The War of Words A Glossary of Globalization Harold James

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
23 Nov 2021
ISBN:
9780300258295
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
368 pages: 235 x 156mm
Illustrations:
8 b-w illus.
Sales territories:
World

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A timely call for recovering the true meanings of the nineteenth‑century terms that are hobbling current political debates

Nationalism, conservatism, liberalism, socialism, and capitalism are among the most fiercely debated ideas in contemporary politics. Since these concepts hark back to the nineteenth century, much of their nuanced meaning has been lost, and the words are most often used as epithets that short-circuit productive discussion. In this insightful book, Harold James uncovers the origins of these concepts and examines how the problematic definition and meaning of each term has become an obstacle to respectful communication.
 
Noting that similar linguistic misunderstandings accompany such newer ideas as geopolitics, neoliberalism, technocracy, and globalism, James argues that a rich historical knowledge of the vocabulary surrounding globalization, politics, and economics—particularly the meaning and the usefulness that drove the original conceptions of the terms—is needed to negotiate the gaps between different understandings and make fruitful political debate once again possible.

Harold James is the Claude and Lore Kelly Professor in European Studies and professor of history and international affairs at Princeton University. His numerous books include The Creation and Destruction of Value.

"Political debate was once regarded as a noble competition among ideas, but, as Harold James shows in this wonderful book, it has become a brutal clash of ‘isms’ with a profusion of different interpretations. It is hard to disagree with his conclusion that political language needs major intellectual decluttering."—Diane Coyle, University of Cambridge
 

"Harold James never ceases to demonstrate the power of applying history to contemporary problems. I warmly recommend The War of Words to anyone who wants to clarify in their own mind what we mean by terms such as capitalism, socialism, populism and globalization. This is a master class in the history of economic ideas."—Niall Ferguson, author of Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

"Words have histories, and The War of Words is essential reading for anyone tempted to say anything about technocracy, or Weltpolitik, or globalization, or neoliberalism. It is provoking and enlightening, and tells the history of modern times."—Emma Rothschild, author of An Infinite History: The Story of a Family in France over Three Centuries

“Globalization calls for understanding! Communication across cultural boundaries can only be successful if we develop a shared understanding of key terms. Harold James provides a global history of terms—thus making a vital contribution to intellectual self-reflection.”—Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the German Parliament