Broken Promises Arjun Appadurai Foreign Policy, No. 132. (Sep. - Oct., 2002), pp. 42-44.

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At the national and community level. author of No Logo. 2001). The moral promise of the idea of the international community rests on a moral premise and a wish. rhythms. the medium-sized Brazilian city of Porto Alegre has become a byword for the spirit of this burgeoning global community. Yet there is something compellingly real about this misnamed object. Now taking place annually. 2002-more than three times the number attending in 2001. corporate-driven globalization is creating instability and resentments that in turn can give way to fascist.000 people flocked to this coastal city from January 31 to February 5. and strategies. it does not exist in any recognizable organizational form. Thai farmers. It is not a community because it has little to do with social relations." some 50. Among the shared understandings emerging from this enterprise are two approaches. trade unionists. and-as in the 1930s-the purveyors of irrationality and nihilism. - Arjun Appadurai is the William K. The price of failure would be high. professor of international studies at Yale University. demagogues of the religious and radical right. (Naomi Klein. and indigenous people from Central America. Sometime in the period after the birth of the League of Nations. a deep battle has raged between these two visions of politics beyond the nation-one fundamentally realist and instrumental. a decisive shift took place away from the notion that relations between nations were fundamentally premised on power and interest and toward the idea that all nations could form some sort of genuine moral system on a planetary scale. the Porto Alegre forum performs three functions for the real global community. It is not international because. with multiple checks and balances-will the citizens and communities of the South and North find ways to develop based on their own unique values. Seattle symbolized the first major victory of the transnational anticorporate globalization movement. Lanman Jr. In the early 20th century. the other moral and . Galvanized by the slogan "another world is possible. as a moral idea. it represents a physical and temporal space for this diverse movement to meet. it enables the movement to gather the energies needed to escalate the struggle against the processes and structures of global capitalism. and solidarity. Ever since.===I- What Is the International Community? The site of the World Social Forum in 2001 and 2002. He is the author of Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Porto Alegre provides a venue for the movement to debate the vision. this effort is about reembedding the economy in society rather than letting the economy drive society. and fortified by the ascendance of the idea of human rights in the international order after World War 11. the global context must move from a centralized governance regime that imposes rules in the service of one model of economic growth to a pluralistic system in which institutional power and global economic governance are decentralized. more pluralistic. The alternative is to see the vacuum filled by terrorists. the movement's goal must be to consciously subordinate the logic of the market and the pursuit of cost efficiency to the values of security.S. network. The pilgrims included Indian fisherfolk. First. In the language of the great social democratic scholar Karl Polanyi. fanatical. The forces representing human solidarity and true community must step in quickly to convince the disenchanted masses that a better world is possible. By Arjun Appadurai he international community is neither international nor a community. That reality lies in its moral promise. For this dynamic to unfold. and authoritarian populist impulses. equity. Today. less structured. and affirm itself. The emergence of the United Nations and its affiliated agencies was the main expression of this shift. 1996) and editor of Globalization (Durham: Duke University Press. and institutions of an alternative world order. Only in such a global context-more fluid. U. values. the revolutionary theorist Rosa Luxemburg warned that the future might belong to barbarism. Second. spatial intimacy.") And third. put it well when she told the Porto Alegre participants that the movement needs "less civil society and more civil disobedience. or long-term moral amity. but Porto Alegre represents the transfer to the South of that movement's center of gravity.

