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Publisher Description

In this article I revisit some of the arguments from the beginnings of modern political theory in order to examine Robert Kagan's claim that 'today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus'. (3) Kagan's argument about the difference between Anglo-Saxon and Continental political attitudes is close to the mark, but not, as he would have it, because of the respective psychological dispositions of Americans and Europeans, whose differences in the possession of power are supposedly at the root of their comportment towards, for example, the war in Iraq. I will show how these differences can be traced to modern political philosophies. (4) However, it is not the purpose of this paper to offer another explanation as rigid as Kagan's. Instead, I point towards the different models of society which underpin the origins of modern political philosophy and show how in Kagan's work the language of power overrides the language of rights. I suggest that Kagan's view is seriously misguided. The language of rights must govern the use of power. In 2002, Kagan published an article titled 'Power and Weakness'. A year later, he extended it into the short book Of Paradise and Power. (5) According to Kagan, Europeans--mistakenly--subscribe to the Kantian notion of 'Eternal Peace' and a strategy involving negotiations, while Americans, 'mired in history', tarry in an uncertain 'Hobbesian world' where the only means to security is unrivalled military power. (6) His argument is based on Hobbes' foundational allegory which inaugurated modern Anglo-Saxon political theory. For Hobbes, to avoid death in the lawless state of nature, the only secure sphere for individuals is the state ruled by the iron hand of Leviathan. Outside of its borders, according to Hobbes, the same scenario prevails. By way of the pathetic fallacy, states become individuals, possessing human attributes such as envy, avarice and a desire to preserve their 'lives'. The nonexistence of international laws forces these 'anthropomorphic' sovereign states, taken as individuals, to co-exist in a state of nature, where a bellum omnium contra omnes, the war of all against all, rages under Behemoth and where each state must singularly make sure that it is strong enough to protect its borders to survive. Given that we are living in a global village, as Marshall McLuhan famously declared, and that we are told that the idea of economic globalization presupposes the end of the nation-state, where does Kagan's way of thinking belong? If we accept that the logic of the free market ruled by an invisible hand is another gospel of globalization, supposedly eliminating national boundaries in the name of free trade, it seems that Kagan's appropriation of the Hobbesian metaphor goes against the grain of that order in defending the idea of the American nation-state.

GENRE
Religion & Spirituality
RELEASED
2003
January 1
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
41
Pages
PUBLISHER
Arena Printing and Publications Pty. Ltd.
SELLER
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.
SIZE
236
KB

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