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  • Author: Yongjin Zhang
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: All great thinkers, while historically conditioned, are all philosophically contemporaneous. It is a great privilege to have this extended version of my Martin Wight Memorial Lecture published in International Affairs—all the more so in this 90th anniversary issue of the journal. International Relations theory and English School thinking have been well represented in International Affairs: since Sir Herbert Butterfield delivered the inaugural Martin Wight Memorial Lecture 38 years ago in 1975, 21 Martin Wight lectures have appeared in these pages. I am delighted, therefore, to be continuing that tradition and very much hope that this trend will endure for many years to come.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Ecuador
  • Author: Chris Brown
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: For better or worse, since the publication of E. H. Carr's Twenty years' crisis in Britain in 1939 , and Hans J. Morgenthau's Politics among nations in the United States in 1948 , 'Realism' has been the default setting for International Relations (IR) theory. The core insight of Carr, Morgenthau and their successors—that the international order and the foreign policies of states are, at a fundamental level, shaped by considerations of power and interest—has been repeatedly challenged but remains at the heart of the discipline of International Relations; it also, not coincidentally, tends to be the way in which both practitioners and informed publics think about matters international. But the price of this dominance is that the clarity which Carr and Morgenthau sought two generations ago has been lost. There are now many varieties of Realism on offer, and many theories that once were thought of as antithetical to Realism have adopted Realist ideas; navigating the field has become a job for specialists. The direct descendants of Carr and Morgenthau think of themselves as 'classical Realists' (or, if Reinhold Niebuhr is acknowledged as a major influence, 'Augustinian Realists') as opposed to the 'Structural Realists' who take their lead from Kenneth Waltz's master work Theory of international politics . Structural Realists in turn divide into 'defensive Realists' and 'offensive Realists', and are also closely related to 'neo-classical Realists'; to make matters worse, 'liberal institutionalists', who, in principle, are the modern version of the traditional opponents of Realism, have adopted from Waltz the notion of the 'anarchy problematic' and from some perspectives have become part of the Realist big tent. So confusing is this spectrum of theories that, on the one hand, John Vasquez can claim that the 'power of power politics' is such that Realism still dominates the field, while, on the other, liberal institutionalists Jeffrey Legro and Andrew Moravcsik can ask 'Is anybody still a Realist?'—and John Mearsheimer, perhaps today's most prominent Realist, can regard himself as a lone figure in an academic field dominated by 'idealism'.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Patrick Chabal
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: An ever more pressing issue in the social sciences today is the question of standpoint. From where do social scientists identify and analyse the problems they wish to understand and explain? Which theories do they deploy and why? And what concepts do they use to achieve enlightening results? This question is more often than not elided, both because we feel secure in the use of the standard theories we employ, and because we are not accustomed to think critically about the matter of standpoint, or perspective. Having acquired the theoretical tools of our discipline, we are not tempted to re-examine their merit whenever we embark on our analytical journeys. However, there are now voices calling into question this unthinking use of social, political and economic theories. Two critiques are particularly significant. The first is that which challenges social theory on the grounds that it is the theoretical tool of the West, or North, which is blind to the fact that, in the words of Edward Saïd, it is 'Orientalist'. The second is that which disputes the 'scientific' nature of the so-called social sciences.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Ian Clark
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: This article is written in the general spirit of contributing to the development of the English School (ES) approach to International Relations (IR), and from the specific perspective of the work of Martin Wight. The literature on international society has greatly enriched our understanding of international order. However, it falls short in what it offers to one important contemporary debate. This deficiency results from its evasion of a central dilemma: how is the role of the Great Powers in managing international order best sustained when their number approximates to one single Great Power? Given the English School's attachment to the role of the Great Powers, it cannot afford to ignore this question. This article adapts ES theory to reflect a world characterized by a concentration of power. The concept of hegemony is central, and will be applied to the arguments about a putative succession between the United States and China. The case is made that their respective power trajectories need to be plotted, not just against relative material capabilities, but taking into account also the appeal of the international orders they come to represent.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development
  • Political Geography: United States, China