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Internationalism is a political movement which advocates a greater economic and political cooperation among nations for the theoretical benefit of all. Partisans of this movement, such as supporters of the World Federalist Movement, claim that nations should cooperate because their long-term mutual interests are of greater value than their individual short term needs.

Internationalism is by nature opposed to ultranationalism, jingoism, realism and national chauvinism. Internationalism presupposes the recognition of other nations as equal, in spite of all their differences. The term internationalism is often wrongly used as a synonym for cosmopolitanism. 'Cosmopolitanist' is also sometimes used as a term of abuse for internationalists. Internationalism is not necessarily anti-nationalism, as in the Soviet Unionmarker and the People's Republic of Chinamarker.

The modern ideal of internationalism

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 an international organization, 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 believed in a world government, and classified the follies of nationalism as "an infantile sickness".

The sovereign nations vs. supernational powers balance

Internationalism, in the strict meaning of the word, is still based on the existence of sovereign nations. 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 power 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 globalisation 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 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.

Internationalism in the United States

The United States of Americamarker is a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United Nations, Central American Free Trade Agreement, the Security and Prosperity Partnership, among others. The United States nearly became a member in the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, which would have initially opened trade with all nations in North and South America except Cuba.

However, due to its similar structure to the European Unions' constitution, some say that the changes would not be limited and that they would continue a growing trend towards a trilateral (Canada Mexico and the United States) government. There are many organizations that oppose this, such as The John Birch Society. However, many suspect that "free" trade, one of the aspects of internationalism, with Chinamarker is not "free" and not under control . What assists in this argument, however, is the fact that China subsidizes their industries 17%, keep their currency artificially low and tariff American goods.

George Washington's and Thomas Jefferson's advices in relation to internationalism

Washington advised the United States, in his Farewell Address, to remain a neutral player in the international political game. He urged the new republic to avoid conflicts and alliances with other nations. Although he felt that economic ties with other nations should be promoted to encourage trade and commerce, political ties should be minimal. He was concerned that having close relations could force the United States to unite with allies to promote their interest and be drawn into their war, such as what occurred in World War II. Likewise, he was concerned that strongly discordant relations would do the same and that both situations could force the US into conflicts that may not be important to the US. In addition, he was concerned that these types of relations would cause passion driven foreign policy rather than policy based upon the nation's interest. Quoting him, "Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." (George Washington Farewell Address)

However, George Washington was not the only Founding Father of the United States to advise neutrality in foreign affairs. Thomas Jefferson, stated as early as 1799 that "Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto", and in 1801 "I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government [to be] peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none."

Internationalism in Britain

In nineteenth century Britainmarker there was a liberal internationalist strand of political thought epitomised by Richard Cobden and John Bright. Cobden and Bright were against the protectionist Corn Laws and in a speech at Covent Gardenmarker on September 28, 1843 Cobden outlined this 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 therefore believed that Free Trade would pacify the world by interdependence (see Cobdenism), 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 Date = May 2009.

In the twentieth century a Gladstonian liberal who became a socialist after the Great War, J. A. Hobson in his book Imperialism (1902), anticipated 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. Both the Liberal Party and more so the Labour Party had prominent internationalist members, like the Labour Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald who believed that 'our true nationality is mankind' .

Other uses of the term

  • In linguistics, an "internationalism" is a loanword that, originating in one language, has been borrowed by most other languages. Other examples of such borrowings include "OK", "microscope", and "tokamak".

See also


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