit. “The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4, p. 427). Bourgeois cosmopolitanism does not exclude the nationalism of the oppressing nations but arises because of it.

Cosmopolitan ideas have become widespread during the epoch of imperialism, reflecting the objective tendency of capitalism toward internationalization, which operates at the same time as the tendency toward the formation of national states. Cosmopolitanism is an inseparable part of the ideology of imperialism, such as in bourgeois political science (the preaching of world political integration and of supranational and intergovernmental monopolistic organizations), economic theory (reactionary-Utopian projects for the creation of a planned world capitalist economy), and law (the theories of the subjection of the individual to international law and of so-called international law itself, based upon a denial of state and national sovereignty). The cosmopolitan ideas of the creation of a world state or a world federation are also being advanced, at present, by representatives of humanitarian pacifism (as in the proposal to transform the UN into a world state). However, such theories have an obviously Utopian character, since they do not take into account the existence of states with different social systems and the struggles of peoples for national liberation.

Proletarian internationalism is opposed to bourgeois cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitanism calls for the merging of nations ( natsiia, nation in a historical sense) by forcible assimilation. Marxists, on the other hand, envision the gradual and voluntary drawing together and then merging of nations because of the objective course of social development, which shows that this is a long process that comes about as a result of the emancipation and flourishing of nations.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Sviatoe semeistvo.” Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 2.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Nemetskaia ideologiia.” Ibid., vol. 3.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Manifest Kommunisticheskoi partii.” Ibid., vol. 4.
Lenin, V. I. “O prave natsii na samoopredelenie.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 25.
Lenin, V. I. “Imperializm, kak vysshaia stadiia kapitalizma.” Ibid., vol. 27.
Lenin, V. I. “O karikature na marksizm i ob ’imperialisticheskom ekonomizme.’” Ibid., vol. 30.
Modrzhinskaia, E. D. Kosmopolitizmimperialisticheskaia ideologiia poraboshcheniia natsii. Moscow, 1958.
Kuz’min, E. L.Afirovoegosudarstvo: il/iuzii i/i real’nost? Moscow, 1969.
Sotsiologicheskieproblemy mezhdunarodnykh otnoshenii. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
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