Statecraft and Salvation
Wilsonian Liberal Internationalism as Secularized Eschatology
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Baylor University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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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 and other masterpieces of light comedy. My editor was skimming through it for ...
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When the Czech ex-president, playwright, human rights activist, and former dissident Václav Havel died peacefully at his country cot-tage in Hrádeček in northeastern Bohemia on Sunday morning, Decem-ber 18, 2011, the news spread fast. Within hours, his haggard face stared from the front page of every major media portal, and the Czech people and government found themselves inundated with condolences from ...
Chapter OneFrom Providence to Progress
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Among the legion of scholars who have written about President Woodrow Wilson, many noticed his deep eschatological convic-tions, 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, whose realist cri-tique of Wilsonian liberal internationalism in the wake of World War I ...
Chapter twoSecularization andTotalitarian Movements
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The secularization thesis in many ways boils down to the insight that modern philosophies of progress are impossible without certain pre-suppositions about the nature of the historical process that originate in Judeo-Christian eschatology. Some progressivisms retain these presup-positions explicitly, remain loyal to the Bible, and secularize the myth of salvation only in the limited sense of reinterpreting the originally tran-...
Chapter threeThe Eschatological Origins of theAmerican Republic
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In his classic study of the origins and development of American demo-cratic 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. He tended to imagine his quest for the League of Nations in terms of completing, on ...
Chapter four“Manifest Destiny”
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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 mis-take. 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, that the liberal-republican ideology of the American Revo-...
Chapter fiveThe (Not So) ConservativeMillennialist
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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: the recognition that Wilson’s religious faith played an important role in his ...
Chapter six“To Release Mankind from theIntolerable Things of the Past”
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Although traditionally the secularization thesis about the biblical pre-suppositions 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 domes-tic political ideas and practice offer an excellent illustration: his vision of national progress flowed from his deep religious convictions as their ...
conclusion(Re)Integrating the Two Utopianisms
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...“Utopianism” is a term that enjoys widespread use, but its mean-ing 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. In contemporary IR discourse, the category ...
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Page Count: 277
Publication Year: 2013