<<

. 21
( 29 .)



>>

stigma of semi-sovereignty. One legal textbook from 1900, for example,
treated only Russia, England, France, China, Japan and the United States
as fully sovereign states, but no-one would have treated that as a complete
description of the membership of the civilized world.44 The picture was
further complicated by the fact that private international lawyers had a
signi¬cantly different view of the extent to which civilization had reached.
Because they were more interested in the spread of common law, espe-
cially English common law, they were quite prepared to treat parts of the
world that had not yet come close to sovereign recognition as civilized
on the grounds that they possessed appropriate legal and judicial systems
thanks to the activities of imperial powers. On this view, Mexico and
British India were civilized, whereas Turkey and China, members of the
family of civilized nations by most public lawyers™ reckoning, were not.45
Although some international lawyers, like Lorimer, explicitly used
racially discriminatory theories, most of them debated these different
views of the extent of civilization in terms of doctrines about recogni-
tion and the spread of the common law. Among experts on interna-
tional politics, however, racial discrimination was a much more widely
used approach to thinking about civilization. This line of argument be-
came enormously popular in the mid-nineteenth century, when it became
hooked up ¬rst with theories of race and then with theories of evolution,
to produce scienti¬c, or pseudo-scienti¬c, justi¬cations for the existence
of two different patterns of order in the world.46 American ideas about
their ˜manifest destiny™ made this kind of argument absolutely explicit.
43 See William Edward Hall, A Treatise on International Law, 2nd edn (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1884), p. 40; Lassa Oppenheim, International Law: A Treatise, 2nd edn, 2 vols.
(London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912), vol. I, pp. 32“3; and for a more recent and
more detailed analysis, Gerrit Gong, The Standard of Civilization in International Society
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984).
44 George Davis, The Elements of International Law with an Account of its Origins, Sources
and Historical Development, 2nd edn (New York and London: Harper and Brothers,
1900), p. 35.
45 A.V. Dicey, A Digest of the Law of England with Reference to the Con¬‚ict of Laws (London:
Stevens, 1896), p. 29.
46 For one of the leading examples of this social evolutionist position, see Benjamin Kidd,
The Control of the Tropics (London: Macmillan, 1898), and Principles of Western Civiliza-
tion (New York: Macmillan, 1902). One of the earliest political theories based on race,
Gobineau™s Inequality of Human Races, adopted the idea of multiple civilizations, each of
which had its own speci¬c racially de¬ned orientation. Amongst Anglo-American theo-
rists, the superiority of both the white race and its civilization was much more generally
agreed.
116 Beyond the anarchical society

Congressional and journalistic debates are littered with con¬dent asser-
tions that their expansion was the work of a ˜superior race, with superior
ideas and a better civilization™ and of the ˜excellent white race . . . whose
power and privilege it is, wherever they may go, and wherever they may
be, to Christianize and to civilize, to command to be obeyed, to conquer
and to reign™.47
I should admit that not all Europeans were enamoured with this thesis
about the desirability of civilization, or about the tendency to limit the
process to non-European peoples alone. Assertions of both the moral
and material value of civilization were largely restricted to the English-
speaking world, and particularly among German scholars, civilization was
seen as largely material, and was negatively counterposed to the moral
value of Kultur.48 Moreover, even among British and American thinkers
there was a signi¬cant constituency that regarded civilization as some-
thing that was still applicable to European peoples as well. Many of these
arguments took the form of early theses about increasing interdependence
that anticipate current analyses of globalization in the degree to which
they recognize that the further development of economic and techno-
logical progress might involve closer integration to the detriment of the
independent territorial sovereignty of states.49 Even Lorimer, that vigor-
ous advocate of the civilization of non-European peoples believed that
˜it is obvious that, at the stage which intercommunication has reached,
Europe is no more independent of the other continents of the globe than
the separate States of Europe are independent of each other. Europe has
burst her bounds in all directions, and in becoming the centre of cos-
mopolitan life, she has ceased to be self-suf¬cing.™50 And Kidd, one of
the principal international relations theorists to expound racial theories of
social evolution and their relevance to the civilizing mission of European
powers outside Europe, realized that the further advance of civilization
would have massive consequences for the West as well, leading to the
47 Cited in Johannsen, ˜The Meaning of Manifest Destiny™, p. 15, and John Belohlavek,
˜Race, Progress and Destiny: Caleb Cushing and the Quest for American Empire™, in
Haynes and Morris (eds.), Manifest Destiny, p. 25.
48 For a classic analysis, see Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psycho-
genetic Investigations, trans. Edmund Jephcott, revised edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000),
ch. 1, and for a fascinating recent discussion of the evolution of the German critique of
Zivilisation, see Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History (New York: Free
Press, 1997), especially chs. 3, 7 and pp. 194“8.
49 This might seem odd, but the concept of interdependence is as old as the idea of the
states-system itself. So far as I am aware, the ¬rst statement of the idea that interdepen-
dence will lead to closer cooperation among states, and hence more peaceful interna-
tional relations, can be found in John Campbell, The Present State of Europe, Explaining
the Interests, Connections, Political and Commercial Views of its Several Powers, 3rd edn
(London: Longman, 1752), p. 24.
50 Lorimer, Institutes of the Law of Nations, vol. II, p. 288.
Two patterns of order 117

