The Standard of 'Civilization' in International Society

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The Standard of 'Civilization' in International Society

By Gerrit W. Gong
Oxford/Clarendon Press, 1984
267 pp. $37.50

Those who wonder why today's world has such difficulty setting common norms of international behavior and rules of international law would do well to read this study of the 19th-century family of nations and the essentially European "standards of civilization" to which non-European nations, if they wished to join the family, were expected to conform. It describes how Turkey, China, Japan and Siam made the necessary adjustments while retaining their cultural individuality and their own concepts of international relations. Can there be universal standards of law and civilization in a world of cultural pluralism? Khomeini's Iran, among others, poses this question. This book is a fine example of the uses of history to define and illuminate a subject of great import.

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