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the ˜reconstruction™ of international order after 1945 was in that respect
a genuinely original project.
But the terms in which that project was conceived were not always so
original. The use of the idea of civilization to discriminate between the
European and non-European worlds had become impossible to sustain,
but that did not constitute a rejection of the idea of civilization as a
goal for the new global political and legal order. On the contrary, in
the struggle against Nazism the Allies had been ¬ghting for civilization,
and they were hardly about to abandon that belief in their moment of
triumph. The elements of the old concept of civilization “ economic and
technological progress, the provision of good government and respect for
the rights of individuals “ remained largely intact, and were retained as
fundamental goals that the new order was intended to deliver. Indeed, if
anything, the scope of these goals was now wider than ever, because one
consequence of the movement away from racial discrimination was that it
could no longer simply be assumed that, by contrast with non-Europeans,
Europeans themselves were already civilized and had no further need of
its bene¬ts. As a goal of international order, civilization was increasingly
seen as applicable to relations between European states as well as to those
between non-European ones, and the former were now encouraged to
give up some of their sovereignty in order to attain a more civilized way
of life, especially with regard to facilitating post-war reconstruction and
the pursuit of rapid economic growth. There is a certain irony in the
nationalistic protests that have since been raised against this transfer of
sovereignty, since it hardly differs from what Europeans had been doing
for generations to the peoples under their imperial control.
122 Beyond the anarchical society

That last comment indicates one way in which the logic of this devel-
opment has left the post-1945 global order with deep internal contradic-
tions. In the nineteenth century, there were two very different patterns of
political and legal order in the world, but there was also a popular belief in
the validity of discrimination that prevented this dichotomy from posing
any serious dif¬culties for international lawyers and statesmen: each order
was con¬ned to the peoples and parts of the world where it was deemed
appropriate, and the two seldom came into con¬‚ict with one another.
Once discrimination became unacceptable, however, it became impossi-
ble to maintain the easy separation between the two patterns of modern
international order. We now live in a world where we have a singular po-
litical and legal framework that is schizophrenically trying to realize two
different purposes at the same time. The legacy of the European society
of states, with its emphasis on respect for the sovereign independence of
states, still exercises an important in¬‚uence on the contemporary order,
but the core elements of the modern extra-European international order,
with its emphasis on the division of sovereignty across territorial borders
and respect for individuals™ rights, also plays a crucial role in determin-
ing the content of international law and the structure of international
organization today. The result is a super¬cially uni¬ed global pattern
of political and legal order for the whole of humankind that is actually
pointing in two directions at once, simultaneously promoting both tolera-
tion and civilization. The ensuing confusion, or worse, is clearly apparent
in areas such as the tension between state sovereignty and human rights,
or the dilemma about intergovernmentalism and supranationalism in
organizations intended to promote economic growth.


The orthodox perspective on the construction
of the global order
Before getting into the details of the argument, I ought to acknowledge
that my account of the development of this global order in contemporary
world politics differs substantially from the way in which that process is
usually understood by international relations theorists. As I have already
explained, orthodox theories of order in world politics begin from the
assumption that the modern world was organized as a society of states
that was originally con¬ned only to European members. It is therefore
inevitable that they think of the construction of a global political and legal
order solely in terms of the expansion of the European society of states,
concentrating, in particular, on the entry of non-European peoples into
that society upon the recognition of their sovereignty. Of course, it would
be quite unfair to suggest that that approach is simply mistaken, since
Order in contemporary world politics 123

the spread of the practice of recognition of sovereignty was a crucial fac-
tor in the emergence of the contemporary world order. Furthermore, a
lot of insightful work has been done on this issue by orthodox scholars,
particularly those who have argued that in its early stages the expansion
of international society operated according to a ˜standard of civilization™
in the sense that, before being recognized as sovereign, non-European
peoples were required to accept certain basic diplomatic and legal prin-
ciples of the society of states (such as reciprocity), and to acquire the
technological and political apparatuses of a civilized state.1
That line of argument at least acknowledges the importance of the
idea of civilization in modern international law, but orthodox scholars
have otherwise shown little awareness of the deep roots that the con-
cept had in the pre-existing international political and legal order that
had already been constructed in the extra-European world through colo-
nialism. By concentrating on the entry of ˜new states™ into international
society, orthodox approaches tend to overlook the long-standing central-
ity of ideas about civilization to, for example, the organization of relations
between the British and the Indian princely states, and they fail to elu-
cidate the crucial importance of the practice of dividing sovereignty to
the pattern of order that was established on that basis. That makes it
harder to understand the relationship between the principle of civiliza-
tion and various phenomena in the contemporary global order, since it
obscures, among other things, the proximity of the division of sovereignty
in the old extra-European order to similar institutional arrangements in
contemporary world politics. Even more importantly, orthodox scholars
have looked only at the outward movement of the European international
society, and have ignored the fact that, while the principle of toleration
was gaining ground beyond Europe, the principle of civilization was mak-
ing signi¬cant inroads into the European society of states itself. The con-
struction of a global political and legal order was really a two-way process,
as much about the increased effort by the British, French and Americans
to civilize other Europeans (especially the Germans) as to tolerate non-
Europeans. To focus only on the entry of non-European peoples into the
˜family of civilized nations™ misses a crucial part of the story: the entry
of some civilized states “ notably Germany, Russia and Japan “ into the
uncivilized world.2

