At the end of the First World War, when the victorious Allies remade Europe under the heady slogans of ‘self-determination’ and ‘international justice’, the age of democracy seemed about to dawn. Here was the high tide of nineteenth-century liberalism, the belief that all states were progressing on more or less uniform lines towards popular parliamentary politics, the rule of law and civil rights. In 1920 almost all of Europe was democratic. Twenty years later, on the eve of the Second World War, most European states were dictatorships, dominated by the authoritarian rule of a single man and a single party. Democracy was in retreat in its turn, confined to Britain, France and the smaller states of northern Europe. Outside Europe only the United States and Britain’s settler dominions remained democracies. This apparent decline of political progress sustained a sense of crisis throughout the interwar years.