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balance of power, as the intensity of the con¬‚ict developed it increasingly
began to be expressed in terms of a struggle for and against civilization,
an issue, as I noted in chapter 4, that had already been brewing in the
minds of German critics of Zivilisation well before it found an outlet in
violent con¬‚ict.
As the ¬rst world war became a war of attrition involving unprecedented
sacri¬ces, so the wartime leaders in all countries did everything they could
to ratchet up the stakes that they were ¬ghting for. One result was that the
defence of civilization was to become one of the principal rallying cries
through which the British sought to justify their involvement in the war
and shore up domestic support. As one, admittedly rather jaded, British
author re¬‚ected a decade after the ¬rst world war:
We wanted not merely to be ¬ghting against things; something we wanted to
be ¬ghting for. For what? Belgium seemed too small, too grubby, Christianity
indiscreet, the balance of power old-fashioned, ourselves improbable. We longed
for a resonant, elevating and yet familiar objective; something which Christians
and Agnostics, Liberals, Conservatives and Socialists, those who had always liked
war and those who on principle detested it . . . could all feel proud and pleased
to make other people die for. And then . . . came the ¬ne and ¬nal revelation that
what we were ¬ghting for was Civilization.8

The British were already well used to ¬ghting for civilization in other
parts of the world, and it made for excellent rhetoric even in this novel
and unusual context. Some of their opponents also shared this sense of
8 Clive Bell, Civilization and Old Friends (University of Chicago Press, 1973), pp. 15“16.
(First published in 1928.)
128 Beyond the anarchical society

what was at stake, although naturally with a different attitude towards the
values involved. The rather tortured wartime re¬‚ections of the German
novelist Thomas Mann, for example, show that from his perspective at
least the war was an attempt to defend the speci¬cally German con-
ception of Kultur against ˜that intellectual tendency that has the demo-
cratic civilization-society of “mankind” as its goal; la r´publique sociale,
e
d´mocratique et universelle; the empire of human civilization™.9 And Mann
e
well understood the main source of this tendency: ˜Who could remain in-
different to a threat that before the war had already taken on the form of an
impudently calm statement: “The world is rapidly becoming English!” ™10
It would be something of an understatement to say that, in terms of
how the concept of civilization was used in the latter stages of the war
and immediately afterwards, matters were complicated by the Russian
Revolution. Although that Revolution had a host of implications for in-
ternational law over the next several decades, the immediate reaction of
many Western legal experts was to forget, for the moment at least, the
barbarism of Prussian militarism, and focus instead on the dangers of
socialist internationalism. Robert Lansing, the US secretary of state, was
unequivocal about the nature of the problem: it represented a struggle
between two rival conceptions of world order, one founded on individu-
als and nations; the other on classes and what he labelled ˜mundanism™
(i.e., a theory of the world-state). Unsurprisingly, it was his favoured
position of individual and national self-determination that was ˜the very
lifeblood of modern civilization™.11 Increasingly habituated to thinking
of their struggles as battles on behalf of civilization, politicians and in-
ternational lawyers were increasingly ready to turn the concept against
whoever or whatever seemed like the most immediately serious problem.
The whole question of who was in the uncivilized world, and why, was
becoming increasingly dif¬cult to answer, because the concept was now
being asked to do much more work than it ever had before, particularly
in an international legal context. As barbarism came to be associated
with militaristic or communist ideologies, so civilization began to be un-
derstood in broader terms as built upon an order of peace-loving and
self-determining nations, not exclusively white or European ones.
But there was still one point on which there was fairly widespread agree-
ment: no matter that the status of Germany and Russia as members of
the ˜family of civilized nations™ was now in doubt, the vast majority of the
9 Thomas Mann, Re¬‚ections of a Nonpolitical Man, trans. Walter Morris (New York:
Frederick Ungar, 1983), p. 23. (First published in 1918.)
10 Ibid., p. 325.
11 Robert Lansing, ˜Some Legal Questions of the Peace Conference™, American Journal of
International Law, 13 (1919), 649.
Order in contemporary world politics 129

