New Internationalist

Towards a New Internationalism

July 2010

By Stephen Chan

This book should have chimed loudly with the world view of the New Internationalist and its readership. The author, the son of Chinese refugees, has built a glittering career in international relations and academia. His book is a re-examination of world politics which explicitly rejects a Western-centric mindset and sets out to rebut reactionary thinkers such as Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington. Chan’s central premise is that traditional philosophical thinking on world events and trends is an inadequate tool when it comes to understanding an increasingly complex and fractured planet.

In what is described as ‘a magical realist book on world politics’ the author pulls in strands of Western and Eastern philosophical and religious thinking in an attempt to synthesize a unified theory to comprehend the diversity of human cultural and social development. To expound his thesis, Chan draws upon a dizzying range of sources, from Classical Greek philosophy to Zen Buddhism, online gaming to the Persian epic The Shahnameh. Chan deserves praise for his ambition; to set oneself such a daunting task is admirable. Even an honourable failure entirely to fuse such disparate material into a cohesive whole would be worthwhile.

Unfortunately, The End of Certainty is a poorly written, windy exercise in which name-dropping of ‘public intellectuals’ jostles with uncritical repetition of mystical religiosity. No coherent case is made and we certainly do not end with any clearer notion of a ‘new internationalism’. This book, which promises much and delivers next to nothing, is a huge missed opportunity. Chan has correctly identified a problem and signally failed to offer a solution.

This column was published in the July 2010 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Towards a New Internationalism

Leave your comment







 

  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Towards a New Internationalism Fact File
Product information Zed Books ISBN 9781848134027
Star rating2

Get our free fortnightly eNews

Multimedia

Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Books

All Books

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 434

New Internationalist Magazine issue 434
Issue 434

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.

Subscribe