Paul Dover and Hamish Scott
This chapter charts the emergence of diplomacy in its modern sense—the peaceful and continuous management of relations between states—during the early modern centuries. It was brought about by two central changes: one functional, the other geographical. The principal roles of an ambassador were providing information, representing his ruler, and conducting negotiations, and these were all established by the sixteenth century. Initially the first two were more important than the third, but by the second half of the period examined the conduct of negotiations had become the most important dimension of a diplomat’s role. The second transformation was an extension of the network of diplomacy, from its origins in the Italian peninsula to Western Europe and—by the eighteenth century—to Eastern Europe as well. These changes were not linear in nature, but collectively they created the diplomatic system and culture which prevailed until the First World War.
In the turbulent interwar period, the political ‘Left’ was one of the most visible protagonists, with historians continuing to disagree about the role it played in shaping the outcome of the political struggles. Embedded in strong ‘moral narratives’ about the ‘rise of fascism’, the ‘crisis of democracy’, and the nature of the Bolshevik Revolution, the political Left has been vilified or lionized. For the period from the mid-1920s until 1939, both supporters and detractors agree that the Left was on the defensive, internally divided and weakened by the Great Depression and subject to repression by the state, whether democratic, authoritarian, or Stalinist. This chapter argues that the failure narrative should not subsume the vibrant experimentation and rich and contradictory diversity of the Left experience. A portrait emerges of the interwar Left that wrestled with inevitably imperfect and varied solutions to the ‘problem of community life’ in twentieth-century mass society.