Jochen von Bernstorff, Mark Mazower. Governing the World. Mark Mazower provides us with a very readable and highly stimulating intellectual history of Western internationalism starting with the Vienna Congress in and ending in with the ongoing Syrian civil war. The historical analysis focuses not only on the philosophical and political currents at the heart of 19th and 20th century internationalism but also on how Anglo-Saxon politicians and high ranking civil servants viewed and shaped international institutions during these two centuries; all of this is full of interesting biographical findings, illustrative contemporary quotations, and insightful historical judgement. The book falls into two parts. Particularly rewarding is the description of the often tension-filled biographical and intellectual links between them.
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In the exhausted victors of the fighting that had engulfed Europe for a generation agreed to a new system for keeping the peace. Instead of independent states changing sides, doing deals and betraying one another, a new, collegial 'Concert of Europe' would ensure that the brutal chaos of the Napoleonic Wars never happened again.
Mark Mazower's remarkable new book recreates two centuries of international government - the struggle to spread values and build institutions to bring order to an anarchic and dangerous state system. It shows how what started as a European story became the framework for today's world, as free traders, communists and nationalists all put forward their own radical visions of international harmony.
The fictional utopias of writers like Jules Verne and H. Wells k merged with the claims of Esperanto dreams of universal information science and legal codes for a tribunal for mankind. British and American statesmen threw their weight behind a single world security organisation. Each time the world has been laid waste by a fresh bout of violent cynicism and shifting alliances, there has been a demand for something that might stare down short-term national advantage in favour of a wider, common good.
Transformed out of all recognition by the overwhelming power of global finance, the very possibility of governing the world is questioned as never before. Governing the World brilliantly brings to life how far the philosophy and politics of international cooperation have developed since Napoleon's defeat.
At a time when the UN is so widely discredited, American power is waning and as unstable power blocks and short-term market forces once more threaten large parts of the world, this book could not be more timely. The idea is essentially a Western creation, originating from the Governing the World : The History of an Idea. Mark Mazower. Wallach Professor of History at Columbia University.
He lives in New York.
Governing the World
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Governing the World by Mark Mazower – review
Look Inside. But international institutions are also tools for the powers that be to advance their own interests. From the rubble of the Napoleonic empire in the nineteenth century through the birth of the League of Nations and the United Nations in the twentieth century to the dominance of global finance at the turn of the millennium, Mazower masterfully explores the current era of international life as Western dominance wanes and a new global balance of powers emerges. But international institutions have also provided a tool for the powers that be to advance their own interests and stamp their imprint on the world. From the beginning, the willingness of national leaders to cooperate has been spurred by crisis: the book opens in , amid the rubble of the Napoleonic Empire, as the Concert of Europe was assembled with an avowed mission to prevent any single power from dominating the continent and to stamp out revolutionary agitation before it could lead to war.
Governing the World: The Rise and Fall of an Idea, 1815 to the Present
The author of this late 19th-century hymn to internationalism, couched in a language so tantalisingly familiar and yet so frustratingly hard to pin down, was the Russian-Jewish linguist Ludwig Zamenhof, the begetter of Esperanto meaning "Hopeful". It was Zamenhof's hope that his universal language might open up an escape route from destructive nationalist conflicts, mapping instead a possible path to world peace. While the vision was utopian, the transformation it envisaged was necessarily incremental, and the project was solidly anchored in grammatical and lexical detail - perhaps too much detail. Enthusiasts for world harmony turned out to be no less fractious than the xenophobic nationalists they aspired to tame, and their own petty disputes over language — and in particular an enhanced form of Esperanto termed Ido meaning "offspring" in the parent language — soon led to an Ido-Esperanto schism. While it's easy to snigger at the grandiose delusions of Esperantists and other similarly dreamy minorities, such as advocates for a single world government, Earth doesn't seem entirely safe in the hands of the rest of us, with our passive but pragmatic acceptance of conventional politics-as-usual.
The idea is essentially a Western creation, originating from the Mark Mazower. But international institutions have also provided a tool for the powers that be to advance their own interests and stamp their imprint on the world. From the beginning, the willingness of national leaders to cooperate has been spurred by crisis: the book opens in , amid the rubble of the Napoleonic Empire, as the Concert of Europe was assembled with an avowed mission to prevent any single power from dominating the continent and to stamp out revolutionary agitation before it could lead to war. But if the Concert was a response to Napoleon, internationalism was a response to the Concert, and as courts and monarchs disintegrated they were replaced by revolutionaries and bureaucrats. The wars of the twentieth century saw the birth of institutions that enshrined many of those ideals in durable structures of authority, most notably the League of Nations in World War I and the United Nations after World War II. Throughout this history, we see that international institutions are only as strong as the great powers of the moment allow them to be.