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A history of the project of world government, from the first post-Napoleonic visions of the brotherhood of man to the current crisis of global finance. The Napoleonic Wars showed Europe what sort of damage warring states could do. But how could sovereign nations be made to share power and learn to look beyond their own narrow interests? The old monarchs had one idea. Mazzin A history of the project of world government, from the first post-Napoleonic visions of the brotherhood of man to the current crisis of global finance. The Napoleonic Wars showed Europe what sort of damage warring states could do. But how could sovereign nations be made to share power and learn to look beyond their own narrow interests? The old monarchs had one idea. Mazzini and the partisans of nationalist democracy had another, and so did Marx and the radical Left. It is an argument that has raged for two hundred years now, and Mark Mazower tells its history enthrallingly in Governing the World. With each era, the stakes have grown higher as the world has grown smaller and the potential rewards to cooperation and damage from conflict have increased. As Mark Mazower shows us, each age’s dominant power has set the tune, and for nearly a century that tune has been sung in English. He begins with Napoleon’s defeat, in 1815, when England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia formed the Concert of Europe. Against this, there emerged many of the ideas that would shape the international institutions of the twentieth century–liberal nationalism, communism, the expertise of the scientist and the professional international lawyers. Mazower traces these ideas into the Great War through to the League of Nations. He explains how the League collapsed when confronted by the atrocities of the Third Reich, and how a more hard-nosed approach to international governance emerged in its wake. The United Nations appeared in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, and a war-fighting alliance led by Great Britain and the United States was ultimately what transformed into an international peacetime organization. Mazower examines the ideas that shaped the UN, the compromises and constraints imposed by the Cold War and its transformation in the high noon of decolonization. The 1970s ushered in a sea change in attitudes to international government through the emergence of a vision of globalized capitalism in the 1970s that marginalized the UN itself and utilized bodies like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization—the final acts of Anglo- American institution-building. But the sun is setting on Anglo-American dominance of the world’s great international institutions. We are at the end of an era, Mazower explains, and we are passing into a new age of global power relations, a shift whose outcome is still very much in question.


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A history of the project of world government, from the first post-Napoleonic visions of the brotherhood of man to the current crisis of global finance. The Napoleonic Wars showed Europe what sort of damage warring states could do. But how could sovereign nations be made to share power and learn to look beyond their own narrow interests? The old monarchs had one idea. Mazzin A history of the project of world government, from the first post-Napoleonic visions of the brotherhood of man to the current crisis of global finance. The Napoleonic Wars showed Europe what sort of damage warring states could do. But how could sovereign nations be made to share power and learn to look beyond their own narrow interests? The old monarchs had one idea. Mazzini and the partisans of nationalist democracy had another, and so did Marx and the radical Left. It is an argument that has raged for two hundred years now, and Mark Mazower tells its history enthrallingly in Governing the World. With each era, the stakes have grown higher as the world has grown smaller and the potential rewards to cooperation and damage from conflict have increased. As Mark Mazower shows us, each age’s dominant power has set the tune, and for nearly a century that tune has been sung in English. He begins with Napoleon’s defeat, in 1815, when England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia formed the Concert of Europe. Against this, there emerged many of the ideas that would shape the international institutions of the twentieth century–liberal nationalism, communism, the expertise of the scientist and the professional international lawyers. Mazower traces these ideas into the Great War through to the League of Nations. He explains how the League collapsed when confronted by the atrocities of the Third Reich, and how a more hard-nosed approach to international governance emerged in its wake. The United Nations appeared in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, and a war-fighting alliance led by Great Britain and the United States was ultimately what transformed into an international peacetime organization. Mazower examines the ideas that shaped the UN, the compromises and constraints imposed by the Cold War and its transformation in the high noon of decolonization. The 1970s ushered in a sea change in attitudes to international government through the emergence of a vision of globalized capitalism in the 1970s that marginalized the UN itself and utilized bodies like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization—the final acts of Anglo- American institution-building. But the sun is setting on Anglo-American dominance of the world’s great international institutions. We are at the end of an era, Mazower explains, and we are passing into a new age of global power relations, a shift whose outcome is still very much in question.

