The term ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ had actually been borrowed from Vissarion Belinsky, a Russian critic who was using the term to criticize the Westernization of Russia. However, Josef Stalin had used the term in a way that was synonymous with the term ‘Jew’. Prior to the start of World War Two, Stalin had attacked cosmopolitanism, believing that it was an ideology that was separate from Soviet nationalism. Stalin’s conflation of the Jewish people with traitors to the Soviet Union (‘rootless cosmopolitans’) was a mirror of how Hitler’s Nazi regime conflated Jews with the Bolshevik party. 
From the 1920s to the 1940s, the Jewish people became drawn into Communist ideologies and were associated with revolutionary politics in disproportionate numbers. The period between World War One and World War Two also saw a rise in the Jewish people engaging more with the concept of cosmopolitanism, which is an ideology that states that all humans are, or should be, members of a single community. For many following World War One, the concepts of cosmopolitanism and Communism gave Jewish intellectuals a chance to overcome the nationalist ideals that had led to the First World War. In fact, the 1920s saw the Soviet Union forbidding antisemitism as it was considered a relic of the Tsarist regime. 
However, the takeover of Stalin changed the ideals of the Soviet Union. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union transitioned away from cosmopolitanism and redirected the Soviet Union from Communist internationalism to a sense of Soviet nationalism. Because of the fact that Stalin’s regime was not in line with the ideologies of Jewish intellectuals, the Jewish people found themselves as outsiders and were presumed as enemies under the new government. Because of this treatment, Jewish intellectuals who had supported the Communist Party were openly critical of Stalin’s regime. This lead to the Jewish people being one of the many groups targeted during Stalin’s Great Purges, which helped lead to the destruction of the growth of an independent Jewish culture in the Soviet Union.