«To the makers of the common peace» – this is how the book of Edward Hallett Carr «20 years of crisis» starts, and it give us immediate understanding of the content and those whom the book is written for. Additionally to say, this book is listed to be read by all international relations students, who wants to have a basis in the realm. Carr’s book is very important and can be treated as a «must to read» book fro those who working or studying in the field of IR, since it give us understanding of realism and its various transformations and IR as an autonomous discipline.
Book is divided into four chapters, each having its sub-chapters with the deep understanding of possible reasons of the crisis.
Carr starts by giving a brief background and history on the science of international politics. However, as book says to us, ordinary people thought about it, nowhere, whether in universities or in wider intellectual circles, was there organized study of current international affairs. War was still regarded mainly as the business of soldiers, and the corollary of this was the international politics,were the business of diplomats. There was no general desire to take the conduct of international affairs out of the hands of the professionals or even to pay serious and systematic attention to what they were doing. But the Fist World War made an end of the view that war is a matter which impacts only professional soldiers and, inso doing, dissolute the corresponding impression that international politics could safely be left in the hands of professional diplomats. One of the main reason for popularization of it, was an agitation against secret treaties, which were conducted during war between many counties. He touched upon the beginning of the science and its impact, and came to the point where he states that utopia and reality are two facets of political science. Sound political thought and sound political life will be found only where both have their place. Later, he became to explain antithesis of utopia and reality in different variations. The first of that was antithesis between Free Will and Determinism, where utopian is necessarily voluntarist, and realist analyses predetermined course of development which he is powerless to change.The utopian, fixing his eyes on the future, thinks in terms of creative spontaneity; the realist, rooted in the past, in terms of causality. Another example which states that of the theory and practice, where utopian makes political theory a norm to which political practice ought to conform, and realist regards political theory as a sort of codification of political practice. But what Carr offer to us, concluding this part, is that political science must be based on a recognition of the interdependence of theory and practice, which can be attained only through a combination of utopia and reality. Adding to this example we can also say the opposition between the «intellectual» and the «bureaucrat», where the former trained to think mainly on a priori lines, the latter empirically. Another antithesis which Carr suggested was of Left and Right. As he quoted in his book: «The intellectual, the man of the theory, will gravitate towards the Left just as naturally as the bureaucrat, the man of practice, will gravitate towards the Right». For example in Great Britain after 1919, Left, having enjoyed office for negligible periods, had little experience of administrative realities and became more and more party of pure theory, while the Right, having spent so little time in opposition, had few temptations to pit the perfection of theory against the imperfections of practice. Most fundamental of all antithesis’s, is between the world of value and the world of nature, already implicit in the dichotomy of purpose (ethics) and fact, is deeply embedded in the human consciousness and in political thought (politics).
Part two, titled “The International Crisis” is not just an advocation for a move towards realism, as it also points out the limitations of realism. He talks about utopian background and comes to the point of «harmony of interests». Carr wrote following in the beginning of this chapter: «Those who assert the primacy of ethics over politics will hold that it is the duty of the individual to submit for the sake of the community as a whole, sacrificing his own interest to the interest of others who are more numerous, or in some other way more deserving. The «good» which consists in self interest should be subordinated to the «good» which consists in loyalty and self sacrifice for an end higher than self interest. Those, who assert the primacy of politics over the ethics, will argue that the ruler rules beaches he its stronger, and the ruled submit because they are weaker». So, from this we can understand that obligation came from the ethic, which is rooted on the recognition that might is right. Example can be taken from Great Britain during industrialization. When this period of industrial capitalism and the class system came into being and started to dictate its rules, the harmony of interests had got their new wave of importance, where dominant groups were trying to assure their dominance by claiming that their interests are interests of all. But Later Darwinism came into being saying that, the small producer or trader was gradually being put out of business by his large-scale competitor: and this development was what progress and the welfare of the community as a whole demanded. Carr wrote that laissez-faire meant an open field, and the prize to the strongest. The doctrine of the harmony of interests underwent an almost imperceptible modification. The good of community was still identical with the good of its individual members, but only of those individuals who were effective competitors in the struggle for life.
Regarding common interest in peace, Carr writes that utopian assumption that there is a world interest in peace this is identifiable with the interest of each individual nation helped politicians and political writers everywhere to evade the unpalatable fact of a fundamental divergence of interest between nations desirous of maintaining the status quo and nations desirous of changing it.