30 review for Governing the World: The History of an Idea

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Not governing the world? [Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Amazon.com Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns Goodreads.com and in 2014 posted revenues for $90 billion and a $271 million loss. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Amazon.com Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites]. Mazower is here Not governing the world? [Through my ratings, reviews and edits I'm providing intellectual property and labor to Amazon.com Inc., listed on Nasdaq, which fully owns Goodreads.com and in 2014 posted revenues for $90 billion and a $271 million loss. Intellectual property and labor require compensation. Amazon.com Inc. is also requested to provide assurance that its employees and contractors' work conditions meet the highest health and safety standards at all the company's sites]. Mazower is here more of the 'Anna Karenina' type of historian than the subject permits: more interested in the destiny of his (mostly) obscure hero-bureaucrats than in the nature and implications of the 'ideas' he promises to unpick. The superficial round-up of fads concerning the administration of world affairs mixes Mazzini, eugenics and Wilson, Saint-Simon and William Simon (treasury secretary under Nixon), the European Union and ISO. Bear with him, you think (having read the awesome No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations), everything will come together at the end. But after all the mixing, Mazower astonishingly concludes that "the idea of governing the world has become yesterday's dream" (at Penguin, they possibly read this last sentence only and thought, good, let's publish it). As never has the world been better governed than today, to almost 'end of history' perfection (no room left for other ambitions, other forces than the ones making up the clockwork mechanisms of accumulation). Mazower's methodological mistake is to take at face value tactical and generally clumsy agenda setting attempts and to call them ideas, as if ideologies had to be published in "Foreign Affairs" to shape the world we live in (ideas tend to be few and far between: Marx had ideas, Mazzini had a political programme, Huxley and the eugenists had convictions, and Kissinger had an ego). Mazower's narrative of the transience and vanity of all 'ideas' is ultimately the triumph of the ideology that sees the world inesorably divided between the haves the have-nost, and rightly so.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    This is a wonderfully written book by historian Mark Mazower about the idea of an international organization orchestrating international relations - since the time of the Concert of Europe in post Napoleonic wars Europe, until 2012, when the book was written. Mr. Mazower concludes that the idea has essentially floundered although some good has come out of attempts of nations to work together collectively to head off war, such as international philanthropy, the growth of NGOs, and the implementat This is a wonderfully written book by historian Mark Mazower about the idea of an international organization orchestrating international relations - since the time of the Concert of Europe in post Napoleonic wars Europe, until 2012, when the book was written. Mr. Mazower concludes that the idea has essentially floundered although some good has come out of attempts of nations to work together collectively to head off war, such as international philanthropy, the growth of NGOs, and the implementation of the principle that the UN has the right to protect minorities if they are being persecuted (i.e. can interfere in the internal affairs of a member). The Concert of Europe eventually broke down over the issue of nationality in SE Europe (the Bosnian wish to break free of Austria-Hungary) and the League of Nations failed about 20 years after it was founded, once WW2 broke out. Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, although there hasn't been a world war, there have been many smaller wars - however, since the events of the past couple of years (Brexit, the rise of Donald Trump, Putin's interference with politics in the Western countries) hadn't yet occurred by the time the book was written, it would be interesting to see how Mazower would have explained them in the context of the tension between internationalism/giving up a bit of sovereignty vs. nationalism/jealously holding onto sovereignty. Is the centrifugal force of nationalism once again on the ascendant, compared with the consolidating force of internationalism? It would seem so, at least in some countries, including the USA. This is a book that is sweeping in its scope, and that manages to convey the origins of the idea of nations coming together to deal with issues internationally, since the time of the post Napoleonic war era. The Concert of Europe was the response of various European powers (bourgeoisie) to the French revolution Napoleon tried to spread in Europe, freedom, and the idea of national self-determination. The Concert preserved and extended empires, by means of non-transparent meetings of politicians who worked to maintain a balance of power, as theories were later advanced to justify European domination of parts of Africa and Asia (the Western Hemisphere being mostly off-limits since the US promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine) such as colonialism having a benign/edifying side. After SE European nationalities struggled to to achieve independence from the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars, WWI broke out, which represented in some ways the end of the idea of Europe, at least as it had existed up until then - more or less lost to the gruesome extremes of warfare in an age of advancing technology. It represented the end of the Concert of Europe just as the League of Nations was in turn a failure, although it had been founded on nobler principles. World war 2 broke out to supposedly protect the German residents of Western Poland, once again nationalism drove peoples, this time, Germans, into an expansionist frenzy. Here are some interesting quotes from the book: "The League of Nations Much like the men of 1848, [President Woodrow] Wilson was drawn to the language of religious passion. The extraordinary Protestant theologian George Davis Herron, who shared Wilson's overheated blending of Protestant eschatology and Mazzinian nationalism, hailed the war as "between a white and a black governing principle, each striving for possession of the world." Having fled the United States (following a scandalous second marriage) for Genoa and then Geneva in order to be close to the spirits of his heroes Mazzini and Calvin, Herron, who was perhaps the most colorful in a long line of unconventional presidential confidants, described the European war as a struggle between the Christian ethic of love and satanic self-interest and competitiveness. Wilson, he wrote admiringly, sees "the law of love... as the only practicable social basis, the only national security, the only foundation for international peace.... He cunningly hopes, he divinely schemes, to bring it about that America, awake at last to her national self-hood and calling, shall become a colossal Christian apostle, shepherding the world in the kingdom of God." It was a portrayal that resonated with Wilson himself, and presented him as the culmination in a long line of American peace activists eager to spread the good word into a fallen Europe. Yet in the president himself theology was combined with a deep commitment to political pragmatism. There were good tactical domestic reasons for this, but there was also philosophical inclination: Wilson's ideal of politics as inherently deliberative underpinned his commitment -- a deeply elitist commitment -- to democracy and public opinion as the bedrock of any living political order. From the time the United Stats entered the war, Wilson preferred to avoid the war aims debate entirely. But that became harder when in late 1917 the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia, stepped up their antiwar propaganda, and called for a "democratic peace." Like Woodrow Wilson, they blamed secret diplomacy and the old elites for the war, but they went further than him in breaking with diplomatic protocol, denouncing past treaties, publishing secret documents, and giving accounts of Trotsky's negotiations with the Germans to reporters as they happened. The Soviets called for a general peace, and believing that all governments were under pressure to stop fighting, they addressed themselves to "all belligerent peoples" and only secondarily to their governments. Where the Bolsheviks led, the Americans and British followed. News that the new leaders of Russia were parleying with the Germans -- Lenin and Trotsky's peace negotiations with the Central Powers went on through the winter of 1917-18 -- made it seem imperative to do whatever was possible to keep their country in the war. Wilson warned that "the voices of humanity that insist that the war shall not end in vindictive action of any kind" had been exploited by "the masters of German intrigue to lead the people of Russia astray." He was quickly followed by British prime minister Lloyd George, who spoke out against annexations and emphatically in favor of national self-determination. This term, which was to become so associated with Wilson, had in fact been highlighted far more emphatically by Lenin, heir to a long tradition of rich Marxist debate on nationality that went back to the Hapsburg debate of the early twentieth century and before. In his October 1917 "Decree on Peace," the Bolshevik leader had gone into some detail about the plight of small nations forced against their will inside the borders of larger and powerful sates, and insisted they should have the right to determine their own fate. This as a clear reference to the nationalities of the Hapsburg monarchy and an effort to destabilize the Central Powers. Neither Wilson nor Lloyd George, by contrast, were committed at this stage to breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire (read carefully, not even Lenin was actually saying that small nations *had* to be independent -- an important proviso for later communist policy), but they did see themselves competing with the Bolsheviks for European public opinion." "The Battle of Ideologies The Nazis took from an older German school of thought the view -- common to nineteenth-century conservatives elsewhere too -- that instead of trying to subordinate national states to international control, it was individual states whose will and autonomy was sacrosanct; at extreme moments, this led some German lawyers to deny the very possibility of international law, a denial that gathered force with the rise from the mid-1930s of an avowedly racist reading of law. If politics was a struggle between races, each unified in its own state, then there could in reality be nothing they shared, or should. Each state must on this reading develop its own conception of law. It followed that treaties were only to be observed insofar as it suited the signatories to observe them: they were "scraps of paper," as one German lawyer admitted in print, which could not be allowed to hold the well-being of the race hostage. Or in the words of another, "Generally recognized international legal principles and international customs are recognized by Germany only when they coincide with the legal concepts of the German *Volk.