The totalitarian revolutions that sprang up in Italy and Germany were explicitly undertaken to oppose liberalism. Thus a good way to look at developments in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s is in terms of liberalism and anti-liberalism.
Then (using Perry) consider international relations in the 1920s and 1930s. Identify three developments that seem to indicate that liberal internationalism was working in the 1920s. Identify three situations in the 1930s that reflect the failure of liberal internationalism. What reasons might you suggest for the failure of liberal internationalism?
The period after the First World War was one where intense liberalism occurred across several European countries but most particularly in France, Italy and Germany. There left wing governments began redistributing wealth to a much larger degree than before. Socialist governments encouraged liberalism in these countries and there was also the election of a first Labour government in the 1920’s in the UK. This meant that the oligarchy of the aristocracy was drastically reduced accordingly and more liberal principles were adopted across the board.
The 1930’s saw an intrinsic reversal of liberal achievements in more ways than one. First of all the rise of Fascism in Italy and Germany was immediately apparent as a force for repression with the curtailment of the freedom of the press as well as similar restriction of other liberal ideas. Incidents of particular importance include the bloody repression against Communists in Germany, the repression of Jews in Germany as well as general warlike incidents in Japan against China. All this led to considerable conflagration which was eventually to foment itself into the Second World War accordingly.
All in all, liberal ideas failed in Europe in the 1930’s as the rise of strong right wing regimes was seen to be important to maintain stability against weak and ineffectual governments. This could be said of Germany’s Weimar Republic and France’s Second Republic, both of which were marred by lack of political backbone and petty infighting.
Covenant of the League of Nations
Retrieved from: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/leagcov.htm
Japanese conquest of Manchuria
Retrieved from: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/WorldWar2/manchuria.htm
Perry M; Western Civilisation Vol 2; New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007, Print