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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world

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The postmodern state and the world order

[Cover of The postmodern state and the world order]

Robert Cooper

June 2000

The whole world changed in 1989, but few have yet understood just how much. In this path-breaking essay, Robert Cooper sets out a radical new interpretation of the shape of the world. He explains the post-Cold War world in terms of the divisions between 'pre-modern' parts of the world (such as Somalia or Liberia), 'modern' states such as Brazil or China, and the 'post-modern' areas of the world, where individualistic and post-industrial societies have superceded traditional nations of sovereignty. Europe, he argues, is the clearest example of post-modern order in which foreign and domestic policy are inextricably intertwined, tools of governance are shared and security is no longer based on control over territory or the balance of power.

This essay has become required reading for anyone who needs to understand international relations. The second edition updates the original argument and offers new material on the role of democracy and religion in international politics. It is a crucial guide to conflicts and dilemmas of the twenty-first century.

Robert Cooper is Deputy Secretary of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat in the British Cabinet Office.

"Explains, lucidly and elegantly, how the emergence of the postmodern state has changed international relations" The New Statesman