• Alexander Astrov


Responding to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 in New York, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, diagnosed the situation: ‘This is a moment to seize. The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us.’1 Despite all the talk about the new war of the new millennium, which on the level of technology and military strategy this war soon turned out to be, the metaphor itself was familiar. Almost a century earlier, while preparing for the Peace Conference to be held in Paris so as to seize yet another opportunity provided by yet another disaster, General Smuts described the outcome of the Great War in similar terms: ‘The very foundations have been shakened and loosened, and things are again fluid. The tents have been struck, and the great caravan of humanity is once more on the march.’2


International Relation World Order World Politics Modern Subject World Picture 
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  1. 1.
    Speech by T. Blair, Labour Party conference, Brighton, 2 October 2001. Accessed at,1220,561988,00.html, October 2003.
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    Cited in M. MacMillan, Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War (London: John Murray, 2001): 98.Google Scholar
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    Schmitt, Political: 19–20. In contemporary International Relations, see M. Dillon, Politics of Security: Towards a Political Philosophy of Continental Thought (London : Routledge, 1996); R.B.J. Walker, ‘International Relations and the Concept of the Political’, in K. Booth and S. Smith (eds) International Relations Theory Today (Cambridge: Polity, 1995): 306–27.Google Scholar
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    The classic statement of the ‘traditionalist’ position, in this view, is Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York: A. Knopf, 1973); the ‘classical’ questions are articulated in M. Wight, International Theory: The Three Traditions, B. Porter and G. Wight (eds) (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
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    See J. McCormick, ‘Fear, Technology, and the State: Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, and the Revival of Hobbes in Weimar and National Socialist Germany’, Political Theory, 1994, 22: 619–52; and Oakeshott’s review of Strauss (HCA 141–58). For a detailed study of Oakeshott’s writings on Hobbes, see I. Tregenza, Michael Oakeshott on Hobbes (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2003).Google Scholar
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    The immediate reference here is to the ‘neo-classical constructivism’ of John Ruggie which develops the ‘neo-medievalism’ theme of Bull (‘Territoriality and Beyond: Problematizing Modernity in International Relations’, International Organization, 1993, 47: 139–74; Bull, Anarchical Society, 1977: 254–94). More generally, it concerns the pervasive ‘second-best’ character of the ‘classical’ conception of international society in its pluralist version (C. Brown, ‘International Theory and International Society: The Viability of the Middle Way?’ Review of International Studies, 1995, 21: 183–96) which, in my view, is only a reflection of the second-best character of the ‘classical’ present judged by comparison with a better past and, hopefully, a brighter future.Google Scholar
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    S. Hoffmann, ‘Notes on the Limits of “Realism” ’, Social Research, 1981: 657–9.Google Scholar
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    Whereas, until recently, the study of Oakeshott’s thought has been overbalanced in favour of his political philosophy, Collingwood’s political thought has not received the attention it deserves. There are, however, important monographs which begin tofill in this gap. Cf.: D. Boucher, The Social and Political Thought of R.G. Collingwood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); J. Connelly, Metaphysics, Method and Politics: The Political Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2002). On the other hand, Oakeshott’s philosophy of history is beginning to attract more attention.Google Scholar

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© Alexander Astrov 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Astrov
    • 1
  1. 1.Central European UniversityHungary

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