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date: 03 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Historians and contemporaries saw interwar democracy as incomplete, illegitimate, and inept. The League of Nations has been similarly characterized. Yet democracy endured across the Continent, threatened far more by Nazism than by internal actors. The League’s democratic internationalism failed to prevent a second world war, sanctioned Great Power imperialism, and neglected minority problems especially in Eastern Europe. But the League’s Secretariat shaped international discourse on humanitarian norms for the rest of the century, working with institutions and non-governmental organizations to bring about real good. This essay offers a tour d’horizon of interwar European democracy and democratic internationalism. While not minimizing the destructive influence of the radical right, it notes that in many cases seemingly undemocratic groups, institutions, and practices ended up stabilizing democracy.

Keywords: democracy, League of Nations, Great Britain, France, Scandinavia, Czechoslovakia, populism

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