1 Gerrit Gong, The Standard of Civilization in International Society (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1984).
2 It is perhaps interesting to re¬‚ect on the viewpoint of one anonymous German shortly
after the rise of Hitler: ˜The frontier of Europe and of civilization has been shifted from
the Vistula to the Rhine.™ Cited in Ludwig Lewisohn, ˜The Revolt against Civilization™, in
Pierre van Paassen and James Wise (eds.), Nazism: An Assault on Civilization (New York:
124 Beyond the anarchical society

A second point where my approach differs from current scholarship
on the contemporary world order is that it is popularly supposed that
the construction of the new order after 1945 was an effort to realize ide-
alistic principles that previously had only had a theoretical existence in
the minds of philosophers, and no practical relevance to modern interna-
tional politics or law. It is a commonplace, for example, for books on the
development of the great twentieth-century international organizations,
the League of Nations and the United Nations, to begin not by looking at
two of the largest and most sophisticated organs of international and inter-
state governance that the nineteenth-century world possessed, the British
Empire and the United States of America, but rather at the projects for
a perpetual and universal peace advanced, inter alios, by the Abb´ Saint-
e
3
Pierre and Immanuel Kant. One is presumably supposed to conclude
that the international organizations we have today are attempts to realize
those utopian visions, albeit with a more pragmatic recognition of the
dif¬culties of translating such blueprints into reality (and, in the case of
the League, not always even with that). The possibility that nineteenth-
century structures of imperial and confederal governance might have a
relevance to the growth of international organization in the twentieth
century is seldom considered.4
Most scholarship on international human rights law has been similarly
unforthcoming on the historical roots of the international practice of
asserting and protecting the rights of individuals as human beings. It
seldom does anything more than gesture in this direction with a cursory
reference to the abolition of the slave trade, and often shows no regard at
all for the importance that colonial administrators attached to codifying
and protecting the property rights of individual settlers and indigenous
peoples, or their frequent interventions to correct the mistreatment of
individuals by local rulers. It is usually asserted instead that ˜human rights
were not an accepted subject of international relations prior to World
War Two™; that during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries international society ˜gave punctilious respect to the sovereign
prerogative of each state to treat its own citizens as it saw ¬t™; and that it is
only since 1945 that states have ˜taken on a revolutionary purpose, adding

Harrison Smith, 1934), p. 143. Civilization, the Europeans learnt in 1933 (as in 1914
and 1917), was not an irreversible process.
3 For an early example of this line of argument, see S.P. Duggan, The League of Nations
(Boston, 1919), pp. 27“32. This is in spite of the fact that the Americans and members
of the British Empire, including South Africans, Australians and Canadians, played ex-
ceptionally important roles in the formation of both the League and the United Nations.
4 For an exception that proves the rule, see Frederick K. Lister, The European Union, the
United Nations and the Revival of Confederal Governance (Westport: Greenwood Press,
1996).
Order in contemporary world politics 125