non-European peoples of Asia and Africa were still to be excluded.12 As I
have already mentioned, even Wilson™s administration, while very hostile
to the exploitative aspects of European imperialism, nevertheless did not
believe in anything approaching racial equality, and certainly would not
have regarded those non-European peoples under imperial domination as
ready for entry into the family of civilized nations themselves. This was
not remarkable: essentially similar views had been widely held among
earlier American advocates of some kind of international ˜League™ for
the preservation of peace worldwide, not all of whom were the Kantian
idealists one hears so much about. Hard-headed old Theodore Roosevelt
was one of the most prominent exponents of the League idea in the early
twentieth century, and had won a Nobel Prize for his advocacy of an in-
ternational system of arbitration after the 1905 Russo-Japanese war. He
recognized that this system, to be effective, would require the formation
of a ˜League of Peace™ to administer it, but the ¬rst step would be to
construct a system of arbitration treaties, and here we see the old preju-
dices creeping in: ˜all really civilized communities should have effective
arbitration treaties among themselves™, Roosevelt insisted, but there were
˜states so backward that a civilized community ought not to enter into
an arbitration treaty with them™.13 He repeated his proposal with more
urgency in 1915, but again insisted that a lasting peace could only be pre-
served if ˜[t]he great civilized nations of the world which do possess force,
actual or immediately potential, should combine by solemn agreement
in a great world league™.14
Although Roosevelt called this a ˜world league™, it is clear that to all
intents and purposes its membership would be restricted to the ˜great
civilized nations™ only, and many participants at the Versailles peace con-
ference after the ¬rst world war were equally clear on the importance
of that point. British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George insisted that
˜uncivilized nations™ should be excluded from any post-war League, while
12 The principal exceptions, apart from colonies of white settlement, were China and
Japan. Both of these states had already passed the ˜standard of civilization™, and, in
any case, had always been regarded by Europeans differently from other peoples who
had been more comprehensively under their imperial control. For good discussions of the
Chinese and Japanese entry into the society of states, see Gong, Standard of Civilization,
and Hidemi Suganami, ˜Japan™s Entry into International Society™, in Bull and Watson
(eds.), Expansion of International Society, pp. 185“99. The Japanese, of course, were
evicted from the family again after the invasion of Manchuria, causing much regret to
Americans who had previously admired them for ˜their rapid assimilation of western
culture™: E.T. Williams, ˜The Con¬‚ict between Autocracy and Democracy™, American
Journal of International Law, 32 (1938), 678.
13 Theodore Roosevelt, ˜Mr. Roosevelt™s Nobel Address on International Peace™, American
Journal of International Law, 4 (1910), 701.
14 Cited in D.F. Fleming, The United States and the League of Nations, 1918“1920 (New
York: Russell and Russell, 1932), p. 5.
130 Beyond the anarchical society

