Bourgeois Cosmopolitanism and its Reactionary Role, Part II

The conclusion of Bolshevik writer F. Chernov’s March 15th, 1949 article attacking unpatriotic elements in Soviet society and the arts


Excerpted below is the second part of F. Chernov’s article on “bourgeois cosmopolitanism” and “rootless cosmopolitanism”, interchangeable terms denoting a form of capitalist internationalism which Chernov presents as being at odds with socialist internationalism. Chernov goes to great efforts in the article to demonstrate how socialist internationalism can be simultaneously internationalist and patriotic. His argument largely boils down to the idea that Soviet internationalism is the only worldview which respects true patriotism, that bourgeois cosmopolitanism  in fact aims to negate and nullify real patriotic feeling in its effort to spread the power and influence of capitalism and chauvinism dressed up as nationalism. As Chernov says, “Soviet patriotism is inseparable from proletarian internationalism, organically connected with it.” This theoretical worldview, the brainchild of Stalin and Agitprop Director Andrei Zhdanov, provided justification not only for the traditionalist and nationalist cultural policies of the period, but also for the entrenchment of Russian imperial rule over its vast post-War empire.

The first part of this article is accessible here. 

III: THE WORLDWIDE struggle against “cosmopolitan” imperialism.

The ideology of cosmopolitanism arises from the same manner of production of bourgeois society.

Cosmopolitanism is the negation of patriotism, its opposite. It advocates absolute apathy towards the fate of the Motherland. Cosmopolitanism denies the existence of any moral or civil obligations of people to their nation and Motherland.

The bourgeoisie preaches the principle that money does not have a homeland, and that, wherever one can “make money,” wherever one may “have a profitable business”, there is his homeland. Here is the villainy that bourgeois cosmopolitanism is called on to conceal, to disguise, “to ennoble” the antipatriotic ideology of the rootless bourgeois-businessman, the huckster and the traveling salesman.

Harmful cosmopolitan ideology serves for the bourgeoisie and its agents as a very convenient ideological tool for excusing and covering up all kinds of antipatriotic actions, national treason and political double-dealing. Marx showed that “bourgeois patriotism…degenerated into a complete sham after its financial, commercial, and industrial activity acquired a cosmopolitanist character” [see the Marx-Engels Collected Works, Vol. 16, ‘A Contribution to the Question of Political Economy’].

In the era of imperialism the ideology of cosmopolitanism is a weapon in the struggle of imperialist plunderers seeking world domination.

Even in the time of the first World War, defending the Bolshevik programme on the nationalities question, fighting for the right of nations for self-determination, Lenin wrote:

“Imperialism represents outgrowing by capital of frameworks for national states, it represents an expansion and exacerbation of national oppression on a new historical basis. Hence it follows that in spite of guns, exactly this, that we must join the revolutionary struggle for socialism to a revolutionary programme on the question of nationality” [see Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. 21, ‘The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’].

This Leninist position shows the indissoluble bonds of the revolutionary struggle for socialism with the defense of national sovereignty of nations.

Imperialism is inseparable from repression of national sovereignty of peoples and monstrous national oppression. In policies of the most severe exploitation of oppressed nations, in expansionist aspirations, the imperialist bourgeoisie hides the first sources of bourgeois-cosmopolitan preaching of national nihilism.

National sovereignty, the struggle of oppressed nations for their liberation, the patriotic feelings of freedom-loving peoples and above all the mighty patriotism of the Soviet people – these still serve as a serious obstacle for predatory imperialistic aspirations, they prevent the imperialists’ accomplishing their plans of establishing world-wide domination. Seeking to crush the peoples’ will for resistance, the imperialist bourgeoisie and their agents in the camp of Right-wing socialists preach that national sovereignty purportedly became obsolete and a thing past its time, they proclaim the fiction of the very notion of nation and state independence.

The ruling cliques of nations, being the objects of American expansion go all out so as to spit upon and fault the yearning of the masses for the preservation of their national sovereignty, thus rendering aid to American imperialism.

Violently attacking the peoples’ aspiration to protect their national sovereignty, their national independence, apologists of imperialism insolently declare “out of date” the peoples’ aspiration for preservation or achievement of their national independence, or, in other words, their unwillingness to voluntary submit to the imperialist aggressors.

