Patriotic Pacifism: Waging War on War in Europe, 1815-1914

Patriotic Pacifism: Waging War on War in Europe, 1815-1914

Patriotic Pacifism: Waging War on War in Europe, 1815-1914

Patriotic Pacifism: Waging War on War in Europe, 1815-1914


Despite the liberalized reconfiguration of civil society and political practice in nineteenth-century Europe, the right to make foreign policy, devise alliances, wage war and negotiate peace remained essentially an executive prerogative. Citizen challenges to the exercise of this power grew slowly. Drawn from the educated middle classes, peace activists maintained that Europe was a single culture despite national animosities; that Europe needed rational inter-state relationships to avoid catastrophe; and that internationalism was the logical outgrowth of the nation-state, not its subversion. In this book, Cooper explores the arguments of these "patriotic pacifists" with emphasis on the remarkable international peace movement that grew between 1889 and 1914. While the first World War revealed the limitations and dilemmas of patriotic pacifism, the shape, if not substance, of many twentieth-century international institutions was prefigured in nineteenth-century continental pacifism.


Somewhere in the late 1950s in a graduate seminar entitled Europe at the Crossroads conducted by A. William Salomone, I began to wonder why the leadership of Europe in 1914 chose a path tantamount to suicide. It seemed peculiar that rational men managing successful societies in control of much of the globe risked everything in a battlefield gamble. This curiosity became a research interest on the broader question of war and peace in history. The bipolar world of the 1950s, the nuclear arms race and the Vietnam War transformed this research interest from abstract intellectual history into a living subject.

My personal encounter with broad war/peace conundrums was given a context and a community of scholars when the Conference (now Council) on Peace Research in History (CPRH) was formed in 1964. Several hundred historians, shocked by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, created this novel scholarly group that brought together specialists in antiquity, Asia, Europe, and the United States to explore a host of new questions that challenged traditional diplomatic history: Why did some wars not happen? How did wars end? Why did some people struggle to prevent wars from happening or work to stop those in progress? How could the social bases of war-making be understood? The historians attracted to the CPRH probed the record to reveal and analyze historical causation in ways that diplomatic history, the usual repository of wisdom about the coming of war, often considered tendentious or irrelevant. Members of the CPRH recognized the advantages of collaborative projects. It was a welcome relief from the often-mindless competition of graduate schools and university departmental life--a professionalism that did not depend on "destroy thy neighbor." A decade later it was a spirit appropriated by feminist scholars--for a time.

Having dutifully memorized the same five long-range and immediate causes of World War I (from sixth grade through graduate school), I was amazed to discover that a group of people lived in pre-1914 Europe who had worked strenuously, though unsuccessfully, to prevent that war. Despite all the rhetoric about the balance of power deterring any one state from aggression, there had been citizens and a few political leaders who did not believe that that balance would work. They wanted a better, more secure institutionalization of an organized peace. Their labors and the work of their predecessors back to the end of the Napoleonic Wars are represented in the following pages. They were the patriotic pacifists of continental Europe.

I have had much help. Besides all those who wrote on this subject earlier, there . . .

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