In international relations (IR), some states often deny the legal status of others, stigmatising their practices or even their culture. Such acts of deliberate humiliation at the diplomatic level are common occurrences in modern diplomacy. In the period following the breakup of the famous 'Concert of Europe', many kinds of club-based diplomacy have been tried, all falling short of anything like inclusive multilateralism. Examples of this effort include the G7, G8, G20 and even the P5. Such 'contact groups' are put forward as if they were actual ruling institutions, endowed with the power to exclude and marginalise. Today, the effect of such acts of humiliation is to reveal the international system's limits and its lack of diplomatic effectiveness. The use of humiliation as a regular diplomatic action steadily erodes the power of the international system. These actions appear to be the result of a botched mixture of a colonial past, a failed decolonisation, a mistaken vision of globalisation and a very dangerous post-bipolar reconstruction. Although this book primarily takes a social psychology approach to IR, it also mobilizes the resources of the French sociological tradition, mainly inspired by Emile Durkheim. It is translated from Le temps des humiliés. Pathologie des relations internationales (Paris, Odile Jacob, 2014).
We are told again and again that the world has become increasingly complex and indecipherable. However, this book reminds us that we are no longer alone in the world, that it is time to move away from the mental categories of the Cold War and stop treating all those who challenge our vision of the international order as guilty “deviants” or “Barbarians.” The author challenges the diplomacy of Western states, who want to continue to rule the world against history, and in particular that of France, which too often oscillates between arrogance, indecision, and ambiguity. The power play is stuck. The international order can no longer be regulated by a small club of oligarchs who exclude the weaker ones, ignore the demands of societies, and ignore the demands for justice that emerge from a new world where the actors are more numerous, more diverse and more restive to arbitrary disciplines. For this reason, this book also offers ways to think an international order that would be, if not fair, at least less unfair.
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