The preaching of national nihilism is knowingly and deliberately led by the ideologists of Anglo-American imperialism against the land of Socialism and the people’s democracies. The people of people’s democratic countries under the leadership of communists, with the support of the Soviet Union, bravely and steadfastly fight for their national independence. In particular the Communist parties now serve in all countries of the world as the heirs and most consistent defenders of the better national traditions of peoples, as front-line fighters for liberty and independence of peoples. They lead national opposition to the aggressors and the expansionist aspirations of American imperialism.

Modern bourgeois cosmopolitanism is the ideological expression of aggressive imperialist policies of the reactionary bourgeoisie of the great capitalistic powers, directed towards the establishment of their world supremacy. The struggle for world domination, for the exploitation of the world by a handful of capitalist monopolies naturally and inevitably results from inequality in the economic and political development of capitalism in the era of imperialism.

“Global supremacy,” Lenin observed, “is, in short, the maintenance of imperialist policies, the continuation of which is imperialist war” [see Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. 22, ‘The Junius Pamphlet’].

American imperialism, in the current conditions, is revealed as the pretender for world domination. And this explains this fact, namely that the ideologists of American imperialism emerge today as the most violent propagandists of cosmopolitanism. Present day bourgeois cosmopolitanism is chosen by American imperialism as a weapon of the ideological struggle for world domination. With the help of American cosmopolitan propaganda, American imperialism directs the ideological preparation for the accomplishment of its expansionist, aggressive aspirations. The ideology of bourgeois cosmopolitanism serves as a convenient cover for the subversive activity of spies and saboteurs, working at the behest of foreign intelligence services. In the guise of cosmopolitan phraseology, in false slogans about the struggle against “nationalist selfishness,” hides the brutal face of the inciters of a new war, trying to bring about the fantastic notion of American rule over the world. From the imperialist circles of the USA today issues propaganda of “world citizenship” and “universal government.”

The true sense of this propaganda was unmasked by Comrade A.A. Zhdanov in his report at the conference of some representatives of Communist parties.

“Some of the directions of the ideological ‘campaign’ accompanying plans for the enslavement of Europe,” said Comrade Zhdanov, “are an attack on the principle of national sovereignty, a call for the rejection of the sovereign rights of peoples and, set up in contrast to them, the idea of ‘universal government’.” The sense of this campaign consists of this, to enhance unchecked expansion of American imperialism, inconsiderately violating the sovereign rights of peoples, to represent the USA in the role of the standard-bearer of the laws of all mankind, and otherwise, to present those who resist American influence as followers of obsolete ‘selfish’ nationalism.

The patriotism of the popular masses serves as a powerful spiritual weapon of the workers in the struggle for liberty and national independence. Directed against patriotism, bourgeois cosmopolitanism pursues the goal of ideological disarmament of peoples opposing American imperialistic expansion. With the aid of cosmopolitan propaganda, the bourgeoisie of Western countries and their agents in the persons of [Leon] Blum, [Ernest] Bevin, and [Kurt] Schumacher and their like aspire to excuse their national treason, and to prepare ideologically the total surrender of these countries before American imperialism.

Comrade A.A. Zhdanov showed that bourgeois cosmopolitism and, in particular, the cosmopolitan idea of “one-world government” have a strikingly expressed anti-Soviet orientation.

“The co-opting of the idea of ‘one-world government’ by the bourgeois intelligentsia from a number of dreamers and pacifists,” said Comrade Zhdanov, “is used not only as a tool to press for the ideological disarmament of peoples, who stand up for their independence from encroachments from the direction of American imperialism, but also as a slogan expressly opposed by the Soviet Union, which constantly and repeatedly defends the principle of true equal rights and the protection of the sovereign rights of all peoples, great and small.”

Fed by the aggressive Anglo-American plans for world domination, present-day cosmopolitanism is nothing but the seamy side of unbridled Anglo-American bourgeois nationalism and racism.

Cosmopolitanism and nationalism are not opposites, but are merely two sides of bourgeois-imperialist ideology. Cosmopolitanism always was and is merely a screen, a disguise for nationalism. In due course, unmasking the German bourgeois “true socialists,” Marx and Engels indignantly wrote: “…such a narrowly nationalist outlook lies at the foundation of the alleged universalism and cosmopolitanism of the Germans” [see Marx-Engels Collected Works, Vol. 5, ‘The German Ideology’].

