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About this book

What can International Relations scholarship tell us about the global political system? This innovative text examines the contribution made by the principal schools of International Relations to our understanding of the global system and draws on them to analyze some crucial issues for twenty-first century politics.

Elegantly synthesising history and theory, this text introduces the concepts that have been used to explain the politics and policies of the global system. It challenges the dominance of purely state-based approaches and shows how non-state-based approaches are essential for a full and integrated understanding of today's global politics. Using both approaches, the author examines key issues in contemporary world politics, from international security to economic stability and migration to human rights.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. From International Relations to Global Politics: The Challenge

Abstract
The idea of a truly global political system is very recent and so is the academic discipline of IR. In fact, IR, as a formal academic discipline, emerged between the First and Second World Wars. The second Industrial Revolution had prepared the ground for this by accelerating the speed of communications and developing the means of transport which facilitated the rapid extension and growth of the capitalist economy and envenomed imperial competition. At the same time the destructive capacity of military arsenals was increasing dangerously so that the American Civil War became the first industrialized war. The Franco-Prussian War and, above all, the First World War (or Great War) demonstrated a new form of warfare fought with products of the Industrial Revolution and fuelled by the growth of nationalism. Out of this maelstrom IR emerged as an academic discipline.
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Chapter 2. Politics as Conflict in an Asymmetric World

Abstract
The common view is to see an anarchic and disorganized international system in which international relations inhabit a space devoid of political organization and governmental institutions. Despite a reluctance to abandon this conception there is, nevertheless, now a world political space in which actors of a diverse nature, endowed with different resources and abilities, and fired by different aims and strategies, are struggling to establish rules and policies. These rules and policies bind everyone in the use of global goods. So, the world can be represented and explained as if it were one single political system in which all manner of actors can seek to manage mutual problems by agreeing upon collective standards instead of individual ones. We can thus speak of an organized world political system because these actors make use of political institutions and structures to broach joint problems, and usually make their actions and relations conform to the rules and policies produced by these institutions and structures.
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Chapter 3. Politics as Cooperation in a World of Equals

Abstract
The paradigm of cooperation was formed by scholars, such as Grotius and Pufendorf, in the same period as that of conflict and inequality. They saw the recently constituted system of monarchies as a system of state sovereignties inclined towards the mutual recognition of their right to exist and the enjoyment of the advantages of regulating their relations and transactions in a rational and peaceful manner. For these scholars, hierarchies of power, which condition the autonomy of states, can be constituted and exist in every international system. But states also recognize the social principles of sovereign equality, elaborate common rules of behaviour and usually observe those principles and rules without regard for the absence of a superior authority which might punish violations and without concern for the difference in degrees of power. States generally conform to those principles and those rules because of their overall usefulness in dealing with conflicting individual interests while at the same time guaranteeing community interests. Great importance is therefore attributed to a framework of social, moral and legal norms which presupposes the existence of an agreement of states on some fundamental common values. Respect for such common values provides an element of community for a range of sovereign actors, such as states, while not obliging them explicitly to submit to an authority.
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Chapter 4. Global Institutions and Government

Abstract
A structurational and an evolutionary approach to the systemic analysis of politics are the means by which we will look at the global political system in this and the next chapter. The structurational approach serves to explain the relationship between the states and the governmental institutions emanating from the structure of the world system. The evolutionary approach, on the other hand, helps us to understand long-term change in world institutions. The world is being seen as if it were a unit whose actors — formerly just states but now also international organizations and other non-state actors — have created a public arena and constituted a political system whose institutions have a global range, and which evolve along a trajectory of long-term change. Institutions shape the interests and the behaviour of states and other international actors but these actors too, whether deliberately or not, can influence institutional change through their actions and on the basis of their past experience. In other words, the states and other actors of the world system are, first, in competition with one another on how to regulate, collectively rather than individually, the problems that are debated in the public arena. Second, they have created political institutions and a government structure to give binding and legitimate solutions to their common problems. Third, such solutions usually conform to the rules and policies emanating from the system’s governmental structure. Lastly, their political competition causes world institutions to be subject to evolutionary change. Our concern is, therefore, bearing the theoretical approaches examined in the previous chapters in mind, to analyse the general character of the institutions and governmental structure of the world political system, and the various approaches to the study of long-term and short-term political change.
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Chapter 5. Global Political Change

