- The Ultimate Goal of World Politics: Security, Wealth, Faith, Justice, Freedom by Jisi Wang
In the decade since the world financial crisis, many new developments have taken place in national politics and international relations: the rise of populism and nationalism, the resurgence of authoritarianism and strongman politics, the intensification of geopolitical competition, and the danger of war. Thus, how do we conceptualize these new trends? Jisi Wang seeks to answer this question from the perspective of world politics, which studies the general trend of political developments in the world, the internal politics of various countries and regions, and the relations between countries. According to Wang, international relations are based on domestic politics, and the interaction of the countries has shaped the current international political situation. Throughout the political history of the world, countries in different periods of political development have different and even contradictory goals, but there are several goals that all countries have always pursued. Wang identifies five political goals—security, wealth, belief, justice, and freedom—in this book and considers them as ultimate ones that are eternally sought but never fully attained by most countries, societies, and individuals engaged in political activities in the modern world. He attempts to explain the diversity and identity of world politics, and in particular the different understanding of the ultimate political goals between Chinese and foreigners on the one hand, and to combine comparative politics with international politics, with the purpose of improving the knowledge structure of Chinese university students and contributing to China's political construction on the other hand (p. vii).
The book is divided into nine chapters. Focusing on the theme and era of world politics, Chapter 1 discusses how one ought to understand "world politics," where he offers a fresh perspective on the era and its political theme. According to Wang, "world politics" exemplifies the general trend of political development in the world, the politics within each country and region, and the relations among countries. He argues that it goes deeper and wider than the usual understanding of international relations (p. 5).
World politics is diverse but uniform, as reflected in the agendas of politics pursued by each society. On the one hand, countries with [End Page 231] different degrees of economic development, diverse cultural backgrounds, and contrasting political systems and their citizens all share some common standards of good and evil, such as peace and prosperity. On the other hand, people fight for various tangible or intangible values such as territories, religious beliefs, freedom, and justice, all of which demonstrate divergent political themes in a distinct era in human history. As a result, the ultimate goal of world politics is not singular—they may be in harmony or contrastingly at odds with one another.
Chapter 2 thus sets security, wealth, faith, justice, and freedom as five ultimate goals universally pursued by governments, organizations, and individuals engaged in political activities (p. 25). The subject matter in Chapter 2 also distinguishes them from other well-known concepts such as interests, power, democracy, and so forth. The following chapters collectively illustrate the implications of these goals and their place in politics.
Chapter 3 examines three topics: the connotation of security and a "sense of security," traditional security that includes domestic stability as well as international peace, and the rise of nontraditional security issues. Wang reverts to Arnold Wolfer's definition of security, which emphasizes that it is not only an objective state without threat but also a subjective state free from fear. Due to contrasting national conditions, cultures, and histories, the "sense of security" within different countries also varies greatly. Countries also have different understandings of what national security means. And China has always prioritized political security since ancient times (although the emphasis and connotation of the latter vary across different dynasties and periods).
Political security within a country is generally synonymous with traditional security, while human security, known as nontraditional security, including natural and man-made disasters as well...