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The Idea of Civilization and the Making of the Global Order$
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Andrew Linklater

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781529213874

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529213874.001.0001

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The Classical European ‘Standard of Civilization’

The Classical European ‘Standard of Civilization’

Chapter:
(p.125) 4 The Classical European ‘Standard of Civilization’
Source:
The Idea of Civilization and the Making of the Global Order
Author(s):

Andrew Linklater

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781529213874.003.0005

This chapter develops the thesis that Elias devoted too little attention to colonialism and to civilizing offensives to transform non-European peoples. To extend Elias’s explanation of the civilizing process, it considers discourses of conquest and discovery that shaped civilized self-images. Elias’s focus on the role that manners books played in influencing the dominant standards of propriety can be augmented by investigating the impact of narratives that were centred on colonial encounters. Specific attention is paid to the nineteenth century standard of civilization which was an important bridge between state formation and colonial international society. That legal doctrine embodied distinctions between civilized, semi-civilized and savage peoples that were central to the world-views of the imperial establishment. They were not fixed positions in an unchangeable hierarchy of peoples. They were linked with conceptions of human progress which assumed that societies of lesser worth could be elevated through benign imperial governance. The standard of civilization was fundamental to European attempts to create a global order in their image.

Keywords:   Expansion of international society, civilizing offensives, standard of civilization, colonial international society

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