As questions of technology and world government are returning to the agenda of International Relations (IR), there is a risk that technology is approached in a simple, instrumentalist manner. Beginning from an overview of the overwhelmingly instrumental approaches to technology lodged in the dominant traditions of IR, the article revisits the post-war decades when scholars thought profoundly about the impact of technology on global politics. Combining the history of (international) political thought, IR theory, and Science and Technology Studies (STS) the article examines the relationship between technology and politics, authority, and liberty in the thought of Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) and John H. Herz (1908-2005), which leads to the unearthing of a sophisticated and complex set of ideas. Particularly during the nuclear revolution, these figures developed global visions in which the interrelations among technology, security, democracy, sustainability, and freedom were critical. Russell and Herz's approaches to technology and (global) politics are insightful and relevant for IR's attempt to reengage with technology: by anticipating contemporary critical and reflexive approaches to technology, they can help bridge the fields of IR and STS and open new avenues for research. The Large Technical Systems (LTS) approach within STS is used to exemplify this possibility.