˜dissolution of all the absolutes in which the hitherto ascendant present
had strangled the future™.51
I will return to some of these fault-lines in the distinction between the
family of civilized nations and the rest of the world in chapter 5. For now,
though, the main point that I want to highlight is that the persistence of
Grotian ideas about the divisibility of sovereignty and the rights of individ-
uals was closely bound up with the concept of civilization, which was such
a prominent feature of nineteenth-century international legal and politi-
cal thought. It would be quite wrong to conclude that the extra-European
order, with its institutions of federal government and paramountcy, was
originally designed with this goal in mind; as I explained in chapter 3,
the development of colonial and imperial systems was most heavily in-
¬‚uenced by the trading interests of European states and corporations.
But just as the European states-system eventually came to be viewed in
terms of the principle of toleration and national self-determination, so
the extra-European systems were gradually re-conceived in terms of the
increasingly popular ideas of civilization and white racial supremacy. To
have an adequate conception of order in modern world politics, we have
to go beyond the orthodox theory of toleration, reciprocal recognition
and territorial sovereignty in the European states-system, and we need
to appreciate the importance of the idea of civilization not merely as a
standard for regulating the entry of new states in international society,
but also for validating an entirely different set of legal rules and political
institutions in its own right.

An overview of order in modern world politics
I have concentrated on the concept of civilization and its importance to
modern international politics and international law because students of
international relations will already be familiar with the structure of the
international order that developed in the context of the European states-
system. As implied by one of its foundational principles, cuius regio eius
religio, its ultimate purpose was to promote toleration in a world of differ-
ent religions, nations, cultures and political systems. It therefore operated
in accordance with the normative principle that each member of interna-
tional society should respect the sovereign independence of other states
in their domestic jurisdictions, whether de¬ned in territorial or national
terms. To describe the emergence of this pattern of international political
and legal order, orthodox theorists concentrate on the rise of dynastic
monarchs, and the developing logic of their relations with one another.
51 Kidd, Principles of Western Civilization, p. 349. Compare with the later functionalist
theories developed in the interwar period by, inter alios, David Mitrany.
118 Beyond the anarchical society

These monarchs consolidated their absolute sovereignty over their territo-
rial possessions during the wars of religion; they then adopted a practice of
recognizing their mutual independence partly to reduce con¬‚icts among
themselves over religious questions, but also so as to af¬rm each other™s
authority and reduce the status of other kinds of international actors. The
emergence of a states-system and a society of states depended, in short, on
a certain conjunction of power and interests, through which developed
the norms of acceptable or appropriate conduct and the international
legal rules and institutions of what has come to be known, accurately or
not, as the ˜Westphalian system™. Although the system™s beginnings lay in
the self-interested activities of absolutist monarchs, gradually scholars,
statesmen and diplomats developed an account of the moral purposes
of this kind of international order, arguing that its great virtue lay in its
ability to handle the political and cultural pluralism of modern Europe, al-
lowing states to live together in moderately peaceful coexistence through
the toleration of their different ways of life.
Something else unfolded in the world beyond Europe, with different
actors; different conjunctions of power and interest; different norms,
rules and institutions of international relations; and, ultimately, a dif-
ferent purpose for international order. The range of actors was more
diverse, including the absolutist monarchs from the orthodox narrative,
but also chartered corporations engaged in trade and colonization, noble
proprietors, individual settlers, colonial administrators, and, of course,
indigenous rulers and peoples. And instead of monarchs trying to con-
solidate their absolute authority, the principal thrust of European activity
in the world beyond Europe was the acquisition of wealth through the
control of trade; not simply trade itself, but the manipulation and mo-
nopolization of trade with East and West. There were two main ways
to establish control over trade: through the establishment of colonies of
settlers from the mother country, or by inserting the European power
into indigenous networks of political authority and commerce. Depend-
ing on the circumstances at hand, different approaches met with differing
degrees of success. The British, who managed to establish themselves as
the European colonial power par excellence, were adept at both.
Over time, as with the Westphalian systems, these originally haphazard
activities began to take on a regular pattern, and it becomes possible to
identify certain norms, rules and institutions in the conduct of interna-
tional relations in the extra-European world, which shaped expectations
of appropriate or legitimate behaviour and actively worked to sustain
this particular pattern of order. From the beginning, the most consistent
features of European colonialism and imperialism were the division of
sovereignty across territorial boundaries, and the assertion that individuals
Two patterns of order 119