*" If blood was the basis of political belonging, then boundaries counted for little and ethnic Germans in Poland or Czechoslovakia owed a primary allegiance not to those states but to the Reich. Nazi lawyers worked hard to peddle this view not only because it allowed them leverage over the political organizations representing the ethnic Germans across eastern Europe, but also because they hoped to use it to pressure neighboring governments to cede rights over these minorities and thus allow the Reich to start interfering in their domestic affairs." "The League is Dead. Long Live the United Nations Another of the key differences between the wartime discussions in 1914-18 and 1940-45 was the shift in register. As planning moved from London to Washington, a generation accustomed to thinking on classic Oxbridge common-room style about the eternal wisdom of ancient Athens was superseded by a new cohort of policymakers more comfortable with discussions of comparative legal systems, farm economics, or business cycles. Still populated by historians and classicists rather than American-style social scientists, Whitehall had been thinking mostly in terms of a revival of the old Concert [of Europe] diplomacy. ... The goals of the New Deal, as Roosevelt had anticipated in his Four Freedoms speech, also provided a potential program for global action, and the war itself had made the broader struggle against hunger and poverty seem more acute. But as civil servants and technical experts began planning for the serious humanitarian and refugee crisis that would undoubtedly greet the victors after Nazism's defeat, some British diplomats mocked the American "new Dealers ... and their 'Tennessee Valley Authority' nostrums for the organization of international society which they tend to urge with missionary fervor." "In the 1920s he [Stalin] had sharply attacked the League of Nations as an organization of imperialists masquerading as peace-lovers. But head never had much time for the Comintern, and after 1933 he had made sure that the USSR entered the League. Marxist ideology allowed considerable latitude for maneuver. Stalin's anti-colonialism was predictable, as was his desire to make sure the Red Army had a free hand in eastern Europe. On he other hand, his overriding goal was to preserve good relations with the British and the Americans as long as possible after the war to give the USSR the time it would obviously need to recover from Nazi occupation: so long as membership of the UN helped Soviet security and did not jeopardize it, therefore there was no reason not to go along with this latest expression of Anglo-American internationalism. What we do know is that in late 1943, he was desperate to get a second front opened the following year; one of the reasons why he had wound up the Comintern was to send a reassuring signal to his partners. Perhaps he was reassured in turn by Roosevelt telling him that American troops were not expected to play a police role in postwar Europe and that the decisions of the proposed new UN Executive Council would not be binding. In these circumstances, there was every reason to support the UN idea and few evident drawbacks." "Humanity's Law What is so striking about the emergence of a permanent International Criminal Court is that it took place in the teeth of powerful American opposition. The Bush administration in particular threatened to veto UN peacekeeping operations unless the Security Council gave any Americans involved immunity from prosecution, and it went further -- to the fury of many of its own partners -- by concluding numerous bilateral agreements with other countries not to surrender each other's nationals to the court." "The idea for the [International Criminal] court was not driven by Washington -- and indeed Washington's toleration of it was always highly conditional, dependent on its functioning as a servitor of the Security Council and premised on a complete exemption for serving U.S. military personnel. Yet its role in American foreign policy since its creation has emerged in a fashion characteristic of the longer history of the American deployment of international institutions, its "exceptional" sponsor extending the power of international law while remaining above and beyond its reach itself." "In his [Elihu Root's] time, international law had been proclaimed as a creed of universal applicability, and he could hardly have imagined the enviable situation that would be enjoyed by his heirs in Washington, who routinely preach the virtues of law while exempting themselves from many of its constraints. ...the idea of a law binding upon all states and those governing them seems as far away as ever." "What Remains: The Crisis in Europe and After From the perspective of Ventotene [Manifesto written by a small group of Italian political prisoners held on the islet of Ventotene in 1941], federation was an instrument hat would allow the struggle against inequality and poverty to be won. A form of managed capitalism would place limits on the market and property ownership without doing away with them completely; there would be nationalization of key industries, land reform, and worker cooperatives. The result would be not communism but the realization of a simpler, more manageable, and perhaps nobler dream: a world in which economic forces would be guided and controlled by man rather than dominating him. In the war years on Ventotene, finance capital was seen as a force to be controlled and checked, and the speculators themselves were seen as at least partially responsible for the slump of the 1930s. By contrast, integration through financial liberalization and monetary union has produced wealth that European democracies cannot afford and problems they cannot answer limiting their power and undermining the credibility of their institutions. No longer the fount either of political liberty (as nineteenth-century liberals once hoped), or of social welfare, European internationalism has moved a long way from its origins. ... Tony Judt's 2005 history *Postwar* ended describing a continental nirvana in which people opted to pay higher taxes in return for "free or nearly free medical services, early retirement and a prodigious range of social and public services." Writing in 2009, on the very eve of the sovereign debt crisis, the political commentator Steven Hill went even further, describing the continent as "the new City on a Hill." ... In its various nineteenth-century incarnations, after all, internationalism was preeminently a movement to restore sovereign power to the peoples of the world, and those who governed in their name. Its approach to the nation-state and its institutions was almost entirely positive. ... Now we are on the verge of a new era, and as Western predominance approaches an end, the prognosticators speculate on what will come next. ... In the current crisis, politicians have essentially acted as underwriters, essential but subordinate to the dictates of communities of financial market makers they hesitate to contradict. More generally, the politicians have become policymakers, who listen in the first place to private interests and their lobbyists and try to adjudicate among them. Time will show whether they are any longer capable of governing. If that fails to happen, the responsibility will not be theirs alone. One of the reasons for the mid-century popularity of the state and sovereignty was that both had proved themselves in extreme circumstances. Twentieth-century total wars were fought by states that mobilized entire societies around shared perils and experiences. By creating models of equity, solidarity, and sacrifice, they transformed public attitudes in ways that endured into peacetime. Without a comparable transformation in our own views about the nature of government, the public good and the role of the state, without our developing a new kind of faith in our own collective capacity to shape the future, there is no real incentive for our politicians to change. They may not be trusted by their electorates -- polls show levels of trust plumbing new lows -- but they have no reason to care so long as this lack of trust does not translate into mobilization, resistance, and sustained pressure for reform. ... Today, when the primacy of the fact is challenged by the Web -- a recent article hails the fact's death -- the future, more important than ever, has been privatized, monetized,and turned into a source of profit. An entire corporate sector is dedicated to commodifying and modeling it; our financial markets in general take the future as the determinant of present values in a way that simply was not true a century ago. No one now feels the burden of an essential but unknowable future more acutely than the stockbroker and trader. But this money-driven individualistic future has crowded out an older vision of what he public good might look like. ... In the ongoing atomization of society, citizens and classes have both vanished as forces for change and given way to a world of individuals, who come together as consumers of goods or information, and who trust the Internet more than they do their political representatives or the experts they watch on television. Governing institution today have lost sight of the principle of politics rooted in the collective values of a res publica, even as they continue to defend the "civilization of capital." As for the rituals of international life, these are now well established. The world's heads of state flock annually to the United Nations General Assembly. There are discussions of reform and grandiose declarations of global targets, which mostly go unmet. Politicians, journalists, bankers, and businessmen make their pilgrimage to the heavily guarded Alpine precinct of Davos, seeking to confirm through this triumph of corporate sponsorship that a global ruling elite exists and that they belong to it. Our representatives continue to hand over power to experts and self-interested self-regulators in the name of efficient global governance while a skeptical and alienated public looks on. The idea of governing the world is becoming yesterday's dream." I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the strands of thought that went into the founding of the League of Nations and the UN, and how the activities and effects of international bodies on world affairs have played out in the past 100 years. Although it's extremely well-written, it's not an easy read per se - given the multitude of ideas and recounting of historical situations and controversies dating back to the 19th Century. It's extremely fascinating, however, and for me at least, exciting even as it opened doors to ideas and periods of history I hadn't thought about, but which nonetheless can provide context to today's world problems, such as, how can the US deal with North Korea, and why is the UN rather quiet on the topic, etc. Why was the UN regarded as a rather ineffectual body for a couple of decades, until the arrival of Kofi Annan as Secretary General? All of these topics are covered and explained in the book - which I suggest to the reader to stick with it, since it is a 400 page plus book - given the sweep of history and ideas recounted. It's a worthwhile trip through time !

