Cosmopolitanism and the labour movement

Verity Nancy Burgmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Cosmopolitanism and labour movement internationalism are closely connected, historically and philosophically. Enlightenment cosmopolitanism was an important source of inspiration to nineteenth century socialists who developed the principles of socialist internationalism, expressed most famously by Marx and Engels in their injunction that the workers of the world should unite. They argued, in effect, that workers were natural cosmopolitans for they materially benefitted from communion with each other across national boundaries to reduce industrial competition. This article explores the changing fortunes of cosmopolitanism and internationalist sentiment within labour movements over different historical periods. It argues that since the 1970s internationalism has become a dominant principle in labour movement circles worldwide and has been pursued with particular urgency in the past few decades in the period known as globalisation, which has rendered the cosmopolitanism at the heart of labour movement internationalism all the more pertinent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39 - 44
Number of pages6
JournalSocial Alternatives
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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