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Statecraft and Salvation

Wilsonian Liberal Internationalism as Secularized Eschatology

Milan Babík

Publication Year: 2013

Understanding Woodrow Wilson’s approach to international relations requires acknowledgment of his Protestant faith. In Statecraft and Salvation, Milan Babík delivers a fresh analysis of Wilson’s progressive international political thought by examining it within the broader context of the American liberal tradition. The progressive belief that the world in general, and Europe in particular, could achieve peace carried with it a secular hope and a Christian eschatological vision for the future. Babík contends that the ultimate result of this belief devolved to serve a more totalitarian agenda. Statecraft and Salvation traces Wilson’s “New Democracy” to liberal internationalism as an effort distinctly shaped by his faith. 

Published by: Baylor University Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

I was overcome with despair when in early August 2012, shortly after receiving one of my drafts, my editor responded, “Greetings from the beach! I am on vacation but reading it here and will comment shortly.” My first attempt at an academic treatise, I gathered, had been demoted to beach reading—the league occupied by Bridget Jones’s Diary ...

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Introduction: The Two Utopianisms: Wilsonian Liberal Internationalism vs. Secularized Eschatology

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pp. 1-22

When the Czech ex-president, playwright, human rights activist, and former dissident Václav Havel died peacefully at his country cottage in Hrádeček in northeastern Bohemia on Sunday morning, December 18, 2011, the news spread fast. Within hours, his haggard face stared from the front page of every major media portal, ...

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1. From Providence to Progress: Secularization Theory

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pp. 23-60

Among the legion of scholars who have written about President Woodrow Wilson, many noticed his deep eschatological convictions, and many others cast his international political thought as a form of utopianism. The former group includes Wilson’s main twentieth-century biographer, Arthur S. Link, and the latter, E. H. Carr, ...

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2. Secularization and Totalitarian Movements: Probing the Limits of the Concept

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pp. 61-80

The secularization thesis in many ways boils down to the insight that modern philosophies of progress are impossible without certain presuppositions about the nature of the historical process that originate in Judeo-Christian eschatology. Some progressivisms retain these presuppositions explicitly, remain loyal to the Bible, ...

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3. The Eschatological Origins of the American Republic: Millennialism in Colonial America

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pp. 81-106

In his classic study of the origins and development of American democratic thought, the Yale historian Ralph Henry Gabriel remarked that Woodrow Wilson’s domestic and foreign policies rested “on ethical beliefs which in American history were as old as Puritanism.”1 Wilson would have accepted this characterization with enthusiasm. ...

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4. “Manifest Destiny”: Secularized Eschatology in the Nineteenth-Century United States

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pp. 107-136

The failure to comprehend the eschatological dimension of American liberal internationalism and Wilson’s statecraft is not due simply to ignorance or inattention; chalking it up to these factors would be a mistake. Rather, it is a symptom of a broader, well-established cultural script maintaining that religion played no significant role in America’s history and founding, ...

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5. The (Not So) Conservative Millennialist: Woodrow Wilson and History as Orderly Progress Toward Liberty

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pp. 137-174

Already Wilson’s contemporaries realized that he would cast a long shadow over subsequent American statecraft, and they set about mapping his character, ideas, and policies even before his death in 1924. The countless studies that have appeared since then disagree on many points, but an important common thread runs through all of them: ...

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6. “To Release Mankind from theIntolerable Things of the Past”: Wilson’s Wartime Statecraft as a Mission to Redeem the World

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pp. 175-208

Although traditionally the secularization thesis about the biblical presuppositions of modern historical consciousness has been applied almost exclusively to totalitarian and irreligious ideologies, it is no less pertinent to liberal and religious narratives of progress. Wilson’s domestic political ideas and practice offer an excellent illustration: ...

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Conclusion. (Re)Integrating the Two Utopianisms: Wilsonian Liberal Internationalism as Secularized Eschatology

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pp. 209-236

“Utopianism” is a term that enjoys widespread use, but its meaning varies dramatically across different epistemic communities. Placed side by side, the academic fields of international relations (IR) and intellectual history offer an excellent example: each of these two areas of intellectual activity has conceptualized utopianism in relative isolation from the other. ...


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pp. 237-254


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pp. 255-267

E-ISBN-13: 9781602587458
E-ISBN-10: 1602587450
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602587434
Print-ISBN-10: 1602587434

Page Count: 277
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 855534981
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Statecraft and Salvation

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Foreign relations -- Philosophy.
  • United States -- Foreign relations -- 20th century.
  • Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924 -- Influence.
  • Wilson, Woodrow, -- 1856-1924 -- Political and social views
  • Internationalism -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • International relations -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Eschatology -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • World politics -- 1900-1945.
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