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Internationalism and Its Betrayal

1995
Author:

Micheline R. Ishay
Foreword by Craig Calhoun

Internationalism and Its Betrayal

Although internationalism is typically understood to be diametrically opposed to nationalism, Micheline Ishay argues to the contrary, maintaining that internationalism often incorporates an individualist element that manifests itself as nationalism during critical periods such as war. Internationalism and Its Betrayal explores the tensions and contradictions between ideas of nationalism and internationalism, focusing on the major political thinkers from the early modern period into the nineteenth century.

Although internationalism is typically understood to be diametrically opposed to nationalism, Micheline Ishay argues to the contrary, maintaining that internationalism often incorporates an individualist element that manifests itself as nationalism during critical periods such as war. Internationalism and Its Betrayal explores the tensions and contradictions between ideas of nationalism and internationalism, focusing on the major political thinkers from the early modern period into the nineteenth century.

“Micheline Ishay repappropriates the past to explore an issue of profound importance to the present. Her study of internationalism mixes extraordinary breadth with exceptional insight; its illumination of the unfinished and unrealized internationalist project provides an inspiration for all concerned with building a more humane world. Professor Ishay’s book deserves a wide audience. Read it!” Stephen Eric Bronner, Rutgers University

A new world order, proclaimed Western leaders after the cold war, could extend liberal democracy and human rights around the globe. Yet the specter of nationalism once again haunts the world, threatening to extinguish the spirit of internationalism.

Although internationalism is typically understood to be diametrically opposed to nationalism, Micheline Ishay argues to the contrary, maintaining that internationalism often incorporates an individualist element that manifests itself as nationalism during critical periods such as war. For example, the new liberal internationalism invoked after the cold war is now revealing its limits-as reflected by the UN's inability to interfere promptly to stop ethnic and nationalist conflicts in Bosnia, Rwanda, and elsewhere.

Internationalism and Its Betrayal explores the tensions and contradictions between ideas of nationalism and internationalism, focusing on the major political thinkers from the early modern period into the nineteenth century. Ishay examines the writings of Vico, Grotius, Rousseau, Kant, Paine, Robespierre, Burke, Fichte, de Maistre, and Hegel. She speaks to an audience of individuals interested in the spread of democracy, students of human rights and international relations, historians of the French Revolution, and political theorists.

Micheline Ishay was born in Tel Aviv, and raised in Israel, Luxembourg, and Brussels, Belgium. She is currently assistant professor at the Graduate School of International Studies at Denver University, where she is also serving as director of the human rights program and executive director of the Center on Rights Development. She is coeditor of The Nationalism Reader (1994).

Craig Calhoun is professor of sociology and history and director of the University Center for International Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the editor of the Contradictions of Modernity series for the University of Minnesota Press.

Internationalism and Its Betrayal

Micheline Ishay was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Israel, Luxembourg, and Brussels, Belgium. She is currently professor at the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where she is also serving as director of the international human rights program. She was coeditor of The Nationalism Reader (1994).

Craig Calhoun is the University Professor of the Social Sciences at New York University. He is also President of the Social Science Research Council.

Internationalism and Its Betrayal

“Micheline Ishay repappropriates the past to explore an issue of profound importance to the present. Her study of internationalism mixes extraordinary breadth with exceptional insight; its illumination of the unfinished and unrealized internationalist project provides an inspiration for all concerned with building a more humane world. Professor Ishay’s book deserves a wide audience. Read it!” Stephen Eric Bronner, Rutgers University

“In Internationalism and Its Betrayal, Micheline Ishay confronts the tangled relationship between nationalism and internationalism and with the sharp critical eye of a political theorist restores conceptual clarity. By carefully depicting the early debate among canonical writers like Grotius, Rousseau, Vico, Kant, Hegel and de Maistre, she not only illuminates the birth of nationalism but demonstrates persuasively that its dialectical dance with internationalism impacted crucially on the fate of liberalism. This is an important book for both students and scholars of nationalism and international politics and should be read by anyone who cares about the historical and intellectual controversies that even today continue to condition the future of democracy in the first and the third worlds.”

“Ishay traces the development of the internationalist movement from early Greek thought through the ensuing 25 centures, arguing that in the last analysis the natural law, natural rights way of understanding politics and diplomacy has been betrayed in Western intellectual circles. In the end it is Hegel who best illustrates Ishay’s thesis.” -Philosophy in Review

“Ishay argues that internationalism preceded nationalism and that it needs to be distinguished from cosmopolitanism and universalism, both of which had come earlier than internationalism.” American Journal of Sociology