Self-seeking imperialist interests of the Anglo-American capitalist monopolies and militant Anglo-American bourgeois nationalism lie at the foundation of bourgeois cosmopolitanism.

All the preaching of cosmopolitan ideas, exported from the USA, of “world citizenship,” “universal government,” “world-wide power,” and the “supranational state” etc. are called to serve in their own way as an ideological disguise for Anglo-American nationalism.

Leninism revealed the sources, the roots of bourgeois cosmopolitanism. V.I. Lenin wrote: “…the union of imperialists of all countries, the union, naturally and inevitably, for the defense of capital, knowing no homeland, proved by many of the most significant and greatest episodes in world history, that capital puts the keeping of its alliance of capitalists of all countries against the workers higher than the interests of the Fatherland, of the people or of anything else.” [see Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. 27, ‘Report on Foreign Policy Delivered at a Joint Meeting of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Moscow Soviet’].

Lenin proved here that the bourgeoisie places the protection of its self-serving class interests “higher than the interests of the Fatherland, the people, or anything else,” that in the name of protecting its class interests the bourgeoisie creates a “union of imperialists of all countries” against the workers.

The composition of a new international situation as a result of the Second World War – the growth of the power of the Soviet Union and its international authority, the drop-out from the imperialist system by the peoples’ democracies, leftward tendencies among the masses in capitalist countries, the colossal growth of the strength of socialism and democracy in the whole world, the growth of national liberation movements in colonial and semi-colonial counties – all this provokes spiteful hatred from the imperialist, antidemocratic camp, headed by the USA, having set as its main purpose the struggle with socialism and democracy.

Present-day bourgeois cosmopolitanism with its call for the repudiation of national sovereignty, with its notions of “one-world government,” the creation of the “United States of Europe,” etc. is an ideological “basis” and “consecration” of the assembling under the aegis of American imperialism of a “union of imperialists” in the name of the struggle against the toiling masses, against the Soviet Union and people’s democracies, against the irresistible growth over the entire world of the forces of socialism and democracy.

Bourgeois cosmopolitanism is from start to finish a profoundly reactionary ideology of the imperialist bourgeoisie, an ideological banner of the imperialist, antidemocratic camp. Therefore the struggle with bourgeois cosmopolitanism is an indispensable and paramount component part of the struggle against imperialism, against decadent bourgeois ideology.

4: SOVIET Patriotism — a new and higher type.

Bourgeois cosmopolitanism is chiefly aimed against patriotism. Therefore the goal of further education, development and cultivation of Soviet patriotism demands a resolute struggle against cosmopolitanism and absolute victory over such disgraceful vestiges of bourgeois ideology as cringing and servility towards the capitalist West.

Soviet patriotism, against which rootless cosmopolitans directed their criminal activity, is a powerful weapon of our Party and of the Soviet people, and is an inexhaustible source of creative forces for Soviet people.

Revealing the sources of the indestructible spiritual strength of Soviet people, of their work and military valor, so strikingly demonstrated in the years of the Great Patriotic War [WWII], Comrade Stalin said:

“The valiant labor of Soviet people in the rear, just like the immortal military feats of our soldiers on the front, have their source in fervent and life-giving Soviet patriotism.”

In this exceptionally profound attitude, Comrade Stalin revealed what a truly invaluable, great significance ardent, life-giving Soviet patriotism has in the life of our society, in the life and activity of all Soviet people.

Soviet patriotism, widely expanding in our country as a result of the victory of socialism, nurtured in the Soviet people by the Party of Lenin and Stalin, became a powerful moving force of development of Soviet society.

Soviet patriotism, expressing the devotion of the Soviet people to their socialist Fatherland, is cementing the foundations of the Soviet multinational State, rallying all peoples and nationalities of our country into a united, fraternal family.

Soviet patriotism serves for the people of our country as a powerful ideological booster for unselfish work and heroic acts for the fame of the socialist Fatherland, for the sake of the victory of communism. With the blazing expression of Soviet patriotism is the lofty feeling of Soviet national pride, the awareness of the immeasurable superiority of Soviet society and socialist culture over bourgeois society and its culture.

Soviet patriotism, the feeling of Soviet national dignity, is a dependable ideological barrier which breaks up all attempts of international reaction to inject Soviet people with groveling and servility before the capitalist West.

