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This book is a systematic investigation of the origins and nature of the international society of today. The work of a study group of distinguished scholars, it examines comprehensively the expansion of the international society of European states across the rest of the globe, and its subsequent transformation from a society fashioned in Europe and dominated by Europeans into today's global international society of nearly two hundred states, the great majority of which are not European.
The first section describes the predominance of the European system in a floodtide of expansion from the sixteenth century onwards, which united the whole world for the first time in a single economic, strategic, and political unit. The process whereby non-European states came to take their place as members of the same society, accepting its rules and institutions, is the subject of the second part; and the third section examines the repudiation of European, Russian, and American domination by states and peoples of the Third World and the consequent movement away from a system based on European hegemony. The last part is concerning with the new international order that has emerged from the ebb tide of European dominance, and focuses on a central question. Has the geographical expansion of international society led to a contradiction of the consensus about common interests, rules, and institutions on which an international society proper must rest? Or can we say that the old European
system has been modified and developed in such a way that a new, genuinely universal, and non-hegemonial structure for international relations has taken root?
A new foreword by Andrew Hurrell examines the impact of this seminal work and sets its continued contribution in context.