British liberal internationalism, 1880–1930

Making progress?

Author: Casper Sylvest

This book explores the development, character and legacy of the ideology of liberal internationalism in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain. Liberal internationalism provided a powerful way of theorising and imagining international relations, and it dominated well-informed political discourse at a time when Britain was the most powerful country in the world. Its proponents focused on securing progress, generating order and enacting justice in international affairs, and it united a diverse group of intellectuals and public figures, leaving a lasting legacy in the twentieth century. The book elucidates the roots, trajectory and diversity of liberal internationalism, focusing in particular on three intellectual languages – international law, philosophy and history – through which it was promulgated, before tracing the impact of these ideas across the defining moment of the First World War. The liberal internationalist vision of the late nineteenth century remained popular well into the twentieth century and forms an important backdrop to the development of the academic study of International Relations in Britain.

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