Home / Articles / Sir Halford Mackinder’s Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Centennial Appreciation
Sir Halford Mackinder’s seminal contribution to classical geopolitics, Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction, was published a century ago. The book was written to influence the British delegation to the peace conference that was beginning in Versailles. Scant evidence suggests that he succeeded in this aim. However, with the Second World War, and the United States’ participation in the conflict, Mackinder’s ideas found critical acclaim. This centennial appreciation contends that many of the concepts he coined have relevance for today. Crucially, he identified two enduring features of democratic regimes that both explain and warn. First, in times of peace and prosperity, democracies refuse to think strategically until compelled to do so. Second, political elites in these countries divorce their normative ideals for a rules-based international order from the existing and emerging geopolitical realities.