Constructing Global Order: Agency and Change in World Politics

In This Review

Constructing Global Order: Agency and Change in World Politics
By Amitav Acharya
Cambridge University Press, 2018
224 pp.

Most scholars believe that the modern international order was built in the West and exported to the rest of the world. After all, the Westphalian state system was invented in seventeenth-century Europe, and today’s order has Anglo-American fingerprints all over it. Acharya stresses the agency of non-Western actors and offers an alternative vision of a decentralized global system. He argues that despite their pretensions to universality, the Westphalian system and the liberal world order do not encompass the whole world. International order is contested, and countries on the receiving end of Western power often push back. Regional institutions, in particular, provide “sites for the creation and diffusion” of non-Western ideas. Yet the global pluralism that Acharya describes is closer to the open, multilayered liberal international order than he suggests.

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