The British people and the League of Nations

Democracy, citizenship and internationalism, c.1918–45

Author: Helen McCarthy

In the decades following Europe's first total war, millions of British men and women looked to the League of Nations as the symbol and guardian of a new world order based on international co-operation. Founded in 1919 to preserve peace between its member-states, the League inspired a rich, participatory culture of political protest, popular education and civic ritual that found expression in the establishment of voluntary societies in dozens of countries across Europe and beyond. Through the hugely popular League of Nations Union (LNU), this pro-League movement touched Britain in profound ways. Foremost amongst the League societies, the LNU became a pioneering advocate of democratic accountability and popular engagement in the making of foreign policy. This book offers an account of this popular League consciousness, revealing the extraordinarily vibrant character of associational life between the wars. It explores the complex constituencies making up the popular League movement and shows how internationalism intersected with class, gender, religion and party politics during a period of profound social, cultural and political change.

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