national economy. the challenge for the interstrong democratic polities with high standards of liv. The social expression of this moral slogan is. Rather. The the League of Nations or the Bretton Woods conexclusivity of the interis single strongest of national community is sensus. peace. Even a ical affiliations are plainly transnational in scope? the slogan liberal . economies. if nothing else states of the common humanity of their citizens and because its runaway financial engine can hardly of the essential decencies that must guide relations function wholly within the confines of the U." always behaved-carvnations. Yet its political exclusiveness is national community. when markets. ests. new ideas about global governance are percent. The world needs global organinational organizations zations and transnationthat either came out of a1 arenas for citizenship "The international community. It is the single strongest slogan of the liberal value of empathy at a distance. regional polities. land. and politregulative capabilities of most nation-states. Diasporic affiliations and nation-state? Can the world continue to behave as mobile. Rather. In this sense. intertheir allegiance to multiple forms of citizenship. water.moralistic. notably those in ing up the world in the N o r t h America a n d names of their own civWestern Europe. logical resources. and interventionist opinion makers. the inter.national community is to transform itself into an ing for the bulk of their citizens.continue to behave as if nations are the most sigphalian. and freedom remain regulated by the relations between global economic regimes. Chinese emigrants. instrument of global governance. bureaucrats. what of the premise and promise of the intergroup of politicians. migrants. and money have bad news for polities. the idea and in the chambers of the technocrats. ~ u for most of t the world. of course. not completely ephemeral.tional conceptual foundation.debates about an institution such as the World Trade Organization are more than indicators of resistance fering and needs of all human beings. when the fate of the environment Indian techno-coolies. and ingly transnational loyalties.lenges: Can notions of global equity. conscience more than a political or legal formation? The central problem is that the international Those who today speak on behalf of the internacommunity today is a Westphalian form struggling tional community must tackle the following chalto remain the ruling authority in an era of increas. which have combined relatively ilizing missions. This objective canThus. owe is clearly affected by transnational processes.. More generally. And even among the upper 20 view. which is now strikingly beyond the where various forms of religious. and societies con. media-linked communities of migrants are if covenants between nations exhaust the limits of redrawing the relationships of location and affilia. as a social and political reality. the internanot just one more chaptional community is less ter in the story of how the value of a community than a club wealthy nations have for the world's wealthiest at a distance. and all other biotion. and sovereignty. It appears in a They are symptoms of the impossibility of constructing new global organizations on an internaweb of relations and institutions defined by those nations springing directly from the democratic rev. Sri Lankan Tamils.what happens with air. Each of these trends is nations. and profit-making strategies? Can the world Their mental geography is surely no longer West. to reform or of anti-Americanism in many quarters.escapes the net of the global economy.not be achieved by stretching the current liberal national community does not inspire any real sense vision of international law and a common humanof ownership among the poorer 80 percent of the ity to accommodate more countries and points of world's population. as primarily a landscape of not its most difficult challenge.S. The international community is today nation as wealthy as the United States no longer less a social fact and more a way to remind nation.coming to an end. both on the street between nations. Kurds. moral.all slipped substantially beyond the control of the ceived in national terms. each in their own way. it remains a network for a relatively small a prerequisite for tackling the problem of inclusion. olutions of the 18th century-along with their direct A certain vision of internationalism is therefore supporters outside this original set-and those inter. the fraught that makes everyone feel obliged to recognize the suf. So.. these communities mimic the nificant receptacles of large-scale loyalty in a world global market.

of Yugoslav troops stationed within Bosnia. fearful of deriding the word of a sovereign Council on Foreign Relations Press.-brokered plan for a national referendum on independence-a plan pushed by Ruth Wedgwood is professor of law at Yale University and Portugal and accepted by Indonesia's remarkable President B. and Khmer territorial redoubt.deaths or shorten the war. I whose . still leaving behind only a few human rights workers. secretariat still felt unable to make low at the Council on Foreign Relations and editor of After any plans to summon deterrent military commitDayton: Lessons of the Bosnian Peace Process (New York: ments.N. opting to exclude thousands of lightly armed blue berets and election pendence. their lot with Serbia.Ranariddh and rebuffed a prolonged attempt to tional community would back him up with military organize a joint war crimes tribunal. push come to international community Rouge leader Hun Sen shove. Vietnam's pro"The lawless scoff at an the Bosnian Serbs made tege and former Khmer clear that. the Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic how he would control the thousands United Nations promptly withdrew from Cambodia. peacekeeping operation designed to Some illustrations: Start with Bosnia in the years of Yugoslavia's collapse." ministership. This extraordinary but this thin gruel did not prevent 200.[- What Is the International Community? ] a new cultural architecture that recognizes that global politics are not just international politics by another name. can the world rely on any sort of international force to bring peace when it is increasingly clear that wars have become an affair of everyday life and of civil society itself in many countries? If the answers to these questions are not built on By Ruth Wedgwood nternational community" is a dangerous refer. The United Nations issued dozens of selves. Aware that Jakarta-backed the Edward B. A demanded a joint prime cannon fire. Habibie. Burling professor of international law and militias in East Timor were planning retaliatory viodiplomacy at Johns Hopkins University.J. still betting that the West would enter with sociability and commitment invites unwise reliance by those who must ultimately fend for them. but today Bosnia dent behavior by leaders who expect that someone remains in tatters. Izetbegovic replied. An election close advisor asked notch on its belt. Even after the fighting began. the international community-with its moral promise-may well be reduced to an exclusive club or a museum devoted to memories of Westphalia. Or consider Cambodia in 1992-93. The Khmer Rouge refrain from any precipitous move toward inde.ment finally separated the parties. Next is East Timor in 1999.leadership wouldn't play. Izetbegovic rejected more than one peace ence point for the naive. they would cast was defeated at the polls.N. International peacekeepers deliv. but he ignored the ballot words have no supporting even boycotting Sarajebox a n d successfully vo's national referendum o n independence.000 civilian period featured the U. Its connotation of plan. ered food to civilians and (de facto) to combatants. NATO'sbelated involveconcept amounts to a moral hazard.resolutions. And finally. Hun Sen is might. The intimidate armed militias. She is a senior fellence. the U. inspiring impru. Sarajevo was urged to organize democratic elections.N.running a corrupt economy. 1999). Negotiations for a looser form of Yugoslav f e d e r a t i o n organizers from the remained possible.guns blazing. but Security Council rhetoric did not tries that have no intention of lending a hand. massive U. "I will order Hun Sen later forced out coruler Prince Norodom them out"-wistfully supposing that the interna. scene of a else will pull their fat out of the fire. loyal to Belgrade. Its diffusion of responsibility excuses coun. The 42-month Serb bombardment of Sarajevo now opening luxury hotels near Angkor Wat and began soon after.

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