Cosmopolis: Prospects for World Government

In This Review

Cosmopolis: Prospects for World Government

By Danilo Zolo
Polity Press, 1997
197 pp. $64.95

The author makes a provocative and convincing argument that most schemes for world order, from the League of Nations and the United Nations to more recent grandiose world-order visions of the scholars Norberto Bobbio and Richard Falk, are fundamentally flawed, not just because member states implemented or would implement them poorly, but in principle. All wrongly see the fundamental cause of war and conflict as the "anarchic" system of nation-states, and the ideal solution as the erecting of a centralized, supranational sovereign with a monopoly of force that can intervene to impose order. Zolo argues that such a structure is simply an updated version of the Holy Alliance: the concentration of power will inevitably be enlisted to serve the hegemonic interests of those at the top. The way to world order is not, therefore, in giving up more power to the U.N. secretary general, or strict U.N. Charter constructionism, but in the better distribution of power through the international system.

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