The Genesis of Proletarian Internationalism

It’s in the nature of things that capitalist exploitation and oppression on a global scale begets its own opposite-that is, brings into existence the internationalism of the exploited and oppressed.

Both nationalism and proletarian internationalism are relatively recent expressions of the social nature of the human animal.

There are many social species, from ants and bees to wolves and humans, whose social instincts are genetically determined. But unlike all other social species, humans become ever more conscious of their instinct to cooperate and have over several thousand years developed fully conscious and ever more complex forms of social organization. All of which are selected because they tend to maximize human cooperation and minimize centrifugal tendencies among human beings.

Both instinctive and conscious cooperative tendencies, as well as the antagonistic tendencies deriving from the raw individual struggle for survival, find expression in the age-old dispute over human nature: Is it good or evil?

Most informed and reasonably intelligent people today are aware by now that the nature of human nature depends on the objective circumstances people find themselves in, as well as on genetically-determined factors.

Consequently, the evolution of human social relations has taken many forms and more than one type of social relationship can exist at the same time; e.g., the family, the extended family or clan, the tribe, the religious and other culturally based social institutions, the nation, trade unions, employers associations, etc.

This array of social, economic, and cultural relationships also reflects the stages of human social evolution, which are in turn an expression of the level reached by the productive forces of human society.

Paradoxically, all these forms can serve either human solidarity or human antagonism. Whether they bind people together and thereby maximize cooperation and reduce competition (in its narrow sense of human against human in a naked struggle for survival) depends in large part on how well the productive forces meet the needs of all members of society at large when considered as a whole.

Much more can be said on this very important sociological subject, but it’s enough to frame our discussion of one of the most important questions before us today; the question of nationalism and other narrower forms of social relationships on one side, and proletarian internationalism on the other.