1917-1920 and the Global Revolution of Rising Expectations



Jörn Leonhard, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg When the American President Woodrow Wilson developed his vision of a new world order in 1917, his focus on the right of national self-determination, particularly that of small nations, played an almost fundamental role. Against the background of the First World War and the hitherto unknown number of victims contemporaries sought to answer the question what the causes of this catastrophe had been. Wilson’s answer pointed to the suppression of nationalities: “This war had its roots in the disregard of rights of small nations and of nationalities which lacked the union and the force to make good their claim to determine their own allegiances and their own forms of political life.” Both the war and the Wilsonian moment provoked globally rising expectations of what a peace settlement after a totalized war would have to achieve. The hitherto unknown number of war victims which had to be legitimized through the results of the peace, ever radicalizing war aims, the i