The Subjective Dangers of Projects of World Community

Martti Koskenniemi

in Realizing Utopia

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199691661
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738593 | DOI:
The Subjective Dangers of Projects of World Community

Show Summary Details


One should be careful with those who speak in the name of humanity and try to impose any particular blueprint on the world. Proposals for the legal-institutional architectures for the government of the whole world and other designs may seem appealing when stated in the abstract. However, their concrete realization always involves some distribution of power, and with it, some privileging of preferences and values. Claims to humanity are always infected by the particularity of the speaker, the world of his or her experience, culture and profession, knowledge and ignorance. This chapter argues that a realistic utopia can only begin with the critique of present institutions — the United Nations, the World Bank, the Kyoto Protocol, the operations of large multinational companies, the structures of public law and private ordering that decide on the distribution of material and spiritual values today. It is a mindset and an attitude that seeks to highlight the contingency and contestability of global institutions and their distributionary consequences.

Keywords: humanity; utopia; power; global institutions

Chapter.  5349 words. 

Subjects: Public International Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.