Monday, April 20, 2020

David Martin Jones's "History’s Fools"

David Martin Jones is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Queensland, and Visiting Professor in War Studies, King's College London. His works include Sacred Violence: Political Religion in a Secular Age. He is a contributor to The Daily Telegraph, War on the Rocks, The Australian and The Spectator (Australia).

Jones applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, History's Fools: The Pursuit of Idealism and the Revenge of Politics, and reported the following:
Page 99 of History’s Fools discusses the growing tension between US and European approaches to just war, international law and multilateral institutions after 9/11 and particularly after the Iraq War (2003). It observes that a hitherto neglected unilateralist tradition in United States’ foreign policy reasserted itself after 2001. It clashed with the dominant liberal or Wilsonian approach to foreign policy during and after the Cold War that promoted international institutions, liberal norms and human rights to advance an enlightened conception of both the national interest and the global order. This liberal tradition accommodated and endorsed the evolving European Union approach to international affairs, as that federation came to define itself after 1993. This liberal institutional perspective, premised on the need for negotiated consensus before resolutions could be passed, or actions taken, morphed in the last decade of the twentieth century, into an idealist practice to advance universal norms and international law.

This page captures a dominant theme in the book, namely how a progressive worldview transformed politics, economics and international relations after 1990. This evolving orthodoxy assumed that history was driven, by the West, in a coherent direction where ideological conflict abated and liberal democracy constituted the best possible solution to the human problem. History had ended with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and a new world order founded on liberal secularism, economic globalization and international law would regulate an increasingly borderless and enlightened secular future. Or so it seemed.

Thirty years later, this progressive vision, premised on shared norms, open markets, open borders and an abstract commitment to social justice lay in tatters. The post-historical order that lay before us, lay like a land of dreams, mutated after 2016 into a darkling plain where an exhausted West struggled to contend with ignorant armies and new geopolitical forces clashing by night.

History’s Fools examines the economic preconditions of this idealist vision, its political and international lineaments and the challenges in the form of new political religions and financial crises that it dismissed, but which ultimately undermined it. It also considers the resources the West might have to revive in order to live with particularism and contingency in a new age of anxiety.
Visit David Martin Jones's website.

--Marshal Zeringue