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Social chauvinism can be described as aggressive or fanatical patriotism, particularly during time of war, in support of one's own nation (e.g., government, culture, etc.) versus other nation(s), displayed by those who are socialists or social democrats. During World War I, most left-of-centre political parties took a social-chauvinist stand, with few exceptions. Most Socialists gave up their anti-militarism and their belief in international unity among the working class in favour of "defense of the fatherland", and turned to social-chauvinism, most notably the German Social Democratic Party and the French Socialist Party.

The consequence of this policy on labor relations within the combatant countries was something called Burgfrieden in Germany, a term deriving from the medieval concept of "peace (especially between feuding families) within a besieged city". Other countries had their own terms. By this means, strikes and other forms of industrial action were ended for the duration. When they re-emerged after the first World War, compounded with the example of the Bolsheviks in winning a revolution, longing for the conditions which had transpired during the war was a major motivation for fascism.

It is this concept which lies behind the first motto of the tripartite series of George Orwell in his novel which was published in 1949, titled Nineteen Eighty-Four: War is Peace. His imaginary society keeps itself from labor-inspired protest by constantly being at war.

Two outstanding examples of Communists who fought against social-chauvinism in Germany during World War I were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. They stressed that the only violence that should be used is the violence necessary to overthrow one's own government. They agitated tirelessly in their nation to show that common social relations united workers across any national boundaries and that the only blood the proletariat should shed is the blood to gain their freedom. Those who oppose social-chauvinism often make use of the slogan "No war but class war".

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