Covenants Without Swords: Idealist Liberalism and the Spirit of Empire

Jeannie Morefield

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Covenants without Swords examines an enduring tension within liberal theory: that between many liberals’ professed commitment to universal equality on the one hand, and their historic support for the politics of hierarchy and empire on the other. It does so by examining the work of two extremely influential British liberals and internationalists, Gilbert Murray and Alfred Zimmern. Jeanne Morefield mounts a forceful challenge to disciplinary boundaries by arguing that this tension, on both the domestic and international levels, is best understood as frequently arising from the same, liberal reformist political aim — namely, the aim of fashioning a socially conscious liberalism that ultimately reifies putatively natural, preliberal notions of paternalistic order.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPrinceton, NJ
PublisherPrinceton University Press
Number of pages280
ISBN (Electronic) 9781400826322
ISBN (Print) 9780691119922
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • League of Nations, internationalism, liberalism, imperialism, GIlbert Murray, Alfred Zimmern


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