Soviet patriotism, as the sense of deepening devotion of the popular masses to their Fatherland, to the Soviet social and governmental system, is a qualitatively new phenomenon. Soviet patriotism is the most precious fruit of this fundamental revolution in the consciousness of the people, which took place on the basis of the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in our country. Soviet patriotism has no equal in all previous history in the strength of its influence on the minds and hearts of people.

The new societal attitudes, originating from the winning of their socialist Fatherland by the working masses of our country also caused a new attitude of the popular masses towards the Fatherland and the state. The expression of these new attitudes was Soviet socialist patriotism, forming the most profound and most striking trait of the new spiritual appearance of Soviet people.

“One should recognize,” said Comrade V.M. Molotov, “that a most important achievement of our revolution is the new spiritual aspect and ideological growth of people, as Soviet patriots.”

Soviet patriotism arose, grew stronger and prevailed during the heroic struggle of the Bolshevik party and of the Soviet people for the defense of the socialist Motherland, for the construction of socialism.

Throughout the entire history of the Soviet state, the Party of the Bolsheviks educated the toiling masses of our country in the spirit of Soviet patriotism.

Already on the eve of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Comrade Stalin, unmasking the Menshevik-Trotskyite “theory” of Russia’s total dependence on the capitalist West, said:

“The possibility is not excluded that Russia in particular is a country building a road to socialism… One must cast aside old notions about this, that only Europe is able show us the way” [see Stalin’s Collected Works, Vol. 3, ‘Speeches Delivered at the 6th Congress of the RSDLP (Bolsheviks) – Reply to Preobrazhensky’].

These prophetic words of Comrade Stalin, full of genuine patriotism, inspired steadfast confidence in the line of the Bolshevik Party and hard work, in the ranks of the Bolshevik Party and workers a firm confidence in their own powers, and in the possibility of socialist development of our country.

In 1917, the “Russian people accomplished a gigantic leap forward – vaulting from czarism to the Soviet system” [see Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. 33, ‘Better Fewer, But Better’]. The overthrow of the rule of the exploiting classes and the establishment of Soviet power meant that the toiling masses of our country gained at last their socialist Fatherland because of the heroic struggle of the Bolshevik party. “On the 7th of November (25th of October old style),” said Lenin, “we openly said that that we are for the defense of the Fatherland, for it is indeed our Fatherland…” [see Lenin’s pamphlet The Soviets at Work]. Developing the patriotic idea of the defense of the socialist Fatherland, Lenin pointed out, that in the conditions of the rule of the proletarian dictatorship, this idea acquires a new, socialist content, since, in defending the Fatherland, “we are defending socialism, we defend the socialist Fatherland” [ibid.].

The Party of Lenin and Stalin led the relentless struggle against all enemies of the socialist Fatherland. The Bolshevik party gave a resolute rebuff to the so-called “Left Communists,” participants in the counterrevolutionary plot of the Trotskyite-Bukharinists. These enemies of the Party and of the people attempted to give out the Socialist Motherland, just recently won by the workers and peasants, to flooding and pillage by troops of foreign interventionists and, taking refuge in false phrases about “revolutionary war” and supposed “international” interests, they proclaimed “In the interests of international revolution we consider it expedient to accept the possibility of losing Soviet power.”

“Strange and monstrous,” – thus did Lenin call these foul, provocative and treacherous statements of the Bukharinites. Hotly and angrily Lenin unmasked this disgraceful act of betrayal and treason. Sweeping away the anti-Soviet, antipatriotic ravings of “Left Communism,” Lenin tore away its deceitful mask of internationalism and showed that the true and authentic internationalism in the conditions of victory in one country consists of every possible defense of the socialist Fatherland. “Exactly in the interests of ‘strengthening ties’ with international socialism,” Lenin wrote, “it is mandatory to defend the socialist Fatherland” [see Lenin’s Collected Works, vol. 27, ‘Speech in the Moscow Soviet of Workers’, Peasants’, and Red Army Deputies’].

