on 17 December 2004
Worthy, valuable, indispensable.
For whoever is willing to take time to read between the lines, Mr Howard's contemplations on the culture of war and its implications for international order has precious things to tell. Unimpeded by the deceptions of the ephemeral, the author manages gloriously to combine succinctness in style and clarity of insight.
One key danger Howard warns against is an all too liberal economy, and the detrimental effect this may exert on the social cohesion of societies.
The substitution of post-Communist societies by nothing but market-geared mechanisms, Howard states, renders these quite powerless to counter such threats as xenophobia, authoritarianism and nationalism.
This might equally apply to any 'old' democratic country, as these are increasingly prone to pressures from within (the risk of imploding into regions) and without (how loyally is a fragmented country to relate to the all too distant Europe?). Speaking of this Europe, the author raises questions as to the time it will take a supranational authority to command a natural degree of loyalty.
And given the prospect of an even broader Union including Cyprus and Turkey, safeguarding a more or less homogeneous set of cultural values may constitute a yet more crucial concern.
Resorting to Kant's 'seed of enlightenment' as his beacon and cornerstone, Howard urges on the pivotal importance of this in countering nihilism and boredom. These threats, he fears, are lurking behind the curtains and risk fuelling militant nationalism or conspirational radicalism abroad but home as well.
Written with an inobtrusive train of thought this lucid statement is teeming with an insight of reflection that one will encounter far too rarely. It should constitute required reading to anyone with a fair amount of interest in, and care for, the world at large.