The transformation of political community: E. H. Carr, critical theory and international relations

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Abstract

The obsolescence of war in the relations between the leading industrial powers, and the declining significance of national sovereignty in the context of globalization are frequently cited as key indicators of the steady decline of the Westphalian era. 2 The transformation of world politics has encouraged the formations of new linkages between the study of change in international relations and the normative consideration of alternative principles of world politics. Imagining new forms of political community has emerged as a major enterprise in the contemporary theory of the state and international relations. 3 In this context, E. H. Carr’s writings on the crisis of world politics in the first part of the twentieth century acquire a relevance for contemporary debates which his reputation for Realism has served to distort. His writings contain a striking analysis of the changing nature of the modern state and the possibility of new forms of political association. Carr’s observations about these subjects are as profound as they are inspiring, and they are rich in their significance for the contemporary theory and practice of international relations. They make significant contributions in three areas: the empirical analysis of the transformation of the modern state, especially but not only in Europe; the embryonic but increasingly sophisticated normative analysis of how the nation-state ought to evolve, and what it ought to become; and the evolving discussion of how the study of internation relations might be reformed to tackle the dominant moral and political questions of the epoch. These questions are concerned above all else with the metamorphosis of political community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-338
Number of pages18
JournalReview of International Studies
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1997

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