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Study notes

Socialist Internationalism (Nationalism)

  • Levels: AS, A Level, IB
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, IB

For socialist internationalists, it is possible to build a better world based upon the twin goals of equality and social justice.

Nations should work together to create a more peaceful world and finally bring an end to capitalist exploitation. As with other ideologies along the left of the political spectrum, socialist internationalists argue that there is a shared common interest amongst the working-class. Our identity is determined by economic forces rather than artificially-imposed national boundaries.

Perhaps the clearest expression of this strand of thought is the aptly-named Socialist International. This worldwide organisation provides a forum by which centre-left parties advance their common cause and express fraternity and solidarity.

As with all forms of internationalism, socialist internationalism is deeply opposed to chauvinism. This belligerent approach is a path that all too often leads to imperialist conquest and warfare amongst capitalist nations. In contrast, socialist internationalism allows ‘left to speak unto left’ upon a shared mindset. As a practical illustration, the Party of European Socialists sit together in the European Parliament and form an associated organisation within the Socialist International. ‘The Internationale’ is another pertinent illustration of this blend of socialism and internationalism.

Nationalist sentiment has long been viewed with some suspicion amongst socialists of all persuasions. To use Marxist discourse, nationalism (and even a watered-down version of patriotism) is a form of false consciousness employed by the ruling class to defend and protect vested interests. Adopting a strategy of ‘divide and rule’ has been used repeatedly to protect the interests of capitalists at the expense of the worldwide proletariat. However, there is a strand of thought we will consider later known as socialist nationalism. At this early stage, it is worth noting the flexibility of nationalist beliefs and its adaptability towards those on both the left and right of the political spectrum.

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