A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics

A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics

A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics

A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics


As the twentieth century draws to a close and the rush to globalization gathers momentum, political and economic considerations are crowding out vital ethical questions about the shape of our future. Now, Hans Kung, one of the world's preeminent Christian theologians, explores these issues in a visionary and cautionary look at the coming global society. How can the new world order of the twenty first century avoid the horrors of the twentieth? Will nations form a real community or continue to aggressively pursue their own interests? Will the Machiavellian approaches of the past prevail over idealism and a more humanitarian politics? What role can religion play in a world increasingly dominated by transnational corporations? Kung tackles these and many other questions with the insight and moral authority that comes from a lifetime's devotion to the search for justice and human dignity. Arguing against both an amoral realpolitik and an immoral resurgence of laissez faire economics, Kung defines a comprehensive ethic founded on the bedrock of mutual respect and humane treatment of all beings that would encompass the ecological, legal, technological, and social patterns that are reshaping civilization. If we are going to have a global economy, a global technology, a global media, Kung argues, we must also have a global ethic to which all nations, and peoples of the most varied backgrounds and beliefs, can commit themselves. "The world," he says, "is not going to be held together by the Internet." For anyone concerned about the world we are creating, A Global Ethic for Global Politics and Economics offers equal measures of informed analysis, compassionate foresight, and wise counsel.


In 1917/18 the United States of America first made an appearance on the European continent (with two million soldiers!) by entering the war against Germany, and prepared the end of the 'European concert' of the great powers. At the same time, with the collapse of the German Reich, the Habsburg empire and the Tsar's empire, along with the Ottoman empire and the Chinese empire, this was an abundantly clear symptom of an epoch-making global upheaval that was to replace the Eurocentrism which had held since the beginning of modernity with a polycentrism which, as many people are only now realizing, will hold for postmodernity. Time, too, for a new politics! In fact already at that time the unprecedented catastrophe for humankind represented by 1914-1918 had prompted the call for a new paradigm of politics. At least the beginnings of a new orientation had become visible.

1. An attempt at a new politics: Wilson

As early as 1917/18 a new world order was called for, as we saw, by Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States. But surely Wilson, some 'realists' comment mockingly today, was a hopeful-hopeless 'idealist'! However, it is worth making a critical investigation.

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), who from 1885 had taught history, law and political science, from 1890 at Princeton University, whose President he was from 1902 to 1910, won the election for the Democratic Party as in every respect the best hope of the Progressive Movement. He was standing against William H.Taft and Theodore Roosevelt who, self-willed power politician to the end, had split the Republicans. On 8 January 1918 Wilson, as President of a now strong and self-conscious nation, proclaimed the American peace programme in the famous Fourteen Points. On 6 October there followed the German . . .

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