(image source: CUP)
As scholars and citizens, we are predisposed to think of war as a profoundly destructive activity that ideally should be abolished altogether. Yet before the twentieth century, war was widely understood as a productive force in human affairs that should be harnessed for the purposes of creating peace and order. Analyzing how the concept of war has been used in different contexts from the seventeenth to the late nineteenth century, Jens Bartelson addresses this transition by inquiring into the underlying and often unspoken assumptions about the nature of war, and how these have shaped our understanding of the modern political world and the role of war within it. He explores its functions in the process of state making and in the creation of the modern international system to bring the argument up to date to the present day, where war is now on the centre stage of world politics.Critical endorsement:
'War is not only enforcement of legal or moral norms, or a 'contest of arms'. It is also a powerful tool of worldmaking. In this insightful study Jens Bartelson gives a historical account of the worlds that ambitious men from the early seventeenth century to the present have tried to put in place by war - worlds of state power, but also of imperial ordering and cultural and racial hierarchy. Every international order we know is built on violence - but every violence has been accompanied by its distinctive view of order. By historicizing war’s order-creating force, Bartelson not only provides a new reading of its role in international history, but invites us to examine critically the worlds proposed to us by the many forms of today’s international violence.' (Martti Koskenniemi)Read more on Cambridge Core.