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    A challenging but rewarding book about the evolution of the idea of global governance. Mazower approaches this question since 1815, spending a little time with the Concert of Europe before jumping into a variety of approaches to this problem. He looks at internationalism from the perspectives of communism, nationalism, liberalism, and technocratic elites. I actually found the last strain the most interesting, as you can see this idea playing out in new forms throughout modern history. This is th A challenging but rewarding book about the evolution of the idea of global governance. Mazower approaches this question since 1815, spending a little time with the Concert of Europe before jumping into a variety of approaches to this problem. He looks at internationalism from the perspectives of communism, nationalism, liberalism, and technocratic elites. I actually found the last strain the most interesting, as you can see this idea playing out in new forms throughout modern history. This is the idea of taking global gov't out of the hands of mendacious, myopic politicians and handing it over to the new epistemic communities of lawyers, doctors, economists, and other scholars. This concept had major purchase before WWI, after WWII in the guise of modernization theory, in the EU, and in various aspects of global gov't today. Probably the most insightful point in the book (also the thesis) is the idea that effective international governance historically depends on effective national government. The root of this idea for Mazower is the liberal internationalism of people like Mill and Mazzini, who wanted liberal, democratic nations that could interact on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Today we think of the nation-state and the ideology of nationalism as the main impediment to internationalism and global gov't, but it is important to remember that Mazzini and other liberal nationalists struggled largely against the Concert of Europe, a conservative, even regressive version of global gov't that sought to stifle reform and revolution at the national level. Thus, Mazzini envisioned a symbiosis between national reform and an international gov't that would facilitate domestic change rather than block it. Following this point, Mazower claims that Roosevelt's New Deal state (and the broader model of the center-left welfare state of the mid-20th century) did a similar thing regarding the UN and other global regimes. For example, the New Deal state sheltered the American people from the impact of unrestrained flows of goods and people from the world, providing them with economic security at home and sustaining a baseline of popular support for active US engagement in global institutions. The rise of neoliberalism stripped away much of that cushion, buffeting domestic populations with global competition and economic vulnerability to things like population movements and financial shocks, turning populations against global institutions and globalism more broadly. I thought this was a fascinating concept, and it was one of the few non-hysterical critiques of neoliberalism I've encountered. This is an enlightening but tough book. I'm surprised Penguin published it; the language is difficult and there's minimal effort to fill the reader in on important contextual material. It would be appropriate for advanced undergrads or grad students, and anyone interested (and already fairly informed) on global governance will probably find it useful. I will definitely come back to it for the teaching of int'l politics and possibly for research as well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Gordon