Abstract
The study and knowledge of change in the world political system are not very highly developed. Political scientists prefer to analyse the constants of the system rather than the causes and forms of change. Realists consider change merely to be the effects of conflict among the great powers, while neo-realists, who place the structure of the distribution of force in an historical context at the centre of the system, see international political change as a passage from one structure to another without explaining the causes of the passage. Hegemonic theory pays more attention to the analysis of change. Gilpin (1981), for example, wanted to explain the causes of the rise and decline of hegemonic states and recognized the importance of considering both long-term and short-term factors. In the equality paradigm more attention is paid to change. Theories of social order suggest that international institutions change in the long term due to cultural and technical factors. Generally, they explain the spread of change by relating it to the power of the states which belong to the dominant culture and are technologically more advanced. Pluralist theorists also show great interest in change but only a few distinguish between long-term and short-term analyses.
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Chapter 6. Contemporary Global Politics

Abstract
It is common, but improper, to classify the Cold War world system as a bipolar system rather than as a hegemonic system. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had more important roles than the other states, but only the United States exerted the role of leader of the governmental structure since most states conformed to the rules and the policies of the economic and security institutions created under US leadership. The Soviet challenge to the US role was in the military and ideological-political sphere, and not in the economic. Military strength and, in particular, nuclear equality allowed the Soviet Union to contain some of the goals of the United States by using the framework of rules of the game, as we shall see later. The ideological conflict was supposed to undermine the capitalist market and put an end to US hegemony thanks to societal change, as a growing number of states moved from a free market and pluralist society to a planned economy and the dictatorship of the communist party. However, the number of such socialist states remained low, and the expected change of the domestic regime in other states never materialized. Nevertheless, cooperation with states governed by communist or other friendly parties gave the Soviet Union the opportunity of creating a fairly cohesive anti-US coalition.
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Chapter 7. Reorganizing the State

Abstract
States today are confronted by a series of challenges derived from the process of globalization. In common usage this term refers to a new phenomenon whereby events and processes spread rapidly from their place of origin to the entire planet. However, the process of globalization started at the very beginning of human communities. Furthermore, since social reality is unitary, so is globalization, but science proceeds as if reality were divided into different sectors such as economics, politics, culture and technology. As a result, globalization processes are analysed separately, although their interdependence is acknowledged.
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Chapter 8. Changing International Security

Abstract
The most fundamental form of international security is one which guarantees that each state, as a primary political organization, will survive any military violation of its political-territorial integrity when faced by an aggression that could see its disappearance as a sovereign actor in the system. The instruments and collective practices aimed at guaranteeing this security for all states have undergone transformation in the course of time. In the contemporary world the states’ security is guaranteed as a public good of the system. This characteristic is the result of long-term processes of changes in material factors pertaining to military capacity, of sociocultural factors pertaining to human rights to life and to individual and collective recognition as well as political-institutional factors pertaining to the government of the world system. There are also other new characteristics of security arising out of the current state of globalization.
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Chapter 9. The New Global Policies

Abstract
Politics is about choice since political actors have different interests and preferences regarding social problems that require political decisions. As a result, they are involved in continual competition over the priorities to which government institutions must respond. The outcome determines the agenda of the political system and the rules and policies by which all citizens have to abide. In the world system this process usually occurs within the framework of institutions in which the preferences of the dominant and of the opposing coalitions are reconciled. In the contemporary global system this mainly takes place in institutions such as the UN and other international organizations, possibly with contributions from NGOs, and in meetings of heads of governments such as the G8 (today G20). In actual fact, policies take shape through the development of legal norms giving rise, at times, to the creation of international agencies and organizations which manage problems by means of regulations and programmes of action.
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Conclusions

Abstract
From the Second World War to end of the 1960s international relations were essentially organized and implemented under the leadership of the United States and the dominant coalition. Their conceptions also guided the international organizations and regimes which produced and implemented major global policies. Later, from the early 1970s that strategy was increasingly delegitimized giving rise to a discussion about a new agenda of world problems. World politics thus entered a new phase. New differences troubled governmental relations within the dominant coalition. Strong expectations of change in the global governmental structure came to the fore. The principal world economic regimes — the monetary and finance regime and that of trade — underwent revision. The economically less advanced states demanded a new international economic order. Bloc politics waned. Western European states set in motion the EU’s foreign and defence policies. African and Asian states abandoned nonalignment and adopted volatile foreign policies. Recourse to multilateral practices grew progressively more important. Although the Soviet Union influenced political competition in the system, nevertheless the policies of the governmental institutions of the global system were still legitimized by the majority of states.
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