One of the favorite forms of wrecking and sabotage activity by the Trotsky-Zinoviev band was unrestrained slander on the Soviet people and their socialist achievements and unbridled propagation of servility before the capitalist West. In their antipatriotic frenzy, Trotskyite-Bukharinists smeared mud on the Russian people, calling them a “nation of Oblomovs” [Note: 19th Century writer I. A. Goncharov’s character “Oblomov” was noted for apathy, inactivity, and laziness]. Leninism — the greatest achievement of Russian and world culture, the glory and pride of the Soviet people — they proclaimed to be a nationally-limited teaching. The toadies crawling before the capitalist West aspired to kill the Soviet people’s faith in the victory of socialism and proclaimed that the Soviet people are not in a condition by their own strengths to overcome the country’s technical and economic backwardness, that “backward” Russia can not stand up in front of “progressive” Europe.

Unmasking the Trotskyite-Bukharinist band of enemies of the people, Comrade Stalin said that this was “a small group of spies, murderers and wreckers, groveling before foreign countries, penetrated with cringing feelings of servility before every foreign bureaucrat and willing to work in their intelligence service – a small group of people, not understanding that the least Soviet citizen, free from the chains of capital, stands a head taller than any high-ranking foreign bureaucrat, dragging a yoke of capitalist slavery on the shoulders” [see Stalin’s Collected Works, Vol. 14, ‘Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 18th Congress of the AUCP(b)’].

In the struggle against all enemies of the socialist Motherland — against Trotskyites, Bukharinists, and bourgeois nationalists – Lenin and Stalin pointed out that the proletariat, defending the socialist Fatherland, does not and cannot have any contradiction or divergence between its devoted service to the socialist Motherland and its international tasks.

Soviet patriotism is inseparable from proletarian internationalism, organically connected with it. It organically unites with itself national traditions of the peoples with the vital interests of all the workers of the USSR. In the strength of its socialist character, Soviet patriotism repudiates any preaching of national or racial exclusiveness; any racial or national prejudice is alien to it. Soviet patriotism is the complete opposite of bourgeois pseudo-patriotism which from start to finish is permeated with the spirit of nationalism and chauvinism, alien to the popular masses.

As Lenin pointed out, internationalism does not mean anti-nationalism [see Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. 21, ‘Critical Remarks on the National Question’]. This observation of Lenin is of fundamental significance, because he is talking about the fact that proletarian internationalism does not have anything in common with bourgeois cosmopolitanism, today being the banner of ideological reaction.

“If, at heart, internationalism is respect for other peoples, it is impossible to be an internationalist without respect or love for one’s own people” (A.A. Zhdanov).

With its preaching of indifference to the destiny and interests of its people and Fatherland, by its mockery of authentically patriotic feelings of peoples, bourgeois cosmopolitanism is only able to cultivate contemptible betrayers of the Motherland.

Throughout the entire history of socialist construction in the USSR the Bolshevik party led and leads the most resolute fundamental struggle with all antipatriotic displays, with all enemies of the Soviet people, of Soviet culture.

The struggle of the party against the enemies of Leninism always was a profoundly patriotic struggle for the socialist road of development of our nation, for its freedom and independence, for the victory of socialism. In this struggle the party fostered in the Soviet people an invincible faith in its creative strength, developed and cultivated its sense of Soviet patriotism, its awareness of its national dignity and superiority over people of the bourgeois world.

The party unmasked the antipatriotic, bourgeois-cosmopolitan essence of servility before the capitalist West. It revealed that this cringing before foreign countries inevitably leads to national treason and to betrayal of the interests of the Soviet people and the socialist Fatherland. The unmasking of antipatriotic groups of bourgeois cosmopolitans, the struggle against the ideology of bourgeois cosmopolitanism, is a striking expression of the concern of the Bolshevik Party about the education of the toiling masses of our country in the spirit of life-giving, Soviet patriotism.

The decisions and directions of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) regarding ideological questions bring a shattering blow against the development of bourgeois ideology and mobilize the party and all workers on the ideological front for an indefatigable struggle against bourgeois influences, for a struggle to strengthen Bolshevik party-ness, the militant, pugnacious patriotic-Soviet spirit. These decisions and directions of the Central Committee of the AUCP(b) have their goal “to strengthen, in such a way, the Party spirit of Soviet science, literature, and art and to raise to a new, higher level all instruments of our socialist culture: the press, propaganda, science, literature, art” (G. Malenkov).


Article sourced from F. Chernov’s Bourgeois Cosmopolitanism and its Reactionary Role, (15 March, 1949), Bol’shevik: Theoretical and Political Magazine of the Central Committee of the AUCP(b), Issue #5

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