    Global financial integration, poverty, failed states, climate change, and a host of other issues that transcend national borders call out for new forms of transnational cooperation and regulation. However, the formation of international institutions stands in tension with the norm of national self-determination that has governed international affairs since the Treaty of Westphalia, and that was strengthened by the dismantling of European empires in the wake of the two World Wars. Governing the W Global financial integration, poverty, failed states, climate change, and a host of other issues that transcend national borders call out for new forms of transnational cooperation and regulation. However, the formation of international institutions stands in tension with the norm of national self-determination that has governed international affairs since the Treaty of Westphalia, and that was strengthened by the dismantling of European empires in the wake of the two World Wars. Governing the World examines how (mostly European and North American) intellectuals and politicians have sought to resolve the tension between the need to pool resources and expertise in order to govern an increasingly globalized world, and the desire of countries to choose their own path to prosperity and define modernity in their own way over the last two centuries. Drawing on the work of German legal theorist Carl Schmitt, Mazower argues that the ability to define and propagate international norms constitutes a vital source of national power. As a result, international law, which was originally intended as a means to take politics out of international relations by empowering disinterested jurists and technical experts, has repeatedly been used as a way for powerful countries to set standards of behavior for weaker states, even while carving out regimes of exception that maintain their own freedom of movement. In other words, international law and standards are things that the powerful impose on the weak, reflecting not only their own self-interest but also ideological preferences that they proclaim to be universal values. These regimes of exception are reflected in dichotomies between 'civilized' and 'uncivilized' peoples, 'developed' and 'developing' countries, and functioning versus 'failed' states - categories that define who sets the rules, and who those rules apply to. Mazower's application of this argument to the postwar international political and economic orders organized by the United States and its Western European junior partners (particularly in the wake of the rise of neo-liberalism in the 1970s and 80s) has drawn criticism from some authors, who accuse him of impugning the good intentions of people like Samantha Powers (see, for example, Brendan Simms's review in The Independent (UK)). They argue that the West's promotion of democracy, human rights, and development are more than just some arbitrary rules that the developed countries seek to impose on the weaker states. However, this criticism makes the mistake of not asking what the United States and its partners mean by 'democracy' or 'development'. All too often, what the West means by democracy promotion in the developing world is "you get to choose who will implement our agenda" (this applies to Democrats as much as Republicans in the US). Furthermore, while most people can agree that rising standards of living should be the target of development policies, many development experts would agree that there is no one formula for achieving higher levels of income and other development indicators. Yet, even as World Bank economists such as former chief economist Justin Yifu Linn have criticized the Washington Consensus, the Bank continues to evaluate the process of borrower countries by measuring how closely they have adhered to the same old script of 'liberalize, privatize, and deregulate.' Despite the ongoing debates about how to achieve long-run economic growth, which underlines the lack of development blueprints, the World Bank portrays itself as a 'knowledge bank' that dispenses technocratic advice to developing country clients, creating a politically useful illusion of certainty. Reviewers who criticize the part of the book that deals with more recent history (often historians of Europe) do so because they uncritically accept the norms that the Western/developed/civilized/white countries promote, perpetuating the hierarchy of truth that Mazower rightfully criticizes, while also sidestepping the questions about the ability of Western countries to transform foreign societies that he raises. Looking to the future, Mazower strikes an understandable note of pessimism for the future of international cooperation because while American politicians and intellectuals continue to promote self-serving ideological preferences as universal truths, the institutions they have traditionally used to promote those norms abroad are declining in influence. The rise of regional powers like China, Russia, India, and Brazil means that new international norms are going to emerge that could contradict or undermine United States and European priorities. Furthermore, the Senate's unwillingness to ratify even the most mundane of international technical agreements like the Law of the Sea or the recent agreement regarding rights for people with disabilities on the grounds that they threaten United States sovereignty illustrates that the US is not at all ready to give up its "above the law" status in order to solve global problems. Countries like China and India, which have been on the wrong end of unbalanced international legal orders in the past, are no more willing to trade sovereignty for problem-solving either. Perhaps, as Dani Rodrik has argued and as Mazower implies at the end of the book, the resuscitation of democratic nation-states that can challenge the centralized power of global finance may be the only way to change the global agenda in a progressive direction.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nils

