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Paradigms of Security

K.P. Fabian

By Aswini K. Ray
Foundation Books, Delhi, 2004, pp. 232, price not stated.


We live, or so we are told to believe, in a unipolar world. We are not supposed to question the actions of the hegemonic power in the unipolar world. The course of wisdom is to be a ‘realist’, accept the ‘facts’ as they are, and adopt a policy to make ourselves useful to the hegemon so that we might be granted a seat at the high table. Only the hegemon has the right to change the ‘facts’. We have to cross the Rubicon and throw away the values and principles that had prevented us in the past from pursuing our national interest so that we can cross faster. The vast majority of our scholars and opinion-makers have accepted the unipolar gospel with alacrity. Against such a background, it is indeed refreshing to come across the book under review.   The author argues that at the end of the Second World War “two conflicting paradigms of security, both rooted in two different strands of western political philosophy, were contesting for hegemony within the mainstream political and intellectual discourse.” One was rooted in the post-Enlightenment, liberal-humanist tradition, of philosophers like Kant, giving birth to the United Nations. The alternative paradigm of security was based on the Clausewitzian approach of considering ‘diplomacy as war by other means’ giving birth to the Cold War. That paradigm drew inspiration from Machiavelli and Nietzsche.   The UN Charter that emerged at San Francisco sought to create the institutional blueprint for a ‘democratic global order that encompassed universal normative concerns with social, economic, cultural and humanitarian underpinnings.’ The social base of ‘global military containment’ that spawned the Cold War system was rooted in the political economy of the United States. It was the ‘Power Elite’ in the US that adopted the realist paradigm that created the Cold War system.The author invokes the authority of a number of scholars and concludes that the widely accepted legend of ‘Soviet expansionism’ was a myth.   What is meant by the ‘Power Elite’? The author quotes with approval the American sociologist C.Wright Mills who describes it as “composed of men whose positions enable them to transcend the ordinary environments of ordinary men and women; they are in a position to make major decisions having major consequences…They are in command of the major hierarchies and organization of modern society. They rule the big corporation. They run the machinery of the State and ...

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