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1919 saw the publication of two major polemical works: The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes and Democratic Ideals and Reality by Halford J. Mackinder. The former is famous, the latter much less so – but it was its own way a prophetic book.
Mackinder’s message, his warning – addressed to the peacemakers at Versailles – was memorably summarized thus: ‘Who Rules East Europe commands the Heartland: / Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island: / Who rules the World-Island commands the World.’
Mackinder contended that power was shifting from the sea-borne empires to countries that encompassed the great land masses: Eastern Europe he designated as ‘the geographical pivot of history.’ His thesis made a notable impression on German geopolitician Karl Haushofer who was keenly read, in turn, by Hitler. But Democratic Ideals and Reality has endured as a critical study of imperial ambitions and geographical realities.
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