    A magisterial intellectual history of how people since the 19 century have imagined possible restraints on the power of great states, on the one hand, and the failures weak ones, on the other. This book is incredibly ambitious in the range of ideas that it attempts to synthesize, yielding a somewhat dizzying quality: It's not always clear what criteria Mazower used in deciding which characters, episodes, and institutions to write about in this book. While the book is built on a carefully theoriz A magisterial intellectual history of how people since the 19 century have imagined possible restraints on the power of great states, on the one hand, and the failures weak ones, on the other. This book is incredibly ambitious in the range of ideas that it attempts to synthesize, yielding a somewhat dizzying quality: It's not always clear what criteria Mazower used in deciding which characters, episodes, and institutions to write about in this book. While the book is built on a carefully theorized concept of international institutional development (with particular attention to the often underestimated role of lawyers in building transnational connections and institutions), much of this theorization is unstated or at least understated. What Mazower counts as a contribution to thinking about "governing" is defined in a very broad way (ranging from actual plans for world government to international development agencies to nongovernmental standards bodies and everything in between), but the same time he fails to focus on certain categories or individuals or episodes that a different writer might have considered important to include. Of particular interest is his periodization of postwar international governance efforts. He describes so little influence to Daniel Patrick Moynahan's 1975 essay "America in Opposition." You very much captures the mood of that. When it seemed as if challengers to the bipolar Cold War order actually had a chance to realize their demands for global wealth and power redistribution. As US efforts in Vietnam came to grief, the Bretton Woods financial order came to pieces, and the US economy stagflated, Washington felt very much on the defensive, not so much from Soviets, as from challengers in the Third World, embodied in UNCTAD, Raul Prebisch, the G77 and the so-called New International Economic Order. While Mazower clearly has sympathies for the drams embodied by this movement, he also is clear about the internal divisions they faced in attempting to challenge US hegemony. Finally his account of the way in which fortunes of United Nations have relaxed and waned in the eyes of the US bears reading all on its own. United Nations was of course founded in San Francisco and its headquarters put in New York at the end of World War II — Indicating how invested the Roosevelt administration was in the idea of international governance, led by the United States. With the rise of the G-77 in the 1960s however and the efforts of the United Nations to lead international development efforts, United States became increasingly skeptical of United Nations, culminating in the Reagan administration's active excoriation of the body. In the 1990s however undercover United Nations really gained relevance as a purveyor of "protection" in the case of so-called failed states. This is our points out however this beginning of relevance to place only because United Nations Kofi Annan were once again willing to serve the perceived interests of Washington. In short, United States has only ever been in favor of United Nations when the aims of that body coincided with strategic interests of United States, thus providing internationalist cover for the pursuit of self-interest. United States has never for one second been willing to subordinate its own national interests (much less its sovereignty) to any kind of international governing body that it did not thoroughly dominate. (This is arguably true even for the WTO.)

  6. 5 out of 5

    mkld

    El libro empieza algo flojo, con reflexiones filosóficas demasiado alejadas en el tiempo como para considerarlas parte del tema principal del libro. Sobran los antecedentes. No obstante, a partir del diseño y creación de la Sociedad de Naciones, el libro entra en el tema y se vuelve muy interesante. Trata de manera muy adecuada las cuestiones a las que se ha enfrentado el sistema de gobernanza internacional en las últimas décadas. Hace un análisis crítico de todas estas cuestiones y tiene un posi El libro empieza algo flojo, con reflexiones filosóficas demasiado alejadas en el tiempo como para considerarlas parte del tema principal del libro. Sobran los antecedentes. No obstante, a partir del diseño y creación de la Sociedad de Naciones, el libro entra en el tema y se vuelve muy interesante. Trata de manera muy adecuada las cuestiones a las que se ha enfrentado el sistema de gobernanza internacional en las últimas décadas. Hace un análisis crítico de todas estas cuestiones y tiene un posicionamiento crítico con todos los actores, sin partidismos evidentes. Una obra de referencia muy completa.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    Casually brilliant and oddly fond history of the UN et al. Practical cosmopolitanism - the promotion of any supranational structure at all - was for a long long time a view held only by strange people indeed - visionaries and ranters and scifi writers - until it was suddenly in the works, laboured over by full secretariats with big bucks. Mazower puzzles over why the US and Britain put so much into these structures, when the previous world order suited them fine. Answer? "Camouflage." Casually brilliant and oddly fond history of the UN et al. Practical cosmopolitanism - the promotion of any supranational structure at all - was for a long long time a view held only by strange people indeed - visionaries and ranters and scifi writers - until it was suddenly in the works, laboured over by full secretariats with big bucks. Mazower puzzles over why the US and Britain put so much into these structures, when the previous world order suited them fine. Answer? "Camouflage."

  8. 5 out of 5

    xhxhx

    Mazower indulges in some tiresome liberal bashing -- he does not care for finance or economic liberalism -- but he has written a broad and engaging history of internationalism and international organizations.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    Mazower traces the idea and practice of international governance and cooperation from the Concert of Europe established after the fall of Napoleon to the modern experiments of the United Nations and the European Union. Within this broader narrative Mazower traces multiple strands of internationalist thought that were brought into the intellectual discourses from diverse sources, including the Christian missionaries who experienced a cultural renaissance in the conservative first half of the nine Mazower traces the idea and practice of international governance and cooperation from the Concert of Europe established after the fall of Napoleon to the modern experiments of the United Nations and the European Union. Within this broader narrative Mazower traces multiple strands of internationalist thought that were brought into the intellectual discourses from diverse sources, including the Christian missionaries who experienced a cultural renaissance in the conservative first half of the nineteenth century, as well as the legalists who laid the groundwork for modern conceptions of international law. When approaching the attempts to put true international governance into practice in the twentieth century, Mazower is careful to point out that major powers attempted to cloak their own particular ambitions in the mantle of internationalism and universalism. The League of Nations became in many respects an attempt to prop up the waning British Empire, especially with the failure of the United States to join the organization. The United Nations was likewise used by the United States to give an air of legitimacy to its attempts to construct a new global states system to isolate the Soviet Union. The concept of global governance remains a powerful one, but the problems inherent in attempting to institutionalize international cooperation remain as visible as ever as the United Nations is seen by many as a mockery of the ideals outlined in its charter of human rights, and the European Union struggles as productive nations like Germany want to keep the Eurozone solvent for their own economic benefit, but are compelled to lean on financially inept nations to reform themselves so that their financial aid is not wasted.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David McGrogan

