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Über dieses Buch

E.H. Carr's Twenty Years' Crisis is a classic work in International Relations. Published in 1939, on the eve of World War II, it was immediately recognized by friend and foe alike as a defining work in the fledgling discipline. The author was one of the most influential and controversial intellectuals of the twentieth century. The issues and themes he develops in this book continue to have relevance to modern day concerns with power and its distribution in the international system.
Michael Cox's critical introduction provides the reader with background information about the author, the context for the book, its main themes and contemporary relevance. Written with the student in mind, it offers a guide to understanding a complex, but crucial text.

Now updated with a new preface from Michael Cox.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

The Science of International Politics

Frontmatter

Chapter One. The Beginning of a Science

Abstract
The science of international politics is in its infancy. Down to 1914, the conduct of international relations was the concern of persons profession- ally engaged in it. In democratic countries, foreign policy was traditionally regarded as outside the scope of party politics; and the representative organs did not feel themselves competent to exercise any close control over the mysterious operations of foreign offices. In Great Britain, public opinion was readily aroused if war occurred in any region traditionally regarded as a sphere of British interest, or if the British navy momentarily ceased to possess that margin of superiority over potential rivals which was then deemed essential. In continental Europe, conscription and the chronic fear of foreign invasion had created a more general and continuous popular awareness of international problems. But this awareness found expression mainly in the labour movement, which from time to time passed somewhat academic resolutions against war. The constitution of the United States of America contained the unique provision that treaties were concluded by the President ‘by and with the advice and consent of the Senate’. But the foreign relations of the United States seemed too parochial to lend any wider significance to this exception. The more picturesque aspects of diplomacy had a certain news value. But nowhere, whether in universities or in wider intellectual circles, was there organized study of current international affairs. War was still regarded mainly as the business of soldiers; and the corollary of this was that international politics were the business of diplomats. There was no general desire to take the conduct of international affairs out of the hands of the professionals or even to pay serious and systematic attention to what they were doing.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Two. Utopia and Reality

Abstract
The antithesis of utopia and reality – a balance always swinging towards and away from equilibrium and never completely attaining it – is a fundamental antithesis revealing itself in many forms of thought. The two methods of approach – the inclination to ignore what was and what is in contemplation of what should be, and the inclination to deduce what should be from what was and what is – determine opposite attitudes towards every political problem. ‘It is the eternal dispute’, as Albert Sorel puts it, ‘between those who imagine the world to suit their policy, and those who arrange their policy to suit the realities of the world.’1 It may be suggestive to elaborate this antithesis before proceeding to an examination of the current crisis of international politics.
E. H. Carr

The International Crisis

Frontmatter

Chapter Three. The Utopian Background

Abstract
The modern school of utopian political thought must be traced back to the break-up of the mediaeval system, which presupposed a universal ethic and a universal political system based on divine authority. The realists of the Renaissance made the first determined onslaught on the primacy of ethics and propounded a view of politics which made ethics an instrument of politics, the authority of the state being thus substituted for the authority of the church as the arbiter of morality. The answer of the utopian school to this challenge was not an easy one. An ethical standard was required which would be independent of any external authority, ecclesiastical or civil; and the solution was found in the doctrine of a secular ‘law of nature’ whose ultimate source was the individual human reason. Natural law, as first propounded by the Greeks, had been an intuition of the human heart about what is morally right. ‘It is eternal’, said Sophocles' Antigone, ‘and no man knows whence it came.’ The Stoics and the mediaeval schoolmen identified natural law with reason; and in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries this identification was revived in a new and special form. In science, the laws of nature were deduced by a process of reasoning from observed facts about the nature of matter. By an easy analogy, the Newtonian principles were now applied to the ethical problems. The moral law of nature could be scientifically established; and rational deduction from the supposed facts of human nature took the place of revelation or intuition as the source of morality. Reason could determine what were the universally valid moral laws; and the assumption was made that, once these laws were determined, human beings would conform to them just as matter conformed to the physical laws of nature. Enlightenment was the royal road to the millennium.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Four. The Harmony of Interests

Abstract
No political society, national or international, can exist unless people submit to certain rules of conduct. The problem why people should submit to such rules is the fundamental problem of political philosophy. The problem presents itself just as insistently in a democracy as under other forms of government and in international as in national politics; for such a formula as 'the greatest good of the greatest number' provides no answer to the question why the minority, whose greatest good is ex hypothesi not pursued, should submit to rules made in the interest of the greatest number. Broadly speaking, the answers given to the question fall into two categories, corresponding to the antithesis, discussed in a previous chapter, between those who regard politics as a function of ethics and those who regard ethics as a function of politics.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Five. The Realist Critique

Abstract
For reasons explained in a previous chapter, realism enters the field far behind utopianism and by way of reaction from it. The thesis that ‘justice is the right of the stranger’ was, indeed, familiar in the Hellenic world. But it never represented anything more than the protest of an uninfluential minority, puzzled by the divergence between political theory and political practice. Under the supremacy of the Roman Empire, and later of the Catholic Church, the problem could hardly arise; for the political good, first of the empire, then of the church, could be regarded as identical with moral good. It was only with the break-up of the mediaeval system that the divergence between political theory and political practice became acute and challenging. Machiavelli is the first important political realist.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Six. The Limitations of Realism

