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The Myth of 1648: Class, Geopolitics, and the Making of Modern International Relations

Award-winning reinterpretation of the origins of modern international relations.

Winner of the 2003 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize

This book rejects a commonplace of European history: that the treaties of Westphalia not only closed the Thirty Years’ War but also inaugurated a new international order driven by the interaction of territorial sovereign states. Benno Teschke, through this thorough and incisive critique, argues that this is not the case. Domestic ‘social property relations’ shaped international relations in continental Europe down to 1789 and even beyond. The dynastic monarchies that ruled during this time differed from their medieval predecessors in degree and form of personalization, but not in underlying dynamic. 1648, therefore, is a false caesura in the history of international relations. For real change we must wait until relatively recent times and the development of modern states and true capitalism. In effect, it’s not until governments are run impersonally, with no function other than the exercise of its monopoly on violence, that modern international relations are born.

Reviews

  • “A seminal book which sets out to revolutionise the way we think about international relations … an extraordinarily ambitious project carried through brilliantly to a triumphant success … The book is destined to produce a new research programme in international theory.”
  • “A truly first-rate piece of work … he completely demolishes a reigning consensus.”
  • “This is an important and extraordinarily ambitious book, which poses a fundamental challenge to all the major theoretical approaches to the study of International Relations, from realism to world-systems theory. It is a powerful thesis that demands to be read and addressed by theorists of all persuasions.”
  • “Teschke has written a groundbreaking book, a veritable tour de force, which will change the way scholars think about international relations. Teschke's conclusion is incontestable.  He has provided an intellectual gem destined to change the way scholars think about states.”
  • “The book makes excellent reading. Graduate students in international relations as well as sophisticated undergraduates, will benefit considerably from exposure to this wqell-written and provocative  revision of Marxist analysis regarding the origins and development of the state. The Myth of 1648 is far removed from and a welcome alternative to the parsimonious muddle of realist state-centricity.”
  • “This excellent book presents an original thesis that relates not only to the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, but also to the relationship between capitalist development and state formation in early modern Europe. Teschke's work is an outstanding book which deserves a wide readership.”

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