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can acquire property rights in the law of nations under certain speci¬c
circumstances. I explained that, contrary to popular belief, these were
not re¬‚ections of a nostalgic medievalism or an idealistic utopianism in
Grotius™s thought, soon to be superseded by more modern and more
pragmatic scholarship on the balance of power and positive international

145
146 Beyond the anarchical society

law. Both of Grotius™s core ideas were picked up and developed further
by subsequent theorists of the law of nations, and remained prominent in
modern international legal thought at least until the early twentieth cen-
tury. Grotius™s views on sovereignty and individuals™ rights came to be
employed, however, within the context of a radically different method-
ological and philosophical approach to the study of international law.
Grotius himself believed that he was describing a universal normative
order, applicable to all peoples, including Europeans. During the eigh-
teenth and nineteenth centuries, international lawyers began to accept
the increasingly obvious fact that European states were following one le-
gal code in their relations among themselves, and a different one in their
relations with other peoples. The speci¬c Grotian propositions about the
content of the law of nations became most closely associated with the
latter pattern of legal order, and a discriminatory distinction between
˜civilized™ and ˜uncivilized™ peoples began to be employed to rationalize
the differences between the two legal codes.
I have also tried to explain how the extra-European pattern of interna-
tional order operated and why it developed in such a different way from
the European states-system. In Europe, as absolutist monarchs gradually
consolidated their grip on their own dynastic possessions, they increas-
ingly adopted a practice of mutual recognition among themselves. In
part, they wanted to undermine the international status of other sub or
suprastate actors, but once this had been achieved they maintained the
practice both so as to provide a foundation for resisting potentially hege-
monic members of the society of states and to reduce the risks that a
con¬‚ict among themselves might arise because of political or cultural dif-
ferences. International circumstances were very different beyond Europe:
here, European states™ primary interest was to maximize their economic
opportunities through the control of trade. In North America, this largely
involved the establishment of colonial settlements; in the East Indies, it
principally involved making exclusive trading agreements with indigenous
rulers, and in time the acquisition of sovereign prerogatives from those
rulers so as to give European trading corporations legitimate authority
to use violence to protect their monopolies and extract even more rev-
enue through new taxation systems. In both cases, international relations
involved the division of sovereignty between different public authori-
ties and the assertion of individuals™ rights to appropriate unoccupied,
uncultivated or unimproved land.
While the goal of pro¬t and revenue maximization never went away,
as the extra-European pattern of order was consolidated during the eigh-
teenth and nineteenth centuries another goal began to assume equal
importance: the project of bringing the bene¬ts of ˜civilization™ to
Conclusion 147

uncultivated wildernesses and ˜backward™ peoples. The project of civ-
ilization had two main components: the promotion of economic and
technological progress, and the establishment of good government in
a more political and judicial sense. This new mission developed in par-
allel with the new international political and legal theories that discrimi-
nated between Europeans or whites and the rest of the world, and which
now provided a potent justi¬cation for the increasingly systematic treat-
ment of the sovereignty of indigenous rulers as divisible, and for the
massive interventions through which colonial administrators developed
new property systems and corrected what they saw as corruption, despo-
tism or maladministration. By the late nineteenth century, there was a
very clear division in the world between two different patterns of polit-
ical and legal order. Within Europe, international order was supposed
to provide for peaceful coexistence in an anarchic and plural world by
encouraging toleration: the fundamental norm governing relations be-
tween European states was therefore the reciprocal recognition of each
state™s equality and independence with regard to its territorial sovereignty.
Beyond Europe, international order was intended to promote civilization:
the fundamental norm governing relations between European states and
non-European peoples was that the latter were backward and that some
of the sovereign prerogatives of indigenous rulers ought to be held by
more advanced Europeans in order to introduce the economic, political
and judicial bene¬ts of civilized life.
The ¬nal step in my argument was to explain how this division of
the world into two patterns of political and legal order has collapsed, to
be replaced by a single global order. The pivotal development here was
the gradual erosion of the discriminatory distinction between European
peoples as civilized and non-European peoples as backward. Although
I do not want to disrespect the formidable efforts that the latter made
to secure their recognition on the world stage, nor the assistance given
to them by the Soviet Union and other communist states, I think that,
nevertheless, the most decisive development here was the decline in the
self-assurance of the Europeans themselves; to paraphrase Lenin, revolu-
tionary changes happen when the old regime decides it cannot continue
to go on in the same old way. The experience of the two wars against
Germany, and especially the struggle against the Nazi version of the doc-
trine of white supremacy, led the major European powers to question
their belief in their destiny as the bringers of civilization to the rest of the
world. What replaced the old doctrine, however, was not a rejection of
civilization as such, so much as the idea that it had to be pursued within
the context of a more tolerant global order. The construction of the UN
system represented an attempt to bring the two major purposes of modern
148 Beyond the anarchical society