South African General Jan Smuts, whose in¬‚uence on the evolution of
the Mandates System was profound, regarded many of the non-European
peoples as ˜barbarians who cannot possibly govern themselves™.15 There
was no question of granting proper self-government to the former German
colonies in Africa; all that ˜self-determination™ meant for those peoples
was to have some say in which European power should be their colonial
ruler (and a great deal of manipulation was employed to ensure that they
would come up with the right answer).16
Critics of the League idea often held broadly similar views, objecting
to the possibility that by being involved in a relatively inclusive interna-
tional organization they might ¬nd themselves being obliged to pay more
heed to the wishes of uncivilized peoples. In America, for example, while
there were certainly grave misgivings about the risks of the new collective
security regime for embroiling the United States in distant con¬‚icts in
which it had no national interest, that was not the only concern. One of
Wilson™s strongest opponents in the Senate, Henry Lodge, raised another
possibility that might follow from the creation of the League:
Suppose the Asiatic powers demand the free admission of their labour to the
United States, and we resist, and the decision of the League goes against us,
are we going to accept it? Is it possible that anyone who wishes to preserve our
standards of life and labour can be drawn into a scheme . . . which would take
from us our sovereign right to decide alone and for ourselves the vital question
of the exclusion of Mongolian and Asiatic labour? These are not fanciful cases
drawn from the region of the imagination. They are actual, living questions of
the utmost vitality and peril today. In them is involved that deepest of human
instincts which seeks not only to prevent an impossible competition of labour but
to maintain the purity of the race.17
I am certainly not suggesting that the fear of ˜Mongolian and Asiatic™
immigration was the reason why the United States declined to join the
15 Both cited in Michael D. Callahan, Mandates and Empire: The League of Nations and
Africa, 1914“1931 (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 1999), pp. 16 and 25. Another
interesting discussion of the issue, although better for later periods, is Michla Pomerance,
Self-Determination in Law and Practice (London: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982).
16 Callahan, Mandates and Empire, p. 20. Later in the League period, 1937, the then British
under-secretary of state for foreign affairs, Lord Plymouth, offered the following remark
which underlines the discriminatory thrust of thinking on this issue: ˜It would greatly
confuse the minds of these simple peoples [i.e., the mandated peoples] to superimpose
on, or indeed to substitute for this loyalty [to the British crown] an alternative loyalty
to a body in Geneva of which they would necessarily have very little knowledge or un-
derstanding.™ See ˜Speech by Lord Plymouth™, Doc. 153 in Kenneth Bourne, Cameron
Watt and Michael Partridge (eds.), British Documents on Foreign Affairs, part 2, series J,
vol. X: Mandates etc. (University Publications of America, 1995), p. 311. And of course,
if they would be confused by a change in their administrators, how on earth could these
simple peoples be expected to govern themselves?
17 Cited in Fleming, United States and the League of Nations, pp. 16“17. (The lines are taken
from the US Congressional Record, vol. V, 1 Feb. 1917.)
Order in contemporary world politics 131

League, but the nature of the concern and the terms in which Lodge
articulated it do reveal the resilience of pre-war attitudes towards post-war
international organization.
The use of the concept of civilization in the war with Germany, and
then to stigmatize Bolshevik Russia, had to some extent undermined the
self-assurance that diplomats and lawyers used to feel about the conjunc-
tion between the European society of states and the ˜family of civilized
nations™, but it is clear that these growing doubts had not yet been trans-
lated into the abandonment of the concept as a discriminatory vehicle
for contemplating the differences between that family and the world be-
yond. Nevertheless, the widespread nature of participation in the ˜Great
War for Civilization™ was a major reason why the diplomats went further
than Roosevelt™s insistence that the League should just be composed of
the great civilized nations. The contribution of the British Dominions
(the former colonies of white settlement) to the Allied war effort, for
example, had already ensured that along with the signi¬cant degree of
self-government they already enjoyed, they would be treated as signa-
tories to the peace treaty and would enjoy their own representation in
the League; but they were still not regarded as possessing full sovereign
statehood. The Dominions were relatively easy to include, because they
posed less of a threat in the racial terms in which the distinction between
the civilized and uncivilized worlds was largely perceived. However, their
inclusion in the League while still nominally under the sovereignty of the
British crown posed real dif¬culties for those legal scholars who liked to
think about sovereignty in an absolute and unitary way. The best, per-
haps only, answer that could be given to the new dilemma was the same
as the one that had long been used to deal with the essentially identical
problems that had arisen within the old British Empire: that it was ˜but
one result of the fact that “sovereignty” is in¬nitely divisible™.18
The question about the status of the British Dominions was deeply
unsettling to mainstream international lawyers, but an even more signi¬-
cant challenge arose from the fact that the war had clouded the status of
those territories and peoples that had been part of the imperial Domin-
ions of the defeated powers. Rather than simply permit the annexation
of these territories by the victorious powers, as many British and French
proposed, Wilson insisted that their administration should be subject to
regulation by the League itself. The compromise solution was the man-
dates system: the victorious powers would take over the administration of
the German colonies, but only under the League™s authorization and ul-
timately responsible to the League for their administration. The fact that
18 Philip Noel Baker, The Present Juridical Status of the British Dominions in International
Law (London: Longmans, 1929), p. 371.
132 Beyond the anarchical society

