- New Histories of Internationalism
Unlike its brother-in-arms, nationalism, which enjoys broad usage, the term "internationalism" has not quite made it into the popular lexicon. At best, references to internationalism prompt the nagging sense that the term has actually been employed by accident, when what is really meant is "globalization," "international finance," or, most commonly, the Communist International. But perhaps the days of internationalism's marginalization are numbered, thanks to a wave of exciting new scholarship that has highlighted the centrality of internationalism as an aspiration, movement, and practice, throughout the twentieth century.
Four new books on the history of internationalism cast the phenomenon in sharp relief. Two are scholarly monographs, penned by Daniel Gorman (Professor of History, University of Waterloo) and Talbot Imlay (Professor of History at the University of Laval), which, respectively, tackle two different ideological and political traditions [End Page 797] that have internationalist tactics and dreams at their core: liberalism and socialism. Both authors focus their narratives on the years after World War I, in a bid to show that liberal and socialist border-crossers were not bit players on the international scene following the Paris Peace Conference. As they demonstrate, even in an age that is typically remembered principally for the rise of virulent forms of nationalist activism (from Fascist to National Socialist), liberal and socialist internationalism proved powerful forces. This was true both if we investigate the role of these movements within the first major experiment in supranational governance of the twentieth century, the League of Nations, or if we think carefully about the shape of civil society activism after 1918. As these two authors argue, liberal and socialist internationalism was not eclipsed in the interwar years: to the contrary, both movements experienced years of growth that paved the way, crucially, for their further expansion after World War II.
The two edited volumes offer instead a diachronic and synchronic take on the phenomenon of internationalism in the history of the twentieth century. Patricia Clavin (Professor of History, Oxford University) and Glenda Sluga (Professor of History, University of Sydney), in their coedited volume, seek to make a strong case for a focus on "internationalism" as a distinct field of study. The chapters in this edited volume are penned by leading scholars and discuss phenomena as diverse as on religious internationalism, socialist internationalism, imperial internationalism, and Fascist internationalism. The volume is distinguished by a plurality of approaches, which tackle the question of internationalism through the tools of intellectual, legal, political, economic, and social history. In another coedited volume on internationalism coeditors Piotr Kosicki (Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland) and Sławomir Łukasiewicz (Director of the Institute of European Studies at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin) center attention on a single under-studied internationalist movement: Christian Democracy. Their aim is, in part, to restore some balance to the historiography which has tended, by and large, to focus much more attention on liberal, socialist, and communist internationalism, with comparatively little attention paid to the phenomenon of Christian Democracy—despite the fact that Christian Democrats would emerge hegemonic in most Western European countries after World War II, and the patent role they played in post-1945 internationalist projects, such as European integration and the formation of a Cold War anticommunist bloc. Kosicki and Łukasiewicz are also interested in demonstrating how internationalism after World War II was not simply dominated by the [End Page 798] United States versus the Soviet Union; rather, actors and organizations on both sides of the Iron Curtain pursued projects of their own, which were doubtless inflected by the Cold War climate, but...