international order together in a single political and legal framework that
would be founded on the principle of reciprocal respect for the territo-
rial sovereignty of all peoples, but would nevertheless continue to work
to promote the goals of economic and technological progress, good gov-
ernment and individuals™ rights that would bring about a more civilized
world.
For all its noble intentions, the attempt to construct a global order on
those terms has left us with a host of questions about how international
affairs should be conducted. Toleration and civilization were fundamen-
tally different purposes of international order, and the effort to realize
both at the same time has led to serious tensions, or even contradictions,
in the internal structure of the contemporary international political and
legal framework. Precisely how should the line be drawn between the
rights of states to an inviolable domestic jurisdiction and the role that
international organizations are supposed to play in protecting the rights
of citizens against their own governments? How many of their sovereign
prerogatives should states be required to give up to global or regional
organizations in order to secure the bene¬ts of economic and technologi-
cal development? How far should international organizations go in trying
to promote good government within states? Do all nations deserve to
have their right to self-determination recognized, or should recognition
be made contingent on the establishment of a particular kind of govern-
ment that ¬ts in with long-standing ideas about civilized administration
and judicial practice?
Scholars have been grappling with precisely these problems for the last
¬fty years. But in my view far too much of the current literature has treated
them in a way that obscures their origins, and therefore makes it hard to
appreciate precisely what is at stake in the dilemmas that we face. What
is particularly damaging is the persistent tendency to think about the
contradictory nature of contemporary political and legal order in terms
of the emergence of a new kind of ˜post-Westphalian™ order, which is
gradually superseding the old society of states. I think that that point of
view is completely wrong. The pattern of order that is challenging the
idea of state sovereignty today is as old as the society of states itself, and
there is nothing new about the notion that the sovereignty of states should
be compromised by a higher structure of international organization that
facilitates the promotion of economic progress, good government and
individuals™ rights. Indeed, if anything is new about the world we live in
today, it is not so much the assertion of these ˜post-Westphalian™ prin-
ciples as goals of international order but the increasing importance of
the ˜Westphalian™ principle of toleration in relations between European
and non-European states. To suggest that the ˜Westphalian system™ is
Conclusion 149

collapsing is to give that system an importance that it had never had in
the past, except if one myopically concentrates on the historical experi-
ence of European states, and it is to misread the role that its core goal
of promoting toleration has played in the construction of a global order
during the twentieth century. The increasingly popular suggestion that
we are witnessing the emergence of a ˜new medievalism™ is similarly un-
helpful: the world we live in today is trapped within a dichotomy that,
with the subtraction of pseudo-scienti¬c theories of racial discrimination,
is unambiguously modern.
Moreover, by exaggerating the novelty of the idea of civilization as a
goal of international order today, much of the contemporary scholarship
gives that idea a pristine moral quality that it really does not deserve. It
is too easy to suppose that, because these are ˜new™ dimensions of in-
ternational order, they represent a step towards the realization of some
idealistic or utopian vision for world politics. I ought to make it clear that
I am not suggesting that the current project of building a global civiliza-
tion is automatically tainted just because it was associated in the past with
European imperialism. Nevertheless, the adoption of a deeper historical
perspective inevitably raises some awkward questions about the civilizing
mission to which international order is currently dedicated, and it is not
a proper response simply to pretend that those questions do not exist be-
cause the idea of human rights was only asserted in international relations
after 1945, or because the division of sovereignty in contemporary in-
ternational organizations is an unprecedented phenomenon. Personally,
I have a great deal of sympathy with both the promotion of human rights
and the further development of supranational organizations, but I think
that their defenders should still face up to the long and not always at-
tractive history of these features of order in modern world politics, and
perhaps moderate some of their enthusiasm accordingly.
The fundamental question that we face today is whether it is possi-
ble to pursue both of the purposes of modern international order, as the
UN system tries to do, without ultimately being forced either to choose
between them or to return to something like the discriminatory way of re-
solving their mutual contradictions that characterised nineteenth-century
scholarship and diplomatic practice: can we still have the modern pat-
terns of order in world politics with a post-modern method of making
them coherent? I realize that this is an extremely dif¬cult question, and
the analysis I have presented here is merely intended to demonstrate its
long-standing seriousness for experts on international relations, rather
than point to any easy solutions. But the only hope of ¬nding a solution
to contemporary problems is to realize how complex and enduring they
are, rather than explaining them away by pretending that we are now
150 Beyond the anarchical society

confronted with a novel dilemma that never occurred to anyone in the
past. That is a form of escapism that promises nothing; indeed, it runs
the risk that we will just end up repeating the same demands for new
thinking that have been made by political and legal theorists for at least a
hundred years. The starting-point for understanding what kind of world
order we have today, and what the possibilities are for the future, is to
understand the bifurcated, contradictory and discriminatory nature of
international order in the past. As I have shown here, we cannot do that
if we continue to accept the tired old conventional wisdoms about the
Westphalian system and the ˜anarchical society™ of sovereign states. The
new study of order in world politics that I have presented here may not be
perfect, and I fully expect that it could be extended and re¬ned in all sorts
of ways, but at least it is a start in trying to develop a better appreciation
of the challenges that are our legacy from the modern world.
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