In this contribution to the forum marking the publication of Andrew Linklater’s remarkable book on Violence and Civilization in the Western States-Systems we first locate the book in the context of Linklater’s overarching intellectual journey. While best known for his contribution to a critical international theory, it is through his engagement with Martin Wight’s comparative sociology of states-systems that Linklater found resonances with the work of process sociologist, Norbert Elias. Integrating Wight’s insights into the states-system with Elias’s insights into civilising processes, Violence and Civilization presents a high-level theoretical synthesis with the aim of historically tracing restraints on violence. The article identifies a tension between the cosmopolitan philosophical history which underpins the argument of the book, and which has underpinned all Linklater’s previous works, and the ‘Utrecht Enlightenment’ that offers a conception of ‘civilized statecraft’ at odds with a universal conception of morality and justice. The article then examines Linklater’s argument about the ‘global civilizing process’ as it applies to post-Second World War efforts to build greater institutional capability to protect peoples from harm. It is argued that Linklater over-estimates the extent to which solidarism has civilised international society, and that the extension of state responsibilities and development of civilised statecraft owe more to pluralism than solidarism.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 8th September 2017 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.