The Study of Man: Rethinking World Politics
THE longer the global stalemate lasts, the more obvious it becomes that the “cold war” and “coexistence” are two sides of the same coin; in the end they may come to be synonymous. Even now the arms race shows signs of bogging down in a thermonuclear deadlock, with the major powers feeling their way toward some form of limited agreement on inspection and control, while a dozen or so nations of the second and third rank are cautiously edging toward the first stage of atomic sovereignty in peace or war. Politically, the two “camps” are increasingly concerned to impress the sizeable bloc of uncommitted humanity in some of the less developed countries. While the possibility of a “showdown” continues to figure in all political calculations, emphasis is shifting to long-range perspectives; we are no longer so certain that the two blocs cannot coexist.
A situation of this kind encourages a revival of thinking about fundamentals. What sort of ground do we stand on, and wherein do we differ from our opponents? What is the irreducible minimum of consent that must be preserved if the democratic camp is to hold together? In their different ways, four significant recent books are all concerned with this theme. Two are by American, two by British authors, and the viewpoints they reflect range from moderate conservatism to Fabian socialism (with a Marxist infusion). It may be relevant to inquire whether something like a common attitude can be distilled from them.
About the Author