Against War and Empire Geneva, Britain, and France in the Eighteenth Century Richard Whatmore

The Lewis Walpole Series in Eighteenth-Century Culture and History
Publication date:
31 Jul 2012
Yale University Press
416 pages: 235 x 156 x 33mm
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As Britain and France became more powerful during the eighteenth century, small states such as Geneva could no longer stand militarily against these commercial monarchies. Furthermore, many Genevans felt that they were being drawn into a corrupt commercial world dominated by amoral aristocrats dedicated to the unprincipled pursuit of wealth.

In this book Richard Whatmore presents an intellectual history of republicans who strove to ensure Geneva's survival as an independent state. Whatmore shows how the Genevan republicans grappled with the ideas of Rousseau, Voltaire, Bentham, and others in seeking to make modern Europe safe for small states, by vanquishing the threats presented by war and empire. The Genevan attempt to moralize the commercial world, and align national self-interest with perpetual peace and the abandonment of empire, had implications for the French Revolution, the British Empire, and the identity of modern Europe.

Richard Whatmore is professor of intellectual history and the history of political thought at the University of Sussex.

"Against War and Empire offers a distinguished contribution to the history of modern political thought, rich in its erudition and masterful in its insights. The central challenge facing the celebrated advocates of liberty and reform Whatmore examines in this book remains timely and urgent today: how to preserve the freedom and welfare of small states in a political world dominated by major powers with global reach and imperial ambitions."--David Lieberman, University of California, Berkeley