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Nonetheless, he believed that states and the societies they governed evolved in an organic relationship with one another; and so, in a sense, Wilson considered every state a nation-state. The ideal nation-state was organic because history taught that no stable state could arise from the mere imposition of government upon a people, even the most homogeneous. It was born of the habit of the race.

As social organisms grew in complexity, new problems arose, needing new solutions, along with new ideals inspiring new goals for those who held them.


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These are the ideals which have formed our [American] institu- tions, and which shall mend them when they need reform. The Fable of the Fourteen Points : themselves. It follows upon the long discipline which gives a people self-possession, self-mastery, the habit of order and peace and common counsel.

The Proclamation of the Right of Peoples to Self-Determination and Its Present-Day Repercussions

It preceded formal democracy in history, and superseded it in importance. Wilson, The State, — Contrast Richard W. Like other turn-of-the-century thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic, Wilson thought tribal versions of nationalism impeded the healthy development and spread of civili- zation. As will be Liberal critiques of nationalism had gained prominence on both sides of the Atlantic since the mid-nineteenth century. Brailsford, The War of Steel and Gold Wilson was careful to make this point despite his interest in continental, and especially German, political thought, an interest underappreciated by most scholars.

A brief and useful study is Robert D. Jack Rabin and James S. Bowman New York, , 17— The Fable of the Fourteen Points : shown, Wilson took a historicist view of political institutions that led him to believe immediate extension of such a principle was in many cases impractical and in others dangerous.

National Self-Determination - Woodrow Wilson and his Legacy | Derek Heater | Palgrave Macmillan

He believed, as a matter of practical political ethics, that all people should have a voice in the governments under which they lived and that politically mature communities should control the institu- tions that shaped their lives. By World War I, he further believed that demo- cratic nations were threatened, in a global climate hostile to the right and habit of self-government that maintained free institutions. Over time, an institutional framework must be established that would guarantee self-government both within and among nations. Audiences in imperialized regions across Cumming and Walter W.

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Pettit, eds. Soviet foreign policy in its relation to the war and Wilsonianism is analyzed in Arno J. Above all, they turned to Wilson for assurance that the govern- ments in his coalition were ready to accept as partners peoples they had long sought to control as subjects. Mayer, Political Origins of the New Diplomacy, chap. Knock, To End All Wars, — The Fable of the Fourteen Points : stateless ethnicities. That program would have to be anti-imperialist and unself- ish enough to shore up liberal support for the war, draw the Russians back into it, and encourage the war-weary German people to seize control of their affairs and end it.

House diary, December 18, , PWW The only full-length study of the Inquiry is Lawrence E.

For the intellectual assumptions of its members and the strategic implications of its output, one must consult the Inquiry Documents Special Reports and Studies , Record Group RG All three men believed the president aimed to realize the same ideal for international society. Fourteen Points, — Gordon Levin, Jr. Knock, To End All Wars, , Had Wilson thought instead that self-government depended on political inde- pendence for all nationalities, he would certainly not have entrusted Lippmann to oversee the drafting of the program.

Lippmann had sent an advance copy of the edition to Secretary of War Newton D. The goal was a settlement providing a stable psychological and political basis for international, cooperative responses to change. That, in turn, meant addressing the grievances of subject peoples without dismembering every multinational state. We were talking about it the other day and he was interested to see a copy. The article was forwarded to Wilson by Baker. In short, if the Poles were to have their state, a pragmatic peace required that they share nicely—and it was the business of the interna- tional community to make sure of it.

He knew he could not unequivocally endorse national self-determination as a uni- versal principle, even for a universe as small as Europe. Logic was a good and powerful thing but apart from the consideration of existing circum- stances might lead to dangerous results. Rather, he condemned interference in its affairs. In this spirit, Inquiry Memorandum, — Fourteen Points, emphasis mine. See Fourteen Points, , —39, where the equation of imperialism with aggressive force, not geographic extension, is clear.

But Wilson intervened reluctantly, primarily to counterbal- ance much heavier troop deployments planned by the Japanese government. Link 2 vols. Polk to Roland S. Again, the destruction of autocracy within and between nations was more important than breaking them apart.

Fourteen Points, Inquiry Memorandum, ; Mantoux, Deliberations, 2: 50—52, Fourteen Points, , ; Inquiry Memorandum, , — October 19, , PWW Admittedly, Wilson extended de facto recognition to the Czechoslovak National Council in September, , before the empire disintegrated. Yet as Unterberger has shown, he did so on grounds that the politico-military activities it oversaw were effectively those of a belligerent government, and stressed this fact to avoid endorsing the cause of the Yugoslavs and other nationalities whose revolts seemed less highly organized.

Wilson felt strongly that centuries of partition and ethnic persecution by con- quering powers entitled the Poles to a state of their own. The assessment includes judgements by his contemporaries and historians of Wilson and the peace settlement. A survey of the manner in which national self-determination shaped the settlement leads to a discussion of the subsequent effects of the idea on the states and territories subject to the Versailles Treaty and related treaties.

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Woodrow Wilson and the legacy of self-determination

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