This coming September I will be teaching my Global Politics of the End of the World (As We Know It) course again. This will be the third time I have taught this senior undergraduate course, although this time it will be taught in the aftermath of a real live existential crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet, if the major threats now facing the world were turned into a computer game COVID-19 would be the tutorial level. This is not to downplay the suffering and long-lasting effects of the pandemic, but rather to play up how much bigger and more complex are the other problems on the horizon. We have been dealing with pandemics for millennia, and we have a history of finding solutions. It is also a danger that attracts our immediate attention. Beyond this tutorial level, though, there are threats that are both novel and of a type that our current institutions are not equipped to deal with. Continue reading “ON TEACHING THE END OF THE WORLD REDUX: ADD COVID-19 AND STIR”
If the power relations of Europe in 1938 made it inevitable that Czecho-Slovakia should lose part of its territory and eventually her independence, it was preferable … that this should come about as a result of discussions round a table in Munich…
E. H. Carr, 1939 edition of The Twenty Years’ Crisis.
In the circumstances of Europe to-day the problem of the Historic Provinces [of the Bohemian Crown] cannot be satisfactorily solved.
Elizabeth Wiskemann, Czechs and Germans, 1938.
2019 is the eightieth anniversary of E. H. Carr’s book The Twenty Years’ Crisis. What better way to celebrate the occasion than showing how a book published the year before by Elizabeth Wiskemann had already undermined Carr’s solution for the peace of Central Europe.
Continue reading “CZECHS & GERMANS: ELIZABETH WISKEMANN & THE TWENTY YEARS’ CRISIS”
In the Fall semester of 2018 I taught a new course entitled The Global Politics of the End of the World (As We Know It). What follows is my account of teaching this course, informed by student comments and suggestions.
Continue reading “ON TEACHING THE END OF THE WORLD”
The Russo-Japanese War now gives to all an awareness that even war and peace in Europe – its destiny – isn’t decided between the four walls of the European concert, but outside it, in the gigantic maelstrom of world and colonial politics.
– Rosa Luxemburg
Industrialisation does not get much of a look-in during introductions to International Relations (IR) courses. In fact, outside of International Political Economy, IR seems happier ignoring the nineteenth century. There are, of course, exceptions, of which Mitzen (2013) and Buzan and Lawson (2015) are good examples. In this blog I want to look more closely at one aspect of the way that industrialisation shaped the global order: how its creation of raw material needs fed into imperialism.
Continue reading “INDUSTRIALISATION, IMPERIALISM, AND RAW MATERIALS.”
In 2016 five scholars published a paper on planet politics that criticized International Relations (IR) for not taking the Anthropocene and environmental concerns seriously (Burke et al, 2016). Written in the form of a manifesto, their criticisms of IR were timely. Since the 1950s IR, especially in its US form, was driven by immediate Cold War concerns of security and relations between great powers. Yet this IR of the later twentieth century superseded a more materialist IR that had flourished in the first half of the century. Part of this materialist tradition can be found in works of international political economy written by the likes of Norman Angell, H. N. Brailsford, Mary Parker Follett, Paul Reinsch, Helena Swanwick, and Thomas Parker Moon. Another part is made up of the international political geographers that were inspired By Ellen Churchill Semple’s imaginative adaptation of the work of Friedrich Ratzel.
Political geography in the interwar period was one of the major sources of thinking about the international order. Premised on the importance of human interactions with space and the physical world, political geographers pondered questions of technology, raw material spread, land use, and the effects of state-building and imperialism. In this sense there was a planet politics in IR before 1950. Perhaps the best example of this comes from the work of the Harvard-base political geographer Derwent Whittlesey. Continue reading “PLANET POLITICS IN EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS. DERWENT WHITTLESEY’S ENVIRONMENTALIST POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY”