In 1815 the exhausted victors of the fighting that had engulfed Europe for a generation agreed to a new system for keeping the peace. Instead of independent states changing sides, doing deals and betraying one another, a new, collegial 'Concert of Europe' would ensure that the brutal chaos of the Napoleonic Wars never happened again.
Mark Mazower's remarkable new book recreates two centuries of international government - the struggle to spread values and build institutions to bring order to an anarchic and dangerous state system. It shows how what started as a European story became the framework for today's world, as free traders, communists and nationalists all put forward their own radical visions of international harmony. The fictional utopias of writers like Jules Verne and H.G.Wells k merged with the claims of Esperanto dreams of universal information science and legal codes for a tribunal for mankind. British and American statesmen threw their weight behind a single world security organisation.
Each time the world has been laid waste by a fresh bout of violent cynicism and shifting alliances, there has been a demand for something that might stare down short-term national advantage in favour of a wider, common good. Yet now, faith in the old ideas, in the future itself, and in our ability toshape our destiny through political action, is waning. Transformed out of all recognition by the overwhelming power of global finance, the very possibility of governing the world is questioned as never before.
Governing the World brilliantly brings to life how far the philosophy and politics of international cooperation have developed since Napoleon's defeat. At a time when the UN is so widely discredited, American power is waning and as unstable power blocks and short-term market forces once more threaten large parts of the world, this book could not be more timely.