The starting point of this course is the insight that nearly all political currents and regimes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had at least one thing in common, distinguishing them from political regimes of the Ancien Regime: they pretended to be the emanation of 'the people' or 'the nation'. In that sense, they all took on a 'democratic' profile, even those who acted in a firmly antiparliamentary way. An important difference between those regimes, however, was situated in their very diverse definitions of the notions 'people' or 'nation'. This definition could be more or less inclusive, and rest upon very diverse criteria for distinguishing between members and non-members of the nation. Moreover, the degree to which diversity within that nation - which was fundamentally considered as a unity - was tolerated, could highly vary.
From this perspective, this course deals with the major political projects of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Liberalism, Socialism, Nationalism, Conservatism, Fascism, the Welfare State) in and outside Europe. For each of these currents, attention is consecutively paid to the theoretical and ideological fundaments, to the institutional and political-cultural elaborations, and to the resistances that were aroused by the confrontation between theory and practice. Not only the differences, but also the similarities and the continuities between the different political systems will be extensively dwelt upon.