‘The Sixth Great Power’: Revolutions and the International System

  • Fred Halliday


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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  1. 13.
    Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979) p. 4.Google Scholar
  2. 23.
    Fred Halliday, ‘Iranian foreign policy since 1979: Internationalism and nationalism in the Islamic Revolution’, in Juan Cole and Nikki Keddie (eds) Shi’ism and Social Protest (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  3. 26.
    Kim Kyong-won, Revolution and International System (New York: New York University Press, 1970).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Fred Halliday 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Halliday
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

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