    3 1/2 stars. It's a fascinating book, and I learned a lot from it, but it is a disjointed narrative - more a collection of historical episodes than a "history of an idea" as it claims to be. While reading it I was always wondering exactly what it was that Mazower wanted me to make of what he was chronicling. 3 1/2 stars. It's a fascinating book, and I learned a lot from it, but it is a disjointed narrative - more a collection of historical episodes than a "history of an idea" as it claims to be. While reading it I was always wondering exactly what it was that Mazower wanted me to make of what he was chronicling.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dermot Nolan

    Excellently written, wide in scope and accessible. Top stuff!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Albert Faber

    Brilliant book

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Sogge

    After =Dark Continent= and =Salonica, City of Ghosts=, this book has pretty high standards to live up to. Let's see. Yes, it lived up to expectations, and Mazower's earlier achievements. After =Dark Continent= and =Salonica, City of Ghosts=, this book has pretty high standards to live up to. Let's see. Yes, it lived up to expectations, and Mazower's earlier achievements.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leo Pääkkönen

    Jo 1700-luvulla muutama Eurooppalainen ajattelija visioi maailmanhallitusta, joka unohtaisi kuningaskuntien rajat ja toisi ihmiskunnan yhteen altruistiselta pohjalta. Ylikansallisen yhteistyön ensimmäinen konkreettinen ilmentymä, Napoleonin tappion jälkeen syntynyt suurvaltojen Euroopan konsertti oli vielä kaukana tästä ideasta, mutta se loi pohjan valtioiden väliselle monikansalliselle diplomatialle. Kansainliitto esitetään historiankirjoissa usein idealistisena ja kaikin tavoin epäonnistuneena Jo 1700-luvulla muutama Eurooppalainen ajattelija visioi maailmanhallitusta, joka unohtaisi kuningaskuntien rajat ja toisi ihmiskunnan yhteen altruistiselta pohjalta. Ylikansallisen yhteistyön ensimmäinen konkreettinen ilmentymä, Napoleonin tappion jälkeen syntynyt suurvaltojen Euroopan konsertti oli vielä kaukana tästä ideasta, mutta se loi pohjan valtioiden väliselle monikansalliselle diplomatialle. Kansainliitto esitetään historiankirjoissa usein idealistisena ja kaikin tavoin epäonnistuneena projektina, mutta se loi ideoillaan, rakenteellaan ja henkilökunnallaan pitkälti pohjan Yhdistyneiden kansakuntien onnistumisille. Mazlown teos on hieno läpileikkaus ylikansallisesta yhteistyöstä niin poliittisella kuin aatehistoriallisella tasolla vuodesta 1815 nykypäivään. Mazlowin mukaan tämän ajanjakson ja kansainvälisen politiikan ylipäätään voi jakaa kahteen jaksoon: aikaan kun Eurooppa hallitsee maailmaa, ja aikaan kun Yhdysvallat ottaa manttelin. Kirkasotsaista idealismia kirja ei todellakaan ole - todellisuus kun on ollut näiden kahden vuosisadan aikana kaukana visionäärien mielikuvista. Eurooppalaisen yhteistyön taustalla oli yli sata vuotta suurvaltojen keskinäinen pragmaattinen vallanjako, Yhdysvallat otettiin leikkiin mukaan lähinnä hankkimaan oikeutta siirtomaaimperiumien säilyttämiselle ja kolonialismin murtuessa maailmansotien jälkeen sen piilotetut rakenteet eivät kadonneet siirtomaiden itsenäistyessä. YK on ollut Yhdysvalloille pitkälti väline sen oman kansikuvan kiillottamiseen ja omien kansainvälisten poliittisten tavoitteidensa ajamiseen. Ja kansainvälinen yhteistyö on aina ollut tavalla tai toisella vahvojen sanelua heikommilleen. Mainio yleisesitys ylikansalliseen politiikkaan, Kansainliiton ja YK:n historiaan sekä tuntemaamme maailmanjärjestykseen yleisesti. Mazlow tarjoaa taustalle hyvän kattauksen aatehistoriaa ja talouspolitiikan avaamista. Kieli on sujuvaa ja paikoin teemoiltaan kankeampiakin jaksoja on kielellisesti yleensä ilo lukea. Teos vaatii kuitenkin jonkin verran lähtötietoja historiaan tai Wikipedian vilkuilua - Mazlow ei yleensä juurikaan taustoita yksittäisiä maailmanhistoriallisia tapahtumia ja historiaa heikommin tuntevan lukijan kannattaa varautua perehtymään taustoihin myös itse. Kiva lukea näin hyviä tenttikirjoja.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erik Champenois

    A decent summary of the history of international governance from the post-Napoleonic Concert of Europe to today's global architecture led by the U.S., the United Nations, and the European Union. Helped explain the influence of significant figures and movements, gave me a deeper understanding of the role and influence of the League of Nations, and showcased how international governance efforts are ultimately the combination of great power politics and idealist efforts to improve the world - both A decent summary of the history of international governance from the post-Napoleonic Concert of Europe to today's global architecture led by the U.S., the United Nations, and the European Union. Helped explain the influence of significant figures and movements, gave me a deeper understanding of the role and influence of the League of Nations, and showcased how international governance efforts are ultimately the combination of great power politics and idealist efforts to improve the world - both aspects are therefore relevant and influential in international governance today. The book ended with some half-baked reflections that could have been explored more fully - reflecting on the negative effects of managerial bureaucracy and the philanthropy of the rich on modern day democracy, and arguing that international governance has evolved from being more rooted in national sovereignty to interfering with state sovereignty. I think these points are important to consider but would have liked to have seen a deeper engagement with them in the light of the history presented in the book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ernest

