Transcending the European State

  • Kenneth Minogue


The word ‘international’ was invented by Jeremy Bentham in 1780, and promoted to an ‘ism’ a century later, in 1877 according to the OED. It breathes the pure air of universal values, and it stands for the grand Western vision of today. It was an important component in the set of ideas which finally brought Communism down. Although Communism itself had purported to be an international movement, bringing liberation to the whole of mankind, it was actually imprisoning, and had the effect of incarcerating whole peoples behind walls, and blocking intercourse with foreigners. The Czechs, Poles, Russians and the rest yearned for the oxygen of unfettered contact with the rest of the world, especially Western Europe and America. They wanted trade, travel, tourism, talk — human, philosophical talk, not ideological cliché or the suffocating intimacies of the narrower kinds of nationalism. No doubt they wanted prosperity as well, but they knew that prosperity came from breaking down barriers between people, not erecting them. Internationalism stands, then, for one of the grand visions of contemporary life. Like all visions, it will have some bad effects. It will vulgarise and homogenise many valuable local forms. But in our generation, most people find it liberating.


European Community Political Reality Sovereign Power Grand Vision Philosophical Talk 
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  1. 1.
    For a similar argument see Richard Body, Europe of Many Circles: Constructing a Wider Europe (London: New European Publications, 1990).Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Mancur Olsen, The Rise and Decline of Nations (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1982).Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    Kenneth Minogue, ‘Loquocentricity, Society and its Critics’, Government and Opposition, Vol. 21, No. 3, Summer 1986, pp. 338–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© The Bruges Group 1992

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  • Kenneth Minogue

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