Abstract
The exposure by realist criticism of the hollowness of the utopian edifice is the first task of the political thinker. It is only when the sham has been demolished that there can be any hope of raising a more solid structure in its place. But we cannot ultimately find a resting place in pure realism; for realism, though logically overwhelming, does not provide us with the springs of action which are necessary even to the pursuit of thought. Indeed, realism itself, if we attack it with its own weapons, often turns out in practice to be just as much conditioned as any other mode of thought. In politics, the belief that certain facts are unalterable or certain trends irresistible commonly reflects a lack of desire or lack of interest to change or resist them. The impossibility of being a consistent and thorough-going realist is one of the most certain and most curious lessons of political science. Consistent realism excludes four things which appear to be essential ingredients of all effective political thinking: a finite goal, an emotional appeal, a right of moral judgement and a ground for action.
E. H. Carr

Politics, Power and Morality

Frontmatter

Chapter Seven. The Nature of Politics

Abstract
Man has always lived in groups. The smallest kind of human group, the family, has clearly been necessary for the maintenance of the species. But so far as is known, men have always from the most primitive times formed semi-permanent groups larger than the single family; and one of the functions of such a group has been to regulate relations between its members. Politics deals with the behaviour of men in such organized permanent or semi-permanent groups. All attempts to deduce the nature of society from the supposed behaviour of man in isolation are purely theoretical, since there is no reason to assume that such a man ever existed. Aristotle laid the foundation of all sound thinking about politics when he declared that man was by nature a political animal.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Eight. Power in International Politics

Abstract
Politics are, then, in one sense always power politics. Common usage applies the term ‘political’ not to all activities of the state, but to issues involving a conflict of power. Once this conflict has been resolved, the issue ceases to be ‘political’ and becomes a matter of administrative routine. Nor is all business transacted between states ‘political’. When states cooperate with one another to maintain postal or transport services, or to prevent the spread of epidemics or suppress the traffic in drugs, these activities are described as ‘non-political’ or ‘technical’. But as soon as an issue arises which involves, or is thought to involve, the power of one state in relation to another, the matter at once becomes ‘political’. While politics cannot be satisfactorily defined exclusively in terms of power, it is safe to say that power is always an essential element of politics. In order to understand a political issue, it is not enough (as it would be in the case of a technical or a legal issue) to know what the point at issue is. It is necessary also to know between whom it has arisen. An issue raised by a small number of isolated individuals is not the same political fact as the same issue raised by a powerful and well-organized trade union. A political issue arising between Great Britain and Japan is something quite different from what may be formally the same issue between Great Britain and Nicaragua. ‘Politics begin where the masses are,’ said Lenin, ‘not where there are thousands, but where there are millions, that is where serious politics begin.’1
E. H. Carr

Chapter Nine. Morality in International Politics

Abstract
The place of morality in international politics is the most obscure and difficult problem in the whole range of international studies. Two reasons for its obscurity, one general and one particular, may be suggested.
E. H. Carr

Laws and Change

Frontmatter

Chapter Ten. The Foundations of Law

Abstract
No topic has been the subject of more confusion in contemporary thought about international problems than the relationship between politics and law. There is, among many people interested in international affairs, a strong inclination to treat law as something independent of, and ethically superior to, politics. ‘The moral force of law’ is contrasted with the implicitly immoral methods of politics. We are exhorted to establish ‘the rule of law’, to maintain ‘international law and order’ or to ‘defend international law’; and the assumption is made that, by so doing, we shall transfer our differences from the turbulent political atmosphere of self-interest to the purer, serener air of impartial justice. Before adhering to these popular conceptions, we must examine rather carefully the nature and function of law in the international community and its relation to international politics.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Eleven. The Sanctity of Treaties

Abstract
One of the functions of law necessary to civilized life is to protect rights which have been created by private contracts concluded in a manner recognized by the law as valid. International law upholds, with some reservations, rights created by international treaties and agreements. This principle is essential to the existence of any kind of international community and is, as we have seen, recognized in theory by all states. The fact that the only written obligations of states are those contained in treaties, and that customary international law is limited in scope and sometimes uncertain in content, has given to treaties a more prominent place in international law than is occupied by contracts in municipal law.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Twelve. The Judicial Settlement of International Disputes

Abstract
Besides upholding legal rights, the law provides machinery for settling disputes about these rights. The jurisdiction of national courts is compulsory. Any person cited before a court must enter an appearance or lose his case by default; and the decision of the court is binding on all concerned.
E. H. Carr

Chapter Thirteen. Peaceful Change

Abstract
Recognition of the need for political change has been a commonplace of thinkers of every period and every shade of opinion. ‘A state without the means of some change’, said Burke in a famous phrase, ‘is without the means of its own conservation.’1 In 1853, Marx wrote trenchantly on the Eastern question:
E. H. Carr

Conclusion

Frontmatter

Chapter Fourteen. The Prospects of a New International Order

Abstract
Periods of crisis have been common in history. The characteristic feature of the crisis of the twenty years between 1919 and 1939 was the abrupt descent from the visionary hopes of the first decade to the grim despair of the second, from a utopia which took little account of the reality to a reality from which every element of utopia was rigorously excluded. The mirage of the nineteen-twenties was, as we now know, the belated reflexion of a century past beyond recall – the golden age of continuously expanding territories and markets, of a world policed by the self-assured and not too onerous British hegemony, of a coherent ‘Western’ civilization whose conflicts could be harmonized by a progressive extension of the area of common development and exploitation, of the easy assumptions that what was good for one was good for all and that what was economically right could not be morally wrong.
E. H. Carr

Backmatter

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