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European Universalism: The Rhetoric of Power Paperback – 1 Jan 2006


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Wallerstein argues that Western intervention around the world has been justified by appeals to notions of civilisation, development and progress, that originate from sixteenth century debates on the ethics of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. This book argues that four basic assumptions have been used to justify all subsequent 'interventions' by the 'civilized' into 'non-civilized' zones: the barbarity of others; violations of universal values; defense of innocents amoungst cruel others; and the spreading of universal values. Overshadowing the material benefits of conquest, and legitimising the build-up of military power, these arguments are portrayed as universal, encrusted in natural law and the justification for the west's self-imposed civilising mission. But, as Immanuel Wallerstein advances in this short and elegant philippic, these concepts are, in fact, not universal. Rather their genesis is firmly rooted in European thought and their primary function has been to provide justification for powerful states to impose their will against the weak under the smokescreen of what is supposed to be both beneficial to humankind and historically inevitable.

Wallerstein concludes by advocating a true universalism that will allow critical appraisal of all justifications for intervention by the powerful against the weak. At a time when such intervention - in the name of democracy and human rights - has returned to the centre stage of world politics, his treatise is both relevant and compelling.


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Powerful Work 6 Feb. 2009
By Runamuck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is presented in two parts. The first is an analysis about whether a nation-state has the right to intervene into another nation-state. The discussion that he uses is between two Spanish priests who are discussing whether they could convert the Native Americans that they had conquered.

The second part of this book takes a critical look at theory that has been developed in the "west" and then applied to the world with the believe that it is the one truth. The book although short is extremely advanced and is not a light read. I recommend this book to anyone who do not adhere to the neo-liberal thought, or who want to look at state intervention into areas that are not under the state's power. Wallerstein is not all business I even found my self chuckling in a couple of places as he mocks the more ridiculous theoretical claims. Although difficult it is a highly recommended read.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An impressive and complex study of European society 8 Jun. 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
European Universalism: The Rhetoric Power Of Immanual by Wallerstein (Senior Research Scholar at Yale, Director Emeritus of the Ferdand Braudel Center at Binghamton University, and researcher at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris) is an impressive and complex study of European society, its political and cultural paradigms and western cultural ideals. European Universalism explores the developmental attributes of the United States as an imperial power in juxtaposition to the European philosophical notions of progress and domination. A work of impressive and original scholarship, European Universalism is to be given high praise for its conceptual documentation as a comparative, eurocentric, sociological study of European and American political, cultural, and social values.
2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Happy with my purchase 26 April 2010
By Ashley Friend - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very satisfied with my purchase! I received the book quickly and it was in great condition. Thanks!
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