- Internationalism is the idea that nations should cooperate to solve common problems and prevent national disputes, rather than pursue primarily their national interests. Internationalism became an increasingly strong ideology as the nineteenth century progressed and has become a dominant ideology of the twentieth century. Modern internationalism can trace its roots to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, when thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, and Rousseau argued for the universalism of human values and interests. Kant even envisioned a form of world government. Romantic nationalism, which emerged in the early nineteenth century as a reaction to the materialism of many Enlightenment thinkers, also played a role in advancing internationalism. Following the example of the French Revolution, many Europeans sought to form their own nation-states, where a single ethnic population would have its own political state. German and Italian nationalism were notable examples. The widespread revolutions of 1848, however, also reflected a broad, or international, desire for nationalism. These movements, many of which eventually succeeded as the nineteenth century wore on, helped create a larger community of nations, which eventually became the basis for an international community. Conflicts between nations were common, but so, too, was a desire to cooperate and preserve peace. These were the goals of the Concert of Europe, the agreement struck amongst the victorious powers after the Napoleonic Wars to regularly consult each other on issues of perceived common interest. They were also the goals of the new international organizations that began to form in the 1860s and 1870s, including the Universal Postal Union and the International Telegraph Union.Internationalism also gained strength below the state level. International organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and The International Red Cross, the latter formed in 1864 through the inspiration of the Swiss doctor Jean Henri Dunant, were private organizations that, although they worked with national governments, reflected a spirit of individual amity. Working people also embraced internationalism as a new and potentially revolutionary ideology. The First International, also known as the International Working Men’s Association, was founded in London in 1864 under the leadership of Karl Marx. Its aim was an international socialist revolution, and it worked to generate cooperation between socialist groups in different nations. The First International attracted both communist and noncommunist socialist organizations, but it eventually split up over the question of whether revolution was a short- or long-term goal, a division mirrored in the personal animosity between Marx and Mikael Bakunin, the Russian anarchist and fellow leading international socialist. The Second International was formed in Paris in 1889, and pursued more reformist goals. It broke up in 1914 over the war, with members choosing nationalism over internationalist goals. The Bolshevist leader V. I. Lenin formed the Third International in 1919, representing the international goals of communism. International socialism represented a major ideological challenge to imperialism during the half-century before World War I.Internationalism also entailed the unprecedented relations of trade and social interaction that marked especially the period from 1870 to 1914. This period, sometimes termed “the first era of globalization,” witnessed a marked rise in international cooperation and investment. The British writer Norman Angell, reflecting the temper of the age, declared that any future war, regardless of who won, would in fact harm all participants through the mutual damage it would cause to international trade. In the same spirit, European nations pledged support for international cooperation at The Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, inspired by the Russian Czar Nicholas II. Internationalism, however, remained stronger as an ideal than a reality. National rivalries remained and were particularly intense regarding imperial competition in Africa and Asia, economic protectionism, and arms production. Internationalism also remained largely a European idea. The United States remained a largely isolationist nation, while much of the rest of the world was excluded because of unequal economic development and colonial paternalism. Nonetheless, although World War I proved a serious setback for internationalism, the idea reemerged after the war in the form of the League of Nations.See also <
>; < >; < >; < >; < >; < >.FURTHER READING:Cooper, Sandi. Internationalism in Nineteenth Century Europe: The Crisis of Ideas and Purpose . New York: Garland Publishing, 1976;Haupt, Georges. Aspects of International Socialism, 1871–1914: Essays . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986;Woolf, Leonard. International Government . London, 1916.DANIEL GORMAN
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.