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Understanding International Relations

  • Date Submitted: 05/30/2010 03:50 AM
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PG. 68 a kind of catch-all description of the sum of the individual interests of citizens.
It is a theory of the state which has been the dominant line of thought for
several centuries in the English-speaking countries – a fact of some significance
given that International Relations is an academic discipline that has
always been predominantly British and American in inspiration – and
which has obviously influenced liberal internationalist theory. Indeed, it
could be argued that one of the weaknesses of liberal internationalism was
its inability to grasp that within some political traditions the state is given a
far more exalted role than it is in liberalism, while from other perspectives
the state is simply a concentration of power. The Anglo–American liberal
account of the state is actually closer to a theory of ‘administration’ than it
is to a theory of the state in the continental European sense. Some of the
Anglo–American realists, especially continentally trained Anglo–Americans
such as Morgenthau, were conscious of this difference, but it is noticeable
that the neorealists and neoliberals, possibly because of the debt they owe
to the economics profession, largely operate within a liberal theory of the
state. Robert Gilpin’s remark that the role of the state is to solve the problem
of ‘free riders’ is a perfect expression of this point (Gilpin 1981: 16).
Finally, one the most compelling modern alternatives to this liberal theory
of the state is the Marxist conception of the state as the executive arm of the
dominant class – under capitalism, the ruling committee of the bourgeoisie.
Marxism shares with liberalism the notion that the state is a secondary formation
but rather than seeing it perform a valuable function for society as
a whole, Marxists argue that the state cannot be a neutral problem-solver,
but will always represent some particular interests – radical liberals such as
the earlier John Hobson would agree, as would the very...


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