Internationalism in Practice: Export of Revolution

  • Fred Halliday


The world of ideology and rhetoric, and the world of the real, have never coincided, in revolutionary or tranquil times. Yet to a considerable degree they did develop in some rough combination: the ideas of the previous chapter were to a remarkable extent realised in the practices of solidarity and more specifically in the export of revolution. ‘Export of revolution’ conventionally meant the active promotion of revolution in other countries by a revolutionary regime. Revolutionaries were caught, by dint of their own ideology, in the conflict between asserting their obligation to encourage change elsewhere, and their recognition of the limits which any such external assistance could have. Equally, they were divided by their desire to affirm solidarity, often far in excess of what they were capable of, and the wish to fend off the hostility of counter-revolutionary states. Hence, protestations to the effect that such states were not violating international ‘norms’ by assisting revolutionaries abroad, were accompanied by claims that such assistance in any case was not possible, since revolution could not be exported. From the French revolutionaries in the 1790s to the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the 1980s, all such states have expressed innocence when accused of promoting revolution abroad.


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Copyright information

© Fred Halliday 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Halliday
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

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