The Illusion of Anarchy: Chaos, Complexity and the Origins of World War One
The discipline of international relations is, like all other social sciences, riddled with contests between committed academics. Passionate debates ensue where theoretical realists and theoretical liberals argue over the hope for cooperation in the international system, the former arguing that any cooperation will be time and commitment limited and the latter arguing that, with understanding and rules, cooperation is likely. Consider also the reasons for conflict in international relations: some argue it is simply a manifestation of human nature, others that irrational leaders are too quick to act, other still that the constraints of the system result in a system that will always be subject to conflict and war regardless of the individual actors intents. Debates rage too between those who see changes in international polarity as explicitly dangerous and those who see little difference between a multipolar, bipolar or unipolar world with regards to the incidence and extent of conflict. Further still, arguments proceed between those who see a state’s military as the best expression of power and those who consider economic power much more important, those who see a rising China as good for the US and those who see it is as bad, and those who see the UN as the culmination of humanity’s moral advance and those who consider the organisation merely a manifestation of great power politics. Anything within the discipline of international relations is, it seems, open to contention by otherscholars. Anything, that is, except for one notion that defines the field, separating it from wider political science: anarchy.
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