Emmanuel Todd, Apres l'Empire: Essai sur las decomposition du systeme americain.

AuthorKreutz, Andrej
PositionBook Review

Emmanuel Todd, Apres l'Empire: Essai sur las decomposition du systeme americain (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 2002), 233 pages. 18.50ff.

The book by Emmanuel Todd, the English translation of which will soon be published, cannot be easily dismissed as one more example of the anti-Americanism which is said to be typical for French and/or left-wing intellectuals. The author is a French-Jewish scholar who admits to his family's American connections (p. 141). He stresses his pro-capitalist and liberal democratic allegiance and his recognition of the positive role of the U.S. in the twentieth century because of its struggle against the Soviet Union and economic generosity after World War II. Indeed, in his analysis of the Soviet system, which was published in French in 1976_, Todd was not only extremely critical of the Communist experiment, but also predicted with striking accuracy its forthcoming disintegration. He further perceived capitalism as a real alternative. His earlier book brought him the recognition and acceptance of many prominent scholars, including Raymond Aron and Jean Francois Revel. The book was translated into English in 1979 and very warmly received in North America. His new work is at least equally challenging and revealing, but in all probability it will not be equally acclaimed.

In his analysis of the world situation, Todd repudiates the cliches suggested by the media of global terrorism and the threat to Western civilization from the "developing"--particularly Arab nations. According to his research, the constant spread of literacy and the increasing level of birth control put most of these nations on the way towards socio-economic and cultural transition to individualism and modernity--a transition which the Western nations completed much earlier, and in their cases was no less rocky and full of troubles. The author seems partially to approve of Francis Fukuyama's prediction about the final triumph of democracy and capitalism and M.W. Doyle's theory that democratic states are neither willing nor able to wage war among themselves (the democratic peace theory). However, the conditional acceptance of the two main American ideological premises led him to a somewhat surprising but nevertheless logical conclusion that this new world order in the making is not going to offer any special role or imperial mission for the U.S., which might be forced to cut down its military power and again become just one more democratic nation among the others (p. 72).

Todd admits that such a course of events is by no means certain. As he writes: "We still don't know if the process of world-wide democratization and subsequent peace...

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