    A concise overview of international politics as operant through intergovernmental institutions. Those interested in the 20th century should also see his 2008 work No Enchanted Palace, which is far more skeptical of the benign image that organizations like the League of Nations/United Nations often present themselves as having. Here, he tempers the role of international 'governing' institutions with more economic and financial ones like the Bretton Woods architecture. The US inevitably is the cou A concise overview of international politics as operant through intergovernmental institutions. Those interested in the 20th century should also see his 2008 work No Enchanted Palace, which is far more skeptical of the benign image that organizations like the League of Nations/United Nations often present themselves as having. Here, he tempers the role of international 'governing' institutions with more economic and financial ones like the Bretton Woods architecture. The US inevitably is the counterweight to such global processes, but it is hard to envisage a history of 20th century internationalism written otherwise.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Arthur

    Wonderful historical tale of the rise of international organization and the path that has lead us to our current state. Plenty of citations have increased my reading list significantly. My only issue, is that Mazower brings up the sovereignty of states and the subsequent actions that those states act upon in order to protect it, without much explanation for the definitional set used to describe what is meant by "sovereignty". Great read overall - I suggest it! Wonderful historical tale of the rise of international organization and the path that has lead us to our current state. Plenty of citations have increased my reading list significantly. My only issue, is that Mazower brings up the sovereignty of states and the subsequent actions that those states act upon in order to protect it, without much explanation for the definitional set used to describe what is meant by "sovereignty". Great read overall - I suggest it!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Serena Weiying Wu

    Mazower is sometimes dismissive of other scholars and literature in this book, and his view can be a little too skeptical without due substantiation. Arguably, his Dark Continent is a more balanced read. Nonetheless, I appreciate his use of clear language and sound conceptional explanation. This book is still a great starting point to learn about international government.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gozde Eren

    Internationalism... good intentioned attempts to govern the World, organisational and national ego's... why we are here today.... Internationalism... good intentioned attempts to govern the World, organisational and national ego's... why we are here today....

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    I read this book with pencil in hand and found I couldn't stop underlining important insights and new understandings. Mazower leads you through the various stages of diplomacy, international relations and efforts to secure world peace and order from the Concert of Europe (1814) to the League of Nations to the U.N. to the present day. He covers not only how the major European powers interacted but also the emergence and contribution of U.S. involvement. The only disappointment is not learning muc I read this book with pencil in hand and found I couldn't stop underlining important insights and new understandings. Mazower leads you through the various stages of diplomacy, international relations and efforts to secure world peace and order from the Concert of Europe (1814) to the League of Nations to the U.N. to the present day. He covers not only how the major European powers interacted but also the emergence and contribution of U.S. involvement. The only disappointment is not learning much about Mazower's speculations about what be ahead in the 21st Century as China and India become global powers. The implication, as far as I can see, is the world will move into a new era of globalism, with a new superstructure replacing the UN, as technology, biotechnology, ecology, migration, trade and space become unignorable world issues.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julian Haigh

    This book is a bit of a whirlwind of people, ideas and institutions tracking their evolution. It shows how complicated relations are and how the institutions of global government are made in the hegemonic powers' interest, but often strongly influenced by people who are trying to make the world a better place. The financial oversight and control of the world economy is terrifying. Nobody really knows what to do and we keep barreling forward. My fingers are crossed! This book is a bit of a whirlwind of people, ideas and institutions tracking their evolution. It shows how complicated relations are and how the institutions of global government are made in the hegemonic powers' interest, but often strongly influenced by people who are trying to make the world a better place. The financial oversight and control of the world economy is terrifying. Nobody really knows what to do and we keep barreling forward. My fingers are crossed!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Iana

    Reading this book made me realise how difficult it is to write the history of 'global governance'. Though I did learn a few things, notably on 19h century theories of international peacemaking and the US role in shaping the UN in the 1940s to 1960s, overall the book left me with an impression of shallowness, fluffiness, lack of analytical rigour. An ackward attempt at putting very different threads together. Excessive US centricity. A deeply insatisfactory reading, I must confess. Reading this book made me realise how difficult it is to write the history of 'global governance'. Though I did learn a few things, notably on 19h century theories of international peacemaking and the US role in shaping the UN in the 1940s to 1960s, overall the book left me with an impression of shallowness, fluffiness, lack of analytical rigour. An ackward attempt at putting very different threads together. Excessive US centricity. A deeply insatisfactory reading, I must confess.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is essentially a review of the history leading up to the creation of the United Nations, and a cursory review of UN actions up to the mid-1990s. Would be a good read for those unfamiliar with UN lore, and supplemental reading for a senior or first-year graduate course. Full review on constant geography dot com. Cheers!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Clearly written about the changing ideas about global governance over time. Brings in a history of philosophical thought through Kant and Bentham about the idea. Introduces the popular audience to these bought a and the concept of the world beyond the west.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Stuffed full of information. Author shows his ideological preferences subtly as the book reaches closer to the conclusion and discusses the modern era of 'globalization' but the review of the entire idea of an 'inter - national' identity or concept through the 1800s to 1950s is quite interesting. Stuffed full of information. Author shows his ideological preferences subtly as the book reaches closer to the conclusion and discusses the modern era of 'globalization' but the review of the entire idea of an 'inter - national' identity or concept through the 1800s to 1950s is quite interesting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christel Devlin

    Wall Street Journal gave this a good review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    341.2 M4766 2012

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pearce

    everything is awful

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Zanette

    Pessimistic realism at its best.

  30. 4 out of 5

    sillypunk

    This book made me really sad :(

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