Author: Richard Falk
I have happy memories of my visit to the campus of the University of Lancaster to speak at the annual meeting of BISA in 1980. I remember arriving rather exhausted after an overnight flight from the states, followed by a rather long train ride landing me at the site of the conference just in time to speak. Far less stressful were beer, food, and lively discussions afterwards with friends new and old. It left me with a lingering impression that BISA operated on a scale that allowed a genuine IR community to form in ways that were beyond the reach of its American counterpart, ISA, which was too large and fragmented. I hope that BISA still retains that sense of vitality and community that I found so refreshing and stimulating 35 years ago.
“SWITZERLAND EXPOSED,” screamed the title of a book I happened to see recently, drawing a wry smile, and a feeling of “you can’t be serious!” That’s the usual response when people hear about my new research on American philanthropic foundations, which argues that they are not so “cuddly” a bunch as their image suggests. Although they do contribute to society in positive ways, my research over the past decade and a half, revealed in Foundations of the American Century (Columbia University Press, 2012), shows that the big U.S. foundations—Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie—made fundamental contributions to America’s rise to global leadership, a global imperium sometimes more benignly promoted as the “American century.”
Domestic politics often seem inward-looking and incomprehensible to outsiders, while foreign policy has been historically regarded as a specialist matter of concern to citizens only on the rare occasions when they are called upon to fight for survival. The two realms of politics, inside and outside the state, used to seem separate and distant from each other – ‘politics stops at the water’s edge’, in British terms. This became an outdated conception even before the end of the Cold War through the economic interdependence of liberal states, and the importance of economic goals to their societies. But another reason for seeing the domestic and the international as mutually entangled has become steadily more apparent, namely the growing diversity of society consequent on migration, which itself flows from the growing mobility of labour and from the desperation of people in developing countries to escape poverty or political oppression. This has been especially true in western Europe, which is the area of my own research.