the needs and interests of individuals . . . to their traditional preoccupation
with peace and security among themselves™.5 The idea that individuals
have rights, we are led to believe, was nurtured behind the protective shell
of state sovereignty, in the work of natural lawyers and liberal political
theorists whose teachings fell on deaf ears, internationally at least, until
they were picked up in 1945 and, almost overnight so it seems, became
a central and universally accepted part of the established international
legal order.
A common theme across these approaches to international organiza-
tion and human rights is that they make very little effort to relate the new
twentieth-century forms of international political and legal order to the
late nineteenth and early twentieth-century forms that immediately pre-
ceded them; it is almost as if the experiences of the ¬rst and second world
wars were so shocking that everyone suddenly came down with collective
amnesia and could only think in terms of seventeenth and eighteenth-
century political philosophy. I admit that there are excellent reasons to
suppose that, for example, Woodrow Wilson knew and admired Kant™s
vision for a perpetual peace guaranteed by a federation of free republics,
but in most respects he and the other architects of the League system
were operating with a world-view that was broadly similar to that which
had de¬ned pre-1914 ideas about international order. For all the nov-
elty and apparent idealism of his proposals for preserving international
peace, even Wilson shared some fundamental beliefs with earlier forms of
international legal thought. As John Coogan has observed, for example,
the Wilsonian administration adopted a hierarchical and discriminatory
world view: ˜Europe was more important than Latin America, which was
more important than East Asia, which was more important than Africa;
Anglo-Saxons were superior to other white races, which were superior
to yellow, which were superior to brown, which were superior to black.™6
Although increasingly serious doubts were being expressed about these
beliefs, by 1919 they had de¬nitely not been superseded, even by the
most prominent critic of European colonialism at the Peace Conference.
I will look at that issue more closely in just a moment, but for now the
main point that I want to make is that it is unhelpful to place the work of
statesmen like Wilson into the intellectual context of Kantian idealism.
We need to compare what they were doing with the pre-war theory and
practice of international order: it is only by doing that that we can see

5 The ¬rst two quotes are from Jack Donnelly, International Human Rights, 2nd edn
(Boulder: Westview Press, 1998), pp. 4 and 27; the last is from R.J. Vincent, Human
Rights and International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 93.
6 John W. Coogan, ˜Wilsonian Diplomacy in War and Peace™, in Gordon Martel (ed.),
American Foreign Relations Reconsidered (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 74“5.
126 Beyond the anarchical society

what genuinely new ideas they were introducing, and in what respects
they were preserving old assumptions.


The internationalization of civilization
I have said that the construction of a global political and legal order was
really a two-way process: the principle of toleration was gradually ex-
tended to non-European peoples through their recognition as indepen-
dent sovereign states; the principle of civilization was creeping into the
European political system, dividing the ˜family of civilized nations™ from
one another and effectively leading to the eviction (if only temporarily)
of some of its members. Unfortunately, while we have plenty of good
accounts of the expansion of the society of states,7 we have very little
in the way of a general analysis of how the principle of civilization was
internationalized, and eventually globalized, beyond its extra-European
context to become a central goal of political and legal order in the world
as a whole. Here, I want to chart the initial stages in that long process
by examining how the use of the idea of civilization was changing dur-
ing the ¬rst world war and the debates about the League of Nations.
I will start off by making the point that the concept™s orientation was
beginning to change under the pressure of the war, but then show that
by the end of the ¬rst world war most of the diplomats and lawyers who
were involved in the reconstruction of the post-war international order
retained many of the pre-war assumptions about the uncivilized nature
of non-European peoples. Doubts had been raised about the security of
civilization in the European world, but this had not yet in any signi¬cant
way affected the treatment of non-Europeans. To show how this rather
unpromising beginning developed further during the interwar period, I
will then look more closely at the system of ˜mandates™ that was created
for the administration of the former German and Turkish colonies. This
made a crucial change to the structure of international political and le-
gal order by introducing a new form of global regulation to govern the
practice of colonialism, essentially making the promotion of civilization
a concern of international society as a whole, rather than exclusively the
responsibility of the relevant imperial power. Even at this early stage in
the process of constructing a global international order, this brought a
series of dilemmas about the nature of sovereignty, especially regarding
7 As well as Gong, Standard of Civilization, see Hedley Bull and Adam Watson
(eds.), The Expansion of International Society (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984); Robert
Jackson, Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World (Cam-
bridge University Press, 1990); and James Mayall, Nationalism and International Society
(Cambridge University Press, 1990).
Order in contemporary world politics 127

the possibility of its divisibility, right to the foreground of mainstream
international legal scholarship.
A serious problem for the legal belief that relations between European
states operated in the context of a ˜family of civilized nations™ arose as the
European system became divided over the ˜German question™. Of course,
and with good reason, this crisis is usually interpreted as resulting from
a destabilisation of the balance of power, brought on either by German
aggression, the in¬‚exibility of the alliance system, or the destructive con-
sequences of the principle of national self-determination. The last of these
may have been especially pivotal, since it provided an irresistible ratio-
nale for the uni¬cation of Germany and thus removed one of the classic
pillars of the European balance established in the ˜Westphalian system™:
the existence of a mass of small, inert and essentially neutralized states in
west-central Europe that made it dif¬cult for any potentially hegemonic
state to establish its preponderance. But although the causes of the con-
frontation with Germany may have lain in the growing instability of the

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