Great Power Chauvinism

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Great Power Chauvinism


a variety of chauvinism and nationalism; the ideology and politics of the ruling and exploiting classes of a people enjoying a predominant (great power) position in the state. These ruling classes declare their own people to be “superior.”

Great power chauvinism arose in the epoch when bourgeois nations, national and multinational states, and colonial empires were being formed. The policies of the bourgeoisie in the “great” ruling nations is aimed at enslaving the other nations, discriminating against them in economic, political, and cultural fields, and denying their independence. Great power chauvinism, like chauvinism in general, is typified by the effort to kindle hatred and enmity between peoples and by the persecution and harassment of persons of other nationalities. For example, in the former Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires and in Turkey under the sultanate, the ruling classes of the Austrian, Hungarian, Russian, and Turkish nations pursued great power chauvinist policies toward the numerous other peoples who inhabited the territories of these states. Russian czarism transformed the country into a “prison house of nations.”

The ideology and politics of great power chauvinism have flourished in the age of imperialism. The imperialists use great power chauvinist slogans to help unleash wars to further divide an already divided world. A militant exponent of great power chauvinism during World War II (1939-45) was German fascism, which proclaimed the Germans to be the “superior” race that was supposedly called upon to dominate all other nations of the world. The German fascists tried accordingly to enslave and to annihilate a great many peoples. Great power chauvinism has been introduced by ruling classes in a number of countries in the postwar period as well—for example, the race war against the Negro population of the United States, racist laws in South Africa, the rebirth of revanche and the activization of a neofascist party (the NPD) in the Federal Republic of Germany, and the noxious nationalism fomented by the Zionist rulers of Israel.

Marxist parties counterpose a consistent proletarian internationalism to great power chauvinism, as well as to other forms of bourgeois nationalism. The socialist revolution eliminates the social bases for great power chauvinism and nationalism. In the course of socialist construction equality, friendship, and fraternal mutual aid between peoples arise and develop. In the efforts to solve the national question in the USSR during the period of transition to socialism manifestations of great power chauvinist deviations have occurred. Their social base lay in the surviving remnants of the exploiting classes, and in a certain reanimation of capitalist elements during the period of the New Economic Policy. Great power chauvinism was expressed in the lack of attention to special national conditions and features and in the failure to observe the principle of national equality in practice, for example. These deviations were exposed and overcome at the Tenth Party Congress in 1921, the Twelfth Congress in 1923, and the Sixteenth Congress in 1930. The ideology and politics of great power chauvinism are alien to Soviet society. According to article 123 of the Constitution of the USSR any manifestation, open or disguised, of great power chauvinism is punishable by law.

The Communist and workers’ parties that stand under the banner of Marxism-Leninism conduct a determined and uncompromising struggle against all manifestations of great power chauvinism. They educate the working people in a spirit of proletarian internationalism and socialist patriotism.


Lenin, V. I. “Rabochii klass i natsional’nyi vopros.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 23.
Lenin, V. I. “Kriticheskie zametki po natsional’nomu voprosu.” Ibid., vol. 24.
Lenin, V. I. “O bor’be s sotsial-shovinizmom.” Ibid., vol. 26.
Lenin, V. I. “Prikrytie sotsial-shovinisticheskoi politiki internatsionalisticheskimi frazami.” Ibid., vol. 27.
Marksiztm-leninizm o proletarskom internatsionalizme. Moscow, 1969.


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