Advertisement

Another Case for The Classical Approach

  • Alexander Astrov

Abstract

In this book, I outline an idea of world politics as a distinct activity of thinking and speaking about the conditions of world order in terms of their desirability. World order is understood not as an arrangement of entities, be they humans, states or civilizations, but a complex of variously situated activities, including individuals as members of diverse associations of their own. This idea is advanced from within one such association, or context, contemporary International Relations, wherein it entails a theoretical position, neotraditionalism, as a rectification of the initial, ‘traditionalist’ or ‘classical’, approach after the advance of rationalism and subsequent reflectivist critique.

Keywords

Classical Approach International Relation World Order World Politics World Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Cf.: R. Jones, ‘The English School of International Relations: A Case for Closure?’ Review of International Studies 1981, 1: 1–12; R.B.J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); D. Boucher, Political Theories of International Relations: From Thucydides to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bull, ‘International Relations Theory: The Case for the Classical Approach’, in K. Knorr and J.N. Rosenau (eds) Contending Approaches to International Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969): 27.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    H. Butterfield, Christianity, Diplomacy and War (London: Epworth, 1953): 79–80.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    M. Wight, ‘Why is there no International Theory?’, in H. Butterfield and M. Wight (eds), Diplomatic Investigations (London: Allen & Unwin, 1966): 17–34.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    E.H. Carr, The Twenty YearsCrisis: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (London: Macmillan, 1939): 113.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    H. Morgenthau, Scientific Manvs. Power Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946): 220.Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    Butterfield was perhaps the first theorist to articulate the central realist concept of ‘security dilemma’ in his History and Human Relations (London: Collins, 1951). Characteristically, his account of it is not ‘systemic’, as in John Herz’s more famous presentation, but springs from human finiteness and pride. In Christianity, Diplomacy and War, Butterfield suggests (p. 51) that, in the case of the English civil war, the operation of security dilemma was interrupted through forgiveness, and this rupture is the real origin of the British political tradition; a view that would be hardly acceptable for either Carr or Morgenthau. ‘Beyond tragedy’ is borrowed from the title of Niebuhr’s book Beyond Tragedy: Essays on the Christian Interpretation of History (New York: Charles Scribners, 1937), where he explicitly distances himself from St Augustine on the issue of the separation of the City of God from the City of Man.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    M. Kaplan, ‘The New Great Debate: Traditionalism vs. Science in International Relations’, in Contending Approaches: 60.Google Scholar
  9. 19.
    Wæver, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Interparadigm Debate’, in S. Smith, K. Booth, and M. Zalewski (eds) International Theory: Positivism and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): 165.Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    W.E. Connolly, The Ethos of Pluralization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995): 1.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    S. Žižek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso, 1999): 2. There is some debate as to whether this excess testifies to the ongoing self-deconstruction of the subject, or whether it is the subject.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    J. Edkins, Poststructuralism & International Relations: Bringing the Political Back In (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1999): 2.Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    I deliberately put together the arguments of EIM and ‘The Voice of Poetry’. There are, however, attempts to set them against each other. Cf.: S. Gerencser, The Skeptics Oakeshott (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  14. 27.
    The gap between theory and practice is perhaps most strongly emphasized in P. Franco, The Political Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  15. 28.
    Žižek, For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor (London: Verso, 2002): 31–2.Google Scholar
  16. 31.
    This echoes Wight’s hasty transition from the ‘realities of life and death’ to those of ‘national existence and extinction’, so that reflectivist critique of this particular traditionalist closure can be also applied to Heidegger’s analysis. Such applications are numerous, but Simon Critchley’s introductory discussion of Jean-Luc Nancy’s ‘re-writing of Being and Time’ is perhaps the most relevant one in this context; Ethics, Politics, Subjectivity: Essays on Derrida, Levinas and Contemporary French Thought (London: Verso, 1999): 239–53.Google Scholar
  17. 34.
    L. O’Sullivan, Oakeshott on History (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2003): 207–8.Google Scholar
  18. 35.
    R. Tseng, The Sceptical Idealist: Michael Oakeshott as a Critic of the Enlightenment (Thorverton: Imprint Academic, 2003): 205.Google Scholar
  19. 36.
    G. Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998): 51.Google Scholar
  20. 37.
    N. O’Sullivan, ‘Power, Authority and Legitimacy: A Critique of Postmodern Political Thought’, in his edited Political Theory in Transition (London: Routledge, 2000): 259. Here Noel O’Sullivan outlines an explicitly Oakeshottian position. Surprisingly, he presents it in opposition to that of Foucault, who, I believe, would have agreed with the cited passage. A statement by Agamben cited earlier draws on Foucault’s analysis of biopolitics which, in Oakeshottian terms, is yet another form of enterprise association. Where Foucault does differ from Oakeshott is that he is even more pessimistic about the fortunes of societas and more interested in showing what makes universitas so appealing. Interestingly, Luke O’Sullivan informs his readers that Oakeshott, in his eighties, was making notes on The History of Sexuality. Google Scholar
  21. 39.
    In my reading of Oakeshott, I concentrate mostly on the argument of On Human Conduct in its relation to those of Experience and Its Modes and On History. In doing so, I do not trace in every detail the evolution of Oakeshott’s account of human associations from Rationalism in Politics to On Human Conduct. For discussions that focus on this issue see A. Farr, Sartres Radicalism and Oakeshotts Conservatism: The Duplicity of Freedom (London: Macmillan, 1998); R. Tseng, The Sceptical Idealist; E. Podoksik, In Defence of Modernity: Vision and Philosophy in Michael Oakeshott (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2003) and T. Nardin, The Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott (University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001). In particular, Tseng and Nardin both argue that ‘traditions of action’ of Rationalism become ‘practices’ in On Human Conduct. I agree with this point but concentrate not on the transition from one term to another but on the (inter) modal character of ‘practices’ as they appear in Oakeshott’s later work.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alexander Astrov 2005

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations