VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > A. Global and Comparative Dimensions > 1. Emerging Global Relationships > b. Globally Competing Ideologies
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
b. Globally Competing Ideologies
 
The first half of the 20th century was a time when major modern comprehensive ideologies were developed as the basis for sociopolitical identities and political systems. In the social, economic, and political transformations framed by the two world wars and the Great Depression, world visions and broad programmatic perspectives were an important part of the global scene. The most comprehensive statements of the emerging ideologies were made by movements and thinkers in more industrialized societies. These helped to shape the options defining transformations taking place outside of Europe and North America. Two important lines of experience shaped the developing global competition of ideologies in the first half of the 20th century: (1) the definition and conflict of explicitly modern ideologies in the Western world, and (2) the evolution of options for guiding transformations in the emerging nationalist context of societies dominated by the major powers.  1
 
1. Western Ideological Competitions
 
At the beginning of the 20th century in Europe, comprehensive ideological positions defining the basic nature of society tended to be politically marginal. The nationalist unifications of Italy and Germany had avoided becoming ideologically liberal, and Great Britain and France maintained a practical adherence to parliamentary liberalism. Democratic liberalism, in an explicitly capitalist format, as it was emerging in the U.S., was also pragmatic in orientation. World War I destroyed the stability of the politically evolutionary acceptance of change, and following the war, the alternatives were more sharply defined in ideologically programmatic terms.  2
 
a. Democratic Liberalism
 
The victorious powers in World War I were committed to differing forms of democratic liberalism. The World War I settlement reflected this ideological position. The global terms were set by the U.S. president WOODROW WILSON, in an ideological liberal internationalism committed to the self-determination of peoples, democratic political systems, relatively capitalist market economies, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts by public negotiation. The League of Nations was the manifestation of this ideology. Although Great Britain and France were less committed to the international aspects, they maintained their own democratic parliamentary systems and supported efforts to create and maintain them elsewhere in Europe. Germany was reconstituted in the Weimar Republic, and in the other new states established in Central and Eastern Europe, parliamentary systems were established. Significant economic difficulties in all of the democracies and growing political divisions among the parties led to increasing pressures for more authoritarian leaders, and in a number of countries dictators came to power. In the continuing democracies, the Depression forced major changes involving significant government intervention in the economy. Democratic socialism became a major force in Britain and France, and the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt, beginning in 1933 in the U.S., was a major transformation of the economy of the U.S. The economies of the liberal democracies were increasingly mixed economies, combining aspects of capitalism and socialism in an emerging democratic welfare state system. During World War II, the Axis powers represented the authoritarian alternative to liberal democracy. When they were defeated, the Allied powers established constitutional democratic systems in Italy, Japan, and the parts of Germany under occupation by American, British, and French forces. In the Western world, after major setbacks during the interwar period, liberal democracy, in modified capitalist and socialist economic systems, emerged after World War II as the dominant sociopolitical ideology.  3
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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