Part three, which is named as «Politics, Power and Morality» states to talk about the nature of politics and later provide us with the power and its role. While politics cannot be satisfactorily defined exclusively in terms of power, it is safe to say that power is always an essential element of politics. Then, chapter explicitly explains different variations of power, starting with military one. The supreme importance of which lies in the fact that the ultima ratio in international relations is war. Every act of the state, in its power aspect, is directed to war, not as a desirable weapon, but as weapon which it may require in the last resort to use. And there is a quote of Clausewitz’s famous aphorism where he says that « war is nothing but the continuation of political relations by other means». Military power, being an essential element in the life of the state, becomes not only an instrument, but an end in itself.
Other type is economic power, if only its association with the military instrument. Only the most primitive kinds of warfare are altogether independent of the economic factor. Adding to that author writes about autarky, or methods by which economic power is pressed into the service of national policy. The first will contain those measures whose purpose is defined by the convenient word autarky: the second, economic measures directly designed to strengthen the national influence over other countries. So, autarky or self-sufficiency, was one of the aims of the mercantilist policy, and has indeed been pursued by states from the earliest times. It also however, not only social necessity, but an instrument of political power – form of preparedness for war. Another use of the economic weapon as an instrument of national policy, i.e. its use to acquire power and influence abroad, has been so fully recognized and freely discussed that the briefest summary will take two principal forms: the export of capital, and the control of foreign markets. So, overall we can say that power, which is an element of all political action, is one and indivisible. It uses military and economic weapons for the same ends. The strong will tend to prefer the minor and more «civilized» weapon, because it will generally suffice to achieve his purposes; and al long as it will suffice, he is under no temptation to resort to the more hazardous military weapon. But economic power cannot be isolated from military power, nor military power from economic. They are both integral parts of political power; and in the long run one helpless without the other.
Third form of power is power over opinion. The art of persuasion has always been a necessary part of the equipment of a political leader. Rhetoric has a long and honored record in the annals of statesmanship. But the popular view which regards propaganda as a distinctively modern weapon is, none the less, substantially correct. The problem of power over opinion in its modern mass form has been created by developments in economic and military technique – by the substitution of mass-production industries for individual craftsmanship and of the conscript citizen army for the volunteer professional force. Contemporary politics are vitally dependent on the opinion of large masses of more or less politically conscious people, of whom the most vocal, the most influential and the most accessible to propaganda are those who live in and around great cities. Later, related with propaganda Carr writes about it as an instrument of policy, is its national or international, about international agreements regarding propaganda, and is there truth and morality in it.
Coming to the principal of morality, he argues about monopoly of international studies between the two wars, by the utopian school resulted in a concentration f interest on discussions of the question what international morality ought ideally to be. Also, strange as it may appear, writers on international morality are not agreed among themselves and are mot always clear in their own minds whether the morality which they wish to discuss is the morality of states to the morality of individuals.
Part four talks about Law and Change. It main argument is that international law differs from the municipal law of modern states in being the law of an undeveloped and not fully integrated community. It lacks three institutions which are essential parts of any developed system of municipal law: a judicature, an executive and a legislature. International law recognizes no court competent to give on any issues of law or fact decisions recognized as binding by the community as a whole. International law has no agents competent to enforce observance of the law. Of the two main sources of law – custom and legislation, international law knows only the former, resembling in its respect the law of all primitive communities. So, in approaching the problem of the ultimate authority of law, we shall find the same fundamental divergence which we have traced in the field of politics between utopians, who think in terms of ethics, and realists who think in terms of power. Later on, Carr writes about naturalist view of law, where he sees it like utopian view of politics. Also modern view of natural law connotes no longer something external, fixed and invariable, but men’s innate feeling at any given time or place for what «just law» ought to be. Writing about foundations of law, he later continue to give examples of different treaties, judicial settlement and peaceful change.
In conclusion, Carr provide us with the prospects of a new international order. He writes about the end of old order, about role of power and morality in new international order, and will the nation survive as the Unit of Power. Adding my own comments, I can say that this book can be a good basis for those who wants to understand the politics and its components. Because of the layout of the book it was easy to follow the book, but the language which Carr used was a little bit hard, since he gave examples of many events without explaining them. So for the the person, who have no ground in international politics and don’t know history, events and their wide knowledge will be very confused. Overall, I can recommend this book to those who want to explore and widen their knowledge in International Politics.