Victorian liberalism and the roots of liberal internationalism
in British liberal internationalism, 1880–1930
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This chapter covers the historical components and emergence of liberal internationalism as a political ideology, discussing the Victorian liberalism and the visions of international politics that grew out of and were important for the ascendancy of internationalism. The popularity of Cobdenite ideas is closely related to their compatibility not only with dissent, but also with philosophical radicalism, traditional Whig views about war and peace, and the evangelically inspired, economic arguments in favour of free trade. William Ewart Gladstone argued against Lord Palmerston's meddling foreign policy, his conception of the English as ‘universal schoolmasters’, his ‘insular temper’ and his ‘self-glorifying tendency’. Lord Salisbury provides a helpful contrast to liberal internationalism. Internationalist ideology was underwritten by expectations of intellectual, moral and/or political progress, which would issue in a public morality and the reconciliation of nationalism and internationalism, ensuring the entrenchment of order and justice in international politics.

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