had certain rights over themselves and their property that commanded
respect from public authorities. Just as the assertions of supremacy by
absolutist monarchs in Europe did not go unchallenged, so it took time
for these norms to establish their validity. In America, it took a successful
revolution to assert the rights of the individuals and the colonial authori-
ties themselves; beyond Europe, it took a number of wars, no less vicious
for the fact that they seldom appear in textbooks on international rela-
tions, in the course of which Europeans™ increasing dominance in naval
power, ¬nance, the use of gunpowder and battle¬eld tactics eventually
proved decisive. Eventually, both in North America and the East Indies, a
pattern of relationships evolved where the division of sovereignty and the
rights of individuals were accepted facts of international and interstate
relations.
Because of its particular normative foundation, the institutional and
legal structures of international order beyond Europe were quite different
from those which evolved within Europe. The European society of states
possessed institutions, like the balance of power or positive international
law, that were well adapted to the highly decentralized and voluntaris-
tic nature of the states-system upon which it rested. International order
beyond Europe was, by contrast, more centralized and hierarchical: its
institutions differed accordingly. In North America, the central institu-
tion was confederalism; in the East Indies, imperial paramountcy. The
legal framework for this system of international relations already existed;
it had been provided by Grotius in his account of the law of nations, and,
with relatively few alterations, was carried forward by later international
lawyers interested in questions of colonial and imperial politics. The great
novelty of eighteenth and nineteenth-century international legal thought
was to explain the increasingly obvious systematic divergence between
European and non-European politics in terms of a highly discriminatory
concept of civilization. That distinction, which really only became central
to mainstream textbooks on international law around the middle of the
nineteenth century, has not survived into the later twentieth century. In
chapter 5, then, I want to look at the subsequent career of discrimination
in international politics and international law, and its eventual eclipse by
the construction of a global political and legal order.
5 Order in contemporary world politics,
global but divided




By the late nineteenth century, international lawyers and diplomats con-
sidered it perfectly reasonable that there should be one kind of political
and legal order for the ˜family of civilized nations™ and another for the
uncivilized world beyond. No such distinction is made by diplomats and
lawyers today, at least not in public; it is generally assumed that a single,
global pattern of political and legal order exists, which should be in-
discriminately applied to all peoples. Of course, that is not to say that
there are no controversies about the fundamental principles on which
this global order is based, or about how it operates in practice. There
is a profound tension, for example, between state sovereignty and hu-
man rights, since the assertion of individuals™ rights in international law
and the protection of those rights by international organizations can be
seen as compromising the principle that each state possesses an invio-
lable domestic jurisdiction by virtue of its sovereignty. That, moreover,
is but one of several ways in which the sovereign independence of states
is perceived to be threatened by the increasingly centralized, even supra-
national, authority of international organizations at both the global and
regional levels. In this chapter, I want to explain how this global order
was constructed, and why it suffers from such serious dilemmas about the
relationship between state sovereignty and other aspects of the political
and legal structure of international relations today.
The crucial step towards the construction of a single political and legal
order for the entire world was the abandonment of the discriminatory
way in which the concept of civilization had previously been employed.
We have already seen that, in its nineteenth-century version, the concept
was bound up with various theories explaining the relative backwardness
of non-European peoples, especially a form of natural scienti¬c argument
about the impact of factors like geography or race on social and political
evolution. European states, and the white race more generally, were there-
fore presumed to have a special responsibility to civilize those backward
peoples who had come under their administration during the previous
200 years. During the ¬rst half of the twentieth century, that position

120
Order in contemporary world politics 121

became untenable, albeit very gradually and perhaps only ever at the
formal, of¬cial level of diplomacy and international law. The most im-
portant reason for this development was that the concept of civilization
increasingly began to separate Europeans from each other, and came to
be seen in terms of an ideological divide rather than a racial one. The
main problem of international order between 1914 and 1945, as civi-
lized nations saw it, was not so much the backwardness of non-European
peoples but rather the rise of barbarous ideologies in European states,
such as Prussian militarism, communism and, most importantly of all,
Nazism. The struggle on behalf of civilization against Nazism represented
the crowning moment of this intellectual transformation, since now the
concept was explicitly being deployed against the scienti¬c theories of
race that previously had given it much of its legitimacy as a way of ar-
ticulating the rationale behind the bifurcated nature of order in world
politics. Once that move had been made there was no going back to the
old theoretical apparatus of nineteenth-century international law, and

<<

. 21
( 29 .)



>>