the compromise became ¬xed on the idea of mandates was in large part
due to Smuts™s in¬‚uence: he derived the concept itself from Roman law
(still prominent in South Africa), and added to it his general understand-
ing of how the British colonial system had always worked, along with his
˜special knowledge of the needs of backward peoples™ to the fore.19
In practice, the actual distribution of the mandates was a carve-up be-
tween the old imperial powers, without regard for the other members of
the League, and with, as I have noted, a somewhat hypocritical concern
for the expressed wishes of the peoples concerned. Formally, though,
the League Covenant maintained the old idea that there was a ˜sacred
trust of civilization™ to promote the ˜well-being and development™ of those
peoples in the former colonies of the defeated powers who were ˜not yet
able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the mod-
ern world™.20 The ˜tutelage™ of these peoples was placed in the hands
of whichever ˜advanced nation™ was best placed in terms of resources,
experience or geography to provide it as ˜Mandatories on behalf of the
League™. The terms of each mandate were based on ˜the stage of the devel-
opment of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, its eco-
nomic conditions and other similar circumstances™. Some former colonies

19 Mark Carter Mills, ˜The Mandatory System™, American Journal of International Law, 17
(1923), 52.
20 This and the subsequent references to the mandates system are all taken from Article
22 of the League Covenant. The concept of civilization also appeared in Article 9 of
the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice, in an interestingly open
formula, requesting that in making appointments to the Court it should be borne in
mind that ˜in the body as a whole the representation of the main forms of civilization
and of the principal legal systems of the world should be assured™. (The same wording
was retained in Article 9 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.) Of course,
because of the restricted nature of the League, the ˜main forms of civilization™ do not
appear to have been understood very broadly. The judges and deputy judges of the ¬rst
Court of 1922 comprised one judge from the United States, two Latin Americans (Brazil
and Cuba), a Japanese, and no fewer than seven Europeans (Britain, Denmark, France,
Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland). The ¬rst Chinese and Eastern European
judges only appeared on the Court in 1931, along with a Salvadoran, a Colombian and a
German; although several of the British Dominions (including India) were League mem-
bers, I believe I am correct in saying that none of their nationals became a judge on the
PCIJ. Nowadays, the ICJ is elected on a similar regional formula to the Security Council.
For an interesting note on Article 9 presented by the delegations of Islamic states to the
San Francisco conference, see UNCIO, Documents of the United Nations Conference on
International Organization at San Francisco, 22 vols. (London: UN Information Organiza-
tion, 1945), vol. XIV, pp. 375“9, where the autonomy, originality, venerability and level
of intellectual and ethical development of Islamic law are employed to demonstrate that
the Arabic civilization and the legal system of Islam constitute ˜one of the main forms
of civilization™. It is also interesting that attempts to reduce the size of the Court were
rejected at San Francisco on the grounds that the ICJ should consist of ¬fteen judges
in order to ful¬l the demand of Article 9 to represent all the main forms of civilization
and principal legal systems of the world (ibid., p. 276). Quite why ¬fteen should be the
magic number in this respect is not made clear.
Order in contemporary world politics 133

(A Mandates), notably those in the Turkish Empire, were deemed to ˜have
reached a stage of development where their existence as independent na-
tions can be provisionally recognized™. Others, in Central Africa (Class B)
and Southwest Africa and the Paci¬c Islands (Class C) were placed under
more restrictive conditions. The latter were to be governed effectively as
parts of the mandatory state itself because, ˜owing to the sparseness of

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