The post-Napoleonic Holy Alliance, proclaimed in 1815 by the Russian Emperor Alexander I, is now remembered in terms set by Karl Marx and Giuseppe Mazzini. For Marx, as readers of The Communist Manifesto will recognize, the Holy Alliance was a label for attempts to defend existing power structures against the specter of revolution. For Mazzini, it was the reactionary foil for the emergence of a peaceful international order of democratic nation-states. The aim of the lecture will be to challenge histories of liberal internationalism and global order that are built on these assumptions.
Isaac Nakhimovsky is Associate Professor of History and Humanities at Yale University. His first book, The Closed Commercial State: Perpetual Peace and Commercial Society from Rousseau to Fichte (Princeton, 2011), showed how, in the context of the French Revolution, the German philosopher J.G. Fichte came to undertake a systematic treatment of economic independence as an ideal, or the political theory of what John Maynard Keynes later termed “national self-sufficiency.” He has also collaborated on an edition of Fichte’s Addresses to the German Nation (Hackett, 2013), and two volumes of essays on eighteenth-century political thought and its post-revolutionary legacies: Commerce and Peace in the Enlightenment (Cambridge, 2017), and Markets, Morals, Politics: Jealousy of Trade and the History of Political Thought (Harvard, 2018). His next book, A World Reformed: Liberalism, the Holy Alliance, and the Problems of Global Order, is forthcoming from Princeton University Press.