Cover image for Nationalism and the International Labor Movement: The Idea of the Nation in Socialist and Anarchist Theory By Michael Forman

Nationalism and the International Labor Movement

The Idea of the Nation in Socialist and Anarchist Theory

Michael Forman

BUY

$30.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-03014-2

224 pages
6" × 9"
1998

Nationalism and the International Labor Movement

The Idea of the Nation in Socialist and Anarchist Theory

Michael Forman

“With the concept of ‘nation’ no longer self-evident in Western Europe, this historical study, which seeks to reconstruct and reexamine the concept of ‘nation' that emerged in the international labor movement in the second half of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of World War II, has contemporary significance. Aside from its scholarly merits, the author’s view that the cosmopolitan intent and internationalist vision that informed the international labor movement is worth re(dis)covering makes this work a significant contribution.”

 

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Winner of the 1999 Michael Harrington Award from the Caucus for a New Political Science

The resurgence of nationalism accompanying the decline of Communism has been taken to indicate the failure of socialist theory to grasp the nature of this phenomenon. Against both those who argue that the radical tradition has ignored and underestimated nationalism and those who accuse it of economic reductionism, this careful analysis of the idea of the nation as it was developed in the work of the major thinkers of the international labor movement reveals evidence of how seriously they grappled with nationalism.

Each of the main sections of the book focuses on the most influential theorists of the international labor movement as it became organized and grew: Bakunin, Marx, and Engels and the concern of the First International (1864–1876) with class solidarity across political borders; Lenin, Luxemburg, and Bauer and the preoccupation of the Second International (1889-1914) with socialism in ethnically plural societies; Stalin and Gramsci in relation to the substitution by the Third International (1919–1943) of nation-building and national liberation for the old class project.

In the conclusion, the author examines the relationships among ethnic and civic nationality, national self-determination, republican institutions, and the process of globalization from the perspective of the post-Soviet era and in the light of social theory and Kant's ideas about cosmopolitan right.

“With the concept of ‘nation’ no longer self-evident in Western Europe, this historical study, which seeks to reconstruct and reexamine the concept of ‘nation' that emerged in the international labor movement in the second half of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of World War II, has contemporary significance. Aside from its scholarly merits, the author’s view that the cosmopolitan intent and internationalist vision that informed the international labor movement is worth re(dis)covering makes this work a significant contribution.”
“Against those who argue that socialist theorists have historically underestimated nationalism and hence its place in the politics of nation building, Forman skillfully interprets the ideas of the most famous thinkers of the international labor movement to reveal that these theorists did indeed take the concepts of nation and nationalism seriously, and that within their writings one can end the theoretical basis for a new, reinvigorated international labor movement. As such, Nationalism and the International Labor Movement represents not only an important and innovative contribution to the literature on nations and nation building but an effective effort to communicate the principles and language of a new cosmopolitan vision of a future where social and economic justice and institutional accountability can finally be realized on a global scale.”

Michael Forman is Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics at Whitman College.

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