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the ideal or practice of cooperation and understanding between nations
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the international solidarity of workers and toiling people of different nations and races, as expressed in psychology, ideology, and politics. Expressing the position and interests that the working classes of different countries have in common, internationalism guarantees the correct way of solving the national and international tasks of the working class, assures agreement between the class content and the national form of social development, and constitutes the chief prerequisite for realizing national interests.

Internationalism arose under capitalist conditions in the course of the liberation struggle by the proletariat of various countries. “Since the position of all workers of all countries is the same,” wrote Engels, “since their interests are the same, since they have one and the same enemy, their struggle must be a joint one” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4, p. 373). Marx wrote: “Disregard of that bond of brotherhood which ought to exist between the workmen of different countries, and incite them to stand firmly by each other in all their struggles for emancipation, will be chastised by the common discomfiture of their incoherent efforts” (ibid., vol. 16, pp. 10–11).

Internationalism first made itself apparent in the creation of the First International (1864–76), which, as Lenin said, “laid the foundation of an international organization of the workers for the preparation of their revolutionary attack on capital” (Poln. sobr. sock, 5th ed., vol. 38, p. 302). The call for strengthening cooperation among the working classes of different countries in the struggle for their social emancipation was expressed in the slogan “Workers of the world, unite!” In multinational states this was also a slogan for the workers of different nationalities. The cause of international solidarity of the world proletariat was continued by the Second International. At the same time the collapse of the Second International indicated the harshness of the punishment for betrayal of proletarian internationalism.

Internationalism was developed further in the work of the Leninist party, which acted as the initiator in the creation of the Third, or Communist, International. Internationalism demonstrated its power after the Great October Socialist Revolution, when the working classes of many different countries gave their support to the first proletarian government. After the October Revolution, Lenin discovered new forms of internationalism. “We now stand, not only as representatives of the proletarians of all countries, but as representatives of the oppressed peoples as well,” he said, and he also approved the slogan “Workers of all countries and all oppressed peoples, unite!” (ibid., vol. 42, p. 71).

With the formation of the Soviet Union, the relations between the nations and peoples that entered this union have been based on the principles of internationalism, which as a result of the liquidation of the exploiting classes became socialist internationalism. Socialist internationalism represents a new type of relations between nations that has come into existence and developed on the basis of friendship, equality, mutual respect, and all-around fraternal cooperation, as well as political, economic, military, and cultural mutual aid among the nations and nationalities that have taken the road of socialism.

Socialist internationalism assures the conditions for the advantages of socialism to be realized by all peoples, thus helping them to flourish and to draw closer together. Therefore, internationalism coincides with socialist patriotism. It is the opposite of cosmopolitanism and national nihilism.

After it was raised as a political principle, socialist internationalism subsequently came to include all spheres of social relations and became a moral principle of the highest importance. The formation of a world socialist system enlarged the framework of socialist internationalism. The mutuality of the fundamental interests of the workers of the socialist countries became the basis for their political, ideological, and economic solidarity. The socialist countries develop as sovereign states and stand in a fraternal alliance with one another. There is an organic link between the achievement of prosperity by each individual socialist country and the successes of the world socialist system as a whole.

The fact that there is an objective basis of internationalism does not mean, however, that people become internationalists spontaneously. “The Communists consider it a duty of primary importance to educate the workers in the spirit of internationalism and socialist patriotism and of irreconcilability toward any manifestation of nationalism and chauvinism” (Program of the CPSU, 1971, p. 24). The internationalist education of the workers is a very important part of communist education. In order to gain a profound understanding of the interests of one’s own nation in their inseparable unity with the interests and loftiest goals of the entire world liberation movement it is necessary to master a scientific world outlook. The ideological basis of internationalism is Marxism-Leninism.

Internationalism is the opposite of nationalism. “Bourgeois nationalism and proletarian internationalism—these are the two irreconcilably hostile slogans that correspond to the two great class camps throughout the capitalist world and express the two policies (nay, the two world outlooks) in the national question” (Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 24, p. 123).

Experience shows that right opportunism and “left” revisionism, which practice nationalism and chauvinist hegemony in theory and in politics, constitute a great danger, especially when they develop at a certain stage from being a deviation by individuals or groups into being the basic policy of a ruling party. In such cases internationalism becomes purely verbal and in fact amounts to nothing but nationalism. This can lead to the deformation of socialism in a given country, and it thereby weakens the position of world socialism as a whole. To counterpose the national to the international under the pretext of taking national peculiarities into account is to deny the general laws that govern the world revolutionary process and the process of building socialist and communist society. “There is one, and only one, kind of real internationalism,” wrote Lenin, “and that is working wholeheartedly for the development of the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary struggle in one’s own country, and supporting (by propaganda, sympathy, and material aid) this struggle, this, and only this, line, in every country without exception” (ibid., vol. 31, p. 170).

Internationalism in the contemporary era means the solidarity of the national sections of the working class; the responsibility of the Communist and workers’ parties of all countries for the successful development of the world revolutionary process; friendship, multilateral mutual aid, and the closer drawing together of the socialist countries; and the close collaboration and joint action of the national sections of the world revolutionary movement. Internationalism is the most important condition in the struggle against war and the danger of war, for the development of the world revolutionary process, and for the efficient building of socialism and communism.

The experience of the socialist commonwealth shows that the building of socialism and communism, which is a national task of each of these countries, constitutes at the same time their international duty. The socialist international division of labor and the development of all-around cooperation among these countries is the condition for national sovereignty to be realized and national problems to be solved. The international consolidation of the ranks of the working class is also proceeding further in the capitalist countries. The contemporary integrationist processes under way in the capitalist world, internationalizing the labor market and intensifying the contradictions of capitalism on an international scale, are leading to an increased ideological and political communication among the national sections of the proletariat and are opening up new possibilities for the development of international cooperation for the working class in its struggle against imperialism. The links of the sections of the national liberation movement are also growing stronger, both the links between the various movements and the links of the sections with the world socialist system and the international working class.

Under contemporary conditions, proletarian internationalism manifests itself as a force of world significance in the international policies and activities of the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries and in the unity of the Marxist-Leninist parties and their joint struggle for common aims and against the common enemy. Such internationalism is acquiring ever greater importance in the struggle for rallying the anti-imperialist forces in the modern world.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Manifest Kommunisticheskoi partii.” Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. “O Pol’she.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Pod chuzhim flagom.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26.
Lenin, V. I. “Itogi diskussii o samoopredelenii.” Ibid., vol. 30.
Marksizm-leninizm o proletarskom Internationalizme. Moscow, 1969.
Programma KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
Mezhdunarodnoe soveshchanie kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii. Moscow, 1969.
Materialy XXIV s“ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1971.
O podgotovke k 50-letiiu obrazovaniia SSSR: Postanovlenie TsK KPSS. Moscow, 1972.


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