‘The Sixth Great Power’: Revolutions and the International System
The discipline of International Relations has long had an uneasy relationship with revolution. Hannah Arendt’s remark that the twentieth century has been shaped by wars and revolutions is often quoted, but it is striking how, within the institutionalised research and teaching on International Relations, these two historically formative processes receive differential treatment. Courses, journals, departments and institutes on war are plentiful. Study of war, in its historical, strategic and ethical dimensions, as well as in policy terms, is central to the academic study of IR.Revolutions, by contrast, have enjoyed a marginal existence. Standard textbooks and theoretical explorations devote little space to them. There is no journal specialising in this question. We have yet to meet the Oliver Cromwell Professor of Revolutionary Studies: there are no invitations to speak at the Thomas Paine International Institute for the Comparative Study of Revolutionary Change.
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